Julie United States 114 Comments

Stretching across southern and central Utah are five stunning National Parks. Called the Mighty 5, these parks contain some of the most thrilling hiking trails and iconic landscapes in the United States.

Stand atop Angels Landing in Zion. Gaze across a wonderland of hoodoos at Bryce Canyon. Explore the Water Pocket Fold at Capitol Reef. Watch the sunrise at Mesa Arch in Canyonlands. And watch the sunset at Delicate Arch in Arches National Park.

If you like rugged, desert landscapes, it is hard to beat the beauty of Utah. If you are a hiker, there are enough trails in these parks to keep you busy for weeks. And if you like a good road trip, Utah is the perfect place to explore from behind the wheel of a car.

We can’t get enough of this part of the United States. After four visits to the Mighty 5 in the past few years, here is our guide to the National Parks. I hope you enjoy them just as much as we do.

Utah’s Mighty 5

Arches National Park

Arches National Park is a wonderland of strange rock formations, short hiking trails, and you guessed it, arches. Not only will you find over 2,000 arches here, but you will also see hoodoos, fins of sandstone rocks, massive mesas, and balanced rocks.

Delicate Arch

Delicate Arch


Devils Garden Hike

Devils Garden Hike


Park Avenue

Park Avenue


Window Arch

North Window Arch


Plan Your Visit

Cost: $30 per vehicle, valid for 7 days

Top Experiences: Hike to Delicate Arch, see Balanced Rock and the Fiery Furnace, visit Double Arch, Turret Arch, and Windows Arch, hike Park Avenue

Ultimate Adventure: Hike the Devils Garden Trail. To reach Landscape Arch, one of the most iconic arches in the park, it is only 1.6 miles round trip. But for the ultimate adventure, continue past Landscape Arch to Double O Arch and Dark Angel and return on the Primitive Trail.

Arches National Park in One Day: If you like the idea of hiking the Devils Garden Trail, go here first to beat the crowds (and the heat during the summer months). Midday, visit Balanced Rock, Double Arch, The Windows and Turret Arch. End with sunset at Delicate Arch.

Cool Fact: The Olympic Torch was carried under Delicate Arch for the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Where to Stay: Moab is just 10 minutes away by car. We recommend the Red Cliffs Lodge (highly rated hotel with a beautiful setting next to the Colorado River), MainStay Suites (budget hotel that gets great reviews), or the Hoodoo Moab (beautiful, upscale hotel in the heart of Moab). 

Arches National Park Guide

Canyonlands National Park

Compared to its smaller and more popular neighbor Arches National Park, Canyonlands feels more rugged, more remote, and a whole lot larger.

Canyonlands National Park is enormous in size. Over 330,000 acres are filled with canyons, arches, buttes, mesas, dirt roads, hiking trails, campgrounds, and overlooks.

This immense area of land is divided up into five districts. Island in the Sky, the closest district to Moab, is the most popular section of the park to visit. This is where you will find Mesa Arch, Grand View Point, and a collection of short and long hikes to choose from.

“Around the corner” from Island in the Sky is The Needles, where sandstone pinnacles form unique landscapes. To get here, it is over an hour away by car from Moab.

The Maze is a remote area of Canyonlands that is only accessible by 4×4. The Colorado and Green Rivers make up the fourth district, where you can go canoeing, kayaking, and white water rafting. Horseshoe Canyon is a very small section of the park. It is here that you can see the rock art of the Ancient Puebloan peoples.

Utah Mighty 5 Road Trip

Mesa Arch


Grand View Point December Mighty 5

Grand View Point


View of the Shafer Canyon and the White Rim Road from the Visitor Center


White Rim Road

Driving the White Rim Road


Hike Utah in Winter

Gooseberry Hike

Plan Your Visit

Cost: $30 per vehicle, valid for 7 days

Top Experiences: See the sunrise at Mesa Arch, visit the overlooks (Grand View Point, Buck Canyon Overlook, Shafer Canyon Viewpoint), hike around Upheaval Dome, and hike the Druid Hill hike in The Needles.

Ultimate Adventure: Rent a 4×4 or bring your mountain bike and go on a multi-day adventure, driving (or cycling) the 100-mile long White Rim Road. This rough, dirt road twists and turns along the White Rim. You will need a permit and camping gear to do this.

Canyonlands in One Day: Visit Island in the Sky district. Start at sunrise at Mesa Arch. Visit Grand View Point and Buck Canyon Overlook, hike to the White Rim Overlook and Upheaval Dome, take in the view from the Green River Overlook, and consider the short hike up Aztec Butte or Whale Rock. Don’t miss Shafer Canyon Viewpoint or the view from the Visitor Center as you exit the park.

With More Time: Visit The Needles, take your pick from longer hikes in Island in the Sky, and/or consider spending 2 or more days driving the White Rim Road.

Cool Fact: Two rivers carved out the canyons that you see at Canyonlands National Park, the Green River and the mighty Colorado River, which also worked its magic and carved out the Grand Canyon.

Where to Stay: Moab is 45 minutes away by car. Check out the Castle Valley Inn (highly rated hotel with a variety of room types, including cottages that can accommodate up to five people) or Red Cliffs Lodge (suites can accommodate 4 to 6 people). 

Canyonlands National Park Information

Capitol Reef National Park

With sandstone cliffs, white domes, slot canyons, and arches, Capitol Reef National Park is a extraordinary place to explore. This park preserves the Water Pocket Fold, a rippling of the Earth’s crust that is 100 miles long.

