The coming months could tell whether Xanterra Parks & Resorts and Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts are both still in an acquisition mode, or will look to stand pat, as concessions opportunities are weighed in Yosemite National Park and along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Bryce Canyon National Park
For mind-blowing scenery, vast vistas of eroded stone, and rugged topography, Utah is the place. The Beehive State is home to five national parks (Arches, Bryce, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Zion) and five national monuments (Cedar Breaks, Grand Staircase-Escalante (managed by the BLM), Rainbow Bridge, Natural Bridges, and Hovenweep) for good reason. It’s the greatest earth on show.
There are few better places to stare into the dark starry skies than Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. OK, Natural Bridges National Monument on the eastern side of the state isn't too shabby for star-gazing, either. But it doesn't have an astronomy festival, and Bryce Canyon's 14th Annual Astronomy Festival arrives next week.
It sounds counterintuitive to head to the Utah desert this summer to cool off. But Utah is an enigma: it is desert, canyons, and high mountains in one trip. You find groves of Ponderosa pines and wildflower meadows in abundance in Bryce Canyon National Park. The days are warm, the nights are chilly. The view of the desert is astounding, and at night visibility is measured in light-years.
Bryce Canyon National Park officials, rather than forcing private equestrians to pay a guide to lead them on trail rides, should see the marketing and PR value in having rangers saddle up to lead rides much as they lead hikes, for free.
You can bring your own horse to Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah's redrock country and ride off into the shimmering sunset, but under a rule change you'll likely have to hire a guide from the concessionaire who offers trail rides.
With their colorful settings and majestic geology, Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion national parks in Utah rightfully should be explored on foot, even if you only have a few hours to hike.
An open house is scheduled for March 5 at Bryce Canyon National Park to discuss the park's environmental assessment on a "multimodal transportation plan" that would link the park with Bryce Canyon City.
Are you making your summer park vacation plans? Don't place full faith in on-line reservations sites, as they don't always tell the full story of what's available.