Hey Nature Lovers: Go Explore Utah!
For those of you that have been following along with us you probably already know one of our favorite ways to travel is by van. We lived in a 1989 Mitsubishi Van and drove around Australia for almost two years. It was one of the best times of our lives. We also lived in the American west for a number of years including Arizona, Colorado and Utah. We lived in Utah the longest and it has been one of our favorite states to live in. Traveling by van to explore Utah would be an awesome trip to go on. I hope you enjoy this post by Lynda Magill, founder & owner, Roadtrek Adventures.
Utah doesn’t get enough respect and publicity as a destination for outdoor adventures and nature-oriented vacations, especially among the Western states. When’s the last time you heard someone say they’re going to California? Yesterday? Seattle? Last week? And when’s the last time you heard someone say they’re going to explore Utah? Exactly.
But Utah is a beautiful land with incredible natural diversity, abundant wildlife, and plenty of stunning places to go camping or RVing. If you’re a nature lover, or if you have a special interest in exploring all the wonders in the US west of the Rockies, put ‘explore Utah’ on your list.
The Lay of the Land in Utah
Utah’s landscapes are widely varied, with so many striking natural palettes and all sorts of terrain and flora. It’s one of the “Four Corners States,” a reference to where Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico meet, which is the only place in America where four states touch.
This is a place with arid deserts, thriving pine forests, and world-class ski resorts. The state’s geography is so diverse because it’s located where three distinct geographical regions come together. These include the Rocky Mountains in the northeast, the Colorado Plateau across the east and south, and the Great Basin spanning most of the western half of the state.
The Wasatch Range runs down the middle of the state in the north. A little to its west sits Great Salt Lake. In the valleys and basins between the western base of the range and the state’s largest lake, you’ll find Salt Lake City and about ¾ of Utah’s total population.
In the Colorado Plateau region in the south and southeast of the state is an area of particularly awe-inspiring natural beauty—arguably one of the most interesting and breathtaking places in the country, if not the world. Here, the landscape is predominantly made up of Kayenta and Navejo sandstone, and the Colorado River and its tributaries cut through it with incredible results.
Wildlife in Utah
If you’re a birding or other wildlife enthusiast, Utah’s an ideal destination. The state is home to more than 600 species and so many unique viewing opportunities. Great Salt Lake and its surrounding wetlands, for example, is a major stop for migrating shorebirds and waterfowl en route to South America from the Arctic.
Antelope Island State Park is a favorite locale for seeing the state’s wildlife; there, you’re likely to catch sight of countless bird species, pronghorn antelope, mule deer, bison, California bighorn sheep, and more. Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area is famous for its elk viewing through the winter months. Just some of the other exciting wildlife found around Utah include Rocky Mountain goats, moose, wolves, cougars, black bears, and bald eagles.
It’s also worth noting—if you’ll forgive a slight tangent here—that Utah is a seriously under-recognized place to see fabulously colorful fall foliage. The displays from mid-September through early October easily rival those of New England and other East Coast areas so well known for their fall foliage. The Uinta Mountains, Uinta National Forest, Fishlake National Forest, Boulder Mountain, the Ogden River Scenic Byway, Cache Valley, Flamingo Gorge, and Aspen Mirror Lake are some prime spots to see.
National and State Parks in Utah
Almost ¾ of Utah’s land is government owned, managed by agencies like the National Parks Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the US Forest Service, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and others.
Utah has five nationals parks—the third most of any US state after Alaska and California:
- Arches National Park in Moab, UT is known for its 2,000+ natural stone arches, hundreds of pinnacles, and giant balanced rock formations. It’s often referred to as a “red rock wonderland.”
- Bryce Canyon National Park in Bryce Canyon, UT is the place to see natural oddities like the world’s largest collection of strange rock pillars known as hoodoos, a “forest of stone,” and a cave without a roof.
- Canyonlands National Park in Moab, UT features a stunning array of canyons, buttes, and other amazing terrain carved by the Colorado River and its tributaries.
- Capitol Reef National Park in Torrey, UT is a geographically intriguing place in the middle of red rock country, consisting of canyons, cliffs, domes, and the Waterpocket Fold, a so-called wrinkle in the Earth (or, more scientifically, a geographic monocline).
- Zion National Park in Springdale, UT has vibrant, multicolored sandstone cliffs, a slot canyon, and an impressive assortment of native plant and animal life.
In addition, Utah has a number of designated National Monuments, National Historic Trails, and other classifications of National Park Service areas to explore. Most National Parks and other sites have campgrounds nearby.
Utah also has more than 30 State Parks, along with a number of other State-designated recreation areas, where you can camp, hike, mountain bike, fish, go birding and wildlife viewing, picnic, and otherwise experience up-close-and-personal the unique majesty of the state’s gorgeous land.
Consider to Explore Utah in a Roadtrek Camper Van
I’m Lynda Magill, owner and founder of Roadtrek Adventures. We offer luxury Roadtrek camper van rentals for exploring the US west of the Rockies. We’re avid explorers ourselves, and big fans of the convenience of traveling and camping in a camper van.
You get a lot more operational simplicity, accessibility, and flexibility than you do with a larger RV, but you still have plenty of space, accessories, and amenities for living in your vehicle. It’s a great way to have an adventure to explore Utah, or anywhere else in the West.
If you’re interested in renting a Roadtrek camper van for traveling the Western US, we’d love to hear from you! Happy travels!