1

Cedar City: A Mighty Five Road Trip Must

If you’re planning to make a Mighty Five road trip in southern Utah,  then Cedar City should be on your itinerary. Not only is it close to the Mighty Five of Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion national parks, it has plenty of its own amazing landscapes and activities.

This story was created in partnership with Visit Cedar City.

overview of cedar city, part of a mighty five road trip

Day 1

Morning: Go For a Hike Among the Wildflowers

Cedar Breaks National Monument is Cedar City’s pride and joy. Just 30 minutes outside of town, the geological amphitheater has miles of hiking trails and incredible views all around. During the month of July, wildflowers begin to bloom alongside the trails, adding another dimension of beauty to your experience. In the summertime, the mountains offer a cool relief from the heat. We suggest trying to be there for sunrise, then going for a hike on the Ramparts Overlook Trail. Stop by Bristlecone Coffee for your caffeine and bagel fix on the way.

Mighty Five road trip stop: Stargazing in Cedar City pin

Utah hiking and flowers on mighty five road trip

Afternoon: You Thought You Weren’t a Theater Person?!

You may feel like you’re only surrounded by national parks and red rocks, but Cedar City is an oasis for anyone who loves live performances, art shows, local brews, and fancy wine. Speaking of local brew, you deserve an adult beverage after your hike! Check out Policy Kings Brewery, then walk over to the Pastry Pub to pick up a great sandwich to go. Since you’re just across the street from Cedar City’s art and theater scene, we recommend strolling over to the Utah Shakespeare Festival grounds, the perfect place for a picnic. 

utah shakespeare festival

The Utah Shakespeare Festival was founded in 1961. In 1962, the Festival attracted about 3,000 visitors. Today, it’s grown to nearly 100,000. Visitors can book a show in advance or stop by the box office on the spur of the moment to see what’s available.

Next door to the Festival is the Southern Utah Museum of Art, which is free! SUMA features regional artists, student artists, and distinguished artists from all over. We know you like national parks, so don’t miss the amazing landscapes featured here!

southern utah museum of art

Evening: Stroll Downtown District & See a Show

What’s great about Cedar City’s Downtown District is that it’s all walkable. When you start feeling hungry, head over to Centro Woodfired Pizzeria. Directly across from there is I/G Winery & Tasting Room. Enjoy the warm ambience by the fireplace or soak up the sunshine on their patio. If you didn’t get tickets for a show at the Festival, they offer The Greenshow on their lawn every night—a free, lighthearted, and fun play for the whole family. 

Winery, festival and pizza

Day 2

Morning: Pioneers & Petroglyphs

After breakfast, get ready to dive deep into the history of Cedar City, Iron County, and southwest Utah! Frontier Homestead State Park allows visitors to relive the pioneer days through hands-on activities like stepping inside a horse-drawn wagon, touring an old home and schoolhouse, crawling into Native American dwellings, and even panning for gold. 

Next, drive out of town to go further into local history at Parowan Gap. This site is known to be one of the most concentrated collections of petroglyphs in the West, plus, it’s very accessible! Park and walk right over to incredible galleries of Native American rock carvings.

parowan gaps petroglyphs and frontier museum

Afternoon: Take the Lift Up, Ride the Bike Down

Time to get the adrenaline pumping! Head back up into the mountains, this time to Brian Head Resort. Typically a ski resort, Brian Head remains a place for family fun in the summertime (open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays). The ski hill is transformed into a downhill bike park in warm months. The ski lift brings riders and bikes to the top so they can enjoy the long ride down. Additional activities include ziplining, disc golfing, archery, bungee trampoline jumping, scenic lift rides, and tubing. 

brian head resort and mountain bike park

Evening: Sunsets and Stargazing 

Enjoy the mountains as long as you can—stay in Brian Head for dinner after your ride! Drive just 10 minutes back to Cedar Breaks National Monument to witness the sunset turn all of the spires into a fierce, glowing red. After all of that, if you’re still awake, settle in for some out-of-this-world stargazing. Cedar Breaks is designated as an International Dark Sky Park and was voted in 2016 as the “Best National Park Night Experience.” Throughout the summer, the park even hosts “star parties” with rangers and volunteer astronomers. 

cedar breaks hiking and stargazing as part of a mighty five road trip

As if there isn’t enough adventure in Cedar City, hit the road and move on to the next of the five national parks on your Mighty Five road trip itinerary. Cedar City will be the breath of fresh air that offers fewer crowds, intriguing nightlife, and the “small town America” feeling. 




Top Salt Lake City Attractions: Start at the Natural History Museum of Utah

Any adventure in the state of Utah should start with a day at the Natural History Museum of Utah. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie, a Jurassic Park fanatic, or a cultural explorer, your holiday to Utah will be much richer for it. Deepen your understanding of all the top Salt Lake City attractions and Utah destinations at the beautiful and impressive Natural History Museum of Utah.

This story was created in partnership with the Natural History Museum of Utah.

Salt Lake City’s Top Attraction: Dinosaurs

NHMU pin

The Past Worlds Exhibit may surprise you and become the most fascinating experience you have in Utah. Step back in time, where you will not only see fossils and learn about dinosaurs—you’ll also experience the “sights, sounds, and smells of long-lost ecosystems.” Learn all about the fossils that came from right here in Utah. Experience the area as it was when it was home to these massive beings.