One of the things that makes Capitol Reef so easy to visit is that you can see quite a bit of it right from your car. With a highway that runs through the center of the park and a scenic drive that tops the list of the best things to do, you can visit some of the most dramatic spots in Capitol Reef without ever stepping out of your car.

Hickman Bridge Mighty 5

Hickman Bridge


Capitol Reef Road Trip

Highway 24

 Capitol Reef Fruita

Overlooking Highway 24 from the Cohab Canyon Trail


Capitol Reef Scenic Drive

Scenic Drive

Plan Your Visit

Cost: $20 to drive the Scenic Drive, valid for 7 days. It is free to drive through the park on Highway 24.

Top Experiences: Drive the 16-mile round-trip drive along Scenic Drive, drive Capitol Gorge Road, hike to Hickman Bridge, and watch the sunset from Sunset Point. Cassidy Arch is another popular hike to add to the list.

Capitol Reef in One Day: Drive the Scenic Drive and consider taking the optional detours along the way on Capitol Gorge Road and Grand Wash. Hike Hickman Bridge and then visit the Goosenecks, Panorama, and Sunset viewpoints.

With More Time: Explore the backcountry. Drive the 58-mile loop through Cathedral Valley and visit the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Moon.

Cool Fact: Capitol Reef is the least visited park of Utah’s Mighty 5.

Where to Stay: Torrey is the closest town with the best selection of hotels. Check out the amazing Capitol Reef Resort and the Noor Hotel. If you are driving south from Capitol Reef, the Canyon Country Lodge in Escalante may also be a good option.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park is a fantasyland of hoodoos, bizarre rock formations, and sandstone pillars.

Hoodoos are tall, thin spires of rock that protrude from the bottom of an arid drainage basin. They are found all over the world but occur in the most abundance in Bryce Canyon. These hoodoos are the main ingredient in creating the unique landscape you see at Bryce Canyon.

Mighty 5 Bryce Canyon

Sunset Point


Best Hikes in Utah

Hiking the Queen’s Garden Trail


Bryce Canyon

Overlooking the Navajo Trail from Sunset Point


Inspiration Point Bryce

Inspiration Point

Plan Your Visit

Cost: $35 per vehicle, valid for 7 days

Top Experiences: Some of the best viewpoints are right along the rim, which is easily accessible by car or the shuttle: Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Inspiration Point, and Bryce Point. Hike the Queens Garden and Navajo Loop, a 3-mile hike past some of the best scenery in the park. Rainbow Point and Yovimpa Point are also nice viewpoints.

Ultimate Adventure: Hike the Fairyland Loop Trail, an 8-mile strenuous hike. Leave the crowds behind on this low-traffic hiking trail.

Bryce Canyon in One Day: Watch the sunrise from Sunset Point (we liked the sunrise views better here than from Sunrise Point, ironically). Walk along the rim, hike the Queens Garden and Navajo Loop Trail, and visit Bryce Point, Inspiration Point, Rainbow Point, and Yovimpa Point.

With More Time: Add on the Fairyland Loop or the Peekaboo Loop Trail.

Cool Fact: Bryce Canyon sits at 8,000 to 9,000 feet. It will feel cooler here than in the other Mighty 5 parks. In fact, there are roughly 200 days a year where the park can get below freezing.

Where to Stay: Bryce Canyon Lodge is the only lodging within the park. In the town of Bryce there are several more hotels to choose from. We stayed at the Bryce Canyon Inn, which is located in Tropic, 15-minutes away from the park.

Zion National Park

Finally, it is time for our favorite national park of the Mighty 5.

Zion National Park is one of the best places in the United States to go hiking. Angels Landing and the Zion Narrows are two bucket-list worthy hikes that attract thousands of visitors every year. But there are also short, family-friendly hikes to choose from, as well as multi-day backpacking adventures and hikes that require canyoneering experience.

Zion National Park

The View from Observation Point


Zion Narrows Hike

The Narrows


Hike Zion National Park

Hidden Canyon


Angels Landing Hike

Angels Landing

Plan Your Visit

Cost: $35 per vehicle, valid for 7 days

Top Experiences: Hike Angels Landing, Observation Point, Hidden Canyon, Riverside Trail, Emerald Pools, Weeping Rock, and Canyon Overlook. One of the best experiences in the park is hiking the Zion Narrows. Expect big crowds on Angels Landing and the Zion Narrows, so start first thing in the morning to beat the crowds.

Ultimate Adventure: There are several to choose from. Hike the Zion Narrows from the top-down as a long day hike or a two-day backpacking trip. The Subway is another strenuous but gorgeous hike, and you will need canyoneering experience for this one. The West Rim Trail is a great two-day backpacking trip or a one day mega-hike.

Zion in One Day: If you have plans to hike Angels Landing or the Zion Narrows from the bottom-up, do this first thing (ideally, be on the first shuttle of the day). Pick a shorter hike to do in the afternoon, such as the Canyon Overlook Trail or Emerald Pools. Learn more here.

With More Time: Three days is a nice amount of time to spend in Zion National Park. You can do three big hikes (one each morning) or use two of the days for a multi-day backpacking adventure. This also gives you time to explore Kolob Canyons at the northern section of the park.

Cool Fact: This isn’t so cool, but it’s important to know before you go. For most of the year, the only way to get around Zion National Park is by shuttle bus. Mid-morning lines can be frustratingly long, so roll out of bed early and try to catch one of the first shuttles of the day. 

Where to Stay: Zion Lodge is the only lodging in the park. Springdale is a wonderful little town that sits near the entrance to Zion. It is filled with lots of hotels and some very good restaurants. We always stay at the Holiday Inn Express.

Zion National Park Guide

Mighty 5 Road Trip Itinerary

If you only have one week, here is a whirlwind road trip through Utah to visit all five National Parks. To get the full details on how to do this same itinerary, and get suggestions on what to do if you have more time, read our post The Ultimate Utah National Parks Road Trip Itinerary.

  • Day 1: Arrive in Salt Lake City, drive to Moab
  • Day 2: Arches National Park
  • Day 3: Canyonlands National Park
  • Day 4: Drive to Capitol Reef, visit Capitol Reef, sleep in Torrey or near Bryce Canyon
  • Day 5: Bryce Canyon, drive to Zion, sleep in Springdale
  • Day 6: Zion National Park
  • Day 7: Drive to Las Vegas, fly home


How to Use This Map:  Click the tab in the top left hand corner of the map to view the layers (national parks and the driving route). You can click the check marks to hide or show layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each point of interest.
If you click the star, this map will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list. 

This is very, very fast. Plus, you will drive 900 miles in 7 days, not to mention the little bit of driving you will do in each park. If you can, consider adding on a few more days.If you can, add 3 days to this itinerary, making this a 10 day itinerary.

Here are some things you can do with more time:

Little Wild Horse Canyon

Little Wild Horse Canyon


Dead Horse Point State Park

Dead Horse Point State Park

10 Day Mighty 5 Itinerary

Here is a sample Mighty 5 itinerary, with more time in several national parks and the addition of several great state parks and hiking destinations in Utah.

Day 1: Arrive in Moab
Day 2: Arches National Park
Day 3: Canyonlands National Park
Day4: Goblin Valley & Little Wild Horse Canyon
Day 5: Capitol Reef National Park
Day 6: Capitol Reef or Grand Staircase-Escalante
Day 7: Bryce Canyon National Park
Day 8: Zion National Park
Day 9: Zion National Park
Day 10: Fly home


Mighty 5Get a Digital Download of this Itinerary

Do you want a printer friendly version of this itinerary? How about an eBook version of this itinerary that can be downloaded onto your computer or mobile device?

Our 10-day Mighty 5 Itinerary eBook includes all five national parks, plus Goblin Valley, Little Wild Horse Canyon, and the option to visit Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. It is a 21-page itinerary with detailed daily schedules, insider tips, and travel planning resources that you can download to take with you or print at home.

Click here to purchase the eBook on Etsy.com.


Mighty 5 + the Grand Canyon

If you want to visit Utah’s Mighty 5 and the Grand Canyon in one epic road trip, click here to learn more. This 2 week itinerary through the American Southwest is done as a loop from Las Vegas. Not only will you visit 6 national parks but you will also visit Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon, and off-the-beaten-path destinations in Utah. 

Things to Know Before You Go

Best Time to Visit the Mighty 5

The spring and fall months are the best times to visit. Weather conditions are pleasant and you can avoid the big crowds that flood the park in the summer.

During the summer months, expect soaring temperatures, large crowds, expensive prices for hotels, and lots of traffic at viewpoints and on hiking trails.

In the winter, the parks are much less crowded, but temperatures can get below freezing and snow is likely (especially in Bryce Canyon).

We have been to Utah in May (midday temperatures of 75 – 95°F with clear skies), late October (midday temperatures of 65°F and gorgeous fall colors and low crowds in Zion), early November (we had a little bit of everything, from high temperatures in the 70’s to snow, all in the same week), and late December (freezing temperatures, snow, but somewhat low crowds, even for it being a holiday week).

October was my favorite time to visit. The temperatures were wonderful, crowds were light, and the fall colors in Zion made the park look even more beautiful than it normally does.

Surprisingly, I also really liked our November and December visits. Temperatures were cold, but while hiking we never got hot or needed to bring much water. Plus, like the fall colors in October, the snow was an added bonus.

Arrive Early to the Parks

From our experience, the majority of people arrive between 8:30 am and 10:30 am. This causes long traffic delays at the ticket booths which can add up to many minutes or even an hour waiting in line. And if you are in Zion, you’ll wait another hour to board the shuttle.

We usually get into the parks around 7 am (or earlier in the summer). Finding parking spots is easy, hiking trails are empty, and the park feels peaceful and quiet (at least for a little bit). It might be painful getting out of bed early, but it’s worth it for a better experience inside the parks.

If you have plans to hike the Zion Narrows or Angels Landing, try to be on the first shuttle bus of the day.

National Parks Pass

If you have plans to visit at least three of the Mighty 5, save yourself some money and purchase the National Park Pass. This pass (also called the America the Beautiful Pass) costs $80 and gets you into more than 2,000 recreational sites in the USA. The pass is valid for one year, so if you have plans to visit more National Parks, you will save even more money.

Learn More About Utah

Visit our Utah Travel Guide to read all of our articles about Utah. Not only does this cover the Mighty 5 but it also includes information about state parks and off-the-beaten-path destinations in Utah.

