Not too long ago my friend Gary mentioned that he wanted to go with me when I hit the road again to gather my next round of National Park photos. Anyone that has traveled by themselves for an extended period of time knows that at times that road can become pretty solitary and having someone else there sounded like a splendid idea. I asked Gary where he wanted to go and he came back with Utah. Great! What a good excuse to get out there and see it. I had never been south of Salt Lake City and who knows when I would have put that on my own calendar.
After a few months of planning, map tracing and gear buying, we left Kansas City at 6:00pm on a Thursday and headed West deciding to stop in Hays Kansas. We would leave early in the morning from there and that would get us to Arches by sunset.
It turns out, camping in the park is slim pickings. Reservations are made months in advance and we had none. Luckily these places are popular enough to have at least a few small private campgrounds just outside the park. Where we weren't able to get a spot within the grounds, there was always a place within a few miles that we could set up our tent (and usually with some pretty good characters).
I won't bore you with the stats of the parks (I think it takes away from the sheer wonder of it all to break it down into numbers) but the largest of the five is Canyonlands at over 337,000 acres and the smallest is Bryce Canyon at just of 35,000 acres.
Getting to these places reminds me how lucky we are to have them. I'm excited to get back there at some point, to camp under stars from horizon to horizon and see the red rocks, flowers and wildlife again that are unique to the area.