People rarely consider Utah a desirable travel destination. Even when considering travel within the United States, Utah is amongst the least chosen of destinations. While pondering reasons for the state’s unpopularity, a few potential deal breakers come to mind: the state is a desert and the state is the Mormon capital of the world. Tourists falsely assume that “desert” automatically means dry and miserable; connotations include miles of barren land, sand as far as the eye can see, and a lack of water. However, Utah has all four seasons, lush, green mountains, and a pleasant climate all around. Tourists also falsely assume that the state is filled to the brim with Mormons who want nothing more than to shove their religion down newcomers’ throats. While the state has a large percentage of Latter Days Saints, that should not be a deterring factor, but rather an opportunity to deepen one’s understanding of a culture that differs from their own. On to the allures of Utah. It is a little known fact that aside from Alaska and California, Utah has the most National Parks: Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion. Each National Park is unique, and worth a visit from any adventurer. Arches National Park is home of the famous Delicate Arch, in addition to 2000 sandstone arches. Bryce Canyon National Park is notable for its natural rock amphitheaters (not canyons, despite the name) and Native American history. Canyonlands is perfect for the adventurer at heart. The Green River, Colorado River, and Cataract Canyon are available for kayakers and rafters, while the rest of the park is open to hikers, backpackers, campers, bikers, four-wheelers, and those who just want to enjoy the breathtaking scenery. Capitol Reef, named for its white domes which resemble the US Capitol Building, is home of the largest monocline in the United States. Zion National Park has housed humans through three distinct periods: Archaic, Protohistoric, and Historic. It is incredible to explore the park knowing that there were humans doing the same thousands of years prior. Mormon or not, the Salt Lake City Latter Day Saints’ temple is well worth a visit. Located in the heart of the city, the temple stands castle-like as a beacon of the church’s strength in adversity. The temple itself is open to Mormons only, but there is an informative visitor’s center that is open to the public. I myself am not a member of the LDS Church, but have visited the site multiple times just to see it in all of its beauty. The Great Salt Lake is another famous landmark. The lake is so saturated in salt that it is impossible to sink in its waters. Visitors of yore used to frequent the boardwalk and float in the lake; however due to the increasingly powerful smell, the lake is now rarely swam in, and rather just viewed. Hikers, bikers, campers, horseback riders, spelunkers, rock climbers, kayakers, and rafters are thrilled by all that the mountains have to offer in terms of recreation. Wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers (such as myself) find solace in the beauty of the peaceful mountains and joy in the sightseeing opportunities. Perhaps most notably, however, are the Rocky Mountain winter sports. Utah is home to the best snow on Earth; due to the high salt concentration the snow has a fluffy quality not found anywhere else. Because of this, the state is perfect for skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, tubing, sledding, and any other snow related activity imaginable. Utah is perfect for the recreationalist, adventurer, thrill seeker, nature lover, wildlife enthusiast, and explorer in all of us.
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