Cleverly marketed as “The Mighty 5”, of the collection Utah national parks are pretty much a staple on any adventure-lovers bucket list. From the towering hoodoos of Bryce Canyon to the deep valleys of Canyonlands, the possibilities and activities are endless!
There is everything from hiking, camping, kayaking, climbing and so much more to do in Utah.
This past spring, Berty and I wanted to experience everything the state had to offer, and we discovered the best route to see all the national parks along the way.
In this post, we’re sharing our favorite route through all of the Utah national parks.
We’ll share with you our driving guide, what to see, and other helpful road trip tips to make this your most adventurous trip yet!
The Ultimate Road Trip To All 5 Utah National Parks
Note: If you are coming from the Pacific Northwest (like we did) you will most likely start near Salt Lake City.
If you live south of Utah, like in big cities like Las Vegas, Phoenix, or Albuquerque you can do a smaller loop by taking Highway 70 that goes East-West to shorten your trip but still see all the parks!
Stop 1: Zion National Park
Established in 1919, Zion is one of the most popular parks in the US, and naturally so! Its red cliffs, slot canyons, and amazing hikes will keep you busy for weeks.
It’s important to plan out your time here to give yourself adequate time and preparation for some of the epic hikes.
Being one of the most visited parks in the United States, be prepared for crowds and reserve accommodations and activities EARLY to avoid last-minute stress!
If you are looking for more solitude, come during the off-peak months (November – March) or explore Kolob Canyons, which is a lesser-known area of the park.
Most Iconic Things To See/Do: Hike Angels Landing or Observation Point, hike through The Narrows, Court of the Patriarchs and Towers of the Virgin.
Read More: Hike Zion’s Dangerous Angels Landing Hike
Stop 2: Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park was created (and is still being formed) by a combination of ice, weather, and erosion.
Bryce Canyon has the largest assortment of hoodoos in the world, which makes this place an iconic stop on any Utah national parks road trip.
Here, there are lots of hikes within the canyon and several scenic overlooks to keep you busy for a long time.
Make sure to pack warmer clothes when visiting here – the high elevation causes this area to have variable conditions, on top of already having an average of 200 days per year with a chance of below-freezing weather.
Most Iconic Things To See/Do: Hike the Queen’s Garden Loop, Watch the sunrise/sunset on the canyon rim.
Read More: 5 Things To Do At Bryce Canyon National Park
Stop 3: Capitol Reef National Park
The underdog of the five parks, still, Capitol Reef National Park shouldn’t be missed! It’s one of the most beautiful photography locations in the American Southwest!
With its own unique set of natural arches, petroglyphs, canyon hikes and more, this area of Utah has some of the most spectacular photo opportunities in the state.
This is the least visited of the Utah national parks, so if you are looking for solitude, you’ve found it here at Capitol Reef.
There are plenty of backcountry dirt roads ready for the most adventurous of visitors! If you want to camp within the park, there are lots of BLM lands to spend the night near the park borders.
Highlights: Temple of the Sun and Moon – 15 miles down a rocky, dirt road (nearly exclusive only to 4 wheel and high clearance vehicles), Cathedral Valley, Hickman Natural Bridge, Cassidy Arch.
Most Iconic Things To See/Do: Take a drive down the scenic byway, drive to the Temple of the Sun and Moon.
Stop 4: Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park is exactly what it sounds like. The main part of the park consists of a few roads on a long mesa which towers above the enormous surrounding canyons.
There is very little light pollution within the park, so we actually suggest visiting Canyonlands in the day AND night!
Officially named a “Dark Sky Park” by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) this place is world renowned for its summertime Milkyway viewing and star-gazing.
The park is divided into four areas – The Island In The Sky, The Needles, The Maze, and the rivers themselves. Each has their own unique set of activities, but the one with the most accessibility would be the Islands In The Sky.
Most Iconic Things To See/Do: Hike To Mesa Arch For Sunrise, watch the sunset at Candlestick Tower or Grand View Point.
Read More: Sunset At Canyonlands National Park
Stop 5: Arches National Park
With over 2,000 natural stone arches in the park, there won’t be a dull moment during your time in Arches National Park.
Whether you are taking a day hike, overnight camping, or simply just passing through, Arches is guaranteed to leave an impression on any adventurous spirit.
Most Iconic Things To See/Do: Hike To Delicate Arch, walk around the Windows area, drive the scenic road through the entire park.
Have you ever taken a road trip to all of the Utah national parks? What was your experience like? Tell us about it in the comment section below!
READ MORE UTAH / ROAD TRIP POSTS
Want more inspiration for your Utah National Parks road trip? Follow our Southwest board for more ideas and tips for your journey!
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