Even before I visited the United States for the first time, I’ve felt a particular attraction to Utah. I still don’t know why, but, to me, the name of Utah brings to mind images of the Wild West, of lonesome cowboys traversing a desert wasteland surrounded by rock formations, of saloons, and of simply majestic natural scenery. Now, after having lived in the United States for two years and having come to fully appreciate its national parks, the country’s “greatest invention”, I cannot wait to finally visit this spectacular state. The five Utah national parks are equally extraordinary, unique and jaw-dropping, boasting everything from canyons and ravines to towering rock formations and monoliths.
The 5 Utah National Parks
Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef National Park gets its name from its rock formations that resemble the dome of the U.S. Capitol as well as the ridges of underwater reefs. That may seem like a strange combination of features, but this remarkable landscape simply needs a remarkable name. Capitol Reef National Park is a place of wide valleys flanked by vertical cliffs, remains of ancient civilizations, and narrow rivers.
Canyonlands National Park
Both the largest and the least visited of the five Utah national parks, Canyonlands National Park is so big and varied that it could feel like multiple national parks in one area. The park is divided into a Y-shape by the Colorado and Green Rivers, its landscape consisting of sheer rock cliffs, deep canyons, cutting rivers and high plateaus. Highlights include the Island in the Sky, located in the area in the “top of the Y” between the two rivers; the Needles District; and the incredibly remote (and only recommended for experienced outdoors people) Maze.
Bryce Canyon National Park
A seemingly otherworldly place, Bryce Canyon National Park is unlike any other park in the United States, an area consisting of natural amphitheaters, thousands of limestone rock pillars (known as hoodoos), and a maze of natural alleyways. This is actually one of the smallest national parks in the country, just more than 30 kilometers long, but it surely is one of the most surprisingly spectacular.
Zion National Park
Zion National Park is arguably the most famous of the five Utah national parks. This magnificent park, home to the deep, wooded Zion Canyon of which iconic Angels Landing is the very heart, is made up of canyons, valley and mountain ranges. Zion National Park is downright superb for hiking, horseback riding and camping.
Arches National Park
This National Park has a name that couldn’t be more explanatory. The absolute star attractions of Arches National Park are natural rock bridges, mountainsides with windows in them, and formations that look like—that’s right—arches. Crisscrossed by hiking trails, this breathtaking national park offers great photo opportunities basically everywhere.