The dinosaur exhibit at the Natural History Museum of Utah is one the top Salt Lake City attractions

Don’t miss: the world’s largest display of horned dinosaur skulls.

Learn about the water of Salt Lake City

One of the top Salt Lake City attractions is the lake for which the city is named. But how much do you know about it? Did you know it’s all that remains from the historic Lake Bonneville? Do you know how salty it is? Do you know what birds and wildlife depend on it?

The Great Salt Lake Exhibit at the Natural History Museum of Utah in Salt Lake City

Take a walk “around” the lake at the  to find out!

Learn about the land of Utah

If your holiday will take you throughout Utah after your museum visit, you’ll be curious about the great stone formations that you admire. The Mighty Five National Parks of Utah are known first and foremost for the stunning rock formations and colors, and the Natural History Museum of Utah is the premier resource for understanding these gorgeous views.

Exhibits at the Natural History Museum of Utah, one of Salt Lake City's attractions

The Land Exhibit even allows you an up-close tour of the Utah foothills and their geology and touching the displays is encouraged! You can see why the building is built so beautifully into the landscape.

Learn about the first people of Utah

Before the Mighty Five and lists of the top Salt Lake City attractions you can’t miss, Utah’s Native American tribes had their own stories about the region. The Native Voices Exhibit is built beautifully into the hillside at the top of the building. It was designed to share the history and ongoing story of the Native American presence in Utah.

Native Voices Exhibit at NHMU

Learn all about the traditions of the tribes, people you may get the chance to connect with on your Utah travels.

Informed Travel

Start your travels with a deeper understanding of your destination. Connect with its stories and people. Learn about Utah at the Natural History Museum of Utah on the very first stop of your Utah Parks road trip.




Go Off the Grid in Capitol Reef Country, Utah

The Capitol Reef Country of Wayne County, Utah, is one of the American Southwest’s least-explored natural regions. Just one look at the map and you’ll see that this is a vast and remarkable area filled with parks, monuments, and countless hidden gems. Here you’ll find few lines and little traffic, leaving more time to enjoy the great outdoors in this alluring area in southern Utah—the perfect destination for year-round adventure!

This story was created in partnership with Wayne County Tourism.

Off Roading in Capitol Reef Country, Utah

GET YOUR BEARINGS IN SOUTHERN UTAH’S EPICENTER OF ADVENTURE

Capitol Reef Country Pin

Capitol Reef Country is the hub for a massive amount of outdoor fun and excitement for the whole family. Wayne County itself encompasses Capitol Reef National Park, known for its iconic 100-mile formation called the Waterpocked Fold and verdant orchards, as well as the western rim of Canyonlands National Park, several towering mountain ranges, and numerous world-class canyoneering destinations, including Robbers Roost. Nearby you will find access to Bryce Canyon National Park, Grand Staircase National Monument, Goblin Valley State Park, and even parts of Lake Powell. As a result, Capitol Reef Country is the perfect base camp for the ultimate freedom to explore! 

 

Amazing Landscapes in Capitol Reef Country, Utah

EXPERIENCE THE THREE DIVERSE LANDSCAPES OF CAPITOL REEF COUNTRY

Within the immense borders of Capitol Reef Country, the terrain is divided into three distinct regions: the Western Highlands, a Central area, and the Eastern High Desert. In the Western Highlands, the Boulder and Thousand Lakes Mountains elevate the skyline at over 11,000 feet. Their meadows and forests offer a playground for year-round activities. Lower down in the central region, the colorful sandstone cliffs and verdant riverbanks of Capitol Reef National Park mark the landscape. Further to the east, time has stood still. Here in the desert, dinosaurs and famous outlaws used to call the complex terrain home. Today, the area offers access to the western edge of Canyonlands National Park and the Henry Mountains. It is still so wild that a large herd of buffalo continues to roam free!  

Hiking in Capitol Reef Country, Utah

HIKE, BIKE, AND MORE: ENDLESS HUMAN-POWERED ADVENTURES

Hiking is a popular all-levels activity in red rock country, and Wayne County offers endless trails to explore. Enjoy alpine meadows and aspen groves on Boulder Mountain or embark on any number of hikes through Capitol Reef National Park. Chances are, you’ll want to immerse yourself in the sandstone features of southern Utah. Guided canyoneering is a great option, and the San Rafael Swell and Robber’s Roost areas are world-class. In addition, mountain biking trails for beginners and experts abound, offering a different way to take in the landscape.

Prefer to experience nature with a fishing rod in hand? Boulder Mountain’s many lakes teem with brook and rainbow trout. Similarly, casting on the Fremont River is a popular choice. There are tremendous possibilities for human-powered adventures in Capitol Reef Country!

OHV Fun in Capitol Reef Country, Utah

ZOOM ACROSS THE LANDSCAPE WITH MOTOR-BASED FUN

One of the best parts of the southwest is zooming around the desert on four wheels, and visitors can rent off-highway vehicles to partake in the fun. In Capitol Reef Country, backcountry roads lead in all directions through diverse terrain and elevations. Throttle your way through high desert terrain, red rock landscapes, and mountains. The freedom to roam is truly mind-boggling!

Hoping to get a little exercise? Take a spin on an electric bike, or e-bike. The town of Torrey, a hub for adventure in Wayne County, offers rentals and an abundance of route suggestions. For beginners, a pedal through town is perfect, while ambitious cyclists might tour Capitol Reef’s panoramic paved roadways. One of our favorites is the aptly-named Scenic Drive because of how it winds through lush valleys beneath red rocks.

