Enjoy food, enjoy travel and enjoy life. You're listening to Travel Gluten free by Elikqitie.
I founded travel gluten free for you. I love to be a resource contributor and support to you on your gluten free journey. So, my friends, this week's been kind of crazy, I missed putting this episode out last week and I apologize. But, we had a death in the family so we have been dealing with that. So, that's why the podcast is late this week. But, I'm going to try to get, an extra podcast in for you in the next four weeks to make up for that one I missed. Because, I have this really great series on Utah National Parks and I really want to get that in before June because June is coming up really quick. And December is really big for parks and I love to get all the information out that you need or that you might want to share with a friend who might be going to a national park sometime soon in Utah. And as always, I'm going to be giving a listener shout out to an Instagram follower in our community. If you're a listener who tags travel gluten free on Instagram, you're going to be mentioned on the travel Gluten free show. I'm going to give a shout out to a gluten free friend on every episode. Tag travel, gluten free on Instagram at travelglutenfree.me and I'll give you a shout out at the end of my show.
Alright, my gluten free friend, in our last episode I gave you the 411 on how to travel in national parks in general. So, Eddie National Park and I also gave you an outline of national park history and what you and your family could do in a national park. So, even though I packed a bunch of information into that last episode, there's still so much to tell you about our national park system. So, if you haven't visited a national park, check out my last episode and visit nps.gov which is the national park website and find a park that you'll love and definitely go and visit at least one national park this year. So, in this episode I'm going to chat about Utah Parks specifically and I'm going to take you on a journey of Utah National Parks. They're just so beautiful and amazing. I've been to each one of them and I'm going to tell you why I love each one of them in the next two episodes as well. So, I'm going to give you stories, recommendations, how to travel in Utah Parks and what to bring when you do go to a Utah Park at what times are best to go to avoid the crowds.
Utah parks have gotten so insanely crowded in the past 10 years, I cannot believe it. So, the first time I visited a Utah Park was about 15 years ago. And it was crowded, but you could get in and out pretty easily most of the times of the day. Now, if you don't go at certain times of the day, it is flooded, crowded with people. And especially if you get a tour bus that drops a whole bunch of people off at one spot. So, you really need to be aware of when to go, when not to go, when to take breaks from the park and especially in Utah, when to take breaks in the park.
Okay, so let's start with the basics, what to expect when you come to Utah. Should you expect (a) crazy weather, (b) super dry climate, (c) lots of other tourists, (d) lots of ice cream or (e)sunburn. Well, my friend, the answer is all of the above, but not to overwhelm you. Let's start with the weather and the climate.
Utah easily confuses visitors into thinking they're not going to get a sunburn when it's cool or especially when it's cold or snowing outside. But think again, because many of the parks are at a high altitude and at high altitude you have less ozone to protect you from the burning rays of the sun. So, the result is that Utah leads the nation in skin cancer because there are people living at high elevations and there's a lot of people with lighter skin color living in Utah. And so, between those two factors, we have the highest skin cancer in the nation in Utah. So, you definitely want to protect yourself from the sun. Even though Utah is covered in snow for half of the year, we do have as many sunny days as Florida at 300 days a year. So, even though it's cold, we have sun. Even if it's warm, we have sun, we only don't have sun when it's raining or when it's about to rain.
So, it's extremely sunny, and my number one recommendation is wear sunscreen every day. Even if you don't think you're going to need it, you will burn so fast and easy in Utah. And of course, the next worst thing to getting poisoned with gluten on your trip, is being badly sunburned on your trip. Or even worse, being badly sunburned and being poisoned by gluten on your trip.
So, my first experience with sun in Utah, when I first moved to Utah eight years ago, I used to live in Florida. So, what I would do is, I would put a 70 block sunscreen on myself at the beginning of the day, reapply once in the afternoon and I was perfectly fine. I'd get a tan, but I wouldn't burn. I did that in Utah, and I had a serious sun burn. So, you need to be super careful with the sun in Utah. I can't stress that enough. And in addition to the searing sun , our climate is semiarid. So, what does this mean?
This means it is really, really, really, really dry and you need to bring lots of water. I always have water in my car even for day to day activities because it is so dry out here. And you also want to bring super hydrating lotion, lip balm and sunglasses with you because you'll be amazed how fast your skin is going to dry out in Utah. When I go to Florida, because it's a lot more humid, and I used to live in, in Florida in three days, my skin looks about 10 years younger. You come back to Utah in about a week, your skin looks 10 years older because it's so dry and no matter how much coconut oil or lotion I put on my skin, its always dry and my skin is dry to begin with.
