Utah offers some of the most stunning landscapes I have ever seen. These landscapes are also protected and made accessible to visitors in five national parks. We visited three of them on our trip.
After having hiked on Antelope Island State Park near Salt Lake City, we made our way southeast, towards Arches National Park. This national park is famous for its more than 2000 natural sandstone arches, including the well-known and often photographed Delicate Arch.
On our way we drove through wooded valleys and gorges and the closer we got to Arches NP, the more the landscape changed: the views widened, the rocks turned red and the temperatures constantly were above 100 degrees Fahrenheit/40 degrees Celsius. I already visited that area back in 2017, but I was in awe again. I just love the contrast between blue skies and red rocks, and that dry heat is almost comforting.
However, the heat wave, that sits above the area for some weeks now, made us getting up at 4.30 am to enter the park early to avoid the peak heat. Also, as the pandemic made travelling last year almost impossible and travelling internationally this year complicated, the parks in the US get swamped with visitors this summer. In the Visitor Center in Moab we learned, that the park will probably close as early as 7.30 or 8 in the morning because of overwhelming numbers of people. I’m not a morning person, but, consequently, we got rewarded with an amazing sunrisemidst this stunning landscape. , that flooded the land with a golden glow.
Next, we drove to Capitol Reef National Park that is similarly spectacular as Arches NP, but way less crowded.
Eventually it was time to make our way back west towards Nevada. On the way we also visited Great Basin National Park. Remarkable about that park is, that you’d cross the Great Basin towards that park, but the park itself is a mountainous area with Wheeler Peak in the center. The basin is pancake flat and you see the heat shimmering just off the ground. From time to time we had to cross a mountain range just to get back to the hot basin floor. In the park we took a scenic road that brought us higher and higher towards Wheeler Peak while passing through various vegetation zones. It was quite an experience to marvel at glaciers in the mountains’ valleys and at the same time glare down towards the heat of the basin. We were almost miserable that we didn’t have enough time to climb up the peak, but the wind unfortunately blew in more smoke from the ongoing fires in the west.
Utah didn’t disappoint and we’d have wished to have more time to explore the numerous hiking trails in the parks a little further. Oh well, next time!