Utah, without a doubt, has the most unusual and other-worldly landscapes of any place I have ever been. In the southwestern part of the state lies Bryce Canyon National Park with its surreal "hoodoos" – pillars of richly colored sandstone that have taken on the most fantastical shapes. Until I had seen them with my own eyes, I never would have believed that nature could produce such flowing shapes out of sheer rock.

Not too far from Bryce is Zion National Park, with canyons and rock formations that rise to an overwhelming scale. In the eastern part of the state, around the town of Moab, lie Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, where nature's rock sculpting has continued in a grand way.

My advice to travelers in search of spectacular landscapes is to see everything else first. Once you've seen Utah, nothing else (in my humble opinion) will quite measure up. While the Grand Canyon and Death Valley are certainly more massive, and Yosemite and Yellowstone are undeniably beautiful, the National Parks and canyon areas of Utah are simply beyond belief.

The photos above offer highlights from Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, Zion, and some points in between. For a fuller view of a particular area, visit the individual pages for Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park.