THE MIGHTY FIVE
Arches National Park has the greatest concentration of natural arches in the country, with over 2, 000 documented natural stone arches within the national park’s boundaries alone. It is also most famous for its world-renowned Delicate Arch. It additionally boasts pinnacles, massive fins and giant balanced rocks which are only few minutes drive away from each other.
Canyonlands National Park is located in the Southeastern area of Utah, southwest of the city of Moab. The park is known for its layers of sedimentary rock deposits that were carved into hundreds of colorful canyons, mesas, buttes, fins, arches and spires. Canyonlands is part of a region called the “Colorado Plateau”, an area that stands high above the surrounding country, and was gradually carved by the Green and Colorado Rivers thereby exposing buried sediments and created the canyons of Canyonlands. The park’s Grand View Point gives an impressive overlook of the canyons, but the Green River Overlook of the park left me in awe, offering my husband and I an overlook of the Green River with a scenic background of a lovely sunset. Canyonlands is one of the most remarkable and unforgettable national parks we have been at, which I will most remember for stargazing. Its night sky is so pristine that Canyonlands was designated as a Gold-Tier International Dark Sky Park in 2015, and it is one of the four national parks in southern Utah with the International Dark Sky Park designation. The other three national parks are Hovenweep National Monument which was awarded an International Dark Sky Park in 2014, Natural Bridges National Monument which was designated the world’s first International Dark Sky Park in 2007, and the Arches National Park.
3. ZION NATIONAL PARK
Zion National Park is a treasure located in the Southwestern United States, in a charming town called Springdale, Utah. Zion is the first Utah’s national park, the state’s first federally designated park in 1919. It is my favorite of all national parks as of this writing, mostly attributed to the park’s white and pastel orange sandstone cliff formations and its out-of-this-world scenic drive that parallels the Virgin River on the floor of Zion Canyon. The first Anglo-European settlers, the Mormon pioneers, named the area Zion, which is ancient Hebrew for sanctuary or refuge.
4. CAPITOL REEL NATIONAL PARK
Capitol Reef National Park was originally named “Wayne Wonderland” in the 1920s. It was initially designated as a National Monument in 1937 but was only opened to the public in 1950. Due to time constraints, we were not able to see the park but we will definitely be considering in our future itineraries.
5. BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK
Another national park we missed to see is Bryce Canyon National Park which is famous for its Hoodoos. Hoodoos are tall, odd-shaped, thin spire of colorful rock that ranges in white, pink and orange colors. Hoodoos are not unique to Bryce Canyon as it can be found all over the world but Bryce Canyon has the largest collection in the world right inside its park which is exactly what attracts tourists and visitors from all over the globe. Hopefully we will get to see it one day.