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Utah National Parks Road Trip Itinerary

This Ultimate Utah National Parks Itinerary is the result of our years of experience. My partner Chris and I have visited each of Utah’s Mighty 5 national parks several times, and we prepared an optimal travel plan. We invite you on an adventure through Utah’s Mighty 5 National Parks: Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonland, Capitol Reef, and Zion. This is an intense 7-day Utah road trip itinerary. But we also give tips for extension to 10 days and 14 days. So you can choose, depending on the time you have for your Utah National Parks Road Trip.

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Utah National Parks Itinerary: photo collage with Utah sceney from 5 parks.
Table of Contents show

Utah National Parks Road Trip Itinerary – Introduction

Utah is a state that stands out for its beauty and the multitude of its attractions. It is a state for lovers of adventure and outdoor activities. A month or even two is not enough to discover all of Utah’s treasures.

Chris and I have been to Utah many times and at different times of the year. We have visited some places, like the Utah Mighty 5 National Parks, many times because they are spectacular. There are still many hiking trails waiting for us.

We have traveled around this state in different ways. We have made road trips with a regular car, stayed in hotels/motels, and traveled in a tent. But we have also traveled through Utah with an RV. In this post, we present pictures that we took during different Utah road trips.

So this itinerary is the result of our many experiences. This 7-day Utah road trip itinerary is the essence of the best in the state, so you can plan your vacation. We also recommend you take your time if you have two weeks for your Utah vacation. Because we assure you that after a 7-day Utah road trip, you will definitely want to return, we will show you the most exciting places in Utah.

We hope you will find lots of inspiration and important tips for your Utah itinerary. In these seven days, we will focus on Utah’s national parks, the famous Mighty 5. But Utah is much more than national parks, so you will also find other magical places here. As some of the parks and places require reservations or permits for the 2024 Season, check our detailed tips and plan ahead!

So, check out our tips and tricks for planning an epic Utah National Parks Road Trip Itinerary.

Utah Mighty 5 Road Trip Itinerary: orange rock formations during sunrise in Canyonlands National Park.

Where is the best place to start and end the Utah National Parks Road Trip?

You can start this Utah National Parks Road Trip from Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, or Denver because they have the biggest airports in the area and great connections.

In our itinerary, we suggest starting in Las Vegas. Why? Las Vegas has excellent domestic and international flight connections at excellent prices. Moreover, most people choose this city to start their Southwest travels. We have started our Utah road trips in Las Vegas several times and can recommend this scenario. But the same Utah Road Trip Itinerary can start and end from Salt Lake City or Denver. There is also a wide selection of rentals at affordable prices.

Utah National Parks Road Trip on Rented Car or in Own Car?

If you plan to rent a car, we have used Alamo many times and can recommend it. But it’s also worth comparing prices and offers from other rentals. Make sure to read reviews before you make a decision.

If you drive in your own car, you can check out our articles: Road Trip Packing List Essentials and How to Plan a Road Trip? We made a 9-month road trip through the US, from Alaska to Florida, in our car, so we know how to prepare for an adventure.

We traveled in an RV for many months and loved it. But, to be honest, this Utah road trip itinerary is intense. A motorhome trip takes a little more time. If you only have seven days, we recommend a car. The RV is a good option if you have at least 10-14 days for your Utah road trip.

Utah Mighty 5 road trip itinerary: serpentine route in mountains in Canyonlands.

How many days do you need for the Utah National Parks Road Trip?

7 days is the minimum; the optimal time is 2 weeks. As we have so far, you can spend over a week in each park. But we know that not everyone has that much time. The 7-day trip will be very intense and require the self-discipline to see all the recommended places.

This is a great option if you are short on time and want to visit Utah national parks for the first time. If you can, extend your stay to 10 or 14 days to explore the fabulous national parks of Utah.

Below you will find the 7-Day Utah National Parks Road Trip Itinerary in short, and then a detailed description of each day, with:

  • driving time,
  • best route options,
  • suggestions for best hikes,
  • best photo spots (also for sunset and sunrise)
  • lodging options
  • eating.

Finally, we suggest how to plan a 10-day Utah National Parks Road Trip and a 14-day Utah Road Trip. You can choose the variant that suits you best.

Furthermore, we start this Utah road trip from Zion National Park and end it in Arches National Park. But it is possible to reverse the Utah National Parks Itinerary’s order if it suits your needs better.

road in Utah.

7-Day Utah National Parks Road Trip Itinerary – Overview

  • Day 1: Arrive in Las Vegas, drive to Springdale (night in Springdale)
  • Day 2: Exploring Zion National Park (night in Springdale)
  • Day 3: Exploring Zion National Park and drive to Bryce Canyon National Park, sunset in Bryce (night in Bryce Canyon City)
  • Day 4: Exploring Bryce Canyon National Park and Capitol Reef National Park, drive to Moab (night in Moab)
  • Day 5: Exploring Canyonlands National Park (night in Moab)
  • Day 6: Exploring Arches National Park (night in Moab)
  • Day 7: Drive to Las Vegas


  • Days 8-10: Utah national parks
  • Days: 11-14: Hidden Gems of Utah and Arizona

Utah Mighty 5 Road Trip Itinerary – Permits for 2024

You must carefully plan your Utah Mighty 5 trip in time. Some parks have introduced reservation systems for season 2024. In Utah National Parks, such a park is Arches National Park.

We give details in this post. If you want to hike to the famous Angels Landing in Zion National Park, you must get a permit. It’s a new rule for 2024. Here are the details.

What is the best time of year for a Utah National Parks Road Trip?

Utah is beautiful at any time of the year. Moreover, Utah National Parks are open all year round. But most of all is worth visiting Utah Mighty 5 during Spring and Fall.

Spring in Utah National Parks

Spring is fantastic. The best are April and May. It is not hot yet, the temperature is pleasant, and you can wander extensively in the parks. But the water level in rivers in April can be quite high, and the water is cold.