Do you have plans to visit Utah’s Mighty 5? Comment below if you have any questions or if you would like to share your experience.

You Might Also Like:




Note: This post contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase using one of these affiliate links, we get paid a small commission at no extra cost to you.

All rights reserved © Earth Trekkers. Republishing this article and/or any of its contents (text, photography, etc.), in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited.

Comments 114

  1. Hi. I loved reading about your travels in Utah and just booked a last minute trip to Utah, a state I have never been to before. Based upon your recommendations, I booked hotels you recommended but am still a bit overwhelmed knowing how to best spend my time. I am flying in and out of SLC (I have a niece who moved from Indiana to Utah 20 months ago who is going to join me as much as she can) and will be renting a car. I love to hike but am by no means an experienced hiker. I have booked Red Cliffs Lodge in Moab March 18 & 19, Capitol Reef Resort in Torrey March 20, 21 & 22, and Holiday Inn Express March 23, but will need to make it back to SLC for an early morning flight home on March 25. I LOVE nature and cannot wait to see the gorgeous sites Utah has to offer. Thank you for the information you have already provided and for any advice you could give me. 🥾🥾

    1. Post

      Hello Jill. I’d be happy to help! I think it’s great that you booked the Red Cliffs Lodge and I plan on staying there on my next visit to Moab.

      Spend your first 2 days in Arches and Island in the Sky/Canyonlands. We have posts for each of these parks on how to spend your time here. When you drive to Torrey, visit Goblin Valley and Little Wild Horse Canyon on the way. They are spectacular. It looks like you have 2 days in Capitol Reef. On your first day, see the highlights of the park. On day 2, you can do more hiking or Loop the Fold, depending on weather conditions and the type of car you are renting. I’m assuming that you are checking out the morning of the 23 from Torrey. If that is the case, visit Bryce Canyon on the way to Zion. Honestly, you only need a few hours to walk the rim and hike the Queen’s Garden trail. On the 24th, pick a hike to do in Zion (most likely the Narrows will be closed) and in the afternoon drive to SLC.

      If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look at our 10 day Arches Canyonlands Capitol Reef itinerary. It will give you ideas on what to do in Capitol Reef and give you more info on how to visit LWHC and Goblin Valley on the drive between Moab and Torrey.

      I hope you have a great trip. Utah is a true gem and you are visiting at a great time. Cheers, Julie

      1. I am wondering if I should cancel my Springdale hotel and add a third night at Red Cliffs Lodge or a fourth night at Capital Reef Resort, leaving Bryce and Zion for another time. Thanks so much for your helpful advice!

        1. Post

          That’s not a bad option (skipping Springdale). It saves you a very long drive back to SLC and gives you more time at the other national parks. In the future, a loop from Las Vegas that includes the Grand Canyon, Zion, and Bryce Canyon is another awesome road trip to come back and do. In the next few weeks, I will be publishing this road trip.

          If you like the idea of having another day or 2 around Moab and Torrey to do some off the beaten path things, then it is definitely worth skipping Zion and Bryce. You can get an idea on other ways to spend your time in the Arches Canyonlands Capitol Reef itinerary I shared earlier. From Torrey, you could also day trip to Hole in the Rock road and hike Spooky and Peek a Boo Slots. There is so much to do in this part of Utah.

          Think about it and if you still have questions feel free to write in again.

          Cheers, Julie

  2. This is by far the best information I have seen about the Mighty 5. I love the details you provide and your photos are incredible. Thank you for putting this together as it has really helped me as I plan my trip to Utah.

    1. Post
  3. Oh gosh…where do I start…Ive spent every waking moment trying to plan a trip with my daughter for her college graduation gift!! Hoping to take 8-9 days (fly in June 7-15, fly out June 16 early) and see all of the mighty 5 that we can..I dont mind leaving out Zion from your comments on the park at this time.
    Any suggestions?… I know you are so busy- but my head is spinning- fly in SLC or Las Vegas…how many days in each place- Thanks so much for putting out such great info…when this 62 year old mama grows up- I wanna be you!!!

    1. Post

      Hello Kathy. I would love to help. What a great graduation gift for your daughter! If you want to do this round trip from one aiport, Salt Lake City is best, especially if you leave out Zion. Basically, you could follow our Arches Canyonlands and Capitol Reef itinerary with some modifications.

      Here is a sample itinerary: (1) drive to Moab (2) Arches NP (3) Canyonlands NP (4) More time in Arches or Canyonlands or go to Needles district of Canyonlands (5) Drive to Capitol Reef, see Goblin Valley and maybe hike Little Wild Horse Canyon (6) Capitol Reef (7) Capitol Reef morning, drive to Bryce Canyon in the pm (8) Bryce Canyon (9) return to SLC fly home.

      If you wanted one day in Zion, take out day 4 (extra time in Moab) and use this time to add on Zion. Drive to Springdale the afternoon of the day you visit Bryce. On day 9 fly home from Vegas or SLC.