So it's really hard to keep your skin hydrated in Utah. So, make sure you bring; lip balm, lotion and sunglasses because the sun is just so bright out here and your skin's going to dry out really fast. So, Utah climate, weather, although usually wonderful is very drying to your skin and your sinuses are going to take a toll as well. So, I suggest getting a saline spray, especially if you have sensitive sinuses like myself to keep your sinuses healthy and not complaining when you're here. That's always a good idea. If you have a travel Neti pot, which I have, these are great to use in the morning to rehydrate your sinuses and use them at night before you go to bed. So, a travel Neti pots are really good as well. So, for your lip balm specifically, if you're coming to Utah, get one that's in a squeeze tube. And the reason why you want to get one that's in the squeeze tube instead of a stick, is because the temperature it, Utah can fluctuate 20 degrees in a single day very easily.
So, you might wake up in the morning and it's pretty cool out, you’ve got a jacket on and two hours later you're sweating and you're hot and your lip balm is going to melt and it's going to create a mess. Believe me, I've tried to get melted lip balm out of my jacket pocket and it is not a pretty scene. So, definitely carry lip balm in a tube and make sure your lip balm does not have petroleum jelly in it cause petroleum jelly is not good for your lips.
Next, let's talk tourism. I bet you're saying, well I want to come out to Utah or you may have been thinking about it. I can tell you from personal experience, I've been visiting Utah for many years and the crowds have become so insane like I mentioned earlier. And if you want to avoid them, the best way is not to come to the parks June through August because it is jam packed.
If you are coming in the summer months, make sure to get to the park around 8:00 AM or whatever time they open to get a parking space because they fill up super fast. Then, leave the park around noon, go eat lunch, go back to your hotel or your Airbnb, grab a nap, chill by the pool and then come back around 4:00 PM and enjoy the parks until evening when it's cooler and less crowded. That's going make such a big difference when you're visiting Utah to do that break in the middle of the day, because between twelve and three, it's insanely crowded, it’s insanely hot. And everybody is insanely tired from hiking for those two or three hours that you've already been out. So, it's good to take a break and then come back later because around three, four o'clock the park starts emptying out and there's usually nobody, not a lot of people there around dinner time.
And there's definitely not a lot of people there around seven or eight PM, which is wonderful because it's nice and cool out, The Sun is going down, just make sure you bring a jacket, even if it is summer and you get to enjoy the park when it's way less crowded and way cooler. So, that is my suggestion on when to go to the park. Besides, the park being a parking lot, the heat can reach to 110 degrees easily during the day, in the summer. So, last year when, no, I think it was two years ago, I went camping with my cousin Ellie, shout out to Ellie, we went camping and it was 108 degrees during the day and 88 degrees at night. It was hard to sleep because it was really, really hot.
So, you can easily get heat exhaustion and drinking water does not prevent you from getting heat exhaustion. It prevents you from dehydrating. So, if you do have heat exhaustion, you need to stop get in the shade and pour water over your body to cool yourself down, especially your head. So, keep that in mind that heat exhaustion and dehydration are two separate things. Drinking water does not reduce your chances of getting heat exhaustion. So, keep that mind. So that's why I always suggest people going early morning and late afternoon and night. It's less crowded, you’re going to get better pictures you won't have to fight people on the trail.
You won't have to walk around people. It's easier driving into cooler weather. I especially love arches at night and you'll hear more about that in the next episode when I give you a tour of the Parks of Utah. Next, let's talk about food. So, specifically gluten free foods and ice cream.
Utah has such a fetish with desserts, it's almost bizarre. I mean like a real addiction with desserts, especially ice cream. There is ice cream everywhere. Every small town you drive through in Utah is going to have an ice cream store with really good ice cream. The only towns I haven't seen, ice cream store is in our towns with the population of 300 people or under and yes, 300 people or under. You drive through in southern Utah towns with a 150 people, 200 people where it's literally one road you drive through and houses on either side. It's kind of crazy and when you see it you'll be like no way and watch out for cops in those places. Because I think that's where their town gets the most revenue is by giving people tickets. So, definitely observe the speed limit very carefully in those small towns in southern Utah. And getting back to the gluten free scene.