It cannot be easy to enter the slots canyon (Zebra Canyon) or do some water hikes like the Narrows or the Subway. It gets hot in June, but it is still bearable. So, in our opinion, Spring is great for a Utah Mighty 5 Road Trip.

Summer in Utah National Parks

Summer is sweltering. In July and August, the temperature during the day exceeds 100° F (40°C). Be prepared for the heat if you have to go on your Utah National Parks Road Trip during these months.

So, be sure to pack a hiking hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen SPF 50. Remember also to cover your arms and legs from sunburn and start hiking early in the morning. Furthermore, take a big water reservoir per person for each hike, and often hydrate yourself.

Check out our detiled list on what to pack for a day hike.

hiking the Narrows in Zion National Park: stunning river view among orange walls of the canyon.

Fall in Utah National Parks

Fall is perfect. For us, these are the most enjoyable months. The colors of fall are delightful. We have been several times in Fall. September and October are great. But November is fabulous too. In November, the day was shorter, so we started our hikes early, but the temperature still was pleasant. Furthermore, there were much fewer people. So, we highly recommend Fall for a Utah National Parks Road Trip.

Winter in Utah National Parks

Winter is freezing and can bring snow to Zion, Capitol Reef, and Bryce Canyon. However, the landscape looks fabulous, covered by snow. But some trails and roads might be closed because of weather conditions. So, check weather forecasts and warnings if you plan your visit from December to March.

We were in December, during the snow. The snowy orange peaks looked very exciting. But it was quite slippery, and it wasn’t easy to hike. Part of the road was closed. So, winter might be challenging for Utah National Parks Road Trip, and you need a 4×4 car and chains in case of snow.

PRO TIP: Before your Utah National Parks Road Trip, check the current weather, possible alerts, and park road status on the official websites of the Utah Mighty 5: Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, and Zion National Park.

Bryce Canyon National Park with oranges hoodoos covered by snow.

Utah National Park Road Trip Map

Please take a paper map for your Utah Mighty 5 road trip. You will need it. If you plan some hiking, there is no phone coverage, and you must use the traditional Utah Mighty 5 Map. We love modern apps, but they have become useless in places like Utah wilderness, deserts, and challenging hikes. So, a paper map is best when no cell service exists.

This set of Utah National Parks maps is the best choice for hikers. This Utah Mighty 5 Map Set covers each park’s hiking trails. We have been using them for years. They are very detailed and of great quality. Furthermore, the paper is very durable and waterproof.

Utah Road & Recreation Atlas is our favorite Utah road trip planning resource. It shows all the dirt roads so that you can reach Utah’s hidden gems and points of interest. It is great for travelers who love outdoor adventures. Furthermore, it also shows public lands, which is perfect if you sleep in an RV or a tent.

utah rocks formations with white, brown and oranges colors.

What to pack for the Utah National Parks Road Trip?

Below are some must-haves for your Utah National Park Road Trip. It all depends on when you will stay and what season you will choose for your Utah road trip. However, are some essentials. Please also check our detailed Day Hiking Packing List to see what you should pack for your hiking trails.

If you plan to camp in a tent, check out also our detailed Car Camping Checklist with a Printable PDF. Furthermore, check our Road Trip Packing List Essentials to make your Utah Mighty 5 Road Trip safe and comfortable.

Must have for Utah National Parks Rod Trip

  • Hiking Boots are a must—no sandals or sneakers for Utah hikes. If you plan hiking, you need sturdy shoes with excellent grip.
  • Hiking Backpack. For daytime trips and hikes, you need a comfortable backpack with spine relief belts. It would be best to pack, among other things, a large supply of water, hiking snacks, additional clothes (depending on the season), sunscreen, and, most importantly, a first aid kit and hiking maps.
  • Water Reservoir. In Utah, temperatures can be 70-80 degrees F, even in the fall, and over 100 degrees F in summer. So, it would be best if you had plenty of water available for hiking.
  • Jacket. Regardless of the season, it would be best to prepare for a sudden change in weather. Always pack something warm. Rain and windproof jacket should be in your daypack.
  • Do not forget to pack a travel-size hand sanitizer. Fortunately, the Pandemic is over, but we should not forget about hygiene, especially when traveling.

Entrance Fee for Utah National Parks – America the Beautiful Pass

It’s a Utah National Parks road trip. Admission to the national parks is payable. Buy & pack America the Beautiful Pass. Priced at $79.99, you have one year’s access to all US National Parks and most state parks. It is your ticket to more than 2,000 federal national recreation sites. So, don’t forget to pack it. 

One national park’s weekly and the daily admission fee is $30-35. So it is much more profitable to buy an annual card for all parks. The pass is valid for 1 year from the month of purchase. So, it’s beneficial if you plan to go to more than 3 national parks during a year. Buy it online before your Utah Mighty 5 trip to avoid queuing at the entrance to the park.

What’s important it covers entrance for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle at per-vehicle fee areas or up to 4 adults at sites that charge per person (kids 15 & under get in free).

Where to stay during the Utah National Parks Road Trip?

It all depends on your needs, travel style, and budget. We traveled both by car slept in lodges/hotels, and by an RV, and stayed at campsites. Therefore, we recommend specific lodging options for each day of the trip—only those we checked and were satisfied with—hotels and RV campgrounds for each location.

But no matter what you decide, book your accommodation well in advance. This is true for both hotels and campgrounds. Utah Mighty 5 is a trendy destination from April to the end of September.

Day 1 Utah National Parks Road Trip Itinerary: Arrive in Las Vegas, drive to Springdale

The Route & Driving Time

Depending on what time you manage to leave Las Vegas, you have two route options for starting your Utah National Park Road Trip.

  • 1 Option – via I-15. It’s the fastest route, 165 miles, approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes driving time to Springdale.
  • 2 Optionvia I-215 E and I-11 S, then from Lakeshore Rd through Northshore Rd (167) and I-15 N. This is a scenic but longer route, 215 miles and 4 hours of driving. There are two stops on the route. The first is 26 miles from LV – it is Lake Mead National Recreation Area. The lake meanders along the road on the right for several miles. You can make a short stop at one of the viewpoints. The second stop might be the Valley of Fire State Park. The entrance fee is $10.00 per car. You can make a driving loop in the park. It will take you around 2 hours with shortstops. You need to return to Northshore Road from the park, then drive through Moapa Valley to intersections with I-15 N in Moapa Valley. Take the direction to Salt Lake City by 75 miles and then turn right on UT-9 E/W to Hurricane and Springdale. But you need about 6-7 hours to do this route with stops. So, do it if you have all day.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area with the lake views.
Valley of Fire State Park with orange rocks formations.

Visiting Zion National Park

We start our Utah National Parks Road Trip from Zion National Park. First of all, you must know that from April to late October, the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive Road is served only by a free shuttle bus. You can’t go by private car. From this road, most of the hiking trails start.

So, how to get to Zion and visit it? If you are staying in Springdale, you can take a free shuttle bus from Springdale to Zion. The buses ride every 15 minutes or more often and start services at 6 am. There are 9 stops on the scenic road in the park. There is also parking inside a park, next to the visitor’s center, where buses stop. But during high season is really crowded, so it is much better to take a free shuttle bus from Springdale. More about this, we write in a separate article about Zion.

Zion National Park in Utah during sunset: the view of river and orange rock formation.

Lodging options in Zion

If you choose 7 days Utah National Parks Road Trip Itinerary, we suggest booking 2 nights in Zion National Park.

It’s only one lodging inside Zion National Park. And it’s trendy, so book it well in advance if you want to stay in Zion Lodge. The scenery is stunning. The lodge is next to bus stop number 5, about 4.8 miles to Springdale center, and 3.8 miles to Zion National Park South Entrance. It has cabins, hotels, rooms, and suites.

Furthermore, if you stay in this hotel, you can drive to this place in your car. But after this point, you have to take a shuttle bus in front of the hotel to stop at the 6 to 9 last stop, where Riverside Walk starts, and the gateway to The Narrows.

Lodging options in Springdale

The town is charming, beautifully situated, and right at Zion National Park entrance with lots of dining, shopping, and activities that you can’t get inside the park. This is the best option to stay, especially with a busy schedule. But it would be best to plan accommodation for your Utah National Parks Road Trip in advance.

Check the Deal Finder below to get the best and newest offers in Springdale.


RV Camping near Zion

Zion Canyon Campground & Quality Inn is located in Springdale, and it’s fabulous with all its facilities. It’s only 0.5 miles from the South entrance to Zion National Park.

But if you are looking free overnight stay and don’t need electricity or water, you can use BLM in Utah (Bureau of Land Management) and park your RV in the public lands.

Chris Labanowski, co-founder ofthe van escape blog is sitting at the fron of our camper truck at campground in Utah, near Zion.

Eating in Springdale

If you haven’t had time to get supplies, there are several small grocery stores where you can buy snacks for the next day’s hikes.

Moreover, as we mentioned before, this Utah National Parks Road trip Itinerary is intense. So during the day, we focus on visiting and hiking in Utah Mighty 5. So, the best option is to pack lunch and snacks for an all-day trip. And later eat dinner in the towns.

The choice of restaurants and pubs in the town is quite big. Below are a few of our favorite restaurants where we were and enjoyed the food and atmosphere.

  • Oscar’s Cafe ($$)
    Outstanding Mexican cuisine is served here. The view from this place is excellent, and the atmosphere is even better. If you are a fan of burgers, get a patty one. If you prefer seafood, you can try fish tacos. Pork chili Verde enchiladas are also suitable for immense hunger. And you definitely should use the terrace if the weather allows.
  • Majestic View Lodge & Steakhouse ($$$)
    We recommend this place for dinner. It’s best to reserve a table before sunset and one with a view. You can have a glass of fantastic red wine and wait for your steak to be prepared in such a case. If you are not a big fan of steaks, you will also find tasty buffalo wings. For dessert, we suggest Pumpkin Cake.
  • Cafe Soleil ($)
    Fantastic place to have lunch. The food here is fresh, the gyro is phenomenal, and the espresso drinks are tremendous. If you are an eastern food lover, try hummus wrap sandwiches accompanied by a mango-squash smoothie. If you prefer meat, you can have a chipotle chicken wrap.

Best photo spots in Zion National Park

Our Utah Mighty 5 program is intensive, but with our tips, you will be perfectly prepared for the road trip. Below are our favorite, best photo spots in Zion NP. If you follow this Itinerary, you see most of them.

  • Lower Emerald Pool Trail
  • Riverside Walk
  • The Narrows
  • The Scout Lookout – a platform before starting the final ascent to Angels Landing’s top when the chains start.

Day 2 Utah National Parks Road Trip Itinerary: Exploring Zion National Park

There are a lot of hiking trails of varying difficulty in Zion. You can find most of them with photos and descriptions of the hike in our article Best Things to Do in Zion. So, you can choose hikes according to your skills and experience. Below you will find our suggestions. You must have heard of the famous Angels Landing. If you feel strong enough to reach this summit, we suggest visiting Zion from this trail if you have a permit.

Morning Hike to Angels Landing (only if you have a permit)

hike to Angels Landing.

Important: You must have a permit for this hike in 2023! The Angels Landing trail is very popular. This hike takes 4-5 hours both ways. The trail is 5.4 miles (8.7 km) long both ways. The trailhead starts at the shuttle stop number 6 – The Grotto. The difficulty level is moderate to strenuous. Furthermore, the last section is a route along a steep, narrow ridge to the summit.
We describe this hike in detail in a separate article about Angels Landing. Please, check our tips and photos to see if this hike is for you.

Afternoon in Zion

We suggest you spend the afternoon mildly after Angels Landing. There are several easy and fun treks in Zion that will allow you to enjoy the park’s views and rest after a strenuous hike.

We suggest you consider the following easy-moderate trails (see the links for our photos to help you make your decision)

  • Kayenta Trail – shuttle stop number 6
  • Lower Emerald Pool Trail – shuttle stop number 5
  • Upper Lower Emerald Pool Trail – shuttle stop number 5
  • For more hikes in Zion, you can check out this post.
squirrel on the rock in Zion.

