From Hiking to Stargazing: The Top 10 National Parks in Utah! [A Travel Checklist]

Welcome to the country of red rock canyons, expansive views framed by arches and sandstone spires. Spreading national forests, vast wilderness areas, quaint state parks, and five national parks in Utah make up more than seventy-five percent of its land area that is open to the public.

The southern portion of Utah is home to all the state’s national parks. The “Mighty Five” are worth the hype, from the breathtakingly steep yet sublime Zion Canyon to the mind-blowing hoodoos of Bryce and the famous Delicate Arch. Additionally, these parks offer at least a dozen hidden gems, peaceful trails, and less-traveled roads for every must-see highlight.

How, then, can one outwit the masses? The easiest solution is to leave when other people aren’t. This may mean a trip in the winter, when the temperatures are much more bearable than in the sweltering summer, and the snow adds an extra magical quality to the hoodoos. Since all national parks in Utah are accessible year-round, you can schedule a stargazing expedition or a sunrise tour.

However, bear in mind that the hours of local eateries and visitor centers change if you visit during the off-season, which runs roughly from November to February. Despite this, you can find cheaper lodging during this time.

Here, being proactive pays off very well. Popular hikes have permits that sell out months in advance. The most sought-after lodges and campgrounds (particularly those inside the park) frequently have a year-long waiting list. You can make a lot of these reservations at www.recreation.gov. The top attractions of the national parks in Utah, listed from east to west, include must-see locations, undiscovered treasures, and insider advice for maximizing each trip.

National Parks in Utah

Utah National Parks

How many national parks in Utah, you ask? The answer is easy because they call it the “Mighty 5” for a reason. Here, we are listing all the state parks in Utah that you could plan a visit to. We are also going to help you with all the stuff you must pack when planning a trip.

Zion National Park

Zion National Park

With its soaring canyon walls and hanging gardens, Zion National Park, the first of the national parks in Utah and the 13th in the United States, is a popular destination on many people’s bucket lists. The park’s main road now closes to private vehicles during peak season (March to October) due to its increasing popularity, requiring visitors to take a shuttle. One advantage is that you can bike this almost flat, picturesque drive.

You can rent bikes and e-bikes in nearby Springdale (check out Zion Cycles). Two to six months in advance of your trip, you must apply for a permit if you plan to hike the popular Angels Landing trail. If possible, stay at Zion Lodge or in neighboring Springdale. Make reservations up to 13 months in advance for any lodging in or around Zion. Explore the park’s Kolob Canyons area or the more sedate paths off Kolob Terrace Road when you’re ready to forgo the tourist traps.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

At Bryce, the main draw is the bizarre spires that have been formed over millions of years. Ultimately, this location has the highest concentration of these hoodoos worldwide. The best (and quickest) way to satisfy your thirst for hoodoo views is to take the main park drive and take the Navajo Loop from Sunset Point or the Queen’s Garden Loop from Sunrise Point. Try a portion of the 23-mile Under-the-Rim Trail or one of those trails down to Fairyland Loop for a more immersive hike.

Take the back entrance into Bryce Amphitheater via Tropic Trail from the small town of Tropic to have some hoodoos all to yourself. While there, you can also have lunch at i.d.k. Barbecue a state favorite. Bike the dirt Thunder Mountain Trail or the paved Red Canyon Path to discover a more sedate hoodoo landscape. The historic Lodge at Bryce Canyon is the perfect base camp for exploring the park; however, if reservations are unavailable, consider lodging at one of the nearby hotels in Bryce Canyon City. We also think Under Canvas Bryce’s campsites are great.

Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park

The quietest of the national parks in Utah boasts a magnificent environment that is attributed to the Waterpocket Fold, a 100-mile geologic wrinkle in the earth. Petroglyphs and the historic Fruita Orchards, which the park still cares for, are two of the area’s unique attractions. Try the fresh pies at Gifford Homestead, which is close to the park entrance and made with local fruit, such as apples or peaches. 

