Utah is often celebrated for its natural beauty and diversity, ranging from arid deserts to pine forests. That’s why this spectacular state is home not to just one but five national parks.
If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, going on a Utah national parks road trip is a dream-come-true type of experience. Below, you’ll find a comprehensive guide with all the information you need to set out on such a journey, from the route’s outline to useful travel advice.
ITINERARY FOR THE UTAH 5 NATIONAL PARKS ROAD TRIP
If you are planning to cover all five of Utah’s national parks, it’s best to begin your journey from one of the two traditional starting points: Las Vegas, NV or SaltLakeCity, UT.
Depending on the location from where you will head out, you’ll have three itinerary options:
1: LAS VEGASLOOP
Las Vegas– Arches – Canyonlands – CapitolReef– Bryce –Zion–Las Vegas
If you wish to go back to your starting point at the end of your epic road trip, you can take the loop route.
When the beginning and end of your journey are in Las Vegas, you will certainly have something to look forward to even when your road trip adventure is over.
This route implies not having to go back to your starting point at the end of your journey. For instance, you could be arriving in Las Vegas by plane, renting a vehicle there, and returning it in SaltLakeCity, from where you have a flight back to your hometown.
The route is reversible, meaning that if it’s more convenient for you to start the journey at SaltLakeCity, it’s equally as possible.
This is the best driving route for Utah national parks if you are coming from another state. Thus, let’s take a closer look at it.
7-DAY ROAD TRIP PLAN: FROM SALTLAKECITY TO LAS VEGAS
When planning a trip to Utah national parks, it’s wise to free up at least a week to complete it. This way, you’ll ensure peace of mind for yourself and will have enough time to explore every destination.
DAY 1: SALTLAKECITY - MOAB
Let’s say you head out of SaltLakeCity the same day your plane arrives there. If that’s the case, it’s advisable to make the first day’s drive easy, as you can be tired after the flight.
You’ll also be in close proximity to theDead Horse Point State Park, so consider visiting it if you have enough time and are willing to take a detour.
DAY 2: ARCHES NATIONAL PARK
On the second day of your road trip, it’s a great idea to visit the Arches National Park while using Moab as your home base. The park is only 5 miles away from the town, which gives you a full day to explore it.
This fascinating destination is home to over 2,000 natural arches, giving it a surreal feel. Hike around and don’t miss such iconic landmarks as theDelicate Archand theBalanced Rock.
DAY 3: CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARK
On day 3, you’ll be saying goodbye to Moab and heading out to the Canyonlands National Park, which is only a 30-minute drive away. As its name suggests, its main attractions are the various canyons that you’ve probably seen on postcards.
The park’s territory is large and is divided into four districts:
Each of these areas has something distinct to offer, so it’s up to you which of them you wish to explore. However, note that one day is certainly not enough to cover all these districts properly.
If you have to choose just one of these, our recommendation is to hike around the Island in the Sky district.
DAY 4: CAPITOL REEF NATIONAL PARK
On the fourth day of your road trip adventure, you’ll be visiting theCapitol Reef National Park. It’s only a 2,5-hour drive from the Canyonlands National Park and is known for its stunning landscape filled with colorful desert rock. It’s also fairly easy to explore, so you will have time to drive to your next destination the same day.
DAY 5: BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK
Suppose, you’ve had time to arrive atBryce Canyon National Parkthe previous day, which gives you a chance to start exploring it early in the morning. This place is truly a feast for the eyes with its signature hoodoo rock columns that look especially breathtaking at sunrise. The variety of textures and the mix of orange and white rock together with the evergreen coniferous trees is a sight to remember.
After taking in the magnificent views and exploring Bryce Canyon, you can head off to Springdale, the town adjacent to Zion National Park.
DAY 6: ZION NATIONAL PARK
The last of the MightyFive on your list, but certainly not the least, theZion National Parkis historical and enchanting. It’s Utah’s first national park and it has sandstone cliffs, beautiful canyons, and a unique array of animals and plants.
Try to cover both of the park’s iconic hikes -Angels Landingandthe Narrowsin one day or extend your visit, as it's very well worth it.
DAY 7:LAS VEGAS
On the last day of your epic road trip, all you’ll have to do is enjoy the 2,5-hour drive to Las Vegas, reflect on what you’ve seen and done over the past week, and look forward to future adventures.
PRACTICAL TIPS FOR THE MIGHTYFIVE ROAD TRIP
Now you know the best itinerary for Utah national parks and have an idea of how to tackle it. Here are some additional tips to ensure the journey goes as smoothly as possible:
The best seasons to go on this trip are spring and fall due to moderate temperatures and the abundance of sunny days.
The MightyFive are the busiest from May to September, so expect crowds if you are planning to travel then.
There are many accommodation options available across each of the itinerary variations. However, one of the most convenient ways is to rent a vehicle with arooftop tentto have a backup option to spend the night at all times.
Always read the information provided on the national parks’ websites before visiting to be aware of the current regulations and updates.
Are you ready to go for your next adventure? Your Utah national parks road trip awaits!
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