Utah might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of visiting the USA. It may lack the glitz of neighboring Las Vegas, but for nature lovers its geographic diversity more than makes up for any other shortcomings it might have. Because of its location at the convergence of three distinct geological regions, the Rocky Mountains, the Great Basin, and the Colorado Plateau, Utah is one of the few destination that boasts everything from arid deserts to thriving pine forests.
Arches National Park
In the east, Arches National Park is the perfect place to visit for adventurers. Hikers will love the area’s rugged landscape, while there’s also opportunities for off-road enthusiasts, campers, and rock climbers in certain permitted areas. Budding photographers should also take the chance to take snaps of some of the one of a kind spots in the region. The park has the densest concentration of natural stone arches in the world, including the Landscape Arch, the North and South Windows, and the famous Delicate Arch, the latter of which is featured on the state’s license plates.
Zion National Park
Further south, the Zion National Park arguably does the best job of displaying the geographic diversity Utah has to offer. The main canyon, which is 15 miles long and half a mile deep, cuts through the Navajo sandstone and the Virgin River and allows for a wide range of different animal and plant life to flourish. This makes exploring the scenic trails of the park, either by foot or on horseback, a delight, as you find yourself moving from sandstone cliffs to deeply forested grottos. The Emerald Pools trail is well-maintained and accessible to even a first-time hiker. This oasis in the middle of the desert is the perfect respite after a long day.
Finally, no visit to Utah is complete without visiting the iconic Monument Valley. A stretch of land that became famous for playing the backdrop to so many of director John Ford’s iconic westerns, including Stagecoach, The Searchers, and How the West Was Won. While you’re here, you’ll have the opportunity to visit some of the locations Ford used to create his films, including a popular lookout point now known as John Ford’s Point. Grand American Adventures can set you up with a Navajo-led guide through the area’s back roads, so you can learn about the unique history that makes up the region.