Are you planning a road trip through the 5 stunning national parks of Utah? Known as the Mighty 5, these iconic National Parks are perfectly spaced for a road trip. This Utah National Parks Road Trip stops at all the iconic sites of these magnificent National Parks.
This Utah Road Trip itinerary is perfectly designed for those who have one week of vacation and wish to explore these five national parks. There is time to take in the dramatic landscapes of Canyonlands and Capitol Reef, enjoy some of these park’s iconic hikes of Zion and monumental rock formations of Arches and Bryce Canyon.
Here is our guide for a Utah National Park Road Trip.
This post was published on Jun 27, 2018 and was updated on Dec 6, 2020.
- Getting to Utah’s National Parks
- What kind of rental car do you need for a Utah National Park Road Trip?
- What is the best time to do a Utah National Parks Road Trip?
- Where to stay on a Utah Road Trip?
- What to Pack for a Utah National Park Road Trip?
- How to Spend 7 Days in Utah’s National Parks?
- 7 Day Utah Road Trip Itinerary
- Travel Day – Moab
- Day 1 – Canyonlands National Park
- Day 2 – Canyonlands National Park / Arches National Park
- Day 3 – Arches National Park
- Day 4 – Capitol Reef National Park
- Day 5 – Bryce Canyon
- Day 6 – Bryce Canyon National Park / Zion National Park
- Day 7 – Zion National Park
- Travel Day – Fly out of Las Vegas
- Final Thoughts on One Week in Utah’s National Parks
- Pin for Later: The Ultimate Utah National Parks Road Trip: 7 Day Itinerary for the Mighty Five
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Getting to Utah’s National Parks
If you live in one of the states surrounding Utah, it is possible to drive your own vehicle for this road trip. But if you are coming from more than 8-12 hours away, it is more time-efficient to fly in for your Mighty Five road trip.
It doesn’t matter if you fly or drive for this road trip. The stops on this road trip can either go:
- Zion – Bryce Canyon – Capitol Reef – Arches/Canyonlands
- Arches/Canyonlands – Capitol Reef – Bryce Canyon – Zion
The road trip is spectacular in either direction and the only change is the order of the parks. Arches and Canyonlands are close together so they can be easily swapped. I always recommend starting with the park further away from your ending point. This means the longest drive happens first and you have time at your last destination.
Utah Road Trip Route Options
There are two great airport options when doing a Utah Road Trip. They are both large airports with a range of daily flights from around the US and a lot of rental car options. I recommend pricing all three options out work out which one is the most cost and time-efficient option.
The first airport option is Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) in Salt Lake City, Utah. Salt Lake City is 4 hours from Arches/Canyonlands National Park and 4.5 hours from Zion National Park.
The other option is McCarran International Airport (LAS) in Las Vegas, Nevada. McCarran is 2.75 hours from Zion National Park and 6.75 hours from Arches/Canyonlands National Park.
When costing out both of these options be sure to include flight costs, rental car costs, and a one-way fee is applicable.
Option 1 – Salt Lake City / Las Vegas (Recommended Route)
This option is you flying into Salt Lake City and out of Las Vegas. This option has the least amount of driving and is recommend is you only have 7 days to explore these parks. Be sure to include the rental car one-way fee in the cost calculations.
Route: Salt Lake City – Canyonlands – Arches – Capitol Reef – Bryce – Zion – Las Vegas
Option 2 – Las Vegas / Salt Lake City
This option is pretty much the same as option 1 except Canyonlands and Arches are swapped and its in reverse. Be sure to include the rental car one-way fee in the cost calculations.
Route: Las Vegas – Zion – Bryce Canyon – Capitol Reef – Canyonlands – Arches – Salt Lake City
Option 2 – Las Vegas Loop
The Las Vegas Loop is a popular option for many because Las Vegas is a popular tourist spot with a larger airport than Salt Lake. McCarran International Airport is an entry and departure point for international visitors. Domestic visitors will find a wider selection of budget-friendly carriers flying into Vegas. The downside to this route is that the Arches/Vegas drive is a long haul.
