Utah’s Mighty Five and other nearby natural attractions offer a memorable spring or fall week to 10-Day vacation.
President Teddy Roosevelt (term 1901-1909) has long been associated with National Parks. Indeed, he was instrumental in helping to preserve some the most pristine sites in the U.S. But, it was Woodrow Wilson who created the National Park Service on August 25, 1916.
Utah’s “Mighty Five” are standouts in the eclectic collection of geographic locations that make up the National Park Service today. The Mighty Five include Arches, Canyonlands, Capital Reef, Bryce and Zion. They stretch along a 310-mile route that cuts through southern Utah. No two parks are alike. It takes at least a week to visit each one and have the opportunity to savor the individual character that each park offers.
“Arches” arguably is the best known of the Five and probably the most popular. It lies just north of Moab along the Colorado River. Arches is home to more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches highlighted by Delicate Arch, the signature graphic that graces the Utah license plates. It sits atop a ridge that overlooks a sweeping vista about 3 miles from the nearby trailhead. The climb rises 480 feet and the spectacle is worth the effort.
The Visit Utah web site can provide details on sights, sounds, eats and accommodations. Spring and fall are the best times to visit, as temperatures can get very hot during the summer. The area is a desert.
Driving from park to park offers flexibility to see other attractions within striking distance from them. Arches is a good place to start.
Dead Horse Point State Park is close to Arches (about 30 miles away). It looks like a mini Grand Canyon. Indeed, it served as a Grand Canyon substitute for the final scene in Thelma and Louise when the two friends sailed off to oblivion at the end of the movie.
The majestic Monument Valley is about 151 miles southwest of Arches. The spiraling buttes in the Utah portion were landmarks in dozens of movies ranging from classic westerns to Forrest Gump.