On the outskirts of the sensational Zion National Park, are four other awe-inspiring national parks. They include Arches, Bryce Canon, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef national parks. By visiting one, or all four, of the following national parks; you can say that you have captured all of Utah’s natural landscape.
Finding National Parks Near Zion
Each of the national parks contain their own perks, secrets and appeal that lure in tourists of all walks of life. Whether you are looking for a prelude, before entering Zion National Park, or looking for an encore; the following national parks are sure to maintain a lifetime of memories.
Arches National Park
Enjoy your time by driving the eighteen-mile trek in the comfort of your own vehicle, of the Arches National Park. Positioned just over 300 miles northeast of Zion National Park and next to the Colorado River. This park is open year-round and is the busiest through early spring or late summer. Whether you are driving, riding your motorcycle, biking, or hiking; a pass purchase is required. The good part is that the basic pass is valid for seven days. This allows you plenty of time to embrace the archway into the heart of Utah.
If you plan on backpacking or hiking, there are certain locations that are off limits. Be sure to pay attention, and respect the boundaries, for your safety. Peddling through the Arches means that you must adhere to traffic safety laws, and bike only on the road. Mountain biking is allowed around the perimeter of the arches. Photography and stargazing are allowed and encouraged through the tour groups.
If you intend to stay the night, there is the Devils Garden Campground that has fifty-one sites available to accommodate any weary travelers. This campground is stationed eighteen miles outside of the Arches National Park. By staying nearby, you have a prime opportunity to catch sunrises / sunsets at the Elephant Butte. This is the highest point of the park, while lowest point is at the visitor center.
Bryce Canyon National Park
If natural colossal amphitheaters peak your interest, then Bryce Canyon National Park is one for you to visit. Even though its name suggests a canyon-like atmosphere; it is known more for the huge, slender, rock formations that occurred with time and weathering. The amazing earth tones that reflect off the sediments lure the visitors in.
Bryce Canyon National Park is located about seventy-five miles northeast of the Zion National Park. Due to its isolated location, it receives far less tourists than Zion. This can play more into your benefit, as you can appreciate the scenery without the crowds.
The hot-spots of Bryce include Bryce Point, Inspiration Point, Sunset Point, and Sunrise Point. All are just a few miles between one another. The eighteen miles of Bryce covers from the park’s only northern entrance, to the highest elevated point along the southern region.
Upon entering, explore the region on foot or on horseback. Ranger programs are available to partake in. Shuttle services are offered only from April through October. There are two campground sites, the Bryce Canyon Lodge for the summer months, and the Sunset Hotel welcome guests during the winter months.
Canyonlands National Park
Only a marathon length away from the Arches is the Canyonlands National Park. Separated into distinct geographical areas which are the Island in the Sky, the Maze, the Needles and rivers that are linked together are the Green and the Colorado. The two rivers chiseled huge canyons in the Colorado Plateau. Together, they form the four districts of the Canyonlands.
Plan on touring one portion in a day, as attempting to appreciate each individually within a day is impossible. There are no roads that directly connect each district to the other. Driving between the two take approximately two to six hours.
You may hike or four-wheel your way around the beautiful scenery of the Canyonlands. If taking a boat is more of your style, then cruising through the Green and Colorado Rivers can satisfy your desires for such. There is a Horseshoe Canyon Unit, positioned just north of the Maze, that contains remarkable panels designed by the Native Americans that once resided in the area.
However, there are no dining services, or lodging, available within the park itself. There are some options outside of the Maze, the Needles, and the Island in the Sky. All of which meet accommodations for anyone seeking rest after taking in a full day of beauty.
Capitol Reef National Park
Between Bryce National Park and Canyonlands National Park, is the stellar Capitol Reef National Park. Open year round, this park was originally established to conserve the over 241,000 acres of desert area. This south-central destination contains the Waterpocket Fold, which is a must-see Utah gem.
This is a very family-friendly park, as it has a Junior Ranger Program that kids can participate in. Fruita, which has a museum of how the early settlers lived off the land. The museum includes a one-room school house, blacksmith shop, orchards, and areas to have a picnic. With shorter trails, and a nature center, there is plenty to spark the interests in children of all ages.
The best way to take in Capitol Reef is on foot. Tours are available for hiking, horseback riding, driving, and biking through the landscape. Rock climbing is allowed, preferably those with previous experience.
Rest and relax at Fruita Campground, between February through October. In this desert getaway, you are placed in the center of it all. Surrounding you are the historic orchards and the Fremont River. The Fruita Campground can house RV and tents, along with walk-in tent sites. There are the Cathedral Valley Campground and the Cedar Mesa Campground. Both are more undeveloped than the Fruita Campground.
Wrapping Things Up
Whether you are looking for a little R and R or wanting to be a bit more adventurous; any of the four national parks near Zion can delight your sense of wonder. Bask in the history of their natural beauties. Unwind with a vacation that leaves you feeling enlivened.