National Parks - Beyond the Crowds

Utah’s national parks attract visitors from around the world, but beyond the iconic landscapes are lesser-known gems. Journey with KUED as we take the road less traveled to national monuments and recreation areas that offer solitude, history, and natural wonders and take us beyond the crowds. 

There was a time when vacation meant American families packing the kids and sleeping bags into the station wagon, then heading out on lightly traveled roads to a set up camp and enjoy the national parks.

Today, national parks are more crowded than ever, attracting visitors from around the world. Each year, millions line up to visit Utah’s national parks and solitude is increasingly rare. But beyond the iconic landscapes is a collection of diverse national monuments, historic sites, and smaller parks that offer remarkable experiences.

From the near-urban setting of Timpanogos Cave National Monument to the natural amphitheater of Cedar Breaks National Monument, Beyond the Crowds provides an eye-opening introduction to remote adventure destinations. Viewers can explore secluded canyons of Lake Powell on kayak while also hiking to ancient trees at Great Basin National Park — one of the newest parks in the National Park System.

Great Basin National Park
Established 1986

One of the key features of Great Basin National Park is solitude, the area is remote, even on the busiest days visitors can find places to get away from other park guests and truly enjoy nature uninterrupted.

Great Basin National Park is just over the Western border of Utah near the town of Baker Nevada. Great Basin was established a National Park in 1986 when Lehman Caves National Monument was combined with the surrounding mountains and forest. The park preserves a small representative piece of the Great Basin region of the United States, a watershed which includes portions of 5 Western states. At the top of the the park is 13,064 ft. Wheeler Peak, a majestic above tree-line summit accessed from a trailhead near Wheeler Peak Campground and follows a groomed trail that rises 3,000 feet to the summit. On the flanks of Wheeler peak are a few groves of Bristlecone pine trees where some of the trees are over 4,000 years old. Underneath part of the Park is Lehman Cave which extends a quarter-mile into the limestone that flanks the base of the Snake Range. Discovered in about 1885 by Absalom Lehman, a rancher and miner, this cavern is one of the most richly decorated caves in the region.

Great Basin National Park Segment

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Meet Your Guides
Kelly Carroll, Park Ranger

I have been a park ranger for the National Park Service for about nine years. From the glaciers of Alaska to the shores of the island of Guam, I have been privileged to be a part of a team of rangers, working for a common goal, to protect and preserve the natural, cultural, and historical treasures of our country. Being able to facilitate connections between visitors and their national parks has been the most rewarding aspects of this career. It has been said that our national parks are America's Best Idea: I have to agree.

I think it's imperative that we preserve our national lands, and their stories, not only for the enjoyment they provide, but I firmly believe they allow us to help find our place in a much larger world - and our responsibility to it. As John Muir said - "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe."

Great Basin National Park Field Guide Kelly Carroll

At times when visitors see the Moon or Saturn for the first time through our park's telescopes, they will gasp with the excitement of their discovery. As a park ranger, it's special to be a part of that moment."
~Kelly Carroll, Park Ranger
Steven Moore, Park Ranger

My first real Park experience came as a wide-eyed 12-year-old on my first family camping trip in Yosemite National Park, especially the misty hike to Vernal Falls. A few years later, I got my drivers license not to cruise, but to cruise out to Pt. Reyes National Seashore to hike every trail rain or shine, night or day. I had set my dream sights, and never wavered The dream first came true at Natural Bridges National Monument, and donning that flat hat for the first time was one of my proudest moments. I still feel that pride. As pathways of opportunity would allow, I wore that hat most of my career for another excellent organization, the California State Parks. But I couldn't be happier than I am right now representing the National Parks at one of my favorites, Great Basin. I have discovered that I enjoy sharing the wonders of a National Park experience as much as I enjoy the wonders themselves, maybe even more.

I am heartened whenever I discover that something I've done means something to someone else. I had a group of children once join me at a campfire program to demonstrate the growth of a Bristlecone pine. I adorned their wrist with green string bracelets as part of the demonstration. The next day while climbing Wheeler Peak on an off-duty day hike, I encountered a family who recognized me and praised the program. Their daughter was still wearing her green string bracelet.

