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National parks waive fees for National Public Lands Day


Visiting Zion, Bryce and the rest of Utah’s “Mightly 5” national parks will be free this Saturday in recognition of National Public Lands Day.

National Public Lands Day is the nation’s largest volunteer effort to improve public lands, developed as a way to contribute to the beauty and restoration of parks and other open spaces where people hike, bike, climb and explore.

With clear skies and early fall temperatures in the forecast, park officials expect it to be a busy day at all five of Utah’s parks — Zion, Bryce, Arches, Canyonlands and Capitol Reef. 

The Utah Office of Tourism encouraged Utahns to participate in the fee-free day and get to know their home-state parks better.

Arches National Park

Peggy and Ken Greco, of Martinez, traveled to the Arches National Park in Utah.

The world’s largest concentration of natural stone arches is found inside the park, with more than 2,000 arches carved out of ancient red-rock sandstone. A 40-mile round-trip paved road in the park leads to popular sights like Balanced Rock, Skyline Arch, Double Arch and the Fiery Furnace.

The park entrance is five miles north of Moab, with the visitor center open year-round, although it now requires a timed-entry reservation for all daytime visitors before Oct. 3. The timed-entry reservation system is part of a new program implemented to help manage crowds. To reserve a spot, visit go.nps.gov/archesticket.

Bryce Canyon National Park

The main "amphitheater" of Bryce Canyon National Park includes thousands of delicately carved, red-rock "hoodoos".

The brilliant colors and delicately carved spires of Bryce Canyon attract millions of visitors each year, with the main “amphitheater” of the canyon showcasing how wind and water worked for millions of years to etch out the pink cliffs and spiraling hoodoos.

A popular spot for stargazers with its remote location and elevations climbing to more than 9,000 feet, the park is open year-round just off Utah Route 12, 20 miles east of Panguitch.

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park is vast. A view from Green River Overlook, high above a 1,500-foot mesa in the Island of the Sky, highlights the light-colored, aeolian (dune deposits) flat sedimentary rocks of the White Rim Sandstone.

Views thousands of feet down to the white-water rapids of the Green and Colorado rivers or thousands of feet up to the red rock pinnacles, cliffs and spires above highlight the unique beauty of Utah’s largest — by area — national park. The two rivers sliced their way through the rocky landscape over millions of years, leaving behind a rugged area world-renowned for its hiking, jeeping and white-water rafting.

Guided tours are popular in Canyonlands, which covers a large swath of east-central Utah. The main park entrances are 29 miles northwest of Moab and 50 miles northwest of Monticello. The visitor centers are open year-round.

Capitol Reef National Park

Apricot trees blossom in Fruita orchards at Capitol Reef National Park.

Located in the heart of red-rock country 11 miles east of Torrey, Capitol Reef features splashes of color for 75 miles from its northern to southern boundaries, featuring a rocky wilderness of sandstone formations and cliffs. Popular features include sites with names like Capitol Dome, Hickman Bridge, the Waterpocket Fold and Cathedral Valley.

Near the main park entrance is an Orchard and historic buildings connected to Fruita, an early Pioneer settlement. During National Park Week, staffers at Capitol Reef will be planting sapling peach trees into a rejuvenated section of the orchards.

Zion National Park

Zion National Park is Utah's oldest and most popular national park. It drew more than 5 million visitors in 2021.

Utah’s oldest and most-visited park, Zion’s most popular stretch includes a six-mile drive past thousand-foot red-rock cliffs and geographic wonders like Angels Landing, The Watchman, The Great White Throne and Emerald Pools.

The main entrance to the park is 33 miles east of Interstate 15 outside of Springdale, although the eastern entrance 12 miles west of Utah Route 89 has become increasingly popular in recent years.





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