The author at Badlands National Park (courtesy Lindsey Snow)
My latest for Paste Magazine: America invented the national park when it made Yellowstone the world’s first in 1873, introducing the idea that “extraordinary” land should be protected from public development and preserved for future generations. After visiting half of the country’s 63 National Parks, it’s obvious some are better than others. A handful of recent ones (Cuyahoga Valley, Indiana Dunes) seem downright ordinary, if not political, when compared to less prestigious but clearly superior state parks like Na Pali or Custer.
With nine total, California has the most National Parks, followed by Alaska with eight, and Utah with five. In fact, the western United States is home to over 80% of National Parks, even though just a quarter of the population lives there. This explains why The Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee welcomes the most visitors, over 14 million annually, compared to Zion’s 5 million, the second most.
Wherever you go, if you only see 20 in your lifetime, make it these icons. Continue reading…
Courtesy Visit Utah
Utah is well-known for its “Mighty 5” National Parks. But there is way more to see in this disproportionately beautiful state. Consider the following landmarks that are routinely overlooked by visitors but beloved by those who know. I’ve visited all several times and plan to again:
- Fantasy Canyon. Like something out of Star Wars.
- Mirror Lake. Picturesque mountain lake.
- Goblin Valley. Like walking among giant rock people.
- Snow Canyon State Park. Would be a national park in any other state.
- Cathedral Valley (pictured). One of the most remote sections of any national park (4×4 only).
- Wire Rim Pass. Stunning slot canyon.
- Lower Calf Creek Falls. Best hike in Grand Staircase National Monument.
- Peak-a-boo/Spooky Slots. Also out of Star Wars.
- Muley Point Overlook. Dramatic finish at the end of a dramatic drive (i.e. Moki Dugway).
- Kanarraville Falls. Terrific short hike.
- Corona Arch. Probably the best arch in the entire state accessible by land.
- Kodachrome State Park. Would also be a national park in any other state. Really.
- Rainbow Bridge National Monument. Probably the best arch period, accessible only by boat on Lake Powell.
- Valley of the Gods. Almost as good as the nearby Monument Valley but worth visiting nonetheless.
- Cedar Breaks. A mini Bryce Canyon.
My latest for Travelocity: “The Great Outdoors are scientifically proven to improve your family’s health and happiness. And when it comes to seeing some of the best of America, few regions are more compelling than the Mountain West states (for the record, that’s everything west of the Midwest except Washington, Oregon, and California). With so much to see, however, where should you turn your attention? If you can only visit one place in each of the eight Mountain West states, these should be at the top of your list.” Continue reading…
Here’s my latest love letter published in Lonely Planet about the state I call home: “Utah is known around the globe for its five national parks, dubbed the “Mighty 5.” But some are better than others, depending on how you travel. Before booking your next adventure to red rock country, here’s what you need to know.” Continue reading…
Courtesy Lindsey Snow
The United States recently designated “White Sands” as the country’s latest and 62nd National Park—the highest honor given to protected lands. But New Mexico’s newest national park isn’t the only one. Since 1994, America has recognized more than 10 new National Parks. Here’s where to find them and what their biggest draws are, according to my latest article for Lonely Planet.
Next to California and Alaska, Utah is one of the most disproportionately beautiful and geographically diverse states in America. It has five national parks, 10 national monuments, and dozens of other national recitation areas. Even some of its state parks that would likely be a national park anywhere else (I’m looking at you Snow Canyon). It’s a state I call home, and where I want my ashes spread when I die. About the only thing Utah doesn’t have are beaches, but the red rock just might make up for that absence. Either way, here are five impressive photos of some of the state’s most iconic scenery: Continue reading…