It would take months, even years, to truly explore all of Utah’s vast and varied landscapes, but Spring Break only lasts one week. So here are a handful of the state’s natural wonders that you won’t find on the cover of the Visit Utah brochure. And they’re all a day’s drive (or less) from campus.
Calf Creek Falls
Off of Utah’s famed Highway 12 in the Grand-Staircase Escalante area sits a pool fed by a 130-foot waterfall (pictured above) with yellow, red and green bouncing of the surrounding stone walls. It’a a little less than three miles to reach this desert oasis and well worth the hike. Swimming is allowed, though the water might be a little brisk during March. Hike to Upper Calf Creek Falls and you’ll find another waterfall, this one 88-feet high.
You’ve probably seen the Fisher Towers in a Citibank commercial or Austin Powers movie. Located east of Moab, and southeast of Arches National Park, there are some great BLM campsites near the towers. And climbing it makes for one heck of a hero shot (experts only!).
Peek-A-Boo Gulch and Spooky Slot Canyons
Along a rattling washboard dirt road about 12 miles south of the town of Escalante are canyons that shake the souls of Claustrophobiacs. These are the slot canyons of Peek-A-Boo and Spooky, where sandy smooth walls fit snug and tight.
Straight out of a John Wayne western, Monument Valley was made with Instagram in mind. Of course, it’s actually the product of sandstone relenting to the force of melting ice fields (a hard-to-believe image in the midst of this vast, barren, yet beautiful desert). Today, this area near the Four Corners is part of the Navajo Tribal Park.
Uinta Ski Mountaineering
You can always count on at least one major March storm, which makes spring skiing some of the best skiing. However, if you’re looking to expand your boundaries beyond the Wasatch, head to the Uinta Mountains, where the backcountry is pristine and relatively untouched. Plan ahead and, with some luck, you can land a yurt to rest the weary legs. Of course, always confer with the Utah Avalanche Center on snow conditions before embarking into the backcountry.
Little Sahara Sand Dunes
Off in a remote part of Utah’s west desert, the Little Sahara Sand Dunes rage with dune buggies and dirt bikes. The jewel for riders in the Little Sahara is Sand Mountain, offering 700 feet of vertical track rising above the dune floor. For those not into the motorized recreational vehicles, 9,000 acres on the “quiet” side of the Sahara, Rockwell Outstanding Natural Area, have been set aside as a vehicle-free zone. The entire area, operated by the Bureau of Land Management, is 115 miles southwest of Salt Lake City off of U.S. Highway 6.
Located in a remote section of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Coyote Gulch has all the elements of an epic hike — sandstone canyon walls, sparkling streams, arches, a natural bridge, waterfalls and ancient petroglyphs. However, the hike is long (11.5 miles roundtrip) and strenuous and best experienced when there’s plenty of time to explore the various natural features, so plan on camping overnight.
For your outdoor gear needs…
Visit Outdoor Adventures at the Student Life Center, where students, staff and faculty can rent pretty much any imaginable piece of equipment for your next adventure!