Sunset in Zion

For a sunset, go to the bridge over the Virgin River near the Watchmen to enjoy the view.

Evening in Springdale and preparing for the next day

Before you rest and go for dinner, we suggest you prepare for the next day. We recommend for your next day The Narrows hike, one of the most beautiful in Zion but runs across a Virgin River. It all depends on the weather, the water level in the river, the water temperature, and the season you are in.

We highly recommend renting special water gear for this hike – shoes, socks, and pants. The best option is to rent it in the afternoon before your hike so that you can start early in the morning. You can rent it here. Please, check the details and our photos about the Narrows hike before you decide if it’s for you.

Day 3 Utah National Parks Itinerary: Exploring Zion National Park and drive to Bryce Canyon National Park, sunset in Bryce Canyon

Morning hike to the Narrows

The Narrows Trailhead

You start this hike from the Temple of Sinawava (the last stop of the shuttle bus – number 9). We recommend you start it early at about 9 a.m., to get the best light in the canyon. There is an easy paved trail, Riverside Walk, which takes you to the river, where you get into the water. You don’t need a permit for this hike if it starts from this point. Round Trip duration to the Narrows entrance via Riverside Walk is 1-1.5 hours, 2.2 miles (3.5 km). For a hike starting at this trailhead, you don’t need a permit.

Hiking the Narrows

Utah Mighty 5 - the Narrows in Zion

The Narrows hike can take 2 hours, and it can take 8-10 hours. It all depends on how long you can walk along the riverbed. As the schedule for this road trip is intense, we suggest you allocate a maximum of 4 hours back and forth for the Narrows hike. If you have 10 or 14 days for Utah national parks road trip, you can do a full-day hike in the Virgin River. But we assure you that you will see and feel the beauty of this canyon in these few hours. It is an amazing adventure to move along the riverbed. Please check this adventure’s details in our article: The Narrows Hiking Guide.

Afternoon Drive to Bryce Canyon National Park

Yes, we know it’s hard to say goodbye to Zion National Park. It’s truly magical. But, if you have only 7 days for your Utah National Parks Road Trip, you must go. You want to visit all of Utah Mighty 5. So, there are still 4 amazing Utah national parks ahead of you, each worth seeing. Try to leave Zion early afternoon to make it to Bryce Canyon for the sunset. The best, if you will in Bryce an hour before sunset when the light is most spectacular. Check out the top things to do in Bryce Canyon National Park, to plan a perfect trip.

The Route & Driving Time

You have two options to get to Bryce Canyon from Zion.

    It is around 73 miles and will take about 1 hour and 20 minutes to drive the scenic road. From Canyon Junction point in Zion National Park, you can take Zion-Mount Carmel Highway to East Entrance to 8 and 89 to Bryce Canyon National Park. But there is a tunnel on this road. Furthermore, no bikes or pedestrians are allowed.
    Vehicles 11’4” tall or taller, or 7’10” wide or more full, require one-lane traffic control through the tunnel. Visitors requiring traffic control through the tunnel must pay a $15 fee per vehicle and the entrance fee.
    Vehicles not permitted in the tunnel include vehicles over 13’1” tall; Semi-trucks and commercial vehicles; Vehicles carrying hazardous materials; Vehicles weighing more than 50,000 lb; Combined vehicles or buses over 50 ft.
  • VIA I-15 NORTH
    It is around 146 miles and 2 hours 30 minutes driving. If your car exceeds the allowed size, you must leave Zion National Park by Springfield and Touquerville and take I-15 North in Andersen Junction (direction: Salt Lake City) to UT-20 East. After 20 miles, take exit 95 from I-15 N (direction US-89 / Panguitch / Circleville). Take UT-20 E, US-89 S, and UT-12 E to UT-63 S in Garfield County.
oranges hoodooos in Bryce Canyon National Park.

Lodging in Bryce Canyon

We recommend booking 1 night at Bryce Canyon if you have 7 days for your Utah National Parks Road Trip.

Bryce View Lodge is our choice. It is a mid-range hotel, clean and comfy. This hotel is within a 5-minute drive from Bryce Canyon National Park. Rooms are equipped with a coffee maker and cable TV. Rooms also have air conditioning.

RV Camping near Bryce Canyon

We recommend booking an RV campground in advance. The beautiful Bryce Canyon Pines Store & Campground & RV Park with all amenities, like hook-ups making your stay a great vacation, is located ten minutes to Bryce Canyon Visitor Centre.

In Hatch, you can find The Riverside Ranch RV Park Motel & Campground, which is also the right choice.

Remeber, that you can camp for free, if you don’t need facilities and follow the ruls of BLM.

Eating in Bryce Canyon

Bryce doesn’t have as many restaurants as Springdale, but we can recommend some of the places we’ve reviewed where we enjoyed the food.

  • Bryce Canyon Pines Restaurant ($$)
    Pines are not located in the heart of Bryce Canyon, but at least it serves excellent food. You can try an elk burger, grilled chicken, or fantastic steaks. Please check opening times, especially during the offseason.
  • Stone Hearth Grille ($$)
    Another place to eat close to Bryce Canyon is Stone Hearth Grille. At first, it might not look amazing, but the food is great here. You can order a sensational steak or a nice chicken florentine.  Desserts are also unique. You will not find a better place in the area.
  • Ruby’s Inn Cowboy’s Buffet & Steak Room ($$)
    This is not the best restaurant, but one of the most popular. It’s also not very well-rated; however, we sometimes come here for lunch. Burgers are quite ok, but you can also find other meals. However, we recommend staying simple here because food is strongly processed, so don’t treat it as something unusual.

Exploring Bryce Canyon National Park

Visiting Bryce Canyon is much easier than Zion because you can drive your own car inside the park. There is a shuttle bus during high season, but it’s recommended solution, not mandatory. More about Bryce Canyon you can read in our separate article about Things to Do in Bryce Canyon.

