Southern Utah practically bursts its seams with five delightful national parks, plus a national recreation area and monument. In addition, the Navajo Nation is home to wondrous Monument Valley park, along the Arizona state line. Visit these sites in a somewhat circuitous loop for what may very well be the best national park tour in the American West.
This trip begins and ends in St, George; air travellers will probably fly to Las Vegas, Nevada, and rend a car there. It can be done in 2 weeks, but is much more satisfying done in 3 weeks as described here. With extra time you can easily add the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. While planning your itinerary check out esta-visa.ie for help processing an ESTA application.
Day 1: St George
Stock up on supplies in town before heading to the parks, but also make some time for the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm, which showcases some 2,000 fossilized dinosaur tracks. Other noteworthy attractions include historic Mormon sites, such as the Jacob Hamblin Home, built in 1862, which is typical of pioneer homes throughout the West except for its two identical bedrooms –
One for each of Hamblin’s wives – and the exquisite 1876 St. George Tabernacle, with pine finished to look like exotic hardwoods, and even marble. For more about St George check out http://www.utah.com/stgeorge/national_parks.htm
Days 2-4: Zion National Park
Famous for its mammoth natural stone sculptures and unbelievably narrow slot canyon, this park begs to be explored. Hop on the shuttle bus that runs the length of the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, getting off to take in the trails. Take the easy Riverside Walk, which follows the Virgin River down a narrow canyon through hanging gardens.
Especially pleasant on hot days, the Lower Emerald Pools Trail traverses a forest of oak, maple, fir, and cottonwood trees, leading to a waterfall, a hanging garden, and a shimmering pool.
Days 5 & 6: Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
This national recreation area is best known for Lake Powell and its 1,960 miles of shoreline. This is a boating destination, so you’ll want to either rent a boat or go exploring, fishing, or swimming, or take a guided boat trip.Whichever you do, be sure to save time for Rainbow Bridge National Monument, which is in the recreation area and easily accessible by boat.
Believed to be the largest national bridge in the world, this “rainbow turned to stone” is considered sacred by the Navajo. Visit http://www.nps.gov/glca/index.htm for more information.