Visiting Arches National Park is like visiting another planet, one with thousands of natural sandstone arches, red rocks and landforms in amazing configurations, and light that seems to change every moment. The way the shadows play across the arches makes the park especially intriguing for photographers, who are drawn to capturing its enchanting vistas at dawn and dusk in particular. But Arches National Park is not just a shutterbug's paradise.
Located in southwestern Utah, Bryce Canyon National Park occupies an otherworldly area composed of a dozen amphitheaters, or horseshoe-shaped canyons, on an eroded escarpment of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. The whimsical formations of limestone rock, created by erosion and rain, are entrancing to visitors who love to explore the slot canyons, windows, fins and, most notably, the tall, skinny spires called hoodoos. In fact, Bryce Canyon National Park boasts more hoodoos than any other place in the world.
Park City is known for three things: skiing, snowboarding and the Sundance Film Festival. Located 35 miles southeast of Salt Lake City, Park City is easily accessible and home to a wide range of accommodations that attract throngs of vacationers during the winter season. Sandwiched between two premier resorts, Deer Valley and Park City Mountain, this former mining town sits in the shadow of the rugged Wasatch Mountain Range. In 2002, both resorts hosted events during the Winter Olympics, and the Utah Olympic Park, which sits just north of the main street, is still a major training facility for winter athletes, including the United States Ski Team.
Salt Lake City has long been a little mystical. Back in the early 19th century, pioneers believed the area's Great Salt Lake was inhabited by monsters and giants. This spooky legend faded until Brigham Young decided to make Salt Lake the home of the new Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1847. Today, those who have spent time in Salt Lake will tell you that it's more than just a place of great faith, it's also a thriving cultural hub and an excellent home base for hikers and skiers.
Named for the Hebrew word "refuge," Zion National Park – nestled in Utah's southwest corner – is no longer the quiet sanctuary it once was. In 2016, the park saw a record-breaking 4.3 million visitors, a 17 percent increase from its last record-breaking year in 2015. It's as if travelers stumbled upon a secret and can't get enough of the apricot-colored Zion Canyon, which they can view wading through its Virgin River or ascending Angels Landing, with each bend in the river or turn in the trail affording an even more breathtaking view. Plus, the blanket of stars that illuminates the night sky is a welcome nightcap to a day filled with active pursuits. And when it's time to come back from the refuge to reality, the 166-mile drive from Las Vegas or the 308-mile drive from Salt Lake City is just about the right amount of time to process all the beauty you just experienced.
Best Places to Visit in the USA