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Summer may seem far away, but now is the best time to get started on planning your family’s summer vacation. Cold, dreary days will soon be but a memory, and your family will be itching to get on the road and basking in the sunny outdoors.
If you’ve lived in the Beehive State for more than a few years, you’ve likely visited Moab, Zion National Park or Lake Powell. Here are a few often overlooked destinations that are no less spectacular and far less crowded.
Gorgeous Getaway: Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef National Park boasts towering canyon walls of red rock, mysterious slot canyons, ancient petroglyphs, a nearby orchard with free apples for the picking and, most importantly, no crowds. If you’re looking for a place where kids of all ages can explore and enjoy jaw-dropping scenery, this is the place.
A quick three and a half hours southeast from Salt Lake City, nestled between national forests and the west desert just west of Canyonlands, Capitol Reef offers scenic views of three types of landscapes: aspen forests, stunning red cliffs and desert vistas. Families should give themselves at least two to three days to explore this beautiful park and all its offerings.
Things to Do:
Stay at one of several motels in the towns surrounding the park (Torrey has the most choices), or camp at one of many campgrounds in and around the park.
For more information, visit www.capitolreef.org.
Scenic Sabbatical: Get to know Utah’s Picturesque Highways
Take a drive on a scenic byway, and you’ll get to see more out-of-the-way places than you’d imagine. Kelly Thacker, author and owner of Salt Lake City’s Thacker + Co. Court Reporting, has enjoyed taking journeys along Utah’s scenic roads and quaint small towns with her husband and now grown children for years. One of her favorite road trips can be done in four to five days, depending on how long you want to spend in each stop along the way and how many diversions you allow yourself.
Starting on southbound I-15, take Highway 6 to Highway 89 as it ribbons through small towns to Highway 24. You may want to stop in the small town of Spring City to check out some of the local art from the artist colony there, or grab a bite to eat farther along the way in Loa or Bicknell. One diversion you may want to allow yourself is the beautiful loop of SR 25, which loops up and around pristine Fish Lake and back onto SR 24. You’ll get to Torrey and stop for the night at a motel to rest up for your next day or two in Capitol Reef.
Moving on, continue south on SR 12 through spectacular canyons and forest vistas of the Dixie National Forest, taking a side jaunt through beautiful Hell’s Backbone. Back on SR 12, you’ll go through the town of Boulder and Anasazi State Park for a glimpse into the history of the area.
SR 12 leads through quaint little Henrieville (with a side venture alongside the stunning cliffs of Kodachrome Canyon) and on to Bryce Canyon, where you can stop off for a couple of days to explore. The drive west along SR 12 leads back to Highway 89, where you can then choose to go back north and home or continue south to SR 143 to take in Cedar Breaks and Brian Head before getting back on Highway 89.
The main objectives of this epic family trip: enjoy the miraculous scenery, take yourself off the clock, and get lost in exploring nature.
For more scenic byway information and maps, visit http://travel.utah.gov/scenicbyway/.