Switching Scenes is brought to you by Boost, a brand that knows the best experiences come when you change things up.
Zion National Park is stunning. Beautiful. Awe-inspiring. But it’s also crowded. With more than 4.5 million visitors a year, Zion was the third most touristed National Park in 2017. Yosemite was the 5th most visited (with 4.3 million guests) and boasts nearly 1200 square miles of land to explore. Zion has just 232. If you’re measuring per square foot, Zion is packed.
At Uproxx, we don’t mind sending you to popular places. They’re beloved for a reason, after all. But we also want to help you explore tucked-away locales and lesser-known experiences. Which is why we’re spending the next month chasing the destinations that don’t get as much love from the masses, trading the most popular vacation spots for adventures that will surprise you.
We’re starting in Utah — swapping a trip to Zion National Park with a chance to explore the massive swaths of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property in the state’s southeastern corner. To guide us through the region, we enlisted adventure photographer Josiah Roe. Having made his career telling photographic stories of off-the-beaten-path adventures, Roe is the perfect traveler for the task.
“I’ve always been a map nerd,” he says with a laugh. “I love to go to where the map ends.”
One of Roe’s all-time favorite spots is the area outside of Bear’s Ears National Monument. Since much of this zone is BLM land, you can visit, camp, and hike for free. This is where you’ll find two of Roe’s favorite vistas on earth, Monument Valley and Valley of the Gods*. We asked him to guide us on a tour of both.
*Note: Both Monument Valley and Valley of the Gods became protected land under Bear’s Ears National Monument during the Obama administration, They lost that status in 2017 when the protected land of Bear’s Ears National Monument was reduced by 85 percent.