      I have a lot more about Utah I plan to publish in the upcoming weeks, including a post about itinerary ideas, so keep checking back for more information. Cheers, Julie

  4. Could you give me some feedback on the following itinerary….Day 1, fly into SLC, drive to Moab (takes up most of Day 1) spend 3 nights, Day 2 – visit Arches, Day 3 – Arches/explore Moab, Day 4 – Drive to Canyonlands, explore, then drive on to Torrey, Day 5 – visit Capitol Reef then drive on to Bryce, Day 6 – Visit Bryce Canyon, then drive to Zion (spend 3 nights there) Day 7 – explore Zion, Day 8- explore Zion, Day 9 – Drive to Las Vegas for flight home. I would appreciate any thoughts on duration of any of those stays. I’m not sure my crew would be up for moving every night. Do the longer stays make sense? Are we going to miss a must-see sunrise or sunset by this itinerary? Thanks! Your site has been super helpful!

    1. Post

      Hello Ellen. Overall, your itinerary looks great and there is nothing that I think you need to change. In my opinion, it’s a good idea to drive between parks at the end of the day so that you are ready to enter the park first thing in the morning (which you are already planning on doing). You will be able to see sunrise and sunset at Arches. If you can get up early, you could also see the sunrise at Mesa Arch in Canyonlands. Missing out on sunset in Canyonlands is not a big deal. Sunrise is spectacular in Bryce and you will be able to see this too. And you have lots of time in Zion for hiking so your plan looks great.

      The only thing you could add would be Little Wild Horse Canyon and Goblin Valley. If you are visiting with kids, Goblin Valley is a must-do in my opinion. We don’t have info yet on our site on how to do it (I have so much to write I can’t keep up) but we were just there in November and it’s tons of fun. Take a look at this Utah road trip post to learn how to plan this day (you would do this on the drive from Moab to Torrey). To do this, you would have to take a day from Zion or use your Arches/Moab day. So, after you explore Canyonlands, return and sleep in Moab. The following day would be Goblin Valley and Little Wild Horse on the way to Torrey. I hope that makes sense. If you have any further questions, feel free to write in again.

      Cheers, Julie

  5. What an amazing presentation for our National Parks. I’m sharing this as much as possible. Thank you so much, I love the tweaks you added for shorter or longer durations. This is incredible work with a wealth of quality information.

    1. Post
  6. Your website is awesome and contains so much wonderful information. Thank you! We are traveling in and out of Salt Lake at the end of March- beginning of April for 10 days. We are hoping to get in a few days of skiing then head out to see some sights. Are we crazy to do all 5 national parks or should we just try to focus on either east or south? We are traveling with our two kids who are 9 and 11. Thanks so much in advance!

    1. Post

      Hello Bridget. If you plan to do some skiing, it sounds like you could potentially have 7 days to visit all of the Mighty 5. It will be a bit rushed, since you will also have to get back to SLC. We just published an itinerary that covers Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef. It is written as a 10 day itinerary but we have suggestions on how to shorten it at the end of the post. I think this is a better option for you. But take a look at the itinerary and see what you think. In the future, you could do a loop from Las Vegas, visiting the Grand Canyon, Zion, and Bryce Canyon. That way, you get to the other 2 parks and can add in some of Arizona. Cheers, Julie

  7. Planning a trip in late May early June with 3 kids, ages 13, 8, 6. They are good hikers, but I’m worried more about the food options and where to stay. Planning to do all 5 likely over 10 days to 2 weeks, Salt Lake to Vegas. Our other option is early August. Thoughts?

    1. Post

      Hello Deanna. Your kids will love this trip! The weather will be similar for both times you are considering. It might be slightly cooler at the end of May than in August. However, crowds will be a little lower in May, since you will be avoiding the summer break travelers (so May gets my vote). We were in Utah at the beginning of May and had a few hot days in Zion (up into the 90’s) but overall it wasn’t too bad. Hotels and restaurants will not be a problem throughout Utah. There are great hotel options for all of the parks as well as a decent choice of restaurants. In our individual posts about each park, I give recommendations for hotels and some restaurant options. The links to those articles are listed in this post or you can visit our Utah page to see everything we have written about. 10 days to 2 weeks sounds like a very nice amount of time to visit these national parks. Consider adding on Willis Creek, which is near Bryce Canyon, but you will need a high clearance vehicle to get here. Goblin Valley and Little Wild Horse Canyon are also worth considering. If you have any other questions as you plan your trip feel free to write in again. Cheers, Julie

  8. My husband and I want to visit Utah’s Mighty 5 national parks in April or May. We will have 8-10 days in the area. We can’t do strenuous hikes, but would like to do some hiking. Please give us lodging and park info. I have enjoyed reading about these parks on your website.


    1. Post

      Hi Brenda. On this post are links to more articles about each of the five national parks. It is in these additional posts that you can learn more about what to do and get lodging recommendations for each park. Also, here is a link to our Utah page, which will have all of our posts about Utah, so it might be easier to find what you are looking for this way. Cheers, Julie

  9. Just discovered your site while starting to plan an impromptu trip with my 22 yo in 2 weeks! We fly in to Las Vegas on a Friday morning and depart on the following Tuesday night. I’m excited that we really have both travel days to explore and not be spending the whole day coming/going home. We were planning on Zion & Bryce, but am wondering how aggressive it would be to do the Mighty 5 and what are some other things besides NP that we shouldn’t miss? 🙂 Basically, an itinerary… we aren’t sure where we’re staying yet, booking some airbnbs we think (unless you have other suggestions for low budget) in the next couple of days. THanks in advance for your suggestions!