Capitol Reef Resort, Utah

ENJOY SOUTHWESTERN HOSPITALITY, MEALS, AND SERVICES

Capitol Reef Country serves up small-town charm and hospitality in healthy portions. The communities of Bicknell, Torrey, Hanksville, and others will keep you well-fueled for your outdoor pursuits. As for food: have you ever heard of a rattlesnake cake? It’s a local favorite, but nonetheless an acquired taste. You can find this and other Southwestern specialties like chili-infused dishes at any number of Wayne County’s restaurants.

As for lodging in the area, options range from camping in a plethora of designated campgrounds to staying in locally-owned bed and breakfasts and hotels. In conclusion, no matter where you choose to base your visit to Capitol Reef Country, you will find welcoming options at every turn.




Not the Wave, but Still Winning in Southern Utah

Everyone sat in the BLM office throwing their hands up and down, imitating the classic “wave” formation commonly seen at sporting events. This office is what everyone came to see, right? No way, we were all packed in this small room to win a lottery position to see the incredible Wave formation the following day. If you’re not familiar with the Wave, it’s a rock formation imitating the most perfect surf you’ve ever seen. We didn’t win that lottery, but it turns out that there is an overwhelming number of sights near Kanab. At the end of our trip, we knew we had won big in Southern Utah!

emily-sierra-2019-utah-kane-county-kanab-coral-pink-sand-dunes-state-park-1

This article was created in partnership with the Kane County Utah Office of Tourism, Utah. Images by Emily Sierra Photography.

Better than The Wave: ‘Candyland’

Like twisted lollipops, tent-shaped rocks swirl toward the sky with shades of pink, yellow, and orange. As we approached one set of sandstone formations, we saw a herd of big horned sheep staring down at us—reminding us that we were indeed in the wild. In fact, this area in Vermilion Cliffs National Monument known as South Coyote Buttes remains incredibly wild! Access to the “trail” is challenging, and once you’re out exploring, nothing is marked. We were escorted by a guide from Grand Circle Tours that not only drove us safely to the area, but helped us efficiently see some of the most interesting features in South Coyote Buttes. This area made the top of my list for Southern Utah.

emily-sierra-2019-utah-kane-county-kanab-vermillion-cliffs-national-monument-south-coyote-buttes-2

Note: visiting South Coyote Buttes does require a permit. Reserve online in advance, or stick around after the Wave lottery at the BLM office. Nabbing one of these permits is considerably easier than the coveted permits for the Wave, and many believe it’s a far superior region to explore.

emily-sierra-2019-utah-kane-county-kanab-vermillion-cliffs-national-monument-south-coyote-buttes-15

Yellow Rock: Introduction to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Not that this part of Utah necessarily has a “beaten path”, but Yellow Rock is even more off the beaten path. The best way I can describe Yellow Rock is this: a massive dome that ice cream was spilled all over. Indeed yellow in color, the rock has honeycomb-patterned fractures throughout, and swirls of pink, red and white. From the top of the dome—and it’s worth the climb—you can see Castle Rock in the distance, a white multi-tipped mountain. Visiting this odd landmark was the perfect introduction to the vastness and beauty of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

emily-sierra-2019-utah-kane-county-kanab-yellow-rock-hike-better-than-the-wave emily-sierra-2019-utah-kane-county-kanab-yellow-rock-hike-8

Buckskin Gulch: Long, deep & Magical

The temperature dropped quickly as we descended into Buckskin Gulch. The walls rose dizzyingly high, and the light danced around every corner of the slot canyon. People passed us with large backpacks, determined to hike the full the 25 miles through the canyon. Though the trailhead was a bit of a trek from Kanab, it was easy to access, which can’t be said for all trails in the area.

emily-sierra-2019-utah-kane-county-kanab-wire-pass-buckskin-gulch-slot-canyon-4

More incredible places, close to Kanab

Red Canyon aka ‘Peek-A-Boo Canyon’

Our Hummer swam through deep sand to reach this trailhead. We were so grateful to Forever Adventure Tours for ushering us out the mouth of the canyon as the roads were quite beachy! Light reflecting in the canyon glowed deep orange, and the blue sky above made me think of Antelope Canyon. What a treat though: we were the only ones in the canyon and had plenty of time to ourselves there.

emily-sierra-2019-utah-kane-county-kanab-red-canyon-peekaboo-looks-like-the-wave

Stars & S’mores Tour

We found the best way to take advantage of the dark skies in southern Utah with a Stars & S’mores Tour! We rode out to an old movie set location in a covered wagon and cuddled up around a big bonfire. Gazing at the stars, we talked local folklore and nibbled away on sweet treats.

emily-sierra-2019-utah-kane-county-kanab-stars-smores-tour-1

Kanab: Southern Utah’s trailhead

It’d be hard not to love this town. Founded nearly 150 years ago (anniversary in 2020!), Kanab boasts the first all-woman town council… in the country! I just love facts like this.

