Backpacking Utah’s Mighty 5

Utah is aptly called the outdoor Mecca for adventurers from around the world who anticipate thrilling skiing in the north and trekking deep red rock canyons in the south. There is something for everyone. Backpackers must visit each of the Mighty 5 Utah’s National Parks as it is within its borders. It is a challenge to complete the Mighty 5, starting from Zion National Park and ending at Canyonlands while spending a few days at each park.

Delicate Arch

1. Zion National Park –From Las Vegas, Zion National Park towers high above the desert around it.  Hikers will experience most technical and challenging canyoneering they will ever face. For newbie hikers, start with a trip to Emerald Pools or Weeping Rock to get a glimpse of what Zion National Hiking those trails serve as foundation for the type of outdoor activities you will enjoy for a lifetime. Many hikers spent the time backpacking and canyoneering through some of Zion’s most remote deep slot canyons.

2. Bryce Canyon – After a taste of Zion, drive towards Bryce and while passing through Red Canyon and get a sneak peek of the red hoodoos shooting out of the ground to unprecedented heights. Reaching Bryce Canyon Amphitheater, you trek down the 1.3 mile Navajo Loop Trail that passes through the magical hoodoos. Spend the night under the star and be sure you have warm clothes in your pack because night camping is cold.

3. Capitol Reef – Capitol Reef National Park teems with red rocks, high cliffs, and natural bridges. Cohab Canyon, 1, 75 miles long, is one of the best hikes in Capitol Reef. A few hours away are your last two National Parks to cap your visit in Utah: Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.

4. Canyonlands is Utah’s largest National Park and is the locale of three districts each producing different kinds landscapes. Spend time near Island in the Sky and soaring high above the desert; see stunning views below of Colorado and Green Rivers. You will also enjoy spending more time at the Maze District exploring its different flavors.

5. Arches – The last stop on Utah’s Mighty 5 is Arches National Park. This place has more arches, hoodoos and towers that you can hardly count. Arches National Park is a favorite for locals and tourists alike. You can start hiking to Delicate Arch and see the most famous arch in the world. For a different flavor, head towards Landscape, Double Arch, or apply for permit to hike towards Fiery Furnace.

Backpacker could easily spend a week in each National Park but they realized that they have not even scratched the surface of what this great National Park has to offer. It would be another wonderful trek next year.

Photo Credit: brian washburn on flickr

Top 10 Things to Do in Capitol Reef

A great place to hang out in Utah’s National Park is in Capitol Reef so you have all the time to explore the park. For so much to activities to discover, here are the top 10 things to do in Capitol Reef.

chimney rock, Capitol Reef NP

10: Pick fruits in the orchard - Anything you pick is free for you to consume. Pay a nominal fee, take your time and bring some of your picks with you This only happens during the summer months. Check on their schedule when and the kind of fruits available.

9: View indigenous art collection on rocks – Even if you are not an art buff, you will appreciate the impressive collection of rock art left behind by the   American Indian groups who lived or traveled through what is now Capitol Reef. Many of these petroglyphs are viewed just off the main thoroughfare in the park so your hike gives you a glimpse of the past.

8: Hike in Hickman Bridge – This hike is the shortest and the most rewarding. Hickman Bridge trail leads directly under this natural bridge. You have the option to walk all around or get on top of the bridge.

7: Visit Gifford Farm house – This destination is “must see”. Get a double treat for history and gastronomic treats.  Historical relics remind you of the past but the homemade treats will keep you coming back. Yu can buy those yummy and delectable salsas, pies, preserves, ice creams, etc. And they usually have free samples.

6: Chimney Rock trail – This is the oldest trail in is the park. Hike all over the chimney and include canyons behind it. Check on Spring Canyon.

5: Campground in the park – The campground has everything you want in camping. It is roomy, so you can pitch your big tent, cook dinner in the designated fire pits, and play Frisbee among the shade trees.

4: The Grand Wash – This trail is for is fun and easy going hike. Mostly a canyon trail, so it is shady and ideal for the summer months. It is a wise idea to park your car at either end of the trail so you do not have to walk back as well.

