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The Mighty 5 Utah National Parks Road Trip

Road tripping through Utah? Don’t miss the amazing National Parks.

We absolutely love exploring the Utah national parks. Part of the reason we moved back to Las Vegas this year is because it makes Southern Utah so accessible. Did you know Zion is only 2.5 hours away from Vegas?

Utah has 5 major National Parks and many other National Park Units. Although we’ve been to all of the Mighty 5, there’s so much we still have yet to see. You could probably spend a lifetime exploring the parks, and we’re excited for this next season of road trips!

Your Ultimate Utah National Parks Road TripPin

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Last Updated: November 4, 2023

How to Get There

Closest major Airport to the Mighty 5

  • Las Vegas (LVS) to Zion National Park (160 mi NE / 2 h 30 min drive, map)
  • Salt Lake City (SLC) to Arches National Park (230 mi SE / 3 h 30 min drive, map)

Smaller Regional Airports

These don’t have as many direct flights, but if you don’t mind the layovers, these are some options that will get you a little closer.

  • St George (SGU) to Zion (45 mi NE / 1 h drive, map)
  • Cedar City (CDC) to Zion (60 mi S / 1 h drive, map)
  • Grand Junction (GJT) to Arches (110 mi SW / 1 h 30. min drive, map)
  • Moab (CNY) to Arches (14 mi SE / 15 min drive, map)

The Mighty 5 Utah National Parks ROad Trip

1. Zion National park →

1101 Zion Mount Carmel Hwy, Hurricane, 84737, map

Entry Fee: $35 for 7 days (or $80 for an American the Beautiful Pass)
Can’t Miss Spots: Zion NarrowsAngels LandingCanyon Overlook
Where to Stay: Search for Hotel Deals near Zion National Park

Zion National Park has amazing hikes taking you to the top of massive sandstone cliffs, along weeping walls, and through narrow slot canyons. There’s a wide range of difficulties when hiking here. Even though you get to see a lot of highlights from the scenic drive, the most beautiful parts have to be explored on foot. 

Local Tip: Zion has become incredibly popular and since everyone goes to the valley, it gets ridiculously crowded. Consider going during the week, doing a sunrise or night hike, or checking out some lesser trafficked trails like Observation Point or Hidden Canyon Trail. The Narrows top down hike also has no people on the first day and then you meet up with the day hikers on your second day.

See More: 15 Best Hikes in Zion National Park

The Narrows Zion Utah National ParksPin

2. Bryce Canyon National Park →

UT-63, Bryce, 84764, map

Entry Fee: $35 for 7 days (or $80 for an American the Beautiful Pass)
Can’t Miss Spots: Bryce Amphitheater, Inspiration Point, Natural Bridge
Where to Stay: Hotel Deals at Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon is made up of multiple amphitheaters and bowls carved into the edge of a high plateau. Amidst these amphitheaters are irregular rock columns called hoodoos.

Bryce has the largest concentration of hoodoos found anywhere on Earth. This park is relatively small and you can cover a lot in a day. If you only have a few hours, you can do the short scenic drive and pull out to the different viewpoints. Otherwise, you can hike to see the hoodoos up close.

Local Tip: If you’ve already been, try visiting closer to winter to see the hoodoos covered in snow.

See More: 9 Things to Do in Bryce Canyon National Park

3. Capitol Reef National Park

UT-24, Torrey, 84775, map

Entry Fee: $20 for 7 days (or $80 for an American the Beautiful Pass)
Can’t Miss Spots: Scenic Drive, Cathedral Valley, Fruita Schoolhouse
Where to Stay: Capitol Reef Hotel Deals

We’ve only explored a small portion of Capitol Reef and definitely want to go back. This national park has 140 miles of roads, 150 miles of hiking trails, and even an orchard where you can pick and eat fruits in season.

Local Tip: There’s a lot of distance to cover throughout the park so come with a full tank of gas.

See More: 11 Things to do in Lake Powell and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

Capitol Reef National Park UtahPin

4. Canyonlands National Park

Grand View Point Rd, Moab, 84532, map

Entry Fee: $30 for 7 days (or $80 for an American the Beautiful Pass)
Can’t Miss Spots: Mesa Arch, Grand View Point, White Rim Road
Where to Stay: Hotels Deals in Canyonlands

Canyonlands National Park covers a massive 337,598 acres of land. There are canyons, mesas, buttes, arches, spires, and more. The park has 4 distinct sections: Island in the Sky, The Needles, The Maze, and Horseshoe Canyon. Island in the sky is the most accessible and what most people see, and the Maze is the most remote area.

We didn’t have the best weather when we visited and had fog cover most of the landscape when we arrived, so we’ll need to make a trip back soon.

Local Tip: Have fun!

See More: 101 Places to Visit in the USA

Canyonlands National Park UtahPin

5. Arches National Park →

Arches Entrance Rd, Moab, 84532, map

Entry Fee: $30 for 7 days (or $80 for an American the Beautiful Pass)
Can’t Miss Spots: Delicate ArchDevil’s Garden, 18-Mile Scenic Road
Where to Stay: Arches National Park Hotel Deals

Arches National park has over 2,000 natural stones arches. You can see the best arches from the scenic drive or from short hikes, but those who want to get out for longer hikes have plenty of options too. Our favorite hike so far was the Devil’s Garden hike; it had so many arches to see along the way. It might seem like a long hike, but we saw some retired hikers that smoked us on the trail.

Local Tip: If you’re looking for something unique to do, sign up for a Ranger-Led Fiery Furnace Hike. Spots fill up in advance, so it’s recommended you book online sooner than later.

See More: 9 Amazing Things to Do at Arches National Park

Arches National Park UtahPin

All National Park Units in Utah

  1.  Arches National Park
  2.  Bryce Canyon National Park
  3.  Canyonlands National Park
  4.  Capitol Reef National Park
  5.  Cedar Breaks National Monument
  6.  Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (also in Arizona)
  7.  Golden Spike National Historic Site
  8.  Natural Bridges National Monument
  9.  Rainbow Bridge National Monument (by boat only)
  10.  Timpanogos Cave National Monument
  11.  Zion National Park

The Mighty 5 Utah National Parks Map

Utah Road Trip Itinerary for 7 Days

  1. Arrive in Las Vegas and drive to Zion National Park (2.5 h drive)
  2. All Day at Zion National Park
  3. Drive to Bryce National Park (1 h 20 min drive), then drive to Capitol Reef National Park (2 h drive)
  4. Explore Capitol Reef National Park
  5. Drive to Moab (2 h 10 min drive) and explore Canyonlands National Park (30 min drive)
  6. All Day at Arches National Park (10 min drive from Moab)
  7. Sunrise at Arches National Park then drive back to Las Vegas (6 h 30 min drive). We don’t mind doing the long drives, but you can also break up the drive by visiting Cedar Breaks National Monument, Snow Canyon State Park, or St George.

Detours Near Utah National Parks

Essential Tips for Your Utah Road Trip

  • Save Money with an Annual America the Beautiful National Parks Pass if you visit more than one within a year and support the parks we love.
  • Bring plenty of water and have extra in the summer. They recommend you carry at least 1 gallon a person per day. These are our go-to travel water bottlesinsulatinglight, & a reservoir. You can fill them up with ice too, if you want it to stay cold.
  • Wear Sturdy Hiking Shoes
  • It’s good to have layers with you regardless of the time of day. Sometimes you want to cover up your skin from direct sunlight, other times, the temperature dips significantly at night.
  • Bring a sunhat & sunscreen. Be sure to reapply throughout the day.
  • Get AllTrails+ so you have access to trail maps offline.
  • DaypackThese are our favorite if you carry camera gear.

What to Pack


Where to Stay

Planning Checklist

Have you visited all of the Mighty 5? Which one was your favorite?

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Esther and JacobPin

Esther + Jacob

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.

Follow on Instagram (E + J), YouTube, TikTok, and Pinterest.

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