Home::Adventure Travel:: Utah Travel::Five Top State Parks

Five Best State Parks to Enjoy in Utah

1. Kodachrome Basin State Park. Located about 9 miles south of Cannonville, Utah, and about 20 miles southeast of Bryce Canyon National Park, this 2,240-acrea park offers visitors spectacular views of red-rock semi-desert conditions and nearly 70 monolithic sandstone spires, called sedimentary pipes, that range from six to 170 feet in height, jutting up from the valley floor or protruding from the sandstone. This must-see park is also fun for the geological theories behind these spires, ranging from a time when there were geysers and hot springs (similar to Yellowstone National Park) to intrusions that were created as a result of the tectonic activity in the Plio-Pleistocene time. Campers will find 31 sites, along with bathrooms (with showers) and a dump site. Popular sites to see in the park include Chimney Rock (namesake of the park for a few years), Shakespeare Arch, and Ballerina Geyser. Make sure to hike a few of the trails, including the Panorama Trail on the western side of the park, where you'll get to see Big Bear Spire, Cool Cave, and Secret Passage; and Shakespeare Arch-Sentinel Trail, which not only offers an up close view of the only arch in the park, but vistas of two nearby national parks. Don't forget to visit the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument 10 miles southeast, as well as the Cottonwood Canyon and the Paria River areas further south by jumping on the unpaved, 47-mile Cottonwood Canyon Road that can lead to many more amazing photos and adventures.

2. Dead Horse Point State Park. Find immense vertical cliffs with multilayered canyons carved by ice, water, and wind, including a breathtaking overlook -- Dead Horse Point -- 2,000 feet above the Colorado River, as well as views of Canyonlands National Park, in this 5,200-acre park, situated just miles from Moab, Utah, and sandwiched between Canyonlands National Park to the southwest and Arches National Park to the northeast in the southeastern portion of the state. The name comes from the legend that cowboys once used the location to corral wild mustangs, taking the horses they wanted to keep, and leaving the rest to be trapped and die in the corral. The park is an International Dark Sky Park, so also a great place to stay up late and stargaze. Campers will find 21 camping sites with electrical hookups within a grove of junipers at the Kayenta Campground. Restrooms, but no showers, as water must be trucked to the park. From the campground, find about 16 miles of interconnecting trails leading to various points of interest within the park, making sure to conquer the Intrepid, Raven Roll, Great Pyramid, and Big Chief trails.

3. Goblin Valley State Park. Located in the south-central area, just north of Hanksville, Utah, within the San Rafael Desert, between Canyonlands National Park (to the east) and Capitol Reef National Park (to the west), this park offers visitors the chance to visit this colorful valley unlike any other in the state. Covered with thousands of sandstone hoodoos and hoodoo rocks -- referred to as goblins by locals -- the landscape is often compared to Mars. It's a chance to explore the geology of the area, as well as camp among the nooks and gnomes. No hook-up RV camping, but with nice restrooms and hot showers, is available. Open year-round, though spring and fall are best times to visit because of the summer heat. While there are no marked hiking trails, consider heading to the northeast section of the park, where there are larger rock formations, and start walking, taking time to view, climb, and jump off the goblins. Hikers may want to combine a stop at Goblin with a hike of Little Wild Horse Canyon, an 8-mile (RT) moderate loop trail located a few miles from the park, between Hanksville and Green River,

4. Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. Find 2,000 acres of pink rolling (Navajo Sandstone) dunes in this 3,730-acre park located between Mount Carmel and Kanab in southwest Utah -- the only major sand dune field on the Colorado Plateau. A phenomenon known as the Venturi Effect created the dunes, estimated to be between 10,000 and 15,000 years old, when wind passes through a notch between the Moquith and Moccasin Mountains, eroding the sandstone and carrying the grains to the dunes. Contrasted by juniper and pinion pines, steep red cliffs, and deep blue skies, this park is a must-visit for camping, photography, and off-road vehicle riding, as well as just playing in the sand! You'll find a picnic area in addition to a campground that has 22 slots (17 pull-through, no hookups), with restrooms, showers, and a dump station. For photographers, shoot for early morning or late afternoon to catch the golden hour colors hitting the sand. Make this park a stop on your travels to Cedar Breaks National Monument, Kodachrome Basin state Park, Lake Powell, and Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks.

5. Escalante Petrified Forest State Park. Located next to Wide Hollow Reservoir in south-central Utah, a short distance from the town of Escalante, with the Dixie National Forest to the west and Grand Staircase-Escalante national Park to the east, this 1,350-acrea park offers one of the best locations in the state for seeing petrified forest... in which fallen trees transported by flooding streams were filled with silica, iron oxides, and magnesium oxides, resulting in amazing reds, yellows, purples, and other colors. The park is named after an explorer named Escalante (which means escalating upward like stairs, which describes the surrounding plateaus, by Almon Harris Thompson, a member of John Wesley Powell's survey party in 1872. Wide Hollow Reservoir, which was built in 1954 to provide water to the town, includes a campground, and is stocked with rainbow trout and bluegill, and is a popular place for fishing, boating, and other water sports. Be sure and take try the Petrified Forest Trail, a one-mile loop that winds through lava flows and thousands of pieces of petrified wood; more adventurous hikers can add The Sleeping Rainbows Trail, a steep .75-mile loop trail. A visitor center, picnic area, and full-service 22-site campground (with restrooms and showers) can be found at Wide Hollow Reservoir.

EmpoweringSites.com CEO Dr. Randall Hansen Dr. Randall S. Hansen is an educator, author, and blogger, as well as founder and CEO of EmpoweringSites.com, a network of empowering and transformative Websites, including EmpoweringAdvice.com. Dr. Hansen has been helping empower people to achieving success his entire adult life. He is also founder of EnhanceMyVocabulary.com, MyCollegeSuccessStory.com, and EmpoweringRetreat.com. He is a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. Dr. Hansen is also an educator, teaching business and marketing at the college level for more than 25 years. Learn more by visiting his personal Website, RandallSHansen.com. You can also check out Dr. Hansen on Google+, as well as Dr. Randall Hansen on LinkedIn.



Find It...

Empowering Advice Bullet Home
Empowering Advice Bullet Happy Life
Empowering Advice Bullet Travel
Empowering Advice Bullet Camping
Empowering Advice Bullet RVing
Empowering Advice Bullet Relations
Empowering Advice Bullet About Us
Empowering Advice Bullet Search
Empowering Advice Bullet Contact


Empowering Sites logo