Great Basin National Park Field Guide Steven Moore
In 2016 the National Park Service is celebrating our first 100 years and we are looking forward to our next 100 years to connect with and create the next generation of park visitors, supporters and advocates. "
~Steven Moore, National Park Ranger
Eric Zimmermann

Coming soon!

Timpanogos Cave National Monument Guide Eric Zimmermann
Plan Your Visit

Links

National Park Service - www.nps.gov/grba

​Great Basin Images, photography of Kelly Carroll - www.greatbasinimages.com

Timpanogos Cave National Monument
Established 1922

Hiking the beautiful landscape cascading over peaks and valleys of Mount Timpanogos allows for much more than just a simple cave tour.

Mt. Timpanogos was discovered in 1887 by Martin Hansen and became a popular attraction for years to follow. While touring the cave you can stop and see the signatures of those who made the, then, arduous journey to see the wonder and amazement of the cave dating all the way back to the early 1900’s. Timpanogos cave offers a large variety of features including it’s infamous helictites. The spiraling rock formations are a whimsical addition to the already powerful underground experience you undergo during the cave tour. In addition to it’s formations and multitude of features, the cave allows for a perfect environment to conduct hands-on research on the local bat species, the Townsend Big Ear bat. The rangers do night gatherings with nets catching and tagging bats to help learn more and preserve this threatened species.

Timpanogos Cave Wall Writings

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Park ranger Bonny Armstrong tells shares interesting stories behind writings that can be found on the cave walls of Timpanogos Cave National Monument.

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Meet Your Guides
Bonny Armstrong, Biological Science Technician and Park Ranger

Coming soon!

Timpanogos Cave National Monument Guide Bonny Armstrong

Plan Your visit

Directions

Timpanogos is located about 40 miles south of Salt Lake City in the Wasatch Mountains of Northern Utah: From I-15 take exit 284 (Alpine-Highland exit) and turn east on State Highway 92. Proceed 10 miles to the monument entrance

Where to Stay

There are a multitude of Hotels in the surrounding cities of American Fork, Pleasant Grove, or Lindon, however there is also the option to camp in adjacent campsites near the park.

Activities

The hike to the cave is a frequently enjoyed trail. The trail is 1 ½ miles long climbing a steep 1,029 feet offering spectacular views of the canyon. Many local residents often just hike the trail for fun and fitness. 

Links

National Park Service - www.nps.gov/tica/planyourvisit

Natural Bridges National Monument
Established 1908

Three majestic natural bridges invite you to ponder the power of water in a landscape usually defined by its absence.

In 1908, Natural Bridges became Utah’s first National Monument. It features three majestic natural bridges, each with their own character. Kachina is the youngest and thickest bridge, while Owachimo is the smallest, thinnest, and oldest bridge. Owachimo is also a great place for filming night sky images. Sipapu is the largest bridge; in fact, it’s the second largest natural bridge in the world. The hike down is a blast, as you descend 500 feet in just over half a mile. Ladders along the trail help in getting down (and up). If you’re interested in archeology, visit Horsecollar ruin, an ancestral Puebloan site. Between hiking, exploring, camping, and stargazing, there’s plenty to keep visitors busy.

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Meet Your Guide
Edward Hodson

Coming soon!

Natural Bridges National Monument Field Guide Edward Hodson

Plan Your Visit

Directions

Natural Bridges is a little off-the-beaten-path. Blanding, 40 miles away, is the nearest city. From Blanding, head south on US-191 and turn right onto UT-95 North. Stay on this road for 30.2 miles and turn onto UT-275 N toward Natural Bridges National Monument.

Where to Stay

Natural Bridges has one campground with 13-sites that is open year-round. Campground sites are first-come, first-served. There are a number of primitive campsites available outside the park on BLM land. The nearest food is in Blanding.

Favorite Hikes

Plan on at least two to three hours exploring the area. Stop of the visitor's center to learn about the area and then continue on by car to visit scenic vistas and short hikes. If you are looking for full immersion in the area pack supplies and head out on the 8.7 mile hiking loop. The trail is open year round and is in good condition, although rugged. The trail meanders along the floors of Armstrong and White canyons. At times you will need to spot cairns to keep on the correct path. The descent into the canyon is quite steep.

Links

National Park Service - www.nps.gov/nabr

Hovenweep National Monument
Established 1923

Once home to over 2,500 people, Hovenweep includes six prehistoric villages built between A.D. 1200 and 1300.

The first thing you notice when you hike the trails at Hovenweep National Monument is how amazing the ancient Pueblo structures are. The second thing you notice is the solitude – you can hear the wind through the sage and the birds echoing off the canyon walls. This area was once home to more than 2,500 people in 900 A.D. The name “Hovenweep” is a Ute word meaning “deserted valley”. The main section is Square Tower, where three loop trails give you amazing views of the towers. If you want to go to lesser-travelled spots, go to the outlying locations, (Holly, Horseshoe, Hackberry, Cutthroat Castle and Cajon) which are a short drive away.

Hovenweep National Monument Segment

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Meet Your Guide
Sierra Coon

I was a ranger at Canyonlands National Park for seven years, at the Island in the Sky district, which was the busiest part of the park. We were getting about twenty five hundred people a day and so to come here where we're getting a hundred and fifty to two hundred people a day was a big change for me. Unlike other parks, like Mesa Verde, you can come here and have kind of more intimate experience with the ruins where you can get up close to them and have that time to yourself and just sit quietly. And there's something really special about that. You do have to work a little bit harder to get out here to Hovenweep, but that isolation is part of the experience at the park, I think. You can really sit out here and hear the wind and smell the sage and really just feel like that moment is unique to you. It's important to know that Hovenweep certainly has these amazing ruins and it has this amazing human history, but it has so much more than that. You know it has amazing stars and really dark skies and it has that silence, and it has that that that opportunity to experience something individual that that makes it worth the visit.

Hovenweep National Monument Field Guide Sierra Coon
Plan Your Visit

Directions

Hovenweep National Monument is located along the border between southeast Utah and southwest Colorado, just north and west of Cortez, Colorado. All main roads to the park are paved but roads to the outlying areas are dirt and not maintained regularly. Hovenweep is 42 miles from Cortez, Colorado and 45 miles from Blanding, Utah.

Where to Stay

The 26-site Hovenweep Campground is available year-round on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no lodging available in the monument. Motels are available in Cortez, Colorado or Blanding, Utah.

Links

National Park Service - www.nps.gov/hove

Golden Spike National Historic Site
Established 1965

Visitors to the Golden Spike National Historic Site can get an idea of how the trains sounded and looked and what the environment looked like as the human development in the area is minimal due to it’s remote location in Northern Utah.

On May 10th 1869 the Transcontinental railroad was completed with the ceremonial driving of a Golden Spike at Promontory Summit Utah. This event is seen as the joining of the East and the West and the travel time across the country went from many months to about a week. To commemorate this important feat in United States History, Golden Spike National Historic Site was established on the exact spot where the rails were joined. The key feature of the site are fully functional replicas of the two locomotives that met at the site the Union Pacific’s 119 and the Central Pacific’s Jupiter. The original locomotives were used for many years and eventually sold for scrap. Also in the park are sections of the original railroad grade hand-dug by the Chinese and Irish Immigrants. Exploring them gives the visitor a glimpse of the monumental task this railroad was to complete.

Golden Spike Segment

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Meet Your Guides
Richard Felt

Richard Felt is a drama teacher and history teacher who volunteers to play the part of W.H. Harkness in the re-enactments held at Golden Spike National Historic Site throughout the summer months. He first took up the the role for the 100th anniversary re-enactment of the ceremony held at the site in 1969. Richard’s history with the site predates the establishment of the Park and remembers watching his mother take part in re-enactments in the 1950’s. At the time there were no rails or locomotives at the site, only the spot where history was made. “One of the fortunate aspects of of the Golden Spike National Historic site is that the landscape still looks just like it did on May 10th

Golden Spike National Monument Field Guide Richard Felt

Mike Oestreich

Mike Oestreich is a locomotive fireman at Golden Spike National Historic Site. He has always had an interest in industrial history of which railroads play a big role. He volunteered for 13 years at the The Railway Museum of Greater Cincinnati in Covington, Kentucky. However, He didn’t learn about steam locomotive operation until he came to Golden Spike. Everything he knows about steam was learned through an informal apprenticeship program where the knowledge of how to run these fully functioning replicas of the “Jupiter” and the “119” has been handed down from preceding engineers and firemen to the newer members of the crew. He sees the work on these locomotives as mix of a hobby and a job. It’s a lot of fun and he enjoys the nostalgia of recreating the history of the transcontinental railroad at the Golden Spike National Historic site.

Golden Spike National Monument Field Guide Mike Oestreich

David Kilton

David Kilton is an interpretive ranger at Golden Spike National Historic Site. He loves history and especially enjoys sharing the story of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10th 1869 at Promontory Summit Utah. “Being a national Park Ranger is an amazing job, it’s the best job in the world. You get to work at amazing places and interact with people who are excited to be visiting the parks. It’s pretty amazing to do something you love.” David told KUED in an interview for National Parks Beyond the Crowds. He is a firm believer that people; and most importantly kids, need to get out and explore the world around them.

Golden Spike National Monument Field Guide at work
Plan Your Visit

Links

National Park Service - www.nps.gov/gosp

Cedar Breaks National Monument
Established 1933

Early Mormon settlers called the area “badlands” or “breaks” and mistakenly called the surrounding juniper trees “cedars” Hence the name, “Cedar Breaks”. It became a national monument in 1933.

This high altitude gem features spectacular geology, forests and meadows at 10,000 feet. The half-mile deep amphitheater of eroding limestone, shale, and sandstone is vibrant with hues from white to yellow to purple and brilliant orange. The park’s altitude and lack of light pollution make for great night sky viewing, while sub-alpine meadows provide spectacular wildflower gazing. Any time is a good time to visit Cedar Breaks. Spring welcomes back the wildlife. Summer flowers are beautiful and come in a variety of colors. Fall is filled with aspens turning bright colors of red, orange, and yellow. Winter is great for playing in the snow. Ranger-led activities and special events happen throughout the year.

The earliest “visitors” to Cedar Breaks were the Southern Paitue and their Neo-archaic ancestors. They lived nomadically, and would travel to the high elevation meadows and cool forests in early summer where they gathered berries and plants, hunted mule deer and elk, and collected Brian Head chert to make stone tools.

Cedar Breaks National Monument Segment

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Videographer Gary Turnier filmed this panning timelapse at Cedar Breaks National Monument-- hoping to beat the rain. The half-mile deep amphitheater of eroding limestone, shale, and sandstone is vibrant with hues from white to yellow to purple and brilliant orange.

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Meet Your Guides
Dave "Dark Sky Dave" Sorenson, Park Ranger

I grew up in Cedar City, and my dad was an astronomer. He would help out at the star parties and I would occasionally come up too. It was so cool to see stars and planets and all the night sky objects you wouldn’t normally see in the valley. So I was hooked early on. The star parties are one of the most fun parts of my job. People look through the telescope and they’ll say “that looks like a photo it looks so good” and I have to tell them, “no that's the actual planet Saturn.” It’s fun to watch people react. It's pretty amazing.

At Cedar Breaks, our oldest tree, a bristlecone pine, is turning one thousand six hundred and seventy-nine years old. You can see it on the Spectra Trail. I keep trying to convince the park that we ought to have a birthday party for it every year to celebrate its birthday but the idea hasn't caught on yet, but maybe it'll be something we'll do in the future.

Cedar Breaks National Monument Field Guide Dave Sorenson
Valerie Orlemann, Landscape Painter

I'm a landscape painter, living with my husband and 12-year old daughter in Parowan, Utah. I cheerfully paint beauty wherever I find it, but there's just more of it in national parks than in my neighborhood. I'm fortunate to live in southern Utah, in painting distance of a half dozen amazing national parks. I'm especially fortunate to have a parks pass and art supplies!

Last summer I painted up at Cedar Breaks with the Cedar Breaks Arts Afire Plein Air Event. That event brought me, Brad Holt and Mary Jabens to paint outdoors in Cedar Breaks during the Wildflower Festival. In 2016, ten artists have been invited to paint and the results should be amazing.

Cedar Breaks National Monument is beautiful, so painting up there seems reasonable. However, there have been complications. Like the altitude---10,000 feet. Think of normal weather in July in Utah--monsoons, wind, thunderstorms, hail. Then picture that weather up there. It's been a little violent. Painting halted abruptly on the fourth of July when an epic deluge hit. Painters, bikers, hikers dashed for whatever cover they could find. It took two trips to get my gear to the car, and I was soaked through before I could drive away. Then there was the time I was painting on the Ramparts Trail one fine, somewhat windy morning when I turned my back for a moment. In that moment, my easel---complete with paint thinner, brushes and a couple tubes of paint----was blown over the edge. I watched in horror as the easel launched and jar of thinner rolled down the vertiginous slope, bouncing gaily over small cliff bands. It just kept going. It may be washed down to Cedar City some day. Fortunately for me, I was able to reach a leg of the easel and haul it up. A passing hiker with a good head for heights edged down a slope that made my knees weak and retrieved my paints and brushes. I was profoundly grateful, but still a mile from the parking lot with no paint thinner. Darn it. I found a more sheltered spot a bit farther from the edge and painted un-thinned.

Artist Valerie Orlemann at Cedar Breaks National Monument
Imagine if our beautiful National Parks all belonged to those with the money to own them….private property. I wouldn’t be allowed. The National Parks preserve wonderful places for all of us – even starving artists!"
~Valerie Orlemann, Landscape Artist
Plan Your Visit

Directions

The monument is 23 miles east of Cedar City and 3 miles south of Brian Head Resort. It’s open 24 hours 365 days a year, but visitor center hours and location varies depending on the season. The Point Supreme Visitor Center is open daily 9am-6pm late May to mid-October. Once heavy snowfall begins, the Winter Ranger Station is open 11am-2pm on the weekends.

NOTE: Highway 148, the road that links Cedar Breaks to Brian Head closes in the winter once heavy snowfall starts (usually mid November to late May). It becomes a groomed skiing, snowmobiling and snowshoeing trail.

Driving S on I-15: Exit 78 to Parowan Turn L onto E Cntr St Turn R onto UT Hwy 143 E Drive 15 miles to Cedar Breaks Driving N on I-15: Exit 57 to Cedar City Travel N on Main St Turn R onto E Cntr St /UT Hwy 14 Drive E on UT Hwy 14 Turn L onto UT Hwy 148 to Cedar Breaks Driving S on US Highway 89: At Panguitch turn R onto Utah HWY 143 W Drive W to Cedar Breaks NM Driving N on UT Hwy 89: At Long Valley Junction, turn L onto UT Hwy 14 W Turn R onto UT Hwy 148 to Cedar Breaks

Where to Stay

There is a variety of lodging at nearby Cedar City or Brian Head. Or, if you prefer some high altitude camping, you can stay at the Point Supreme Campground -- open from mid-June to mid-September (dates vary due to weather). There are 25 sites for tents and RV’s. Restrooms are available. Fires are permitted in fire grates, but you must bring your own wood. 

Favorite Hikes/Activities

The elevation and darkness at Cedar Breaks provides great night sky viewing. Star Parties are held at Point Supreme every Saturday beginning in July and extending through Labor Day weekend. Telescopes are provided, but feel free to bring your own. Although even with just the naked eye, the stars are spectacular. Don’t forget to dress warmly, at 10,000 feet it can get chilly at night, even in the summer. For those who like to brave the cold, winter star parties are conducted at Brian Head’s Navajo Lodge. 

Wildflower Festival - Each summer wildflowers ignite the meadows and mountaintops of Cedar Breaks with an impressive display of color. Paintbrush, Columbine, Lupine and Larkspur are some of the flowers in bloom. The festival is typically held in July, and features guided tours and photography workshops

Plein Air Art Event - painting invitational and art exhibit held in mid-July. Plein Air is a French term meaning “open air”, and refers to the act of painting outdoors in full view of the subject. Observe artists as they create paintings inspired by the canyon’s colorful hoodoos, wildflowers, and ancient trees.

Hiking - There are 4 hikes to do in the park. Most are easy to moderate, but remember that you’re at 10,500 feet, and even easy walks can be strenuous, especially for those with respiratory conditions.

If you’re looking for a wheelchair accessible trail, or you want to take your pet for a stroll, check out the Campground Trail, a one-mile round trip walk between the visitor’s center and the Scenic Road with great views of the amphitheater.

If you have more time, and accessibility isn’t an issue, tackle the Spectra Point and Ramparts Overlook Trail. This 4 mile round-trip hike follows the rim. Check out the park’s oldest living tree, a bristlecone pine near Spectra Point.

If you want to hear the wind whistling through trees, take the Alpine Pond Trail. This two mile, double-loop hike offers shade, and is especially delightful when the wildflowers are in bloom.

For the more adventurous, there’s the rugged Rattlesnake Creek Trail that drops 2,500 feet in four miles and takes you into the Ashdown Gorge Wilderness area. This is a poorly marked trail, so should only be tacked by experienced hikers versed in map reading.

Links

Campground Information/Reservations: www.nps.gov/cebr/planyourvisit/campgrounds.htm

Hiking Information -  www.nps.gov/cebr/planyourvisit/hiking.htm​

National Park Service - www.nps.gov/cebr

Orlemann Art, Landscape Paintings by Valerie Orlemann - www.orlemannart.com

Plein Air Art Event -  https://www.nps.gov/cebr/planyourvisit/cedar-breaks-national-monument-plein-air-art-event.htm

Star Parties Information - www.nps.gov/cebr/star-parties.htm

Wildflower Festival - www.nps.gov/cebr/wildflower-festival.htm

Dinosaur National Monument
Established 1915

No matter what your interest is, whether it's dinosaurs or western settlement, Dinosaur has something to interest and fascinate you.


The Herald Republican, Salt Lake City, Utah, Monday, April 25, 1910

Dinosaur National Monument was established in 1915. Dinosaur has a complex, rich and diverse resource landscape. On display at the Carnegie Bone Quarry near Jensen Utah are fossils going back over five hundred and thirty million years. While some complete specimens were removed and put on display all over the world, many fossils have been left in place where they were deposited millions of years ago for visitors to experience. There are many different ecosystems preserved in the park due to the tremendous elevation that occurs from the lowest to the highest parts. The Green and Yampa River Canyons feature immense and spectacularly carved deep canyons that are over two thousand feet deep in some places. The Yampa River is the last undammed tributary of the Colorado and one of the last refuges for the native fish fauna that exists in the Colorado River system. The Gates of Lodore on the Green River made famous by the great explorer John Wesley Powell features amazing white water and spectacular scenery. Dinosaur National Monument has evidence of human occupation that goes back over nine thousand years depicted by many rock art panels within the park. Dinosaur features an amazing biological diversity of plants and animals in the various ecosystems reflected in the park.

Dinosaur National Monument Segment

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Meet Your Guides
Dan Chure, Paleontologist and Park Ranger

I have been the paleontologist at Dinosaur National Monument for 34 years. My main research interests are dinosaurs & the ecosystems they lived in. I am also interested in fossil resource management & preservation, & the impacts of 20th century warfare and social revolutions on fossil collections & scientists.

Dinosaur National Monument Field Guide Dan Chure

Lauren Wood, Raft Guide

I'm a 3rd generation raft guide who grew up on the banks of the Green River. My first trip through the rapids of Dinosaur National Monument was with my family and Holiday River Expeditions at the ripe old age of 2. Spending 7 seasons as a rafting guide in the deep canyons of Dinosaur has brought me great peace and in many ways feels like a home away from home. Recently I took my passion for this beloved river to the next level and became the Green Riverkeeper Affiliate with Waterkeeper Alliance. I hope to spend my life fighting to protect places like Dinosaur and the whole Green River watershed for generations to come.

Once I took an older man through the Gates of Lodore. He was a retired middle school teacher with many stories to tell around a campfire. He was adamant about doing all the hikes he could, even though his pace was not that of a spry youngster anymore. Because of his slow-gate, we set out just the two of us up a canyon wall at the break of dawn, not hurried by more energetic adventurous. That climb was such a great task for such an uncooperative body; still he plodded slowly, slowly upward, an affable grin on his face... When we stopped at the first viewpoint to take in the magical vista of the snaking Green River with a kiss of sunlight on the western canyon wall, I asked him why he came out this far to rough it with us. He responded wyrley, "I didn't come out here to rough it; I came out here to smooth it!... things are rough enough in town". As we made our way back down towards bacon, eggs, and sandy beaches, I couldn't stop thinking about that answer: even though this trip was such a trial for him, it was exactly where his soul felt most at ease. That was the day I learned about freedom and true grit.

