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When the government shutdown rattled the nation last October, tourists across the United States were forced out of national parks. Utah’s five national parks were off limits for about three weeks, and during that time tourists and locals alike learned that Utah still had a lot to offer in the way of state parks. Here are four state parks that are perfect for a quick weekend getaway.
Edge Of The Cedars State Park
Approximately 310 miles southeast of Salt Lake City in Blanding.
While the park itself does not provide lodging, RV and tent camping, cabins and hotels are located in Blanding.
The Edge of the Cedars museum houses the largest collection of Ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) pottery in the Four Corners area.
Edge of the Cedars Pueblo, a village inhabited by the ancestors of contemporary Puebloan peoples from AD 825 to 1125, is still visible. The kiva (an ancient ceremonial room) and some other structures have been restored and can be viewed behind the museum.
Where to eat:
Patio Drive In, located in Blanding. Eat here for good old-fashioned drive-in food.
Red Fleet State Park
Approximately 188 miles east of Salt Lake City near Vernal.
Tent and RV camping are permitted. Day-use facilities are also available.
This park is located in the heart of Dinosaurland—many dinosaur tracks can be seen preserved in sandstone around the park.
Red Fleet Reservoir provides excellent paddle boarding conditions. In fact, the park hosts an annual Red Fleet Paddle Festival every June where people can bring their own paddle boards or try one provided by several vendors. This year’s festival takes place June 20 and 21.
Where to eat:
Tacos El Gordo in Vernal. Housed in a former gas station with a food truck out front, it’s not the fanciest restaurant around, but Tacos El Gordo is known to serve up delicious and authentic Mexican food.
Kodachrome Basin State Park
Approximately 300 miles south of Salt Lake City near Cannonville.
Tent and RV camping is permitted. Cabins and day-use facilities are also available.
The color found at this state park prompted the National Geographic Society in 1949, with consent from Kodak Film Corp., to name the park Kodachrome after the popular color film.
The Grosvenor Arch is an intricate double arch, located 10 miles southeast of the park.
Nearly 70 monolithic spires, ranging from six to 170 feet in height, jut up from the valley floor or protrude from the sandstone rocks that surround the campground, making the park a popular location for photographers.
Where to eat:
Foster’s Family Steak House. Approximately 20 miles from Kodachrome, the eatery is worth the drive for great food, great service and delicious steaks, prime rib and fish.
Wasatch Mountain State Park
Approximately 50 miles southeast of Salt Lake City near Midway.
There are six campgrounds where both tent and RV camping are permitted.
Cabins and day-use facilities are also available.
The park offers two historic areas: Tate Barn and Huber Grove. Tours are held on the weekends at Huber Grove, which features the Huber Farmhouse and Creamery.
The park was a host of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. The venue remains open to the public year-round with a variety of activities and events, such as cross-country skiing, tubing, sheepdog competitions and in-line skating facilities.
This state park also offers two very popular golf complexes, Wasatch Mountain and Soldier Hollow.
Where to eat:
Soldier Hollow Grill. Located at Soldier Hollow Golf Course, the grill specializes in hamburgers and fries that are ground and cut fresh on site.
Sources: Utah.com, Utah Department of Natural Resources, Uintah County Travel and Tourism, Utah Office of Tourism, Yelp.com