A Southern Spring Break

By Sarah Terry

Instead of joining the party scene for spring break, why not escape to Southern Utah for a week of rejuvenation, good company, red sand and lots of stars.

Dead Horse Point

Featuring views of Canyonlands National Park and the Colorado River, Dead Horse Point is the perfect stop between Arches and Canyonlands. The state park was named after cowboys’ use of the area as a natural wild mustang corral. Escape the spring break hustle and bustle at Utah’s secret treasure lookout spot. The best part? Dogs are allowed.

Dead Horse Point offers some of the best photography in southern Utah with its winding turns and steep cliffs, and it is a certified International Dark Sky Park (IDSP).

Hiking: Six trails, dogs allowed except on Intrepid Trail System loops.

Where to camp: Inside or outside the park on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land.

Goblin Valley State Park

Goblin Valley is in a world of its own. Millions of years of erosion created windows, slot canyons, balanced rocks and more. Bring lots of water and sunscreen as you explore the definition of nature’s playground.

While most spend less than a day at Goblin Valley, I recommend staying longer  — the haunting landscapes are sure to leave an impression.

Hiking: Five marked trails, lots of unpaved land. Dogs allowed.

Where to camp: Inside or outside the park on BLM land.

Zion National Park

With trails from easy-peasy to hard that all boast killer views, Zion is guaranteed to please everyone in your group. If you’re really up for a challenge, you can even try your hand at Zion’s infamous Angel’s Landing.

Zion National Park is the ultimate southern Utah experience. The park is a heavenly break from the dry, desolate surrounding areas with its soaring cliffs, running river and lush plant life.

Hiking: 17 marked trails, some more technical than others. No dogs allowed on most trails.

Where to camp: Outside the park on BLM land.

Grand Staircase-Escalante

Often overshadowed by other Southern Utah areas, Grand Staircase-Escalante features some of the most accessible yet beautiful slot canyons in all of Southern Utah. Spooky and Peek-a-boo gulches are close to the main trail and only require a few hours to explore.

A sacred Native American monument and beautiful outdoor space, Grand Staircase-Escalante has always been a Utah favorite, as observed in the major rallying at the Trump Administration’s recent announcement of the park’s proposed shrinkage.

Hiking: 12 trails. Dogs allowed, but must be leashed on the Lower Calf Creek Falls Trail and in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

Where to camp: Inside on BLM land.

Capitol Reef National Park

Boasting a Gold Tier IDSP ranking, ancient Fremont petroglyphs and amazing sunsets, Capitol Reef is another hidden gem. With plenty of room to explore and fewer guests, Capitol Reef will take you back to Utah’s earlier days.

Capitol Reef offers a quieter national park experience that will take your breath away. Escape the crowds and enter into a world of your own.

Hiking: 18 day-hiking trails, but backcountry hiking is also available for serious backpackers. No dogs allowed.

Where to camp: Inside or outside the park on BLM land.

Hit the road this spring break with good friends, a few books and plenty of s’more supplies; the desert is waiting.

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