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"The Mighty Five"


The Mighty 5® National Parks

(Image: White Rim Road at Canyonlands National Park)

The Mighty Five® is a registered trademark owned by the Utah Office of Tourism. All rights reserved.

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"The Mighty Five"


The Mighty 5® National Parks

(Image: White Rim Road at Canyonlands National Park)

The Mighty Five® is a registered trademark owned by the Utah Office of Tourism. All rights reserved.

Arches National Park

Located five miles from Moab and first protected as a National Monument in 1929, Arches became a National Park in 1971. Its 120 square miles are home to the world's largest collection of natural spans (more than 2,000). They are complemented by hundreds of towers, pinnacles, fins, balanced rocks and other stunning features. All were carved from the red sandstone by millions of years of erosion. While visitors flock to iconic attractions like Delicate Arch, the Devil’s Garden, Landscape Arch and Balanced Rock, there are myriad sites off the beaten path that combine similar beauty with solitude. The night skies in Arches may boast more stars than most people have ever seen. In fact, the colorful Milky Way is frequently visible overhead from horizon to horizon. Click here to learn more. 

 

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce spent a short time (1923-28) as a National Monument before attaining National Park status. At more than 9,000 feet above sea level, it is the highest of the Mighty 5 and also the smallest at just 56 square miles. Technically a series of amphitheaters on the side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau (rather than a proper canyon), Bryce hosts an army of pink, orange, white, and gray “hoodoos” standing at close-quartered attention. Named after a local rancher, Ebenezer Bryce – who simply described the landscape as “a hell of a place to lose a cow” – the Park features numerous overlooks with spectacular views extending as far as the north rim of the Grand Canyon. Given its altitude, Bryce gets more snow than the other parks. It also enjoys some of North America’s darkest skies which often reveal a breathtaking, unbroken canopy of stars. Click here to learn more. 

 

Canyonlands National Park

Created by Congress in 1964, Canyonlands covers a massive 525 square miles of remote, deeply-incised canyons created by the Colorado and Green Rivers. The waters divide it into three districts – Island in the Sky, Needles and Maze – each of which possesses distinct and remarkable character. Its human history goes back thousands of years, as evidenced by countless rock-art panels of various sizes and complexity, stone tool artifacts and cliff houses. The Great Gallery in Horseshoe Canyon is considered the best-preserved example of rock art in the Western Hemisphere. One of the first white men to visit the area was Major John Wesley Powell, who floated down the Green River and Cataract Canyon in 1869 and named many of the park’s striking features. Click here to learn more. 

Capitol Reef National Park

Centrally located between Arches and Canyonlands to the east and Bryce and Zion to the west, Capitol Reef was made a National Monument in 1937 and bestowed National Park status in 1971. Its name is derived from the massive Navajo Sandstone domes that dot the property and some say resemble the U.S. Capitol. Perhaps more impressive, however, is the Waterpocket Fold. This enormous wrinkle in the earth’s crust exposes some of the most wildly-colored rock on the planet. The Fremont River bisects the park into north and south sections. The northern portion, called the South Desert, offers some wonderfully peculiar features like the Temples of the Sun and Moon and Glass Mountain. Southern highlights include the Waterpocket Fold, Grand Staircase National Monument and the last range in the country to be named or mapped – the Henry Mountains. Click here to learn more. 

Zion National Park

Zion National Park was designated Mukuntuweap National Monument in 1909 by President William H. Taft. Its name was changed to Zion in 1918 to be more “user friendly” with National Park status quickly following in 1919. Best known for its 2,000-foot-deep, straight-walled canyon carved by the Virgin River, it offers backcountry travelers a wide variety of experiences ranging from the tame (for example, the Emerald Pools and Weeping Wall) to jaw-dropping, massively-exposed views at Observation Point and Angel’s Landing and routes suited only to canyoneers experienced in the use of ropes. Given its proximity to I-15 and Las Vegas, Zion is the busiest of the Mighty 5®. That said, less crowded areas are easy to find given the main canyon’s many trails, as well as those along the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway and lesser-known Kolob Canyon road. Click here to learn more.