If your experience in Utah is anything like mine, your vacation here means taking home impressions that will forever be in your memory.
Never before have I seen a greater variety of wide canyons, valleys, narrow and bizarrely-twisted slot canyons, or natural stone arches. Indeed, Utah’s Mighty 5 national parks made me feel like I was on another planet more than once. On top of that, there’s also Utah’s world-famous powder snow, also known as the “Greatest Snow on Earth.” And in this breathtaking scenery, there are lots of thrilling cultural discoveries that date back millions of years.
The Natural History Museum of Utah
Our journey starts at the Natural History Museum of Utah, a beautiful modern building located in Salt Lake City that perfectly blends with the surrounding mighty Wasatch mountain range. The museum holds various exhibits covering Utah‘s history. We marvel at the remains of dinosaurs that once inhabited this terrain and learn about the many ground layers of Utah’s soil from which the area’s red rock landscapes have emerged. In another exhibit, a re-created archeological excavation site, we learn lots of exciting background information about the early natives of the region.
A Holy Place for the Navajo Nation: Monument Valley
As we approach the iconic mesas of Monument Valley on Highway 163 in southeast Utah, we stop and take a few gorgeous pictures. This place, situated on Navajo tribal land, is one of the most iconic landscapes in the U.S., known worldwide from countless Westerns and other films. But only a tour with a Navajo guide (which you can book at the visitor’s center) will reveal the hidden treasures of this magical, and, for the Navajo, holy area.
On our tour, we get to see one of the traditional earth houses of the tribe, also called hogans, and get a demonstration of Navajo craftwork such as pottery and clothing. Even today, a great number of Navajo live in these traditional huts and practice the culture of their ancestors.
Western History at the Moab Museum of Film and Western Heritage
We continue our journey in Moab, 2.5 hours by car from Monument Valley and within driving distance of Arches and Canyonlands national parks. After we’ve followed along the Colorado River for a while, we reach Red Cliffs Lodge, nestled beautifully among impressive canyon walls.
Here you‘ll find the Moab Museum of Film and Western Heritage, which displays some rare memorabilia from famous films like "Back to the Future III," "Thelma and Louise" and many others. It also offers fascinating insights into the lives of early cowboys and pioneers of the region.
With a glass of wine from the on-site winery in hand, we sit outside and watch the setting sun, which paints the surrounding canyon walls in deep red. This is the perfect place to dream a little about the wild and free life of the American cowboys!