Route: Las Vegas – Arches – Canyonlands – Capitol Reef – Bryce – Zion – Las Vegas
Option 3 – Salt Lake City Loop
Salt Lake City doesn’t have a big airport but doing a loop out of here means your start or ending drives are about equal rather than one short and one long.
Route: Salt Lake City – Zion – Bryce – Capitol Reef – Canyonlands – Arches – Salt Lake City
If you are going to do a Salt Lake City Loop consider rental doing an RV rental so have the comforts of a small apartment while staying in or near the parks. Click here for the best Salt Lake City RV rentals.
What kind of rental car do you need for a Utah National Park Road Trip?
For this Utah Road Trip Itinerary, get whatever rental car you want. You do NOT need a 4×4 vehicle. If you decide you would like to do some off-pavement driving, I recommend getting a day rental from a place local to the parks. Most airport rental car agencies’ contracts specifically state that their vehicles are not allowed on dirt and gravel roads. This means that if you take the car on one of the roads and something happens, you will not be covered by insurance.
I book most of my rental cars through RentalCars.com. They have a great selection of rental cars from most major agencies and the best prices – check prices here.
If you would like to add a dirt/gravel road to your trip, get a jeep day rental from one of the rental agencies outside of the parks. These rentals are a little pricy for one day but they include insurance should something happen on the dirt roads and are outfitted for these roads.
What is the best time to do a Utah National Parks Road Trip?
This road trip to Utah’s National Parks is possible year-round. All five of these parks are open 365 days a year. During the winter or during flooding events, parts of these parks may close.
The best time to go on a Utah National Parks Road Trip is between April and May or September and October. The crowds are a bit smaller and the weather is a bit milder.
Park visitation is the highest from late May to August and holidays.
Here are the expected weather by season:
- Summer – Expect to see soaring temperatures and heavy crowds. Avoid hiking in the heat of the day.
- Fall and Spring – Moderate to mild temperatures. Slightly smaller crowds than summer
- Winter – Cool to cold temperatures. Come prepared for snow, a sense of adventure, and a willingness to readjust for trail and road closures. Significantly smaller crowds.
Where to stay on a Utah Road Trip?
With a Utah National Parks Road Trip, there isn’t a central location where you can book a hotel or campsite and spent the whole week doing day trip to these National Park. Not unless you want to spend half your day driving to the park every day.
If you are trying to minimize your campsites or hotel room moves, I suggest breaking your trip up into four areas.
- 3 Nights in Moab (Arches / Canyonlands)
- 1 Night in Capitol Reef
- 3 Nights in Orderville (Bryce Canyon / Zion)
- 1 Night in Las Vegas (pending flight time)
Below are my suggestions for places to stay if you are trying to minimize lodging moves for Moab and Orderville. The downside of this is that means you will often have an hour to hour and a half commute in the morning to that day’s activities. But you will not have to pack up and move nearly as often. If you want to minimize your commutes and are ok with the lodging moves, I have included daily suggestions with the Utah National Parks Road Trip Itinerary.
Where to stay on in Moab (Arches and Canyonlands)?
There are a lot of camping options in and around Moab. I prefer to camp along Highway 128. There are 6 six small campgrounds located along the Colorado River. These campgrounds are small, quiet and a good cross between close to town and the parks without feeling like you are in a city. Learn more about Moab’s BLM campgrounds. There is also a range of RV parks in Moab.
- Red Cliffs Lodge – A unique western resort where every room is a suite. There is a horse corral, Western film museum and winery on site. Rooms from $150/night; book on Booking.com or Hotels.com;
- Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Moab – Modern hotel with a outdoor pool, mini-fridge and microwave in every room. Rooms from $89/night; book on Booking.com or Hotels.com;
- Sleep Inn & Suites Moab – A mid-range hotel with standard rooms and a pool. Rooms from $63/night; book on Booking.com or Hotels.com;
Moab Airbnbs and Vacation Rentals
- Scalatore – A unique rental in downtown Moab with a climbing wall. Rooms from $96/night; book on Airbnb;
- Curtis La Vista – A luxury house with access to a pool and hot tub. Rooms from $97/night; book on Airbnb;
- Petroglyph Place – A luxury condo with a southwestern vide and a pool. Rooms from $83/night; book on Airbnb;
Where to stay on in Orderville (Bryce Canyon / Zion)?
There are not a lot of public camping options between Bryce Canyon and Zion. The best public campground is Duck Creek Campground in Dixie National Forest. Duck Creek is about 1.5 hours from Zion Canyon and an hour from Bryce.
There are several RV and private campgrounds in Orderville.
- Arrowhead Country Inn and Cabins – Rustic farm and country inn and cabins with a pool and fireplaces. Rooms from $149/night; book on Booking.com or Hotels.com;
- Best Western Thunderbird Lodge – Modern budget-friendly with a pool. Rooms from $74/night; book on Booking.com or Hotels.com;
- Apple Hollow Cabins – Cute cabins with moutanin views and a BBQ. Rooms from $169/night; book on Booking.com or Hotels.com;
Orderville Airbnbs and Vacation Rentals
- Adobe 3 at Zion – Modern tiny house with a floor to ceiling windows and a killer view. Rooms from $185/night; book on Airbnb;
- Treetop at East Zion Resort – A hillside cabin with resort amenities, kitchen and a view Rooms from $125/night; book on Airbnb;
- Rock Canyon Range Lodge – A large ranch house where a family group can spread out. Rooms from $329/night; book on Airbnb;
What to Pack for a Utah National Park Road Trip?
- America the Beautiful National Parks Pass: Individually, entrance to Utah’s National Parks costs $150 per vehicle. You can save $70 by getting an America the Beautiful Pass and get entry to 3,000 other federal lands for 1 year. Get your pass.
- National Park Passport – The National Park Passport Book is the cheapest and best souvenir of your national park adventures. This book makes it easy to collect the National Park Cancellation Stamps. The cancellation stamps have the date of your visit and make it easy to track when you visited each national park service unit. Get your passport.
- Refillable Water Bottles – Do your part to reduce litter in our parks by bringing a refillable water bottle with you. A reusable and refillable water bottle can save you a lot of money and really help the environment. Here are my favorite water bottles
- Hydration Bladder – If you are hiking longer distances, a hydration bladder is the best way to hike with significant quantities of water. It is a rare hike when I don’t bring a full bladder with me.
- Snacks – There are limited services in the park. So pick up all your snacks before you go. Pack a couple of different options so you are prepared for any craving.
- Fruit: Pick hard fruits such as apples or pears. These hold-up in the heat and in packs without getting squished to mush. Another option is freeze-dried fruit. Freeze-dried strawberries are the BOMB. They are crunchy, sweet and the best part is they are lightweight and yummy. These are my new favorite trail snack.
- Vegetables: Cucumbers and carrots hold up well during hiking and in a hot car.
- Granola Bars: Take your favorite non-coated in chocolate granola bars. Anything coated in chocolate will melt and be a sticky mess. My favorite is a selection of Cliff Bars. They are great even when squished.
- Sunscreen – You don’t want to get burned on your visit.
- Lip balm – Your lips need just as much sun protection as your skin does.
- Sunglasses – Similar to sunscreen, you need a good pair of polarized sunglasses to protect your eyes from the glare of the sun.
- Hat – Hats are another sun protection device. A hat can keep the sun off your face and neck and help minimize the need for sunscreen while on the trail.
- First aid kit – As with any outdoor adventure, accidents happen. It is better to be prepared and have a compact first-aid kit ready to help with any accidents.
- Headlamp – Always keep a headlamp handy. You never know when you might want it. It can be used for midnight bathroom runs to sunrise/sunset hikes. A good headlamp makes it easy to operate in the dark.
- Shoes – Shoes are probably the most important piece of gear to any hiker. Hiking shoes should be seen as an investment. On the trail, your feet are your transportation and a solid pair of hiking shoes help support your feet and can prevent injury.