3: Cathedral Valley – This is mostly a sparse desert and a lonely country. Drive to the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Moon, both are monolithic sandstone formations rising straight from the desert sand.

2: Cassidy Arch – This is tone of the best hikes in the park that maybe more strenuous, but definitely worth it. Get to Cassidy Arch by driving along the scenic route in the park and a $5 toll fee per vehicle. The hike climb is steep and on top of the arch, you see whole of Capitol Reef is laid out before your eyes.

1: Waterpocket Fold – Located at the southern region of the Park, it is the most fantastic section. The rocks are pushed and molded into many folds while wind and water carved narrow slot canyons into the rock. Look across and see Henry Mountain. There are many other trails and canyons to discover in your next adventure.

Photo Credit: Esther Lee on flickr

Best Places to See in Canyonlands

Utah’s Canyonlands are so diverse that you find beauty everywhere. As the largest national park in Utah, its grandeur is beyond your imagination. The most economical way to get there is to pass by the Island in the Sky district, located 32 miles (51.5 km) from Moab. Hiking trails and four-wheel-drive roads are easy access to the areas of the backcountry where you can spend days of adventure.

False Kiva

Canyonlands is divided into 5 districts each offering different opportunities for sightseeing and exploration.

1. Island in the Sky

Island in the Sky is your initial taste of adventure as it is the nearest district. Along its scenic paved drive are several trails for hiking and a moderate four-wheel drive that takes you to White Rim Road where atop sits Island in the Sky on a massive 1500 foot mesa. Twenty miles (32.2 km) of the paved roads bring you to witness the most amazing vistas in Canyon Country.

From these lofty viewpoints, you see over 100 miles (161 km) in any given direction panoramic views that covering thousands of square miles of canyon country. After you take a short day-hike and relax in the late afternoon, you cap your day watching the setting of the sun. Whether you decide to stay for a few hours or a few days, Island in the Sky provides an unforgettable Canyon Country experience for you and your entire family.

2. The Needles

The Needles is another district in Canyon Land. A distant away in the back country; Needles can be reached taking a vehicle as the distance is too far to walk. More breathtaking views are in store for you.

Maze Overlook

3. The Maze

Further in back country is the Maze. Being a remote district, you require more time and self-reliance to get there. Aside from experiencing nature’s beauty, you can see the Orange Cliffs on the western boundary. National Park and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area are co-administrators of Orange Cliffs.

4. Horseshoe Canyon

Located northwest of The Maze, Horseshoe Canyon is worth all your effort in hiking. Feed your aesthetic sense with the stunning Native American rock art panels.

5. The Rivers

Two rivers, the Colorado and Green Rivers traverse the heart of Canyonlands as they cut through layered sandstone forming two deep canyons. These two Rivers are ideal for watersports as they are calm upstream of Confluence. You can boost your skills in canoeing, kayaking and managing other shallow water crafts. Right below the Confluence, both rivers combined their flow spilling down Cataract Canyon with remarkable speed and power. They create a world-class stretch of white water. Enjoy a flatwater trips on the Green or Colorado rivers and take a whitewater trip to Cataract Canyon. These are extraordinary thrills await the adventurers as they spent a number of days boating in the river.

Photo Credit: John Fowler on flickr

Maze Photo Credit: Mike Renlund on flickr

The Five Best Day Hikes in Bryce & Zion

For spectacular scenes of an eerie rock formation and enormous red rock canyon walls, visit Bryce Canyon and Zion’s National Park. To experience completely the grandeur of these two amazing places, you can use your $25 park for seven days. Join one of the top five day hikes in the area with or without a guide.

1. The Narrows of Zion National Park

Start your Zion experience by following the trail along Narrows hike that is by the Virgin River itself. Trek all the way down the slot canyon passing through water during certain season of the year. Hike a distance of at least 2.5 miles until you reach the towering canyon walls. You are now surrounded a section known as Wall Street. Hiking is strenuous; you need to rent special type of shoes, wear neoprene socks, and a hiking stick at a local outfitter that cost around $25.

Observation Point Trail, Zion, Utah

2. The Observation Point of Zion National Park

Zion’s famed Angel’s Landing, an 8-mile round-trip trek up to Observation Point, 2,150 feet above the canyon floor are your places far from the madding crowd. Your effort is rewarded as you gaze at the sweeping views of the awesome landscape below. Before returning to the park shuttle bus, walk a quarter mile to Weeping Rock. This cool alcove features the park’s largest hanging garden that provides steady curtain of “weeping” water rubbing elbows with these the rocks for the last 1,200 years.

3. The Navajo Loop Trail of Bryce Canyon National Park

For those with limited time, the best option is a hike along otherworldly Bryce National Park. A moderate to strenuous 1.3 mile hike along the Navajo Loop Trail takes you all the way down switchbacks to the canyon bottom and go up again through Wall Street. In this place, the100-foot-tall canyon walls with Douglas fir trees all 750 years old create a stunning setting. For more exploration, add the Peek-a-boo loop trail that forks off midway your hike.

4. The Watchman Trail of Zion National Park

A great, moderate introduction to Zion National Park is the 2.7-mile

A round-trip Watchman Trail is about 2.7 mile that you start right at the visitor center. Passing the ranger quarters, follow the trail upward to a plateau and watch the panoramic views of the park and the town of Springdale. There are wildlife along the way, you may even encounter a deer mule.

5. The Peek-a-Boo Loop Trail of Bryce Canyon National Park

The Peek-a-boo Loop Trail is named as it offers surprising hikes and stunning views of the unique red rock formations around and in every corner. While hiking up and down the 3-mile trail, you will pass through several types of terrains and views some of the most beautiful vistas as the Silent City and Wall of Windows. For a short connection, you travel to the Navajo Loop Trail making around 4.5 total trips.

Photo Credit: Fabio Achilli on flickr

Utah’s Mighty 5 National Parks: Which Should You Visit?

Utah’s tourism office has launched a massive campaign to promote Mighty 5 National Parks. If you haven’t heard of this quintet of famous national parks, then it is high time for you to know more. You will enjoy and appreciate the grandeur of rugged west and consider including these Mighty 5 of Utah are: Arches National Park, Bryce National Park, Canyon Lands National Park, Capitol Reef National Park and Zion National Park.

Sunrise by vivek vijaykumar on 500px.com

Here is a good guide for you to consider the next time you and your loved ones decide to take that long break.

The best place for groups or family

At least, young folks will forget their iPhones while hiking the trails criss-crossing the Capitol Reef National Park. You will view the gigantic rugged-edge rock formation rising up to the sky. Then remember your primitive ancestors ten millions of years ago treading the wrinkled earth’s surface. For a budget-conscious vacationer, this is the place as admission is $5 per vehicle.

Honeymooners and romantic types, this is for you!

The perfect chiseled landscape of Bryce Canyon if like a photograph in a nature’s magazine. Its spectacular ridges and valleys make a perfect background of honeymooners and lovers to pose for memorable selfies. As they go along the narrow trials, they view indigenous plants and wildlife. To avoid strain of hiking, they can take a mule-ride at $60-$80 per person. Admission to the park is $25 per vehicle.

For lovers of comfort

If you want a vacation that is like an extension of comfort from home, Utah’s Arches National Park has just the thing for you. Within the park are around 2,000 natural stone arches and nearby is the Mormon Settlement of Moab. The “glamping” site covers 40-acre where you reside in houses with raised floors of wood, patio furniture and stoves using burning woods. As you gaze from your window, there is a clear view of the desert. Comfort is cheap at only $89 per night while admission to the park per vehicle is $10.

For solo adventurer

Travelers sometimes want to trek the road alone and on their way to the big cities pass by Utah’s Zion National Park. They can take time to explore the natural wonders of the place and go skinny dipping in some hidden swimming holes and forge a river for thrills. Admission to the park is $25 per vehicle.

For the adventurous ones

For the most exciting and challenging hiking experience, follow the narrow rim and jagged trails of Canyonlands National Park. This is Utah’s largest park that teems with endless mesas, lofty cliffs, a number of rivers, ragged pine trails, and several canyons. This is a haven for mountain bikers as the trails look so inviting. To live this rough adventure, join the folks at the park’s diverse campgrounds while enjoying each of their own scenery. Admission is $10 per vehicle.