Take a leisurely stroll along the former main highway through Capitol Gorge. Or brave the steep trail to Cassidy Arch, where there are rumors, that Butch Cassidy escaped the law. If you have a decent 4WD car, you, too, can escape (from other travelers). Notom-Bullfrog Road intersects with Burr Trail Road, another backcountry route, and leads to Lake Powell. Burr Trail leads to Boulder, the starting point for Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monument and the location of Hell’s Backbone Grill, possibly the best restaurant in Utah.

It stays open in spring through fall. You should make reservations in advance. If you stay in one of the lodges in this small town that is only five minutes from the park, Boulder is close, but Torrey is closer. Canyonlands is divided into five distinct districts, each providing a unique experience. Island in the Sky is a place of expansive vistas.

Don’t miss Mesa Arch or Shafer Trail Viewpoint. The Needles District is a great place to go hiking. It’s only about 20 miles south of the Island in the Sky as the crow flies (two hours drive). One of the best hiking routes is the action-packed Cave Spring Trail. It features a replica of an 1880s cowboy camp and mushroom-like rock formations.

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park

Get lost in the Maze. Other worthwhile stops in this backcountry district are Chocolate Drops and the Land of Standing Rocks. See amazing petroglyphs, including floating “holy ghosts,” by traveling to the non-contiguous Horseshoe Canyon unit. For a rafting adventure, head to the River District, which is at the base of the canyons formed by the Colorado and Green Rivers.

The best place to stay for most of the park’s district is Moab, which provides quick access to the park’s rivers, the Needles, and Island in the Sky.

Arches National Park

Arches National Park img

Arches, the inspiration behind Ed Abbey’s famous Desert Solitaire, has evolved significantly since 1968. Because of its increased activity, the park service is currently testing a timed entry system that will require reservations in advance from April to October 2023. However, it is possible to avoid a Disneyland experience. If you arrive before sunrise or remain past sunset, you will be rewarded with quieter trails and golden light that casts a glow over the arches.

Be an early bird or a night owl. This is feasible because Moab’s closest lodging options are situated sufficiently near the park’s entrance. If you would prefer not to get up early, reserve a campsite at Devils Garden up to six months in advance or take a ranger-led tour to see the Fiery Furnace area, which is accessible only with a permit.

Travel Checklist When Visiting the National Parks in Utah

Travel Checklist When Visiting the National Parks in Utah

Planning a trip to the national parks in Utah is as fun as it is a massive plan to come up with. You must be well prepared for the weather you will be subject to both in the day as well as night. The few days that you will spend here will be nothing short of an adventure. Here is a list of things that you must have with you if your destination includes the national parks in Utah.

Hardy Water Shoes

The red desert dirt in Utah can be extremely sticky. You should invest in good water shoes if you intend to go river rafting, canoeing, or kayaking. When participating in water activities, flip-flops are not advised. They will become stuck in the mud and either break or get sucked down the river. 

Your feet will be safe if you hike the rocky Virgin River through the Narrows in Zion National Park wearing rubber-toed shoes covered with firm soles. (Near Zion’s Springdale entrance, you can rent an entire dry gear outfit, including shoes.)

Blacklight Flashlight

Scorpios are nocturnal creatures that hide during the day. Use your black light to identify them; the light from it causes these odd creatures to glow. Don’t worry too much about scorpions because there is only one species in the Southwest that is thought to be deadly.

Sun Protection

The strength of the Utah sun only needs to be experienced once, especially in the desert, where there isn’t much shade to be found. There will be certain hikes you take or picnic tables you sit at where there isn’t a single spot to hide from the sun and heat of the desert. If possible, bring a wide-brimmed hat to cover your entire face. That would be better than a baseball cap. Next, cover all exposed skin, including the back of your neck, with sunscreen.

Don’t forget to wear sunglasses for eye protection. Polarized lenses will improve your vision and shield your eyes from burns. Recall that at 8,000 feet, you are closer to the sun than you are at sea level. If you’re going to be on the water, get some sunglasses straps. It’s annoying to watch your new shades drift away with you.

Rain Jacket

You might wonder, who takes rain jackets into the desert? Yes, we do. Each time we come to town. Even the desert experiences occasional, albeit brief, bursts of rainfall. You want a jacket that will keep you dry and warm when it pours, and the temperature drops.

