Wednesday, 27 June 2012 7:40 AM
When booking American holidays many people may not think of Utah as a starting point, but with breathtaking natural scenery, fascinating attractions and plenty to see and do, it is an excellent option for travellers of all interests. A western state, Utah is a top spot for sightseeing, with a huge range of national parks, beautiful lakes and stunning rock formations. If you are interested in exploring its vast landscapes, Bryce Canyon National Park may be a good place to start.
Despite its name, it is not actually a canyon at all, but a huge natural amphitheatre cut by millions of years of erosion, causing delicate spires to jut from the ground. These spines, called hoodoos, range in colour from white through orange and pink to red, and look most dramatic as the sun rises and sets. A visit to Bryce Canyon will not only leave you with a sense of wonder, but will also provide you with some of the best photo opportunities on your Utah holiday.
Another popular sightseeing attraction is Arches National Park, which contains the largest collection of natural stone arches anywhere in the world. Some of these rock formations are so bizarre and precise that you will be amazed they are not manmade. Stretching across 73,000 acres, there are more than 2,000 arches – all set against the crimson backdrop of an arid desert. What makes this particular park an excellent choice for families is that it is split up into different sections, depending on how much exercise you are willing to do.
For beginners, the Windows Section is well advised. All of the main arches in this area can be seen from the road or via a short walk, making it the best option for those travelling with young children or the elderly. Hoping to work up a sweat? A 1.5-mile hike will get you to Delicate Arch – an extremely scenic formation situated on the side of a small canyon. Anyone looking to experience everything the park has to offer should consider taking a tour of the Fiery Furnace, a network of beautiful ridges and gulleys that can only be traversed with a guide.
Travelling with any film buffs? A trip to Monument Valley is a must, as the region is instantly recognisable from a number of famous movies including Forrest Gump, Thelma & Louise, 2001: A Space Odyssey and cowboy classic Once Upon a Time in the West. But even seeing this stunning plateau on the big screen does not do it justice and so no trip to Utah would be complete without visiting this spectacular natural wonder.
Holidaymakers could be forgiven for thinking that Utah is only made up of desert areas, but that would be forgetting that it has one of the world's most impressive water features. Lake Powell boasts more shoreline than the entire west coast of America, making it the perfect choice for those who fancy a houseboat holiday. This idyllic blue oasis is a manmade reservoir set against the backdrop of dazzling red-orange cliff walls and with boat travel you can simply meander around the canyons before dropping anchor and jumping straight into the cool watery depths. There are even vast sandy beaches, reminiscent of any traditional seaside holiday.
Continuing the aqua theme, Utah is also a fantastic spot to try your hand at a variety of water sports, such as white water rafting, canoeing, kayaking and jet boating. Whether you are a novice or a seasoned veteran, there will be options open to you along the Green and Colorado rivers. There are even scenic boat tours that allow you to sit back and enjoy the sights, including local wildlife such as deer, raptors, songbirds and bighorn sheep. Highlights of such tours can include a forest of petrified wood, Dead Horse Point or even Native American ruins.
Wherever you decide to visit while staying in Utah, you can rest assured you will go home feeling rested and relaxed, having seen some of the most impressive natural landscapes the country has to offer. This makes the state an adventure that should not be missed for any tourists hoping to take advantage of a North American holiday in the future.