A guide to its most popular national parks
Utah is one of the most amazing states in the USA and it shows in the fact that it has 5 impressive national parks – behind only California and Alaska. Utah’s national parks are Arches, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, and Capital Reef National Parks. These national parks are concentrated in southern Utah and offer some of the most breathtaking natural scenery in the region. The natural land formations seen in Utah are unique and inspiring.
If you want to see the High Desert’s greatest natural wonders, explore Utah’s rich mosaic of national parks and natural attractions. These national parks can be explored on foot, by boat, by 4×4 or on horseback. Visit the parks in summer and winter to see a very different vibe.
Utah’s Five National Parks
Arches National Park
Arches is one of the most popular national parks in the United States, attracting around 1.6 million visitors a year and its contrasting colors, land formations and unique landscape in the world. Here, one can see more than 2,000 natural stone arches with hundreds of towering pinnacles, balanced massive boulders and huge rock fins. It is the highest density of natural arches in the world.
Watch the colors of red change as the sun sets and rises.
- Point: See the arches at sunset
- Cut: 73,000 acres
- Location: Northwest of Moab
- Famous for: 2,000 natural sandstone arches
- Visitors: More than 1.6 million visitors per year
Bryce Canyon National Park
In Bryce Canyon, Utah, discover the largest concentration of hoodoos (irregular columns of rock) found anywhere in the world. The canyon is actually not a canyon at all, but a collection of giant natural amphitheaters found on the eastern side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau.
The hoodoos were formed by the freezing and erosion of waterways through the eons which carved out one of nature’s finest works of art. The colors are dazzling being a mosaic of red, orange and white colors.
- Cut: 35,000 acres
- Famous for: The highest concentration of Hoodoos
- Visitors: More than 2.6 million visitors per year
Canyonlands National Park
Also located in Moab, Utah, Canyonlands National Park is a wilderness area of countless canyons and buttes carved into the rock by the Colorado River and its tributaries. The park is divided into four parts by the rivers – the Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze and the rivers themselves.
The national park is described as a weird, wonderful and magical place without any other comparison. Spend time in this amazing national park and let the nature of Canyonlands soak in. Due to the park’s isolation, Canyonland receives far fewer visitors than most other national parks.
- Famous for: Numerous canyons, mesas and buttes
- Cut: 337,000 acres
- Visitors: 730,000 visitors per year
Capital Reef National Park
Capital Reef National Park is known as Utah’s hidden treasure. It’s a land of canyons, domes, cliffs and bridges in the Waterpocket Fold. The Waterpocker Fold is a geological ridge on the earth that stretches nearly 100 miles.
Capital Reef is located in south-central Utah and protects a desert landscape of colorful canyons, ridges, monoliths, and buttes. During the early years of the national park’s existence, Capital Reef wasn’t even open to the public, but isn’t open year-round.
- Cut: 241,000 acres
- Visitors: 1.2 million visitors per year
Zion National Park
The most famous and popular national park in Utah is undoubtedly Zion National Park. Located near the town of Springdale, the national park attracts visitors from around the world to view its stunning canyon walls with their reddish and tan colored Navajo sandstone.
The park is located at the junction of the Colorado Plateau, the Mojave Desert and the Great Basin and is thus home to a variety of life zones. Here one can enjoy an unusual amount of plant and animal diversity.
- Birds: 289 bird species
- Mammals: 75 species of mammals (19 of which are bats)
- Famous for: Massive canyons, biodiversity, buttes, monoliths, slot canyons, natural arches
- Cut: 146,000 acres
- Visitors: 3.5 million visitors per year
Other Utah National Monuments
Utah has five national parks. But it also has a number of national monuments, national historic trails, national recreation areas, and national historic parks. These include:
- National Dinosaur Monument
- Cedar Breaks National Monument
- Hovenweep National Monument
- Natural Bridges National Monument
- Rainbow Bridge National Monument
- Timpangogos Cave National Monument
- Golden Spike National Historical Park
- Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
In short, Utah is a land full of natural attractions that simply cannot be seen all in one trip.