Take advantage of all our state has to offer with these tips for outdoor adventures at state and national parks.
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.
- 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.
- Before you arrive at the park, map out the sites you want to see. 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.
- If you do want to stop at the visitor’s center, do so on your way out of 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 as close to it as possible. Also know that most parks have more than one access point.
- Use resources on the Internet.
- Save time by purchasing your passes online. National Park passes can be purchased at store.usgs.gov/pass. State Park passes can be purchased at stateparks.utah.gov/resources/passes.
- For campsite reservations within the National Parks, visit recreation.gov. For campsite reservations within Utah’s State Parks, visit utahstateparks.reserveamerica.com.
- For National Park maps, go to npsmaps.com.
- For information on traveling with children, go to visitutah.com/plan-your-trip/traveling-with-children.
This article was written by Jordan Smith, Utah State University Extension outdoor recreation and tourism specialist and USU Institute of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism director