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Utah ( YOO-tah, YOO-taw) is a state in the Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. It is bordered by Colorado to the east, Wyoming to the northeast, Idaho to the north, Arizona to the south and Nevada to the west. It also touches a corner of New Mexico in the southeast. Of the fifty U.S. states, Utah is the 13th-largest by area; with a population over three million, it is the 30th-most-populous and 11th-least-densely populated. Urban development is mostly concentrated in two areas: the Wasatch Front in the north-central part of the state, which is home to roughly two-thirds of the population and includes the capital city, Salt Lake City; and Washington County in the south, with more than 170,000 residents. Most of the western half of Utah lies in the Great Basin.
Utah has been inhabited for thousands of years by various indigenous groups such as the ancient Puebloans, Navajo and Ute. The Spanish were the first Europeans to arrive in the mid-16th century, though the region's difficult geography and harsh climate made it a peripheral part of New Spain and later Mexico. Even while it was Mexican territory, many of Utah's earliest settlers were American, particularly Mormons fleeing marginalization and persecution from the United States. Following the Mexican–American War in 1848, the region was annexed by the U.S., becoming part of the Utah Territory, which included what is now Colorado and Nevada. Disputes between the dominant Mormon community and the federal government delayed Utah's admission as a state; only after the outlawing of polygamy was it admitted in 1896 as the 45th.
Slightly over half of all Utahns are Mormons, the vast majority of whom are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), which has its world headquarters in Salt Lake City; Utah is the only state where a majority of the population belongs to a single church. The LDS Church greatly influences Utahn culture, politics, and daily life, though since the 1990s the state has become more religiously diverse as well as secular.
Utah has a highly diversified economy, with major sectors including transportation, education, information technology and research, government services, mining, and tourism. Utah has been one of the fastest growing states since 2000, with the 2020 U.S. Census confirming the fastest population growth in the nation since 2010. St. George was the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the United States from 2000 to 2005. Utah ranks among the overall best states in metrics such as healthcare, governance, education, and infrastructure. It has the 14th-highest median average income and the least income inequality of any U.S. state. A 2012 Gallup national survey found Utah overall to be the "best state to live in the future" based on 13 forward-looking measurements including various economic, lifestyle, and health-related outlook metrics.
With the cold air starting to nip at our nose and the holiday season upon us, what better time to start planning your next winter getaway. But which ski resorts are the best bang for your buck? Holidu, the search engine for vacation rentals, decided to carry out a study to determine which US ski resorts offer the least expensive trips without having to sacrifice on the slopes this season.1. Powder Mountain, Utah $74 (Average per person per day; ski pass + accommodation) Coming in at the top of our list is snowy Powder Mountain in Utah. Located in Eden, Utah this slope comes in with a whopping 135 km, and has the most skiable acreage of any other resort in the United States. Open 9AM to 9PM daily and with 9 operational lifts, you are sure to get your money’s worth on this mountain. On Powder Mountain there are 154 runs, 25% of which are best for beginners, 40% are designed for intermediate, the remaining 35% is reserved for the advanced. With over 500 inches of annual snowfall, Powder Mountain should be at the top of any ski enthusiast list. Total Ski Area: 135 km ///// Recommended For: All levels ///// Cost per km of slope: $1.83 2. Schweitzer Mountain, ID $78 Considered some of the best skiing in Idaho, Schweitzer Mountain, located in Sandpoint, comes in second for the most affordable places to ski in the United States. Considered the largest ski area in Idaho, there is truly something for everyone at Schweitzer Mountain. From Nordic Skiing trails to Terrain Parks you are sure to find something that suits you within its 95 km of slopes. With 10 lifts carrying a whopping 15,900 riders every hour, Schweitzer Mountain is sure to impress. Schweitzer Mountain also offers many other fun experiences such as twilight trails and even tubing! Total Ski Area: 95 km ///// Recommended For: All levels ///// Cost per km of slope: $1.21 3. Mt. Hood Meadows, OR $103 Next on our list is Mt. Hood Meadows in Oregon coming in with 90 km of ski slopes. Located in Mount Hood, Oregon this resort is only 90 minutes from Portland. With a special permit, this resort operates in the Mt. Hood National Forest and intern has some of the most stunning views! Check out some of their specials or events including Breakfast with Santa on December 22 + 23, or get your ski on this New Year’s Eve and check out their extra special celebratory dinner presented by pFriem. No matter the reason for your trip, make sure to check out Mt. Hood Meadows for all your ski and snowboarding needs this winter season. Total Ski Area: 90 km ///// Recommended For: All levels ///// Cost per km of slope: $0.87 Mt Hood Wilderness, Oregon. Photo by Laura Brown, Budget Travel 4. Alta, UT $109 Celebrating its 84th winter, the next on our list is Alta in Utah. With 85 km of skiable slopes, this resort packs in 105 trails and 12 lifts. Alta offers everything from ski school for the kids to mountain adventures and helicopter skiing for the thrill seekers. Alta also has 19 restaurants, 5 of which are even directly on the mountain for all your apres-ski needs. So what are you waiting for! Plan your next winter wonderland trip to this snowy mountainside. Total Ski Area: 85 km ///// Recommended For: All levels ///// Cost per km of slope: $1.12 5. Purgatory Resort, CO | $110 5. Purgatory Resort, CO $110 Head on down to the charming ski town of Durango, Colorado for our next top pick, Purgatory Resort. With 116 km of ski slopes, this resort is equipped with 119 runs and 6 lifts. Ski through the wide open mountain or check out one of their more challenging tree trails, Purgatory has so much to offer. Nestled along the San Juan Mountains you are sure to get your ski fix in this snowy town! Total Ski Area: 116 km ///// Recommended For: All levels ///// Cost per km of slope: $0.77 Purgatory Resort in Durango Colorado 6. Mt. Baker, WA $112 Mt. Baker is located in the North Cascades of Washington nestled on the border of Canada, this resort gets a whopping average snowfall of 663 inches, making it the perfect place for your next ski adventure. This expansive resort has a variety of 38 widely ranging trails on its 100 km of slopes, making it perfect for any type of skier. If you are looking for a ski season without having to break the bank, look no further than Mt. Baker! Total Ski Area: 100 km ///// Recommended For: All levels ///// Cost per km of slope: $0.89 7. Sugarloaf, ME $117 Sugarloaf is located in the heart of Carrabassett Valley, with 162 trails & glades on its 87 km of skiable slopes. Maine's Western Mountains surround this gem that holds the title of the second-tallest mountain in Maine! With 57% of its mountain dedicated to intermediate and beginner skiers, this is a great place to bring family and still be able to enjoy the 43% reserved for advanced and experts! Get ready for a trip of a lifetime that won’t leave holes in your pocket. Total Ski Area: 87 km ///// Recommended For: All levels ///// Cost per km of slope: $0.74 8. Mission Ridge, WA $125 Open since 1966, Mission Ridge is located 12 miles from Wenatchee, Washington. It is home to 100 km of skiing slopes on the Cascade Mountains. With only 10% of the trails labeled as easy, this is definitely not a mountain for the faint of heart. The chair lifts are equipped to carry over 4,900 skiers every hour to its 36 designated trails. Grab your skis and polls for a winter packed of skiing on a budget! Total Ski Area: 100 km ///// Recommended For: Intermediate to expert ///// Cost per km of slope: $0.80 9. Mt. Bachelor, OR $132 As the 6th largest ski resort in the US, Mt. Bachelors has 4,300 acres of terrain accessible by ski lift and 100 km of skiable slopes. Located in Oregon’s Central Cascades, Mt. Bachelor is actually on top of a shield volcano, making it a super unique skiing destination. This mountain has 101 runs and gets an average of 462 inches of snowfall every year. With over half its trails focused on more intermediate to expert slopes, Mt. Bachelor is definitely the place to go to get your ski on if you are a more seasoned skier. Total Ski Area: 100 km ///// Recommended For: Intermediate to expert ///// Cost per km of slope: $0.76 Mt. Bachelor, Oregon. Photo by Bobbushphoto, iStock. 10. Winter Park Resort, CO $135 With over 80 years of history, Winter Park Resort is the state's longest continually operated ski resort. Located in Winter Park Colorado about 66 miles from Denver and is argued the closest major destination resort to Denver’s International Airport. This resort has 23 lifts, 166 trails, and a summit of over 12,000 ft. With 26% reserved for beginner to intermediate and the remaining 72% for advanced to experts, Winter Park skiing is no joke! But with its expansive slopes covering 143 km the whole family is sure to find suitable slopes. Look no further than Winter Park Resort for your next snowy adventure. Total Ski Area: 143 km ///// Recommended For: Intermediate to expert ///// Cost per km of slope: $1.06 Winter Park, Colorado. Photo by bauhaus1000, iStock -------- Methodology: Holidu surveyed over 500 ski resorts in the United States and selected all with over 80 kilometers of slopes for the 2021/2022 Ski Price Index. The vacation rentals data was collected on 11/23/2021 from the Holidu database. The travel period 12/06/2021 - 12/27/2022 (high season) and 03/28/2022 - 04/25/2022 (low season) were considered. For the price analysis, an average was taken from the median weekly price of vacation rentals per person per night. The prices for ski passes were taken from the official websites of the ski resorts. Where seasonal prices for 2021/2022 were not available, prices for 2020/2021 were used as a reference. Ski resorts could not be considered if no ski pass prices were available for the ski resort. About Holidu Holidu’s mission is to finally make the search and booking of vacation rentals easy. Its search engine for vacation rentals allows travelers to book the ideal accommodation for the lowest price. The company also helps vacation rental owners multiply their bookings with less work through its software and service solution under the Bookiply brand. Brothers Johannes and Michael Siebers founded Holidu in 2014. The high-growth startup is headquartered in Munich and has local offices in the most attractive travel destinations in Europe and the US. For more information, see https://www.holidu.com and https://www.bookiply.com.
With majestic canyons, sandstone walls, and breathtaking hikes, it’s no wonder this jewel of the National Park Service was named for the promised land. Zion National Park in Southwest Utah is one of the most extraordinary places in the United States (and on earth). It offers adventure surrounded by towering canyons, immense sandstone walls, and amazing hikes that every American must see at least once in their lifetime. Getting There McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas is the largest airport near Zion National Park. The St. George Regional Airport is a bit closer at just 50 miles away, but prices are usually between $100 and $200 more for a round-trip ticket. Keep an eye on ticket prices leading up to your purchase, and snag some for St. George if you find a comparable deal. If you’re coming from Las Vegas, rent a car for the 160-mile drive to the park. Then take off toward the mountains on I-15 for desert panoramas that will just begin to prepare you for the jaw-dropping Utah landscape you’re headed for. We recommend completing this drive during daylight. Not only will you want to take in the desert scenery, but there are also some winding roads. For the best gas prices, be sure to fuel up in St. George or Hurricane, UT. It’s also advisable to buy several gallons of water before entering the park in case of emergency. Entering And Navigating The Park Park Entrance At the park entrance, you’ll pay $35 per car, which gives you access to the park for seven days. For $80, you can get the America The Beautiful pass, which grants you access to all national parks in the US. If you plan to go on from Zion to other nearby parks such as Bryce Canyon or Arches, we absolutely recommend this option. Shuttle Buses During most of the pandemic, Zion has been implementing a shuttle ticket system. At the end of May 2021, the park eliminated this system. The shuttle is now open for anyone to ride. The only requirement is that you wear a mask! As of June 2021, the only places the buses are stopping include the visitor center, the lodge, the Grotto, Big Bend, and the Temple of Sinawava. There is often a line to get on a shuttle, and on busy days, you may feel as though you’re standing in line at Walt Disney World. The line is typically worse in the morning as everyone is arriving to the park, but extra-early birds can beat the crowds. Shuttle buses begin running at 6 AM, so get in line around 5:00 AM if you’d like to be one of the first up canyon. The Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel The Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel runs between Zion Canyon and the east side of the park. Due to height limitations, this 1.1-mile tunnel cannot accommodate large vehicles in both lanes. Rangers must control the traffic flow so that oversized vehicles can drive down the center of the tunnel. Therefore, vehicles larger than either 11’4” tall or 7’10” wide must pay a $15 tunnel permit fee at the park entrance station. Vehicles larger than 13’1” are completely prohibited. Also note that pedestrians and bicyclists are not allowed in the tunnel at any time. See below for the 2021 tunnel hours of operation (MDT) for large vehicles. August 29 to September 25: 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM September 26 to November 6: 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM Winter hours of operation starting November 7: 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM Camping: The Ultimate Bargain Dispersed Camping Tent camping is one way you can cut expenses while visiting Zion National Park. You can make camp on most BLM (public) land without a fee; however, this option should only be used by those who are experienced campers. If you want to camp for free, make sure you have a map and give yourself plenty of daylight to find a campsite. The tradeoff with this option is that you’ll have to devote a little more time traveling to and from the park. Campgrounds If you’d prefer a campsite inside the park with more amenities, plan to book your spot early. The Watchman Campground is right by the visitor center and is the busiest campground, often selling out months in advance. Additionally, the South Campground is just a bit further up the road and allows reservations up to 14 days before your trip. For a little more privacy, you can stay at the first come, first served Lava Point Campground, about an hour and twenty minutes from the south entrance of the park. Hotels Are A Short, Beautiful Drive Away Affordable hotels can be found in Hurricane, UT, about a 30-minute drive from the park. Prices can be as low as $60 in the off season, and $70 in the high season. The drive is beautiful; just be sure to budget time to get through the park’s gates. Springdale is the closest town to Zion’s south entrance, but it tends to be a bit pricier. Keep your eyes on hotel prices as you prepare for your trip, and again, snag something if you find a comparable deal. There’s a shuttle that runs between Springdale and the park, so parking doesn’t have to be such a pain if you stay in town.Stock up on food in advance To stay on budget, you’ll want to stock up on food and water at a grocery store (pick up a cooler and ice if you’re packing perishables of course). Stop in either Las Vegas or St. George for these items. There are also several restaurants and small markets just outside the park in Springdale, but these will be more expensive. Hiking: Zion’s Main AttractionThe Narrows is one of the most fun hikes in America. Photo by Laura BrownZion is world-renowned for its hiking. Whether you spend the day wading through a river canyon or scaling the side of a mountain, there is no more rewarding way to soak up Zion’s unreal landscape. Plus, hiking is free! Here are our top recommendations in the park. Pa’rus Trail Section: South side (of the canyon) Level of difficulty: Easy The 3.5-mile Pa’rus Trail is great for bicyclists and for those who want a fairly flat trail that will still give them plenty of stunning views. Additionally, there is only one trail in Zion that pet owners can take their animals, and this is it! Watchman Trail Section: South side (of the canyon) Level of difficulty: Moderate If you’re wanting to do something a little more difficult than the Pa’rus Trail without having to enter the canyon via shuttle, try this trail. In 3.3 miles, it rewards you with great views of the Watchman, the lower canyon, and Springdale. Canyon Overlook Trail Section: East side Level of difficulty: Moderate The Canyon Overlook Trail is a beautiful