Visiting a park gives us countless examples of how we are still a part of nature, not separate from it. With threats like climate change creating increasing species extinction and rapid spreading of disease, these wilderness areas will be more important than ever. They will create a buffer for the vulnerable, keeping ecosystems in tact, and protecting all of our shared interest in a healthy landscape. They will also invite us back again and again to remember what kind of world we want to see for future generations to come.

Dinosaur National Monument Field Guide

The National Parks are a refuge where humans can come and reconnect to their best parts sometimes forgotten in the modern hectic world. A slower pace, a lightness of breath and an intangible vibration of ones connection to wildness. I believe that this part of our human spirit is not only healing but vital to hold onto as we collectively face the largest issues of our time. "
~Lauren Wood, Raft Guide

Fledgling Raft Guide Lauren Wood with her Father

Fledgling Raft Guide Lauren Wood with her Father
Glen Canyon Recreation Area
Established 1972

From water based, to backcountry recreation opportunities Glen Canyon National Recreation Area has it all.

The park ranges over 1.25 Million acres of pristine red rock and mountain landscapes. Hiking, backpacking, camping, boating, kayaking, is a sliver of activities you can enjoy while exploring the park. Slot canyons, and epic rock formations such as the famous Rainbow Bridge can be enjoyed in a day on with a power boat or by a multiple day backpacking experience. No matter how you arrive, the beauty and exploration is beyond compare.

Not only is Lake Powell the house boating capitol in the nation, it is a great destination for more extreme water based activities such as wakeboarding, water skiing, and tubing. Camp along the shore of any beach, or to the back of a canyon and get out of the boat to explore further. Stand up paddle boarding is also a favorite enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. Not keen to water? You can take tours from a bird’s eye view of the canyon and landscape with the multitude of small plane craft and helicopter tours that will even drop you off on top of the famous “Tower Butte” for a 20 minute personal view of the entire park.

Glen Canyon Recreation Area Segment

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Inside Glen Canyon National Recreation Area deep pits and holes were formed in the Navajo and Entrada sandstone over the past million years. River Guide Clint Spahn shares a glimpse of this unique phenomena and the spectacular views you too can witness if you hike into the area.

Weathering Pit Ridge on Lake Powell

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Celebrate the year of the parks with KUED
Meet Your Guides
Emily Upchurch, Interactive Program Guide

Growing up I took every opportunity to spend time in nature, whether it was in the nearby Texas Hill Country or on bigger trips to the mountains in New Mexico and Colorado. I’ve always been naturally curious, taking time to observe and learn about the world around me. So it was only fitting that I would seek out a career where I could combine my two interests, putting them to use to make a difference in the world around me. As an Interpreter with the National Park Service, I have the amazing opportunity to learn about these special places firsthand and share their hidden wonder with those who take the time to get to know them too.

Park’s offer the chance to challenge ourselves physically and rejuvenate ourselves spiritually. It’s critically important to preserve these resources now, while they are still intact, so that future generations will have the opportunity to experience and enjoy these pieces of America - its landscapes and people - long after we are gone.

Working at Rainbow Bridge National Monument, a tiny monument located in Southern Utah, I have the opportunity to interact with visitors from all over the world. Some of my favorite experiences are when I get to interact with visitors who have been coming to the Monument for years and don’t expect to learn anything new. It usually doesn’t take long before they realize there is so much more to offer, even at such a small Monument they’ve been to twenty times already, if they are willing to take the time to open their eyes and ears to what is happening all around them. Every day of every season is different, even from one hour to the next as the sun moves across the sky illuminating and bringing to life different parts of the bridge and canyon. It’s a truly magical experience for those who take the time to just be a part of it for a while.

Rainbow Bridge National Monument Field Guide Emily Upchurch

National Parks preserve the stories of America – both the unique natural landscapes and the cultural stories that contribute to making our country what it is today. Park’s offer an opportunity to disconnect from the fast-paced society we live in, even if only for a short time, and a place to re-connect with the natural world around us. "
~Emily Upchurch, Interactive Program Guide
Clint Spahn, River Guide

Born and raised in Page, Arizona on the shores of Lake Powell I spent my earliest summers houseboating on the lake and whitewater rafting the Grand Canyon. Sleeping under the bright night skies without four walls to surround me only blossomed my love for the outdoors and the National Parks. Operating our kayaking tour company, Hidden Canyon Kayak, inside of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area brings me year round employment and enjoyment.

