Exploring the Southern Utah Wonderland

Viewpoint from the famous Angel's Landing in Zion National Park.

Viewpoint from the famous Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park.

Utah is a magical playground. There is a reason Edward Abbey loved to escape into its hallowed hills on a road trip. Between giant rock columns, sweeping vistas and solitude for miles around, it also carved out a spot as one of my new favorite states. Wandering through with my mouth ajar at each new view, or grinning on yet another awesome bike ride, I was already making a list of places to visit again!

Our route took us from the SW corner, coming in from Las Vegas to Gooseberry Mesa, then NE through the five major national parks in the state: Zion, Bryce, Capital Reef, Arches and Canyonlands, plus some fun in Moab. In between, we free camped high on mesas overlooking valleys (Gooseberry is seriously amazing), on ridges over canyons in the Grand Staircase – Escalante, along rivers, among pine trees at 8,500 feet near Bryce Canyon, and even braved a night in fight-for-a-campsite Zion National Park, perhaps the busiest place on earth in the late spring.

The mountain biking trails were fantastic (I’ll write a summary post about that sometime) and the hiking was equally scenic. Waterfalls in hidden canyons and hoodoo rock formations lined trails and vistas were point-your-camera-anywhere pretty for photos. Even though it was late May, the high elevation kept the weather crisp and perfect under a clear blue sky.

Enough chit chat. Let’s see some pictures, because that is the best way I have to convey the Wonderland of Utah. Get here when you can! You won’t be disappointed.

Onward!

Dakota

Chelsea takes in the view from Gooseberry Mesa.

Chelsea takes in the view from Gooseberry Mesa during a ride.

Thick chains assist hikers during the last, tenuous ascent to Angel's Landing. Thousands of people grabbing this one cut a groove in the sandstone.

Thick chains assist hikers during the last, tenuous ascent to Angel’s Landing. Thousands of people grabbing this one cut a groove in the sandstone.

Hoodoos in Bryce Canyon.

Hoodoos in Bryce Canyon.

The many fans of Delicate Arch at sunset.

The many fans of Delicate Arch at sunset.

One leg of Delicate Arch in Arches NP glowing at sunset.

One leg of Delicate Arch in Arches NP glowing in the late evening light.

Sunset on thousands of Bryce Canyon hoodoos.

Sunset on thousands of Bryce Canyon hoodoos.

A lovely hike to Calf Creek falls somewhere in the Grand Staircase - Escalante between Bryce Canyon and Arches.

A lovely hike to Calf Creek falls somewhere in the Grand Staircase – Escalante between Bryce Canyon and Arches.

Chelsea slicing along the edge of Hurricane Rim near Zion.

Chelsea slicing along the edge of Hurricane Rim near Zion.

A 5" moth in Bryce Canyon!

A 5″ moth in Bryce Canyon!

Slot canyon hike in Goblin Valley State Park.

Slot canyon hike in Goblin Valley State Park.

More hoodoos from Bryce Canyon.

More hoodoos from Bryce Canyon.

Dakota taking a break in a canyon in Zion.

Dakota taking a break in a canyon in Zion.

Fairyland Loop in Bryce Canyon.

Fairyland Loop in Bryce Canyon.

Hanging out in Canyonlands.

Hanging out in Canyonlands with views of the Green River below. There is a 110-mile fire road ride, White Rim Road, that circles Canyonlands. You can camp all the way around…next time!

A famous arch in Canyonlands frames the valley below.

A famous arch in Canyonlands frames the valley below.

A sunset ride in the Valley of Fire State Park (Nevada).

A sunset ride in the Valley of Fire State Park (Nevada).

Fairyland Loop in Bryce Canyon.

Fairyland Loop in Bryce Canyon.

Panorama from the western point of Gooseberry Mesa.

Panorama from the western point of Gooseberry Mesa.

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