Utah Adventures with Maverik: 4 of Utah’s Most Spectacular Sites (that aren’t National Parks)
Estimated reading time: 7-8 minutes
Thanks to memorable concepts and generous budgets, the “Mighty Five” advertising campaign succeeded in extolling the virtues of Utah’s national parks to the world. The end result is often huge crowds at these five parks with long lines, delayed entries, and/or reservations required.
Beyond its national parks, Utah is full of spectacular sights, ranging from miniature versions of these national parks to Martian landscapes and iconic movie sets. Many of them would be national parks if they were located in another state. So you can skip the crowds at national parks and head to other amazing places in the state.
In order to accurately represent every breathtaking location in this state, however, the campaign should actually be called the “Mighty Seventy-Five Hundred” (which, admittedly, isn’t nearly as catchy). Here are just a few of Utah’s 7,495 (hyperbole, but barely!) non-national parks worth adding to your bucket list — or your “revisit because they’re so amazing” list. .
So grab the family, get in the car and go on an adventure! (And don’t forget to stop by your local Maverik first to fuel up.)
A relationship that starts with cheating is usually a problem. Your relationship with Antelope Island begins with two: the two components of its name. First, at the current level of the Great Salt Lake, it is a peninsula, not an island. Second, its name may suggest that it is renowned for its antelopes. Although there are antelopes on the island, it is the bison that are most notable.
If you can forgive Antelope Island for fooling you in the first place, you’re in for a treat. Fans of traditional Utah outdoor activities can explore the park’s various trails and enjoy inspiring views of the Great Salt Lake. Several primitive campsites are available to campers, who are then rewarded with starry skies for their efforts (as recognized by the International Dark Sky Association). The silky tarmac road that crosses the island (erm, peninsula) creates a 40 mile dream route for road cyclists.
And of course, Antelope Island’s famous bison are sure to delight wildlife lovers – the herd of 550-700 bison that roams the peninsula is one of the oldest and largest public herds in America.
The Martian landscape of Goblin Valley has fascinated humans for millennia. Several rock art panels can be found throughout the state park, reflecting the presence of Native American cultures such as Fremont, Paiute, and Ute.
Much later, in the 1920s, settler and eventual owner of the Hite Ferry Arthur Chaffin passed through the Goblin Valley while looking for an alternative route between Green River (Emery County) and Caineville (Wayne County). The area marked him, and he returned in 1949 to explore and photograph the valley, which he called Mushroom Valley, says Utah.com. The valley was acquired by the state and was officially designated a state park in 1964.
Today, Goblin Valley’s thousands of unique hoodoos continue to amaze visitors. Its main attraction is a roaming area named the Valley of the Goblins, which is basically the largest and most geologically stunning hide-and-seek playground in the world. Hiking and mountain biking trails are also on site. Oh, and Goblin Valley is also an International Dark Sky Park.
“So that’s where God put the West.”
These were the first words that would have been spoken by John Wayne when he saw Monument Valley, reports an article from the Smithsonian. Many before and after him echoed that sentiment. Of all the iconic places in Utah, this is perhaps the most iconic – and that’s saying a lot.
Its majestic desert landscape has been a mainstay on the silver screen for decades. John Ford preferred the location for his westerns. (In fact, a famous viewpoint is named after him, says travelinutah.us.) Forrest Gump drove through the valley, IMDB notes. More recently, Monument Valley has featured prominently in the fantastic sci-fi series “Westworld”.
Monument Valley’s main attraction is also the most accessible: the scenic 27km dirt and gravel loop that begins and ends at the Visitor Center Passes is an unforgettable presentation of the endless red sand and towering buttes that make up the valley. Beyond that, you can explore the area further by booking a guided tour. Those looking to soak up more of the view can stay at The View, a hotel as aptly named as anything ever named.
When visiting, remember that the land you are crossing has been sacred to the Navajo Nation and their ancestors for at least 3,000 years – and be as respectful and considerate as if it were your own.
Snow Canyon State Park
If natural beauty is the first thing that comes to mind when many think of Utah, the abundance of large families in our state is not far behind. What many don’t know is that even our national parks have families. Snow Canyon sits 50 miles from Zion, shares many geological features, and offers an equal quality of scenery and activity – with a fraction of the crowds. He is the prodigious little brother who lives unjustly in the shadow of his eldest. It’s Solange, basically.
The most popular activity in the park is hiking (surprise!) with popular hikes such as the Scout Cave Trail, Lava Tube Trail, and Petrified Dunes Trail offering explicit variety. Rock climbing, horseback riding and canyoning are also options.
Those who want to enjoy the park’s towering sandstone cliffs from the comfort of their vehicle can take the scenic route. (Who says you have to work hard for big rewards?!) Those who want to take in the views while feeling the wind in their hair can take the scenic route. Two bike paths also run through the park for cyclists looking for a car-free experience.
Bonus: Cedar Breaks National Monument
As far as the national parks’ little siblings go, Cedar Breaks is essentially a miniature Bryce Canyon. Its small size also comes with smaller crowds and the vibrant colors of amphitheater rival – if not surpassing – Bryce. The main activities at Cedar Breaks are: two hikes that follow the rim trail (the Alpine Pond trail and the Spectra Point trail) and breathtaking, both because of the views and the high elevation. It’s worth it.
If you’ve already crossed these places off your bucket list, don’t worry, because there are plenty of other locations across Utah that will meet your need for adventure. Just be sure to fill up your tank (and snack stash) at Maverik, which has locations all over Utah. Right now, Maverik’s Enhanced Nitro Card instantly saves you 10 cents or more on every gallon of fuel plus great value extra benefits on its huge selection of tasty foods, drinks and snacks, including premium hardwood smoked meats for breakfast and lunch. burritos, two-meat treats and made-to-order tacos, quesadillas and nachos.
To save on every gallon of gas and get special offers on Maverik’s freshly prepared BonFire foods, beverages and snacks, download the Maverik app to join the Adventure Club and activate your Nitro Card.