The vast and varied terrain of Utah serves as the perfect environment for families looking to getaway for the weekend while not having to worry about blowing the budget. The state boasts five national parks, seven national monuments, two recreation areas and seven national forests along with various state parks. Indulge in camping, explore the many trails and learn about the human and animal history of the region while taking in the spectacular views.
Utah Field House of Natural History-Dinosaur Museum
Anyone fascinated by the gigantic creatures that once roamed the earth loves spending time at the Natural History and Dinosaur Museum in Vernal. Upon entering the facility, guests are greeted by the 90-foot skeleton of the Diplodocus. A brief video presentation takes visitors on an exciting journey through the Vernal canyons where archaeologists are hard at work searching for fossils. Outside the theater, a rock wall looms behind a ravine where budding scientists of all ages have the chance to dig through debris, dirt and pebbles in search of unique finds. The Jurassic Gallery offers a glimpse into life on earth 145 million years ago. The Eocene Gallery moves upward in history to a mere 45 million years ago and features animal and plant life that once thrived on the planet.
Dinosaur National Monument
Load up the car and drive from State Highway 149 to U.S. Highway 40 into Jensen and to the Dinosaur Quarry Exhibit Hall. Entrance fees into the park are a mere $10 per carload and the exhibit hall is free. Once inside, visitors have the rare chance to gaze in awe at the complete skeletons of many different dinosaur species found in the area. A colorful mural spanning 80 feet in length tells the story of the animal and plant species thought to have lived almost 150 million years ago. Exhibits also provide the chance for guests to touch actual fossils. Experienced and knowledgeable rangers are on hand to answer questions and offer interesting facts. The park also offers camping, hiking and water-based activities.
Nine Mile Canyon
Considered the largest natural art gallery in the world, the canyon is actually 40 miles long and Wellington serves as the ideal location to venture into the ruggedly wild destination. Along paved and graveled paths, guests have the opportunity to see the unique artwork created by the Fremont Native Americans that lived here from 300 to 1200 A.D. The array of unusual images are painted on or etched into the rock and depict everything from animals and humans to symbols. The location was also once used by trappers and the military. Along the way, there are various remains of ancient cliff dwellings and pioneer cabins. Natural features include strange balanced rock formations and arches. The canyon additionally serves as home to a large selection of wildlife. Though able to drive through the expanse, the rural area has no amenities and families should bring ample supplies.
Zion National Park
The entrance and visitor’s centers are conveniently located south of Cedar City or in Springdale. Maps and other information is obtainable at either visitor center. For the convenience of guests a free shuttle service meanders throughout the park and stops at nine different locations, which provide a tour of highlights found throughout the canyon. The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is also accessible by private vehicle. Numerous biking and hiking trails along the drive. Each trail varies in distance and ranges from easy to challenging. The rock faces that rise 2,000 feet into the air commonly attract climbers. Many also enjoy the sport of canyoneering, which combines hiking, scrambling, wading, rappelling and problem-solving for anyone looking for an adrenaline rushing challenge. Springdale also has a number of galleries exhibiting many different types of art along with offering economic-friendly accommodations and eateries.