Worth the trip: Utah trip prompts shock, awe

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Bryce Canyon National Park: Wind and water have carved fantastic shapes into the Bryce Canyon National Park landscapes; castles, towers, fins and a multitude of strange creatures. The result is a fairyland with unlimited opportunity for recreation. This is great country for hiking, horseback riding, photography, camping and other activities. Anyway you look it, Bryce Canyon is a great place to lose yourself for a day or two of adventure. The infamous outlaw Butch Cassidy roamed these parts and one of his hideout cabins is located nearby. The area offers a definite Old West flavor; cowboys and Indians, horseback rides, rodeos and chuck wagon dinners. There is a visitor center just inside Bryce Canyon National Park. Lodging, restaurants, stores and other services can be found nearby. For information visit www.utah.com/nationalparks/bryce.htm.


Zion National Park: Deep, narrow canyons, towering cliffs, streams, waterfalls, hanging wildflower gardens and majestic mountains define Zion National Park. The scenery here is wonderfully diverse, perhaps there is more variation here than in any area in the world. Within just a few miles the terrain changes from lowland desert to mountain meadow and lush forest, bisected by canyons like the Zion Narrows, where a man can sometimes touch both walls at the same time. Zion offers great recreational opportunities for visitors who want to see spectacular scenery while auto touring, for casual hikers, for photographers and for hardcore canyoneers looking for adventure. Sightseeing and hiking opportunities are superb during all seasons of the year. Excellent visitor facilities can be found at the main entrances to Zion National Park and nearby communities provide a wide variety of lodging facilities, restaurants and other services. For information visit www.utah.com/nationalparks/Zion.htm.


San Juan River Rafting: This is one of Utah’s most exciting and most flexible rivers, an ideal trip can be planned for any group or individual. The San Juan is especially appealing to groups because there is so much flexibility available, from time on the river to number of hikes and guide knowledge. Groups are usually limited to 20 people on oar/paddle boats or 28 people on motorized boats. Rafting down the San Juan permits travelers to view petroglyphs, ancient Anasazi dwellings, fossils, brilliant red rock walls and much more. It is a scientific wonder. The San Juan River provides meandering water and lively currents. Because the river drops a gentle 8 feet per mile, there are few rapids, though there are some Class II and III rapids that provide splashy good fun. Most river trips on the San Juan begin near the town of Bluff, Utah, and Sand Island, and continue through an ever-changing landscape of canyons and flood plains. The gentle calm nature of the river makes it a great trip for families with children. For information visit www.utah.com/raft/rivers/san_juan.htm.


Arches National Park: A red rock wonder, this park is sure to fill you with shock and awe. This Utah national park contains the world’s largest concentration of natural arches, sublime spans of stone that seem to defy gravity and defy nature. Some are delicate ribbons curving skyward and then twisting back to the earth. Others are openings chiseled into massive mountains of solid rock. Arches aren’t the only attractions in Arches National Park. This is a playground of stone with massive balanced rocks, sandstone fins, spires, Marching Men and other geological wonders. A paved road winds through the national park, allowing easy access to some of the most impressive sites. Hiking trails, some easy, some challenging, penetrate more remote areas. A visitor center is located near the park entrance. For information visit www.utah.com/nationalparks/arches.htm.

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