Posted on 14/09/2021
Utah, nestled between Nevada, Arizona, Wyoming, Idaho and Colorado, was merely transit territory until the mid-19th century. Yet more recently it's grown in popularity thanks to its diversity of terrain, including Monument Valley and its many challenging mountains. It's about time the rest of the world wakes up to the state's natural wonders!
It's said that once you've had a taste of Utah's quality snow, it's no longer possible to ski anywhere else! The Wasatch Range of the Rocky Mountains is home to the highest peak in the entire state and for this reason each year it's rented out by internationally-acclaimed magazines simply for its stunning scenery and the quality of its snow. Just 30 minutes from Salt Lake City and neighboring Alta, where you'll find Utah's second largest mountain, Snowbird's location offers visitors dozens of opportunities.
Although lesser-known, Mesa Arch might look familiar as it was one of the Windows 7 desktop backgrounds. As the sun sets, its rays shine through the arch's center across Canyonlands National Park, giving it an almost otherworldly appearance. Many have said it's what they imagine Mars to look like.
In the unforgettable Zion National Park, there are canyons at every turn creating a landscape that seems like a scene from a novel! The burnt peaks of the cliffs contrast with the blooming vegetation below to form a postcard-perfect picture that seems untouched by time. So much so that some visitors are almost left waiting for a dinosaur to pass by!
On the border between Arizona and Utah sits Monument Valley, best known for its remarkable geomorphological formations made up of mesas (small plateaus which look like tabletops) and buttes. This region, in its entirety, is part of the Navajo Nation. And let's not forget that Monument Valley has also provided the backdrop to many Wild West films.
Salt Lake City stands out from other state capitals due to its history and incredible scenery. As the home of Mormonism, the American religious tradition has shaped the city, but it's still a bustling metropolis. Although drinking and eating establishments are required to clearly label themselves with signs saying, "This is a bar" or "This is a restaurant," alcohol is plentiful and nightlife is thriving. There are plenty of things to see and do amid the splendid backdrop of the Wasatch Mountains.
Designated a National Monument in 2000, Vermilion Cliffs is one of the country's newest parks. Today, this vast area (1000km˛) is one of the most wild in the entire state, and the aim is to keep it that way!
What to see when you visit? The Wave, an absolutely perfect geological wave on a mountainside, Coyote Buttes South, Paria Canyon, or even the lesser-known White Pockets area. Created as a result of wind and water over millions of years, this desert area is filled with natural wonders forming a color palette that will leave you lost for words.
In Goosenecks State Park, you'll find the San Juan River flowing peacefully, a 640km long Colorado tributary that crosses countless meanders before ending up at Lake Powell's dam. But if you thought the San Juan was just like any other river, think again. The winding route that the river follows has eroded the surrounding rocks to create an extraordinary aquatic labyrinth that is not to be missed. Seen from afar, these canyons can be appreciated by visitors of the three states that it crosses: Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah.
Bryce Canyon National Park is one of the most impressive geological sights in all the United States, although it's actually not a canyon! If you visit, make sure you catch a glimpse of what everyone travels here for: the hoodoos. These big chimney-shaped pots have been formed over many years due to the combination of iron oxide, manganese and wind which gives them their unique color schemes, some pink and some white. According to the legends of the Paiute people, once this area was populated by animals who could make themselves appear human. These creatures exploited the land until there was nothing left for anyone else, and the god Coyote came and turned them into the hoodoos we see today.
With a total surface area of 593 km˛, Zion National Park is not one of the largest in the United States. But this park houses one of the most beautiful ecosystems in the entire country in this relatively small area, with 78 mammal species, 291 bird species, 44 reptile species, 8 fish species and over 900 plant species. Its most incredible features are its steep, red cliffs and Emerald Pools.
Road tripping the 64 km Cottonwood Canyon Road is a real delight if the weather works in your favor! Found between Bryce Canyon and Lake Powell, this road is an interesting and equally scenic alternative to US Route 89. It is also one of the few roads to cross the Grand Staircase National Monument, an amazing look into Utah's backcountry.
Did you know that on Earth there is a tree that covers 106 acres of land? This tree, or "forest tree" as many like to call it, is an 80,000-year-old aspen tree that has adapted to its soil's dry surface. Nicknamed Pando, it has used its own seeds to plant thousands of other trees that all share the same root. Today, there's around 47,000 bisections that face the risk of extinction, all because of the reintroduction of wildlife 35 years ago. Sadly, animals including deer feed solely on this tree's seeds, preventing Pando's reproduction!