    1. Post

      Hi Kelly. With five days round trip from Vegas, you don’t have enough time to visit the entire Mighty 5. It would be way too rushed to be enjoyable, in my opinion. You could do Zion, Bryce and Capitol Reef, saving Arches and Canyonlands for another trip. If you haven’t been to the Grand Canyon yet, that is another park to consider. Plus, the Valley of Fire, right outside of Vegas, is great, and so is Grand Staircase-Escalante, especially if you like hiking. Take a look at our Grand Canyon Road Trip post for ideas of what you can do from Vegas. You could do a loop from Vegas: (1) drive to the Grand Canyon, sunset at the Grand Canyon (2) Grand Canyon in the morning, drive to Zion in the afternoon, sleep in Springdale (3) Zion, sleep in Springdale (4) drive to and visit Bryce Canyon, sleep in Springdale (5) drive to Vegas, see Valley of Fire, fly home.

      Or, skip the Grand Canyon and visit Zion and Bryce. (1) arrive in Vegas, drive to Zion, maybe see Valley of Fire, sleep Springdale (2) Zion, sleep Springdale (3) drive to Bryce, visit Bryce, drive to Torrey (4) Capitol Reef, sleep in Torrey (5) drive to Vegas and fly home. You could also eliminate Capitol Reef, spending more time in Zion.

      Later today, I am going to publish a post about things to do in Capitol Reef. But I have a post that is perfect for you, what to do in Capitol Reef with limited time. Next week I plan to publish a road trip itinerary that covers Capitol Reef, Arches, and Canyonlands which would be great if you plan to do another Utah road trip in future.

      Have fun planning your trip and feel free to write back in if you have any more questions.

      Cheers, Julie

  10. WOW! I’ve spent hours today oohing and aahing over your website. I’m blown away! Thank you so much for sharing all the amazing pics, itineraries, and tips. This is a treasure trove of information! I’m looking into traveling to Utah in mid-March for Spring Break with my 15 year old. (6.5 days) Anxiously awaiting your upcoming post about your Nov travels back to Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef. At first I was thinking we’d fly into Vegas and do Zion and Bryce only on this trip but now I’m leaning toward flying into Salt Lake City and doing Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef instead after reading your concerns about visiting Zion right now. Thoughts? Looking forward to your itinerary focusing on only those 3.

    1. Post

      I think your plan sounds great. Your trip won’t be as rushed, only visiting 3 parks instead of 5. And there is tons to do in Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, and Arches. A return trip in the future, a loop from Las Vegas that includes Bryce Canyon, Zion, and the Grand Canyon, could be another great trip. This week I will be publishing a Things to do in Capitol Reef post and the following week I will be publishing the 3 parks itinerary. I’m glad you like our site! If you have any more questions once I get all of this published don’t hesitate to write in again. Cheers, Julie

      1. Thank you! It’s me again. Now that I’ve had even more time to pore over your amazing site, I’m considering a trip to the Florida Keys and Everglades. I’m nothing if not indecisive and my “to visit” list keeps growing thanks to your pictures and writing! So, if forced to choose for a 2021 mid-March 7 day trip with a 15 year old (who claims she’d be happy with anywhere), would you suggest 1) Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef, 2) Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Zion, or 3) Florida Keys and Everglades?

        1. Post

          Hi again! 😊 I would vote for either #1 (Arches etc) or #3 (Florida Keys). It just really depends if you want mountain scenery and hiking or beaches, snorkeling, and swimming. Both would be great road trips. Next week (about 10 days from now) I will be publishing the itinerary for your #1 trip, I just have a lot on my to-do list to write about and have been getting lots of requests for other posts too. But a 7-day trip would look something like this: (1) arrive in Salt Lake City airport, drive to Torrey (2) Capitol Reef NP (3) Capitol Reef NP (4) drive to Moab and visit Goblin Valley and Little Wild Horse Canyon on the way (5) Arches (6) Canyonlands (7) drive to SLC and fly home. You could alter this itinerary by taking one day from Capitol Reef and going to the Needles district of Canyonlands instead. Both trips will be great and you can’t go wrong either way. Cheers, Julie

  11. Hello Julie,

    I am in the beginning stages of planning a 4-6 week stay in Utah. Is there a town/city you are able to recommend that would make a good home base while visiting the Mighty Five? (I keep wanting to say Big Five 🙂 )

    Thank you kindly!

    1. Post

      Since the parks are so spread out, I recommend staying in several different locations. There is not one, good central location. You could stay in Escalante or Torrey, but you would drive 4 hours round trip to get to several of the parks, so that really wouldn’t be worth it. Plus, it really helps to get an early start, to avoid the crowds and the heat, depending on the time of year you will visit.

      For Canyonlands and Arches, the best place to stay is in Moab. For Capitol Reef, stay in Torrey. For Bryce Canyon, you can stay in Bryce or in one of the small towns near Bryce Canyon. For Zion, stay in Springdale or the Zion Lodge. So, you will have to do this as a road trip. That’s awesome that you have four to six weeks! You can also visit Grand Staircase-Escalante, Kanab, Little Wild Horse Canyon and Goblin Valley…it will be amazing!

      If you have any other questions during your planning, don’t hesitate to write back in. I’m so excited for you!

      Cheers, Julie

      1. Thank you kindly! We are in the initial stages of planning. I’ve written down your suggestions, thank you very much. Background – we’re able to work remotely, so we will be working during the week and exploring on the weekends. We upped the ante to stay for two months; mid-March – May. As it stands, we may select Kanab for a home base and branch out from there; possibly staying overnight at another location if it makes sense. Again, thank you very much, I may come back with some additional questions as I review all of your resources!

