It’s a stark contrast. Thirty minutes ago, I was standing on the rim of Utah’s dramatic Bryce Canyon, looking down at a labyrinth of pink-hued hoodoos, pinnacles and buttresses. Now, I’m on an elevated plateau in nearby Kodachrome Basin State Park, admiring dozens of towering sandstone chimneys. The difference? In Bryce Canyon, every trail was swarming with ant-like processions of tourists; here, there’s not another soul in sight.
Southern Utah is blessed with a quintet of spectacular national parks, the “Mighty Five” of Zion, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Arches and Capitol Reef, which, predictably, attract a spectacular number of visitors. Arrive on a weekend between June and September and you can sometimes queue for hours just to get in.
The good news is the region also has a multitude of similarly scenic but far less-visited state parks, recreation areas, forests and national monuments. Which means you can intersperse your forays into the national parks (trust us, you’ll still want to see them) with regenerative excursions into these quieter areas.