Sunset in Bryce Canyon National Park

We recommend the first visit to Bryce Canyon National Park at sunset. In good weather, the view is spectacular. You have the best light and colors an hour before sunset. Orange rocks have the most intense shade then.

The famous Sunset Point viewpoint is right after entering the park, at the beginning of the loop drive. We suggest a short walk from Sunset Point to Sunrise Point. The distance is 1 mile / 1.6 km round trip, time: 1 hour.

It is a part of the Rim Trail, runs along the canyon’s top, and looks out over the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater and one of the most impressive vistas in Utah. Hoodoo rocks look like from a fairytale. They are shining in the sun with reds and oranges.

Day 4 Utah National Parks Road Trip Itinerary: Exploring Bryce Canyon National Park and Capitol Reef National Park, drive to Moab

It will be another very intense day. There are two Utah national parks ahead of you. Therefore, start it early.

Visiting Bryce Canyon National Park

You should be at Bryce Canyon National Park at least by 7.00 a.m., to avoid parking problems. But if you like sunrises, you should start from sunrise at a point called Sunrise Point.

Drive through the Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon’s viewpoints are located all along the park’s 18-mile main road. It takes you from the park’s only entrance in the north along the plateau rim to its highest elevations in the south (over 9,000 feet / 2,743 m). It will take you a maximum of 2-3 hours driving with stops go and back. The most exciting stops are Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Inspiration Point, Bryce Point, Natural Bridge, Rainbow Point, and Yovimpa Point.

Bryce Canyon hoodoos

Hiking in the Bryce Canyon

hiking trail in Bryce Canyon

As time is short and the Utah road trip schedule is tight, we only recommend a short and easy walk. Of course, Bryce Canyon has many more trails. If you missed your walk from Sunset Point to Sunrise Point the last evening, do it now. However, if you did see Bryce at sunset, you can make the short Queens Garden trail. The distance is 1.8 miles / 2.9 km round trip, and the time is 1-1,5 hours. This trail starts at Sunrise Point. It is the least difficult trail into Bryce Canyon. Use your imagination to see hoodoo formations like Queen Victoria sitting on her throne. It’s an easy hike, so it’s worth taking it if you have limited time. Impressive hoodoos rise all around you. They look spectacular from the bottom perspective.

Drive to Capitol Reef National Park

It would be best if you left Bryce Canyon around noon. You have two options to drive to Capitol Reef.

  • 1 Option. The most scenic route from Bryce to Capitol Reef is via UT-12 W. But it takes 2 hours and 40 minutes (116 miles).
  • 2 Option. Another option is via UT-24 W and Johns Valley Rd, which is 112 miles long and takes about 2 hours 10 minutes.

Exploring Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef is Utah’s least-visited national park. Capitol Reef National Park is known for its famous Waterpocket Fold that runs the park’s length. Is a nearly 100-mile-long warp in the Earth’s crust, the Waterpocket Fold is a classic monocline, a “step-up” in the rock layers. “Waterpockets” are small depressions that form in many of the sandstone layers as they are eroded by water and are common throughout the fold at Capitol Reef.
Furthermore, Capitol Reef is also famous for the Mormon settlers who came through the area during the 1800s.

Capitol Reef National Park is long, skinny, and fairly easy to get around. From the main visitor center in Fruita, the scenic drive to the end is only 8 miles. And what we recommend is doing this route.
You must have a 4×4 to explore this park deeper, but it’s a busy schedule, so let’s focus on the scenic drive and a few stops to take photos. Reserve a 1.5-hour for scenic drive loop. It is enough to get a taste of the park. You can visit the Gifford House to learn about Mormon pioneer history in Fruita.

 Capitol Reef National Park rock formations.
Capitol Reef in Utah.

If you have 10 or 14 days for your Utah national parks road trip, you can do some hikes like Cassidy Arch or Chimney Rock. But you must have a 4×4 high-clearance vehicle because there are really rough, gravel roads. If you have more time, you may also drive out to Capitol Gorge for a hike through the narrows, where you’ll find some petroglyphs and the names of Mormon settlers. Furthermore, if you have time and a high-clearance vehicle, you can drive to Waterpocket District, but it’s a 124-mile loop. But it’s an adventure, so prepare for it.

Pro Tip: Capitol Reef is the most remote Utah National Park. So check out our other resources on how to plan a trip: Capitol Reef National Park Itinerary, How to Visit Capitol Reef National Park, Cathedral Valley Loop: The Hidden Jewel of Capitol Reef, Best Things To Do in Capitol Reef, Hickman Bridge Trail.

Drive to Moab

From Capitol Reef to Moab is still 2 hours and 15 minutes driving. It’s 136 miles. Drive via UT-24 E, then I-70 E (Green River direction), and US-191 S Moab direction. We know it’s been a busy day, so book a table in advance for dinner at Moab in one of the places below and rest before the next day.

Lodging in Moab

In Moab, we recommend booking 3 nights. The town impresses with its charm and atmosphere. It is close to the rest of Utah’s national parks, so we suggest you stay there. Check the Deals Finder below to get the best offers!

The Gonzo Inn is our choice. It is located in Moab and provides free WiFi, express check-in and check-out, and concierge services. Featuring family rooms, this property also provides guests with an outdoor pool. And the price is affordable.


RV Camping in Moab

Book camping in advance if you plan your Utah National Parks Road Trip in an RV.

Canyonlands RV Resort & Campground is one of the best, in our opinion. It offers WiFi, a swimming pool, breathtaking views, and incredible amenities.

Spanish Trail RV Park has great reviews from the guests. It offers 81 sites with WiFi and other facilities. There is no tents allowed. After exploring the Arches National Park, you can relax in the pool.

Archview RV Park & Campground offers 77 sites with WiFi and full hookups. It is also tent camping allowed. It offers restrooms and showers, laundry, and a swimming pool.

Eating in Moab

  • Moab Diner ($)
    Moab Diner is one of the best places for lunch and dinner. Try Kokopelli chicken with green chili if you are looking for authentic food. Otherwise, you can have a regular bacon cheeseburger served with fries. This place is a very old school American diner, so you should feel here like home.
  • Thai Bella ($$)
    Thai Bella is an amazing place for Asian food lovers. So if you are a fan of pad thai or khao soi, this place is for you. You will find an authentic taste of Asia in the middle of Utah. Nice place for lunch and dinner.
  • Desert Bistro ($$$)
    Desert Bistro is our favorite place in the magic Moab. This is our first choice of a dinner restaurant, but you have to remember about table reservations – it might get crowded, especially on the days of local events. It’s best to sit on the patio and order buffalo tenderloin and fish or lamb with sweet potato pave. Another original taste might be rabbit sausage.

Day 5 Utah National Parks Road Trip Itinerary: Visiting Canyonlands National Park

It’s time for the fourth of Utah’s Mighty 5 parks. Canyonlands National Park is fabulous.

Drive to Canyonlands National Park

From Moab, drive via US-191 N and UT-313 W. It’s only 30 miles and about 35 minutes of driving.

Hikes in Canyonlands National Park

You have a full day to explore this park so that you will make some interesting trails. Remember to pack some snacks for lunch. Otherwise, you will have to return to Moab. There is no water in the park and no shop or restaurant.

We focus on the 3 best hikes in the Canyonlands National Park on the Island in the Sky district.

sunrise above Mesa Arch in Canyonlands

The most famous place in Canyonlands but also most stunning is Mesa Arch. Moreover, it is the best spot for sunrise photography because of its unique lighting on the arch. It’s an easy to hike, only 0.5 miles / 0.8 km round trip. There is a car park located right on Grand View Point Road. From the Visitor Center, it is a 10-minute drive to get here (6 miles). But, it might be a crowded place all day. It’s best to go there at sunrise, but don’t worry if you don’t make it. Also, in the mornings and afternoons, the view is amazing. Besides, there are many photographers at sunrise, and it might be crowded.

White Rim Overlook it’s also a fabulous hike. It offers views of the Colorado River, Monument Basin, and the La Sal Mountains. The best light for photos is in the late afternoon. It’s a short and easy hike that also offers one of the Canyonlands’ best panoramic views. The hike is 1.8 mi / 2.8 km round trip long and takes about 1,5-2 hours.

Grand View Point is the last hike we suggest doing during one day in the park. It is a stunning hike on the canyon’s edge. This easy trail offers spectacular panoramic views of Canyonlands. It’s a 2.0 mi / 3.2 km round trip.

White Rim Overlook.

Evening in Moab

After another intense day of exploring Utah Mighty 5, it is worth having a break and dining at Moab. If you are in high season, we recommend that you reserve a table to avoid staying in line. Moab is also a great place to shop. You will find high-quality souvenir shops, often handmade items. Furthermore, you will find here outdoor equipment shops. Moreover, the town is worth a walk to feel its atmosphere.

Day 6 Utah National Parks Itinerary: Visiting Arches National Park

From April 1 to October 31, 2024, is a new reservation system – timed-entry reservation system at Arches National Park in 2024.

So, plan it ahead and read our detailed article with Best Things to do in Arches!

This is the penultimate day of the Utah National Parks Road Trip. And the last park of Utah Mighty 5 to visit – fabulous Arches National Park. We love it. The Arches feature more than 2000 natural sandstone arches and unique geological formations. You have all day to enjoy its beauty.

So, from Moab, drive north on US 191 for five miles.

Take an Arches Scenic Drive

The fastest option for visiting the Park is driving the 36 miles (58km) round trip Arches Scenic Drive. A paved scenic drive will take you to many of the park’s major viewpoints, as the La Sal Mountains viewpoint and more.

Hikes in Arches National Park

Since you have a whole day to visit the park, it is worth doing at least two or three short hikes. The routes begin along the scenic route.

Double O Arch at Devils Garden in Arches National Park in Utah.

Landscape Arch is an easy hike to the delicate and fabulous formation. Landscape Arch has the longest span of any arch in North America, 306 feet (93.3 meters), and is the fourth-longest in the world. It’s only 1.6 mi / 2.6 km round trip.

The easy hike is Balanced Rock with weighs approximately 3,5 tons. Distance is only 0.3 mi / 0.5 km round trip.

If you need something more challenging, we highly recommend the hike to Double O Arch at Devils Garden. The distance is 4.5 mi / 6.8 km round trip.

Sunset at Delicate Arch

Delicate Arch is our favorite sunset spot in Arches National Park. Delicate Arch is an iconic symbol for Utah. This moderate/difficult 3-mile round trip hike (4,8 km) makes a steady climb, gaining 480 feet in elevation from the parking lot. The hike will take you about 3 hours.

Sunset at Delicate Arch with mountain scenery in the backdrop.

Day 7 Utah National Parks Road Trip Itinerary: Drive to Las Vegas

We reserve this day for return from the Utah National Parks road trip. The road from Moab to Las Vegas is a long one. The fastest route is on the I-70 W and I-15 S. It’s 460 miles and 6 hours 45 minutes driving. So, concentrate on getting back safely. If you have some time to visit Las Vegas check our Las Vegas Itinerary.

Optional 10 Days Utah National Parks Road Trip Itinerary

If you can extend your Utah National Parks Itinerary to 10 days road trip, it’s great because you can spend more time in each park. Below are some tips for a 10 days Utah Mighty 5 road trip.

