Photo credit: Nicola Pritchett
With the spring semester winding down, many students find their hearts and minds turning towards summer travels. As so many here identify as “starving students,” a flight to Tokyo might not be in the budget. For those who’ve caught the travel bug this summer, here are some nearby exotic locales that won’t force the choice between hitting the road and paying rent.
Goblin Valley State Park, Green River, Utah
Distance: 185 miles
Probably the coolest natural place in all of Utah, Goblin Valley is home to a Martian-looking landscape covered in an orange-red limestone that has been weathered over the eons into thousands of giant buttes and mushroom shaped rock formations called “hoodoos” or “goblins.” The area is so otherworldly it has been used by the film industry to represent Mars or other alien planets, notably in 1998’s “Galaxy Quest” and many others. It’s truly a beautiful landscape that is definitely worth exploring.
When the sun goes down Goblin Valley reveals another treasure in the sky. Being one of the least light-polluted areas in Utah, stars and other celestial bodies like the Milky Way are vividly bright and well defined, making stargazing more attractive than ever.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Distance: 383 miles
Even for those who aren’t fans of the gambling scene, there is much, much more to do in Las Vegas upon closer examination, and plenty of it is relatively cheap. While attractions like Cirque du Soleil and Blue Man Group can cost upwards of $60 a person, sites like the light show on Fremont Street, the Fountains of Bellagio, and M&M World are all free admission.
Other places such as Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat, Pinball Hall of Fame, and the Coca-Cola museum all offer a day of fun for under $20 a person. For those who are still not convinced, amazing tourist attractions such as the Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon are only an hour’s drive from the heart of Vegas.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Distance: 359 miles
Yellowstone is a nature-lover’s dream come true. Name something Ron Swanson from “Parks and Recreation” might do on the weekends, and it can probably be done here. In one day, a person could take in hot springs and geysers like Old Faithful, get up close—but not too close—and personal with wild animals such as grizzly bears, bison, moose, and even wild horses, and then head back to a campsite in a canoe and sleep under the stars after eating a freshly caught trout for dinner.
Park City Utah
Distance: 45 miles
Park City is essentially Utah’s playground. Around town there are various activities to get caught up in, ranging from concerts, theatre and the arts to museums and fine dining. The Utah Olympic Park is always worth a visit, featuring memorabilia from the 2002 Olympics, zip lines and the infamous Alpine Slide. For those who have never experienced the Alpine Slide, picture a sled with wheels going down a sloped, concrete ramp at 30 miles per hour. It’s a thrill.