It's pretty good here in Utah, even around national parks. Check out my episode seven on how to find gluten free restaurants outside your home town to help with getting a gluten free restaurant in, and around Utah. One big thing to remember when you are gluten free is that ice cream can have gluten in the form of Maltodextrin or we flour or whatever type of thickener, especially when there are mixings involved. So, most places will be able to tell you if they have gluten in their ice cream. But be careful because this can really trip you up on your vacation, especially when it's super hot and you just want some ice cream to cool down.
Remember to ask for a manager or someone who knows the ingredients, if the person who is helping you is not sure or does not know. Be proactive and advocate for yourself even for something as small as ice cream. So, I know a bunch of frozen yogurt places, will just list it on their machines, which is great if it has gluten in it or not. And also be careful of cross contamination when you're using those self serve yogurt machines as well. So, that is my tip on ice cream. And my friend, we are going to take a really quick short break. When we come back we will talk about the five national parks, where they're located and how to get your fabulous fissures on national park social media.
So, when you go to a national park and you want to see what's around, you want to check out the national park page at nps.gov. Nps for, national parks system, you can search for parks by state. When you Click on Utah, the site, will give you a list of all the national places. National monuments , national sites, historic trails, recreational sites and parks. So, all of these are part of the national park system. So, a recreational site can be part of the national parks system, so can a historic trail or a national monument. And so, each of these areas, because they are part of the national parks system, are maintained by the government and are part of the National Park Service.
These are wonderful places to visit. But for this podcast, I'm going to focus just on the national parks. There are five national parks in Utah, and I've been to all of them. They're each very different and even though they're all in the same state and some within an hour or two of each other, they each have their own types of rock formation, which give them their personality. And, the geology of each of them is exquisite and you can't find this type of geology very many other places in the world, and this is one of the reasons why I actually moved to Utah.
The National Park Geology is insane. I think Utah has more geologists per capita than any other state in the world. If you want to learn geology, come out to the University of Utah and learn geology, because it is the place to learn geology because we have tons of places to study it. We have rocks that are 4 billion years old at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. I mean, how many places on earth can you find rocks that are 4 billion years old? Maybe it's 3 billion, I don't know, either way. They are super old rocks and they're here in Utah. And not only are they old, they're beautiful in all sorts of colors. You have green rocks, purple rocks, rust colored rocks, red rocks, pink rocks, Orange Rock, sandstone, all types of rocks. If you love rocks, it's definitely the place to come check out some rocks. And besides Utah, you can only see cool rock formations like this in about half a dozen other places in the world, and this is what makes the parks in Utah so special.
For example, Arches has a rock that's called balanced rock. I woke up near that rock because it is literally a ginormous boulder on the top of this little pointy, kind of like triangular rock that sticks up out of the ground. When that thing falls, and it will fall one day, it is going to crush dozens of people because it is so big and I will not go near it. I've taken pictures of it from far away with a zoom. But I mean, that's typical in Utah. There's arc rocks, It’s just so beautiful. Anyway, let's move on. And we're going to start with the parks in the North Arches. So, arches is like very typical, you see on a postcard the arch on your postcard. So, in order to get to that arch, it's about a three and a half mile trip out. I can't remember if that's round trip or not, but I've been to it a couple of times and in order to go see it, you have to take a pretty decent hike out to the arch.
It's definitely not an easy hike and it's not back country either. There's tons of people on the trail, but it is a pretty vigorous hike and I definitely would not do this in the middle of the day. Doing it later in the afternoon at like three is perfect. So anyway, Arches has that arch you see on all the postcards. There are other arch formations there. I got to see an arch in 2007 or eight that ended up falling a couple of years ago. So, I was really lucky to get pictures of that arch before it fell. So an arch formation is formed by I believe like watered ice, like underneath the rock and then it makes a hole in the rocket and it makes an arch and eventually they do fall.
But arches park has a lot of arch rocks in it. And the description on the website says, visit arches to discover a landscape of contrast and colors, land formations and textures unlike any other in the world. This park has over 2000 natural stone arches in addition to hundreds of storing pinnacles, massive fins and giant balanced rocks like the one I just told you about. This red rock wonderland will amaze you with his formations, refresh you with its trails and inspire you with its sunsets. And it definitely will. I went to Moab, I believe it was the last time I went to Moab a couple of years ago, and I went at night and I have a moon roof on my Volkswagen is a very large sunroof that expands the whole length of the car. And the super moon was up and I got on the top of my moon roof and I was sitting on the top of my roof of my car looking at this beautiful super moon reflecting against all the arched rocks, which was absolutely breathtaking and amazing.
