I love the American West, especially the high desert of southern Utah, where vast landscapes look more like surreal dreamscapes and giant silhouettes of red sandstone ignite the imagination. The natural beauty of its many scenic overlooks, spectacular sunsets and steep canyons teeming with vegetation and wildlife quench my thirst for outdoor adventure and revitalize my soul.
This region has the highest concentration of national parks and monuments in the country. It’s a paradise for all kinds of outdoor experiences. Here are my top recommendations for sampling this pristine wilderness.
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
The designation of “national park” is given to land preserved for its scenic, recreational or educational qualities. A “national monument,” on the other hand, has scientific, historical or cultural value. Larger than the size of some New England states, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is woolly and remote, and the very last place in the continental U.S. to be mapped. All sorts of scientists — geologists, biologists, paleontologists, etc. — come to do research in this area.