NPS Free Entrance Day January

In Southern Utah for the Weekend? Visit The Mighty 5™ for free on Monday

Martin Luther King Jr. day is one of the National Park Service’s free admission days for 2014. So if you’re traveling to Southern Utah for any reason this weekend, be sure to set aside some time on Monday for a visit to Utah’s Mighty 5™ national parks.

Golfing in St. George? It’s 30 minutes to Springdale where daytime temperatures will exceed 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Snowmobiling on the Manti-La Sal National Forest? It’s 45 minutes to Arches where following a couple of moderate hikes you can spend some quality alone time with Turret Arch or Double Arch.

Martin Luther King Jr. said “We must ... never lose infinite hope.”

It has also been said that Utah’s national parks are fortified with infinite hope. To refuel your spirit and jump-start your senses, help yourself for free on Monday, January 20th.

From around the web:

Arches National Park helps you plan your winter visit on its Web page.

Concerned about the temperatures? Trip Advisor member brettyb points out that in Moab:

“It's likely to be pretty cold, but if the sun is out and the temperature hits the upper 40s, it's great hiking weather. Big snowfalls are not very common in Moab. In my mind, the solitude and quiet of winter make a visit very special ... And you can have trails largely to yourself.”

Forecast for Monday is 48 degrees.

NPS Photo/Neal Herbert CC Image courtesy Arches National Park on Flickr

Two out of Canyonlands’ three visitors centers are currently open, and park alerts are in effect. You may only get a taste for what this expansive park has to offer, but a quick hike on free admission day is sure to whet your appetite for a prompt return.

Frommers has some advice about hitting Zion or Bryce this time of year:

“Winter can be especially beautiful in both parks, and is definitely less crowded than other times of the year. Because there are fewer park visitors, rangers will have more time to answer questions and discuss the park's resources. In addition, you're likely to see more of the bigger animals, such as deer and elk, although some of the squirrels and reptiles will be hibernating, and many of the birds will have flown south.”

It is not the same experience in the summer, and visitors should certainly exercise caution when climbing into the higher elevations, particularly at Bryce Canyon.

“ ... sudden winter storms can keep you indoors and may leave hiking trails at both parks icy and treacherous. Those going to the parks in winter should carry a variety of clothing that can be worn in layers, to be added or subtracted as conditions change, and make sure to have warm boots with good traction soles. Because the roads getting to and from the parks are mountainous, cars should be equipped with snow tires and should have engine coolant that protects down to 20°F below zero (-29°C), just in case one of those rare cold fronts moves through.”

CC Image courtesy of kkmarais on Flickr

The ever-spectacular Capitol Reef never fails to inspire awe, and the area has plenty to occupy adventurous visitors or auto tourists who simply make the drive through the park on Highway 24. This time of year consider finding lodging in one of several gateway communities, like Torrey, a quaint community with a great local business vibe. It’s best to call ahead during this quieter season to ensure service and reserve accommodations.