Any adventure seekers out there? Well this weekend might be the perfect opportunity to become “one with nature” because Utah’s national parks are joining other national parks across the country in providing free admission to the public. That’s right—sometimes the best things in life are truly free.
The National Park Service is once again partnering with the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, to present National Park Week, April 18–26, 2015. And to kick things off right, on opening weekend of National Park Week, April 18 and 19, every national park is offering free admission!
Of the 407 national parks, only 127 charge an entrance fee, but this weekend is less about free admission and more about “making great connections, exploring amazing places, discovering open spaces, enjoying affordable vacations and enhancing America’s best idea—the national parks.”
And what better time to show your love and appreciation for Utah’s national parks than National Park Week. So whether you’re looking for fun ways to switch up your weekend exercise routine or you want to spend some quality time with family and friends in the great outdoors, these ten parks are certainly worth checking out.
- Arches National Park: Characterized by its red stone arches and soaring pinnacles, Arches National Park promises to amaze. The park particularly comes to life at sunset when the contrasting light and shadows highlight the amazing red stone formations throughout the park. Families are encouraged to visit, with hiking trails ranging from easy to moderate. See a detailed list of the park’s hiking trails here.
- Bryce Canyon National Park: Popular for its peculiar shaped pillars of rock and odd landscape formations, Bryce Canyon National Park embodies nature in its purest state. And with hiking trails ranging from easy to strenuous, this park has something to offer everyone. Learn more about the park and plan your visit here.
- Canyonlands National Park: As its name suggests, Canyonlands is home to countless canyons and buttes shaped by the Colorado River. The park is divided into four districts by rivers: the Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze and the rivers themselves. The Island in the Sky and the Needles cater to shorter day hikes while the Maze is more suitable for backpacking explorations. Learn more about Canyonland’s hiking trails here.
- Capitol Reef National Park: Located smack-dab in the center of red rock country, Capitol Reef National Park is known for its many canyons, cliffs, domes and most importantly its Waterpocket fold, a 100-mile long warp in the Earth’s crust. Capitol Reef is popular among backpackers, with plenty of backcountry hiking trails for experienced hikers. Check out some of the most popular backcountry trails here.
- Cedar Breaks National Monument: With luscious meadows at 10,000 feet, a beautiful geologic amphitheater and one of the clearest night skies around—Cedar Breaks is considered to be the “Disneyland” of National Parks in the area. The park caters to both beginners and experts with varying levels of accessible hiking trails. Learn more about the park and its different attractions here.
- Dinosaur National Monument: As its name suggests, Dinosaur National Monument bears the remains of ancient dinosaurs within its very landscape. The park is also characterized by its deep canyons, rivers and rich wildlife. The most popular trails are easily accessible and range from easy to moderate. Off-trail hiking is also permitted in Dinosaur National Monument, making each hiking experience extremely unique and memorable. Plan your visit here.
- Glen Canyon National Recreation Area: With over 1.2 million acres to explore, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area delights adventure seekers from across the globe. Home to Lake Powell and a wide assortment of wildlife—from horses to the northern leopard frog—this park promises to wow all visitors, both new and seasoned. Learn more about the park and wildlife here.
- Golden Spike National Historic Site: Golden Spike National Historic Site is most popular for its connection to the first Transcontinental Railroad in 1869. Visitors come to explore the site’s steam locomotive replicas, view re-enactments and visit the historical grounds with remnants of the past. Check out some of the outdoors activities held at the park here.
- Natural Bridges National Monument: With three natural bridges, inspiring rock and water formations that seemingly defeat gravity and some of the darkest skies in the country, Natural Bridges constitutes Utah’s first national monument. The park’s trails range from .4 miles to 8.6 miles in length and have something to offer all hikers, from beginner’s levels to advanced. Check out a detailed list of hiking trails here.
- Zion National Park: Last but certainly not least, Zion National Park is Utah’s first national park, with every path telling stories of ancient native people and pioneers. Other highlights include the park’s massive sandstone cliffs, and its unique wildlife and plants. Learn more about Zion National Park and its history here.
For a complete list of Utah’s national parks, click here.