Tips For Summer Outdoor Recreation in Utah

Utah is home to five national parks—Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion—as well as many other amazing outdoor recreation destinations, including 43 state parks.

With summer travel plans in the works for many families, consider these tips to help you get the most from your outdoor adventure.

Arches National Park is a red, arid desert, peppered with oddly eroded sandstone forms such as fins, pinnacles, spires, balanced rocks, and arches. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Arches National Park is a red, arid desert, peppered with oddly eroded sandstone forms such as fins, pinnacles, spires, balanced rocks, and arches. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Timing is Everything

With millions of people from all over the world traveling to Utah’s parks, it’s important to plan your visit when crowds and heat are at a minimum. Arriving before 8 a.m. can help with both. Knowing where you want to go and getting there early can help ensure the experience you hope for.

Try to get to the most heavily used trails and sites early, or save them for later in the day. Heavily visited trails like Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park or crowded sites like Delicate Arch in Arches National Park receive the most use in the middle of the day.

Location Matters

The breathtaking three-mile-wide amphitheater is especially colorful at sunrise and sunset from Bryce and Inspiration points. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The breathtaking three-mile-wide amphitheater is especially colorful at sunrise and sunset from Bryce and Inspiration points. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Before you arrive at the park, map out the sites you want to visit. Having a plan will save you time and the frustration of having to make last-minute decisions.

Learn about the trails and sights that are farthest from the visitor’s center, as these are often visited less.

By all means you’ll want to stop at the visitor’s center, but if your time is limited you may wish to do so as you leave the park and not on your way in. Visitor’s centers tend to be less crowded later in the day, which will give you more time to talk with park rangers and learn about the park’s resources.

Getting in and out of many of Utah’s remote parks can take time. To avoid spending much of your vacation time in the car, camp within the park or stay at a campground or RV park as close as possible. Also know that many parks have more than one access point.

Traveling with Children

There is so much to see and do at Canyonlands that one could spend a lifetime here and never know it fully. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There is so much to see and do at Canyonlands that one could spend a lifetime here and never know it fully. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Utah is one of the top family vacation destinations in America, with a variety of fun activities and adventures that children and parents will love.

Southern Utah is home to Utah’s Mighty Five national parks and connected by some of the most scenic byways and backways in the country. These roads curve through lush valleys, roll across red rock domes, and climb mountains of pinyon, juniper, and pine.

Most importantly, these roads take you places. To places of quiet solitude, staggering beauty, or high adventure. Places you want to stop and stay awhile.

Family Hiking

Check out the family hiking guides for each of The Mighty 5 national parks to discover some of the coolest rock formations on the planet. Some hikes are short strolls along level trails while others will push you a little further.

Located in south-central Utah in the heart of red rock country, Capitol Reef National Park is a hidden treasure filled with cliffs, canyons, domes, and bridges in the Waterpocket Fold. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Located in south-central Utah in the heart of red rock country, Capitol Reef National Park is a hidden treasure filled with cliffs, canyons, domes, and bridges in the Waterpocket Fold. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Visitors come from around the world to experience the outstanding hiking opportunities in Bryce Canyon National Park. There is nothing quite like winding your way through the bizarre fins and hoodoos and viewing this amazing geology up close.

One of the advantages of hiking in Bryce Canyon National Park is that many of the trails intersect each other and can be connected to form loops of varying distances and difficulties. For instance, the Navajo Loop, Peekaboo Loop, and Queen’s Garden trails can all be combined with short excursions along connecting trails.

It’s almost as if Zion National Park’s landscape was created with hikers in mind. While Zion offers many long, challenging hikes for experts, there are also a wide variety of easy hiking adventures perfect for families—even those with small children. Hiking in Zion will take you and your family to beautiful vistas, lush hanging gardens, “weeping” walls, and towering sandstone cliffs that you will never forget.

Zion is relatively small by national park standards and the park’s most memorable features are found in easily accessible Zion Canyon. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Zion is relatively small by national park standards and the park’s most memorable features are found in easily accessible Zion Canyon. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

No matter where you hike, carry plenty of water.

Worth Pondering…

…a curious ensemble of wonderful features—

carved walls,

royal arches,

glens,

alcove gulches,

mounds,

and monuments…

—John Wesley Powell (1869)

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