So, I love arches at night. You can go to arches at night. It's really fun. I would have, I don't know that I suggest hiking on the trails at night, but just driving in the main path, the main drive through in arches, Absolutely. I would totally recommend that. Next one, which is about a half an hour from arches, is canyon lands. And Canyon lands is very surreal. It has a lot of just really crazy, it looks like another planet, let's just put it that way. And the description, and it's only a half an hour from Moab, excuse me, it's in Moab. It's an half an hour from arches, so you come to this road and it's like Canyon land is this way, Arches is that way. Canyonlands is really cool, it’s divided into three different parts. It’s divided into island in the sky, then needles and the maze. Now the maze, you have to be super outdoorsy and have all sorts of certifications to do that because you have to repel into the maze.
Like you have to hook up, harness and drop yourself into it to even get into it. And there's a reason it's called the maze, it is because many people have gotten lost in the maze and you have to have a sat phone in order to even go in there. It's extremely dangerous, I have never been in there and I probably will never go in there, but I've driven up to the end of it and just have taken pictures, it’s really cool. Then there's the needles, which is like the medium part has some back country hikes in it and then there's island in the sky. So, that's when you come in and you'll see the visitor's center and it has some easy hikes. It's just great if you just want to go in and drive around and take pictures because there's so many beautiful places. I remember eating lunch right next to like a rock, not right next to a rock precipice, but about 10 feet back.
And I was sitting under this tree eating my lunch, it was beautiful. And the description of Canyon lands from the website is Canyon lands invites you to explore a wilderness of countless canyons and fantastically formed beauts carved by the Colorado River and its tributaries. Rivers divide the park into four districts, Island in the sky, the needles, the maze and the rivers themselves. These areas are primitive desert atmosphere, but each offers different opportunities for sightseeing and adventure and definitely take tons of water with you in the canyon lands because there are not a lot of places to get water here unless you are at the entrance of the park.
In the south, we have Bryce Canyon and Bryce Canyon is my personal favorite to take pictures of that sunset because the Hoodoos, which are the rock formations just light up like they're not neon, but they're beautiful hues of red and rust and browns and oh my gosh, oranges it’s just amazing at sunset. So, I would definitely suggest taking pictures of Bryce Canyon at sunset or near sunset at the end of the day when the sun is golden and all these Hoodoos, which are the rock formations are golden as well. And the Hoodoos, which are the columns of rock, are based on native Americans that used to live there. I believe what the tradition is the tradition says is that those Hoodoos where their relatives or their ancient, like they're ancient past the people who came before them and those what those rocks, those are what those rock formations signifies to native Americans who live in the area, which is really, it's a really cool story.
And the story is at the visitor center and all of these visitors centers will give you the native American side as well, like part of it. So, it's also really good educational as far as pre history education as well. When you go to all these parks in Utah, they have great visitor centers. So, definitely take advantage of that. And there's a lot of really great hikes in Bryce Canyon, there's easy hikes, harder hikes and there’s a lot of really great pullout spots for photography in Bryce Canyon, I think more so than other places just because of the geology allows them more because obviously you have to go around the geology when you're making these street, like little paved streets inside the national parks. So, definitely check out Bryce Canyon and get a lot of pictures right before the sun's going down, it's absolutely breathtaking.
And the description from the website for Bryce Canyon reads Hoodoos which are regular columns of rocks exists on every continent, but here is the largest concentration found anywhere on earth. This goes back to the geology of thing I was telling you about, amazing. Situated on a high plateau at the top of the grand staircase, the parks high elevations include numerous life communities, fantastic dark skies and geological wonders that defy description. That is pretty much right on it.
So, let's move on to our next park in the south, which is Zion. Zion is in the little town of Springdale, Utah and Springdale, Utah basically grew up around Zion Park and it has gotten a little commercial, not really, but a little bit. When I first came to Springdale over 15 years ago, it was a bunch of houses as a cool little RC community and you had like a few places to eat and the local market. And that has expanded greatly in the past 15 years with the popularity of Zion. Zion is extremely popular. If you do want to camp, there's, it’s first come, first served you need to get there at 4:30 in the morning, which I did and I was the last person who was let in that day. So, camping at Zion is like, they let people out and when one carload goes out, you go in and get assigned their old camping ground spot. So, even though they have, I think there's like 150 spots, it's really hard to get into the campground at Zion. If you have the first come first serve campground and it's really hard to get into camp ground. I think they have a reserved area as well, which I'll talk more about when I talk specifically about Zion in episode two or three.
