Green Travel Magzine

National Parks Around the 4 Corners Region

You’re sitting at home wondering what to do during your free time. You don’t want to hop to another house, even if it is a friend or family member; you don’t want to go dining, dancing, or shopping until you’re dropping. You want an adventure that is ecological and sustainable to nature. Look no further than a National Park!

These government owned areas consist of predominantly natural lands conserved to protect and maintain wildlife and various environments from perishing. We at ecomadic have provided a list of all the National Parks around the 4 Corners Region – Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico. Grab your atlas or map, and prepare to pinpoint your next park passage from our list!

Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park

Source: @acarrillo46

Price Range – $$

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In the desertous Arizona lies a mountainous park that’s many miles long to the point it’s split into two sections for visitors. This is the Grand Canyon National Park. As you head to the south rim of the park (north rim is only available between May 15th to October 15th annually), you’ll find many adventures awaiting you. Although there are current limitations due to COVID-19, don’t let that deter you from enjoying the grandeur of the Grand Canyon. Take a hike around the various canyon trails, including the famous Trail of Time between the Yavapai Geology Museum and Hermits Rest. Along the trail, you’ll learn about the geological background of the Grand Canyon through historical signs you’ll see on your walk, or just taking in the various views and landscapes. If you’re lucky enough, you may even see a Californian condor. You can also receive delightful views of the desertous destination through the Grand Canyon Railway, water rafting on the Colorado River, or even by mule. When you’re done hiking, take your reusable bottle and fill up with some fresh, clean water from the Arizona park. Water not on your mind, you may also fill up on tea, coffee, or other healthy beverages for a small discount if you’re using a reusable bottle. Be sure to get a pass in advance, and enjoy an Arizonan adventure!

Petrified Forest National Park

Source: @noeld64

Price Range – $$

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Don’t let the name of this location perturb you, for there is nothing petrifying about the Petrified Forest National Park. Whether by foot, car, on bicycle, promenade through areas where fossils, erosion-formed mesas and buttes, and colorful, petrified wood reside. When you’re not exploring the park’s two geological formations, be on the lookout for the Painted Desert, the ancient remains of Pueblo Perco, and a preserved section of the iconic Route 66. Open every day except Christmas and Thanksgiving, hope the Petrified Forest National Park will be a pleasant experience.

Saguaro National Park

Source: @cvgellhorn

Price – $$

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When we think of desert areas, cactuses often come to mind. All Arizona parks consist of them, but the Saguaro National Park is a special space for them, specifically the tree-like cactuses known as saguaros. Trek through the wilderness of the saguaro safe space, and spot various settings such as the cactus gardens, and the Tucson and Rincon mountain districts. If you’re tired of walking, relax around the Gates Pass, and hopefully you’ll get an amazing view of the sunset. Though strolling at the Saguaro National Park is surely a moment you do not want to miss, you must be careful: there are many carnivorous animals you may encounter on your hike. But don’t let that prick your stride, for seeking the Saguaro National Park scenery in the end is well-worth it!

Colorado

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Source: KOAA

Price – $$

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With deep, vertical cliffs, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison is a mountainous park to engage in many activities and expeditions like John Williams Gunnison himself. Between the South rim, North rim, and the East portal (the latter two are currently closed), many trails are awaiting for you to hike around on. Since the park is open 24/7, if you stay around during the night time, you will have a cosmically captivating view of the night skies, and possibly the Milky Way depending on the time of year you visit! The Black Canyon also allows visitors to enjoy exploring the inner parts within the canyon (permit required), and partake in kayaking and rock climbing (South rim only). During the snowy season, grab your winter gear and wallow in the wonders of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Make your plans to merrily bask in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison today.

Great Sand Dunes National Park & Reserve

Source: @laurenlopes

Price – $$

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Home to the tallest sand dunes in America, the Great Sand Dunes National Park & Reserve will lure you into an arenaceous adventure. Grab some sand sleds or sandboards, and slide down the various dune areas, including Star Dune, the tallest sand dune in North America at 750 feet (229 meters). Interestingly enough, while seeking and sledding the sandy hills is one of the primary reasons to visit this Southern Colorado park, there are many other ecosystems to see, that you’ll probably want to make this park visit a four-day weekend trip. Take a dip in the Medano Creek while viewing the dunes; travel through the green, forested trails that lead to the Sand Creek Lake; though access is limited, graze in the grassland and wetland areas, and feast your eyes on an assortment of wondrous wildlife and blooming wildflowers. From sands to shrubs, Sand Dunes National Park & Reserve is awaiting for your environmental amazement!

Mesa Verde National Park

Source: @krummly

Price – $$

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Established by President Roosevelt to “preserve the works of man,” Mesa Verde National Park is an environment showcasing nature, and the culture of the Pueblo natives who once occupied it. Currently, the cliff dwellings are unavailable, but there are various overlooks to view them during your hikes, showcasing the many areas the ancestral Pubeloans frequented, such as the Sun Temple, the Cliff Palace, and the Spruce Tree House. In addition to the arid areas in the park, there are also woodland areas where you can gaze upon the lavish greenery in these conserved communities. Don’t miss an opportunity to make memories at Mesa Verde National Park!

Rocky Mountain National Park

Source: AARP

Price – $$

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With a name that sounds like paradise for petrologists, the Rocky Mountain National Park will get anyone’s rocks off with its geology, glaciers, and greenery. After taking the Rocky Pledge to protect and preserve the area, pedal your way into an area filled with stellar, scenic views of mountains, meadows, and awe-inspiring alpine tundra areas. When you’re feeling the need to move around on foot, take a day hike through the wilderness, and silently watch elks, pikas, and bighorn sheep in their natural habitat (from a distance, please). Currently (Feb 2021), there are issues surrounding troublesome fires; please be cautious of what you bring or do so sparks do not ignite. Only the passion and desire to visit Rocky Mountain National Park should be fiery, because this trip will make you “feel like you’re on top of the world”.

