In the state of Utah, which is located in the Rocky Mountains, tourism has become one of the main sources of income. A huge number of visitors of the 45th American state are attracted majorly by unusual and truly unique nature, which cannot be seen in any other destination of the United States.
In Utah, there are five major national parks, as well as a lot of other unique natural formations earned world fame. The good news is that a lot of them are placed within driving distance of Salt Lake City. So having picked up SLC Airport car rental, you will be able to get to each natural wonder on your own and explore its most amazing sights.
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Great Salt Lake
It spread its waters in the mountains of northwestern Utah. The lake is part of the Great Basin and ranks sixth among all the drainage areas in the United States. Its parameters vary depending on natural phenomena and climatic shifts. For example, in summer, when the snow covers of the Wasatch Mountains melt, the lake is fed by them and increases to 6,000 square meters, and its maximum depth reaches 15 meters.
Its largest island is Antelope. The lake has become the largest source of white and Glauber salt in America, with reserves estimated at billions of tons. Around the reservoir are desert areas, salt marshes, and swamps.
Arches National Park
This is one of the top and most visited places in Utah. Arches National Park is located near the city of Moab, in the east of the state. On the territory of the park, which received world fame, there are about 2,000 arches of red sand, which have intricate shapes.
The Graceful Arch which is also called ‘Cowboy’s pants’ has the greatest popularity for its ornate design. The park area is slightly more than 300 square kilometers. However, the numerous arches of the national park have a tendency of gradual destruction. They are actively affected by strong winds and precipitation, which don’t spare the amazing creations of nature.
This unique geological formation extends to the south-east of Utah and captures a part of neighboring Arizona. The seemingly endless plain of red sand and mighty outcrops amazes those who come to the valley for the first time. For centuries, nature has forged its creation, destroying mountains with rain and wind. Today, the Monument Valley has become the only desert park on the planet – the national treasure of the state, the territory of which to this day belongs to the indigenous people of America – the Navajo Indian tribe.
The height of the valley floor varies from 1500 to 1800 meters, while the area of the territory is about 600 square kilometers. In the process of weathering and soil erosion, the soft upper layer of sedimentary rock was destroyed, and as a result only remnant rocks from sandstone remained on the surface. The red color of geological formations is caused by iron oxide in the mineral composition of sandstone.
Monument Valley is characterized by a desert climate — cold winters and hot summers. Visitors can pay a visit to the park at the entrance to slowly drive along a dirt road for about 17 miles. Some parts of the Monument Valley, such as Mystery Valley and Hunts Mesa, are available only as part of a guided tour.
Zion National Park
Located on the territory of Utah, Zion National Park is famous for its eponymous canyon, which is not like the Grand Canyon, but also has its own charm. The area of the national park is 590 square kilometers and annually it’s visited by more than 2 million tourists.
The Zion Canyon itself is 24 kilometers in length, and its width is only 800 meters, but with its bronze-colored gorge it creates an indelible impression. In the past, Indian tribes lived in the Zion Canyon, and in the second half of the XIX century, it was inhabited by Mormons. This region was declared a national park in 1919, and later transport infrastructure was created there. For example, the Zion tunnel was built. There are various hiking paths in the park, and one of them is suitable for walking with pets.
Bryce Canyon is one of the most famous national parks of the United States. It’s located in the southwestern part of Utah at a distance of about 80 km from Zion Park, and its total area is about 145 square kilometers.
Despite the name, Bryce Canyon is very different from most canyons and, rather, represents a gigantic complex of natural amphitheaters formed by unique geological forms – the Hoodoos. The unusual landscape in this area was created under the influence of water, ice and in the long process of weathering.
The territory near Bryce Canyon in Utah was mastered by the Mormons – one of their first settlements. In addition, artifacts have been found that prove that Indians lived in the vicinity: the oldest finds are over 10,000 years old. However, the area and then the natural park were named after one of the Mormon pioneers, Ebenezer Bryce, who built the house there.