So, anyway, Zion is really beautiful, I believe as a civilian conservation core, cut out the roadways and they had these beautiful switchback roadways it’s very, very dark purplish red rock and lots of opportunities to take pictures as always. But there's lots of really, really great Family hikes in Zion and they have the Virgin River, which is a absolutely beautiful river you can hike through the river, which is the actual path. And you come to the end of the emerald pools. I have not gotten to the emerald pools, although I was really close the last time I was at Zion. And the description from the website says, follow the past where the ancient native people in Pioneers walked gaze up at massive sandstone cliffs of cream, pink and red that sore into a brilliant blue sky. I Love the Utah Blue Sky. Experience Wilderness in a narrow slot canyon Zion’s unique array of plants and animals will enchant you as you absorb the rich history of the past and enjoy the excitement of the present day adventures.
Alright, we're going to move into the middle of Utah and our last National Park, which is Capitol Reef. Capitol Reef is my favorite place to camp. I love camping at Capitol Reef that is also a first come first serve. And they only have 50 spots, I believe. You want to get there really early in the morning, Not four in the morning, but seven or eight in the morning to get yourself a spot. Especially if it's a busy weekend and if there's nobody leaving, you basically have to drive around and see if somebody is leaving. And if no one's leaving, you don't get a spot. And I don't know where else there is to camp around there, but anyway it is located right outside the town of Tory Utah and it's really cool because the camp ground has lots of trees and it was settled by settlers in the lady eighteen hundreds. And, it's just a really cool little place. I'm not going to tell you much more about it, but it has really, really fun hikes, really great picture opportunities no matter where you go.
Lots and lots of wildlife in and around even the camping areas. So Capitol Reef is my favorite place to camp and has, I think one of the most diverse rock formations. Because they have lots of different types of rock formations, which as, Zion has more one specifically. And then Bryce national park has lots of Hoodoos, but Capitol Reef has a little bit of a mix of everything. And here's the description from the website. It says, located in South Central Utah in the heart of Red Rock Country Capitol Reef National Park is a hidden treasure filled with cliffs, canyons, domes and bridges, and the water pocket fold. Oh, the water pocket fold is so cool. Okay. It's a geologic Mondo Klein, a wrinkle in the earth extending almost 100 miles. So, when you look at the water pocket fold and it doesn't look real, it looks like someone painted it on the landscape. It is so insanely cool. You definitely have to do the water pocket fold hike. It's not a hard hike well it's not a beginner hike, but it's kind of like a medium height. But I've done it with my kids when they were little and they had no problem doing it. So, the water pocket fold hike, really super cool.
Alright, so my next episode I'm going to explore a couple different Utah Parks in adventurous detail. So, we're going to delve a little further into two parks, two national parks for the next episode. So, let's go onto our last thing we're going to talk about for this episode. How to get your park pictures on national parks, social media. So, there's two ways to get your park pictures on national parks, social media that I know of. One is, share your park on national parks.org page. So you go to national parks.org and there's a page called share your Park and you can upload your photo on to that page. The other way is to Hashtag your picture with find your park, find your park. So if you Hashtag your pitcher with find your park on any social media, the park service you can, you can find other people's, find your park Hashtag as well. And the park service will be able to see that. So those are the two ways to get your park pictures on national park and social media.
Alright, my friends we’re going to jump into the guilty gluten questions. Okay. So, when was the last time I cheated eating gluten? I didn't actually cheat but I ate Cadbury eggs. I think they were cross contaminated and I didn't feel good for a day and a half. What is the food I miss most and why? I don't know right now. It has to be something filled with custard that I miss. I miss tasty cakes, Boston cream pie I eat now. I'm not sure. I don’t know. I'm not sure. I haven't been thinking about missing food lately, maybe that's why. Alright, what is the best gluten free food I have eaten? Oh definitely, I just remembered, [inaudible] kitchen and bakery in park city that is the only completely gluten free restaurant. I interview them on a former episode, I believe it was like 36 or 35 and maybe it was 34 anyway, they have amazing gluten free food and so nice to go to a restaurant and not have to ask about gluten free cause everything's gluten free, you just get to pick whatever you want.
And I believe I did not even post these on my Instagram yet. So, I will post pictures of element park city on my Instagram. You guys can see the amazing food they have there. Amazing desserts as well. My daughter loves their chocolate MOCHA donut. I just ate their lemon blueberry donut. They also have cupcakes and this really great nut bar and this Mexican chocolate pudding dessert, Oh my God, It's insane. So Element Park city is definitely my best gluten free food I've eaten.
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