For one state, Utah sure has a lot to boast about. Not only is it home to five individual U.S. National Parks, but it is just over the border and a short drive to two more -- surely making the Beehive state the country's National Park capital. So whether you choose to visit just one of Utah's finest (Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, or Zion) or try to take them all on in one trip (plus nip across the border to Arizona for the Grand Canyon and Colorado for Mesa Verde) to complete the Grand Circle, you are sure to experience some of America's most stunning and rugged landscapes.
If you are really eager to see and do it all, then you will need at least ten days, if not longer to cover the distances and take in the sights of the parks and monuments. Utah Adventures (tel. 801/995-0560; www.utadventures.com) offers a customized eleven day, ten night Grand Circle Trip that visits Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Capitol Reef National Park, Goblin Valley State Park, Canyonlands National Park, Arches National Park, Natural Bridges National Monument, Monument Valley, Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam, and Grand Canyon National Park. This do-it-yourself adventure is available throughout the year and includes a two night stay near Zion National Park, one night near Bryce Canyon, one night near Capitol Reef, three nights in Moab, one night near Monument Valley, one near Lake Powell, one at the Grand Canyon, a half-day horseback ride or ATV tour near Bryce Canyon, a one-day jet boat/jeep trip in Moab, a Jeep tour in Zion National Park, a special Canyonlands by Night adventure (with Dutch over dinner, flat boat ride and light show), several meals, car rental, lodging, and activity taxes. The price for this trip staying in mid-range accommodations is $3,000 for two people. As so many activities are included, you just need to pay for gas and additional meals. All ages are welcome but children must be at least seven years old for horseback riding and the jet boat/jeep trip.
Although summer is just about here, there are still some specials available for stays and activities in and around Utah's National Parks this season. In the Moab area, Castle Valley Inn Bed and Breakfast (tel. 435/259-6012; www.castlevalleyinn.com) is located a 35-minute drive or 20 miles from Arches National Park and a one-hour scenic drive from Canyonlands National Park's Islands in the Sky district. All rooms include private baths, robes and spa slippers, free WI-FI, plus a large outdoor hot tub great for evening star gazing and wildlife viewing.If you book during the month of June, you can receive 10% off your stay in July with a two night minimum. Regular rates range from $95 to $170 for double rooms and $220 for a two-bedroom suite.
Red Cliffs Lodge (tel. 866/812-2002; www.redcliffslodge.com) is situated a few miles east of Arches National Park, high on a red cliff overlooking the Colorado River. It has seasonal specials including staying in a River King Mini Suite on July 1 to 2, 2008 for $130 per night plus tax or from July 6 to 14 and again from July 20 to 24, 2008 for $150 plus tax. Children three and under stay for free. Red Cliffs can arrange tours to National Parks, scenic flights, whitewater rafting trips and horse-riding adventures among other activities.
Big Horn Lodge's (tel. 800/325-6171; www.moabbighorn.com) summer rates -- include $10 off regular room rates in lodge style (pet-friendly) rooms with two queen beds, refrigerator, microwave, free Internet and access to a heated pool. The lodge is located in the Heart of Canyonlands and just four miles from Arches National Park. Stay two nights and book an adventure through Big Horn and save 20% on the total price. Adventures include motorized tours, rafting, jeep rental and horseback riding.
Kokopelli Lodge (www.kokopellilodge.com) is offerings special reduced rates for stays during the months of July and August, 2008. Single rooms are priced from $54 plus tax, double rooms from $58 plus tax, rooms with two beds from $62 for two people or $66 plus tax for three to four people. One bedroom suites that sleep one to four people are priced from $85 plus tax and two bedroom suites are $105 plus tax. Pets are welcome at $5 extra per night per pet
The Canyonlands Field Institute (tel. 800/860.5262; www.canyonlandsfieldinst.org) is offering Range Creek archeology overnight camp tours for adults and youth aged 16 to 17. Dates for this trip are August 23 to 24, September 13 to 14 and October 11 to 12, 2008. The cost is $320 per person. This is a rare opportunity to see prehistoric Fremont rock art and sites. The price includes two days with vehicle tours, hikes, evening programs and all meals. Located in the Book Cliffs between Green River and Price, Utah, Range Creek Canyon has been recently opened to research and restricted public vehicle access.
In the red cliffs area surrounding Zion National Park, the Best Western Zion Park Inn (tel. 800/934-7275; www.zionparkinn.com) in Springdale (less than two miles from the National park itself) has a summer special. Pay $89 for a room with two queen beds (regular rates are usually around $115 a night)
Canyon Vista Bed and Breakfast (tel. 435/772-3801; www.canyonvistabandb.com), also located n Springdale on the edge of Zion National Park is offering a special on extended stays at its boutique four-room property. Stay three nights and receive 25% off your third night or stay five nights and receive your sixth night free. This deal is valid for stays during the months of July and August, 2008 (except holidays). Double room rates range from $120 to $140 a night plus tax for two people, including breakfast.
Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort (tel. 800/293-5444; www.zionponderosa.com) is located a few minutes' drive east of Zion National Park's border. Here you can choose to camp, stay in a cowboy cabin (with shared facilities), a log cabin or a larger more luxurious mountain home. The resort also offers a hiking shuttle that departs at 7a.m. daily and picks up hikers at 6p.m. at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center. Cowboy cabins are priced from $56.50 for a single, $62 for a double, $73 for four people and $84 for six people. Log cabin suites are equipped with a private bedroom, full bathroom, wet bar, front room, air conditioning and a front porch. They sleep up to six people and are priced from $145 per night for two people, $156.50 for four and $167.50 for six. You can add a daily meal package (three meals) for $35.00 per day for guests 12 years and over or $20 per day for children aged three to 11. Taxes are additional.
Cliffrose Lodge & Gardens (tel. 800/243-8824; www.cliffroselodge.com) is located at the main entrance of Zion National Park, in the heart of Zion Canyon along the Virgin River. Book a stay for three consecutive nights and receive a fourth night free (valid until the end of 2008). Please enter code UDC34 in the "comments/requests" section when making your online reservation. King rooms with canyon vies start from $149 per night plus tax.
For an amazing combination of scenic beauty, river rafting and fine music, indulge in the 25th annual Classical Music Journey down the Green River, near Zion National Park through Dvorak Expeditions (tel. 800/824-3795; www.dvorakexpeditions.com). This eight-day trip takes places from July 26 to August 2, 2008 and is priced at $2175 per person. This white water rafting trip lets you relax in the sun while classical chamber music performances by musicians from the Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver, NY Philharmonic and other top symphonies fill the surrounding canyons. These talented individuals play the viola, violin, cello and flute and musicians come back year after year to share their talents. The ancient sandstone caverns and rock cathedrals along the Green River offer exceptional acoustics, often surpassing concert hall settings. Drift through alpine forests of Ponderosa pines and Douglas firs to the works of Mozart, Bach, Handel, Beethoven, Quantz, Kodaly, Ravel and Hindemith. Explore the ancient surroundings, Anasazi ruins, Fremont Indian sites and other historic areas in the Green River region. Meals served on this trip are created with an international flair, with cuisines changing each night from Indian to Italian and Thai to Mexican. Also included on the trip are impromptu reading sessions, open rehearsals and improvised solos for those more musically inclined.
Talk with fellow Frommer's readers on our Outdoor and Adventure Travel Message Boards today.