Utah and Colorado National Parks and Monuments

It was one year ago this week that we took a trip to Utah and Colorado to visit the beautiful National Parks and Monuments in those states. We visited Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Arches, Mesa Verde, Hovenweep, Bears Ears, and Grand Staircase Escalante. Here are my favorite photos from that trip.

1. Canyonlands National Park

Wooden Shoe Arch

This one looks like cupped hands.

Sandstone Needles

2. Capitol Reef National Park


3. Arches National Park

I loved Arches; like all the parks, it is stunningly beautiful. However, it is very popular, and draws throngs of visitors every year. We visited on a Monday in October, and arrived early in the morning to find that there were already two lines of cars waiting to get to the visitor’s gate, each a half a mile long. When the park reaches capacity, the entry gate is closed and visitors must wait up to three hours to enter. Many of the areas we had hoped to visit were overly crowded with no parking available. So, unfortunately, it was a bit disappointing.

Broken Arch

Delicate Arch, from a distance.

4. Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde is absolutely amazing, and is probably my favorite of the parks and monuments we visited on this trip. It has over 4,000 ancient sites to explore! The elaborately built cliff dwellings are very well preserved. The village in the photo below, dating the the fifth century AD, was home to 150 people.

Ladders were used to get around the village and to the mesa above. I can’t imagine climbing a ladder with a child, crops, or game strapped to my back!

5. Hovenweep National Monument

Hovenweep dates to approximately 900 AD and was the home of Ancestral Puebloans who built multi-storied structures here that were expertly crafted. They are well preserved and pretty amazing to see.

“We didn’t get wiped out, we didn’t move away, we’re still here, and we will still be here.” Terry Knight, Ute Mountain Ute Elder.

There are six distinct villages in Hovenweep, unfortunately, we were not able to see them all since there was a nasty storm brewing in the distance, with heavy rain and thunder.

6. Bears Ears National Monument

We saw just a small section of this park, but the highlights were seeing wild turkeys and the autumn colors.

7. Grand Staircase Escalante

As with Bears Ears, we saw just a small portion of this park.

The desert is so vast and open; it reminds me of this quote from the movie Grand Canyon: “Me and my worries, it’s real humorous to that Grand Canyon. Hey, you know what I felt like? I felt like a gnat that lands on the ass of a cow that’s chewing its cud next to the road that you ride by on at 70 mph.”

There are many other national parks and monuments in Utah and Colorado, which we hope to visit someday after our European adventure is over, and we return to the US. Sadly, some of the parks are quite overrun with visitors, as described in a recent article in The Guardian. In addition, Utah is facing a severe drought that is made even worse by increasing tourism. I only hope that climate change is addressed more seriously soon, so these amazing sites can be enjoyed by future generations.

As always, I would love to hear from you, so please leave a message if you’re so inclined.

Stay safe and healthy,


16 thoughts on “Utah and Colorado National Parks and Monuments

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    1. Oh Meg, I’m so glad it brought back happy memories for you, of times with your family! I read a blog post recently of the PNW and felt the same way. Utah and Colorado are truly beautiful places to visit! Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you have a great day!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Wow, such beautiful landscapes. So many of those rock formations look similar to the ones in our Cederberg Mountains – it’s just astonishing! The ancient sites are very interesting … never heard of that before. Thank you for a beautiful share!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Amazing photographs Tricia. Such a range of colours, landscapes and unique sights. How long did you spend doing these parks? I think Mesa Verde National Park would be top of my list too. In that first shot of the cliff dwellings, they seem like little models. A pity about the overcrowding at The Arches, but overall I sounds like you had a great time. Some lovely moments captured, such as the turkeys crossing the road.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Leighton! We were there for two weeks, but felt like we could have easily spent much more time exploring the parks. I agree with you about the photos of the cliff dwellings; they don’t look life size, but they are! It’s even possible to tour them, with a park ranger and permit. Seeing the turkeys was really exciting and left me fumbling for my camera. Thanks for your thoughtful comments!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful pictures. While I prefer trees and snow capped peaks, I do appreciate this kind of stark beauty. Although I do have to admit the photos reminded me of when my parents thought visiting national monuments and camping would be fun. It is for the majority of people, but I’m not one of them. I apologize to my parents after all these years for being such a miserable companion on camping trips….(sorry). Thank, Tricia–your photographic skills are amazing!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember hearing about your camping adventures with your family, and that they were not very appealing. I can relate; as a teenager I was taken to places that I found less than appealing. No need to apologize; we do our best! Merci beaucoup!


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