Beyond the politics, I very much loved the traveler amenities. We stayed at the historic Parry Lodge in downtown Kanab, which has hosted hundreds of celebrities over the years. Touches throughout the hotel nod to the region’s “Little Hollywood” and western history, but moreover it’s quaint, cozy, and incredibly convenient to the rest of town.

emily-sierra-2019-utah-kane-county-kanab-parry-lodge-3

We were also impressed by the diverse food options around town, from progressive Asian flavors at Sego and traditional French at Vermillion 45, to the best coffee and croissants at Kanab Creek Bakery. There were endless vegetarian and vegan options at Peekaboo Canyon Wood Fired Kitchen and Rocking V. Needless to say, we were treated every day après adventure! I wouldn’t mind returning to Kanab just to continue my food tour … and maybe try one more time to get that permit for the Wave.

emily-sierra-2019-utah-kane-county-kanab-creek-bakery




4 Days of Adventure in Dinosaurland, Utah

This summer, take a road trip through America’s dinosaur capital: the city of Vernal, affectionately known as Dinosaurland, Utah. Home to Dinosaur National Monument, Vernal is a hub for outdoor adventure and American West history situated only three hours from Salt Lake City. In addition, Yellowstone, Rocky Mountain, Arches, and Canyonlands national parks are all within driving distance! We think you could spend an entire month exploring the area, but the four-day itinerary below is a great place to start. 

This story was created in partnership with Uinta County Travel and Tourism.

Dinosaur National Monument in Dinosaurland, Utah

DAY 1: EXPLORE THE NAMESAKE OF DINOSAURLAND, UTAH

Morning 

There’s no better way to get acquainted with Dinosaurland, Utah than to visit Dinosaur National Monument. Located on the border between Utah and Colorado, the park is 200,000 acres in size and contains thousands of millions-of-years-old dinosaur bones. (You’ll find all of the fossils, footprints, and petroglyphs on the Utah side of the monument.) Here, the world-renowned Dinosaur Quarry Exhibit Hall and Visitor Center is home to more than 1,500 fossils still embedded in a cliff face. Interactive exhibits are fun for the whole family and an absolute must during your stay. 

Afternoon

That afternoon, explore where dinosaurs once roamed! Hike the three-mile Sound of Silence trail that highlights the monument’s geologic diversity and offers great views of Split Mountain. That evening back in town, enjoy a hard-earned dinner at any number of Vernal’s family-friendly restaurants. We recommend the aptly named Dinosaur Brew Haus or the Quarry Steakhouse and Brew Pub. During your stay, consider making yourself at home in a local bed and breakfast or at any number of hotels in town. 

Spending time on the water in Dinosaurland, Utah

DAY 2: KAYAK, PADDLE, OR RAFT VERNAL’S LUSH WATERWAYS

Morning 

Take to the water on day two! Dinosaurland is home to an incredible assortment of watersports thanks to its location, including its proximity to the nationally-recognized Green River. No matter your skill level, you can find everything from friendly whitewater floats to wild rides on Class IV rapids (get outfitted for your trip here). Kayaking, canoeing, and standup-paddleboarding are also popular choices at nearby Red Fleet State Park and Flaming Gorge National Recreation Center.

Afternoon

After your morning adventure, visit the Uinta Heritage Museum located conveniently in downtown Vernal. The rotating art exhibits showcase displays of Native American heritage, as well as the history of the miners, soldiers, lawmen, and outlaws who helped shape the past of the Uinta Basin. Entrance is free and the museum is within walking distance of many great restaurants. Try the popular Antica Forma, where thin-crust pizzas wash down well with a cocktail of your choice. 

Vernal Brewing Company, Dinosaurland, Utah

DAY 3: RIDE BIKES THROUGH SOME OF THE WEST’S BEST SCENERY

Morning

On your third morning, enjoy a hearty home-cooked breakfast in town at Betty’s Cafe. Then, hit the trails on two wheels! Rent a bike in town, then head out to a wide selection of singletrack nearby. Intermediate and advanced riders will find several options such as the seven-mile Red Fleet Loop. Beginners might stick to the smooth, out-and-back Racetrack Trail and tailor the distance to their liking. See all trails here

Afternoon 

Treat yourself post-bike ride with a Hawaiian shave ice at Beachin’ Soda Shack in downtown Dinosaurland  (or a beer at Vernal Brewing Company). You might not have expected to find something so tropical (and tasty) in the heart of the American West, but this is simply more proof that Vernal is anything but ordinary! That evening, consider taking one of Vernal’s many scenic drives, or go on a walking tour through town.

Fantasy Canyon outside of Dinosaurland, Utah

DAY 4: HIKE THROUGH FANTASY CANYON

On your final day in Dinosaurland, Utah, embark on a hiking and photo exploration through Fantasy Canyon. Just under an hour south of downtown Vernal, you’ll feel as if you have entered into another dimension. Red sandstone towers rise dramatically from clay bases against a bluebird sky—a photographer’s dream! Take the .6-mile trail with interpretive signs to get to know the area. You’ll probably smile at the imaginative names assigned to the different sandstone formations, such as “Yawning Lady” and “Micky Mouse.” By the time you travel on towards your next destination, you’ll be full of wonder and admiration for this hidden corner of Utah and all the adventures you experienced in the land of dinosaurs!  




West Wendover, Rich in History and Beauty

Driving into West Wendover quickly sets the stage for what kind of adventures you can expect.

Coming in from the east brings you across miles and miles of salt flats. Those driving in from the west get to appreciate the more staggered landscape. A mixture of mountains and plains act as open arms to the outdoor enthusiasts.

West Wendover sits perfectly in the middle of both.

This story was created in partnership with City of West Wendover.

Welcome to West Wendover

A Place In History

This small community capitalizes on all things rich in enjoyment and history.

West Wendover established itself on the Utah/Nevada border as a railroad town and became an oasis for travelers going from one state to the next. In fact, this small town helped telephone lines connect coast to coast for the first time back in 1914. This made it possible for people to communicate from Back East to the West Coast! It is only fitting, then, that you can see the curvature of the earth when you make a stop in West Wendover.

West Wendover was a center for communication, commerce and fun. The town quickly started attracting people not only to visit, but to stay and put down roots.

West Wendover Airfield Musuem

Wendover Army Air Field

Shortly after West Wendover became a stop on the border, the United States Army began construction on Wendover Army Air Base. This base became critically important during World War II. The base was the largest the Army had. It quickly became the center for research in new tech during the war and focused on training heavy bomb groups.

Today, you can visit the Historic Wendover Airfield Museum to tour a massive Con Air aircraft, watch a hair-raising airshow, and learn about this base and the people who were integral in America’s history. This impressive military museum even includes a control tower that you can climb, in addition to all the fascinating interpretive displays.

Bonneville Salt Flats

Bonneville Salt Flats

Directly east of West Wendover is possibly one of the most picturesque places you can visit in the continental United States: the Bonneville Salt Flats. If you wake up early enough and it has recently rained, you will come across some of the most amazing reflections during sunrise. The water mirroring the colors of the sky is magical. If the early morning isn’t your thing, you can also visit the salt plains later in the day to try to spot vehicles attaining incredible land speeds.

(Photo tip: For the best shots, pull over at the rest stop nearest town as you drive in from the east.)

Blue Lake

Blue Lake

A short ways south of West Wendover and just on the Utah side is Blue Lake. This gem of lake is an incredibly deep and very warm body of water. This geothermal lake stays a consistent 72 degrees year-round. With warm waters, a healthy population of fish, and a 66-foot depth, it’s a very popular destination to earn your scuba certification.

West Wendover

Mountains and Trails

To the west and north of West Wendover jut out various mountains with endless trails. Pack your hiking boots or mountain bike, or rent an ATV to explore these beautiful landscapes.

The nearby Goshute Mountain Range acts as not only a playground for people, but also as a migratory path for hawks and other birds. From mid-August to early November, visitors can make the hike to the upper parts of the mountains and witness dozens of various birds making their way south.

Skywalk in West Wendover

Stay and Play in West Wendover

Surrounded by all this natural beauty and wonder is the winning personality of West Wendover. Lit up in true Nevada-style, this town knows how to entertain. From the airshow at the historic airfield, to a casino scene that boasts a dramatic skywalk, to full-scale concerts where every seat in the house is less than 88 feet from the stage, West Wendover is the place to stay and play—and win.

Stay in town on a rainy day and dive into history and entertainment, or go outside when the sun’s out for spectacular views. Either way, you’ll come out of West Wendover with stories and pictures worthy of sharing from East to West Coast!




24 Hours at City Creek Center, Salt Lake City’s Shopping Gem

The tinkling sounds of a trout-filled creek swept by as I sipped my morning coffee. Snow-capped peaks greeted my view in the distance, and aspen leaves gently rustled in the breeze in my periphery. The springtime sun felt good on my skin after what was a long, hard winter. This wasn’t your average morning in the mountains, though. I was sitting in the middle of City Creek Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, enjoying an orange-infused cold brew from Nordstrom eBar.

This story was created in partnership with City Creek Center, Utah and Kimpton Hotel Monaco Salt Lake City.

CONVENIENT DOWNTOWN LOCATION

Located in downtown Salt Lake City next to Temple Square, City Creek isn’t your typical retail center. The first thing you’ll notice is that it was designed with natural elements interwoven throughout. Beautiful views to the mountains and Salt Lake Temple are around every turn. The mall honors its surroundings while offering the excellent shopping and dining you would expect of a Taubman Property (purveyors of similar shopping centers around the nation). Here, Cutthroat and Rainbow Trout swim through the creek and native animal tracks like mountain lion and elk crisscross the walkways. And with a splash pad to cool off in the summer heat, even the kids will rejoice at spending a day here! One stroll through City Creek Center and it is obvious: this is an experience-based shopping center that is a bar (or several) above the rest.

 

City Creek Center Salomon and Signage

STAY NEARBY AT THE MONACO

My trip began at the nearby Kimpton Hotel Monaco Salt Lake City. An ideal jumping off-point for your stay in Salt Lake City, the boutique hotel is only two blocks away from City Creek Center. Here, friendly staff greet you and luxurious and quiet rooms await; perfect for catching up on sleep after your travels. There are also yoga classes offered in the hotel on Thursday and Saturday mornings. These exercise opportunities helped me work off the deep-fried French toast from the Monaco’s restaurant, Bambara—a real indulgence before my day shopping down the street! Visitors who don’t feel like walking during their stay at the Monaco might borrow a bike from the front desk, or take advantage of the city’s GreenBike program, for an extra-expedient tour of downtown. There are also a number of electric scooters located throughout the city for a different kind of unique urban spin.