  12. Hi,

    Do you think it is possible to visit the 5 national parks within a week? I’ve been researching and was going to just find a central location to stay at to spend a week just visiting zion and bryce. However, it seems that spending one day in bryce would be enough. I have also been told that Zion is extremely crowded which is another reason why I am considering all 5. Zion national park is what I am really looking forward to seeing, but, I would love to see arches as well. How many days would recommend for arches and canyonlands? Or, what is your advice? I also do not want to have a rushed trip. We would also be taking this trip in May.


    1. Post

      One this post is a 7-day itinerary where you get to visit all 5 parks. It does move quickly, giving you just enough time in each park to see the highlights. And you did hear correctly, Zion has been extremely crowded the past 2 years. Capitol Reef and Canyonlands are much less crowded and just as great as Zion, in my opinion. One day is enough time to see Arches. One day is all that you need to visit the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands. But with more time, you can also visit the Needles, which is a beautiful part of Canyonlands that isn’t very busy. We were just there for our first time one month ago, and I haven’t had time to write about it yet, but we loved it here in the Needles.

      Capitol Reef is highly underrated. If you want to have similar experiences as Zion without the crowds, go to Capitol Reef. There are slot canyons, hikes to beautiful overlooks, an arch you can hike to and stand on, and beautiful backcountry drives. If I were to add one day to this 7-day itinerary, I would add it to Capitol Reef or Zion, giving you a total of 2 days in these parks.

      The other thing you should know about Zion is that several of the trails are closed, and have been that way for a long time now, with no projection about when they will reopen. That means the remainder of the trails are more crowded than usual. And with the bacteria issue in the Virgin River, the NPS recommends avoiding the Narrows (but I think people are still hiking it). With that being said, if you have your heart set on Zion, spend at least 2 days here, keep tabs on how to get shuttle tickets, make your Springdale hotel reservations in advance. I think Zion is a challenging park to visit right now, and you could save it for the future, and put your time into Capitol Reef, Arches and Canyonlands in 2021.

      In the next few weeks, I plan to write an itinerary just for Capitol Reef, Arches, and Canyonlands, so keep an eye out for that. That was our most recent trip to Utah and it was incredible. I also have much more to write about Capitol Reef.

      If you have more questions as you plan your trip, feel free to write back in.

      Cheers, Julie

  13. My husband and I are planning a trip to visit the Mighty 5, and your guides and itineraries are our go-to resources. We used your guides for the Bourbon Country, Key West and Yellowstone and felt they were invaluable. I never left a comment to say thank you, so this is it. Big thanks! We do limited hiking, and sometimes worry we may get in over our heads. Your hiking guides have been spot on, and we feel prepared for hikes after reading your suggestions.

    1. Post

      Hello Lisa. Thanks for writing in to us! I’m so glad that we can help you out with your trips. The Mighty 5 is one of our absolute favorites in the USA, if not the world. Tim and I just got back from a trip to Utah and we have a lot of new content coming out for Capitol Reef and Canyonlands, as well as Goblin Valley and Little Wild Horse Canyon. If you have any questions, please let us know. Cheers, Julie

  14. Hi Julie,
    As always, thanks for the great article and recommendations.
    We will be visiting Utah in the end of November. Which parks besides Zion and Bryce would you recommend if we have 6.5 full days including driving and we fly to/from Vegas?
    I was thinking of driving to Arches first, staying there overnight, spending the next day in Arches and then visiting Capital Reef on day 3 , Bryce on day 4 and Zion on day 5 and 6, but it feels like it will be too much driving and not enough time to really enjoy the parks. Do you agree?

    1. Post

      Hello Dimi. I am in Capitol Reef as I write this. It is amazing!!! And in some ways, we like this park more than Zion. Zion is a difficult park to visit in 2020…many trails are closed, shuttle tickets are necessary and hard to get, and it’s been very crowded. This may sound crazy, but I almost wonder if it would be better to save Zion for a future year, but on the other hand, the end of November is typically quiet, so it could be a good time to go. Be prepared for cold temps and snow (Zion, Bryce, and Capitol Reef just got some snow today).

      With 6.5 days, you can visit all 5 parks but it will be rushed. If you don’t mind, you could save some time by skipping Zion, and visit it on a future trip (it’s easy to get to from Las Vegas). Without Zion, your itinerary could look like this: (1) arrive in Moab (2) Arches NP (3) Canyonlands…it’s worth it (4) drive to Capitol Reef and visit Capitol Reef, sleep in Torrey (5) drive to and visit Bryce Canyon (6) fly home. If you have another day, you could add that onto Capitol Reef. I know that sounds crazy, since it’s the “least popular” national park in Utah, but after 4 days here this week, we have learned that it is highly underrated. If you rent an SUV with high clearance, you can explore Cathedral Valley or drive the Burr Trail road, both of which are amazing.

      I know I just threw a lot of information out, but if you have more questions, feel free to write back in again. We love this area and want to help you plan the best trip.

      Cheers, Julie

      1. Thanks a lot for your suggestions! I’ll surely give it a thought.
        Alternatively I was thinking of combining Zion NP and Death Valley. This way we won’t be in cold temps for a long time and we’ll warm up in Death Valley before flying back to East Coast. I do realize that some of the trails in Zion are unfortunately closed but hopefully we will be able to book a shuttle. Do you think my alternative plan is more or less practical?

