by Julie K. Trevelyan
Floating the San Juan River is a fantastic river rafting vacation enjoyed by families looking to share some unique memories as well as those who are a little more mature in life. But what if you have some leeway in your vacation time and want to explore the area more in-depth either before or after your Utah rafting trip with Holiday? You’re in luck, because we’ve got some tips on things to do and see around the put-in area near the town of Blanding. From family-friendly to calm and sedate, you’ll probably find something that fits the bill for you. Enjoy!
Lodging: this includes plain to fancy.
Restaurants: mostly basic, you’ll still find some variety of places to eat in Blanding.
Rockin’ the ancient Puebloan artifacts found in southeast Utah, Edge of the Cedars offers the largest such curated collection in the country. They also have a fun Junior Archeologist program, the intriguing remains of an ancient settlement out back, and a gift shop. $5/adult, $3/child, $20/family. Mon-Sat, 9-5. (435) 678-2238
With one of the best privately-held collections of ancient Ancestral Puebloan artifacts on hand, Huck’s is a somewhat controversial addition to Edge of the Cedars. Despite how the artifacts may have been gathered over time, this is a fascinating place to explore with its thousands of pieces of history to marvel at. $3/adult, $2/child. Mon-Sun, 8-5. (435) 678-2329
Utah is definitely known for its preponderance of dinosaur fossils. In Blanding’s own Dinosaur Museum, you can check out dinosaur egg fossils and get the lowdown on the latest in dino skin research. How cool is that? $3/adult, $1.50/child. Mon-Sat, 9-5. (435) 678-3454
36 miles east of Blanding, down bumpy dirt roads back of beyond, you’ll find this remote site that dates to 10,000 years ago. Its primary features are the fascinating ruins of unusual towers. Visitors center, hiking loops, guided tours, camping. $6/vehicle. $10/night camping. Open year-round. (970) 562-4282 ext. 10
Home to some of the darkest night skies in light-polluted America, Natural Bridges showcases some gorgeous rock bridges that formed over millennia. 42 miles west of Blanding. Driving loop, hiking trails, camping, visitors center. $6/vehicle. Open year-round. (435) 692-1234 ext. 16
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
With over a million acres of land, you’ll have plenty of space to take a deep breath and relax in this spectacular landscape. Take a hike. Step aboard the Floating Visitor Center to get a really unique perspective. Drop a line and while away the day fishing. Exploring GCNRA is a great way to extend your rafting vacation and experience the area in even more depth. $15/vehicle. Open year-round. (928) 608-6200
Formed by the damming of the Colorado River, Lake Powell is officially part of the GCNRA (see above). Here, houseboats are really popular, but hiking, kayaking, and camping are pretty sweet things to do too. From Blanding you’ll drive southeast anywhere from 80-90 miles, depending on where exactly you want to go: Hall’s Crossing, Bullfrog Marina, and Hite Crossing are the most well-known and popular areas. Or you can go big and head all 193 miles to hopping Page, Arizona.
Point your car 74 miles due north of Blanding and check out the many happenings around Moab. Horseback riding, hiking, Jeeping, rock climbing, restaurants, and shopping can all be yours in this fun little town. Moab is also near the entrances to Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park, both of which boast some of the most stunning geological formations in the world. Moab Tourism Council, (800) 635-6622
Written by Julie Trevelyan.
Julie is a freelance writer and wilderness guide in southern Utah. She especially enjoys books, coffee, yoga, wild country, horses, and dark chocolate.
See more of her work at www.wildgirlwriting.com