 

Kimpton Hotel Monaco Salt Lake City

NATIONAL PARK VISITORS ARE WELCOME

Salt Lake City is a fantastic hub for travelers on their way to Utah’s Mighty 5 National Parks. I recommend spending a day on either side of your journey at City Creek Center. Athletic retailers like Salomon, Athleta, Lululemon, Fabletics, and Albion abound. These shopping options are perfect for picking up forgotten items such as hiking shoes, sunglasses, activewear, and swimsuits. Missing something important? Glowing signs for Apple and Microsoft stores will be a welcome sight for travelers who need charging cables! Visitors also will enjoy browsing the high-end options City Creek has to offer, such as BOSS HUGO BOSS, Rolex Boutique O.C. Tanner, Coach, Kendra Scott, Nordstrom, and Tiffany & Co. for a taste of luxury. Stores like Böhme and Bronxton are also worthwhile stops for visitors who want to explore Utah’s local brands. Those on the hunt for homewares will particularly enjoy visits to Restoration Hardware, West Elm, and Anthropologie. Shipping special gems of any size to international addresses is a breeze.

 

City Creek Center Passport to Shopping

EXPLORE THE PASSPORT TO SHOPPING

Devouring an ahi tuna bowl and cucumber basil lemonade at CoreLife Eatery, I flipped through the Passport to Shopping I’d picked up earlier that morning. The customer service representative had explained the booklet. Essentially, it’s a collection of special offers at over 60 retail and dining locations at the mall. The offer is only available to visitors who live 50 miles (or further) away. Those who spend $150 or more during the course of a day receive a free gift upon presenting their receipts back at the desk! I didn’t quite hit that budget during my stay, but maybe next time. I was still able to get great deals on a few items that caught my eye at the local shops!

 

CITY CREEK IS MORE THAN JUST A SHOPPING CENTER

I washed down a great day of shopping with a glass of sustainably-grown pinot grigio at Brio Tuscan Grille. It paired oh-so-well with the lobster ravioli I enjoyed beneath twinkling patio lights. The sun was beginning to set, and I polished it off just in time to saunter back to the western side of the center. There, the Transcend Fountain was scheduled for a choreographed show complete with fire effects. Beneath a creamsicle-colored sky, the joyful waterworks were the ultimate finale to a day well spent at City Creek Center in the heart of Salt Lake City!

city creek center, shopping salt lake, shopping salt lake city, salt lake city outlets, shopping




Lake Powell: The Perfect Weekend Getaway

The winter doldrums of Wyoming had my boyfriend Kyle and me in a slump. Early April is spring everywhere else, so we were thrilled to head south to the border of Utah and Arizona for a weekend trip. Stepping out of the car into the sunshine made us forget about the foot and a half of snow that still buried our garden, and the view of Lake Powell at sunset was enough to reset our spirits. Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas was the perfect spring respite. With the ideal mix of adventure and relaxation, Lake Powell made us forget all about our wintry woes.

This story was created in partnership with Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas.

Welcome to Your Insta-Worthy Home Away from Home

When we arrived at the Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas Wahweap Campground, we checked in, and within minutes were standing outside an Airstream—the ultimate way to camp. The Airstream had all the fun amenities of camping, like a fire pit, grill, picnic table, and chairs, while still giving us a clean and comfortable space to hang out in. We were, to say the least, pretty dang excited.

Airstream compilation, Lake powell, camping

As the evening light came over the campground, we reluctantly left our Airstream to head over to the main resort area for dinner. The light was so gorgeous, I couldn’t help but take tons of photos!

The resort has several dining choices. We opted for the Driftwood Lounge, a cool and modern bar connected to the Rainbow Room, the lodge’s main restaurant. With a full panel wall of glass that afforded us epic views of the lake, we enjoyed some wine and a nice dinner after such a long drive. The menu featured a fall vegetable and quinoa salad paired with a Sauvignon Blanc, which was a delicious and fresh alternative to the fast food we’d endured that afternoon. We watched the sun set and took in the beautiful views.

Lake Powell, Driftwood lounge, salad, wine

The restaurants open up onto a patio with spectacular views of the lake. With a pool, comfy outdoor couches, and fire pits, it makes for the perfect spot to wind down the evening. We walked around, enjoyed the views, and got excited for our plans for the upcoming weekend.

pool deck, lake views

Breakfast with a View

The next morning, we woke up excited to start our day. We headed to the Rainbow Room for a breakfast buffet, with a side of gorgeous sunrise. The views from the dining room had us itching to get out onto the lake, but the smell of bacon gave us a reason to take our time.

breakfast, eggs, bacon, coffee, rainbow room

Touring Antelope Canyon

After breakfast, we were finally ready to get out onto the water. We checked in at the Boat Tours desk in the lodge’s lobby, settled in with a Starbucks coffee from the Wind Tapas Bar, and adjusted our camera settings. When our guide called us up, we walked down to the marina and checked out the boats. When the captain had everyone loaded up, we were ready to go!

Antelope Canyon float tour, boat, marina

The walls of Antelope Canyon soared above us as we coasted on the water. The colors had my mind turning to art projects, and a potential remodel in the color scheme of desert-red rock walls and blue sky. The Canyon Adventures Tour is a great way to view the canyon from a whole new perspective and learn a little history about the area and dam system.

selfie, antelope canyon, lake powell

Hike to the Hanging Gardens

After some time on the water, I wanted to get back into the desert proper. The Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas website was super helpful for giving us some ideas about where to go for a day hike. They give you the option to sort arrival to the trailhead by land or by boat, making it easy to plan ahead for boating outings as well. The Hanging Gardens is a quick and easy hike to a beautiful and cool desert oasis. Desert flowers dotted the path, and at the end, a cliff overhang where vegetation could make a home in the desert heat. It was a beautiful and peaceful way to end the afternoon.

