I've lived in Utah for almost four years now, and I'll be sticking around for a little over one more year to finish my Ph.D.! I'm so excited that there's finally a light at the end of the academic tunnel. That said, I haven't gotten to visit so many places in this beautiful state. I mean, we have five national parks and so many more nearby (not to mention national monuments, state parks...the list is endless). I've only made it down to the Moab area to visit Canyonlands and Arches National Parks. It's about time I get to work on the rest of the state before I (hopefully) move. So, here's my official Utah bucket list, which includes a bunch of places in Utah and some places in surrounding states. :)
1-3. Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Capitol Reef National Parks
I definitely need to cross off the other three national parks! The best time of year to visit southern Utah is in the cooler fall and spring months, so hopefully I'll get to one or two this fall and then the other(s) next spring. I would love to do a trail ride on horseback in Bryce Canyon and/or Zion!
4. Timpanogos Cave National Monument
This monument is basically in my backyard so it would be a shame if I didn't make it! I think caves are so cool.
5. Bear Lake
This lake straddles northern Utah and southeastern Idaho and is called the "Caribbean of the West", apparently because of its color. It's an interesting place, though, because the area surrounding it doesn't seem as forested as one would think. I'd love to hang out here for a day and do stand-up paddleboarding!
6. Bonneville Salt Flats
If you didn't know, northern Utah used to be almost completely covered in Lake Bonneville (which was around during the Pleistocene). The salt flats west of the Great Salt Lake are remnants of Lake Bonneville. You drive through them if you're traveling on I-80 between Nevada and Salt Lake City.
7. Spiral Jetty
In 1970, Robert Smithson constructed this sculpture made of mud, salt crystals, and basalt rocks in the northwestern corner of the Great Salt Lake. It's a pretty cool piece of art! Not to mention, while you're there you can enjoy a float in the lake. ;)
8. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
This one is obvious! The Grand Canyon is not too far away and would make such a fun getaway. The downside is that it's kind of in the middle of nowhere, but it could be relatively easy to tack it onto a trip that included one of the parks in southern Utah.
9. Cortez, Colorado
Cortez is located in southwestern Colorado, just a couple of hours southeast of Moab. It's really close to Four Corners National Monument, Mesa Verde National Park, and Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. Hovenweep National Monument is a relatively short drive over the Utah border from Canyons of the Ancients.
10. Great Basin National Park, Nevada
This park is right over the Utah—Nevada border and would be a fun weekend destination, especially for stargazing!
Other destinations I've love to make it to but are lower on the list include Goblin Valley State Park and Dead Horse Point State Park (this park is right next to Canyonlands which is why I may not make it). It'd also be really fun to actually see a film at Sundance Film Festival, but it's so hard to get tickets! Additionally, in Heber, Utah, there's a place called the Homestead Resort with a geothermal swimming pool in a limestone crater. Random, right? It could be a fun adventure!
What do you think? Do you think I'll be able to cross everything off my list? :) I think it's going to take some serious planning!