Explore Utah – It’s that time of year again. The temperatures are rising. The tourists are thinning out. Summer is making its approach and for those of us in the Valley who aren’t snowbirds, there’s no alternative except to tough it out. Or is there?
Thanks to Sky Harbor International Airport, there’s a plethora of vacation spots just a short flight away that offer considerably cooler temperatures and a wealth of activities sure to entertain even the pickiest of travelers. Many are even just a brief car ride away, with most being 12 hours away or less by car.
That may sound like a long time in the car now, but try hiking Camelback Mountain in 110 degrees and then ask yourself if 12 hours would be worth it for a cool breeze.
Good deals are hit-and-miss, whether you’re booking everything yourself individually, buying vacation packages, or using a travel planner. Do your research before finalizing your plans to get the most optimal vacation.
We took a look at the states bordering Arizona and selected our favorite stops. So pull out your frequent flier miles and pack your bags. It’s time for a road trip!
From border to border, Utah is filled with beautiful scenery not unlike that found in our own state. But we decided to take a closer look at southern Utah and all it has to offer. There are national parks galore whose depths are just waiting to be explored. Popular outdoor activities including hiking, mountain biking and river rafting. Or for a more relaxing vacation, golf and spas abound. The southwestern corner of Utah is known as Utah’s Dixie for its temperate climate. Temperatures in St. George, a city just over the Arizona border, average 85 degrees in May and 95 degrees in June. St. George is just a seven-hour drive from Phoenix, or is easily accessible by plane via a stop in Salt Lake City (flights average $250).
ATV Tours, Statewide
Get up close and personal with Utah’s backcountry by taking an ATV tour. Trips with Guides with ATV & Jeep Adventure Tours will provide details about the state’s history as you tour the desert sands.
Cedar Breaks National Monument 6th Annual Wildflower Festival, Cedar City
Visit this national monument just in time to see the high-country wildflowers burst into bloom. Festival events include guided walks, interpretive field trips, photography workshops and Junior Ranger scavenger hunts. July 1-17.
If you’re a fan of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, then you won’t want to miss this ghost town. Considered one of the most photographed ghost towns in the West, it was also featured in the 1929 film “In Old Arizona.”
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Kanab
More than 1.7 million acres make up this national monument, which features multicolored cliffs, plateaus, mesas, buttes, pinnacles and canyons.
The Ledges of St. George, St. George
This 7,200-yard championship golf course features an innovative design surrounded by Utah’s rugged landscape. Amenities include GPS-equipped golf carts, high-tech teaching center and banquet facilities.
Sagestone at Red Mountain Spa, Ivins
Signature treatments at this spa include the use of indigenous desert botanicals, Utah honey and mineral rich muds, clays and salts to enhance beauty and wellness.
St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm, St. George
View more than 2,000 dinosaur tracks left behind by early Jurassic-period dinosaurs in exposed sandstone. Fossil exhibits and a gift shop are also on hand.
Tuacahn Amphitheater, Ivins
Enjoy Utah’s scenic red rock setting at this outdoor amphitheater. During the month of June, two Broadway shows will be presented — Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” and the ’70s classic “Grease.”
Utah Shakespearean Festival, Cedar City
Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, this Tony Award-winning festival features renaissance activities and Shakespeare productions presented on a rotating basis nightly. June 23-October 29.
Virgin River Walkway
This paved trail runs parallel with Virgin River from Bloomington to St. George. Popular among biking, jogging, walking and rollerblading enthusiasts alike, it’s great for families and offers plenty of photo opportunities.
Zion National Park, Springdale
Towering cliffs and a narrow canyon await both experienced and novice hikers alike. The park also has several archaeological sites, although not all are open to the public in order to preserve them. Check with park staff to find out which are available for viewing.