Last weekend we went on a camping trip to Colorado for some shows of the band Phish. We decided to do this trip by car and to take a detour to enjoy the landscapes and beauty of the roads. We chose to go back via the beautiful state of Utah. The name Utah, according to the State’s official website, comes from the Native American name “Ute” which means people from the mountains. It is the 11th largest state in the US with almost 85,000 square miles, however, it only has a population of 2.8 million people the majority of which live in Salt Lake City and the cities and towns around it. That is why the roads seem very isolated with a few small towns here and there.
The natural beauty of this state is hard to describe. The red mountains, dunes, forests and rock formations can make any road trip through Utah very enjoyable. We decided to make a stop to visit a wonderful place called Bryce Canyon, located on the southwest side of the state. The red, orange and white colors of the rocks at that site are spectacular! The canyon is formed by a number of amphitheaters and geological structures called hoodoos. Hoodoos are rock pillars that got shaped by erosion and are topped by a harder block of rock. They can measure between 1.5 meters up to 45 meters.
Bryce Canyon National Park has a visitor center and a museum located right when you enter the park with your car. You can stop there to ask the park rangers questions about the place, for suggestions on trails to hike, to explore the small museum or to buy some souvenirs from the gift shop. It also has a cancellation station for the National Parks Passport. I have one of my own so I stopped there to stamp it. In a way, it reminds me when I was a kid and I visited Epcot Center with my mom and I was looking to get my park passport stamped in each country’s pavilion. I find it a lot of fun and if your travel with kids, I’m pretty sure they will, too!
After the visitor center you can drive to the different view points along the road in the park. We visited Sunset Point and Inspiration Point, and both of them offer breathtaking views. On Sunset Point we did a 1.3 mile hike on the Navajo Loop. It is important to bring hiking shoes or boots and plenty of water, even for the short and mild hikes. Sunscreen is recommended, too. The loop provides different sights along the way. It connects to other 2 or 3 trails that you can hike deeper into the galleries and come back and finish the loop to exit. It would have required for us to stay longer at the canyon and that day we had to drive back to Phoenix, which was still 7 hours away so we only finished the Navajo Trail.
Inspiration point has a smaller and much easier hike. It takes you to the top of a hill that has three levels of view points where you can continue to admire the spectacular main amphitheater. This one is a must stop and pretty accessible for all hiking levels, even for the non hiker.
I totally fell in love with Utah. So much that I am already planning a trip to visit Arches, another beautiful place in that state that I really want to see. Utah, just like Arizona, has a lot of wonderful natural places to offer that are totally worth the trip! Not to mention the absolutely beautiful sunsets that we were able to admire while driving.
All photos are owned by Sandra unless otherwise noted.