Whether you want to take in the views at Mesa Verde National Park or delve into the history of the Anasazi people at Hovenweep National Monument, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy. These ruins, located near the Utah-Colorado border, are a bug-in-amber look at Anasazi life. A multistory tower trail leads to the castle-like lookouts of the Square Tower Group. Click here for more info.
Canyonlands National Park
When you visit Canyonlands National Park in Utah, you’ll see one of the most stunning natural landscapes in the country. The Island in the Sky section of the park is home to breathtaking views, and the road that follows the rim of the mesa has many pullouts along the way. Throughout the park, there are several trails and short paths that take you to incredible vantage points. And while you’re there, make sure to visit the White Rim Road and the Maze.
The green and Colorado rivers separate Canyonlands into three sections, with each area displaying its own distinct landscape. The sections have different landscapes, and are accessible at different times of the year. Traveling between the three sections requires several hours of driving, and a visit to one section may not be possible with your schedule. While visiting Canyonlands, don’t forget to explore the Horseshoe Canyon unit, which is home to fine pictographs and fine examples of ancient stone art.
Zion National Park
Visitors can find lodging in Zion Canyon, Utah, near the main park attractions. The park is characterized by emerald pools and towers, and there are hiking trails that lead to the tops of these structures. Located on the south side of the park, the lodge is close to the Emerald Pools trailhead. It offers fine dining at its Red Rock Grill. In addition to the lodge, tourists can also opt for a leisurely bike ride on the Virgin River or take a dip in the outdoor pool. The nearby Carlsbad Caverns National Park, located in the southwest part of the park, features 100-plus limestone caves and is home to Mexican free-tail bats.
The canyon walls are covered with fossils, indicating that the area was inhabited by ancient peoples. The abundant fossil record suggests that the region was home to Basket Makers and Pueblo Indians. The park also features the Great White Throne, a giant monolith that rises over two-thousand feet above the canyon floor. Other sites include the Emerald Pools, Weeping Rock, Temple of Sinawava, Kolob Arch, and the Kolob Canyons.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Visitors to Carlsbad Caverns can see fossils and moss animals, as well as a series of rare horn coral. There is also evidence of American Indians living in the area 12 to 14000 years ago. These ancient people left cooking ring sites throughout the park, and Spanish explorers passed through this area in the 1500s. The region was claimed by Spain until 1821, but Mexico’s oil and gas development has caused significant damage to the area.
Visitors to Carlsbad Caverns can take a ride in a rope and wire ladder that Jim White rigged with nails and lowered into the cave. Photographer Ray Davis’ photos of the Big Room soon made their way into the New York Times. In 1923, the park was designated a national monument and was made a national park. Since then, it has been used for weddings, movie sets, and even city council meetings.
Saguaro National Park
In addition to its soaring cliffs, Saguaro National Park in Arizona offers a unique experience in the southwestern landscape. The park’s vast landscape features an ancient petroglyph cactus, abandoned mining equipment, and remnants of cattle ranching. If you want to get a more up-close view of the national park’s history, you can hike through the Rincon Mountains, where the desert turns into an alpine forest. While exploring the park, remember to stay away from the Africanized Honey Bees, as they can be aggressive and even deadly.
Hikers can take advantage of the park’s many trails. There are hundreds of miles of trails in Saguaro National Park, ranging from a half-mile stroll to multi-day backpacking trips. Hikers of all skill levels can enjoy the scenic trails and a wide variety of wildlife. Hiking trails are marked with a number of signage, and are suitable for hikers of any experience level. The park’s websites provide information on the park’s trails, as well as hiking maps and other travel information.