Hiking Boots

Bring a pair of supportive, water-resistant, and breathable hiking boots to maximize your experience. These will make it easy for you to travel both dry and wet trails, allowing you to go farther than you otherwise could have. They also shield your feet from trail stones, cactus needles, and maybe even snakebites. Here’s a staff member who can’t stop gushing about his Sportiva Synthesis Mid GTX to get you started on your research. Vasque Skywalks GTS was highly appreciated by our friends at Backpacker.  

Water Bottle

Carry a sizable water bottle that you can fill with your garden hose prior to packing if you intend to go camping. With the jug, you can travel with water wherever you go. This means you can cook, stay hydrated, and make coffee in the morning even if you find yourself at a campsite without water. A water pump is typically available at campsites so you can replenish as needed.

Hydration

The air in the desert is so dry that perspiration quickly evaporates. Often, sweating is invisible to you. By staying hydrated, you can prevent dehydration, which can cause headaches as well as more severe ailments like heat stroke and cramps. Make a drinking plan of 5 to 1 liter for each hiking hour. Make sure to continue drinking even when you are not recreating. You are hydrated if your urine is clear. We adore carrying our CamelBak with us so we can continue to sip while we’re out and about. 

Warm/Cool Clothes

Temperatures in the national parks in Utah desert can vary by up to 30 degrees in a single day. So, pack light clothing for the day and warm clothing for the evenings. Include a winter hat for when the sun sets, and the cooler air moves in. As for national parks in Utah, this is particularly crucial in the fall, winter, and spring. Temperatures here can drop sharply after precipitation and sunset.

Maps

There are an amazing variety of trails and overlooks in each of Utah’s five national parks. Having a map is beneficial. You can either get your maps in advance and get them now, or you can wait until a park ranger hands you one at the entrance station. Get the NatGeo Utah National Parks Map Pack, which includes detailed topographic maps, at REI.com or download free PDF maps.

Star Chart/App

The national parks in Utah have some of the darkest skies. You can recognize some of the formations you might not have noticed otherwise with the help of a star chart. Particularly so if you are traveling from an urban area. Alternatively, you can make use of technology and download the SkyView app for Android or iPhone. This app allows you to point your phone at objects to identify stars and other objects. In contrast to the 500 stars in an urban sky, you might be able to see up to 15,000 stars in a desert. It’s a long way off!

Tablecloth

The little things add up to a significant impact. Pull out your tablecloth when you stop for lunch at the weathered picnic table by the side of the road, and you’ll go from rustic to elegant in an instant. Additionally, by avoiding leaning against the table, you’ll prevent difficult-to-remove splinters.

Bug Spray

Rather than swatting insects, spend more time taking in the beauty. These days, there are many bug sprays made from natural ingredients that are safer for kids to use if you don’t want to use harsh chemicals. Our choice is the Sawyer 20% Picaridin Insect Repellent, which is great for families. According to Consumer Reports, this formula offers the best defense against mosquitoes. In addition to being highly effective against ticks and biting flies, Sawyer’s insect repellent won’t harm tools or equipment.

Wrapping Up

The national parks in Utah serve as a living example of the amazing natural beauty and geological marvels that abound in the American Southwest. These protected landscapes preserve the natural heritage of the area. They also provide an opportunity for visitors to engage with the profound forces that have shaped the Earth over millions of years.

The terrain ranges from the majestic red rock formations of Arches and Canyonlands to the captivating canyons of Zion and Bryce Canyon. The national parks in Utah invite us to discover, value, and safeguard the delicate wonders that make our planet truly remarkable. They serve as entry points to adventure, education, and environmental stewardship.

In addition to creating lifelong memories, experiencing Utah’s breathtaking scenery also helps to continue the legacy of conservation, guaranteeing that these natural treasures will be appreciated for many years to come. If you have thoughts to share or questions to ask about national parks in Utah, please leave a comment below. We would love to hear from you!