- Hiking Day Pack – A good day pack is the best way to transport all your gear when hiking. I highly recommend getting a backpack that is designed for outdoor use. These packs come with handy pockets and straps. My 40 L day pack has a pocket for my water bladder and a clip to hold the water line in place.
- National Park Obsessed Shirt – Share your love of the National Parks and support National Park Obsessed with a National Park Obsessed T-Shirt.
If you are new to visiting the National Parks, check out our National Park Essentials Guide to get your started.
How to Spend 7 Days in Utah’s National Parks?
Utah National Park Road Trip Map
Basic Utah National Park Road Trip Itinerary
This is a 7-day Utah road trip with a travel day on each end. The road trip takes you on a Utah National Park Tour. This outline is set-up to begin in Salt Lake City and end in Las Vegas, but can easily be modified for a loop or done in the opposite direction.
- Travel Day – Arrive in Salt Lake City, drive to Moab
- Day 1 – Canyonlands National Park
- Day 2 – Canyonlands and Arches National Park
- Day 3 – Arches National Park, drive to Capital Reef National Park
- Day 4 – Capitol Reef National Park; drive to Bryce Canyon National Park
- Day 5 – Bryce Canyon National Park
- Day 6 – Bryce Canyon National Park; Drive to Zion; East Zion National Park
- Day 7 – Zion National Park
- Travel Day – Drive to Las Vegas
7 Day Utah Road Trip Itinerary
Travel Day – Moab
Drive Time: The Drive time between Salt Lake City International Airport and Moab is just under 4 hours.
Today is strictly planned as a travel day since you will be flying in and having a 4-hour drive into Moab. There isn’t a time for much but if you are looking for something to do, Dead Horse State Park and enjoy the view.
Utah National Parks Road Trip Pro Tip: Stop by the grocery store and grab lunch fixing for the next 3 days. There are no food options in Canyonlands or Arches so packing a lunch is a must unless you want to spend hours driving back to Moab for lunch.
Recommend Places to Stay
Option 1 – Same accommodation for 3 Nights
- Red Cliffs Lodge is a popular unique western resort where every room is a suite with a horse corral, Western film museum, and winery on site. Rooms from $150/night; book on Booking.com or Hotels.com;
- Moab Airbnb – There are some amazing Airbnb options in Moab. Check out these amazing options starting from $50/night; Check Prices Now
Option 2 – Campers only
My suggestion for camping is to do one night at the Needles Campground, Hamburger Rock Campground, or dispersed camping along Lock Hart Rd.
The other new nights I suggest staying up at a Moab Campground or if you can get a reservation Devils Garden Campground in Arches. Devil’s Garden Campground is located in the heart of Arches and is amazing if you can get a reservation. Reservations can be made up to six months in advance.
Day 1 – Canyonlands National Park
Drive Time: The Needles District is a 1.5 hour drive from Moab.
Canyonlands National Park is made of three main sections – Needles, Islands of the Sky, and Maze. Today, you will be exploring the Needles District and tomorrow is Island of the Sky. The Maze is a remote section of the park that requires a high-clearance 4×4 and off-roading experience.
If you want to watch the sunrise, head over to Big Spring Canyon Overlook. It’s one of my favorite non-hiking sunrise spots in the area. After sunrise (or if skipping sunrise), park at the Elephant Hill Trailhead.
From here, grab a picture of the trailhead map and head out to Chesler Park Viewpoint trail. This trail is 5.4 miles long with 526ft of elevation gain. It takes between 3-4 hours to hike. The trail starts by crossing some Slickrock then across a red canyon then a very steep climb to the overlook. If you are really ambitious you can add an extra 4.6 miles and do the full Chesler Park loop and hike thru the narrow fractures known as the Joint.
If you don’t want to do the full Chesler Park loop, but this want to do a bit more hiking there are a few short trails in the area.
Slickrock Trail is the longest of the short trails but it is a fun hike and has 360-degree views of the needles areas. Slickrock is 2.4 mile loop trail that takes about two hours to hike.
Cave Springs Trail is a short 0.6-mile trail there are two ladders to climb on this trail. The trail leads to prehistoric pictographs and a historic cowboy camp.