one to watch either sunrise or sunset from. It’s a short jaunt that clocks in at just one mile round-trip, and it leads you up to spectacular views of lower Zion Canyon. Just be sure to head there a little earlier than your intended hike start time as you may have to park down the road. Parking at the trailhead is very limited. Taylor Creek Trail Section: Kolob Canyons Level of difficulty: Moderate If you’re interested in getting away from the crowds Zion is known for, take an hour drive to the Kolab Canyons section of the park and try the 5-mile Taylor Creek Trail. Emerald Pools + The Kayenta Trail Section: Zion Canyon Level of difficulty: Moderate Connect the Emerald Pools Trails with the Kayenta Trail for one of the easier hikes up canyon. This route is perfect for families or for those who are a little tired from hiking in the morning. There are a few different ways to do this combination depending on which Emerald Pools Trails you take, but the longest way clocks in at just about three miles. The Narrows Section: Zion Canyon Level of difficulty: Strenuous You can hike the Virgin River up to Big Spring (3.6 miles one-way), wading through the water as you stare up at the high walls enclosing you. The trail is listed as strenuous because it involves climbing over some rocks, but there’s little elevation gain. Some choose to rent gear such as walking sticks and water shoes from outfitters in town. If you want to save some money, however, just bring along the trekking poles you’re using to hike with anyways. Note that there’s always a risk of flash floods on this trail. Keep your eye on the flood forecast posted around the park and turn around if you see the following: Deteriorating weather conditions Thunder or a buildup of clouds Sudden changes in water clarity (from clear to muddy) Angel’s Landing Section: Zion Canyon Level of difficulty: Strenuous This is Zion’s most famous hike, which ends with a crawl across the spine of a mountain to a view meant for angels. If you’re afraid of heights, stop on the trail at Scout Lookout, which provides views almost as good as those farther on. This trail is often very crowded – by the end of the effort, you’ll be best friends with the people climbing the trail around you. Bring extra water as the set of steep switchbacks on the trail will have you needing more than you might think. Angel's Landing is more strenuous than you think. Be prepared! Photo by Laura Brown Other Things You Need To Know Closed Hikes Due to rockfall in 2019, a few hikes are closed: Weeping Rock, Hidden Canyon, and Observation Point via the canyon floor. These trails are bound to be closed for another decade or so (if they ever reopen). Cyanobacteria The Virgin River (and any water sources coming from the river) is currently experiencing a toxic cyanobacteria bloom. Even though the park is monitoring it regularly, much is unknown regarding its effects. If you choose to go into the water, avoid getting it in your eyes, ears, nose, mouth, or in any open wounds. Additionally, do not let dogs drink from or get into the river as the algae has been found to be fatal to our furry friends. The United States’ national parks are some of our favorite road trip destinations, and we were thrilled to create this budget guide for Zion. For more details about the park, head to the NPS website. If you go to the park and post any photos on social media, be sure to use the hashtag #MyBudgetTravel for a chance to be featured on our page!
This content is sponsored by Fireside Resort Cabins, Wyoming Enjoy the outdoors sustainably without compromising comfort at Fireside Resort Cabins in Wilson, Wyoming. The 25 LEED-certified individual cabins offer modern luxuries in a rustic setting near the mountain town and ski slopes of Jackson Hole. Each cabin has hardwood floors, craftsman-style décor, Native American artwork, king-sized Tempur-Pedic bed, walk-in rain shower and a living room with a fireplace and kitchenette. The atmosphere of a wooded campground is complete with a private campfire and hot tub. Some of the best-known parks in the country – Grand Tetons National Park and Yellowstone National Park, are nearby. Moab Springs Ranch, Utah Located just minutes outside Arches National Park, the Colorado River and Canyonlands National Park, Moab Springs Ranch is a locally owned, eco-friendly resort. There are studio-style stand-alone bungalows with private porches, and spacious townhouses with one, two or three bedrooms to accommodate large families. The resort itself backs up to Moab’s majestic red rocks and offers walking, biking and hiking trails, as well as a relaxing garden with hammocks and waterscapes. Tiny Town Cabins, Colorado Since there are no accommodations inside Rocky Mountain National Park, most visitors choose to stay at the bustling city of Estes Park. The energetic town filled with eclectic restaurants and shops, is located at the footsteps of Rocky Mountain National Park, just 90 minutes from Denver. For a typical Colorado-style cabin experience, stay at Tiny Town Cabins at Trout Haven Resorts outside the park. Located alongside the trout filled Big Thompson River, the 19 individual cozy cabins offer a blend of modern amenities and historic architecture. In case you want to bring your four-legged family members along, the cabins are also dog friendly. Lazy Z Resort, California Nestled in the Sierra Nevada Mountain in Sonora, California, Lazy Z Resort is a family-owned retreat offering 13 cabins and cottages in 40 acres of pines, cedars, and oaks. The expansive rooms come with private kitchens and decks, while common areas include a rustic club house filled with family heirlooms and a relaxing swimming pool in the woods. The mountain retreat is great for nature lovers looking for peace and tranquility, and an easy access to Yosemite National Park. Treetop Hideaways, Georgia Located at the border of Georgia and Tennessee, Treetop Hideaways is one of the most luxurious and sustainable treehouse accommodations. Made of reclaimed wood, copper-lined whiskey barrels, and backed by a crowdsourcing campaign, the two treehouses offer the ultimate glamping experience. Complete with climate control, heated floors, walk-in rain-head showers, and ultra-fast internet, these treehouses feel like an ultimate nature resort in the sky. Nearby, explore Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, the first and largest national military park in the country. Glacier Bay Lodge, Alaska The rustic Glacier Bay Lodge is the only hotel accommodation available within the Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in this remote part of Alaska. Glacier Bay Lodge offers spectacular views and easy access to Bartlett Cove and the Fairweather Mountain range. It is also the perfect place to embark on an adventure day cruise to see towering snow-capped mountains, magnificent glaciers, humpback whales, moose, mountain goats, brown and black bears, and bald eagles. Sunshine Key Tiny House, Florida Sunshine Key Tiny House Village features all the comforts of home cleverly designed in a fascinatingly small space. The bright tropical colored tiny homes are ideally located on the 75-acre island of Ohio Key, in the lower Florida Keys. Each tiny house is individually designed and decorated to express a unique personality (such as Hemingway), and inside you’ll find comfortable sleeping accommodations, a kitchenette, full bathroom and a flat screen TV. With steps from the beach, Sunshine Key Tiny House Village provides the perfect getaway for ocean activities, or for just relaxing at the water's edge for romance. Tiny House Village is next to the Bahia Honda State Park in Florida. The Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park are also just two hours away. Falling Waters, North Carolina Inspired by ancient Mongolian design, the yurts at Falling Waters Nantahala provide a unique alternative to cabin rentals. Falling Waters’ Yurt Village in the Smoky Mountains encompasses 8 yurts scattered across 22 acres in the scenic vistas of Western North Carolina. Watch the stars from the domed skylights while lying on a comfortable queen size bed, or gaze at pristine Fontana Lake from a private deck. These yurts come with a refrigerator, coffee maker and heater for those chilly nights. Falling Waters is located within a few minutes of Nantahala National Forest and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Castle House Estate, California Situated just outside of Joshua Tree National Park, near Los Angeles, The Castle House Estate is a unique glamping site that looks like a medieval castle. Different lodging options at the nine-acre desert estate include yurts, trailers, and guard towers. The estate offers incredible stargazing opportunities in one of California's designated International Dark Sky Parks. Shash Diné Eco Retreat, Arizona Shash Diné Eco Retreat is one of the few glamping bed-and-breakfast that allows guests to stay directly on the Navajo Nation. The homey Bell Tents, cabins and shepherd huts are outfitted with king size beds, hot water showers and candle lanterns. There are also two Navajo Hogans, which are traditional dwellings of the Navajo with earthern floors. Each site has a fire pit to make s’mores under a star-studded night sky. Located just 12 miles south of Paige, Arizona, Shah Diné acts as an easy base from where you can access Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Lake Powell, and Grand Canyon National Park. View of the Grand Teton Mountains from Oxbow Bend on the Snake River © RIRF Stock / Shutterstock Tips for Glamping in 2021 Whether you are planning to camp, glamp or stay at a hotel, traveling during the pandemic requires some advanced planning and additional safety measures. Always call the property ahead to inquire if it’s currently open, at what capacity, and what safety measures they are taking to sanitize the rooms and public areas. Some places may offer touchless check-in, to-go breakfast only, or may temporarily close hot tubs and reception areas. When venturing to the national parks, keep in mind many of them now require advanced reservations to visit. Make sure to print out your reservation confirmation and enter the park during the allotted time. Cell phone reception is generally limited inside the parks, so make sure to download park and surrounding area maps ahead of time. A good way to plan your road trip and hiking trails in advance is by using the free National Park Trail Guide app. Avoid the most popular trails during peak hours and plan your routes in reverse order to escape traffic. Most facilities inside the parks, such as restaurants and gift shops, are closed due to COVID-19 or may have limited operations. Therefore, it is better to prepack snacks, food and drinks for the day before entering the park. Public restrooms inside the park are generally open, but carry PPP items such as hand sanitizers, wet wipes and masks to ensure an extra layer of protection. Carefully crafted collaboratively between GEICO, Budget Travel, and Lonely Planet. Both parties provided research and curated content to produce this story. We disclose when information isn’t ours.Sponsored by GEICO
3 rad road trips to visit Utah’s best state parks
With so many spectacular national parks in Utah, its state parks are often overlooked. But don't sleep on them, Utah is one of the most beautiful states in America!To help you in your quest to visit these under-appreciated areas, we’ve gathered basic itineraries for three road trips that take you to 11 of Utah’s best state parks. Remember to do research ahead of time if you’re traveling during the era of COVID-19. Not all visitor centers may be open, and typical gear rental options may not be available. Wasatch Mountain. Photo by Ken Lund, Flickr Creative Commons License. Road Trip #1: Antelope Island, Wasatch Mountain, and Millsite Often, red rocks are the only thing associated with Utah’s nature scene, but this landscape is only one part of what Utah offers. Embark on this three-day road trip to see what we mean. Parks on Road Trip #1 Day 1: Antelope Island State Park After entering the park, hike the 1-mile Buffalo Point Trail, stopping to soak in views of Antelope Island and the Great Salt Lake. Once you’ve worked up a sweat, head down to take a dip at Bridger Bay Beach. After you’re done bobbing around in the salty water, drive the rest of the park's road. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for large animals such as bison, pronghorn, mule deer, and bighorn sheep. Day 2: Wasatch Mountain State Park Distance from Antelope Island: 1 hour, 30 minutes Hike the 6.1-mile trail to Lake Mary via Catherine Pass. Just be sure to get an early start and have a backup plan for parking as this is a popular trail. If you’re comfortable with adding on less than a mile, take two detours to visit Lake Catherine and Lake Martha while you’re on the trail. Day 3: Millsite State Park Distance from Wasatch Mountain: 3 hours Bring your water vessel of choice for a phenomenal day of paddling on the beautiful waters of the Millsite Reservoir. With stunning views all around, you won’t want to get out of the water. Dead Horse Point State Park. Photo by Fabio Achilli. Flickr Creative Commons lIcense. Road Trip #2: Goblin Valley, Dead Horse Point, Edge of the Cedars, and Goosenecks This three-day road trip showcases both the natural and cultural resources Utah has to offer by delivering otherworldly views and teaching you about Anasazi history. Parks on Road Trip #2 Day 1: Goblin Valley State Park Venture to another planet on your first stop of this road trip. Goblin Valley State Park transports you to Mars as you hike among astonishing sandstone formations. Explore the Valley of Goblins, a free-roaming area without trails. Once you’re ready for a slight change in scenery, head to the campground with a frisbee (or rent one) to play on one of the most unique 9-hole disc golf courses you’ll ever find. Day 2: Dead Horse Point State Park Distance from Goblin Valley: 1 hour, 45 minutes This often-forgotten Moab state park offers similar views to Canyonlands National Park with far fewer visitors to share them with. Complete the 5-mile loop on the rim to hit as many scenic overlooks as possible. Day 3, Part 1: Edge of the Cedars State Park Distance from Dead Horse Point: 2 hours At this park, you’ll step away from the focus on natural resources and turn your attention towards history and culture instead. Edge of the Cedars State Park includes a museum housing fascinating exhibits such as an incredible collection of Ancestral Puebloan pottery. After you’ve finished exploring the museum, gain a better understanding of how people used to live there by wandering the ruins outside. You even have the opportunity to enter a 1,000-year-old kiva! Day 3, Part 2: Goosenecks State Park Distance from Edge of the Cedars: 1 hour After you’ve finished exploring Edge of the Cedars, take the short drive to Goosenecks State Park. Goosenecks is an interesting park in that it does not hold any hiking or biking trails within its boundaries. This means it’s best to simply enjoy the park via an overlook accessed by your vehicle. Bring a picnic to extend your time spent watching the San Juan River carving the rock below. Kodachrome Basin State Park. Photo by Jeff Hollett, Flicker creative commons license. Road Trip #3: Escalante Petrified Forest, Kodachrome Basin, Coral Pink Sand Dunes, and Snow Canyon This four-day road trip incorporates quite a few unique activities in Southern Utah, including sandboarding, geocaching, and hiking inside lava tubes! Parks on Road Trip #3 Day 1: Escalante Petrified Forest State Park After stopping by the visitor’s center to learn about petrified wood and how it’s formed, take a stroll through the park to see this magnificent phenomenon with your own eyes. A 2-mile trail combining the Petrified Forest Trail and the Sleeping Rainbows Trail will take you through lava flows and oodles of petrified wood. Day 2: Kodachrome Basin State Park Distance from Escalante Petrified Forest: 1 hour Explore the towering spires of Kodachrome Basin State Park by foot! The park has put together a geocache challenge that takes you on four trails. GPS coordinates for this challenge are found on Kodachrome Basin’s website. Save the geocache located on the Cool Cave loop for last so you can traverse the rest of the 6-mile Panorama Trail loop if you have the time (and energy). Day 3: Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park Distance from Kodachrome Basin: 2 hours Bring along (or rent) a sled or snowboard to shred some sand in this wild landscape of sand dunes. Once you’re ready for a change of activity, go explore the dunes on foot! Just be sure to stay aware of ATVs as off-roading is a popular activity in the park. Day 4: Snow Canyon State Park Distance from Coral Pink Sand Dunes: 1 hour, 30 minutes Finish up your road trip with a long day of two hikes at Snow Canyon State Park. The first is the 4.8-mile Snow Canyon Overlook Trail, one that rewards you with a remarkable view at the end. The second is the 2.3-mile Lava Tube Trail, one offering the rare experience of meandering through–you guessed it–lava tubes! We hope these itineraries help you explore some of the lesser-known areas of an absolutely phenomenal state. Be sure to let us know in the comments which road trip you’d go on and whether we missed any of your favorite Utah state parks!
This content is sponsored by Before you leave, make sure you check health and safety regulations in any area you are traveling to, as well as the weather conditions. Mountain roads in particular are subject to closures due to snow. Prior to setting off on any road trip, make sure your car is ready for the journey. You could save 15 percent or more on car insurance by switching to GEICO. Going-to-the-sun road - Glacier National Park, Montana Going-To-The-Sun Road in Glacier National Park in Montana is almost 50 miles carved into the beautiful Rocky Mountains. It is the only road that traverses the park, providing access to Logan Pass at the Continental Divide. This alpine road is so winding it takes up to ten weeks for snow plows to clear them each year, so the best time to visit is later in the summer and early autumn. We recommend lodging on the Western edge of the park in Kalispell, where there is also an airport. Shenandoah National Park © Laura Brown / Budget Travel Skyline Drive - Shenandoah National Park - Virginia Skyline Drive is a 105-mile mountain road that runs the length of Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, starting in Front Royal, about an hour west of Washington, DC. There are 75 overlooks, providing amazing views of the Shenandoah Valley and the Piedmont. It is especially beautiful in the summer and autumn. Drivers should plan to spend a full day doing Skyline Drive, and we highly recommend you make time to watch an evening sunset from a west-facing overlook. King's Canyon National Park © Laura Brown / Budget Travel King's Canyon Scenic Byway - California State Route 180 This state road has the benefit of going through two National Parks in short order. The first is the General Grant Grove of Giant Sequoias in Sequoia National Park. The road continues for another 50-miles through the Western Sierra to King’s Canyon National Park, an underrated gem in the National Park system. The nearest major city to King’s Canyon is Fresno, California. Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Rob Hainer / Shutterstock Cades Cove Loop, Great Smoky Mountain National Park The 11-mile Cades Cove Loop is deep into Great Smoky Mountain National Park and it makes for a perfect leisure drive. Spend 2-3 hours exploring an early 1800s European settlement and appreciate the fresh air and beauty of the mountains. Make sure you plan a picnic and stop at Cable Mill, which also has restrooms. For accommodations, we recommend nearby Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The nearest airport is in Knoxville, Tennessee. The Overseas Highway © Laura Brown / Budget Travel The Overseas Highway: Miami to Key West The 110-mile Overseas Highway drives, well, overseas – connecting Miami to Key West through all the Keys. Drivers will feel the salt air and sunshine on their face and find plenty of charming nooks to explore along the way. There are beaches with public parking and unique local art gardens. At the end, arrive in beautiful Key West. North Cascades National Park © Checubus / Shutterstock North Cascades Scenic Byway, Washington The North Cascades Scenic Byway in Northern Washington is the most mountainous and hair-raising road traversing that park. You will see turquoise blue glacier water and sprawling mountain peaks. Make sure to stop for a photo at the Washington Pass Overlook. Eat, explore and stay at one of the 1920s towns along the way, and spend some time in the outdoorsy Methow Valley. Like most mountain passes, this is closed in the winter due to snow. North Cascades is relatively far away from society, the nearest airport is Seattle. Beartooth Highway © Laura Brown / Budget Travel Beartooth Highway - Southwest Montana This 68-mile mountain pass crosses from the town of Red Lodge, through Southwest Montana, and into the Northern entrance to Yellowstone National Park. It crosses through the beautiful Beartooth Mountains, one of the most remote regions of the United States, and one of the most ecologically diverse. The Beartooth Highway offers some incredible vistas as it climbs up the mountains. The nearest major airport is in Billings, Montana. Monument Valley © francesco ricca iacomino / Getty Images US Rt 163 - Monument Valley, Utah US Rt 163 is the 64-mile highway running from Arizona through the Navajo Nation in Southern Utah, showing off the dramatic and beautiful landscapes of Utah in Monument Valley. The red rocks and cliffs are one of the most iconic scenes in America, and the wide-open space makes the drive feel uncrowded. Plan at least two hours to make this drive and take time to stop for photography. Sunsets are particularly spectacular. The nearest major airport to Monument Valley is in Flagstaff, Arizona. The coastline surrounding Acadia National Park © Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock Park Loop Road - Acadia National Park, Maine The 27-mile Park Loop Road is the primary road around Mount Desert Island in Acadia National Park. It offers scenic ocean vistas where the rocks hit the water, and the forest changes colors with the seasons. Make sure to plan extra time to stop for hiking and photography. For inexpensive accommodations, we recommend staying in nearby Bangor, Maine. Rocky Mountain National Park © Ronda Kimbrow Photography / Getty Images Trail Ridge Road - Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado The Trail Ridge Road is a 48-mile long mountain route, nicknamed the ‘Highway to the Sky.’ The highway starts in Estes Park in the East and goes to Grand Lake in the West. It climbs up more than 4,000 feet to above the tree line in Rocky Mountain National Park. Considered the highest elevation paved road in Colorado, it features plenty of hairpin turns. Plan at least half a day to fully appreciate this trip. The nearest major airport is in Denver. SPONSORED BY Carefully crafted collaboratively between Budget Travel, GEICO, and Lonely Planet. All parties provided research and curated content to produce this story. We disclose when information isn’t ours.Sponsored by GEICO
The best US lakes for recreation
Lake Powell Lake Powell is a reservoir in Glen Canyon National Recreational Area near the Utah and Arizona border. The water is a crisp blue, and snakes through the red rock canyon, offering plenty of opportunities for water sports and recreation. Visitors to Lake Powell can take a boat tour, go waterskiing and visit Cathedral in the Desert, a stunning rock monument located in Lake Powell. Its location near the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley provides an amazing opportunity for adventurers to have the road trip of a lifetime. Lake Lanier Lake Lanier is located in North Georgia, about an hour from Atlanta and a short drive from Chattanooga. It is a man-made reservoir made by damming the Chattahoochee River to provide electricity and flood control for nearby Atlanta. More than 10 million people visit Lake Lanier annually, with many of them using the Lanier Islands as a recreational hub. The Lanier Islands have plenty of lodging and dining options for all budgets, including tent camping and an RV park. Lake of the Ozarks Missouri's crown jewel of a lake sits in the middle of the state and offers a world-class destination. Visitors can find a plethora of land-based activities, restaurants and accommodations. In addition, there are countless marinas available to rent or store a boat. There are also 32 hiking trails near the lake, along with four caves to explore. There is inexpensive camping available nearby at Ozarks State Park and Ha Ha Tonka State Park. Pickwick Lake © Laura Brown / Budget Travel Pickwick Lake, Tennessee The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) created a series of 9 major dams across Tennessee during the 1930s and 1940s to bring affordable electricity and jobs to an area stricken by the Great Depression. Today, all the TVA lakes are great for water sports and recreation, but our favorite is Pickwick Lake, on the border of Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi, just outside Memphis. Yellow Creek Cove on the lake is a constant party for boaters in the summer and features a rope swing into the water below. There is a great camping spot at Pickwick Landing State Park, where there is also a marina and available boat rentals. Big Bear Lake Big Bear Lake in Southern California, the ‘Jewel of the San Bernardino National Forest,’ prides itself on being open all four seasons for water recreation. Located 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles, it also can be accessed easily from Las Vegas or Phoenix. Big Bear offers a mountain atmosphere, with hiking trails, winter skiing, and summer swimming. The heart of Big Bear Lake is at Big Bear Village, a charming small town