  • We recommend that you book an additional third night in Springdale to spend two full days in Zion and choose extra treks from our list.
  • Instead of 1 night, book two nights’ accommodation at Bryce Canyon, allowing you to enjoy longer Bryce and Capitol Reef.
  • Furthermore, you can make a short stop at the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument from Bryce to the Capitol Reef. It’s on the way to Capitol Reef, on UT-12 E, about 22 miles from Bryce.
  • Book 4 instead of 3 nights in Moab to enjoy the other two of Utah Mighty 5 Arches and Canyonlands. Do more hikes.
  • You will also have time to visit Dead Horse Point State Park, which is approximately 33 miles from Moab. You can reach it via US-191 N and UT-313 W. It is one of Utah’s most beautiful viewpoints. It features a dramatic overlook of the Colorado River and Canyonlands National Park. So, it’s worth your visit.
  • Furthermore, you may also consider adding the Goblin Valley State Park to your Utah national parks itinerary. Above all, we recommended it if you are with kids. To clarify, there are thousands of hoodoos, which are formations mushroom-shaped. But are referred to locally as goblins. It’s between Capitol Reef and Canyonlands. So, from Moab, take US-191 N and I-70 W to UT-24 W. It’s 100 miles.
Utah National Parks Road Trip - Dead Horse State Park and the view of Colorado River.

Optional 14 Utah National Parks Road Trip Itinerary

If you can extend your Utah National Parks Itinerary to 14 days road trip, it’s perfect! Of course, you can stay longer in each of Utah’s Mighty 5 parks and do more hikes. For example, you can try to get a Subway hike permit in Zion and do this full-day strenuous hike.

Or you can spend the last three days traveling outside the Utah Mighty 5 and discover some of Utah’s hidden gems. Intrigued? Please follow some of our tips to explore a few more magical places during your road trip, not only Utah Mighty 5.

On Day 10, Drive from Moab to Kanab

Kanab is our favorite town in Utah. It’s one of the best outdoor towns in Utah. Kanab is also a great location for Zion, and Bryce Canyon, if you have more time to visit. Last time we spent more than 14 days in the Kanab trying to win the Wave lottery. The town is less touristy than Moab and calmer. But it has great lodging options and dining.

Therefore, we recommend that you stay at least 3 nights. Most importantly, please take advantage of our suggestions for fabulous hikes in the area. We have been to Kanab many times, so check out the top things to do in Kanab, as it’s a perfect vacation destination.

From Moab to Kanab drive via I-70 W and US-89 S. It is the best option. Moreover, this route is scenic and will take you around 5 hours, it’s 318 miles.

Lodging in Kanab

Our favorite lodging in Kanab is comfortable Canyons Lodge. It’s also a nice, clean motel with charming room decorations. If you prefer RV Campground, our favorite in Kanab is Hitch-N-Post RV Park.


Eating in Kanab

Our favorite restaurants in Kanab with delicious meals and a great atmosphere are:

  • The Rocking V Cafe ($$)
    This place is excellent for American food fans. We recommend Rocking V Shrimp and veggie enchilada here. Also, you can try adobe chicken, trout, or pork chop. Among other options, you will find a lot of vegan options and lovely desserts. However, prices might be a little bit high, but the food is excellent. But, you should make a reservation.
  • Wild Thyme Cafe ($$)
    This is another nice American restaurant in Kanab. Our favorites here are chicken, ribs, and penne. Moreover, this restaurant has an on-site organic garden, thus serves the best vegan, gluten-free and vegetarian options.
  • Peekaboo Canyon Wood Fired Kitchen ($$)
    Peekaboo will be suitable for all vegan and vegetarian food lovers. You can have excellent pizzas prepared in the woodfired oven. Our favorite is “everything” pizza. Moreover, if you choose to sit outside, the view is beautiful. 

Days 11-13 of Utah Road Trip Itinerary: Hiking in Kanab Area

Day 11 – the Wave Lottery and Hike to the Paria Rimrocks Toadstool Hoodoos or a Great Chamber Tour

The area of Utah Mighty 5 is full of natural wonders. If you’re staying in Kanab and haven’t seen The Wave yet, why not participate in the Wave walk-in lottery?

If you don’t win a permit to the Wave, there is another lottery to the Coyote Buttes South formation.

the Wave orange rock formation.
Paria Rimrocks Toadstool Hoodoos

Without a permit, you can drive to Paria Rimrocks Toadstool Hoodoos. The Rimrocks hoodoos are balanced rock formations reminding toadstools. The Toadstool Hoodoos hike is located next to highway US89 in Utah. From Kanab, take US89 to the east, and after 44 miles (milepost 19.3), look carefully for the small parking lot on the left side of the road.

Another idea is to take a local tour of the Great Chamber in Kanab. We recommend a trip with a local guide because we were delighted with it. This is a hidden gem in Kanab, Utah. You can check out more photos and tips in our article How to get the Great Chamber in Kanab.

Agnes Stabinska, the author, and her partner Chris Labanowski, the owners of the Van Esacpe blog are ataing on the sand une in Great Chamber in Kanab, Utah.

Day 12 – Hike to the Wave or Bucksin Gulch Slot Canyon

If you were lucky enough to win a permit to The Wave, set off early in the morning to the trail to enjoy this amazing place.

If you did not win the Wave permit, maybe you got the permit to the Coyote Buttes South? If yes, here you have a detailed hike description. So, follow our tips.

Finally, if you haven’t been lucky in any lotteries, don’t worry. We recommend a hike to one of the most beautiful slot canyons. There is no lottery. Moreover, you don’t need a permit for a one-day hike. You must pay an admission fee of $7 at the parking lot. The place is fabulous. Buckskin Gulch in Utah is the longest slot canyon hiking trail in the world. 

Bucksin Gulch Slot Canyon

Day 13 – Road Trip to North Rim or Toroweap Overlook or Page and Antelope Canyon

sunset over the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

In case you haven’t had a chance to visit the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, go there from Kanab. North Rim is spectacular. Moreover, only 10% of tourists visiting Grand Canyon National Park annually reach there. So, it is worth going there even for a day trip from Kanab. It’s 90 miles one way from Kanab via AZ-67 and US-89A. The driving time is 1 hour and 45 minutes. Moreover, the road is beautiful. What’s more, it’s worth staying until sunset because they can be spectacular

But the most beautiful place above the Grand Canyon is Toroweap Overlook. We have been there a few times, and the view is touching and intimidating us each time. But you’ll only get there with a Permit and 4×4 and high suspension. So, if you have a good car, go there from Kanab and stay until sunset. It’s only 72 miles via Mt Trumbull Road. But the road is so rough that the driving time is 3 hours. But it’s worth your effort. So, consider this trip.

surise from the Toroweap Overlook.
Navajo ANtelope Canyon: Upper Antelope Canyon with light beans and oranges walls.

