SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – One of Utah’s greatest sources of pride has long been our outstanding public lands. This Saturday, Sept. 24, National Public Lands Day will be celebrated across the United States, and entrance to all national parks, of which Utah has its “Mighty 5,” will be free of charge.
Each of Utah’s national parks is dark sky certified, which offers unique opportunities for visitors to appreciate these special areas.
Below, please find a few fun facts to begin your journey at each park:
Arches National Park: With more than 2,000 arches, Arches National Park is a wonderland of ancient sandstone. Many trails continue beyond their most famous feature, and carving out a little time to see what’s further down the trail can be well worth it. The best way to ensure you have ample room to explore is to hire a guide. Aside from the opportunity to learn valuable insight from an expert ranger as you scramble over the red rock, ranger-led hikes naturally limit the number of visitors on a given trail, no matter when you venture out.
- Arches National Park is the only Mighty 5 national park that currently requires a timed-entry reservation for all daytime visitors through October 3. The timed-entry reservation system is part of a temporary new program “implemented to manage crowds, improve visitors’ experience, create more reliable access and reduce strain on federal resources.” For more information, click here.
Bryce Canyon National Park: Hoodoos are symbolic of the slow travel experience, a “culmination of thousands of years of water freezing and thawing to achieve their final, intricate formations.” In addition to enjoying the hoodoos during the day, amateur astronomers will find Bryce to be a prime destination to set up a telescope and observe celestial events, but if you are not equipped to do that, you can join the free educational and entertaining stargazing programs at the visitor center organized by the park’s Astronomy Rangers.
Canyonlands National Park: As the largest national park in Utah, Canyonlands can be daunting to approach on your own. With a guided tour, not only will you have your pick of the best viewpoints, trails and experiences the park has to offer, you’ll develop a stronger connection with the land. The local guides that frequent Canyonlands National Park are advocates for its natural beauty and protection. Guided hiking tours, scenic drives, rafting tours and biking tours are all available.
Capitol Reef National Park: Located in south-central Utah in the heart of red rock country, Capitol Reef National Park is a hidden treasure filled with cliffs, canyons, domes and bridges in the Waterpocket Fold, a geologic monocline (a wrinkle on earth) extending almost 100 miles.
- During National Park Week, Capitol Reef staff will reportedly be planting sapling peach trees into a rejuvenated section of the historic Fruita orchards. This will occur on a weather-dependent basis and the public is welcome to observe the plantings.
Zion National Park: Zion is the most popular national park in Utah and among the most visited in the U.S., and it continues to see record-breaking visitation numbers in the millions of people each year. The more time you allow, the deeper your experience, so consider giving yourself extra days to explore the region thoroughly and take in other special places around Zion National Park.
- Angels Landing Permit: Everyone who hikes the chained section of Angels Landing needs to have a permit, officials say. The permits are available through a seasonal lottery here. For more information, click here.
The Utah Office of Tourism reminds residents and visitors to be prepared and visit national parks responsibly. The state’s Forever Mighty initiative encourages travelers to leave places the same, or perhaps better than they found them.