• McKenna Rieger

National Park Week 2022

What is National Park Week you may ask?


National Park Week (April 16 to 24, 2022) is a time to explore amazing places, discover stories of history and culture, help out, and find your park. Parks across the country will host a variety of special programs, events, and digital experiences.

DId you know that the very first National Park Week took place in 1991, in celebration of the National Park Service's 75th anniversary?


The National Park System encompasses 423 national park sites in the United States. They span across more than 84 MILLION acres, with parks in each state and extending into the territories, including parks in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Guam.


In honor of this special week, I have outlined some of my favorite hikes from Utah's 5 National Parks: Bryce Canyon, Zion, Arches, Capitol Reef and Canyonlands (known as the "Mighty 5" or ""Big 5").

These 5 parks are known for their natural beauty and landscapes and see thousands of visitors each year. They are also part of the 'Grand Circle', the route that includes some of Southwest natural wonders, which is called a circle precisely because it forms an imaginary circle over the territory.


Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon National Park is a series of natural amphitheaters sunk into pink cliffs and filled with delicate red rock "hoodoos." The most brilliant hues of the park come alive with the rising and setting of the sun. Summertime offers a myriad of walking and hiking trails and a 37-mile scenic drive overlooking incredible vistas.

Top hikes include:

  • Queen's Garden/Navajo Loop Combination: 2.9 mi round trip

  • Fairyland Loop: 8 mi round trip

  • Peek-A-Boo Loop: 5.5 mi round trip

Zion

Zion translates to "The Promised Land," and for you that means some of the most spectacular hiking of your lifetime and impossibly beautiful landscapes you will never forget. Carved by water and time beyond the stretch of the imagination, Zion National Park is a canyon that invites you to participate in the very forces that created it. Park at the visitor center and take the multi-passenger shuttle through the canyon to as many stops as you have time and energy to enjoy.

Top hikes include:

  • The Narrows: 5-9.4 mi out and back (up to hiker) / 3-7+ hours / Constant wading through water

  • Angel's Landing: 5.4 mi round trip / 2-4 hours / Strenuous with cliff exposure *Hiking permit required beginning April 1, 2022

  • Observation Point: 8 mi round trip / 4-6 hr

  • Canyon Overlook: 1 mi round trip / 1 hr

Arches

Adventure in Arches National Park where 300 million years of erosion has resulted in unbelievably dramatic landscapes that look like they were sculpted by giant mythological beings rather than the processes of time. Arches National Park contains about 2,000 windowed arches, towering spires, harrowing hoodoos, and precarious pinnacles on display, including Delicate Arch, perhaps Utah's most iconic feature, which is a must-hike destination in the park.

Top hikes include:

  • Delicate Arch: 3 mi round trip / 2-3 hours *Extremely exposed (no shade) so be cautious when hiking in the summer

  • Fiery Furnace: 2 mi loop *A ranger-led (or permit required) hike

Captiol Reef

Capitol Reef National Park splashes color for 100 miles through an inviting wilderness of sandstone formations, rock art petroglyphs telling the story of the early indigenous people of the Fremont Culture, and the large fruit orchards of Fruita, an early pioneer settlement. With a high-clearance vehicle, you can explore the backcountry, but there’s also plenty to see and miles of unique trails in the front country along S.R. 24 and the Capitol Reef Scenic Drive.

Top hikes/drives include:

  • Capitol Reef Scenic Drive: 7.9 mi paved road / 1.5 hour

  • Hickman Bridge: 1.8 mi round trip / 45 min-1 hr

  • Cassidy Arch: 3 mi out and back / 2 hr

Canyonlands

Imagine wave after wave of deep canyons, formed by the currents and tributaries of Utah's Green and Colorado rivers, divided with towering mesas, pinnacles, cliffs and spires, and spread out over tens of thousands of acres of some of the world's most breathtaking red rock country. Though Canyonlands National Park is made up of three distinct land districts, today focuses on the photogenic Island in the Sky and neighboring Dead Horse Point State Park.

Top hikes include:

  • Mesa Arch: 0.5 mi round trip *Pro tip, go for sunrise

  • Grand View Point: 2 mi out and back


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