Few things are more incredible than Utah’s five national parks—except, of course, visiting all five parks in a single trip. A trip to The Mighty 5 means watching the sunrise over the vertiginous depths of Canyonlands, then watching the sunset through an impossibly delicate rock bow in Arches. It means standing nose-to-nose with ancient petroglyphs in Capitol Reef, then lying on your back as a meteor shower streaks across the Milky Way. It means gazing down at coral-hued rock hoodoos in Bryce Canyon, then gazing upward at the steep walls of a slot canyon in Zion. It means hiking, river rafting, biking, picnicking, walking, mule riding, exploring and stargazing.
Whether you’re looking for memorable family fun, an adrenaline rush, the solace of nature or a combination of all three, you’re sure to discover an unforgettable experience that can only be found in Utah. So whet your appetite for adventure with a Mighty 5 itinerary that promises gravity-defying rock formations, rich rainbows of desert color, and landscapes wide-open with possibility.
DAY 1: ZION
Hike The Narrows
Hailed as one of the world’s best canyon hikes, this shady walk up the shallow Virgin River can be adapted for any ability level or timeframe. Redrock canyon walls reach into the sky above as you wade through the river’s cool waters.
DAY 2: ZION TO BRYCE CANYON
Walk to Emerald Pools
Stroll easily to Zion’s lush and mossy waterfalls, which cascade down towering redrock formations with a colorful splash.
Drive The Scenic Loop
Hit the road along the Mt. Carmel Scenic Byway (Hwy 89) to Bryce Canyon, then stay in the car a little longer for the 38-mile scenic loop. The park’s otherworldly formations and brilliant colors come alive during the hours around sunrise and sunset.
DAY 3: BRYCE CANYON TO CAPITOL REEF
Ride Beneath the Hoodoos
Saddle up for a guided mule ride to the floor of Bryce Canyon, passing a stunning series of rock formations along the way. (The mules don’t mind when you pause to take pictures).
Watch a Sunset Like No Other
After winding past the aptly named Kodachrome Basin and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument on one of America’s “Top 10 Scenic Roads” (Hwy 12), start your Capitol Reef explorations by watching the sky turn from coral to violet at Sunset Point.
DAY 4: CAPITOL REEF
Bike the Historic Burr Trail
Rent mountain bikes to cover some ground as you roll past ancient petroglyphs, historic homesteads and dramatic slot canyons on this famous trail.
Savor a Historic Snack in The Fruita Orchards
After the bike ride, Capitol Reef visitors can pick their fill of fresh seasonal fruit like peaches, plum, cherries and apples in the 125-year old orchards planted by pioneering settlers.
DAY 5: CAPITOL REEF TO ARCHES
Tour the Fiery Furnace
After the two-hour drive along the Capitol Reef Country Scenic Byway (Hwy 24), stretch your legs in Arches with a tour through this twisting labyrinth of brilliant redrock fissures and spines so intricate it would be impossible to find your way without a guide.
Hike: Delicate Arch
Still got some energy? This 1.5-mile hike is beautiful, but the final view of Utah’s famous landmark is what truly confirms its famed standing on Utah’s bucket list.
DAYS 6 & 7: CANYONLANDS
Raft Cataract Canyon
Arches and Canyonlands are practically contiguous, so it’s easy to book a guided two-day trip down this legendary section of the Colorado River. You’ll cascade through dozens of whitewater rapids on the splashiest roller-coaster ride of your life.