        1. Post

          You can visit both of these parks with the time that you have. With 2 days in each park and one day of driving in between, that puts you at 5 days, so you will still have enough time to fly home. Death Valley is another one of my favorite parks and it is fantastic this time of year. On the day that you drive between Zion and Death Valley, you could potentially visit the Valley of Fire (just outside of Vegas) if you don’t mind a long day.

          As far as which trip is better, it’s just a matter of preference. You really can’t go wrong with either one. Cheers, Julie

  15. Hello! We are hoping to make a trip to Utah in early April 2021. We will only have 5 days (fly in on Easter Sunday and out on Thursday). If we basically try to follow your Utah Mighty 5 travel guide, do you have recommendations for what we can reasonably do (or should leave out)? We are four adults, healthy, love to hike, and we can all horseback (if that helps). Any recommendations are MUCH appreciated! I do not have any reservations yet, so our itinerary is flexible right now ;). Thank you!!

    1. Post

      Hello Kristin. With just 5 days, unfortunately, I don’t think you have enough time to do all 5 of Utah’s Mighty 5. You could visit Arches and Canyonlands in one day, but there is so much to do in both of these parks that one day for both really is not enough time, in my opinion. With Zion needing a full day (which I think is the bare minimum here), you wouldn’t have enough time to also visit Bryce Canyon and get to Vegas for a flight home).

      Here is a sample 5 day itinerary for all the parks (but it is very rushed and I don’t recommend it): (1) arrive in Salt Lake City, drive to Moab (2) Canyonlands + Arches (3) drive to and visit Capitol Reef and sleep near Bryce Canyon (4) Bryce Canyon + Zion (5) drive to Vegas and fly home.

      I would recommend visiting 2 to 3 of the parks and saving the others for a return visit. Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef group together nicely (visit these on a loop from Salt Lake City). Zion and Bryce Canyon group together nicely (visit these from Vegas). If you did the first option, you’d have one day for each park with travel time to and from Salt Lake City on days 1 and 5. If you did the second option, I’d put 1 day in Bryce and 2 days in Zion with a day for travel on days 1 and 5.

      As I write this, we are in Capitol Reef. We are quickly learning that there is a lot to do here and 2 days is ideal, more time is even better. This is a highly underrated park. The hiking is amazing and with a 4×4 you can venture into the backcountry, which is spectacular. I’ll be writing a lot about Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, and Arches in the upcoming weeks, since we are spending 10 days here to explore some places we haven’t been able to get to yet. So, if you ever came back to Utah, a 7 to 10 day trip to these parks would be awesome. So you could visit Zion and Bryce in 2021 and save the others for a future visit. Just a thought.

      Cheers, Julie

    1. Post

      We don’t have a budget for this trip (we have done this itinerary in several pieces). However, I can help you estimate the trip cost. A rental car will cost $75 to $125 per day, factoring in the drop charge for a point-to-point itinerary. The type of vehicle you rent will influence cost (SUV’s and 4×4’s will be at the higher end). Hotels can range from $100 per night for a budget place up to $300 for nicer hotels and visits during peak season (May through September and holidays). Campgrounds are very cheap. You’ll pay $80 for your America the Beautiful Pass. Then there’s money for food and gas. We typically eat hotel breakfasts or energy bars in the morning, pack a picnic lunch, and go out to dinner on a trip like this. Our food costs average no more than $50 per person per day. Hope this helps! Cheers, Julie

  16. Finding your website was perfect timing tonight as I just decided to book at surprise 60th birthday trip for my husband in November (arriving in SLC on night of 12th) and flying back home Nov 20th from Vegas. We will have 7 full days. A wealth of information all in one place – I will be busy for the next several days getting everything in order. I just started looking at your sight and plan on the Mighty 5 itinerary. Will have to check out the weather and what to bring for colder temperatures coming from South Carolina. Hoping to find a great hotel/restaurant to celebrate his birthday on the 17th. Any suggestions – thinking we would be in the Bryce or Zion area then. I’m

    1. Post

      Hello Michelle. I’m glad you found us too! November is a great time to visit the Mighty 5…we will be here in November, also (Arches, Canyonlands and Capitol Reef). In Zion, I recommend King’s Landing Bistro, it’s our favorite restaurant in Springdale. For more Springdale restaurant and hotel recommendations, here is the link to our Zion itinerary. I don’t know of many good places to eat around Bryce Canyon. Have a nice trip and let us know if you have more questions! Cheers, Julie

    1. Post

      There has recently been a change to the security settings on our site which prevents printing or saving a PDF copy, but we are working on changing this. It should be fixed in the next few days. If you still have an issue, comment again or send us an email. Cheers, Julie

  17. Hello

    Loving your photos, tips, itineraries and content! Wondering what trails or spots one can go to at Zion National Park without shuttle tickets? Looking to do one day there.


    1. Post

      There are not many trails that you can get to without the shuttle, and we have gotten this question so much lately that I imagine these few trails will be very crowded. However, you can hike the Watchman Trail (starts at the visitor center), Canyon Overlook Trail, or Observation Point from the East Mesa Trail (this starts outside of the park on the east side). I think that the Kolob Canyons, on the north side of the park, have reopened, but you should double check this. We have not been to this part of the park yet. Good luck! Cheers, Julie

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *