What we would normally do is go to the park's visitor centre first. The rangers are a mine of information and friendly and helpful. You will get a newspaper that gives you tips on what to do if you have half a day, a day or a couple of days, and dates and times of activities etc. You get a park map and other pamphlets such as a hiking map, depending on park. There's also a noticeboard listing activities for the day like ranger talks and ranger hikes that are normally free and very informative and fun. There's usually a short movie running continuously about the park's history and how the geological formations were made, with lovely sweeping panoramas that give you a feel for the whole park. We always watch those. Then you plan your day and off you go. Most of it is also downloadable from the fabulous National Park Service website at http://www.nps.gov/index.htm . Finally, if you are going to park blitz like us then buy an annual pass at any park entry. After that you just flash your pass at any national park.
|Delicate Arch at sunset|
|Waiting for sunset|
|Canyonlands at the end of the rim walk at the Grand View Point Overlook|
But Canyonlands has two main sections and it takes several hours to get to both. Due to time restrictions we only visited the section they call 'Island in the Sky'. It's a lovely drive with many scenic overlooks to stop at and admire the canyon and go for brief hikes. At the end of the road there is the Grand View Point Overlook that features a pleasant hike along the rim to some fantastic panoramic scenes. Well worth the effort. The sheer depth and breadth of the canyon with its needle-like rock formations doesn't transfer to a photograph, it looks much better in person.
|Staring contest...he won|
At this point we decided we wanted to participate in the global climate change rallies that were about to occur to encourage world leaders to tackle this critical global issue with greater urgency. The closest rally to us was in Salt Lake City so we scoured our national parks map and went to the following two parks merely because they were on the way to Salt Lake.
Capitol Reef National Park. 1 Day. Accommodation: Torrey is the closest town but we stayed at the isolated Affordable Inn as it was closer to the park. Attractions: Canyons, apple orchards and a small dose of Mormon history.
Great Basin National Park. 1 Day. Accommodation: Baker is the closest town but we stayed at the Border Inn on the border of Utah and Nevada because it was the only place that had rooms available. Attractions: Caves and star gazing.
|Ranger talent show|
|Follow the lights...|
|Sample of cave photos|