By: Desiree Hester
As the golden leaves begin to fall, the chill of winter is just on the horizon. Late autumn is a fantastic time to get out and savor the crisp air, fewer crowds and wild landscapes that Utah has to offer. Let’s take a look at five awesome late fall adventures you can experience this season.
Goblin Valley State Park
Feel as if you’re stepping foot onto another planet as you enter the mystical landscape of Goblin Valley State Park. Unique sandstone formations lay nestled beneath the surrounding buttes like a maze waiting to be explored. View the geologic formations on foot at the famed Valley of Goblins and discover the impact wind and water have had in shaping this area. When you are finished there, plenty of other adventures can be had in the park and surrounding region. Goblin Valley State Park offers numerous hiking trails as well as the Wild Horse Mountain Biking Trail System for those who prefer to explore by bike. After spending the day adventuring you can settle into the park’s campground (which features disc golf) or stay extra cozy by staying the night in the park’s yurt.
Capital Reef National Park
Located in remote south-central Utah, Capital Reef National Park boasts diverse geologic formations and stunning vistas to explore. There are numerous ways to experience the park from hiking, camping, canyoneering, mountain biking, rock climbing, stargazing in this registered Dark Sky park, and more. Study the geologic progression of the Waterpocket Fold as you view evidence of the deposit, uplift and erosion processes that have occurred in this area. Contained in the park are relics from the Ancient Fremont Indians, explorers, and pioneer settlers who have come to this area throughout history. Capital Reef National Park is also home to many interesting wildlife including desert bighorn sheep, mountain lion, Ringtails and over 230 different varieties of birds.
Hovenweep National Monument
Ancient history meets true solitude and natural beauty in Hovenweep National Monument. Here you will find ruins that stand witness to the incredible history and culture that has existed in this area throughout millennia. The history of humankind in this area dates back to 10,000 years ago when nomadic Paleoindians first came here to hunt and gather food. Each of the ruins are accessible by the various hiking trails throughout the area. Hovenweep also offers opportunities for bird watching and fantastic stargazing in the dark skies above.
Dinosaur National Monument
Budding paleontologists will love exploring the impressive Quarry Exhibit Hall of Dinosaur National Monument, where over 1,500 fossils have been uncovered. After learning about the exciting dinosaur history of the area, head out for some hiking, biking or backpacking to explore the rest of the park. Though daylight hours are reduced at this time of year, fret not, for this area contains some of the darkest sky remaining in the United States. Enjoy a star gazing splendor, free of light pollution, without having to stay up late.
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge
Where the Bear River spills into the Great Salt Lake lies the dynamic Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. This protected area is a haven for over 250 different species of fowl. It is a fantastic spot to enjoy bird watching, year-round, with each season ushering in something new to enjoy. The autumn months yield upwards of a half million migrating ducks and geese. By winter, arctic swans, bald eagles rough-legged hawks, prairie falcons and northern harriers can be found. As an added bonus, the cooler temps allow for a pleasurable, less bug-swarming experience.
As with any late fall adventure, weather can be unpredictable. Particularly in the desert, night time temperatures can be deceptively low, so do your research so that you can be prepared for the elements and safely enjoy your trip. Though the night may be chilly, late autumn often provides enjoyable, mild daytime temperatures for many outdoor activities. As an added bonus, late fall adventures allow you to explore with less bugs and fewer crowds. So, what are you waiting for? Head out on a great Utah adventure this season!
About the Author: Desiree Hester
Desiree is a photographer, blogger, world traveler and creator of The Wayfarer Journeys travel website. Through her words and photos she aims to inspire others to dedicate more time to being in nature and to add outdoor adventure into every trip that is taken. Desiree believes that anyone can benefit from travel and time spent in the great outdoors- no matter their skill level. Whether in her beautiful home state of Utah or while traveling abroad, she can be found hiking, back packing, camping, snow shoeing, cooking a mean dutch oven meal or out on the lake with her wonderful husband and fearless adventure pup, Waldo. You can follow Desiree on Instagram at @thewayfarerjourneys