May 14th, 2019
Las Vegas, Nevada
Having been to a variety of national parks during our two-week vacation, here are our takeaways:
Arches National Park — Skip it
There are arches to see in pretty much every single national park in Utah. The only thing that's unique about Arches National Park is the density; it's got the most arches in one concentrated area. On the downside, it's also got an enormous number of tourists in that same area. Keep in mind, however, that an arch is an arch. You've seen one, well, you get the idea.
Canyonlands National Park — Don't miss it
Unlike Arches National Park, this national park is large and expansive and offers much of the same geologic wonders as the better-known parks. It's even got an arch as its iconic image.
Capitol Reef National Park — Take it or leave it
Like Canyonlands, this national park draws far fewer visitors than the bigger names, e.g. Arches. The scenery looks a lot like Canyonlands, and so if you're heading in the right direction and have the time, then stop and see it. But, don't make a special trip just to see Capitol Reef.
Bryce Canyon National Park — Don't miss it
This park is quite popular and deservedly so. Whereas most of the other parks offer substantially the same geologic formations (canyons, mesas, buttes), Bryce Canyon offers something unique with their hoodoo amphitheaters.
Zion National Park — Don't miss it
Even more so than Bryce Canyon, this park is very popular given its proximity to Las Vegas — two hours from downtown Las Vegas to Zion — and its extraordinary beauty. You will definitely run into crowds during the high season, like we did, but it is worth putting up with those crowds. The park introduced a mandatory shuttle service 20 years ago that provides access to the major sites in the park. For those of you who have the stamina, make sure to hike Angel's Landing. For those of us with a little less oomph, hit Weeping Rock instead. The latter offered my favorite vista of the entire vacation.
Grand Canyon West — Skip it
The west rim of the canyon isn't part of the national park. Even though we knew that going in, we were disappointed with what the Hualapai Tribe had to offer. Also skip the south rim of the national park. We didn't go there, but that's because we were lucky enough to be warned ahead of time. The north rim is the place to be.
Here are some of the photos we took on our last day of vacation.
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