Hanging gardens compilation, hiking

Rent a Powerboat, Trust Us

This was definitely Kyle’s favorite part of the trip. The staff at the marina had us set up in no time, and soon we were zooming around the lake. Since we were there in early April (still considered an off-season time), we were the only people on the lake. We had the whole place to ourselves! We enjoyed the views of Castle Rock and made some future plans involving a houseboat.

speed boat selfies

Hike to Horseshoe Bend

We’ve all seen the epic pictures on Instagram and Pinterest, but people, let me tell you. It is totally different in person. The vastness of Horseshoe Bend canyon is difficult to put into words or a photograph. You’ll just have to go experience it for yourselves. Pro-tip: look up what time either sunrise or sunset is, and plan to be there just before, then you’ll be guaranteed to show up for the best light.

Lake Powell: From Adventure to Relaxation

Balance is what life is all about, right? That’s what we loved so much about our stay at Lake Powell. We had the excitement of hiking and boating, and then the balance of relaxation. Drinking coffee and reading in the Airstream gave us the opportunity to soak in our trip and enjoy some down time.

Our stay at Lake Powell had a little bit of everything, but it had a lot of convenience. With a campground and store, high-end dining, and marinas all in such close proximity, we didn’t have to do any planning ahead of time. As a major planner myself, it was an added bonus to have every detail thoughtfully taken care of before we arrived. The ease of staying at the resort allowed us to give our minds a break, and just enjoy. We barely scratched the surface of what there is to do at Lake Powell: slot canyons, houseboating, Rainbow Bridge. We were planning our next visit before we even left. The sunsets weren’t too bad either.

Interested in visiting? Check out Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas website to learn more.

Lake Powell Pin




Explore the Least Crowded Hike in Zion National Park

Are you looking for the least crowded hike in Zion? Head to the North entrance to Kolob Canyons for beautiful hiking and epic scenery—without the crowds. Get out of the shuttle and into the scenery.

Visiting Zion National Park

After our epic Lake Powell trip, Kyle and I were looking to escape into the backcountry. For two Wyomingites, that can be a little tricky. I start to get road rage in our small town’s Safeway parking lot any time after 4 p.m. So when we pulled up to Zion National Park’s West Entrance after an interesting detour delayed our trip, we were not expecting what we saw: hordes of people. There were so many people there on a Thursday morning in early April that the park was no longer accepting car traffic, and the only way to get in was on a shuttle. Needless to say, we were staving off panic attacks.

driving, utah, zion

We decided rather than brave the crowds, we’d head north to the Kolob Canyons Entrance. After the overwhelming crowds heading to Angel’s Landing and Zion’s other iconic hikes, we were not prepared for how quiet Kolob Canyons was. We casually parked in a half-empty parking lot, checked in at the ranger station (with no line!) and started our Kolob Canyons scenic hike.

The Least Crowded Hike in Zion: Kolob Canyons

Kolob Canyons, Zion National Park, hiking, Kyle pointing

Starting at the Lee Pass Trailhead, we hiked along the La Verkin Trail with few other hikers along our path. It was a gorgeous spring day, and we were thrilled. The air was that perfect temperature when it’s a little chilly to stand still in, which motivated us to keep moving.

Kolob Canyons, photography, hiking, Zion

The La Verkin Trail runs parallel to stunning red cliff faces, and then heads into the trees for some gorgeous hiking in the shade. The trail traverses a small stream 21 times! When we hiked around the curve, we were greeted by one of those perfect Zion views: cliffs rising overhead and the moon visible in the daylight.

Kolob Canyon, Kolob Canyons, hiking, Zion National Park, red cliffs

Kolob Canyon, Kolob Canyons, hiking, Zion National Park, red cliffs, view points, camping in Zion

Enjoy the Least Crowded Hike in Zion

If you’re looking for a trail in a national park that’s a little undiscovered, Kolob Canyon might just be perfect for you. The La Verkin Trail is fairly long, clocking in at seven miles one-way to the Kolob Arch (the second largest free-standing arch in the world!), but you can make it as short as you like. It’s mostly flat, so it makes for a great Zion family hike—or in our case, a great post-climbing hike.

map, Kolob Canyons, national parks, hiking, least crowded hike in zion

The half-empty parking lot should have clued us in, but we couldn’t get over how uncrowded the northern side of the park was. Compared with the better-known spots, it was almost like we weren’t in a national park at all. It had all the great amenities of a national park: well-maintained trails, campsites, and helpful signs—without any of the hectic crowding.

Witness the Kolob Arch

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bw22_1SAnIL/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

The Kolob Arch might be a pretty long trip, but man, is it worth it. Seeing arches like this makes me so appreciate the tenacity of nature, but also the randomness of it. The sheer improbability is enough to make you sit and ponder the universe. We were pretty struck by its immense presence—and used the opportunity to marvel at the wonders of nature and enjoy a pb&j. What goes better with existential bliss than peanut butter?

Camping in Kolob Canyons

Zion National Park, north entrance, hiking, day hike, least crowded hike in zion

If you’re looking to extend your time in Kolob Canyons past a day hike, there are plenty of primitive campsites. If you’re looking at hiking Zion National Park in June, be aware that, according to the National Parks Service, “Camping is in designated sites only and is available online for reservable sites and at Visitor Centers for first come, first serve sites.” This isn’t too much of an issue at the least crowded part of Zion, but if you’re there during peak season, it’s usually best to reserve a campsite.

