Summer is officially over. And that’s good news for all you travelers, because autumn is the best time to vacation in Southern Utah. That’s our opinion, anyway. But we’ve got some pretty good reasons to back that claim up.
First, there are fewer people in the national parks. Which means that you can explore in peaceful solitude. Second, the days are cooler. The summer heat can be intense on the trail, but with the advent of fall, you can go hiking at anytime of day. Third, the colorful foliage adds another layer of beauty to the already fantastic views. And fourth, there are some pretty cool activities going on this fall.
So trust us – after all, we’ve been the premier hotel near Capitol Reef for nearly 30 years – fall is the best time to visit Southern Utah.
Here’s what we suggest doing on your fall vacation:
Epic Road Trip – The best road trip in Utah, and pretty much the world, is called the Grand Circle Tour. It takes you to Utah’s five national parks — Zion, Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Bryce Canyon. And if you feel like it, you can throw in the Grand Canyon. You will see an amazing amount of scenery on this trip. So rev up the Harley, or load up the mini-van, and head out on the road.
Parts Unknown – Southern Utah is a pretty big place. So there are lots of secret places and hidden gems to discover. One of our favorites? Cathedral Valley. Cathedral Valley is part of the northern section of Capitol Reef. It’s so remote that its was mostly unvisited and completely unmapped until the 1960s. Geologist C.E. Dutton said of it, “The colors are such as no pigment can portray. They are deep, rich, and variegated; and so luminous are they, that the light seems to flow or shine out of the rock rather than to be reflected from it.” Go explore Cathedral Valley’s colors while the desert heat is mild.
Heritage Starfest 2017 – the Heritage Starfest is an annual celebration of the wonders of the night sky. Stop by Capitol Reef on the nights of October 20th and 21st to hang out with astronomers and hobbyists to gaze at the stars. Capitol Reef is a International Dark Sky Place, which means it has very little light pollution. So it’s the perfect place to look up, learn a few things, and marvel at the heavens. Plus they provide huge telescopes.
Get Some Culture – We’re talking about the Utah Shakespeare Festival. Held in Cedar City, Utah, the festival brings in locals, out-of-state travelers, and even international Shakespeare gurus. (And if Shakespeare isn’t your favorite, don’t worry there are plenty of other, more modern, productions to choose from.) The southwest desert location of the festival creates a stunning backdrop for the phenomenal performances, especially those in the famous outdoor theatre. You can see the current line up of plays here.
Avoid the Crowds – As we’ve mentioned before, Zion National Park is one of the greatest places in Utah. But the summer brings in serious crowds. Fall is the time to avoid the crush of other sightseers. Plus the cottonwoods turn a brilliant yellow in late October. Here are some ideas of what you can do while hanging out in Zion.
That’s our list. We at the Lodge at Red River Ranch hope you get out and explore the best of Southern Utah in the best season for exploring.