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Fun and Interesting Places to Visit in Utah

1. Buckskin Gulch. Located in south-central Utah, near the town of Kanab, at the Arizona border, this must-visit location for many hikers and photographers alike is the longest slot canyon in the United States -- and the longest and deepest in the southwest -- and is one of the main tributaries of the Paria River, which is a tributary of the Colorado River. While regarded as one of the best hiking destinations in the U.S., is it also quite dangerous, with steep cliffs up to 500 feet and risks of flash floods during certain times of the year. It is found in the 112,500-acre Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, home to several unique geological formations, as well as many species of animals and reptiles. Four trail heads give access to the gulch (Lees Ferry, Middle, Buckskin, and Wire Pass), with Wire Pass, approximately 8 miles south of US 89, the most popular. The trailhead includes a fee box (all hikers must pay), as well an area for camping, and includes views of the surrounding hills. The hike to the pass is 3.4 miles, but much longer when continuing through the canyon to the end.

2. Fishlake National Forest. Located in south-central Utah, above the junction of I-15 and I-70, lies a 1.5 million acre national treasure, established in 1907, and named for Fish Lake, the largest (at 2,500 acres) and most beautiful freshwater mountain lake in the state, found at an altitude of 8,850 feet, and a geological wonder formed by the shifting of two of the Earth's faults. The national forest features majestic stands of aspens amid lush mountain meadows, home to elk, deer, bears, coyotes, moose, pronghorn, cougars, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and turkeys. Fishing, hiking, hunting, camping, biking, and rock hounding abound. The nationally recognized Paiute ATV Trail winds through 250 miles of the forest. A total of 29 developed campgrounds and nine undeveloped campgrounds are within the park, and camping is allowed throughout, unless otherwise marked. While visiting the area, take both the 17-mile Beaver Canyon Scenic Byway (Highway 153), in the southern part of the forest, which follows the Bear River, lined with aspen, spruce, and fir trees -- and leads to other national wonders such as Great Basin, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Parks, AND the 13-mile Fishlake Scenic Byway (Highway 25), on the eastern side of the forest, which takes you directly to Fish Lake. Learn more at the official Website: Fishlake National Forest.

3. Great Salt Lake. Located in northern Utah, not far from its namesake Salt Lake City, this 1+-million-acre lake is the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi River, the largest salt water lake in the Western Hemisphere, and the largest lake in the U.S. not part of the Great Lakes region. The lake is actually a remnant of a much larger lake, Lake Bonneville, a prehistoric ice-age lake that once covered much of the western part of the state. Three rivers feed into the lake -- the Jordon, Weber, and Bear Rivers -- but because the lake has no outlets, fresh water slowly evaporates off of the surface, leaving behind the minerals. Because the size of the lake is ever-changing, much of the shoreline is undeveloped, providing a great resource for more than 7 million migratory birds and waterfowl. Consider a stop at Bridger Bay Beach, on the north end of Antelope Island, a two-mile long, hundred-yard-wide expanse of white oolitic sand. Hikers and bikers should consider the Bonneville Shoreline Trail that follows the path of the old Kale Bonneville, and one day will stretch almost 300 miles. Base your visit from the Great Lakes State Park, which provides boat slips, camping, and public viewpoints of the lake.

4. Rainbow Bridge National Monument. Located in southern Utah, near Lake Powell, in the rugged and isolated red-rock canyons at the feet of the Navajo Mountain, this natural sandstone bridge is one of the world's largest and well-known, and considered sacred by the Navajo Tribe, who see the bridge as a symbol of deities responsible for creating clouds, rainbows, and rain. At 160 acres, the monument is one of the smallest units in the National Park Service. The park can be reached by boat, on foot, or on horseback (though most come by boat on cruises from Wahweap or Bullfrog Marinas). While in the area, visit the 1.25-million-acre Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (which administers the monument), which offers water-based and backcountry recreational opportunities (including five marinas, four campgrounds, two small airports, and houseboat rentals) encompassing scenic vistas, geological wonders, and a vast panorama of human history. Learn more at the official Website: Rainbow Bridge National Monument.

5. Wasatch Mountain Range. Located in northern Utah, this relatively young mountain range (between 12 and 17 million years old), stretches southward approximately 160 miles from the Utah-Idaho border, and is defined by sharp and rugged peaks and ridgelines, lush valleys, and alpine lakes formed by retreating glaciers, and is the western range of the Rocky Mountains. The name is derived from the Ute Tribe word for a low place in high mountains (or mountain pass), and contains the Wasatch Fault, an active fault on the western edge of the range. Within the range, you'll find the 2.1-million-acre Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, which includes numerous campsites, four scenic byways (Mirror Lake Scenic Byway, Logan Canyon National Scenic Byway and Ogden Valley Scenic Byway, and Nebo Loop Scenic Byway), miles and miles of trails, and seven protected designated wildernesses -- and the 23,000-acre Wasatch Mountain State Park, in the Heber Valley near Midway, and open for golfing (18-hole course), hiking, biking, horseback-riding, camping, fishing, ATV-riding, skiing snowshoeing, and snowmobiling, as well as touring Huber Grove, a pioneer site on the National Register of Historic Places. The mountains are home to deer, elk, moose, mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes, beavers, wild turkeys, hawks, owls, and golden eagles. Two recommended trails to consider -- of the many you can find yourself on -- are the Cecret Lake Trail (featuring a beautiful alpine lake) and Secret Falls Trail, both relatively short and easily hiked.

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.


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