Utah's Mighty Five National Park Trip
Utah is host to 5 of the 59 National Parks in America. The state overall is a hotbed for adventurers, photographers, hikers, and wanderlusts with all of its various state parks, reserves, and wilderness areas. Today we'll focus on how you can see what some refer to as "The Mighty Five!" These are the five National Parks that Utah is home to.
They are the following:
1. Arches National Park
2. Bryce Canyon National Park
3. Canyonlands National Park
4. Capitol Reef National Park
5. Zion National Park
How would you recommend seeing all of these parks?
Well you could take my route. I have been to each of these 5 National Parks but it took me 3 separate trips. I have since been back to Zion two more times, Canyonlands again, and Arches one more time but once again they were all in conjunction with something else. (Work in Vegas, visit friends in Salt Lake, Anniversary Trip to Moab, Utah, etc.)
You can say NONSENSE to all these small trips and pack your bag for a mega two week trip to see all five of them at once!
Now before you say YES that this option makes a lot more sense I will throw in one piece of caution. I have noticed when people go and visit park after park after park all at once they seem to lose a bit of the bliss and majesty that surrounds each park. It almost becomes "oh another National Park in Utah" as they go along. If you take this Mighty Five Trip don't let yourself fall into this trap!
Love every minute of it and let it all be new to you.
Without further ado based on my 7 separate trips to the Utah National Parks here's how I would package them into one Mighty Five Trip! (The hikes recommended are for a seasoned in-shape hiker. Package down or dial up if you prefer based on your skill level!)
-Fly into Las Vegas (cheaper and more efficient rentals compared to Salt Lake City and more direct flights.) OR if you live out West and it's quicker began your drive to Zion National Park!
-Head to the much less visited Kolob Region and spend the afternoon hiking and exploring Taylor Creek and Timber Creek Overlook. (Please note these trails are closed this summer unfortunately!)
-Stay overnight camping in the area or at a nearby hotel/AirBnB!
-Return to Kolob Canyons for the long day hike to Kolob Arch!
-Drive to Springdale Utah (about 60 minutes) in the afternoon and spend the time exploring the beautiful quaint town of Springdale.
-Head over to the community center for some donation based yoga as you will be sore after that jaunt to Kolob Arch.
-Get a good night's rest because Zion Canyon awaits!
-Take the Springdale Shuttle to the Zion National Park Visitor Center early! The crowds are coming I promise.
-Take the Zion Canyon Shuttle to the final stop! The Narrows awaits you. Bring your trekking poles, waterproof shoes, and of course skip if the water levels have flash flood warnings. People have died on this trail sadly.
-Based on the Kolob Canyons being closed and the Narrows water levels I would recommend looking at this trip for September or October in 2018!
-After a day exploring the Narrows if you have enough fuel I would recommend heading back to the Weeping Rock Trailhead and getting your feet all worn out with a 8 Mile RT trek to the top of Observation Point. Read more on this hike HERE!
-Head home and collapse in exhaustion in Springdale!
-Awake to sunrise in the Zion wildnerness and spend more time exploring.
-Drive to Bryce Canyon National Park (about 90 minutes to 2 hours.)
-Check in to your night at the Bryce Canyon Lodge and take a shower!
-Explore the Rim and Navajo Loop Trails prior to setting in at Sunset Point! (For the sunset of course!)
-Take on a longer day hike in Bryce Canyon of your choice!
-Check out of the Bryce Canyon Lodge, pack your bags, and hit the road for an afternoon on the road as you tumble through Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.
-Make sure you have a good and reliable 4 wheel drive for some of this driving on this trip.
-It's a close drive but there's not much out here. This would be a good night for tent camping to not feel rushed through the Staircase.
-Finish the Staircase exploration and make the drive to Capitol Reef National Park.
-I have stayed at the Capitol Reef Resort (a nice motel) in Torrey Utah.
-Enjoy the evening or jump over to Chimney Rock for a nice afternoon trail.
-Hike the day away in Capitol Reef with trails to Cassady Arch and Navajo Knobs.
-Opt for the tent again (or the RV if you have one!) inside the campground at Fruita Farms and learn about the marvel of the Fruita Farms and the early Mormon settlements.
-Do a ranger stargazing tour in this isolated National Park.
-Pack your bags and head for Bears Ears National Monument (3 hours.)
-Check out Seth B's blog for tips and tricks inside of Bears Ears HERE.
-This area has tent camping or RV parking overnight written all over it!
-Spend the morning in Bears Ears prior to the two and a half hour drive to Canyonlands National Park.
-Explore the Island in the Sky District's camping spots and settle in for another night in the wilderness.
-Take the trails to Mesa Arch and Upheaval Dome prior to another ranger led stargaze program.
-Spend the morning taking in more trails or relaxation in Canyonlands.
-Head out of the park and stop at Dead Horse Point State Park for a picnic lunch and rim trail exploration of this beautiful state park.
-Fun Fact: The Thelma and Louise bridge jump was filmed here!
-Drive to Moab Utah (45 minutes) where you get back into a bed at a hotel or AirBnB unless you want to keep roughing it and stay at the Moab Campgrounds.
-The 5th and final of Utah's Mighty Five awaits! Arches National Park.
-Hit the Delicate Arch Trail in the morning, Devil's Garden Loop after that, and close down with the Park Avenue trail for a full beautiful and exhilarating day in this wonderful (but crowded) National Park!
-Take in all you can once you get in the park. The Windows Area and Balanced Rock are great spots as well for those that are sick of all the hiking by this point of the trip!
-I'm leaving you with options! You have lots of them.
1. Get a permit and head back into Arches and explore the Fiery Furnace.
2. Paddle down the Colorado River in canoe and hike Corona Arch away from the crowds of Arches and Moab.
3. Explore some of the great outdoor and adventure options Moab Utah has to offer. (Raven's Rim Zipline, the Moab Brewery, etc. Check out my Moab Hot Spots blog for more info!)
4. Volunteer for a day with a local group. Conservation based or not I love to volunteer and it's something I want to incorporate more into my travels not just when I'm at home.
-Head home or stay in Moab and the surrounding region for a few more days, you won't regret the extra time here.
-You would probably want to opt for a flight home out of Salt Lake City or Grand Junction Colorado as opposed to a massive trek back to Las Vegas.
Utah is a rad place. It has so much to offer the outdoorsy world. There are tons of ways to hit Utah's Mighty Five but this is my take on it. With some direction and efficiency packaged in plus my knowledge on over a half dozen trips to these regions this is my recommendation.
Don't forget to LEAVE NO TRACE and treat everyone you meet with kindness and love.
Adventure awaits you in Utah, have a blast!
Comment below with questions or tips on something that I missed. And join our crew by signing up for our email list so you don't miss out on our next event, contest, or experience.
Because Adventure Travel Feeds the Soul,
Mike R and the Hashtag 59 Team