New Mexico

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Source: Travel + Leisure

Price – $$

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Beauty’s more than skin deep, and this National Park in New Mexico wants you to view its beauty deep below the Chihuahuan Desert. When you’re not hiking on the trails surrounding said desert and the Guadalupe Mountains, explore the largest cave chamber in North America, which was formed by limestone rock. If you visit between late May through October, you may even get the opportunity to view bats flying in and out of the caves. Do not fear, for as long as you respect the bats, they will never harm you. One of the greatest ways to respect the bats (and its habitat) is to make sure to wear closed-toe shoes to avoid getting your feet wet. Also, make sure to clean your shoes using the park’s bio-cleaning mats to avoid transferring fungus or other products that could induce white-nose syndrome or other diseases for the bats. Enjoy elevation and expeditions when you enter the Carlsbad Caverns.

White Sands National Park

Source: @jaclynyost

Price – $$

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In the midst of the Sacramento and San Andres Mountain ranges in New Mexico lies a park where white sand dwells delicately. If the name wasn’t obvious enough, this National Park is actually named after said white sand! As you drive or hike through the scenic, sandy dunes, take time to go sledding down the soft slopes of white sand. Make sure you stroll on the Interdune Boardwalk to snag scientific information about the park via the outdoor exhibits; also, make sure to get a satisfying sight of the Sacramento Mountains. Make the delectable desert and dunefields your next destination by traveling to White Sands National Park.

Utah

Arches National Park

Source: @its_tgain

Price – $$

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Where the red rocks roam, Arches National Park will render many memories in Moab, Utah. Whether driving or hiking, be sure to take a moment to view how these rocks get in formation. Arches National Park consists of over 2,000 stone arches, including the iconic Delicate Arch, and the longest arch in North America, the Landscape Arch. Be sure to check out the Balanced Rock, and be bewildered at how these boulders have maintained their position for decades. With various forms the rocks and stones take in this park, Arches National Park will grant you a better appreciation of geology after your visit.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Source: @sheenawoodhead

Price – $$

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If you travel to the edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau in south central Utah, you’ll find the Bryce Canyon National Park. Head over to viewpoints such as Bryce, Inspiration, and Sunrise to get an overlook of the Silent City, its amphitheatre, and many other structured, rock depositions known as hoodoos. If you are able to drive a distance, check out the Rainbow and Yovimpa viewpoints to see a collection of colorful rock layers regarded as the “Grand Staircase”. After an amazing day of rock exploration, stay during the sundown, and witness one of the world’s darkest skies, where nothing but stars and sections of the Milky Way galaxy shines bright. Visit Bryce Canyon for quality air and geology galore!

Canyonlands National Park

Source: @hoehoeyay

Price – $$

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A compilation of colorful canyons awaits you at the Canyonlands National Park. In the heart of the Southeastern Utah desert, journey through acres and acres of canyons, mesas, buttes, fins, arches, and spires. Districts such as The Needles will give you an opportunity to see colorful sandstone spires in the backcountry area, while the Island In The Sky district allows you to climb the sandstone cliffs and spot a scenic view of the Canyonlands once you reach the top. The captivating canyons aren’t the only thing the park has to offer; the rivers flowing within the Canyonlands have enough current that you can boat or packraft once meeting the proper requirements. Come sightsee and sail into the Canyonlands soon.

Capitol Reef National Park

Source: Capitol Reef

Price – $$

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Canyons, valleys, and an area settlers once called home, Capitol Reef National Park has a little bit of everything to enjoy. Canyoneer through many cliffs and boulders formed of sedimentary strata and enjoy the geological structures shaped like Navajo sandstone domes and ocean reefs. When you are done playing in the deposition districts, take a walk to the Waterpocket District, where the Fremont River flows, and there are springs filled with drinkable water once you filter it. If the Waterpocket area didn’t quench your thirst enough, stop by the verdant valley known as Fruita for extraordinary views of the heart of this park. In Fruita, you’ll learn some of the history of the various settlers who once called the area home; you’ll see places like a one-room school, the Gifford Homestead, and an orchard filled with various fruits, depending on season, available to pick if ripe and if under the “u-pick” signs around the orchard. So much to learn, do, and taste, it is worth the capital to catapult your way to Capitol Reef National Park!

Zion National Park

Source: @jaclynyost

Price – $$

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The first National Park in Utah, Zion is the park to play and pay respects to the pioneers who once claimed this National Park as their place of residence. After taking the Zion pledge to protect and preserve the park, explore various locations within the park on foot, by care, or by stock animals, and see the beauty of this haven of desertous habitats; rove through the Virgin River to enter The Narrows, the narrowest place within Zion Canyon. If recreational activities such as canyoneering, bicycling, or stargazing don’t leave you tiresome, take a stroll to the Kolob Canyons to relish in the lavishing landscape, or learn about the lifestyle of the past Zion natives and colonizers through archaeological sites such as the Cable Mountain Draw Works, and other sites so ancient it requires permission to view to prevent the public for damaging any artifacts. After your visit through the pleasant park with such a praiseworthy past, you will definitely sing Zion’s name to the heavens!

ecomadic is a sustainable tourism brand that empowers travelers to make more conscious decisions. By curating a marketplace to easily find and identify responsible businesses to support, and providing educational publications through our online green travel magazine, ecomadic is committed to helping empower travelers make responsible choices throughout their journeys.


Rj Ross
Rj Ross is a past content writer at ecomadic. With his BA in communications and love for creative writing, he hopes to inspire and inform many generations about sustainable living and responsible traveling.