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 adventuretravelers 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 homestate, and we'd like to give you a taste of that on this episode of Grand Adventure, sostay tuned! [intro music] The towering Wasatch Mountains rise rightfrom the population centers along the Wasatch Front, stretching for 160 miles from SaltLake City north to the Idaho border, and south beyond Provo.

85% of Utah's population lives within 15 milesof the Wasatch Mountains, which are named for a Ute Indian word meaning “high mountainpass”.

Mountain snowfall, in some places exceeding500 inches annually, provides drinking water for most of Utah's residents.

Rugged peaks rise to nearly 12, 000 feet, formedby uplift along the Wasatch Fault and sculpted by glaciers, none of which remain today.

Hillsides are home to a forest consistingof Douglas fir, sub-alpine fir, Engelmann spruce and aspen trees.

Hillsides are emblazoned in color when abundantwildflowers bloom in July.

An epicenter of silver mining in the 19thcentury, the Wasatch is still littered with the remains of many of those mines today.

World class recreation can be found throughoutthe Wasatch Mountains, where exceptional hiking opportunities abound.

There are numerous State Park and Forest Servicecampgrounds, as well as plenty of opportunities to boondock in the Wasatch.

Mountain biking is also world class in theWasatch, where a wide variety of cross-country trails have been developed.

Lift-serviced downhill mountain biking isalso available at a number of the area's ski resorts.

There are several small reservoirs with excellentflat water kayaking and fishing, including Little Dell, Causey Reservoir and Tibble ForkReservoir.

Climbers will also find many sport and tradroutes available on the granite that comprises much of the Wasatch Mountain Range.

Also nearby Salt Lake City, Antelope Islandis a state park on a 42 square-mile island in the Great Salt Lake, home to a herd ofAmerican Bison in addition to its namesake pronghorn antelope.

Antelope Island is connected to the mainlandby an eight-mile long causeway.

Across the Great Salt Lake, the Golden SpikeNational Historic Site preserves the very spot where the first transcontinental railroadwas completed in 1869, joining the Central Pacific Railroad with the Union Pacific Railroad.

Regular viewers of Grand Adventure will recognizethis scene of Forsyth Reservoir in central Utah's Fishlake Mountains, from our introductionsequence to each of our videos.

It's one of our favorite boondocking locationsin the entire state for its tranquility and natural waterfront beauty.

In southern Utah, Cedar Breaks National Monumentis often eclipsed by the nearby Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, but is a worthy destinationin its own right.

Also nearby is the unique Coral Pink SandDunes State Park, while the beauty of the area around Kanab sits just outside of ZionNational Park's East Gate.

In central Utah, Nine Mile Canyon — “theworld's longest art gallery” — is known for its extensive rock art, most of it createdby the Fremont culture and the Ute people.

The rock art, shelters, and granaries leftbehind by the Fremont make Nine Mile Canyon a destination for archaeologists and touristsalike.

A little further to the south, the last 100miles of the Green River descends into Labyrinth Canyon, a flatwater stretch of river accessibleonly by boat.

This is a bucket list trip for kayak touring, and the river continues into Stillwater Canyon within Canyonlands National Park before itsconfluence with the Colorado River.

But paddlers may travel from the town of GreenRiver to Mineral Bottom entirely on BLM land, where unlike the National Park stretch ofthe river, the permitting requirements are trivial.

We've already mentioned The Wedge of the SanRafael Swell in previous episodes, but as one of our favorite camping destinations inall of Utah it more than deserves a mention in this video as well.

Here, dispersed boondocking campsites areavailable right on the rim of the spectacular San Rafael Gorge, also known as the LittleGrand Canyon.

But the San Rafael Swell isn't just the Wedge.

It's huge, occupying roughly 3, 000 squaremiles of central Utah bisected by Interstate 70.

The area on either side of I-70, known asthe Central Swell, is a giant dome-shaped anticline of sandstone, shale, and limestoneformed some 40 to 60 million years ago.

It's since been eroded by flash floods thathave created numerous valleys, canyons, gorges, mesas, and buttes.

This consitutes some of the best boondockingin the entire state of Utah.

At the southern end of the Swell sits GoblinValley State Park, home to thousands of hoodoos, referred to locally as goblins.

These formations of mushroom-shaped rock pinnaclesstand up to several yards tall.

Adjacent to Goblin Valley, numerous slot canyonspierce the San Rafael Reef, providing exceptional canyoneering opportunities both technicaland 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'tjust about Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.

There's a whole lot to see outside of theNational Parks, too — just with no entrance fee and far fewer people.

Lake Powell is a massive reservoir of theColorado River along Utah's southern border.

Because so few roads reach the lake, our favoriteway to see Lake Powell is aboard a kayak.

Finally, in our opinion no RV camping tripto Utah would be complete without a boondocking stay in Valley of the Gods, in the far southeasterncorner of the state.

So, we hope that this video has given youa taste of what's available throughout Utah beyond the Mighty Five National Parks.

Butthis list is by no means meant to be exhaustive, so if you have a favorite spot that you'dlike to share, please mention it in the comments section down below this video.

Also down below, if you liked this video pleasegive us a big “thumbs up”.

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