Take a scenic drive through Utah’s 5 national parks
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
This spring, my wife and I traveled through Utah in our fifth wheel to see all five of the national parks. We had not previously seen any of them, so we were excited for this trip — especially with the current TV commercials advertising all the parks.
We started in southern Utah by first going to Zion. We stayed right outside the park in the town of Springdale. The weather was just great for March, but the crowds were large as spring break was in full force.
We ventured out early each morning to beat the crowds on the transit system and the trails. Zion is spectacular as you see it from the bottom looking up, so you get the full effect of the towering cliffs. I recommend taking the scenic drive through the tunnel and the hike just on the eastern side of the tunnel.
Zion National Park
Next up was Bryce Canyon. The opposite of Zion, here you are at the top of the cliffs looking down. At 8,000 feet above sea level, the weather changes dramatically. We even got a couple of inches of snow on our last day.
What is special about Bryce are the hoodoos, the rock formations made from the years of erosion. Some of these formations look so fragile, and it's difficult to believe they continue to stand. I highly suggest taking a hike down into the canyon through the hoodoos.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Our next stop was Capitol Reef in Torrey, Utah. These is one of the lesser visited parks. It features a beautiful scenic drive, but some roads are really designed for off-road, four-wheel-drive vehicles.
At this park, you are in the middle of a waterpocket fold. There are cliffs on either side of you with some stunning rock formations. Make sure you stop at the Gifford House and Store for a pie. It was excellent.
Capitol Reef National Park
Finally, we drove to Moab, Utah, which is close to both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. It took us two days to complete the scenic drive, but we were not disappointed. Arches is probably one of the most famous of the parks with the beautiful arch rock formations.
Arches National Park
Canyonlands was a park we were not familiar with, but we were overwhelmed by the spectacular views. This park is really three parks in one, and Islands in the Sky is the most visited. The other two sections are mainly for off-road vehicles.
Islands in the Sky is exactly as it sounds. The scenic drive puts you at the top of the canyons, and what you see at the various vista stops are layers of canyons. The view are amazing, and I highly recommend this park and the scenic drive.
Canyonlands National Park
We spent a month visiting the five parks, and that was more than enough. Unless you want to do some serious hiking, each park can be seen in one or two days. It is a fairly easy drive between each park, so you can easily see all in short period of time.
Hop in your RV this summer and see them all. Then have a spirited discussion as to what is your favorite. We are still talking about it.
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