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Reader Participation Day: California, or Utah, For A National Park Trek?


Utah, or California, which state beckons you for a national park tour? Top photo of Arches National Park by Kurt Repanshek, bottom photo of Half Dome by QT Luong,, used with permission.

If you had the option of either traveling to Utah for a swing through its national parks, or to California to sample its national parks, which would you choose?

True, California has Yosemite and Sequoia and Lassen Volcanic and Redwood just to name four, and overall more national parks than Utah. But Utah has Arches and Canyonlands and Zion, wonders that frame a red-rock landscape like none other in the world.

To help you decide, here's a breakdown of the national parks (just parks, not seashores, monuments, preserves, etc.) in those states:


Yosemite National Park
Sequoia National Park
Kings Canyon National Park
Death Valley National Park
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Channel Islands National Park
Joshua Tree National Park


Arches National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park
Canyonlands National Park
Capitol Reef National Park
Zion National Park


Simple. Last year we traveled Utah. This year we travel California. Can't wait for Yosemite. It's been 37 long years.

Having done both I will have to say: Utah. Shorter distances between all of the parks and you can can add in Monument Valley with just a short detour across the state line. Yosemite and Death Valley were beautiful and extreme but it seemed like every corner you turned in Utah revealed a new wonder.

I live just outside Yosemite, and plan to go there again this week. Sequoia is my favorite, though both redwoods, kings canyon, and lassen are nice. Channel Islands is one I hope to get to soon. That said, I have been to Arches, Bryce, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion and they are all terrific. I just want to go back and visit them one at a time instead of all within a week. We especially liked Capitol Reef.

Why choose? Visit them all!

For me it's Utah. The state has so much to offer in five national parks that are so close together. You can even add the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to a trip there. They are all amazing!

Of all the many states I've visited and lived in, Utah has far more variety and greater overall scenic wonders than any other.

It's really "Life Elevated" if you can just ignore the insanity of our legislators.

Was just in Utah at Cedar Breaks NM, not on your list of parks of course. Went there to escape the heat. During hot weather there's quite a few parks on both these lists I might try to avoid. Yet it would still be a tough decision between the two states. Guess I'd just go for both.

This is my personal opinion, not that of the Traveler. California is a miniature United States. It's just plain unfair to pit the national parks of a smaller, substantially less diversified state like Utah against California's parks. I absolutely love the Utah parks; in fact, I visited five of them as recently as two months ago. But the list of things that Utah lacks in the way of national park diversity would run right off this page. No national seashore, nothing even remotely approaching an urban park like Golden Gate National Recreation Area, nothing to compare with Channel Islands National Park (my goodness folks, that place is visited by blue whales!),nothing to match the awesomeness of the coastal redwoods and sequoias, not a single marine national historical park, not a single active volcano to match Mt. Lassen, etc., etc. etc., etc. For me it's California, hands down.

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