Utah is home to 5 national parks known as the Mighty Five. Try to take a multi-day road trip to conquer all five! Seven days is enough to cover all five parks with sufficient rest in between, but visitors can extend it to 10 days to add more sites to the itinerary.

Itinerary For A Utah National Parks Road Trip

Catch an early flight to Salt Lake City, then take a 4-hour drive to Moab. Take the rest of the day off to rest. Arches and Canyonlands are a quick drive away. Allot one day each for Arches and Canyonlands—if possible, stay an extra day to explore Canyonlands as it is the largest national park. Dead Horse Point State Park is also nearby and worth a stop. Although it's not one of the Mighty Five National Parks, it's worth checking out if you have time. There is a two to three-hour drive in between each national park. After a full day of hiking and exploring, take some time to rest for the long drive.

THETRAVEL VIDEO OF THE DAY
  • Day 1: Arrival at Salt Lake City
  • Day 2: Arches National Park
  • Day 3: Canyonlands National Park
  • Day 4: Capitol Reef National Park
  • Day 5: Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Day 6: Zion National Park
  • Day 7: Drive to Las Vegas

This is a tight schedule. Devoting one day per national park is barely enough to explore, considering you'll have to drive to the next park at the end of each day. Feel free to extend your stay at any point to explore nearby sites or to rest and recover.

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What To Bring

  • Hiking boots/sturdy walking shoes
  • Water bottle – look for refilling stations along the way
  • Headlight – in case you find yourself on the trail at sundown
  • Traction cleats - for hiking during winter
  • Sunscreen – to apply and reapply throughout the day
  • Layers (windbreaker, raincoat, light jacket) – for layering, especially during the winter and fall seasons
  • Hiking poles

Routes

Visitors can choose to arrive and depart from Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. There's also the option to travel in a loop to enter and exit from the same city.

Those who take the Salt Lake City-Las Vegas Route (or vice versa) can rent cars within each town or city. In addition, those who take the loop route can rent one car from the city of arrival and drop it off once the entire trip is done.

When To Go

The national parks are open all year round.

Here's a breakdown of what to look forward to:

  • Winter: Has shorter days but fewer crowds. Some park amenities and attractions may be closed for the season. If you can cope with winter weather and snow, then go!
  • Summer: The temperature can go up to over 100 degrees. It's very hot and not ideal for hiking and doing outdoor activities.
  • Spring and Fall: Best time to visit due to pleasant weather (not too hot, not too cold). September attracts the most crowds.

Hiking At The Five National Parks

Like any other national park, each of the Mighty Five has a variety of hiking trails, and some have camping sites. Before hiking, make sure to check park announcements and weather conditions. Certain trails and attractions might be closed if it's deemed dangerous. Here's a rundown of the parks and the must-see sites and must-try hikes:

Arches National Park

Marvel at the over 2,000 arches within this national park!

  • Easy trail: Skyline Arch, Sand Dune Arch
  • Must-see trail: Delicate Arch, Landscape Arch
  • Other notable stops: The Windows, Turret Arch
  • Viewpoints: Fiery Furnace, Balanced Arch, Courthouse Tower, La Sal Mountain

Canyonlands

Coming from a park of arches, we go to a park of canyons. Devote one full day to Canyonlands as it has 4 districts: Island in the Sky, The Needles, The Maze, and The Rivers. If possible, devote 2 days to cover at least 2 out of the 4 districts. Bring your hiking poles as the hiking trails have steep climbs and descents. However, do not be deceived by the short trails. Some of them can be pretty challenging.

  • Hiking Trails: Mesa Arch Trail, White Rim Overlook, Gooseberry Trail, Aztec Butte, Whale Rock, Upheaval, False Kiva
  • Viewpoints: Buck Canyon Overlook, Candlestick Tower Overlook, Green River Overlook, Orange Cliffs Overlook, Shafer Canyon Overlook

Capitol Reef

  • Hiking Trails: Hickman's Bridge
  • Viewpoints: Panorama Point, Goosenecks Overlook, Sunset Point

Bryce Canyon

  • Hiking Trails: Queen's Garden, Navajo Loop
  • Viewpoints: Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Inspiration Point, Bryce Point, Natural Bridges, Rainbow Point, Yovimpa Point

Zion

Zion National Park has beautiful sandstone cliffs, stunning views, and wildlife. If possible, stay an extra day as the hikes are some of the most iconic out of the Mighty Five. While it's possible to do both in a day, stay an extra day to give yourself time to rest in between hikes and not feel rushed. There are shuttle services that will take visitors to the starting point of the trails.

  • Hiking Trails: Riverside Walk, The Narrows, Angels Landing
  • Viewpoints: Canyon Overlook, Scout Lookout

RELATED: What To Expect When Visiting Stunning Bryce Canyon National Park In Utah

Activities

Aside from hiking, visitors can do some camping at the following sites:

  • Capitol Reef: Fruita Campground
  • Bryce Canyon: North Campground and Sunset Camping

For even more fun, extend your trip! Explore Las Vegas and see nearby national parks, such as the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Be sure to enjoy the drive in between each national park. Sights of various rock formations and landscapes will be rewarded to those who manage to stay awake through the long drives.

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