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Sarmind is a Writer and an aspiring Editor who has experience in various short and long-form niches. Her academic pursuits intensely mold her industry background in content creation. She holds a Master's degree in Literature, and when not writing for professional purposes, she can be found re-reading old classics of Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters. She is super fond of cats and enjoys hours of doom-scrolling through memes on social media while cuddled up with a cup of desi chai. She likes to think she is an intellectual badass (colloquial: nerdy bore), and now all she needs is a sewing kit to complete the look!

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Top 10 Beaches In Gloucester In Massachusetts – Travel Guide

BY Barsha BhattacharyaDec 10, 2022

There’s something so beautiful about the beaches in Gloucester, Massachusetts - so much so that you have to visit all of these beaches. From small, isolated charmers accompanied by soft, silky sand to larger, pebbly beaches boasting kaleidoscopic sunsets and impressive views, Gloucester's most popular beaches have everything you love! Located comfortably on the gorgeous and captivating Cape Ann, the diverse Gloucester beaches are perfect for every season! Most Boston residents love to visit these beaches during weekends, soaking up some Vitamin C and enjoying the fresh air in the charming atmosphere. So, if you are planning to visit during Summer or on weekends, you can expect some crowds.  The rest you can find out by scrolling down - and don’t forget to stick around till the end!  Top 10 Beaches In Gloucester In Massachusetts - Travel Guide! So you are planning to check out the beaches in Gloucester MA! That’s great. In fact, if you are planning to go for a swim, you can visit during the Summer months or even between the Memorial and the Labor Days! This is the time when you will find lifeguards on duty, relatively less frigid water temperatures, and welcoming ice cream trucks.  Pack that picnic, pick your swimsuit, get hold of your umbrella, and find the perfect beach in Gloucester! Don’t forget your sunscreen - for now, keep reading to find out about all the hidden gems on the Gloucester shore.  1. Good Harbor Beach: Image Source Do you love digging your feet into silky soft, and velvety sand? Then this Gloucester beach will definitely impress you with its spectacular sunsets and sugar-white base. One of the prettiest beaches in Gloucester, the Good Harbor Beach will make you feel like you are sitting on some exotic Caribbean island! The Gloucester beach is perfect for playing volleyball, body surfing, and walking especially during low tide. There are always lifeguards on duty from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day! Try not to trash the place considering it will also pollute the sea. Insider's tip: Flotation devices, inflatables, and surfboards are all banned between Memorial Day and Labor Day. But boogie boards made from Styrofoam are allowed.  2. Wingaersheek Beach: Image Source One of the most beautiful beaches in Gloucester, Massachusetts, Wingaersheek Beach doesn’t have a vast expanse of sand. It measures only about half 0f one mile in terms of length. But don’t make up your mind based on the size of this beach - instead, consider the sheer beauty of the beach! The beach is 0.6 mile long where people can stroll around. The name of the beach has been derived from the Dutch name ‘Wyngaerts Hoeck’. The beach parking reservation system creates opportunities for tourists and visitors to enjoy their beach experience especially if they are non-resident. Insider's tip: Visit Wingaersheek Beach during low tide. The low tide not just increases the size of the beach dramatically, but you will also get to spot clams and hermit crabs. 3. Half Moon Beach: Image Source You don’t have to google ‘half moon beach Gloucester’ - instead, just pack your beach and check out this golden horseshoe surrounded by lush green nature and giant boulders. The crescent shape of the beach is responsible for its name. Perfect for couples, you must visit this beach if you have been seeking an isolated beach experience. In the city of Gloucester, there are many beautiful beaches and if you visit this one, it will be a memorable experience. The beach is hidden and if you come really close, only then will you be able to see the beach. Insider's tip: You must not miss out on the Sunset. The sky will display hues of orange, pink, and yellow - don’t forget to carry your camera! 4. Pavilion Beach: Image Source Located close to Gloucester downtown, Pavilion Beach is one of our favorite beaches in Gloucester! After an exhausting day of shopping and stuffing our mouths with local delicacies, Pavilion Beach appears like a respite with its clean water and pretty views. We loved how relaxing the atmosphere was in and around this beach! Insider's tip: In the month of June, residents here celebrate St. Peter's Fiesta, an event that was started in 1927 for honoring the ‘patron saint of fishermen.’ 