I believe that continued support and funding through visitation are the best avenues to keep National Parks not only preserved but also understood for the future generations of the Human Race. With hundreds of memories of the past and hundreds more to come in my future, you could say I'm excited for what tomorrow will bring.

Glen Canyon Field and River Guide Clint Spahn

I believe that continued support and funding through visitation are the best avenues to keep National Parks not only preserved but also understood for the future generations of the Human Race."
~Clint Spahn, River Guide
Plan Your Visit

Directions

Wahweap, AZ (PDF Map 609KB) Three miles north of Page, AZ on Highway 89 is the south entrance and eight miles south of Big Water Utah is the north entrance to the Wahweap district of Glen Canyon NRA. In-park shuttle service is available at Wahweap.

Antelope Point, AZ (PDF Map 445KB) Three miles east of Page on Highway 98, turn north on BIA Hwy N22B to Antelope Point Marina and/or Antelope Point public launch ramp. Antelope Point Marina provides shuttle service.

Lees Ferry and Navajo Bridge Interpretive Center, AZ (PDF Map 792KB) Located on Highway 89A 45 miles southwest of Page Arizona and 62 miles southeast of the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. Lees Ferry is located seven miles down the Lees Ferry road from Navajo Bridge Interpretive Center.

Lone Rock Beach, UT (PDF Map 904KB): Two miles south of Big Water, UT or 12 miles north of Page, AZ at the Utah/Arizona border on Hwy 89 is the entrance to Lone Rock Beach. There is limited hard-surfaced road, with the majority of access to Lake Powell on sandy roads or beach.

Bullfrog, UT (PFD map 855KB): The Bullfrog Visitor Center is located on Utah Highway 276. Ferry Service is provided by the state of Utah from Bullfrog to Halls Crossing. In-park shuttle service is available at Bullfrog.

Where to Stay

You can stay in a hotel located in the nearest town of Page AZ, or plan to camp either on the beaches of Lake Powell or around the Glen Canyon Recreation area.

Links

Hidden Canyon Kayak - www.lakepowellhiddencanyonkayak.com

National Park Service - www.nps.gov/glca/index.htm

About this Production

Produced by KUED’s Nancy Green, Joe Prokop, and Paige Sparks, the documentary is part of KUED’s Year of the Parks, celebrating the centennial of the U.S. Park Service.

“While each destination we visit is unique, we used a treasure trove of vintage home movies to weave continuity throughout the piece. One family seemed to travel to all the national monuments in during the 1950s and ‘60s, and we discovered their footage at the Utah State Historical Society and the University of Utah’s Marriott Library,” says Prokop. “It’s a reminder that the wanderlust that drives us to seek more secluded attractions is not a new phenomenon.”

Green says the film crew encountered solitude at every location during the film’s production. “What amazed me was the fact that we’d drive up to a place, park, go to film, and literally be the only ones there,” she says. “I didn’t know you could find that kind of secluded and intimate experience with the landscape anymore.”

Beyond the Crowds also takes viewers on the road less traveled to the majestic Natural Bridges National Monument, Hovenweep National Monument, a spectacular collection of towers poised on the edge of a canyon, once home to over 2,500 ancestral Puebloans; the Golden Spike National Historic Site, where actors re-create the moment the rails were joined in 1869; Dinosaur National Monument, where fossils of dinosaurs remain embedded inside a giant rock wall; and to Rainbow Bridge National Monument, accessed via Lake Powell which was once a sacred site to the Diné.

“For the anniversary of the National Park Service, we wanted to call attention and celebrate these lesser known gems,” says Green.

Producer Profile: National Parks - Beyond the Crowds

Video type: Full Episode

Producers Nancy Green and Joe Prokop talk about the making of Beyond the Crowds.

Nancy Green

KUED Producer Nancy Green

Joe Prokop

KUED Producer Joe Prokop

Paige Sparks

KUED Producer Paige Sparks


National Parks: Beyond the Crowds is made possible with the generous support of the following: