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Utah: Make a getaway to Utah’s epic parks and charming towns

No state serves up scenery quite like Utah. Soak in the sights of amazing rock formations, then tour some the charming towns with roots that go deep into the pioneering era.

155.5 miles, 3 hours, 10minutes


1. Torrey

Starting Point

Torrey is a quaint town located in the heart of red rock country and the perfect gateway to Capitol Reef National Park. Explore sandstone canyons, sheer cliffs and a geological feature known as the Waterpocket Fold. This is a monocline, a wrinkle on the earth’s surface that extends almost 100 miles. Discover aspen forests at Thousand Lake Mountain and its Cathedral Valley filled with stunning freestanding monoliths. Search for black boulders strewn across the valleys; wildlife can be seen among the dry washes, streams, juniper trees and rocky cliffs. At the end of the day, gaze up at the deep dark sky for some of the best night viewing of any western national park.

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Getty Images/iStockphoto

2. Escalante

64.6 miles, 1 hour, 47 minutes

The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is a rare geological gem comprised of 2 million acres of canyons, cliffs, mesas, pinnacles, plateaus and buttes along with petroglyphs, dinosaur tracks, Indian ruins and fossils from the Triassic Period. Slanted terraces and cliffs form the “steps” of the Grand Staircase, with canyons and slot canyons woven throughout. The Devil’s Garden presents a great photo opportunity with spectacular rock formations, hoodoos and arches. Calf Creek cascades 126 feet down mineral-streaked cliffs, providing hikers with an oasis in the desert.

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Getty Images/iStockphoto

3. Duck Creek Village

90.9 miles, 2 hours, 3 minutes

Located in the Dixie National Forest on Cedar Mountain at an altitude of 8,400 feet, Duck Creek Village offers spectacular scenery year-round. In winter, snow covers the mountains and provides an exceptional opportunity for landscape photography. Spring brings flowering meadows and warmer temperatures, and summer is the season for hiking, biking, fishing and traversing mountain trails. Finally, autumn is exceptional, with gorgeous colors and clear skies. During the 1940s, Hollywood discovered Duck Creek and used it as a “movie ranch” location for films like Drums Along the Mohawk, National Velvet and Sierra.