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Gone park'n: Southern Utah state parks (Pt. 2)

Over 300 million years of time are evident in the canyon walls of Goosenecks State Park. Take some beautiful sunset pictures and then hang out for the stargazing.

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Utah is a gold mine of outdoor recreation, scenic sites and historical locations.

Visit the southern region’s state parks and you’ll see ancient Anasazi rock wall art and ruins, pioneer recreations, gorgeous reservoirs and even a golf course along the Green River.

Anasazi State Park Museum

Near the town of Boulder, Utah, about 250 miles south of Salt Lake City, you’ll find the ruins of one of the largest Ancestral Puebloan communities west of the Colorado River.

Learn all about the ancient people at the Anasazi State Park Museum. The museum is home to many artifacts found in this area and restored structures for exploring are just a short trail away.

The park is open year-round. Entrance fees are $5 per person or $10 per family, and $3 per senior (62-plus). Enjoy a picnic lunch at one of the park’s outdoor picnic areas. There are no overnight facilities at the museum, but camping and lodging are found nearby.

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Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

Photographers and off-road vehicle riders should plan a visit to this scenic area. Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, the only major sand dune field on the Colorado Plateau, is located outside the town of Kanab, just southeast of Zion National Park. The sand is a warm pink color and the dunes overlook Zion.

Bring your tent, ATV, camera and sunscreen for a beautiful time at the dunes any time of year. Open during daylight hours all year long. Entrance fees: $6 per vehicle, $3 for seniors (62-plus). Annual passes also available.

Photo credit: Utah.com

Dead Horse Point State Park

Dead Horse Point State Park offers fantastic views. Standing on the mesa, you can look for miles into Canyonlands National Park and 2,000 feet down to the winding Colorado River.

Read about the Dead Horse legend at the Visitor Center or take one of a few short hikes around the edge of the mesa. The nearby Intrepid Trail system is a favorite of mountain bikers.

Open year-round, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Visitor center hours vary by season. Entrance fees: $10 per vehicle (up to 8 passengers), $5 for seniors (62-plus). Annual passes available.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Edge of the Cedars State Park

To see the largest collection of Ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) pottery in the Four Corners area, plan a trip to Edge of the Cedars State Park. Visitors can walk the beautifully landscaped interpretive trail to see native plants and ancient ruins, including a restored kiva.

The museum offers interactive programs for children and adults. An annual Indian Art Market is held on the first Saturday of every May.

There’s no camping, but the park does have a nice picnic area. Open year-round, Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and closed Sunday. Entrance fees: $5 per adult ($2.50 seniors), $3 per child (age 5 and under free). Annual passes available.

Photo credit: Utah.com

Escalante Petrified Forest State Park

Located at the west edge of the town of Escalante, at Wide Hollow Reservoir, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park offers lots of outdoor recreation and interesting sites. The reservoir is a popular spot for boating, canoeing, fishing and water sports.

Bring a tent or your RV to stay in the developed campground. On the hill above the campground, a marked hiking trail leads through the petrified forest where large petrified logs are found.

Open year-round. Summer hours: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Winter hours: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Entrance fees: $6 for day use permit, includes watercraft launches ($3 for seniors). Annual passes available.

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Fremont Indian State Park and Museum

When construction began on I-70 out of Richfield, Utah, a historical treasure was discovered. The large ancient Fremont Indian State Park and Museum is now preserved and celebrated with a museum.

Browse the large collection of pottery, baskets and arrowheads, then venture out to see incredible rock art on the nearby cliff walls.

Camping is available nearby at Castle Rock Campground, $13 fee per site. The museum hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week in summer, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week in winter. There is a $3 fee per person or $6 per vehicle. Annual passes available.

Photo credit: westgatehouse.com

Frontier Homestead State Park and Museum

If you want to know how the Utah pioneers lived, take a trip down to Cedar City and visit the Frontier Homestead State Park and Museum. The museum includes historic cabins, horse-drawn vehicles, a replicated pioneer household, an artifacts collection and mining equipment. The original bell from the foundry is also on display.

The museum is open year-round, Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Entrance fee: $3 per person. Annual passes available. The museum is located in downtown Cedar City so there is no camping nearby, but hotel accommodations are available.

Photo credit: Utah.com

Goblin Valley State Park

Goblin Valley State Park, named for its goblin-like rock formations, is one of Utah’s most popular parks.

Take the family on hikes through the goblins, grab some great pictures of the rocks, and enjoy hiking and biking at nearby Temple Mountain. The Visitor Center is open daily 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., year round. There is a $7 per vehicle entrance fee ($4 for seniors) and annual passes are available. The campground fee is $16.

Spring and fall are the best times to visit since summer days can get very hot and winter nights very cold.

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Goosenecks State Park

For a spectacular view, stop at Goosenecks State Park, west of Bluff, Utah.

From the viewpoint you can look down 1,000 feet to where the San Juan River takes tight turns — known as goosenecks — and has carved a deep canyon. Over 300 million years of time are evident in the canyon walls. Take some beautiful sunset pictures and then hang out for the stargazing.

The park offers only primitive camping; sites cannot be reserved, and there are no fees. The campground has fire pits and vault toilets, but no water or other services. There are no entrance fees and no closures.

Photo credit: Utah.com

Green River State Park

In the town of Green River, Utah, the calm, meandering Green River State Park is the star of the show. The state park offers a nine-hole golf course; a boat/raft launching spot; and a well-maintained, modern campground with tent, RV and group sites.

The park is a favorite spot to embark on river trips through Stillwater and Labyrinth canyons. Nearby, you can also find hiking, ATV and biking trails. If you’d like to bring a big group, a covered group-use pavilion is available.

The park is open year-round. Summer hours: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Winter hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The $5 day-use fee includes use of boat ramps and day-use facilities ($3 for seniors). Annual passes available.

Photo credit: http://www.castlecountry.com

Gunlock State Park

For another fun water sport site, check out the small reservoir at Gunlock State Park It’s a popular place to boat, fish (largemouth bass and channel catfish are found there), and beach camp.

Gunlock is located in the scenic red rock of Southern Utah, about 15 miles northwest of St. George.

The park is open year-round, but the boat ramp is closed October through March. The $7 day-use fee includes use of watercraft launches ($4 for seniors).

The primitive campground has vault toilets, no potable water, and costs $13 per vehicle. Camping is allowed on the beach and sites are first come, first serve.

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Huntington State Park

Just 140 miles southeast of Salt Lake City you’ll find the perfect weekend water spot. Huntington State Park offers a great modern campground on the banks of a pretty reservoir.

Spend the day boating, water sporting, or fishing for largemouth bass, trout, bluegill and catfish. The water is warm during the summer and is popular with locals. If you need a break from the water, the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry is nearby.

Summer hours: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Winter hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The $5 day-use fee includes the use of watercraft launches ($3 for seniors). Annual passes available. The main campground offers 22 sites for tents and RVs. Reservations are accepted.

Photo credit: Shutterstock