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Ep. 90: Utah – Beyond the National Parks | RV travel camping hiking MTB climbing kayaking


Hey! Welcome back to Grand Adventure! I’m your host Marc Guido, and when many adventure
travelers and RV’ers think of Utah, they think only of the Mighty Five National Parks: Arches,
Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, Zion and Capitol Reef. However, there’s a whole lot more to our home
state, and we’d like to give you a taste of that on this episode of Grand Adventure, so
stay tuned! [intro music] The towering Wasatch Mountains rise right
from the population centers along the Wasatch Front, stretching for 160 miles from Salt
Lake City north to the Idaho border, and south beyond Provo. 85% of Utah’s population lives within 15 miles
of the Wasatch Mountains, which are named for a Ute Indian word meaning “high mountain
pass”. Mountain snowfall, in some places exceeding
500 inches annually, provides drinking water for most of Utah’s residents. Rugged peaks rise to nearly 12,000 feet, formed
by uplift along the Wasatch Fault and sculpted by glaciers, none of which remain today. Hillsides are home to a forest consisting
of Douglas fir, sub-alpine fir, Engelmann spruce and aspen trees. Hillsides are emblazoned in color when abundant
wildflowers bloom in July. An epicenter of silver mining in the 19th
century, the Wasatch is still littered with the remains of many of those mines today. World class recreation can be found throughout
the Wasatch Mountains, where exceptional hiking opportunities abound. There are numerous State Park and Forest Service
campgrounds, as well as plenty of opportunities to boondock in the Wasatch. Mountain biking is also world class in the
Wasatch, where a wide variety of cross-country trails have been developed. Lift-serviced downhill mountain biking is
also available at a number of the area’s ski resorts. There are several small reservoirs with excellent
flat water kayaking and fishing, including Little Dell, Causey Reservoir and Tibble Fork
Reservoir. Climbers will also find many sport and trad
routes available on the granite that comprises much of the Wasatch Mountain Range. Also nearby Salt Lake City, Antelope Island
is a state park on a 42 square-mile island in the Great Salt Lake, home to a herd of
American Bison in addition to its namesake pronghorn antelope. Antelope Island is connected to the mainland
by an eight-mile long causeway. Across the Great Salt Lake, the Golden Spike
National Historic Site preserves the very spot where the first transcontinental railroad
was completed in 1869, joining the Central Pacific Railroad with the Union Pacific Railroad. Regular viewers of Grand Adventure will recognize
this scene of Forsyth Reservoir in central Utah’s Fishlake Mountains, from our introduction
sequence to each of our videos. It’s one of our favorite boondocking locations
in the entire state for its tranquility and natural waterfront beauty. In southern Utah, Cedar Breaks National Monument
is often eclipsed by the nearby Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, but is a worthy destination
in its own right. Also nearby is the unique Coral Pink Sand
Dunes State Park, while the beauty of the area around Kanab sits just outside of Zion
National Park’s East Gate. In central Utah, Nine Mile Canyon — “the
world’s longest art gallery” — is known for its extensive rock art, most of it created
by the Fremont culture and the Ute people. The rock art, shelters, and granaries left
behind by the Fremont make Nine Mile Canyon a destination for archaeologists and tourists
alike. A little further to the south, the last 100
miles of the Green River descends into Labyrinth Canyon, a flatwater stretch of river accessible
only by boat. This is a bucket list trip for kayak touring,
and the river continues into Stillwater Canyon within Canyonlands National Park before its
confluence with the Colorado River. But paddlers may travel from the town of Green
River to Mineral Bottom entirely on BLM land, where unlike the National Park stretch of
the river, the permitting requirements are trivial. We’ve already mentioned The Wedge of the San
Rafael Swell in previous episodes, but as one of our favorite camping destinations in
all of Utah it more than deserves a mention in this video as well. Here, dispersed boondocking campsites are
available right on the rim of the spectacular San Rafael Gorge, also known as the Little
Grand Canyon. But the San Rafael Swell isn’t just the Wedge. It’s huge, occupying roughly 3,000 square
miles of central Utah bisected by Interstate 70. The area on either side of I-70, known as
the Central Swell, is a giant dome-shaped anticline of sandstone, shale, and limestone
formed some 40 to 60 million years ago. It’s since been eroded by flash floods that
have created numerous valleys, canyons, gorges, mesas, and buttes. This consitutes some of the best boondocking
in the entire state of Utah. At the southern end of the Swell sits Goblin
Valley State Park, home to thousands of hoodoos, referred to locally as goblins. These formations of mushroom-shaped rock pinnacles
stand up to several yards tall. Adjacent to Goblin Valley, numerous slot canyons
pierce the San Rafael Reef, providing exceptional canyoneering opportunities both technical
and non-technical. While Goblin Valley State Park has a campground,
we prefer to boondock at the foot of Wild Horse Mesa. And just for the record, the Moab area isn’t
just about Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. There’s a whole lot to see outside of the
National Parks, too — just with no entrance fee and far fewer people. Lake Powell is a massive reservoir of the
Colorado River along Utah’s southern border. Because so few roads reach the lake, our favorite
way to see Lake Powell is aboard a kayak. Finally, in our opinion no RV camping trip
to Utah would be complete without a boondocking stay in Valley of the Gods, in the far southeastern
corner of the state. So, we hope that this video has given you
a taste of what’s available throughout Utah beyond the Mighty Five National Parks. But
this list is by no means meant to be exhaustive, so if you have a favorite spot that you’d
like to share, please mention it in the comments section down below this video. Also down below, if you liked this video please
give us a big “thumbs up”. If you’re not yet one of our Grand Adventurers,
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a Grand Adventure. We’ll see you soon!

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