The Uncrowded Entrance to Zion

Kolob Canyons, hiking, views, least crowded hike in zion

If you’re not feeling up to a hike, the Kolob Canyons viewpoint is a great scenic drive. If you’re visiting with small kids, older family members, or hiking just isn’t your thing, this is a great way to enjoy the park. Please be sure to drive the speed limit and keep an eye out for tourists and other wildlife. Please pack out any and all trash you bring with you into the parks. Keeping our national parks clean is how we will preserve them for years to come!

Our hike through Kolob Canyons was a great way to unwind. With far fewer crowds and a leisurely trail, we had time (and breathing capacity) to just enjoy each other’s company. The views were gorgeous, the air was crisp, and the company wasn’t half bad.

For the most up to date information on trails and closures, visit the National Parks Service site on Kolob Canyons.

Have you ever been to Kolob Canyons? Tell us about your experience in the comments section!

kolob canyons, least crowded hike in zion




3 Perfect Days in Flaming Gorge Country

Flaming Gorge Reservoir is one of northern Utah and southern Wyoming’s greatest gems. Literally, the water sparkles a sapphire blue color, and the flaming red cliffs tower high above. With at least a few days you can sample of some the most stellar outdoor recreation that the area has to offer. Find secret nooks on a boating adventure, or take advantage of the numerous hiking trails. For an adrenaline rush, kick it up a notch with a whitewater rafting tour on the Green River! One thing is for sure, wildlife abounds in this part of the state, so keep your eyes peeled for moose, bear, elk, bighorn sheep, and a variety of other native species.

This article was created in partnership with Flaming Gorge Country, Utah.

flaming-gorge-country-utah-family-overlook

Photo courtesy of Flaming Gorge Country

Lodging

There are several options for accommodations around Flaming Gorge that still offer easy access to the lake. Choose from log-sided lodges, cozy bed and breakfasts, motels, and even yurts or tipis! The towns around Flaming Gorge may be small, but they offer wonderful amenities for travelers playing in the area. If you would prefer to pitch a tent or hunker down in your RV for the night, there is an abundance of campgrounds.

flaming-gorge-country-utah-camping-campfire

Photo by Emily Taylor

Dining

There’s nothing more satisfying after a full day of outdoor adventures than a home-cooked meal in the evening. The restaurants don’t come in heavy numbers around the reservoir, but the options available are highly satisfying. Don’t hesitate to treat yourself at the Red Canyon Lodge. Experience fine dining and flavors of the West, surrounded by local art in a gorgeous setting. A few minute’s drive from the lodge is the Red Canyon Overlook–definitely worth a stop!

flaming-gorge-country-utah-sunset-overlook-reservoir

Photo courtesy of Flaming Gorge Country

Activities – First Day

Boat the reservoir

Fully immerse yourself in Flaming Gorge Reservoir. At 91 miles in length, taking to the water in a speedboat is one of the best ways to explore the landscape. Not only can you watch your surroundings fade from desert to forest, you may also see wildlife along the way. The reservoir maintains a quiet feel, free of lake congestion, so you can really let it rip! Pull your friends and family behind the boat on skis, wakeboard, or an inflatable tube. There’s really no better way to beat the heat this summer than getting on the water at Flaming Gorge. Oh, and you can rent everything you need at the Cedar Springs Marina or Lucerne Valley Marina. If you don’t fancy driving the boat yourself, you can hire a guide through the marina to take you out as well.

flaming-gorge-country-utah-waterski-boating-lake-reservoir

Photo courtesy of Flaming Gorge Country

Activities – Second Day

Hike in the hills

There are hundreds of miles of trails in Flaming Gorge Country, and hiking is one of the easiest ways to appreciate the beauty of this underrated part of Utah. Hiking trails range from easy-going walks to challenging treks. A family favorite is the Little Hole National Scenic Trail which meanders along the Green River. Another easy trail takes visitors to Moonshine Arch (that’s right, there are arches in northern Utah also!). For a greater challenge, check out the Jones Hole Trail which wanders into a remote section of Dinosaur National Monument. Most areas of Flaming Gorge Country ignite with brilliant colors in the fall, and this particular trail really comes to life during that time. One of the most breathtaking views over the reservoir is from Dowd Mountain. It’s not a quick trek up, but the views from the top are incredible! Alternatively, visitors can mountain bike this trail (one of the best slices of singletrack in the region).

flaming-gorge-country-utah-hiking-overlook-river

Photo by Emily Taylor

Activities – Third Day

Paddle through whitewater on the Green River

Whitewater trips have come a long way since the early explorations of John Wesley Powell–one of the most prominent historical figures in the Flaming Gorge region. Aboard a raft, you can relive the excitement of history and geology as you descend through one of the most notorious rivers in Utah–the Green River. There are multiple options of river trips, ranging from half day and full day trips, to multi-day expeditions. You can embark on your own on the family and novice-friendly “Dam to Little Hole” section of the river, or you can get a little more adventurous downstream with a guide. If whitewater doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, you can always opt for a mellow river float. Regardless of the option you choose, you’ll still get to enjoy the magic that is Flaming Gorge Country from a unique perspective. There are many outfitters eager to get you on the water, and make sure that you have the best (and safest) experience possible.

flaming-gorge-country-utah-rafting-green-river-family

Photo courtesy of Flaming Gorge Country

Flaming Gorge Pin