that serves as the region’s hub for dining and lodging. Make sure to check out the local festivals at The Village at Halloween and Christmas. Lake Tahoe © MariuszBlach / Getty Images Lake Tahoe Lake Tahoe sits on the border of California and Nevada, near Reno. It is the second deepest lake in the United States (after Crater Lake) and is known for its incredibly clear water and vibrant colors. Tahoe is known as a gateway for recreational adventure. Visitors can access hundreds of miles of beautiful hiking trails, as well as rent paddleboards and kayaks to explore the lake. Lake Mead Lake Mead lies outside of Las Vegas, and is the largest reservoir in the United States, formed by the Hoover Dam. Boating in Lake Mead is a popular activity, with four separate marinas available to rent or store boats. Lake Mead Cruises also takes a nightly cruise to the Hoover Dam and back. Lake Mead is heaven for fishing and offers some of the best sport fishing in the United States. Lake Placid © Chuck Robinson Photography / Getty Images Lake Placid Lake Placid in the Adirondacks is a classic New York mountain town, with views so legendary the town was selected to host the Winter Olympics in 1932 and 1980. In the winter, Lake Placid has amazing opportunities to snow ski and snowboard. In the summer, Lake Placid is a utopia for waterboarding and tubing. For those who own their own boat, there are several public launch points. For those on a budget, there are hostels off the lake for low rates or camping in nearby campgrounds or in the Adirondack backcountry. Lake Winnebago Lake Winnebago is a glacial lake in eastern Wisconsin, north of Milwaukee near Appleton and Oshkosh. It is a relatively shallow lake, known for great fishing in both the summer and the winter, with a prominent ice fishing industry. The lake’s most abundant fish are the Walleye, Perch, Sturgeon and Bass. Boats are readily available for rent at nearby Marinas. Boaters have access to more than 18,000 acres of water, including Lake Butte des Morts and the Fox River. Lake Winnepesaukee You can explore more than 250 different islands in New Hampshire’s Lake Winnepesaukee, or hike in the nearby White Mountains. There are a plethora of small villages on the shores of the lake, which can be reached by either boat or car, and each offers an individual flavor. Rent a boat and go waterboarding in the summer or plan a snowboarding adventure in the winter. When you’re ready to go indoors, check out one of the many breweries nearby, such as the Woodstock Inn Brewery in Woodstock. The nearest major city is Manchester. SPONSORED BY GEICOAs always, prior to travel, make sure you are up to date on your destination’s health and safety restrictions. See how much you could save when you bundle your car and boat insurance with GEICO. Carefully crafted collaboratively between GEICO, Lonely Planet and Budget Travel. Both parties provided research and curated content to produce this story. We disclose when information isn’t ours.Sponsored by GEICO
More Places to go
Carbon County is a county in the U.S. state of Utah. As of the 2010 United States Census, the population was 21,403. Its county seat and largest city is Price.The Price, UT Micropolitan Statistical Area includes all of Carbon County.
San Rafael Swell
The San Rafael Swell is a large geologic feature located in south-central Utah, United States about 16 miles (26 km) west of Green River. The San Rafael Swell, measuring approximately 75 by 40 miles (121 by 64 km), consists of a giant dome-shaped anticline of sandstone, shale, and limestone that was pushed up during the Paleocene Laramide Orogeny 60–40 million years ago. Since that time, infrequent but powerful flash floods have eroded the sedimentary rocks into numerous valleys, canyons, gorges, mesas, buttes, and badlands. The swell is part of the Colorado Plateau physiographic region.
Provo is the third-largest city in Utah, United States. It's 43 miles (69 km) south of Salt Lake City along the Wasatch Front. Provo is the largest city and county seat of Utah County. Best known for its abundance of natural beauty, wedding venues, restaurants, a prestigious university and fast-growing economy, Provo is home to Brigham Young University (BYU).While Father Silvestre Vélez de Escalante, a Spanish Franciscan missionary-explorer, is considered the first European visitor to the area, the first permanent settlement was established in 1849 as Fort Utah. The name was changed to "Provo" in 1850, in honor of Étienne Provost, an early French-Canadian trapper. Provo's population has grown from 2,030 in 1860 to an estimated 116,618 in 2019. The 2010 census showed slightly more females than males, with over 55% of the population living as couples, and almost 35% of households having children under the age of 18. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) comprise almost 82% of the city's population. The economy in Provo is powered by many businesses and organizations, including over 100 restaurants, two shopping malls, multiple universities and colleges, a number of small companies, and several large international businesses. Utah Valley Hospital is a Level II Trauma Center, and has several campuses of medical professionals surrounding it. America's Freedom Festival at Provo, held every May through July, is one of the largest Independence Day celebrations in the United States. Cultural points of interest in the city include the Covey Center for the Arts, the LDS Church's Missionary Training Center (MTC), and the Provo City Library at Academy Square. Provo has two LDS Church temples: Provo Utah and Provo City Center, the latter restored from the ruins of the Provo Tabernacle. The Utah Valley Convention Center is also in downtown Provo. There are several museums on the BYU campus. Natural features include Bridal Veil Falls, Provo River, Utah Lake and Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. Timpanogos Cave National Monument is several miles north of Provo. Provo also has several national historic landmarks, including the Reed O. Smoot House. Provo is served by Utah Transit Authority, operator of the FrontRunner commuter rail and a bus service connected to the rest of the Wasatch Front. Amtrak stops at Provo station, providing daily access to its California Zephyr service. Interstate 15, U.S. 89 and U.S. 189 provide major road service to Provo. Air transportation is available to several US cities including Los Angeles, Phoenix/Mesa, and Tucson International Airports, at Utah's second busiest airport, Provo Municipal Airport.