Favorite state parks in Southern Utah or Northern Arizona?
September 26, 2013 10:12 AM   Subscribe

We're planning to go to Zion National Park and the north rim of the Grand Canyon next week. If the government shuts down and national parks are closed, what state parks or other sites should we go to instead?

I'm thinking of things like Kodachrome Basin State Park and Antelope Canyon. Bonus points if you know if Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument would stay open...
posted by benbenson to Travel & Transportation around West Palm Beach, FL (17 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Antelope Canyon was amazing. It cost a bit but it's totally worth it.

If you're coming from Vegas (or even if you're not), Valley of Fire SP in Nevada is pretty neat.
posted by bondcliff at 10:14 AM on September 26, 2013

If you're into animals at all, I highly recommend going to Best Friends Animal Society's sanctuary in Kanab, UT (right near Zion). You can get a tour and/or volunteer. It's a really cool place. They also have these studio apartment cabins you can rent on-site, regardless of whether you volunteer -- very clean and affordable and if you want you can take a dog on an overnight so the dog gets to practice being in a home environment.
posted by melissasaurus at 10:18 AM on September 26, 2013 [3 favorites]

Evidently last time in the mid 90s, the south rim stayed open (AZ paid for it). So I suppose you could go there.

How far are you willing to drive? There are some other great things to see in that very rough area; I liked going through Sedona (see previous mefi question) recently.

There are also a few mefi questions about the area, including one specifically non grand-canyon one.
posted by nat at 10:20 AM on September 26, 2013

There are 5 State parks near Sedona!

Can't beat them for majestic beauty and Slide Rock is hella fun!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:21 AM on September 26, 2013

Monument Valley is a Navajo National Park and will stay open. Hell, go see it anyway.
posted by hydrophonic at 10:26 AM on September 26, 2013

Seconding Monument Valley, adding Valley of the Gods.

And yes, if you're coming from Vegas, definitely hit up Valley of Fire and Red Rock Canyon.
posted by divined by radio at 10:46 AM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Goblin Valley is over by Moab, so quite a hike.

But Bryce is sort of on the way, and puts pretty much all else to shame.
posted by rr at 11:03 AM on September 26, 2013

I think the Utah Escalante Petrified Forest State Park has more spectacular petrified wood than the Petrified Forest National Park.
posted by straw at 11:23 AM on September 26, 2013

Valley of the Gods is pretty amazing.
posted by bongo_x at 12:30 PM on September 26, 2013

Monument Valley and Valley of the Gods for sure. Cathedral Rock, the Red Rock Loop and the drive into Sedona from I-89 are all worth doing. Dry Forks slot canyons and Devil's Garden round Escalante as well. Calf Creek Falls not so much - it's nice enough and an easy hike, but the views from the drive there are a bigger payoff than the walk itself IMO.

They're all kinda secondary to the major parks tho. Obviously I can't recommend this for about a thousand safety reasons, but even if they're closed to vehicles I wonder if you could just walk or ride a cheeky bike into Bryce and Zion from right outside. There's a big car park at Cable Mountain Lodge maybe 500m from the Zion gate, and while the shuttles won't be running and Angel's Landing unsupervised = sketchytown, if the Narrows and Observation Point are within your range (check Google maps for distance) all I can say is GO. Unless it looks like rain, in which case, ah, avoid the Narrows. Check Bryce as well - from memory the main gate's maybe 1-2km from Sunrise Point and the views are spectacular ...
posted by bookie at 1:23 PM on September 26, 2013

Coral Pink Sand Dunes hasn't been mentioned yet. It's fun and pretty and not far off the beaten path.
posted by aparrish at 2:35 PM on September 26, 2013

I will second Coral Pink Sand Dunes, and add Snow Canyon State Park (by St. George, neat red rock). I also really like Kodachrome, which we did on the way to Escalante, and and Goblin Valley way in the middle of nowhere, both of which are super-weird and neat.
posted by charmedimsure at 2:58 PM on September 26, 2013

Newspaper Rock
Corona Arch (and others)
The Wave (Permit required)
Horseshoe Bend
Goosenecks State Park
Muley Point
Cathedral Gorge State Park
Kodachrome Basin State Park
The drive up Hwy 128 near Moab is amazing.
posted by cnc at 2:59 PM on September 26, 2013

Several articles I have seen (google government shutdown and national monument) say that the monuments will be closed. I'm not sure what exactly that means, though, in terms of a national monument which has pretty much zero infrastructure besides one visitor's center, though, and it might be worth calling the rangers in Grand Staircase to see what their plans are. I was there in the summer of 2012, and while they might have been able to shut a gate or two, it's not like Bryce or Zion where access is easily limited, the the buses would stop and they'd be able to totally roll up the carpet.

As a side note, if you are going out there, know that it could not be more in the middle of absolute desolate nowhere, that you need good map-reading skills since there are a lot of places without decent established trails and there's no signage even at "trailheads" and also that if you are planning on doing the (goregous!) slot canyons plan before you get there and make sure you rent a vehicle that can handle some of the crappiest roads you can imagine, and get good maps and directions ahead of time since in my experience the rangers won't help with much of anything in that regard.
posted by charmedimsure at 3:59 PM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Somebody in another question just posted this awesome list of national park alternatives in Utah and specific information on what's going on with each of the parks and monuments during the shutdown. Looks like you will be able to hike in Grand Staircase.

Cedar Breaks is lovely if you haven't been there, and should be open according to that list- like a mini-Bryce. You can't get down into the canyon the way you can in Bryce, but you can walk around the rim and it's beautiful.
posted by charmedimsure at 9:46 PM on October 1, 2013

Also, I really love Red Canyon in the Dixie National Forest. Most people just drive by since at that point they're less than a half hour out of Bryce, but it's gorgeous and some of the reddest rock in the state. The link I posted above says trails in the National Forests should be open, so it's possible you might be able to explore there.
posted by charmedimsure at 9:56 PM on October 1, 2013

On the off chance this information is still useful to you: some of Utah's National Parks & Monuments will be opening soon.
posted by troika at 7:49 AM on October 11, 2013

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