You would probably recognise one, if not all of Utah’s Mighty Five national parks straight away. From Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid to Thelma and Louise, Star Trek to Westworld, they have formed the dramatic backdrop to some of the biggest network TV and Hollywood hits of recent decades.
Renowned as the Mighty Five are for their spectacular sandstone arches, crimson canyons and fiery cliffs, they are also becoming increasingly well-known for their dazzling starscapes – a phenomenon giving rise to an entirely new trend: Cosmic Tourism.
Across all five of Utah’s magnificent national parks (Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Zion), there are now multiple ways to enjoy the epic scenery during the day, then stay in unusual accommodation for the all-star performance at night.
Here are five of the best options when it comes to getting your beauty sleep in some of the most beautiful places on Earth.
New Glamping Resort to Open in Zion: Welcoming a colossal 3.5 million visitors in 2016, Zion in southern Utah now ranks as one of the five most-visited national parks in the US. Nestled amidst its famous red rocks is a soon-to-open rustic escape Under Canvas®Zion that is perfect for escaping the crowds. Launching in August, the new safari-style glamping resort will offer spectacular accommodation in 60 luxury canvas tents, upscale ‘farm-to-campfire-table’ dining under the stars and the option to enjoy resort-arranged activities nearby, including mountain biking, horse riding, jeep tours and hot air ballooning.
Stay in Marilyn Monroe’s Airstream: Just off Scenic Byway 12 in south-central Utah lies the Shooting Star RV Resort with nine Airstream trailers each decked out to resemble the dressing room of a major Hollywood star while on set. For a taste of the leading lady lifestyle, book into Marilyn Monroe’s trailer, or for the true Utah experience opt for Paul Newman’s (aka Butch Cassidy). From the resort, it is easy to explore two of the Mighty Five national parks, with Bryce Canyon 50 miles away and Capitol Reef just 75 miles to the north. Come evening, relax and watch a movie under the stars in one of the resort’s classic 1960s cars at their drive-in cinema.
Circle the Wagons: One of the most spectacular – and authentic – ways to enjoy the raw beauty of Utah’s red rock landscapes is by staying in one of the new Conestoga Wagons at the Capitol Reef Resort, which lies less than five miles from Capitol Reef National Park. Sleeping up to six, the luxury wagons are based on traditional 19th century designs and each features a private fire pit right outside its door: the perfect place to kick back and relax under the stars, just as the pioneers would have done 175 years ago.
Step back in history with a Tipi stay: Fulfill childhood dreams past and present by staying in a traditional Native American tipi on the edge of spectacular Bryce Canyon National Park. At Ruby’s Inn RV Park and Campground, there are now eight tipis available for hire, each sleeping up to eight adults comfortably. With no electricity, plumbing or beds, this is a back-to-basics experience and guests will need to bring their own sleeping gear.
Luxurious wild desert camping: With views across the desert towards Arches National Park, Under Canvas® Moab, just north of the adventure town of Moab, offers some of the most extravagant tented accommodation anywhere on earth. It is the best of both worlds in many senses: desert living in the lap of luxury and wild camping with every need catered for. Better still, it is only a few minutes’ drive from Canyonlands National Park, too.
“Utah’s Mighty Five national parks are world-renowned and we are seeing more and more people want to overnight in or near them to get the most from the experience,” Becky Johnson, Senior Global Manager for the Utah Office of Tourism, Film & Global Branding, told Essential Journeys.” With Utah home to nine International Dark Sky Parks, we’re seeing a strong combined increase in the two trends of glamping and cosmic tourism. There are dark times ahead for the state – and we couldn’t be happier.”
Bon Voyage (0800 316 0194, www.bon-voyage.co.uk) has 10 nights in Utah from £1,825 per person. The price is valid for travel between 20 August and 30 September 2017, and includes return nonstop Delta Air Lines flights from LHR to Salt Lake City, 10 nights’ accommodation (two at Under Canvas Zion; two at Bryce Canyon tipis; two at Shooting Star RV Resort in Airstream; two at Conestoga Wagons at Capitol Reef Resort; and two at Under Canvas Moab), plus car hire for the duration. The price is based on two adults sharing room only accommodation.
- Main image | Shooting Star RV Resort
For more information on Utah, visit www.visitutah.com/uk