Imagination Brought To Life: Utah Is Your Playground

Remember when you were a kid, and your imagination took you places? Like to the moon and underwater and helping Spiderman get the baddies? Well, visiting Utah is like the universe made your 7-year-old's make-believe games real. Like real, real!

Remember when you were a kid, and your imagination took you places? Like to the moon and underwater and helping Spiderman get the baddies? Well, visiting Utah is like the universe made your 7-year-old’s make-believe games real. Like real, real!

While you’ve been adulting and stuff, Utah’s been patiently waiting for you to discover that the magic you created as a child is yours to rekindle as an adult.

So, whip out that old spaceship cardboard box, put your best fairy wings on, and call up your old pal Spidey because we’re going to Utah!

The Great Explorer

Is it just us, or did your lust for adventure and travel begin with movies like Indiana Jones and The Land Before Time? Those crusades and escapades gave us our first glimpse of a world that was bigger than our house, garden, park, and school. Now, thanks to the expansive natural playground of Utah, you get to embrace your inner great explorer!

Utah’s Mighty 5 is to adults what an adventure cartoon is to kids. No, the Mighty 5 is not a superhero crime-fighting gang; instead, it’s the state’s five outstanding national parks. Best experienced on a road trip, all Mighty 5 national parks stimulate the imagination (and then some). Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands and Arches reveal how Utah’s vast and unusual landscape deserve the moniker of ‘America’s biggest playground’.

Whether it’s a water-wading adventure through the Narrows of Zion National Park, seeing the world’s largest collection of hoodoos (sandstone towers) at Bryce Canyon, or discovering the ancient petroglyphs of Capitol Reef, a trip to Utah reintroduces you to your truest self. You know, who you were before jobs and mortgages and relationships and tax bills got in the way of play and curiosity and believing you’d one day meet an alien.

The Happiest Snowman

Brianhead Ski Resort ©www.adamclarkphoto.com
Brianhead Ski Resort ©www.adamclarkphoto.com

Hands up if you got to make snowmen as a kid? Admittedly, not so common in Australia, but the little snow we did see inspired pretend play that not only built you a snowman but that they come to life and sung and danced and played with you, too.

As an adult, that’s pretty close to the feeling you get when you go skiing or snowboarding. The sense of being ALIVE. The freedom. The magical becoming reality. (The drunken après ski singing and dancing).

Where better to experience a snow-filled childlike wonder than with Utah’s Greatest Snow on Earth®. So fluffy they’ve trademarked it, Utah’s pure pow-pow coats the red rock mountains. In the villages below – in a scenario that’s better than your childhood fantasy – the lights twinkle like they are indicating the frolicking good times enjoyed at Utah’s après ski restaurants, bars, lodges, and spas. There’s even a ski-in distillery!

Better yet, Utah’s ski resorts are the region’s most accessible, with 13 resorts located in the Wasatch Mountain Range. Six of which unite for Ski Utah’s interconnect tour: nowhere else in North America can you access as many ski resorts on a single adventure with minimal hiking. If that doesn’t sound like a childhood dream (more adventure, less boring ol’ walking), we don’t know what does.

The Dinosaur Hunter

Red Fleet State Park
Red Fleet State Park

Remember donning a safari-style hat, throwing your fossil-filled backpack over your shoulder and declaring – t-rex tucked under your arm – that you were going dinosaur hunting?

Goodie.

In Utah, you can actually do that by travelling the Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway from Moab, through Price and Vernal and more. This 2- or 3-day roadie leads you through what was once Utah’s Jurassic Park. It’s not just the fab museums and ancient rock art you can see along the way that draws you back to dinosaur-crazy little you. It’s that there are actual live archaeological quarry digs along the way that give you a taste of the palaeontologist you once craved to be.

More into ghosts than dinosaurs? No problem, Utah has a few ghost towns with two in Southern Utah – Silver Reef and Grafton – that you can easily weave into your national park itinerary. The latter also has a claim to fame as the filming location for the iconic Western, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

The Movie Star

Whether it was watching a western or wishing yourself onscreen alongside your film idols, every kid has a moment where they wish to be a movie star. Perhaps, (as you’re reading this) your filmstar aspirations are a long-lost dream, but no worries, Utah, as Utah. America’s Film Set®, has got the solution.

Over 50 movies have been filmed in Utah. It’s surprising the state doesn’t have its own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame! You may be in no rush to reenact James Franco’s iconic scene from 127 Hours, but how about a 6-day Thelma and Louise tribute road trip? Or enjoy a 6-day drive along the Classic Westerns of the Silver Screen route? Or a four-day roadie to check out where High School Musical was filmed (LOL)? There are a ton more across Utah. America’s Film Set®, too: Forrest Gump, Dumb and Dumber, Planet of the Apes, Indiana Jones. Plot your cinematic re-enactments here.

The Space Adventurer

Goblin Valley ©Austen Diamond Photograhy
Goblin Valley ©Austen Diamond Photograhy

A night camping outback under the stars kickstarted many a young child’s obsession with space. From learning about stars to play-acting landing on the moon, it’s almost a rite of passage to have a ‘space phase’ as a young’un.

Utah offers epic night sky opportunities to reconnect with that space phase and get you as close to the stars and the moon as possible. All without needing to sink your life savings into Elon Musk’s Space X Dogecoin mission to the moon (yup, really).

A much more reliable 2022 space adventure is to visit one of Utah’s renowned Milky Way viewing destinations. Utah makes it easy to lose yourself staring deep into space, with the highest concentration of International Dark Sky Places in the world.

Explore Southern Utah’s 4-day stargazing itinerary, weaving you through the best of the region’s night sky spots. By day, hike the red rock trails and feel inspired by Mother Nature’s beauty; by night, broaden your mind and soul under the galaxy’s expansive starry night sky. Plan to visit during the new moon periods for the darkest skies. Consider taking the ranger-led tours to illuminate the celestial feats that surround you once the sun goes down.

Big Kid Approved

Heber Valley ©www.adambarkerphotography.com
Heber Valley ©www.adambarkerphotography.com

Okay, maybe this piece needed a trigger warning because what child wants to WAIT to do these things, even the big kid version of you? As any parent knows, distractions are good, so plan and plot your Utah road trip here while we all (impatiently) wait for the Australian borders to re-open.

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