5. Plum Cove Beach: Image Source One of the Gloucester beaches that's a favorite amongst locals, Plum Cove Beach is perfect for families. Ideal for kids and young adults, this mini slice of sandy paradise is all you need this weekend - it’s practically impossible for kids to get lost here! You will find your stress washed out and all your worries lulled by the waves.  Insider's tip: Lifeguards are not on duty starting from the weekend after Father’s Day, and it continues till Labor Day weekend. 6. Cressy's Beach: Image Source The beaches in Gloucester are so different from each other. If you are not a fan of typical beach activities like running around, comfortable lounging, or even sandcastle building, then Cressy's Beach is ideal for you! Don’t forget your water shoes since the waters are peppered with rocks, even the shallow waters!  Insider's tip: Picnic tables and outdoor grills are permitted here - so you can settle down with some food and enjoy the same with the spectacular views! 7. Niles Beach: Image Source You thought the perfect Gloucester beach MA doesn’t exist. But then you come across Niles Beach, and the silver sand accompanied by high tides will welcome you! Located in eastern Gloucester, this is one of those secluded spots that are the perfect welcome getaway from the common bustling beaches. The beach is limited to vehicles; however, it is well situated across East Main Street in Gloucester. The beach is not allowed to everyone and residents mostly enjoy the place. Insider's tip: Since the beach is so beautiful, naturally, you will face problems with parking. If you manage to get hold of some beach stickers, then you can save yourself from the traffic. 8. Long Beach: Image Source One of the best beaches in Gloucester, Long Beach is literally that - a really long beach stretching from Gloucester to Rockport. The picturesque beach is known for its soft, silky, and white sand - and how can you even ignore the captivating Thacher Island, accompanied by two historic lighthouses? This is one the favourites among the locals! It has a private parking lot along with showers for swimmers or divers. There are also beautiful cottages libing up the beach looking like the perfect picturesque. Insider's tip: Check the parking signs really carefully. You will find that certain areas on the beach have the ‘resident-only’ sign, which means you will need beach stickers for lounging in those areas. 9. Norwood Heights Beach: Image Source One of the best parts of Gloucester MA beaches are the local gems that are completely hidden from tourists. And Norwood Heights Beach is exactly that - a local gem, albeit hidden. A charming mixture of rocks and sand, Norwood Heights Beach is ideal for everyone who is seeking a little more than ordinary! Don’t forget to visit the Annisquam Lighthouse. The beach is even more beautiful with the lighthouse on it called the Annisquam lighthouse. There are also resorts on the beach so you can book your stay there and enjoy the food. Insider's tip: If you love listening to music, then you must use headphones on this beach since open speakers are banned on the beach. 10. Singing Beach, Manchester-By-The-Sea: Image Source Although Singing Beach is not technically located in Gloucester, there’s no way we can miss out on this one! One of the most beautiful beaches in Gloucester, Singing Beach, is located in the downtown area of Manchester-By-The-Sea. And it’s not just the sheer beauty of the beach that attracts visitors, it’s also the musical experience you will find here. The beach also has a beautiful summertime bathhouse where you can stay and enjoy your vacation. There is also a snack bar behind the house. The sand on the beach makes noise when it dries! Insider's tip: Parking can be quite challenging especially if its a really busy weekend in Summer. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Check out the most frequently asked questions about the different beaches in Gloucester.  1. Which Beach Is Better, Good Harbor Or Wingaersheek? Ans: Wingaersheek is known for its calm and beautiful water, perfect for all beachgoers who aren’t seeking any waves. In fact, if there’s anyone looking for waves, then Good Harbor is what you need, not Wingaersheek. And if you are a lover of long walks by the beach, then you can’t miss out on Crane Beach, located in Ipswich.  2. What Is The Best Beach To Go To In Massachusetts? 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A Step By Step Guide On Planning A Luxury Travel Vacation

BY Abdul Aziz MondalJul 4, 2023

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Traveling Taught Me To Love Myself & Look At Life, Differently

