8 reasons why Utah is the next big thing
It’s hard to think of anywhere that has such a concentration of jaw dropping landscapes as Utah. With five national parks in close proximity it’s easy to see why everybody is talking about this incredible state in the Desert Southwest.
Here’s 8 photos from our recent visit:
Straddling the border between Utah and Arizona, Monument Valley has featured in so many films that for many people it’s the landscape that comes to mind when they imagine the American West. This photo was taken on our last trip when a huge sandstorm blew through creating this beautiful light. Monument Valley forms part of the Navajo Nation and unsupervised access is restricted to a 17 mile scenic drive but with a Navajo guide you’ll get off the beaten path to magical spots like Hunts Mesa.
Zion Canyon from Angels Landing
The hike to Angels Landing from the canyon floor is not for the feint hearted. It’s a steep climb with 1,500 feet of elevation gain and the final section traverses the narrow ridge of Angels Landing with chains needed in some of the more exposed spots. Once on top, you’ll see why Angels Landing got its name with spectacular panoramic views of Zion Canyon that make the effort worthwhile.
As a class II archeological site you won’t find the False Kiva on any official maps and its location is closely guarded. It sits in an alcove in the cliff face looking out over Canyonlands with the distinctive Candlestick Butte in the distance. It was home to a group of ancient Anasazi but there is still doubt as to whether the stone circle was used as a Kiva, the room used by Puebloans for religious rituals, or some other type of dwelling, hence the ‘False’ prefix. It’s a rocky, hard to follow trail that skirts the cliff edge to get to the hidden alcove but the sensation of sharing the same view as people living over a thousand years ago is very special.
The Moki Dugway
This steep dirt road must be one of the most exciting (or hair raising depending on your appetite for heights) drives in America. The series of steep switchbacks make their way up the face of Cedar Mesa from just near Valley of the Gods. If you can bear to pull your eyes away from the road for a second, the views across the plateau towards Monument Valley are simply stunning. At the top you’ll be rewarded with Muley Point (see below).
I’ll go out on a limb here and say that the view from Muley Point is one of the most spectacular in the country. The journey to get there, through the Valley of the Gods, up the Moki Dugway and five miles town a bumpy dirt road, is reason enough to go. Once you’re standing on the edge of the plateau, the wind howling, clouds skittering across the sky and the land unfolding beneath you, there’s a good chance you’ll look around and realize you’re all alone. In the distance you can see Monument Valley and the canyons below are the famous ‘Gooseneck’ meanders of the San Juan River.
Grand View Point in Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands is epic in scale and a lifetime of exploration would only scratch the surface of this truly wild place. The southern most tip of the Island in the Sky district provides panoramic views of this landscape of geological wonders. Far below the Colorado and Green Rivers run their course through the deep canyons that they cut through the soft rock and running along the edge of the rim, barely visible, is the White Rim Road, a hundred miles of off road track that beckons adventure seekers.
The Amphitheater at Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce isn’t really a canyon at all but rather part of the “Grand Staircase”, a series of plateaus and cliffs that cover much of Southern Utah. Bryce sits on the Pink Cliffs and over millions of years flowing water has eroded the famous hoodoos, a seemingly never ending army of intricate rock columns. The changing light throughout the day transforms the landscape as the sun’s rays cast different shadows and the rocks subtly change color.
Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park
Being possibly one of the most photographed scenes in Utah in no way detracts from the splendor of Mesa Arch, a huge piece of natural stone architecture that frames this view. Like much of Utah, the scale of the landscape is hard to capture with a camera and if a picture is worth a thousand words then seeing it with your own eyes is worth a million.
To start planning your own tailor-made road trip to Utah please get in touch or take a look at some of our sample Utah itineraries:
An odyssey through all five of Utah’s national parks from $2,250 per person
A luxury road trip taking in the red rock and canyon country of Utah and Arizona from $4,175 per person