Utah has some of the best national parks in the country. And I mean, spectacular. When I saw this article, it struck me all over again how cool a place the Beehive state is for fantastic scenery and action adventure.
I have visited four out of the five top parks (at least as designated by the writer) by going solo on adventure trips. One was with Holiday Expeditions, the other with Backroads. And I would highly recommend both companies.
One of my first set-out-solo trips was mountain biking and whitewater rafting on the Green and Colorado rivers with Holiday Expeditions.
On the Holiday Expeditions trip our group of five went mountain biking in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and then joined a larger group to raft through Canyonlands. So peaceful and mellow drifting through the canyons, bathing in the river, relaxing by the shore. No electronics whatsoever. Clocks and watches unnecessary. Just drift and eat and soak in the colorful rock formations and hike the smooth chasms where the river has cut through to form a winding path.
The fab five from the biking portion formed such a tight bond that when the trip ended, four of us who didn't have immediate flights home drove our three cars by caravan to Moab, Utah and stayed overnight.
The next day we explored Arches National Park together before we had to fly home to our respective corners of the country: Washington, New York and California. For years, my favorite t-shirt was "Go with the Flow," purchased at the company's store.
With Backroads, our group biked to Bryce Canyon National Park and hiked among the red-rock spires they call hoodoos. We continued on, biking to Zion National Park. Zion is famous for its "vertigo inducing" Angels Landing Trail. My vertigo was so induced, I couldn't manage to get myself to hike across the narrow trail that has drops to your death on either side. No matter. I was high enough where I ended my hike (along with two other of the vertigo-induced club) and it fantastic.
I also was blissfully happy a day later walking up the Virgin River. In the river. With sneakers on. With water up to my thighs. With my daypack with camera hanging around my neck. With a large walking stick I picked up by the river that I returned upon exiting. As someone else had done so I could use it.
There simply were no banks to walk on. Just rock walls. Some people walk all the way up, camp overnight and return the next day. We only had a few hours. But any amount of time walking the river is worth it.
Two trips, four Utah parks.
Yet another summer I rafted on the Yampa River in Utah, through Dinosaur National Monument, again with Holiday. Another amazing Utah park.
People, you must get to these parks. And it's easy to do solo. By finding adventure companies that will provide equipment and companions. Do it! And report back.
Photo: Ray Mathis. Thor's Hammer at midday. Bryce Canyon National Park.