Written by Stéphanie Bardou
We are a family of travelers. My husband, my kids and I have been traveling to the United States for the past three years. Our need for freedom was too strong to hold it in. Our love of nature and of the outdoor made us do it! We would often hop in the car, or sleep in a tent we would do everything possible to explore those beautiful landscapes. It has so much to offer. I can’t get over seeing, smelling and touching this wild nature.
So, last time we went on a two-month-long road trip. An experience that had left its marks in all our hearts. Since we’ve come back from our trip, I just can’t stop saying: “When will be our next adventure?”
Amongst all the U.S national parks we visited, Utah counts many of them that are worth seeing.
Today, I will tell you more about these beautiful national parks with all kinds of trails that will blow your mind; Arches, Canyonland, Bryce Canyon, Red Canyon.
Here are the hikes we did and the highlights of each park.
ARCHES NATIONAL PARK: THE LARGEST NUMBER OF ARCHES IN ONE PLACE
After a few days on the road and a few stops, we finally arrived in Utah, where you have so many great parks.
Arches National Park is one of them. When you enter the park’s winding roads get you to a place where you find a lot of arches between 1245 meters and 1723 meters above the sea level.
What is an arch? How would we describe it? To be called an arch, it needs to be wider than 1 meter. It’s the work of the erosion and it’s so magical to see with its surroundings when you’re in a national park or in a canyon.
DELICATE ARCH, THE WORLD MOST PHOTOGRAPHED ARCH
Our first hike was the Delicate Arch, the world most photographed arch and also a state symbol. The trail is beautiful. You climb rocks to reach a plateau where you can see the arch right in front of you. It’s so big and impressive to see, the view will take your breath away. This arch is 70 000 years old. We felt so small next to this geological beauty. Getting closer to the arch made me dizzy because of the height (of the arch and also because I’m scared of heights). To get to the arch, you need to walk along a very inclined rock… But it didn’t stop me from going. We took a few photos and enjoyed the view.
DEVIL’S GARDEN WHERE YOU CAN SEE THE DOUBLE “O” ARCH AND LANDSCAPE ARCH
Then we went to Devil’s Garden to see Double “O” Arch and the Landscape Arch, the world’s largest arch. The primitive trail is absolutely beautiful. Even if the level of difficulty is high, if you are in good shape you should be all good. My kids of 8 and 9 years old are used to walking and they did it easily.
We climbed to reach Skyline Arch on a crest, the wind was so strong that we almost fell and we also made sure to hold onto our hat as they were about to fly away. Know that it gets really hot at the beginning of July, if you prefer a brisk morning walk, bring along a lot of water, a hat and sunscreen to have the best of time.
THE WINDOWS SECTION
The landscape is amazing, and it blew us away. You can see the whole valley. The trails are so wonderful in this park, there are a lot of trails, so we didn’t waste a minute and try to see them all. The Windows section is an easy trail which I highly recommend hiking. The rock formations are definitely worth seeing.
Park Avenue is a trail along the cliff. You need to go down a few steps to get to the plateau. There is little to no trees down there, but it’s still beautiful to see. It contrasts with the orange and yellow rocks, so much that you don’t know where to look! We would lift our heads up from time to time as there was too much to see. The vegetation made its place just like the many twisted trees that are still standing near the trail. The monoliths (rock formations) are very impressive to see, we felt like little ants standing beside it.
The Balanced Rock is simply captivating. The boulder sits on a rock pedestal. The rock weight as much as 3 school buses. Depending on where you stand, the shape of the rock changes. From one side it looks thinner and from another bigger. The kids were so impressed to see it.
During the afternoon, we chilled along the Colorado River, crossed by the Spanish explorer Melchor Diaz in 1540 – fun fact. The river begins at Rocky Mountain National Park – another fun fact.
The Grandstaff Trailhead is waiting for us. We enjoyed this amazing hike sometimes along the river and sometimes up high. The hike is not difficult even with heights difference, we hiked for 2h40 minutes to get to the beautiful arch, we also saw a group of climbers getting ready to climb down the rock face, pretty cool!
CANYONLAND NATIONAL PARK
The Canyonland National Park and the Island in the sky area offer different trails. The Buck Canyon viewpoint is amazing, a must do. I am telling you; you need to see it, to believe it! It’s a massive canyon, you have to go!
The Upheval Dome is gorgeous with its colourful rocks. The height difference is important, but the view is beautiful. I beat my vertigo to see it, which means it’s worth seeing. Near you have the Mesa Arch, with endless views of the canyons. The trail to get there is pretty easy to hike, but very touristy while being at the same time perfect to take photos and enjoy the view.
Stop quickly at Shafer view to, once again, admire the beauty and the depth of the canyon. There’s also a little bit of history attached to this one as it was built by miners.
Not so far, there is the Dead Horse Point SP. The day we went, the sky was covered which made it less warm and more enjoyable, so we spent a lot of time exploring the West and East Rim that circle the canyon.
As you are in the desert, the vegetation is just broad-leaved trees and some skinny trees. The points of views are breathtaking. We walk for over 3 hours, it was so beautiful to see the canyons, the rivers, the arches, and all kinds of geological formations that were there in front of us. It was not crowded at all, as most people prefer driving to the end of the park to see it.
We made the most of being all alone on the trails. The path of the rivers drawn beautiful landscapes. If you get to have a clear blue sky, it definitely adds up to the experience. At the end of the road, you can overlook the dead horse shape. On the way back, we took the West Rim trail, which took us through a beautiful juniper forest.
BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK
Another park, one of my favorites, the Bryce Canyon National Park is a must see! There is a lot to see other than the magnificent long trails. You can see the Navajo Loop, Peekaboo Loop Trail, Queen’s Garden and a part of the Bryce Point Trail.
We hiked with our children for 3h30 in this park, it looked like a fairy tale. All of the rock formations, the hoodoos (fairy chimney), those red rocks and all of these colours are so worth seeing. Fairyland Trail Loop is a 12.9 km trail. It took us 3h45 to hike and it’s located on the other side of the park. It’s not as impressive as the first trail, but still beautiful to see.
Red Canyon is also a must see. It’s smaller and all the trails are easy. Pink Ledges Trail, Hoodo Trail, Birdeyes Trail, and Photo Trail are one-hour trails where you can admire hoodoos and the beautiful red colour of the rocks.
We asked the Visitor Center, which trail they would recommend, and we went to the Arch Trail, which didn’t disappoint. The trail is gorgeous featuring many arches of every shape and height. It took us 1 hour to hike. Again, on that day the sky was cloudy, which set the perfect temperature at 17 °C for an afternoon in the wilderness.
The next day we hiked all these trails; Red Canyon Trailhead, Cassidy Trail, Ledge Point Trail, and Rich Trail. They all meet at some point, just like a loop. We enjoyed the view at Brayton Point which is spectacular.
This area of Utah is so stunning, a must see at least once in a lifetime!
Is this going to be your next adventure?
This post was translated from French to English by:
I am Charlene. I was born in France but I live in Quebec City since 2007. I am a 32-year-old married mom of 2 (a boy and a girl), a part-time student (translation) and also a hockey mom 😉 I decided to go to university at 31 because I love foreign languages and I needed a new challenge. I love food and wine (I’m French you remember 😉 ), I have a very long travel bucket list and I practice Zumba and Yoga.