OUTDOORS + RECREATION

The beauty of seeing the Mighty 5 through someone else’s eyes

Aug 15, 2023, 3:11 PM | Updated: 3:53 pm

delicate arch at one of utah's mighty 5 national park, arches...

FILE - Delicate Arch is seen at Arches National Park on April 25, 2021, near Moab, Utah. (Lindsay Whitehurst, Associated Press)

(Lindsay Whitehurst, Associated Press)

Through my years of hosting KSL Outdoors, I’ve had many opportunities to visit Utah’s National Parks with some extraordinary memories.

A few years ago, when the Utah Symphony did a Mighty 5 tour with concerts just outside of Moab at Red Cliff Lodge, I sat with former Utah Gov. Gary Herbert to enjoy beautiful music under the night sky.

The next night was a repeat performance, as moonlight danced off the sandstone hoodoos on the cliff’s edge of Bryce Canyon.

But this year I had the treat of seeing, really seeing, the treasures that are literally out our back door through the eyes of international friends and visitors who had long dreamed and planned for a first look at not just Utah, but the United States as well.

Paul Nicholls and I first met a few years ago working on international kickboxing events. As one of the most respected referees in world combat sports, he has done his fair share of traveling with his wife Melody tagging along to places like Dubai, China, Japan and most European nations which are a short flight or drive from their home outside of London so they are not easily impressed.

As for many, the pandemic delayed plans for their visit to America, but the trip finally came together this summer. I took note of a few things I learned from their wide-eyed ride through Utah.

Don’t hurry through the Mighty 5

Utah was on Paul’s radar in part because of our friendship but also because the state’s tourism office has done such a great job of promoting our national parks. 

First on the bucket list? The iconic symbol used in almost all promotions of the Beehive State, the Delicate Arch.

The one thing they don’t tell you is that a summer visit means a 3.2-mile roundtrip hike on a slick rock trail in very warm temperatures most days.

Not to worry, the many stops along the way to note ancient petroglyphs, photograph lizards darting in and out of rocky crevices and take in the views provide plenty of recovery time and add a layer of discovery that most of us might miss.

Notice the things we take for granted

Of course, my British friends were overwhelmed with the beauty of both Arches and Bryce Canyon.

But their fascination with the many things they have only seen in movies or on tv and that we take for granted made this visit to our national parks so special.

When was the last time you noticed a railroad crossing arm and stopped to take a picture of it? And then had road travel discussions about the work and sacrifice of those that laid all those tracks and literally changed the world?

Have you ever stopped and stared in amazement at a long backcountry road that seemingly goes on forever as it disappears into the horizon?

It was quite an attraction for visitors from a country that in some geographic locations only stretches 50 miles from border to border.

How amazed are you that you can drive for hours and still be in a single state? Not to mention the regular sights of old tractors, American-made antique vehicles and the occasional Airstream travel trailers that European buyers would love to get their hands on.

My advice?

The next time you plan a road trip anywhere in Utah — but particularly our national parks — bring a friend!

Someone that hasn’t been there before. Hasn’t smelled the smells of pine trees or cattle ranches… yes, even that smell.

There is much we take for granted and are blessed with right outside our back doors so share it, cherish it and maybe even really see it for the first time yourself.

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The beauty of seeing the Mighty 5 through someone else’s eyes