End of a Summer
Labor Day is fast approaching. The first Monday is September marks the end of the traditional summer tourist season in Southern Utah and other locations across the United States. So, as you probably already know, a lot of people try to make the most of the long weekend and end the summer on a high note. Here’s how you can do that in the national parks of Southern Utah!
Pick a Park. Any Park!
The first thing you’ve got to decide is where you are heading this Labor Day. This is probably the most difficult part of the whole process. There is so much to see in Southern Utah! Here’s how we help people decide where they should go. Just answer the questions below to narrow it down:
- Have you every been to Southern Utah before? If no, go to Zion or Arches National Parks. If yes, head to Bryce or Capitol Reef. If you’ve been many times, try Canyonlands.
- How much are you trying to avoid crowds and people? If it’s a lot, head to Capitol Reef or Canyonlands National Parks. If crowds don’t matter to you, Arches, Bryce, or Zion will be great.
- Do you want your park to have a lot of one really cool thing, or a little bit of everything? Bryce, Arches, and Zion Canyon are mostly for hoodoos, natural arches, and canyon views respectively. Capitol Reef and Canyonlands have more variety of scenery.
- Do you want paved roads or can you handle some dirt tracks? (To be clear all the parks have paved roads in the most popular sections, but some of the coolest spots might be on dirt roads.) Paved all the way? Head to Zion, Arches, or Bryce. Don’t mind the dirt? Capitol Reef or Canyonlands are for you.
Hopefully that helps give you a quick metric of what you can expect from each of the parks. And you can tailor your Labor Day vacation to your desires. We’ve written guides to each of the parks, so check those out. Here’s the one for Arches, for Bryce, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and for Zion.
In addition, we’ve got a couple of more detailed itineraries that you can check out here. Just in case you want to have everything pre-planned for you. And if you’re having trouble deciding which park to visit, don’t worry, you can’t really go wrong. All of the national parks are worth visiting. After all, that’s how they became national parks in the first place, right?
Important Things to Know. Bookings and Safety.
As we mentioned, there are a lot of people that come to Southern Utah over Labor Day. So it’s best to make your plans as early as possible, since things tend to get booked out pretty far in advance. Start with the national parks, since many of them require reservations for entry to certain trails, services, campgrounds, or even to get into the park in the first place. (We’re looking at you, Arches.) Head to recreation.gov grab those reservations ASAP!
Then nail down those accommodation reservations! Again, hotels, lodges, and campsites tend to fill up quickly. If you’re interested in staying with us, the Lodge at the Red River Ranch, you can check our availability here. And if you’ve left things a little too late, and everywhere seems to be booked, look around. They are often primitive campgrounds in the parks that can’t be reserved online. Or try the nearby national forests, they too have campgrounds, some of which you can grab on recreation.gov.
Also, safety in an important consideration when hiking in the summer in Southern Utah, even if it’s the end of summer. We’ve written a little bit about summer hiking safety here, but here are the headlines:
- Don’t hike during the middle of the day. It’s just too hot.
- Carry lots of water.
- Don’t attempt to do something you or members of your group don’t feel qualified to handle.
- Have the right gear. Have a map, the right footwear, a good first aid kit, plenty of food for the trail (snacks, light meals) and a strong flashlight (your phone’s flashlight doesn’t count) if you’re hiking in the evening.
Ok, you’ve looked around, picked your park, reserved anything that needs reserving, and know how to have fun while being safe. Then you’re ready to have a great Labor Day Weekend adventure in Southern Utah! If you need additional resources for your trip, look around our blog, or check out the official Tourism Bureau website for Utah. They have lots of resources.