The USA’s Utah has long cemented its name as the go-to destination for visiting national parks. Travel+Leisure India & South Asia looks beyond the usuals to give a lowdown on what else is in store in Utah’s Canyon Country.
Monument Valley and Canyonlands National Park in Utah, USA need no introduction. Its red-sand deserts and dramatic landscapes have lured travellers for years, while also finding a spot on the countless travel bucket lists. But for those looking to escape the crowds and explore off-the-beaten-path parks and monuments, Travel+Leisure India & South Asia has just the guide for you!
Hidden Gem Parks and Monuments in the Canyon Country of Utah
Monument Valley Tour
While Monument Valley may be a hot tourist destination, seeing it through the lens of a Navajo guide is a whole different experience. Take a guided tour of this red-sand desert with a Navajo guide and learn about the natives’ culture and history. Cinephiles are in for a bigger treat as you can even delve into the movie history of the area.
Goosenecks State Park
Home to 300 million years of geology, Goosenecks State Park overlooks the mesmerising San Juan River. Touted as the country’s largest entrenched river meander, the twists and turns of the river flow toward Lake Powell, creating a post-perfect spectacle for all to see!
House on Fire Ruin
Considered the first archaeological site located along the trail in the South Fork of Mule Canyon, House of Fire Ruin is stunning, to say the least. The picturesque flames above the house are best captured post a hike in the late morning, a time when the lights reflect off the opposite walls of the canyon. Past this, several additional archaeological sites dot the space — including some that are nestled high in the canyon walls. The trailhead for this hike is located on County Road 263 near mile marker 102. Pro tip: trust Ancient Wayves River & Hiking Adventures, a local indigenous-owned guiding company, to take you through the landscape, while also focussing on cultural storytelling.
Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum
A world-class museum hidden in the Four Corners region of Utah, this archaeological wonder in Utah boasts one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of Ancestral Puebloan artefacts in the region. This federal, archaeological repository also houses the Edge of the Cedars Pueblo, a thousand-year-old Puebloan village site located behind the museum. Visit any time throughout the year to explore special exhibits, lectures, and programs.
One of the largest and most easily accessible petroglyph panels in Utah, Newspaper Rock is located in the Indian Creek Unit of Bears Ears National Monument. Believed to date back more than 1,500 years, this 200-square-foot Wingate sandstone panel unravels over 2,000 years of human history through 650 symbols.
Dark Sky Parks and Places
One of the biggest wonders to see in Utah is the twinkling heavens above. Home to one of the darkest night skies in the world, Utah’s Canyon Country has five dark sky parks and places to choose from. Natural Bridges National Monument, designated the world’s first International Dark Sky Park, has three of the world’s largest natural stone bridges that, when made a silhouette to the night sky, make for a beautiful spectacle. Canyonlands National Park puts the spotlight on preserving celestial sights and starry skies, while Goosenecks State Park doubles as a small campground for sleeping under one of the darkest night skies in the USA. Rainbow Bridge National Monument, a designated Dark-Sky Sanctuary, boasts of being the tallest and longest natural bridge in the world created in the glacial period. Hovenweep National Monument, a Gold-tier Dark-Sky Park, promises some of the darkest night skies that offer a monumental experience no one can forget.