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What to do in Utah + Colorado

Updated: Sep 15, 2023

Bryce Canyon, Mesa Verde, Arches National Park, Antelope Island, information, experiences, mass tourism.


Arches national park big hole
Arches National Park

Bryce Canyon


At Sunrise Viewpoint in Bryce Canyon National Park, the horizon is dotted with reddish hoodoos as far as the eye can see. They are 60 m (200 ft) tall stone columns rising skyward like stalagmites with no ceiling to create them.


Walking a few meters to the “Sunset” viewpoint, it is the colors that now catch our eye. The strata of time color the narrow pyramids with beige, white, orange and red. The vegetation, seeming to want to compare itself to their grandeur by growing in the middle of the rows, adds a greenish touch to the canvas. The light also definitely has something to do with it. The shadows further define the pillars and bring them to life by slowly dancing with the time of day and night.


bryce canyon
Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon is a perspective game. The pinnacles line up in front of each other and side by side, mother nature seems to have created a visual enigma. It is difficult to define the distance that separates them. As we move through the canyon a few steps, our eye must begin again, as it is a whole different landscape that we now have before us.


When you have reached the “Inspiration” watchtower, the artist of this amphitheater created over 50 million years may reveal his secret to you.

It is a mixture of natural art and chemistry. An assemblage of causes and effects. A science experiment by mother nature.


hoodoos bryce canyon
Bryce Canyon Hoodoos

In the past, the region was subject to seasonal flooding, the water brought flat sedimentary rocks there. Over thousands of years, they have been cemented together. Then, the lakes dissipated into rivers, sculpting the stone into these almost artistic pillars. Added to this is a bit of tremor from the colliding tectonic plates in this region. More than one ingredient to form the chimneys: the gel. For more than half the days of the year, Bryce Canyon receives sub-zero and above-zero temperatures consistently. The water particles seep into the stone, freeze, then thaw, breaking the stone and sculpting it. This is how hoodoos are formed.



Arches national park


Arches national park big hole
Arches National Park

Nearly a 5-hour drive away, the same natural phenomenon happened in Arches National Park. Only in this perimeter they mapped more than 200 arches. By planning a hike you can also observe fairy chimneys and balancing rocks. Its arches are truly outstanding and it is yet another place in the world that falls victim to its beauty and Instagram. Depending on the date of your visit, you will need a reservation. There are now cameras to show traffic in the parking lot to plan your trips. None of this was in place when I visited in 2016. At least the park owners were quick to counter the problem.


elephant parade, arches national parc
Elephant Parade, Arches National Park

If you plan to visit more than one national park in the United States:

Money-saving tip: get the ''America the beautiful'' pass: https://store.usgs.gov/pass

Please note that only national parks are included in this offer.

Which parks are included in the America the Beautiful pass:


Antelope Island (Great Salt Lake)

great salt lake
Antelope Island (Great Salt Lake)

The day before, we had experienced a stunning coral-hued sunset in Salt Lake City. Everyone knows the Great Salt Lake at least by name, but the reason why it is popular remains unknown to us most of the time. My first surprise was to learn that the park is called Antelope Island, and therefore, that we should probably expect to see some. After seeing the metropolis of Salt Lake, it puzzled me that antelopes stayed so close to so much human activity. Imagine my surprise when I see my first bison on the loose!


antelope island buffalo

Seen on the map, the island may appear to you as a peninsula. She is both. When the level of the Great Salt Lake is very high, it becomes an island. We quickly understand why Salt Lake City has such beautiful sunrises and sunsets. A salt factory is placed near this saline lake to harvest it. It holds a pink basin which attracts several tourists for photographs. The reflection of this basin in the sky therefore offers us an incredible palette of colors during these two times of the day. The color comes from a microorganism called halophile which reproduces in this type of very salty water. You can find this incredible color in several places around the world, including Las Coloradas in Yucatan, Mexico, which I also visited.


Antelope Island is 109 square km (42 miles). It is a place of choice for almost wild camping, the observation of bison, antelopes, birds, mule deer, bighorn sheep, and so on. On the other hand, the bison was introduced on the island for breeding purposes in 1893, we were surprised to see that they sold bison hamburgers on the spot, which seemed to us terribly inappropriate. My visit was in 2016, I hope that has changed since then.



During my visit, there were few tourists, and I remember how the calm of the place soothed my mind jostled by so many tourist activities in the same place for the previous places I had visited (Grand Canyon, Yosemite…). It is possible to have your own moment in this place if you choose the time of your visit well. For my part, I went there at the end of September, it was perfect.


Several entry prices depending on your condition. https://stateparks.utah.gov/parks/antelope-island/park-fees/


Mesa Verde (Colorado)


Mesa Verde Cave Buildings
Mesa Verde Cave Buildings

It is the largest pre-Columbian troglodyte construction in North America. Carved out of the stone, the Anasazi Amerindians built these dwellings 700 to 1400 years ago. The site, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was abandoned by Native Americans around 1285 after a very difficult period of drought and social conflict in the community. Cliff Palace, the most popular structure on this site, could house around 100 people. Their knowledge seems to be equivalent to that of the Incas, because the archaeologists were able to observe water control systems and a system of agriculture of the three sisters (gourds, corn, beans). They were also big fans of astronomy. The specialists discovered structures which would have served as observatories of the stars and they made their rites agree with these. https://www.nps.gov/meve/index.htm



If you plan to visit more than one national park in the United States

Money-saving tip: get the ''America the beautiful'' pass: https://store.usgs.gov/pass

Please note that only national parks are included in this offer.

Which parks are included in the ''America the Beautiful'' pass? https://www.recreation.gov/pass


Leave everything and travel, become a nomad. Many people dream of it, but many also fear doing it. Be inspired by the adventures of an independent travel filmmaker who challenged herself to make 10 travel films around the world and become a full-time nomad.

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