Exam season may be coming to an end but that doesn’t mean learning stops for the summer!
Utah offers some of the most extraordinary and dramatic landscapes in the world, from the Rocky Mountains in the north to the breath-taking red spires and cliffs of its southern wilds, all guaranteed to inspire young minds. Beyond Utah’s action-packed Mighty 5® national parks (Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon and Zion) are 43 state parks that all offer a uniquely spectacular experience and more tranquillity in the busy school holidays. Utah has identified five ways families can find adventure and learn in Utah, a destination that brings science and history to life.
Learn to be a Park Ranger with Utah’s Junior Ranger programme
Utah’s junior ranger programme aims to familiarise children with the duties and responsibilities of a park ranger, whilst engaging the whole family in the individual stories, unique features and conservation efforts of each state park. Budding junior rangers can collect an activity booklet from the visitor centre and join an educational hike or activity with the ranger in residence, exploring the wonders of each park to the fullest and learning as they go. Whether it’s understanding how the elaborate rock formations of Kodachrome basin came into being, helping protect the environment on a litter pick or keeping track of the abundant wildlife on Antelope Island (including America’s largest herd of buffalo) youngsters are guaranteed to have fun and learn as they go. After completing the booklet and a variety of activities every aspiring Junior Ranger is awarded with badge for that park. There are 34 Junior Ranger programmes across 43 state parks.
A full list of Junior Ranger programmes can be found here
Learn to be a palaeontologist at Utah’s Dinosaur National Monument
North-eastern Utah’s dinosaur legacy comes to life at Dinosaur National Monument, where geological and climatic forces have tilted, warped, and eroded the earth’s crust to reveal a treasure trove of fossils. Dinosaur National Monument harbours one of the most complete geological records found anywhere in North America with the monument’s record of geological history spanning 1.1 billion years. The Dinosaur National Monument Junior Palaeontologist programme walks children through the giant footprints of the past, exploring how palaeontologists work and the methods and tools used to uncover fossils and piece together an understanding of ancient life. Kids will also learn about the Earth’s history, past plants and animals, the dramatic climate changes that have shaped these environments and the importance of protecting these valuable relics of the past. Visitors can stop by one of the park visitor centres and ask for a free booklet
Keen anthropologists can also explore fascinating Petroglyphs and Pictographs that feature across the monument and ponder the mystery of why they were created thousands of years ago.
Learn to be an astronomer on Antelope Island
Utah is home to the highest concentration of International Dark Sky Parks anywhere in the world and is set on encouraging budding astronomers to reach for the stars. The family-friendly Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake is a hub for Utah astronomy and aims to engage everyone in the science of outer space before they head out into one of the 10 certified dark sky wildernesses in Utah’s national and state parks to view the expanse of the Milky Way at its most defined, in minimal to zero light pollution. All 10 certified parks offer fascinating ways to embrace the stars. The recently ISDP certified Antelope Island offers ‘star parties’ throughout the summer and autumn hosted by park rangers and volunteer astronomers, while Dinosaur National Monument hosts several astronomy events, including a junior astronomer programme, to help visitors understand the expansive universe.
Learn to be a geologist in Goblin Valley
Utah’s national and state parks showcase some of the coolest rock formations on the planet and are a blossoming geologist’s dream. Families can schedule a tour of Timpanogos Cave National Monument or check out the family hiking guides for each of The Mighty 5® national parks of Southern Utah to discover the weird and wonderful hoodoos, monoliths, slots, dunes and cones that form these iconic landscapes. Kids can surf or fat bike the extraordinary shifting coloured sands of Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, or scramble over and around the magical goblin-like monoliths and hoodoos found in the spell-binding Goblin Valley State Park – all the while learning on the Junior Ranger programme how these landscapes were sculpted over thousands of years.
Learn to conquer your fears in the Park City Olympic Park
Utah Olympic Park still buzzes with excitement and enthusiasm 16 years on from the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Games. Teenagers can relive the adrenaline rush of the Comet Bobsled Ride, or tube and zip line the Nordic jump, experiencing the same view as the Olympic Ski Jumpers, while youngsters explore the Discovery Zone, swing from ropes and manoeuvre through nets and suspended wires. Alternatively they can explore the miles of hiking and biking trails surrounding the Park or learn about past sporting heroes and the science of snow in the Joe Quinney Winter Sports Centre. All of the events in the Discovery Zone are free to the public and make for a day of non-stop fun.
Utah family adventures begin in Salt Lake City where regular direct flights into Salt Lake City International Airport, ensures easy access to the state. From there, families can set out on the family-oriented itineraries of Utah’s Road to Mighty 5® and beyond.
For more information on Utah, visit: www.visitutah.com/uk