Curious Canyonlands

Set out on a scenic journey and encounter some of our nation’s most extraordinary landscapes.

Colorado River from Dead Horse Point State Park

Photo: eStock

Imposing geological formations on the horizon take the place of the cityscapes you’ve left behind to visit America’s Canyonlands. Common trees and vegetation give way to varieties you won’t find close to home. The idea that we share a planet—a country, even—with such unique landscapes inspires awe with each passing mile.

The seemingly bottomless canyons and soaring cliffs that define Canyonlands were carved out hundreds of thousands of years ago. Guides who have found studying the region their calling will read aloud the history written in the layers of rock. Ancient history aside, access to these features via the scenic overlooks and miles of trails built around Canyonlands was only made possible within the last century.

From your perch on the South Rim, nearly 7,000 feet above sea level, the Grand Canyon sprawls as far as the eye can see. As you watch hikers and mule caravans descend into the fire-colored canyon below, you can almost see the oral history passed along by your guide come to life—like the tale of Brighty the trusty burro, who carried water from a spring below the North Rim for some of the first tourists to visit the canyon.

Discover the adventurous side of the Wild West in Moab, Utah. Spot famous arch formations, including Delicate Arch and Balanced Rock, at Arches National Park. Then wind down along the banks of the Colorado River, watching the sunset make the red-orange color of the rocks even more vibrant.

Arches National Park

Photo: eStock

Along Utah’s scenic Highway 12, each overlook is an opportunity to connect with the Canyonland region’s cultural and natural history. At Dead Horse Point State Park, a guide tells tales of cowboys who corralled mustangs at the edge of a narrow cliff formed by a dramatic bend in the Colorado River. Or study the ancient petroglyphs in Capitol Reef National Park—so named for its white sand domes’ resemblance to the U.S. Capitol—to get a sense of the connection the indigenous people had to these lands.

At Bryce Canyon National Park, learn how wind, rain and converging climates formed the highest concentration of hoodoos—sandstone spires that seem to come straight out of a fairy tale—in the world. In contrast to Bryce Canyon’s magnificent pillars, the walls of Zion National Park’s iconic slot canyons stand proud and unyielding. Red and orange hues stand in sharp contrast to the brilliant emerald waters that run through and continuously carve the canyon.

AAA Travel offers a variety of trips to America’s national parks. Call 877-396-7159 or contact a AAA Travel Counselor for details.

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Janice Yip-Hudson, AAA Travel Counselor, Daly City, Calif.

Today, people's lives are so busy. We're thinking three days ahead just to get through our to-do lists. I love helping my clients plan vacations where they have nothing to do but relax; where time stands still, and you're just on vacation.

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