I visited Utah for one reason – to see a college friend and meet her baby boy. I had waltzed through Salt Lake City a decade ago on a cross-country road trip as a college junior. My memories of Utah were hazy – the vivid colors of the Flaming Gorge, a quick walk around Temple Square, a massive mural of John Stockton’s mug when he still played for the Utah Jazz, and the endless expanse of blinding white salt as we drove west out of Salt Lake City. Since then I’d hardly given Utah a thought.
All this time, I was missing out. I discovered a state rich in mountain landscapes and begging to be explored.
I arrived in Salt Lake City in the midst of a spring snowstorm, the heavy wet snow clinging to freshly blooming cherry trees and sprigs of bright green leaves budding out. Tulips and hyacinth slumbered in a blanket of white as everything dripped around me. It was beautiful. The city itself surprised me – this is the most ethnically and religiously diverse part of Utah. Sure, I took a gander through the heart of the Mormon Church at Temple Square, but I also chatted with die-hard soccer fans (home to MLS team Real Salt Lake), joined the business crowd lining up for Korean BBQ at Food Truck Thursday, and stood beneath the atrium of the most breath-taking modern library I’ve ever seen.
For a world-away day trip, I joined my friend Tiff for the drive out to Antelope Island, a wind-swept expanse of endless mountain views and grazing bison set within the Great Salt Lake. Further south await a cluster of underrated national parks, the most famous of which is probably Zion National Park. It’s a canyon of scintillating colors, soaring geology, and easy day hikes, best done anytime outside of National Park Week. Which was our mistake. The crowds wouldn’t have been so bad except for the family hiking with their boombox blasting Top 40 Hits.
Exactly why I visit National Parks, to hike to a soundtrack of Beyoncé, not the birds or rushing river. So take it from me, definitely visit Zion National Park, but avoid National Park Week in April when the parks are free.
To views my photo slide show, click on the link: Salt Lake City & Zion National Park, Utah