Camping Gear

Photo Gallery: Exploring Utah’s 5 National Parks

Posted On August 23, 2016 at 4:10 am by / Comments Off on Photo Gallery: Exploring Utah’s 5 National Parks

By Michael Lanza

All of America’s 59 national parks possess special qualities and scenery, without a doubt. But southern Utah’s concentration of unique and awe-inspiring landscapes sets its five parks apart from the rest—and they’re each quite different from one another. Arches has more than 2,000 natural stone arches, as well as hundreds of soaring pinnacles, giant fins, and balanced rocks. Bryce Canyon holds the world’s greatest number of hoodoos, or bizarrely shaped pinnacles created by erosion.

Canyonlands is a vast wonderland of multi-colored cliffs, deep canyons, tall spires, and two major rivers. Capitol Reef’s Waterpocket Fold, a nearly 100-mile-long, jumbled ridge of solid rock, conceals sandstone domes, natural bridges, beautiful canyons, and bighorn sheep. And Zion, Utah’s first and one of America’s flagship national parks, defies easy description from the 2,000-foot cliffs of Zion Canyon to a backcountry filled with geologic anomalies.

The gallery below contains photos from adventures dayhiking, backpacking, and paddling in Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, or Zion National Park. I think you’ll find inspiration and ideas in those images for future trips of your own.

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You’ll find stories about all of the places shown in these photos at The Big Outside, including tips for taking that trip yourself. Scroll down to Utah on my All Trips By State page for a menu of all Utah-based stories at this blog, or click on for a multi-page menu of stories about Utah national parks.

See the All National Parks Trips page for a menu of all stories about national parks adventures at The Big Outside.

Read more about the Park Service’s history and how you can join its centennial celebration at Find a national park and more information about the NPS at

Finally, read about (including an excerpt) my National Outdoor Book Award-winning book, Before They’re Gone—A Family’s Quest to Explore America’s Most Endangered National Parks, which chronicles the year my family spent taking wilderness adventures in 11 parks threatened by climate change.

Get the right gear for your next adventure by reading my expert reviews. See a categorized menu at my Gear Reviews page.

Do you like The Big Outside? I’m Michael Lanza, the creator of The Big Outside, recognized as a top outdoors blog by a USA Today Readers Choice poll and others. Subscribe for updates about new stories and free gear giveaways by entering your email address in the box at the bottom of this story, at the top of the left sidebar, or on my About page, and follow my adventures on Facebook and Twitter.

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Angels Landing, Zion National Park.
The Great Gallery pictographs, Horseshoe Canyon District, Canyonlands National Park.
Taylor Creek Trail, Zion National Park.
The Subway, Zion National Park
The Narrows, Zion National Park.
Big Spring-Squaw Canyons Pass, Needles District, Canyonlands National Park.
Chesler Park Trail, Needles District, Canyonlands National Park.
Navajo Arch, Devils Garden, Arches National Park.
Partition Arch, Devils Garden, Arches National Park.
Navajo:Queens Garden loop, Bryce Canyon National Park.
Near the Frying Pan Trail, Capitol Reef National Park.
Backpacking across the Waterpocket Fold, Capitol Reef National Park.
Bighorn sheep skull in the backcountry of Capitol Reef National Park.
Spring Canyon campsite, Capitol Reef National Park.
Stillwater Canyon, Green River, Canyonlands National Park.
Above the Green River, Island in the Sky District, Canyonlands National Park.
Taylor Creek Trail, Zion National Park.
La Verkin Creek, Kolob Canyons, Zion National Park.


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