Pothole Point is a 0.6 mile trail that leads to an amazing view of the Needles.
Roadside Ruins is a 0.3 mile trail that leads to a storage structure built by indigenous people.
Be sure to check the sunrise times before you go head to bed.
Day 2 – Canyonlands National Park / Arches National Park
Drive Time: Mesa Arch is about a hour drive from Moab. It is a 30 minute drive from the Canyonlands Island of the Sky entrance to Arches entrance.
Start your day watching the sunrise from Mesa Arch. There is a reason this spot is one of the National Park system’s premier sunrise spots. The rising sun hits this arch in a spectacular manner and it is well dealing with the crowd. Mesa Arch is reached by a short 0.5-mile trail.
Utah National Parks Road Trip Pro Tip: Plan on getting to Mesa Arch at least 30 mins before sunrise (if not an hour or an hour and a half.
After sunrise head over start driving towards the Grand View Point and White Rim Overlook. Stop and enjoy the many overlooks and the views of from the island and the Green and Colorado River.
Hike out the Grand View Point Rail to get an even better view of the Green River. The trail is an easy walk along the canyon edge. The trail is 2.0 miles round trip.
Keep driving to the Green River Overlook and check out the view. Head towards Upheaval Dome. Upheaval Dome is a unique geological feature. The Dome is a 1,000-foot deep crater that is 3 miles wide. Scientists are not sure what created this dome. It could be the pressure of other geological layers forces a layer of sand upward or a meteorite could have hit the area and this is what remains. Geologists are still trying to figure out. The Dome can be seen by hiking the Upheaval Dome trail. The trail has two overlooks. The first overlook is 0.4 miles and the second overlook is 0.9 miles from the overlook. The trail provides some great views of the dome, but the trail has a few steep sections and should take about 1.5 hours to hike.
Start working your way out of the park, and if you didn’t get to yesterday, take a short detour to Dead Horse Point State Park and check out the Dead Horse Point Overlook.
Depending on the line, entering Arches National Park might take an hour or so. Once in the park head towards the Delicate Arch trailhead. Grab your pack, a to-go dinner, enough water, and headlamp in a bag and make the 1.5-mile hike up to Delicate Arch. As the trail ascends, it moves on to Slickrock. Follow the rock cairns as you hike out. At the end of the trail, you are greeted with an excellent view of Delicate Arch and a great place to watch the sunset. Claim your spot and enjoy the view.
Day 3 – Arches National Park
Drive Time: Its 10 minutes from Moab to Arches. At the end of the day, it is an two hour and 15 minute drive from Archest to Capitol Reef National Park.
Hopefully, you managed to reserve an early morning ranger-led hike into the Fiery Furnace. This is a special hike into narrow sandstone canyons, fins, and natural arches. The trail is marked but unless you have been into the Furnace before don’t go in without a guide. The hike is about 2.5 miles and will take a couple of hours.
If you don’t or can’t get tickets for Fiery Furnace, don’t worry there is plenty of things to do. I’ll make a few suggestions below.
After the Furnace hike or as you enter the park, head over the Devil’s Garden Trailhead.
Utah National Parks Road Trip Pro Tip: Try to get to the Devil’s Garden Trailhead by 9 am for the best chance of finding parking.
At Devil’s Garden, you have two options. You can do a short 1.9 mile roundtrip hike to Landscape Arch. Or, if you are up for the challenge, after Landscape Arch, head up the steep trail to Double O Arch. Double O Arch is a steep hike up think Delicate Arch but more difficult. Along this trail you will pass several arches including Tunnel, Pine Tree, Landscape, Partition, and Navajo Arch. This trail is 4.5 miles round trip.
After your Landscape/Double O hike, head over the Skyline Arch parking area. This short trail ends at the base of the arch. This is a nice walk out to a famous arch.
