(Last Updated On: February 25, 2020)

The National Parks in Utah are some of the prettiest US National Parks. The 5 Utah National Parks, also known as Utah’s Mighty 5 offer stunning scenery, and fairly good weather year-round for visiting. If you’re looking to plan the perfect Utah National Parks road trip, we suggest having at least 10-14 days for your roadtrip. The national parks in Utah are so amazing and you could really spend a whole month exploring all Utah has to offer. We’ve put together a 10 day road trip itinerary where you can see all of Utah’s mighty 5, including the best hikes in each national park, best things to do and where to stay near each national park. 

arches national park the windows

Utah National Parks Road Trip

We recently traveled from Portland to Utah in our campervan to explore some of Utah’s national parks. We could really spend a whole month there exploring Utah but here is the perfect 10 day road trip itinerary. Since there is so much to see at all of these parks, and throughout Utah, we recommend having at least 10 days to really explore. If you are short on time, we suggest only focusing on 2-3 parks to maximize your time, otherwise you’ll be spending most of your time driving from park to park. 

Where to start your Utah roadtrip

If you’re not from nearby Utah, we suggest you fly into either Las Vegas or Salt Lake City. From there, it’s easy to get to all of the Utah National Parks. Since we drove our campervan from Portland, we went through Salt Lake City. If you’re needing to rent a van or RV for your trip, check out Outdoorsy, it’s like airbnb for RVs and other travel trailers, where you can search by type of RV, dates, and other amenities.

Another option would be to fly into Las Vegas, and drive up to Zion from Las Vegas. The itinerary will be the same, regardless of the starting city.

Rent a campervan for your roadtrip

Utah mighty 5 roadtrip map

Utah National Parks Itinerary

utah national parks arches

Day 1:  Salt Lake City to Zion National Park (4.5 hours)

Pick up your campervan or RV and drive from Salt Lake City to Zion National Park. Depending when you arrive in Utah, we recommend driving straight to Zion so you can find a place to stay, and maximize your time in Zion National Park.

Zion National Park is located between St. George and Springdale, Utah. It is the most popular national parks in Utah, and can be extremely busy all year round! Zion is an extremely big park with lots to see. So we recommend staying at least one full day and a night in Zion. Depending on what time you get to Zion, you can do a short hike or some exploring, but then the next day will be filled, so get there with plenty of time.

Be aware that for most of the year, you are required to ride the shuttle in Zion. There is no access by cars from April to October on the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. The shuttle runs frequently from the visitors center.

Rent a campervan for your Utah roadtrip

Days 2-3: Zion National Park

Zion National Park entrance fee: $35

Utah National Parks - Zion national park
Zion is the busiest national park in Utah, and is busy year round. You’ll want to spend at least 2 days in Zion National Park. Since you arrived yesterday, we recommend getting up early and exploring Zion first thing in the morning. Parking can get very crowded later in the day, so it’s wise to get a head start. Start the morning at Angels Landing hike, one of the most popular hikes in Zion National Park.

If you plan to hike the Narrows, you will need to plan for a whole day. The Narrows is the narrowest section of Zion National Park. If you hike the Narrows, you must hike through the water, and you will get your feet wet. If you hike the Narrows in the cooler months, be prepared with a drysuit and booties. This is a great post if you’re interested in hiking the narrows.

utah 10 day roadtrip zion

 

Best Hikes in Zion National Park
  • Riverside walk (2.2 miles, easy)
  • Pa’rus trail (3.5 miles, easy) dog friendly
  • Weeping rock trail (.4 miles, easy)
  • Canyon Overlook Trail (1 mile, moderate)
  • Angels Landing (5.4 miles, strenuous)
  • The Narrows (9.4 miles, strenuous)

utah roadtrip zion national park

Things to do in Zion National Park
  • Checkerboard mesa
  • Zion Canyon scenic drive
  • Horseback riding
  • Sunset jeep tour
Where to stay near Zion National Park

Zion Canyon Campground and RV resort– located Springdale. Tent sites start at $49/night and RV sites start at $59/night

