Most people only know Utah from its vibrant capital city, Salt Lake, which is an excellent gateway for exploring the state.
I recently had the pleasure of traveling all over Utah in search of its most breathtaking and exciting features. With the opportunity to enjoy everything from the state and national parks to horseback riding and river rafting, I was far from disappointed.
Antelope Island: Tracking Bison on Horseback
About an hour from Salt Lake rests Antelope Island State Park, a vast but easily accessible park with a beautiful view of the snow-capped mountains and blue water surrounding the island. From our vantage point at R & G Horse and Wagon, you could even see bustling Salt Lake in the distance.
The namesake of the family-owned ranch is credited to Ron and Ginger Brown, who acquainted us with our horses (my noble steed went by the name “Numbers”) and accompanied us on a leisurely ride through the park. One wonderful feature was our ability to explore the island without sticking to a path, which was ideal for checking out the island’s bison population.
Flaming Gorge: Water Sports and the Reservoir
Four hours east of Antelope Island, the Flaming Gorge Resort offers lodging and rentals for those looking for an outdoor adventure and is the closest convenient accommodation to the reservoir, providing guide services with almost 40 years of experience. Below the jaw-dropping Flaming Gorge Dam, visitors can fish or raft down the Green River while surrounded by a beautiful landscape of wildlife and whirling waters.
Sundance Mountain Resort: Secluded Luxury and Skiing
Most people know Sundance for Robert Redford’s high-profile film festival in Park City, Utah. However, 45 minutes away from the hustle and bustle lies the Sundance Mountain Resort, offering quality accommodations, eateries and activities almost year-round. This boutique resort has won numerous accolades including recognition from Conde Nast Traveler and Leisure, and even a mention from Organic Spa Magazine as one of the top 10 Green Spas.
Outside, the resort offers seasonal activities such as hiking, mountain biking, fly-fishing and a zip line. Nevertheless, skiing or snowboarding is a must when visiting Sundance Mountain Resort, especially with 42 runs spanning more than 180 hectares.
The Mighty 5 National Parks: Nature Untethered
There are five national parks in Utah, each with its own personality. Starting near Moab on the east site of the state, in Arches National Park, we quickly discovered the reason for its name – more than 2,000 naturally formed stone “arches” throughout the park. In Canyonlands National Park, we were in awe of the waves of deep canyons, which were formed by Utah’s Green and Colorado rivers.
To the west, you’ll find Capitol Reef National Park, also known as the Land of the Sleeping Rainbow because of the protruding uplift of rainbow-hued sandstone “reefs” and canyons.
Located southwest of Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon National Park was our next stop. We rode along the Navajo Loop Trail on horseback and saw the famous hoodoo rock formations, more abundant here than anywhere else in the world!
Next, just an hour and 20 minutes away, visit the oldest and most visited park, Zion National Park. The shuttle system and proximity makes hiking very convenient. From the Historic Zion Lodge, I took a shuttle within minutes to both Weeping Rock and Angels Landing Trail.
Over the course of my trip, every place I visited was so accommodating, making each stay worth remembering. So if you’re looking for a vacation destination that offers quality rest and relaxation with an adventurous backdrop, look no further than Utah.