Utah National Parks are a collection of the most distinct national parks in America. One of the reasons Utah National Parks are so popular is the fact that they are in very close proximity to each other. There are five national parks in Utah and, of these, Bryce Canyon National Park is generally considered the most unique.
How to get here: Visitors to Utah's National Parks will find that there is an easily traveled and incredibly scenic corridor to travel. These national parks lie in an almost parallel line that follows a slightly west to east course with a tilt toward the northeast and southwest. You can start at either end of the line and see each of the national parks. On the southwest end is Zion National Park which is easily accessible from Interstate 15. From here you can pass out the east entrance of Zion National Park and travel up Scenic Highway 89 to Bryce Canyon National Park. Bryce Canyon sits on the western end of Scenic Byway 12 which is an All American Road. This road runs nearly 110 miles as it curves east and then north to Capitol Reef National Park. Follow Scenic Highway 24 east and then north and then east Interstate 70. From there you simply go east and then drop down on a short distance on highway 191. The entire drive is so scenically diverse, that you will be amazed at what you have seen.
Differences between the parks:
The base of Zion National Park sits at 4,00o feet in elevation while the top of the park rises to over 8,700 feet. Most views from within the park are of sheer canyon sandstone walls. This park has one main canyon that most people visit. This main canyon has been carved by flowing water from the Virgin River or from rain and melting snow.
The most visited areas of Bryce Canyon are at elevations that range from 8,000 to 9,000 feet. The park offers a scenic drive that is 20 miles in length. The road follows a north to south course along the rim of a series of amphitheaters that are made of limestone. Like other Utah National Parks, the stone at Bryce Canyon has been colored by oxidizing iron, but the colors of Bryce are very different than any other Utah National Park. Bryce has been formed by water getting into the cracks of the rocks and then freezing. As the frozen water expands the rock is broken up and this has formed thousands of interesting towers and formations called hoodoos.
Capitol Reef National Park is a 70 mile long rock formation that is referred to as the water pocket fold. Seismic activity has formed much of Capitol Reef, but wind, and flowing water has also contributed to the shapes that are seen here. Elevations of this park range mostly around the five to six thousand foot level.
Canyonlands National Park can lay claim to being carved by two major rivers; the Green and Colorado rivers which come to their confluence within the park. So this park has been carved, to great degree by rivers, but other forces of erosion come into play here also. Elevations of this park range from the 4,000 to 7,000 foot level, and the national park covers 250,000 acres.
Arches National Park brags over 2,000 natural sandstone arches. Arches are carved primarily by the erosional force of wind, but water from rain and snow also plays a role here. The park covers over 119 square miles and sits north of the Colorado River. Elevations in this park range from 4,000 to 5,500 feet.
This provides a brief re-cap of the five Utah National Parks. People from around the world come to Utah just to see these national parks. Remember that the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is just south of Zion National Park, and Utah also boast a slew of national monuments and state parks. Utah claims to have the greatest concentration of natural scenic wonders in the world. In other words, you can see more world-class scenic attractions in a shorter time in Utah, than anywhere else in the world.
Key gateway cities are Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Denver. You can fly into those cities and rent a vehicle for your travels, or just make your way here via the many scenic highway and byways that lead to our Utah National Parks.