South Campground or Watchman Campground– both located in Zion Canyon. Campgrounds are $30/night, but fill up fast

Zion National Park Lodge – the only accommodations located inside Zion National Park

Dog friendly trails inside Zion National Park

There aren’t a ton of options for dogs inside Zion National Park. Hiking in the park with pets is allowed only on the roads and Pa’rus Trail.

zion national parks pet friendly

Day 4: Zion National Park to Bryce Canyon National Park (1.5 hours)

Bryce Canyon entrance fee: $35
 
Leaving Zion National Park, you’ll exit via the 12 mile Mt Carmel- Zion highway. Here you’ll pass the historic tunnel and the beautiful red rocks of Zion. When you arrive at Bryce Canyon National Park, you’ll see the orange and white hoodoos. The landscape of Bryce Canyon is simply amazing. Bryce Canyon is not a single canyon but a series of natural amphitheaters, with Bryce Amphitheater being the most famous one.
 
Spend some time hiking through Bryce Canyon. Just by hiking alongside the Rim trail, you’ll be able to get a feel for how impressive the scenery is. The Rim Trail is an easy hike, and you can hike up to 11 miles. Hike Navajo Loop and Queens Gardens Trail which takes you down into the canyon. There are four different viewpoints within the first 3 miles of the parks entrance, that are all worth seeing, but very different in scenery. You can walk along the Rim Trail to see each viewpoint.  Inspiration point and Bryce point are definitely worth a stop.
 
If you want to spend more than just one day in Bryce Canyon National Park, you can hike some of the longer trails like the Fairyland loop (8 miles) or the Peekaboo loop (5.5 miles).
 
utah national parks roadtrip
 
 
Best Hikes in Bryce Canyon
  • Sunset to Sunrise (1.0 mile, easy)
  • Rim Trail (1.0 – 11.0 miles, easy)
  • Bristlecone Loop (1.0 mile, easy)
  • Queen’s/Navajo Combination Loop (2.9 miles, moderate)
  • Fairlyand loop (8 miles, strenuous)
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Things to do in Bryce Canyon
  • hiking
  • wrangler guided horseback riding
  • snowshoe or cross-country ski in the winter
Where to stay near Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon Resort – nice and close lodging to explore Bryce Canyon

Best Western Plus Rubys Inn – nestled right along the red rock cliffs of Bryce Canyon National Park, with tons of amenities

bryce canyon utah national parks

 

Dog Friendly trails in Bryce Canyon
Pets are only allowed on paved trails and viewpoints, roads, campsites, and picnic areas. The section of Rim Trail between Sunset and Sunrise Points is open to pets.
 
 
 

Day 5: Bryce Canyon to Capitol Reef National Park (2.5 hours)

Capitol Reef entrance fee: $20
 
Capitol Reef National Park is the smallest of the Utah National Parks. Because Capitol Reef is so small, its pretty easy to see the whole park in one day.
 
Now, because we decided to do the Utah National Parks in only 7 days instead of 9 or 10 days, we had to skip a park, and Capitol Reef was it. We were super sad that we missed it and would love to go back. Capitol Reef is full of cliffs, canyons, domes and bridges.
Best hikes in Capitol Reef National Park
  • Capitol Gorge (1.0 mile, easy)
  •  The Grand Wash (2.2 miles, easy)
  • Chimney Rock Loop (3.6 miles, strenuous)
  • Frying Pan Trail (2.9 miles, strenuous)
Things to do in Capitol Reef
  • hiking
  • road tours
  • canyoneering
  • bike tours
  • visit the Gifford Homestead
 

Where to stay near Capitol Reef
Capitol Reef Resort – upscale cabins and teepees 1 mile from the park entrance
 
Days Inn by Wyndham – casual lodging with a pool
 
Pets inside Capitol Reef National Park

Pets are allowed in campgrounds, on the trail from the visitor center to the Fruita campground, and on the Fremont River Trail from the campground to the south end of Hattie’s Field. Pets are not allowed on other hiking trails.

Day 6: Capitol Reef to Moab (2.5 hours)

Even though Capitol Reef is a small park, since the drive from Bryce Canyon to Capitol Reef is 2.5 hours. and the drive to Moab from Capitol Reef is 2.5 hours, we decided it was best to spread the driving out. If you really want to get to the next spot and cram as much in, it is possible to drive directly to Moab after visiting Capitol Reef.
 
There is so much to do in Moab, it deserves at least a couple of days. From Moab, you can explore Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park, and Arches National Park.  Since everything is so close, we recommend finding one hotel or campsite and staying there for your entire stay in Moab.
 
If you’re looking for free campsites, there is a ton of BLM camping areas in Moab, that is incredibly beautiful and quiet.
 
Moab is heaven for adventure lovers, as there’s so much to do. If you like outdoor adventure, you’ll want to base yourself in Moab for at least a couple of days. 
 
Things to do in Moab
  • hiking
  • whitewater rafting
  • zip-lining
  • rock climbing
  • paddle-boarding
  • jet-boating
  • mountain biking
  • hot air balloon rides
  • Moab giants dinosaur park
Where to stay in Moab

Springhill Suites by Marriott Moab – the nearest hotel to Arches National Park

Moab Valley RV Resort and Campground – camping just steps away from Moab’s most scenic sights, with RV and tent sights available

Under Canvas – upscale safari tents and mountain views

 

Day 7: Visit Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point State Park

Canyonlands National Park entrance fee: $30

Canyonlands National Park has three distinct areas: The Island in the Sky, The Needles and the Maze. The Maze is very remote and only accessible by 4WD, and the Needles is much more south than the route we we were taking.  Due to our route and location, we visited The island in the sky, which is closest to Dead Horse Point State PArk. The Island in the Sky at Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point State Park are only 20 minutes away so they can be done together in one day.
 
Since you only have half a day in Canyonlands Island in the Sky, make sure to visit the Mesa Arch and Grand view point. Mesa Arch is a short hike which leads to a cliff-edge arch and is a great place to catch the sunrise. Grandview point has gorgeous panoramic views of the park.
Utah National Parks- Canyonlands
Best hikes in the Canyonlands Island in the Sky
  • Mesa Arch (.5 miles, easy)
  • Grandview Point (2 miles, easy)
  • Neck Spring (5.8 miles, moderate)
  • Gooseberry Trail (5.4 miles, strenuous)
Best Hikes in Canyonlands The Needles
  • Cave Spring (0.6 miles, easy)
  • Slickrock Trail (2.4 miles, easy)
  • Chesler Park Viewpoint (6 miles, strenuous)
  • Big Spring Canyon to Squaw Canyon (7.5 miles, strenuous)
Things to do in Canyonlands National Park
  • backpacking
  • boating
  • horseback riding
  • star-gazing
Where to stay near Canyonlands

Island in the Sky campgrounds – only 12 campsites, first-come, first-served, open year round, sites are $15/night.

Dog friendly trails in Canyonlands
Pets are not allowed on any hiking trails throughout Canyonlands
 
Dead Horse State Park 
 
Day use fee: $20 per vehicle (up to 8 passengers) for up to 3 consecutive days 
 
After your time at Canyonlands, make a stop at Dead Horse Point State Park. The entrance to Dead Horse Point State Park is right near the Islands in the Sky entrance, so you won’t waste any driving time. This is one of Utah’s best state parks. The view from Dead Horse provides a panoramic view of the Canyonlands pinnacles above the Colorado River.
 
Best Hikes in Dead Horse Point State Park
  • Dead Horse Point Overlook Trail (400 feet, easy)
  • Colorado River Overlook (1 mile, easy)
  • The West Rim Trail (5-6 miles, moderate)
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dead horse point state park

Where to stay near Dead Horse Point

Kayenta and Windgate campgrounds – $40/night for RVs

Pet friendly trails in Dead Horse Point State Park
Pets are allowed on all hiking trails inside the park, but must be kept on leash
 

Days 8-10: Arches National Park

Arches National Park is just outside Moab and is known for its sandstone arches. Arches was our absolute favorite park during this road-trip. All the parks are amazing in their own way, but we felt like we could spend a whole week in Arches. There are tons of amazing hiking trails in Arches National Park. You’ll be able to see the amazing scenery from the Arches scenic drive, the 36 mile road that connects the park.  When you’re driving along the road, it’s easy to stop off at different landmarks to hike or take pictures.
 
arches national park sunrise
 
Since you’ve been already been staying in Moab, you’ll want to get an early start to Arches National Park. This park is beautiful at sunrise, and it can get super busy! Remember the parks are open 24/7, so you don’t have to wait to get in! We recommend going to the Windows section for sunrise. The Windows is about 12 miles from the parks entrance, so plan to get there about 30 minutes before sunrise, for optimal lighting. You can see the North and South Window, plus the Turret arch all in one loop, which is one mile round trip. It’s an easy hike but has some great scenery, and beautiful for sunrise.
 
the windows arches np Utah National Parks
 
After the Windows section, head over to the Double Arch, which is only a .5 mile easy hike. Here you’ll be able to walk under two arches joining together. After you’re done with Double Arch, head to the Devils Garden trailhead, to hike to Landscape arch, the worlds longest spanning arch in the world. The landscape arch trail is easy, but you can continue on a primitive path through Devils Garden to see even more arches.
 
hiking in arches np
 
The next day, we recommend getting up early and heading to Delicate Arch. Delicate arch is the one that everyone recognizes, it’s also one of the one the most popular hikes. This should be done early in the morning, or later in the day for sunset. It is also recommended to spend some time driving the Arches scenic drive, where you can stop at different viewpoints to take photos.  For more information on Arches hikes, check out our favorite hikes in Arches National Park. 
 
Best Hikes in Arches National Park
  • The Windows (1 mile, easy)
  • Double Arch (.5 mile, easy)
  • Delicate Arch (3 miles, strenuous)
  • Double O Arch (4.5 miles, strenuous)

double arch arches np

Things to do in Arches National Park
  • backpacking
  • canyoneering
  • horseback riding
  • rock-climbing
  • star-gazing

The 8 Best Hikes in Arches National Park

Where to stay near Arches National Park
The most convenient place to stay near Arches National Park is Moab. In Moab, you’ll find tons of options. Here are some of the best hotels in Moab. 
 

Springhill Suites by Marriott Moab – the nearest hotel to Arches National Park

Moab Valley RV Resort and Campground – camping just steps away from Moab’s most scenic sights, with RV and tent sights available

Under Canvas – upscale safari tents and mountain views

 
There is also A TON of great campsites nearby. 

Campgrounds in Moab, Utah

After you’re done exploring Moab, drive back to Salt Lake City 

 

Things to know before you visit Utah’s National Parks

 

Best time to visit Utah’s Mighty 5

Spring and Fall are the most popular times to visit due to the good weather. Summer brings super hot weather to all the Utah parks. Winter can have cooler weathers, potentially snow and maybe road closures, but less crows

Arrive Early

No matter when you visit the Utah National Parks, they will most likely be busy. Prepare to get to the parks early to avoid crowds. Sunrise is a great time to explore the parks. Remember the parks are open 24/7 so you don’t need to wait until the open to enter.

Get a Parks Pass

An annual National Parks pass is $80, you can purchase online or at the park when you get there. The pass is good for one year from purchase date, and you’ll save money if you visit 3 parks throughout the whole year. We bought our pass at our first park of the trip, which was Zion National Park. 

Plan out where you will stay

Due to the high volume of visitors in the Utah National Parks, campgrounds can fill up fast. If you know your route and where you will be camping, its best to book your accommodation ahead of time. Since we were in our camper van, we winged it. While we were in Zion, we found some great BLM land, and it couldn’t have been better. But you never know how full and busy things will be when you’re there.

Search for a RV for your Utah roadtrip

Road trip packing tips for Utah

Hiking gear

Camping gear

Road Trip Accessories

Utah is truly a beautiful place with so many parks to explore. You need at least 10 days to explore all of Utah’s National Parks. We hope this guide helps for planning your Utah roadtrip.

Have you visited any of the Utah National Parks? Which of the Utah’s mighty 5 is your favorite and why?

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