5 last-minute, inexpensive spring break trips

(Utah State Parks)

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SALT LAKE CITY — College students around the state will breathe a collective sigh of relief with spring break around the corner.

With the exception of Brigham Young University, colleges and universities are giving students a respite in the next couple of weeks. For students who have been too busy with school work and 1 a.m. pizza parties to think about their spring break plans, we’ve got a few suggestions for last-minute and inexpensive getaways.

Goblin Valley

Utah is home to dozens of state parks, but one must-have experience is Goblin Valley. Like Bryce National Park, Goblin Valley is home to thousands of otherworldly hoodoos.

Hike and mountain bike among these oddly shaped red rocks, sightsee from the overlooks, and if you have access to ATVs, experience the park that way. The goblin-like hoodoos are the perfect opportunity to fulfil any art or photography class assignments, as well.

If you are interested in extending your trip, explore the Green River area. Golfing, the San Rafael Swell, Huntington Reservoir, Energy Loop and Butch Cassidy’s Robber’s Roost are all nearby.

Driving distance:From USU: 5 From Weber: 4:15 From U. of U./Westminster/SLCC: 4 From UVU: 3:15 From SC: 3 From SUU: 4 From Dixie: 4:40

Lava Hot Springs

For people in the upper half of the state, Lava Hot Springs is easily a day trip. Within three hours of most schools, students have a lot of flexibility with this trip.

The pools are open just about every day of the year, and weather is rarely a problem. Chill out in the natural hot springs or the indoor swimming pool. For the social students, groups of 25 or more can get a discounted rate Monday through Thursday.


Driving distance (in hours):From USU: 1:25 From Weber: 1:45 From U. of U./Westminster/SLCC: 2:15 From UVU: 2:45 From SC: 3 From SUU: 5:30 From Dixie: 6:10 Ghost Towns

For the history majors or those fascinated by abandoned structures, Grafton, just west of Rockville on state Route 9, is one of the more accessible ghost towns in Utah and well preserved.

A visit to a ghost town can be a day trip if you’re close, but if you want to make it into a tour, we have a list of five unforgettable ghost towns, including the schoolhouse in Widtsoe, the town named after the Egyptian god Osiris, well-preserved Frisco, and the effects of a landslide in Thistle.

Driving distance:Varies according to which ghost town you visit.

Big 5

Zion, Bryce, Arches, Canyonlands and Capitol Reef national parks are always great options for a last-minute trip. These parks should be on every native and temporary Utahn’s list of to-dos.

If you have the funds and time, take Utah's scenic Byway 12 and knock out three national parks. Spend some time in Zion before heading to Bryce and connecting to Highway 12. The road will take you through some of the most diverse and beautiful landscapes of Utah. Go through the slick rock of Grand Staircase-Escalante, crest the forested Boulder Mountain and surround yourself with the towering plateaus of Capitol Reef before you're done.

If you're able to take your time, watch out for the many hikes and diversions just off the highway, like the little-known Kodachrome Basin, the short but gorgeous Calf Creek Falls hike in Escalante or Anasazi State Park in Boulder. Also in Escalante is the petrified forest, where rocks are preserved remnants of ancient trees. More details about Highway 12 can be found online.

While campground reservations can quickly fill up, nearby KOAs, campgrounds and motels are typically good last-minute options. Call ahead to be sure you have a place to sleep, then pack up, bundle up and head outdoors.

A full list of campgrounds near any of Utah’s national parks can be found on Utah.com.


Driving distance:Varies according to which national park you visit. Torrey access to Scenic Highway 12:From USU: 4:35 From Weber: 3:50 From U. of U./Westminster/SLCC: 3:30 From UVU: 2:45 From SC: 2

Bryce access to Scenic Highway 12:From SUU: 1:30 From Dixie: 2:15

St. George

With the exclusion of Dixie State University students, you can always find an excuse to visit St. George. The change in temperature and the access to national and state parks are worth the trip alone.

Spend a day in town in the historic district on St. George Boulevard, at the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm, the St. George Art Museum, Red Rock Park, play a round of golf or treat yourself to a spa day.

If ATVs are available to you, take them out for some four-wheeling on Sand Hollow's dunes.

Then take a day at Snow Canyon State Park or Zion National Park, hike through the dunes and red rocks, take a picnic and eat along the trail.

Accessible spring hikes at Zion include the Riverside Walk, Emerald Pools, Angel’s Landing, Canyon Overlook, Grotto Trail, Chinle Trail, Pa’rus Trail, Weeping Rock (if the water is not frozen) and Riverside Walk.

Driving distance:From USU: 5:25 From Weber: 4:35 From U. of U./Westminster/SLCC: 4:15 From UVU: 3:35 From SC: 3 From SUU: 40 minutes From Dixie: 0


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Celeste Tholen Rosenlof


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