Head over to the Sand Dune Arch parking area. There is a 0.3 mile hike into a small canyon and the incredible Sand Dune Arch. This is one of my favorite arches in the park. Its hidden in that canyon and its like here’s this random arch. There is an optional 2 mile loop that leads out to Broken and Tapestry Arch. I only recommend doing this if you didn’t do the Fiery Furnace hike.
As you work your way back to the park entrance, be sure to stop at the Fiery Furnace Overlook and Salt Valley Overlook as you head to the Windows Section of the park.
At the Windows, there are several really short hikes that lead to the bases of Double Arch, the Windows, and Balanced Rock. Spend as long as you want to scramble on rocks and to enjoy these views.
On the drive out of the park, there are a couple of small viewpoints to stop and enjoy the views. When you are done, head out of the park and make your way over to Capitol Reef National Park. The drive takes just over 2 hours.
Recommend Places to Stay
Capitol Reef Camping
While there are three campgrounds in Capitol Reef National Park. I only recommend staying at Fruita Campground in the park or one of the campgrounds/RV parks outside of the park.
Capitol Reef Hotels
- Red Sands Hotel – Luxury hotel with a pool and mountain views. Rooms from $83/night; book on Booking.com or Hotels.com;
- The Noor Hotel – Modern budget-friendly hotel with red cliff views. Rooms from $80/night; book on Booking.com or Hotels.com;
- Austin’s Chuckwagon Lodge – Budget-friendly western-themed hotel. Rooms from $119/night; book on Booking.com or Hotels.com;
Capitol Reef Airbnbs and Vacation Rentals
- Luxury Tiny Home – A luxury tiny home with a view of the Milky Way on clear nights Rooms from $109/night; book on Airbnb;
- Torrey Pines Cabin – Western chalet overlooking Torrey with a kitchenette from $129/night; book on Airbnb;
- Capitol Reef Vacation Home – A modern ranch house with space to sleep a family and full kitchen and two patios Rooms from $329/night; book on Airbnb;
Day 4 – Capitol Reef National Park
Drive Time: The drive between Capitol Reef and Bryce is about two and half hours.
Start your morning off with a 1.8-mile hike to Hickman Bridge. The Hickman Bridge Arch spans 133 feet and the hike has about 400 ft of elevation gain. The trail provides epic views of Utah’s least known national park.
After your hike, head over to the historical town of Fruita in the park. Fruita is the home of fruit trees. There are cherry, walnut, almond, pear, plum, mulberry, apricot, apple, and peaches in the area. If the fruit is in season, you are welcome to pick fruit and pay by the pound. Pick as much fruit as you can eat in the next couple of days.
Now it is time for pie. The Gifford Farm offers locally made fruit pies with vanilla ice cream. At the farm you can learn about the Western writer Wallace Stegner and Mormon life in the 1900s.
End the day visiting the stops of the Scenic Drive and the 11 stops showcasing the geological history of the area. Here is more information on how to spend one day in Captiol Reef National Park.
Recommend Places to Stay
Bryce Canyon Camping
Bryce Canyon Hotels
- Bryce Canyon Lodge – A National Park Rustic Lodge located in Bryce Canyon. Rooms from $223/night; book direct;
- Bryce Country Cabins – Rustically inspired cottages with kitchens. Rooms from $94/night; book on Booking.com or Hotels.com;
- Best Western Plus Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel – A modern hotel with a pool. Rooms from $220/night; book on Booking.com or Hotels.com;
Bryce Canyon Airbnbs and Vacation Rentals
- Luxury Tiny Home – A luxury home with a rustic cabin home near Bryce. Rooms from $250/night; book on Airbnb;
- Grandpa’s Place – A two bedroom apartment in Tropic. from $110/night; book on Airbnb;
- The Cottages at Bryce Canyon – A quaint little cottage near the entrance to Bryce. Rooms from $149/night; book on Airbnb;
Day 5 – Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon National Park is another great parks for sunrise. If you would like to watch the sunrise over the Bryce Amphitheater, get there at least an hour before sunrise to claim your spot. All of the overlooks can get really crowded during sunrise. My favorite spot to watch the sunrise is Sunset Point, but any of the points along the Amphitheater make for an amazing sunrise.
Assuming you watched the sunrise at Sunset Point, start the Figure 8 trial. This 6.4-mile trail combines 3 different loop trails. The trail will take about 4-5 hours to complete and the hike is strenuous. At least 4-5 liters of water is needed for this hike. The Figure 8 combines the Navajo Loop, the Peek-a-Boop Loop, and the Queen’s Garden.
From Sunset Point head down the Navajo Loop passed Thor’s Hammer. Alas, I have yet to see Chris Hemsworth in the area. Let me know if you see him hanging around. The trail is 0.6 miles to connect with the Peek-a-Boo trail.
The Peek-a-Boo Loop is best hiked clockwise and is a shared horse bath. The trail passes the Wall of Windows and the Cathedral.
After 3 miles, Peek-a-Boo connects back with the Queen’s Garden Trail. The trail will take you thru several rock arches and past the Queen Victoria rock.
Head back up the rim of Bryce Canyon and follow the easy Rim trail back to Sunset Point.
From Sunset Point, keep heading into the canyon. There are 10 pull-outs that provide excellent views of the canyon. When you get to Rainbow Point, hike the short 1-mile Bristlecone Loop. This flat loop is a tour thru the sub-alpine fir forests.
Hiking all these trails will allow you to complete the “I Hiked the Hoodoos” Challenge. You need to collect 3 of the benchmarks along the trial. You can either take a rubbing of the marks or selfies with the marks. Go to the visitor center to get your reward.
Day 6 – Bryce Canyon National Park / Zion National Park
Drive Time: The drive between Bryce Canyon and Zion is about an hour and half.
Have another early morning and watch the sunrise over the Bryce Amphitheater from another viewpoint. After the sunrise head, toward Zion National Park. The drive will take 1.5 hours to each the parks Eastern Entrance. Just before you get to the Zion-Mt. Carmel tunnel is the Canyon Overlook Trail.
The short trail will take about an hour to hike and provides great views East Temple region of the canyon.
Head thru the engineering marvel that is the Zion-Mt. Carmel tunnel. Enjoy this 1.1-mile long tunnel built in 1927.
Head to the visitor center and park in the parking lot and catch the Zion Canyon Shuttle. The Shuttle provides a brief tour of the park. Take the shuttle to the last stop, the Temple of Sinawava. Head into the Narrows. It is a 1.1 mile Riverside walk into the canyon when the Narrows starts. The Narrows is a 16 mile section of canyon that the Virgin River runs thru. From the walk, you can enter the river. Take a hour or two to hike up the river into the Narrows. This hike is slippery and the water depth can range from ankle height to chest deep. Be aware of the weather, the canyon is known to get flash floods.
After you hike in the river, dry off and catch the bus back to stop 7 Weeping Rock. Hike 0.4 miles up to see the weeping rock.
The last hike of the day is the Emerald Pools Trails. Take the bus to stop 5 Zion Lodge. Head across the street to the Emerald Pools. The hike consists of two parts. The first is the 0.6-mile hike to the lower pool. This is an easy hike with a few steep drop-offs. The second part of the hike is 0.5 moderate hike to the Upper Emerald Pool.
Recommend Places to Stay (one or two nights)
There are three campgrounds in Zion National Park along with a couple of campgrounds just outside the park in Springdale. If you can get a reservation at South or Watchman campground, I recommend doing that.
- Zion National Park Lodge – Located in the heart Zion Canyon, this national park rustic lodge has is perfect for those wanting to make the most of their national park visit. Rooms from $229/night; book direct;
- La Quinta Inn & Suites – Modern budget-friendly hotel with a pool and canyon views. Rooms from $139night; book on Booking.com or Hotels.com;
- Cable Mountain Lodge – A modern hotel with a western modern feel. Rooms from $219/night; book on Booking.com or Hotels.com;
Zion Airbnbs and Vacation Rentals
- Heller House – A large modern home a few miles from the park entrance. Rooms from $307/night; book on Airbnb;
- The Loft – A fun artsy loft with spectacular views in the Springdale. Rooms from $294/night; book on Airbnb;
- Nama-Stay Suites – A modern studio with a view and a kitchenette. Rooms from $195/night; book on Airbnb;
Check out other Zion Airbnbs here.
Day 7 – Zion National Park
Drive Time: The drive between Zion and Las Vegas is about 2 hours and 45 minutes. If your flight out of Las Vegas is after 12 p, , I’d spend the night in Zion and head out in the morning. If it’s before noon, I’d spend the night in Las Vegas.
The shuttle bus starts running at either 6:00 am or 7:00 am. Check the time. Be sure to catch the FIRST shuttle into the canyon. Get off at stop 6 The Grotto. The Grotto is the trailhead for the famed Angels Landing TrailAngels Landing Trail. This 5.4-mile trail is a 1500 foot climb to the spot where Angels landed. This trail is not for the faint of heart and isn’t kid-friendly. Please do not hike this trail with kids under 12 years old.
The first 2 miles of Angels is a steady climb up a long section of switchbacks to a Scout Lookout. The view from Scout is just a small taste of the view from the Landing. The last half mile of hiking is scary. It is probably the scariest section of hiking trail in the United States. There is an almost 1,000-foot drop on either side of a narrow trail. There are chains to help with this hike but it is narrow and one needs sure footing to hike this trail.
Once you get to the landing, enjoy the view. Try to be heading down by 10:00 am. Most hikers start up at about 8:30 or so and then the landing gets busy and that very narrow trail gets even more hazards with two-way traffic.
After the hike catch, the bus back to the Zion Canyon Lodge and have an ice cream (and lunch) and relax for a bit.
Head down to the Zion Human History Museum to explore the history of Zion and the human who have made the area home.
If you are done hiking for the day, ride the bus and get off at each stop and just enjoy the views. If you still want to hike, there are several small trails such a the Archeology Trail or the Grotto to explore.
Depending on what time your flight is out of Las Vegas tomorrow, you may have time to enjoy a nice morning hike in Zion or need to make the
Travel Day – Fly out of Las Vegas
Depending on what time your flight out of Las Vegas is, you might have the morning to enjoy Zion
Final Thoughts on One Week in Utah’s National Parks
I hope you have a wonderful Utah National Park Road Trip. If you need any gear check out our gear guides below.
If you are looking for advice on other types of outdoor gear specific guides:
Here are some other National Park gear you might like:
- 29 Phenomenal National Park Gifts for Park Lovers
- 19+ Junior Ranger Gift Ideas
- Epic US National Park Wall Maps to help you keep track of your travels
Sunday 20th of February 2022
Do you need permits for angels landing and the arches
Monday 28th of February 2022
Yes, you will
Friday 8th of October 2021
Jennifer, I am hitting the 3 southeast NP in Utah for 7 days. Should I spend 2 days at each location? Any recs welcomed.
Thanks in advanced!
Sunday 10th of October 2021
It depends on you. Make a list of what you want to do in each park and then compare and see if there is one park that you want to spend more time in than the other two and decide how to split your days up. I break down my full decision-making process on how I decide to spend in each park - https://nationalparkobsessed.com/i-spend-in-xxx-national-park/.
Tuesday 28th of July 2020
Love your thorough explanations of everything and am absolutely blown away by your photographs. Do you sell them?
Thursday 6th of August 2020
I don't sell photos. It's a lot of extra work and people aren't buying photography the way they used too.
Sunday 8th of July 2018
Dude! This is exactly what I’ve been looking for. Excellent itinerary to show my non-US citizen husband more of our beautiful national parks. We’ve only ever connected through the Salt Lake City airport and haven’t taken the time to enjoy Utah properly.
Wednesday 11th of July 2018
Utah is an amazing state and worth more than an airport visit.
Wednesday 4th of July 2018
Thank you for this marvelous post! Consider it pinned. Also, thank you for reminding me how beautiful the American West is. I've been to Utah, but haven't visited any of these national parks. I'm such a bad American. :-(
Wednesday 11th of July 2018
You're welcome. Glad you enjoyed it.