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Utah National Parks, Trails, Monuments and Recreation Areas

Utah National Parks, Trails, Monuments and Recreation Areas

My family loves to get out and explore the land around us, so I decided to make a list of the Utah National Parks, Monuments and Recreation Areas so we could plan some trips for the upcoming months to places we haven’t visited yet. Here is the information I could find about Utah. There are 5 National Parks in Utah, 5 trails and sites, 6 national monuments and 1 national recreation area.

Utah National Parks, Trails, Monuments and Recreation Areas

We have gathered a ton of information about each of the Utah National Parks, Trails, Monuments and Recreation Areas to help you plan your trip to Utah, or a visit to one of the many areas. There is so many amazing and fun things to do in Utah. Be sure to take advantage of all of the amazing sites and all of the other activities in the surrounding areas. We visited Zions National Park earlier this year and had so much fun. Plan your trips so you can spend some time in each place and explore them.

Utah National Parks _____________________________________

 

Arches National Park

delicate arch

Delicate Arch – Credit: NPS Photo/Neal Herbert.

Visit Arches and discover a landscape of contrasting colors, landforms and textures unlike any other in the world. The park has over 2,000 natural stone arches, in addition to hundreds of soaring pinnacles, massive fins and giant balanced rocks. This red rock wonderland will amaze you with its formations, refresh you with its trails, and inspire you with its sunsets

Directions: Arches National Park is located five miles north of Moab, Utah, on US 191. From Moab, Utah, drive five miles north on Main Street/US 191. The entrance to the park is on the right. From Interstate 70, take exit 182 (Crescent Junction), then drive south 28 miles on US 191. The entrance to the park is on the left.
Fees: Fees start at $10 up to $25
Hours: Arches National Park is open 24 hours a day, year-round. Visitor center hours vary by season.
Pets:  You may have your pet with you: on all park roads, in parking areas, in picnic areas, in Devils Garden Campground. You may not have your pet with you: at any overlooks, on any hiking. trails, or anywhere off-trails, in the visitor center.

Delicate Arch at Night

Delicate Arch at Night – NPS photo by Jacob W. Frank

The forces of nature have acted in concert to create the landscape of Arches, which contains the greatest density of natural arches in the world. Rock layers tell a story of millions of years of deposition, erosion and other geologic events. Arches is in a “high desert” environment, with hot summer temperatures, cool winters, and infrequent precipitation. The desert conditions determine the kind of life forms that live here, and the park’s relative isolation from major urban areas allow us to witness fascinating natural processes and conditions.

Arches preserves some of the darkest night sky in the Southwest. A great place to get some amazing night time sky shots.

Learn more about Arches National Park on NPS.gov

 


 

Bryce Canyon National Park

bryce canyon aquarius plateau

Thor’s Hammer at Sunset PC: NPS

There is no place like Bryce Canyon. Hoodoos (odd-shaped pillars of rock left standing from the forces of erosion) can be found on every continent, but here is the largest collection of hoodoos in the world! Descriptions fail. Cave without a roof? Forest of stone? Photographs do not do it justice. An imagination of wonder will serve you when visiting Bryce Canyon National Park.

Directions: From the North: Take I-15 south to UT-20 (exit 95). Travel east on UT-20 to US-89. Follow US-89 south to UT-12. Travel east on UT-12 to UT-63. Take UT-63 south to Bryce Canyon National Park. From the South through Zion National Park: Take I-15 north to UT-9 (exit 16). Follow UT-9 east through Zion National Park to US-89. Travel north on US-89 to UT-12. Go east on UT-12 to UT-63. Take UT-63 south to Bryce Canyon National Park.
Fees: Ranges from $15-$30 for a 7 day pass
Hours: Visitor Center and Fee Booths are closed on Thanks Giving Day, Christmas Day and New Years Day. Otherwise open 24 hours a day.
Pets: Pets are permitted on all paved surfaces in the park: campgrounds, parking lots, paved roads, paved viewpoint areas, on the paved trail between Sunset Point and Sunrise Point, and on the paved Shared Use Path between the park entrance and Inspiration Point. Pets are not permitted on unpaved trails or viewpoints, in public buildings or on public transportation vehicles. These regulations also apply to pets that are carried.

Bryce Canyon trails being created and visitors visiting the viewpoints and the Lodge. NPS Photo

Bryce Canyon trails being created and visitors visiting the viewpoints and the Lodge.
NPS Photo

Bryce Canyon is a small national park in southwestern Utah. Named after the Mormon Pioneer Ebenezer Bryce, Bryce Canyon became a national park in 1928.

Bryce is famous for its worldly unique geology, consisting of a series of horseshoe-shaped amphitheaters carved from the eastern edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau in southern Utah. The erosional force of frost-wedging and the dissolving power of rainwater have shaped the colorful limestone rock of the Claron Formation into bizarre shapes including slot canyons, windows, fins, and spires called “hoodoos.” Tinted with colors too numerous and subtle to name, these whimsically arranged rocks create a wondrous landscape of mazes, offering some of the most exciting and memorable walks and hikes imaginable.

Ponderosa pines, high elevation meadows, and fir-spruce forests border the rim of the plateau and abound with wildlife. This area boasts some of the world’s best air quality, offering panoramic views of three states and approaching 200 miles of visibility. This, coupled with the lack of nearby large light sources, creates unparalleled opportunities for stargazing.

Learn more about Bryce Canyon National Park on NPS.gov

 


 

Canyonlands National Park

NPS photo by Neal Herbert

NPS photo by Neal Herbert

Canyonlands invites you to explore a wilderness of countless canyons and fantastically formed buttes carved by the Colorado River and its tributaries. Rivers divide the park into four districts: the Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze, and the rivers themselves. These areas share a primitive desert atmosphere, but each offers different opportunities for sightseeing and adventure.

Directions: Canyonlands National Park is cut into three districts by the Green and Colorado rivers. Island in the Sky district, in the north of the park, is the closest district to Moab. In about 40 minutes, you can reach Island in the Sky via UT 313. The Needles district is in the southeast corner of Canyonlands. The Needles is about an hour’s drive from Monticello via UT 211. The Maze district, in the west of the park, is the most remote and challenging. You can reach The Maze via gravel roads from UT 24.
Fees: Fee ranges from $10-$25  for a pass
Hours: Canyonlands National Park is open 24 hours a day, year round.
Pets: You may have your pet with you: at Willow Flat and Squaw Flat campgrounds, on paved scenic drives and parking lots, on the Potash/Shafer Canyon road between Moab and Island in the Sky. You may not have your pet with you: at overlooks, on any hiking trails, anywhere in the backcountry, on the rivers, on any backcountry roads, even if it stays in your vehicle.

NPS photo by Neal Herbert

NPS photo by Neal Herbert

Canyonlands National Park preserves 337,598 acres of colorful canyons, mesas, buttes, fins, arches, and spires in the heart of southeast Utah’s high desert. Water and gravity have been the prime architects of this land, sculpting layers of rock into the rugged landscape you see today.

Canyonlands preserves the natural beauty and human history throughout its four districts, which are divided by the Green and Colorado rivers. While the districts share a primitive desert atmosphere, each retains its own character and offers different opportunities for exploration and adventure.

Learn more about Canyonlands National Park on NPS.gov

 


 

Capitol Reef National Park

Photo Credit: NPS

Photo Credit: NPS

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, a geologic monocline (a wrinkle on the earth) extending almost 100 miles.

Directions: From I-70: Take exit 149, then take UT-24 west toward Hanksville; continue for 43.8 miles (70.5 km). Turn right to continue on UT-24 west and continue for 37.3 miles (60 km). From I-15: take exit 188 then US-50 east toward Scipio. Left on UT-50; continuing 0.7 miles (1.1 km). Turn right onto US-50 east; continue for 24.4 miles (39.3 km). Turn right onto UT-260 south and continue 4.2 miles (6.8 km), then right on UT-24 for 71.3 miles. UT-12: North on highway 12 to Torrey, UT. Right onto UT-24.
Fees: Entrance fee is $10
Hours: Capitol Reef is a 24 hour park, open all day, every day.
Pets: Pets are allowed on leash in the developed areas of the park: along paved and dirt roadways, in the picnic area, in the orchards when open, and in the campgrounds. Pets are not permitted on hiking trails, in public buildings, or in the backcountry.

NPS/Nathan Gross

NPS/Nathan Gross

Below are some suggested ways to spend your time. If you have:

An Hour or Two:

  • Stop at the visitor center and watch the park movie.
  • Pick some delicious fruit when in season.
  • Take a short hike, such as Hickman Bridge.
  • Tour the Scenic Drive (approximately 90 minutes round trip).
  • Visit the petroglyph panel, historic schoolhouse, or the Gifford House Store and Museum to enjoy fresh baked pie when in season!
  • Join a ranger-guided program.

One Day:

  • Take a longer hike, such as Cohab Canyon.
  • Join a ranger-guided walk, talk, evening program or astronomy program.
  • Borrow a Family Fun Pack and learn about the park through family-oriented games and activities.
  • Become a Junior Ranger. Booklets are available at the visitor center.
  • Tour Cathedral Valley or the Waterpocket District. Check at the visitor center for current road conditions or call 435-425-3791.

Several Days:

  • Combine several day trip options.
  • Hike the shorter trails and routes in the Waterpocket District or Cathedral Valley.
  • Enjoy the park’s pristine night sky with stargazing. Night sky charts are available at the visitor center.
  • Backpack into remote areas of the park and experience solitude and quiet. Check for current weather, road, and trail conditions at the visitor center. A free backcountry permit is required for overnight backcountry use.

Learn more about Capitol Reef National Park on NPS.gov

 


 

Zion National Park

Hikers travel through The Narrows.

Credit: NPS Photo

Utah’s First National Park. Follow the paths where ancient native people and pioneers walked. Gaze up at massive sandstone cliffs of cream, pink, and red that soar into a brilliant blue sky. Experience wilderness in a narrow slot canyon. Zion’s unique array of plants and animals will enchant you as you absorb the rich history of the past and enjoy the excitement of present day adventures.

Directions: Zion National Park is located on State Route 9 in Springdale, Utah.
Fees: Fees vary from $15-$30 for a 7 day pass
Hours: Zion National Park is open every day of the year, 24 hours a day
Pets: Leashed pets may be walked on the Pa’rus Trail. All other trails, and all wilderness areas, are closed to pets.


Watchman Trail Hike in Zion National Park – Photo Credit Coralie Serigh

Located in Washington, Iron, and Kane Counties in southwestern Utah, Zion National Park encompasses some of the most scenic canyon country in the United States. Within its 229 square miles are high plateaus, a maze of narrow, deep, sandstone canyons, and the Virgin River and its tributaries. Zion also has 2,000-foot Navajo Sandstone cliffs, pine- and juniper-clad slopes, and seeps, springs, and waterfalls supporting lush and colorful hanging gardens.

With an elevation change of about 5,000 feet-from the highest point at Horse Ranch Mountain (at 8,726 feet) to the lowest point at Coal Pits Wash (at 3,666 feet), Zion’s diverse topography leads to a diversity of habitats and species. Desert, riparian (river bank), pinyon-juniper, and conifer woodland communities all contribute to Zion’s diversity. Neighboring ecosystems-the Mojave Desert, the Great Basin, and the Rocky Mountains-are also contributors to Zion’s abundance. Learn more about the natural features and ecosystems of Zion.

Learn more about Zion National Park on NPS.gov site

 


 

Utah National Trails and Sites________________________________

 

California National Historic Trail

Credit: NPS View of the deep gorge along the Snake River at Cauldron Linn in south central Idaho.

Credit: NPS
View of the deep gorge along the Snake River at Cauldron Linn in south central Idaho.

Follow in the footsteps of over 250,000 emigrants who traveled to the gold fields and rich farmlands of California during the 1840s and 1850s-the greatest mass migration in American history. More than 1,000 miles of trail ruts and traces can still be seen across 10 states on the California National Historic Trail.

Directions: Those portions of the California National Historic Trail authorized by Congress include nearly 2,000 miles of historic trail that was once the primary “road” taken by farmers, enterprising business managers, gold-seekers and fortune hunters who chose to make a new life on the California frontier. The route passes through ten states from Missouri to California. Please see our Directions page for more information on following the California National Historic Trail across the United States.
Hours: The California National Historic Trail is not a clearly marked hiking trail. Instead it is a corridor that passes through communities as well as wild areas and through different states and land ownership. Each location varies as to the hours of operation and access. Please check individual locations along the trail to plan your visit.
Fees: There are no user or entry fees for the California National Historic Trail. Fees may be charged at some trail-related federal, state, or locally owned historic sites and interpretive facilities.
Pets: Varies by location

Suggested sites to see on the California National Historic Trail. NPS Image

Suggested sites to see on the California National Historic Trail.
NPS Image

Selected Sites on the California National Historic Trail

  • Ash Hollow Complex/Windless Hill – Lewellen, Nebraska
  • Chimney Rock – Bayard, Nebraska
  • Scotts Bluff National Monument/Mitchell Pass – Scottsbluff, Nebraska
  • Fort Laramie – Fort Laramie, Wyoming
  • Independence Rock – Natrona County, Wyoming
  • Devil’s Gate – Natrona County, Wyoming
  • South Pass – Fremont County, Wyoming
  • City of Rocks Complex – Almo, Idaho
  • Mormon Station – Genoa, Nevada
  • Sutter’s Fort – Sacramento, California

Read more about the California National Historic Trail on NPS.gov

 


 

Golden Spike National Historic Site

Champagne All Visitors May 10th, 2016 Chuck Ryan

Champagne All Visitors May 10th, 2016
Chuck Ryan

May 10, 1869 the Union and Central Pacific Railroads joined their rails at Promontory Summit, Utah Territory and forged the destiny of a nation. Golden Spike National Historic Site shares the stories of the people and settings that define the completion of the first Transcontinental Railroad.

Golden Spike National Historic Site receives approximately 45,000 visitors a year. These visitors come to explore the unique history connected with one of the greatest turning points that influenced the growth of our nation. Although Golden Spike National Historic Site is open year round, most visitors frequent come in between the first of May and mid-October. The most popular attractions include stepping out to the site where history was made, viewing the site’s replica steam locomotives, participating in historic re-enactments of the famous completion ceremony, and exploring the nearly 150 year-old railroad grade on the auto tours and hiking trail. Whether you are coming out to check out the visitor center, see a film, or enjoy the unique landscape you should be able to connect with some of the unique aspects of this pivotal moment in our nation’s history.

Directions: 6200 North 22300 West, Promontory Summit, UT 84307
Fees: $5-$7 depending on the season
Hours: The Site closes Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. There may be other closures of the Site due to weather or other extenuating circumstances. Open
Pets: No information specified. Call (435) 471-2209 x29 to find out more.

Learn more about Golden Spike National Historic Site on NPS.gov

 


 

 Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail

Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail

Devil’s Gate – Credit: NPS

Explore the Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail across five states to see the route 70,000 Mormons traveled from 1846 to 1869 to escape religious persecution. The Pioneer Company of 1846-1847 established the first route from Nauvoo, Illinois, to Salt Lake City, Utah, covering about 1,300 miles.

trailsites_map2

Mormon Pioneer NHT sites:

  1. Nauvoo National Historic District – Nauvoo, Illinois
  2. Montrose Landing – Montrose, Iowa
  3. Garden Grove – Garden Grove, Iowa
  4. Mount Pisgah – Thayer, Iowa
  5. Winter Quarters Complex – Omaha, Nebraska
  6. Murdock Site – Alda, Nebraska
  7. Sand Hill Ruts – Sutherland, Nebraska
  8. Ancient Bluff Ruins – Broadwater, Nebraska
  9. Fort Bridger – Fort Bridger, Wyoming
  10. This is the Place Heritage Park – Salt Lake City, Utah

Learn more about Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail on the NPS.gov site

 


 

Old Spanish National Historic Trail

Discover Old Spanish Trail corridors: This section of the Rio Chama River, tributary of the Rio Grande, is located about six miles north of Abiquiú, New Mexico and flows through the Carson National Forest. Photo Credit NPS

Discover Old Spanish Trail corridors: This section of the Rio Chama River, tributary of the Rio Grande, is located about six miles north of Abiquiú, New Mexico and flows through the Carson National Forest. Photo Credit NPS

Old Spanish National Historic Trail extends 2,700 miles across New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and California. There are museums, historic sites, landmarks, and trail markers located along the trail. See the Old Spanish Trail Historical Sites here.

Directions: OPERATING HOURS VARY FROM SITE TO SITE. There are many historic sites, museums, and parks (federal, state, and local) along the Old Spanish National Historic Trail in New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and California for you to visit. Please contact individual sites for more information by going to the Passport Program web page, where sites are listed by state, and there is an interactive map to search for site. www.nps.gov/olsp/planyourvisit/passport-program.htm
Fees: There are NO USER OR ENTRY FEES fees for the Old Spanish National Historic Trail. NOMINAL FEES may be charged at some trail-related federal, state, or locally owned historic sites and interpretive facilities. Please visit Plan Your Visit / Passport Program for an interactive map and a list of places to visit by state.
Hours: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Pets: Varies from site to site

Old Spanish National Historic Site

Santa Rosa de Lima de Abiquiú, Abiquiú, New Mexico – Credit NPS

What do vibrant blankets of the Southwest and mules have to do with each other? In 1829, they met on one of the crookedest, most arduous trails in history. The Old Spanish Trail was the first route to connect the Mexican provinces of New Mexico and California. Warm, colorful serapes, blankets, and ponchos were coveted in Los Angeles while Santa Fe citizens waited for the pack mule trains to bring back horses and mules.

The Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service administer the trail together to foster trail preservation and public use. These agencies work in close partnership with the Old Spanish Trail Association, Indian tribes, state, county, and municipal governmental agencies, private landowners, nonprofit heritage conservation groups, and many others. Trail sites are in private, municipal, tribal, federal, or state ownership. Please ask for permission before visiting any trail sites on private lands and check with public sites for visiting hours and regulations.

Learn more about the Old Spanish National Historic Trail on NPS.gov

 


 

Pony Express National Historic Trail

St. Joseph River Crossing on the Missouri River - Credit NPS

St. Joseph River Crossing on the Missouri River – Credit NPS

Young men once rode horses to carry mail from Missouri to California along the Pony Express National Historic Trail across eight states. Please see our Directions page for more information on following the Pony Express National Historic Trail across the United States.

Directions: The Pony Express National Historic Trail is not a clearly marked hiking trail. Instead it is a route that passes through communities as well as wild areas and through different states and land ownership. Each location varies as to the hours of operation and access. Please check individual locations along the trail to plan your visit.
Fees: Entrace fees vary site by site
Hours: Varies based on location

The Pony Express has fascinated Americans since its first riders hit leather in April 1860, heading west from St. Joseph, Missouri, and east from San Francisco, California. This innovative overland mail service lasterd only 19 months, but it created an immediate sensation and won a permanent place in the history of the American West. The legend of “the Pony,” as it was affectionately known, may overshadow its brief history, but the bold founders and brave riders of the Pony Express helped spread important news, shrink a continent, and bind a nation that was being torn apart by civil war.

Today, the Pony Express Trail still beckons the adventurous and modern highways overlay much of the route. These corridors near the original trail route are called Auto Tour Routes. Follow these Routes to travel in the footsteps of these rugged pioneers.

The Pony Express National Historic Trail (NHT) was designated by Congress in 1992 and is administered by the National Park Service as a component of the National Trails System. Despite the name, the Pony Express NHT is not a continuous traditional trail from end to end, but consists of many trail traces, structures, graves, landmarks, and markers left on the landscape to remind us that the trail still lives on.

Those portions of the Pony Express National Historic Trail authorized by Congress include nearly 2,000 miles of historic trail. The route passes through eight states from Missouri to California. Below are state by state general driving directions for the Pony Express Auto Tour Route.

Pony Express Map

  • Western Missouri through Northeastern Kansas (2.2mb)
  • Missouri\Kansas Regional Map (628kb)
  • Nebraska & Northeastern Colorado (2.4mb)
  • Nebraska\NE Colorado Regional Map (593kb)
  • Across Wyoming (2.99mb)
  • Wyoming Regional Map (250kb)
  • Utah – Crossroads of the West (6.1mb)
  • Utah Auto Tour Route Regional Map (13.5mb)
  • Across Nevada (2.14 mb)
  • Nevada Regional Map (4.97 mb)

Learn more about the Pony Express Trail on NPS.gov

 


 

 Utah National Monuments___________________________________

 

 

Cedar Breaks National Monument

Credit: NPS Photo Cedar Breaks Amphitheater in Summer

Credit: NPS Photo
Cedar Breaks Amphitheater in Summer

Discover one of America’s most special parks! Crowning the grand staircase, Cedar Breaks sits at over 10,000 feet and looks down into a half-mile deep geologic amphitheater. Come wander among timeless bristlecone pines, stand in lush meadows of wildflower, ponder crystal-clear night skies and experience the richness of our subalpine forest.

Directions: Cedar Breaks National Monument, Brian Head, UT 84719
Fees: 0-15 yrs old Free, 16+ $5 per person
Hours: Cedar Breaks National Monument is open every day of the year and visitors can enter the park at anytime.
Pets: The only trail pets are allowed on is the campground trail, which starts by the Information Center and ends at the campground (pets must be on a leash at all times). They are not allowed on the Spectra/Ramparts Trail, the Alpine Pond Trail or inside the Visitor Center. Pets are allowed on all paved areas, which includes all of the overlooks located throughout the Monument.

Credit: Sonya Smith Taken from Spectra Point trial looking over the Breaks

Credit: Sonya Smith
Taken from Spectra Point trial looking over the Breaks

To celebrate and share the beauty of our dark night skies, Cedar Breaks hosts an annual series of “Star Parties.” Star parties are free of charge and held in Cedar Breaks during the summer months, and Brian Head Town during the winter months. Telescopes are provided for viewing, although visitors with their own telescopes are invited to bring them along.

Cedar Breaks offers three trails accommodating all skill levels. Whether it’s a shady stroll through the forest or a hike along the rim, our trails have something for everyone. There is also a fourth, more strenuous trail just north of the park for experienced hikers

The summer months in Cedar Breaks are excellent for viewing a variety of wildflowers! Cedar Breaks also holds an annual Wildflower Festival in July when special activities and events are held for the public.

Late September to early October offer the best views of leaf colors on Cedar Mountain. Cedar Breaks was rated by USA Today as “one of the top ten places to experience fall colors” in the United States!

Cedar Breaks is open in winter! When several feet of snow cover the roads and meadows, Cedar Breaks becomes a paradise for snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and snowmobiling.

Learn more about Cedar Breaks National Monument on NPS.gov

 


 

Dinosaur National Monument

"Wall of Bones" which contains 1,500 dinosaur fossils still embedded in the cliff face. NPS

“Wall of Bones” which contains 1,500 dinosaur fossils still embedded in the cliff face.
NPS

Dinosaurs once roamed here. Their fantastic remains are still visible embedded in the rocks. Today, the mountains, desert and untamed rivers flowing in deep canyons, support an array of life. Petroglyphs hint at earlier cultures. Later, homesteaders and outlaws found refuge here. Whether your passion is science, adventure, history or scenery, Dinosaur offers much to explore.

Directions: Dinosaur National Monument is located on the Colorado and Utah border with a parts of the monument in both states. Dinosaur fossils are not visible in the Colorado portion of the monument – only on the Utah side. The Quarry Visitor Center and Exhibit Hall (where you see the dinosaur fossils) are located approximately 7 miles north of Jensen, Utah.
Fees: Fees range from $10-$20
Hours: The monument is open 24 hours per day. Facilities such as visitor centers and the Quarry Exhibit Hall have specific hours of operation. Some areas of the monument may close in the winter due to snow.
Pets: You may walk leashed pets within 100 feet of developed areas such as roads, parking lots, campgrounds, day-use areas, and river launches. Pets are allowed on the following trails along the Harpers Corner Road (Colorado side): Cold Desert, Plug Hat Butte and other trails at the Plug Hat Picnic Area, Echo Park Overlook, and Iron Springs Bench Overlook. In Utah, leashed pets are allowed on the River Trail. Pets are not permitted on trails other than those open for pets, in the monument’s backcountry, or on river trips.

The Jones Hole Trail takes hikers underneath dramatic sandstone cliffs. NPS/Jacob W. Frank

The Jones Hole Trail takes hikers underneath dramatic sandstone cliffs.
NPS/Jacob W. Frank

Dinosaur National Monument’s cultural history dates back at least 10,000 years. The Yampa and Green Rivers provide water for survival in an arid country. Indian rock art in the form of petroglyphs and pictographs reveal evidence that many people have come before us. The Fremont Indians lived in the canyons in Dinosaur National Monument 800 – 1,200 years ago.

Following the Fremont were the Ute and Shoshone, who still inhabit communities in the area today. Spanish explorers crossed the region in the 1700s. In the 1800s, settlers from Europe and the eastern United States arrived in the area and left their mark on the landscape with their homesteads. Those who had access to the rivers and a constant flow of water survived, while others dried up with drought and moved away. Now, many of the remains of homesteads are found alongside the Indian art work of the past.

If you want to see Dinosaur Fossils, the Utah side of the monument is where you will want to go. Utah State Highway 149 takes visitors from US Highway 40 in Jensen, Utah into the monument and to the Quarry Visitor Center. Depending on the season, you may either drive to the Dinosaur Quarry Exhibit Hall or in summer, a shuttle bus will take you.

Read more about Dinosaur National Monument on NPS.gov

 


 

Hovenweep National Monument

Square Tower at Hovenweep

NPS photo by Jacob W. Frank

Once home to over 2,500 people, Hovenweep includes six prehistoric villages built between A.D. 1200 and 1300. Explore a variety of structures, including multistory towers perched on canyon rims and balanced on boulders. The construction and attention to detail will leave you marveling at the skill and motivation of the builders.

Directions: Along the border between southeast Utah and southwest Colorado. Just north and west of Cortez, CO. Cortez, CO 81321
Fees: No fee
Hours: Hovenweep National Monument is open year-round. Park trails are open only sunrise to sunset.
Pets: Pets are allowed on trails and in the campground at Hovenweep. Just clean up after them.

Milky Way at the Square Tower Group

Milky Way at the Square Tower Group – NPS photo by Jacob W. Frank

Hovenweep was designated an International Dark Sky Park in 2014. This means you will be able to take spectacular nighttime photos.

Learn more about Hovenweep National Monument on the NPS.gov site


Natural Bridges National Monument

NaturalBridgesMonument

NPS photo by Jacob W. Frank

The main features of Natural Bridges are shown on the map. Most visitors spend at least two to three hours exploring the area. Plan on stopping at the visitor center and touring the scenic drive, with stops at each overlook to view the bridges. Several short hikes allow closer inspection of these remarkable formations, as well as Horsecollar Ruin.

 NaturalBridgesMonument

1. Sipapu Bridge
2. Horse Collar Ruin
3. Kachina Bridge
4. Owachomo Bridge
5. Solar Power System

Directions: At the end of UT-275. Approximately 45 minutes’ drive west of Blanding, Utah. Lake Powell, UT 84533
Fees: Private Vehicle – $10.00 (Admits one private, non-commercial vehicle (15 passenger capacity or less) and its occupants. Pass is valid for seven days.).
Motorcycle – $5.00 (Admits one private, non-commercial motorcycle. Pass is valid for seven days.)
Per Person – $5.00 (Admits one individual with no car. This pass is typically used for bicyclists, and pedestrians. Youth 15 and under are admitted free. Pass is valid for seven days.)
Hours: Natural Bridges National Monument is open 24 hours a day, year-round.
Pets: Activities with pets are very limited at Natural Bridges. You may not have your pet with you on any hiking trails. You may have your pet with you in the campground, and at overlooks and pullouts along the paved scenic drives. You may walk your pet on roads or in parking lots, but must you must have them on a leash at all times when outside a vehicle.

Night sky at Owachomo Bridge

Credit: NPS/Jacob W. Frank

Natural Bridges National Monument was designated the world’s first International Dark Sky Park in 2007. Another great place to take amazing shots of the night sky.

Learn more about Natural Bridges National Monument on the NPS.gov site

 


 

Rainbow Bridge National Monument

Rainbow Bridge National Monument

Credit: NPS

Rainbow Bridge is one of the world’s largest known natural bridges. The span has undoubtedly inspired people throughout time–from the neighboring American Indian tribes who consider Rainbow Bridge sacred, to the 85,000 people from around the world who visit it each year. Please visit Rainbow Bridge in a spirit that honors and respects the cultures to whom it is sacred. Encompassing just 160 square acres of land, Rainbow Bridge National Monument is one of the smallest units of the National Park Service. However, what it lacks in size it more than makes up for with an abundance of unique and interesting features. The primary feature is of course Rainbow Bridge itself, one of the largest natural bridges in the world. During the summer months rangers are on site daily at the Rainbow Bridge viewing area to provide interpretive programs and information on the geology and cultural history of Rainbow Bridge.

Directions: Rainbow Bridge National Monument. Forbidding Canyon. Lake Powell, UT 00000
Fees: There are no fees for visiting Rainbow Bridge National Monument.
Hours: Rainbow Bridge National Monument is open every day of the year, from sunrise to sunset. On rare occasions, the park may be closed for visitor safety while significant trail and/or dock repairs are taking place. Contact the park for up to date information on any closures in effect.
Pets: Pets are not allowed on the docks at Rainbow Bridge or on the trail to the bridge. Make sure you leave water and shade for your dog on the boat while you go see Rainbow Bridge. You will be gone for over an hour.

Learn more about Rainbow Bridge National Monument on NPS.gov

 


 

Timpanogos Caves National Monument

Timpanogos Cave Tour

Visitors exploring Timpanogos Cave. Credit – NPS

Hike your way past stunning vistas to explore a hidden underground world. Taste the thrill of caving as you twist and bend to enter beautifully decorated rooms. Learn the science behind formations and hear stories of cave exploration and preservation.  Experience and discover as you go – geologic mysteries await.

Direction: 2038 Alpine Loop Road, American Fork, UT 84003
Fees: There is no entrance fee to visit Timpanogos Cave National Monument. (there is a fee to go up the canyon to get to the caves – I believe it is about $6/car for a 3-day pass). There is also a fee to go into the cave and take the cave tour, and these tickets should be bought in advance
Hours: Timpanogos Cave National Monument is open May – Sept. Sunrise – Sunset
Pets: No pets are allowed on the cave trail

You should plan on three to three and a half hours for the cave tour and hike. One and a half hours to hike up, an hour in the caves, and half to one hour to hike down.

The trail is 1-1/2 miles long. No stollers (or other wheeled vehicles including wheelchairs) or pets are allowed on the cave trail. Service animals are allowed on the cave trail and in the caves with proper documentation. All children under 16 years of age must be accompanied by an adult. It is advisable to bring plenty of drinking water, as no drinking water is available on the trail or at the caves, and bring a jacket or sweatshirt; it is 45 degrees in the cave. You can also go fishing, but you need to have a valid state fishing license.

Learn more about Timpanogos Caves National Monument on NPS.gov

 


 

Utah National Recreation Areas____________________________

 

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

glen canyonn recreation area

B Moffitt/NPS Photo

Encompassing over 1.25 million acres, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area offers unparalleled opportunities for water-based & backcountry recreation. The recreation area stretches for hundreds of miles from Lees Ferry in Arizona to the Orange Cliffs of southern Utah, encompassing scenic vistas, geologic wonders, and a vast panorama of human history.

Directions: 691 Scenic View Rd, Page, AZ 86040 There are multiple districts in Glen Canyon very far away from each other. Make sure you know which district you are going to before you begin travelling there.
Fees: Fees range from $12 – $25 for a pass
Hours: Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is open 24 hours per day, year-round. If there is not a person manning the entrance station, you may pay your entrance fee at the automated booth.
Pets: Pets are allowed in most parts of the recreation area. Pets must be on a leash that is no longer than six feet in length. Owners must clean up solid pet waste. Pets are NOT allowed in the following areas: All archeological sites, All marinas, docks, walkways, and launch ramps, except when proceeding directly to or from a boat, Along the San Juan River from Clay Hills Crossing upstream to the Glen Canyon NRA boundary as designated by required permit available through the Bureau of Land Management, Orange Cliffs special permit area, Rainbow Bridge NM, except for pets in vessels at the courtesy docks, On the Colorado River downstream from the dam to the boundary of Grand Canyon NP.

Glen Canyon has been home to people for thousands of years. Archaic and prehistoric Indian cultures roamed and lived in the canyons. Later, a vast panorama of explorers, miners, ranchers, historic Indian tribes, and others left their mark here. In more recent times, a few hardy homesteaders, river runners, and uranium miners lived, worked, or played among the canyons until they were filled by the waters of Lake Powell.

Today, Glen Canyon still provides the opportunity for modern day explorers to seek their own adventures, whether it be on the water or in the backcountry. Many of the stories of Glen Canyon are the stories of people.

Learn more about Glen Canyon National Recreation Area on NPS.gov

 


If there is anything that we haven’t listed, please leave a comment and let us know so we can add it. Also be sure to share your experiences so we can all share them and learn. Happy trails!

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