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Take a trip down to Utah and enjoy five diverse national parks for a true Southwest experience.

Arches National Park

Arches National Park
Source: Joanna Poe/Flickr

Once you arrive in Utah you will see the iconic arch plastered on everyone’s license plates. Delicate Arch, located in Arches National Park, is one of the most well-known attractions in Utah. As the largest free-standing arch in the park, this site will leave you breathless.

Arches National Park Delicate Arch
Source: Anna Irene/Flickr

But don’t worry, the hike is only classified as moderate and typically requires a 2-3 hours roundtrip. Do prepare for steep sections and slick rock slopes. With little shade provided along the trail, getting an early start will do you good — and help you avoid the crowds since it’s the park’s most popular hike!

Bryce Canyon National Park

Sunrise in Bryce Canyon, Utah
Source: Pedro Szekely/Flickr

Bryce Canyon is another Southwestern beauty. Located between Zion and Capitol Reef National Parks, Bryce Canyon is not to be missed. Known for its red rock hoodoo formations and lush alpine forest, Bryce Canyon is full of natural wonders.

A great way to experience the park is to visit during winter. You can even get snow in this Southwest experience! Not only will you avoid the sweltering heat of the summer, but you will witness the magic of fresh snowfall on top of bright red hoodoos.

Bryce Canyon National Park
Source: Anna Irene/Flickr

Plus, you can even go snowshoeing in the park! With a wide range of easy, family-friendly trails and more challenging routes for expert trekkers, Bryce Canyon has something for everyone.

Zion National Park

Source: John Fowler/ Flickr

If you are a thrill-seeker then Zion National Park is the perfect destination for you. While Zion features laid-back nature walks and easy hikes to Emerald Pools and Weeping Rock, the park is best known for its more adventurous counterparts.

Zion Angels Landing
Source: Anna Irene/Flickr

Angel’s landing is a short, but incredibly steep climb that ends with a summit on the slick rock with sheer drops on either side. A single link-chain railing guides you to the end, but if you’re afraid of heights this hike is probably not for you.

But once you make it to the top, you get stunning panoramic views of the entire park. If you like staying closer to the ground but still love a good thrill, the Narrows is another famous Zion hike. Traverse through the narrow slot canyon for a different perspective of the park.

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands - Under the Mesa Arch
Source: G Yancy/Flickr

Neighbor to the iconic Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park is a great alternative for those seeking fewer crowds. Canyonlands spreads across 527 square miles and is full of arches, cliffs, and mesas. The best way to explore this vast park is by car.

Canyonlands National Park Panoramic Lookout
Source: Karen Blaha/Flickr

You can easily drive to Mesa Arch, one of the most photographed arches in the west, and catch a glorious sunrise. If you have more time and experience, consider backpacking through the park. Canyonlands is more remote than Utah’s other mighty five members and is divided into three sections, each offering amazing landscapes. Not to mention you’ll see the most dazzling night skies in the west!

Capitol Reef National Park

Capital Reef National Park, Utah
Source: Craig Merkin/Flickr

Transport yourself back in time with a visit to Capitol Reef National Park. It doesn’t get much more Southwestern than this. Capitol Reef is a remote park with a real wild west feeling. You can see ancient petroglyphs along the petroglyph boardwalk, study the geological history of the rock formations and canyons, and even explore the pioneer register and pick fresh fruit in the historic orchards.

Hickman Bridge, Capital Reef National Park
Source: John Manard/Flickr

Thanks to the scenic drive along Utah Highway 24, you don’t even need to leave your car to see the park’s best sights. But don’t forget to stop along the way at the pioneer register and sink your teeth into a freshly baked pie made with fruit from the orchards.

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