I’ve grown accustomed to leaving New Jersey at the start of summer, and, even though it hasn’t been too long since my last visit to the southwest, it get harder every time I return. The red rocks of southern Utah remain the place I desire most often, and my plans to return have already begun to materialize. The next couple of months have already planned themselves out, and then it’s time to go back to where the sun is hot and the humidity is not. It might be a long summer on the East Coast, but sooner than I think I’ll be back among the landscapes of the desert.
On a drive through Utah from Park City to Provo I just happened to pass by some of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve seen on the side of a road. This open pasture was just too perfect with grazing horses and a flowing stream, but to top it all off the snow-capped mountain range in the background makes the scene. This is just one of many amazing roadside attractions I wanted to stop and spend the rest of my day at along the way. If anyone wonders why I want to spend more of my time in Utah, this is the answer.
Anyone reading this probably already knows that Utah is my favorite place to visit. The National Parks are astounding, but the view from any given drive on a backroad, state highway, or even an Interstate can leave you speechless from the unmatched beauty that rises up all around you. The red rocks paired with the often blue sky seem to exist in perfect harmony and play off one another, creating the most rich, brilliant versions of either color that you will encounter in nature. Everything else seems just a little more dull after crossing the figurative state line.
The landscape of southern Utah is so varied that it’s hard to identify at times. This shot is from somewhere near Buckskin Gulch near the Arizona border. Watching the road curve ahead into the distance is always exciting, especially with views like this. We took several dirt roads to get where we were going as you often have to in the backcountry of this area. They are often washboarded or covered with soft sand so travel becomes a gamble. We made it in and out of every one without incident somehow.
Summer is almost here, and my friend and I have been talking about how much we miss skiing. This happens every year, but I am happy that I got to ski quite a lot this season. It’s never as much as I’d like, but I did get to see a lot of new places and finally ski a few places out west. I miss the snow and especially the views from Park City. The atmosphere there definitely made me think I would like to live in a resort area for the winter sometime. I’m already looking forward to the next season.
Arches National Park is one of my favorite places for several reasons. I love that you can walk right up to these amazing natural structures and interact with them. I’ve been coming here on every trip I take out west for the last five or more years and every time I manage to find something new. I’m not sure how I missed this one during my previous visits, but Double Arch is very close to a parking area and easy to climb up to. I checked out two other new areas while we were there also. I’ll always look forward to more when I come back.
Hiking in Utah has plenty of rewarding views, and they’re often mixed with amazingly fun climbs. In Capitol Reef National Park we did what we could with the short time we had there, but that was a good amount. We hiked up to a wide canyon between two high walls that allowed us to explore several side canyons to climb up into. It was enough fun just playing in those, but the climb back out to the main trail was this great silhouette of rocks in front of the colorful sunset sky. We are so lucky to get to see these things regularly.
The last two days were spent in and around the canyons of southern Utah. Outside the national parks, there are tons of slot canyons that have been carved into the landscape over millennia of wind, sand, and water rushing through them. Peek-a-Boo Canyon and Spooky Gulch are two of my favorite slot canyons and they happen to part of one loop hike. This view is from above after I climbed up, stemming and using counter-pressure techniques that are a big part of why I love these canyons so much. They are basically a huge playground in nature, and they are some of the most beautiful landforms I have ever seen.
While in southern Utah we got to visit Best Friends animal sanctuary. They take in dogs, horses, goats, sheep, chickens, pigs, exotic birds, and, of course, cats. While on the tour we stopped at one of the many cat houses where we met Sven, and we became friends right away. He was quite excited to have company and was quick to show us how he likes being pet. The organization is fantastic, doing what they can to keep animals alive and safe while educating people about alternatives to euthanizing pets.
After more than a week we are leaving Park City for now. We are pretty sure we will be staying away for a while, so this means our ski season is officially over. It has been a great season on the east coast and out here, but it’s sad to think I won’t be able to ski again until next winter. It always seems so long. The Utah mountains were good to us, even though it wasn’t the best snow. We didn’t wait in many lines and we ended up doing a lot more than we thought we would. I’ll be eagerly awaiting next year.