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Top recreation areas to visit during Memorial Day weekend

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Zion National Park.

Zion National Park.

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Utah’s most popular recreation attractions are that way for various reasons, not the least of which is that they are incredibly beautiful.

It’s a good bet that with Memorial Day weekend here, they will be as they always are this time of year: busy. But those who head out early will be able to find prime camping spots. 

For additional Utah destination ideas check out the following lists: 

10. Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands, just like the neighboring Arches, will be busy over the Memorial Day holiday. Sites and rock formations will be worth heading out early and staking a spot. 

9. Cedar Breaks National Monument

Cedar Breaks lacks the size of Bryce, but not the full range of colors or features. There are no camping sites within the park, but there are outside the boundaries.

8. Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef gets less traffic than some of the other parks, mainly because of access. Some of the more intriguing sights are off the main highway that runs through its midsection.

Some hidden sights away from the highway include Glass Mountain, Temple of the Moon, Temple of the Sun and Cathedral Mountain, all located toward the northernmost tip of the park. To view these sights, however, requires travelers to leave the paved highway and take to a dirt road.

7. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Grand Staircase’s protected areas are virtually undiscovered.

And, to help, there are 959 miles of open roads within the monument, of which 565 are open for off-highway vehicles. This is an excellent place to explore.

6. Arches National Park

Arches will be busy over the holiday. And those looking for a place to pitch a tent or park a trailer or simply throw down a sleeping bag will want to come early.

At Arches, prior to its 7:30 a.m. opening, a notice will be posted indicating campsites that will be available.

Along with the self-guided hikes, the most popular being to Delicate Arch, park staff members conduct a guided hike to the Fiery Furnace each day. Hikers must check in and register for this hike at the visitors center.

5. Wasatch Mountain State Park

There are many campsites to choose from at Wasatch, and some require reservations. However, there are a number of places to stay that are near the park, including Zermatt Resort and Spa and the Homestead in Midway, and in the town of Heber.

Those planning a round of golf at any of the five courses, which include those at Wasatch and Soldier Hollow and the one at the Homestead, will need to make reservations.

4. Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce, like Zion, is a popular visit for families. And, like Zion, there is a full range of recreational opportunities starting with hiking along the easy and popular Rim Trail, which follows along the rim of the canyon. There are also a number of more challenging hikes that run along the bottom of the canyon and through the ever-present hoodoos or pillars of rock Bryce is famous for. The area is also a spider web of biking and ATV trails. Maps showing the various trails are available at Ruby’s Inn and the park’s visitors center.

3. Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area

Flaming Gorge does not get the Memorial Day business those parks in the southern part of the state do simply because the temperatures are not as warm. It will, however, be busy.

2. Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (Lake Powell)

Despite facing a possible crowd, Lake Powell is great place for fishing over Memorial Day weekend, with striped bass, largemouth and smallmouth bass.

Camping is available at Bullfrog, Halls Crossing and Wahweap. Visitors can always get on the list to reserve a houseboat or a boat and pick a secluded campsite around the lake’s more than 2,000 miles of shoreline.

1. Zion National Park

Reasons why Zion, with more than 2.5 million visitors each year, is Utah’s No. 1 scenic attraction are as numerous as its natural wonders. It has also gained an international reputation, which draws in a lot of people from outside the United States.

There are 280 camping spots within the park. Half are by reservation and half are on a first-come, first-served basis. Typically on holiday weekends, all campsites are taken by Thursday. Those hoping to squeeze into a spot will need to arrive early and wait and hope.