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GUEST POST by Katie Wanders Katie Wanders follows New England native, Katie, around the globe. Katie swapped her oceans for mountains and moved to Utah for two years to see what "Life Elevated" was all about. Katie Wanders follows trips around the American West, adventures along the coasts, trips abroad, and showcases her love of New England. Currently, you can find her in a 2016 Penske truck with her dog and cat, wandering around National Parks and making her way back to the Atlantic. You can follow all of her adventures on FacebookInstagram, and Pinterest!

Utah's Might Five National Parks

Bridal Veil Falls, Provo Canyon, Utah

Bridal Veil Falls is located in Provo Canyon - you can't miss if you've ever driven through the canyon. You can clearly see Bridal Veil Falls from HWY 189, but to get a better sense of how big it is, there is a nice, small trail that takes you to the base of the falls. At the top of this 600 ft tiered waterfall, there used to be a restaurant, called the Eagle's Nest Lodge. The restaurant had a fire, and years later, after the cables and been dangling up there, an avalanche finally sealed the fate of it but forever removing all the loose cables. You can still see the loading station at the main parking lot. On weekends this is a very popular waterfall for families to stop and look at, so arrive early if you wish to get photos without other people in your pictures.

First Falls, Aspen Grove Trail, Hiking in Utah with Dogs

First Falls is the, well, the first waterfall along the Aspen Grove Trail, a popular route to the Mt. Timpanogos summit. After we hiked Stewart Falls, we headed over to this trail since it starts from the same parking lot. First Falls is only 1 mile up the Aspen Grove Trail, and is paved for half of it. The first half is rocky, from when the forest service reconstructed the trail due to a wash out from heavy snow melt. The second half is paved from when the trail first went in, in the early 1930s. First Falls is fun for the whole family, and those looking for a short, yet scenic destination.

Hiking the Avenues Twin Peaks, Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs

The Avenues Twin Peaks is another one of my go-to after work hikes. This hike is the most beautiful in Spring during Sunset, when the yellow flowers are blooming, the hills are green, and the temperature is just right; however this trail can be hiked year round. The Avenues Twin Peaks is almost always windy, so a light jacket is recommended. There is no water and no shade, and the trailhead is a popular spot for mountain bikers to depart on their ride.

Hiking to Ribbon Falls, Grand Canyon National Park

On Day Two of backpacking The Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon, we woke up at 5am to do a day hike to Ribbon Falls, a 6 mile hike from the Bright Angel Campground. It was pouring down rain that whole day, which made Ribbon Falls look even more glorious. Ribbon Falls is about 140 ft high, and the flow of water has created a giant travertine spire below the falls, which collects at two small pools, one at the base and one at about 50 ft above the travertine. You are allowed to swim in the falls, but when we hiked here, the temperature was about 45F with rain. Too cold for a swim! You can hike up and beneath the falls. Though Ribbon Falls takes a lot of planning combined with backpacking permit in the Grand Canyon, the 2.5 hour hike from the Bright Angel Campground is well worth the effort!

Backpacking the Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon National Park

Backpacking the Bright Angel Trail in Grand Canyon National Park has been one of my long-time backpacking goals. I had been to GCNP about 6 years about, but wasn't able to hike below the rim since I had a dog with me (dogs aren't allowed below the rim). Yes, I could visit the overlooks, but I couldn't get a feel for how deep, wide, gorgeous, and massive the Grand Canyon really was. I knew I had to get back.

Horseshoe Bend, Page, Arizona, Glen Canyon Recreation Area

Horseshoe Bend is one of my favorite overlooks in the U.S. Horseshoe Bend is along the Colorado River, and is only 3 miles south of Page, Arizona along Highway 89, 5 miles downstream from the Glen Canyon Dam, and requires a 3/4 mile walk to the overlook. The 1,000 ft drop to the bottom offers fantastic views, and if you have a wide angle lens or panorama option, you can capture the full horseshoe-shaped river and canyon.