BY Riyanka RoyJun 1, 2021

When I initially started traveling, it was merely to explore new places and learn about things beyond the box. I started feeling that stagnation can never provide what my soul was seeking. With an attitude of using travel experiences as a mode of inner transformation, I had a chance to explore an intimate relationship with myself. And even before I could realize what magical spells traveling has cast on my life, I knew that I was addicted to it (in a good way!) and traveling was actually helping me to be a better person. Before I dig deeper into this, I would like to take the opportunity and make it clear that there’s a difference between ‘Self Love’ and ‘Narcissism’ (however, it’s a very thin line and one has to be really mindful to understand this).  To put it simply, ‘Self Love’ is related to one’s own well-being, consciousness, and happiness, while ‘Narcissism’ is an excessive or erotic interest in oneself and one’s physical appearance. 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Gladly, it all turned out to be a myth – when I didn’t have to think twice before lending my bottle of water to a fellow trekker, during a high altitude Himalayan Trek, or when I had to spend nights at an underprivileged Children’s Home in the outskirts of Nairobi, where I went to volunteer for the little ones. I realized that the constraints were all in my mind, and I didn’t need a second to break free from it when the situation arose. It made me feel more confident about myself, and I knew that I can actually adjust with anyone, anywhere! Traveling helped me to realize that I can be my best company! In today’s date, when we are so obsessed with the internet and keep connecting with others over the virtual world, have you ever thought how beautiful it would be to take a break and connect to yourself? We often seek love and appreciation from others, which seems like a source of happiness. But how often do we appreciate ourselves – for trying something new, or maybe for doing something we thought we never could? I’ve been no different – for I also gave a lot of importance to what others would say about my deeds – till the point when I realized that it doesn’t really matter if I’m happy with myself. As I started to explore the world by myself, there were often times when I would find myself away from the network, amidst solitude – and that’s when I realized that I actually love being by myself! I could read for hours, or listen to music, or just sit by the window watching the clouds float –  thinking how blessed I’m to have seen the sunset in different parts of the world. Traveling taught me to declutter my mind and trust others. While growing up, we are often taught not to trust and refuse any edibles offered by strangers as well as not to take anything from people we don’t know, etc. Such things often clutter our mind with suspicion, and we would look at anyone with a tinge of mistrust, thinking that the person might harm us in some way or the other. It was only when I started traveling, that I got to realize how stupid these things were! During most of my journeys, I’ve blindly trusted the local transport drivers, taking me to places and suggesting areas worth exploring. While I was in Bhutan for a month where I was mostly hitchhiking, I got into random people’s cars, who at times took a detour to drop me off! There were times when I would be hungry, and a fellow traveler on a bus or a train would offer me something that I would gladly eat. It helped me to learn that the world isn’t as bad as we think it to be while sitting at home! Eventually, it was these bits and pieces of kindness I received on the roads, that reminded me of the beauty of life, helped me to declutter my mind, and taught me to trust strangers. Traveling taught me valuable lessons about minimalist living, compassion, and gratitude. In our otherwise regular life, we tend to think that a lot of things are needed (which we term as ‘necessities’), and often, we end up buying stuff that we probably would never use! Our love for material possessions takes control over the mind, and we keep spending in order to accumulate things. Even I used to be a shopaholic at some point in time and would pick up anything that caught my attention. But when I started to travel, I realized that only a limited amount can be packed in the rucksack, and when I’m on the roads, I barely need those things that I’ve shopped and filled my cupboards with! The endless journeys taught me the charm of minimalistic living, and now, I pack as little as I think I would need. Also, we often forget to be grateful for all that we have and take things for granted. As I traveled to different places, met several people, and got to know about their lives – I figured out that not all are born lucky, and I was in a much better place than many out there. This realization helped me to be more compassionate and humble than I ever was, and I learned to value things more than what I previously did. I realized that I come alive when I wander. There have been difficult days (especially now that the pandemic has brought uncertainties into our lives), and I realized that I felt most alive when I was traveling. Read Also: 5 Reasons To Consider Solo Travel 5 Backpacking Tips For An Unforgettable Euro-Trip Travel Advice For Different Countries Around The World 10 Travel Tips For Singles At This Valentine’s Day