The phenomenal Navajo Antelope Canyons are in Arizona, but if you have two weeks for a road trip around Utah, you should consider adding them to your plan. From Kanab to Page, where the canyons are located, is only a 75-mile drive. And the slots canyons are breathtaking. However, you must purchase a guided tour in advance. Only in this way, you can visit them. You have three canyons to choose from Upper, Lower, and Canyon X. We’ve been to all of them. Our favorite is Upper Antelope Canyon.

Day 14 of Utah National Parks Road Trip Itinerary – Drive to Las Vegas

This is the end of our trip to Utah Mighty 5. Of course, Utah National Parks Itinerary can be modified depending on your needs. Each of the parks is worth seeing and spending a few days in it.

We hope that you like our suggestions on how to arrange the Utah National Park Road Trip and you will use it. This state is fabulous and offers much more than Utah Mighty 5. That’s why we show you also other places worth visiting. But this list is much longer.

Plan a next road trip

Finally, you can combine a visit to Utah Mighty 5 with a road trip in neighboring Arizona. So, if you have more time, you can add to the Utah National Park Road Trips fabulous Arizona destinations.

From Moab, you can drive to Page to see Monument Valley, Horseshoe Bend, or mentioned Antelope Canyons Lower or Upper. To Las Vegas, you can back via the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Moreover, you can plan a separate Arizona road trip and use our ready-to-go Arizona Itinerary.

Or you can combine the Utah road trip with Colorado. Here you can check our detailed Colorado Road Trip Itinerary!

Finally, we wish you a full of adventures and a safe Utah National Parks Road Trip! If you have any questions, write to us. Moreover, if you like our Utah National Parks Itinerary, share it, please.

Utah Mighty 5 road trip

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  1. Ok, I think I learnt more about the national parks of Utah in this post than anywhere else. I am still yet to get to Utah but its on the cards and I know some of the places mentioned on here but this post is really really detailed and probably made my planning for the trip (when I get round to it) a lot easier. So I have bookmarked this page. A lot of people have said you need a 1-2 week plan just to get to see the top places, but as I do a lot of hiking, hopefully I might be here longer than that. 😀

  2. Utah is such a stunning state for a road trip, I’ve been a couple of times but really want to revisit and see more. I agree with you that LV is a great place to start the itinerary, we did the same last time, and the other time we started in LA, which meant a long drive through fairly dull suburbs of LA to get out to the beautiful landscapes. Loving your photos, beautiful light and colour, really shows off the beauty of Utah. We hit the same places you recommend and agree with all of them, I particularly loved the folding landscapes at Zion! 

  3. I have been working on an itinerary
    through this area for the upcoming spring. I hadn’t thought about the water
    levels being high and might switch things around and go in the fall now that
    you mentioned it. I wish it was easier to explore Capitol Reef National Park without a 4×4, I
    see such gorgeous images of the park.

  4. I just got back from a Utah road trip and I have to say it was one of my favorite places in the US. I agree with your itinerary in terms of being able to explore Arches and Canyonlands each in one day, but we spent 2 days in Zion and I wish we had one more! There are so many different hikes that show so many different landscapes that I think they are all a must-see. Hope you loved it as much as I did!

  5. So amazing!!! This post was so informative. Utah has always been our dream to go to for a roadtrip. The sheer beauty of the state with all its natural landscapes and rock formation. Zion in particular is the national park we’d love to see but it’s nice to know that there’s so much more to Utah than that. Plus, your pictures are so beautiful. Definitely bookmarking this for when we get to campervan over there!

  6. Wow! This itinerary idea is definitely pretty intense. Between the hikes and the drives, I think my husband and I will end up go to bed the moment we arrive in the bedroom. No time for massaging. Haha… I’ve been to Arches and Canyonlands, so I made some notes for hiking trails and interesting spots in the other three parks. I like the idea of taking the shuttle from Springdale though because as of now, summer is the only time we can go there.

  7. I have been reading so much of late about Utah National Park and seeing the pictures. Sometimes I feel I have already visited although I haven’t. But your post is the perfect one to follow for a 7 day trip. I am a great fan of wildlife and nature and hence trip would be the perfect way to experience natural beauty. I hope I am able to visit Utah next time we are in US.

  8. We absolutely love Utah! And it’s because of all the national parks they have there. I will never get tired of them and there are so many new trail we discover everytime we visit. This itinerary is great! And when visiting for the first time it is very helpful to hear about how other people did it. I can’t wait to go there again!

  9. Utah National Park is high on my wishlist and great you have given a perfect road trip itinerary for this wonderful place.  I loved RV camping near Zion and though I have never stayed in RV, but would love to do it now. Good you have given perfect road trip tips for example about Narrow Hikes, routes and other staying options. Saving your post.

  10. I’ve commented on these fantastic places before. Awesome is all I can say and that I hope to visit these places one day. I’ve saved my name and email address for future comments but dont know why its not saved – I need to add it every time I comment? 

  11. Okay, this is awesome! I think you’re right, that you should give it more time. I wouldn’t want to have to cram stuff in or not really explore as much as I know I would want to.  I know that they increased the number of lottery permits for The Wave, so there are slightly better chances you could see it. I would LOVE to see that! 

  12. One of our favourite trips of 2019 was our travels around the Utah National Parks.  So it was great to be taken back by your blog post.  We started in Salt Lake City and drove all the way to Tucson where we dumped our rental car.  But we really wanted to do a camper trip.  Next time we will do a circle in Utah and enjoy some camping.  And we will definitely plan to stay inside the parks for a few days.  One trip was definitely not enough! We would love to see the parks looking so very different in winter.  A great planning post.

  13. The funny thing is, we live about a days’ drive from Utah’s National Parks and yet have never been to any of them.  This post definitely makes me want to road trip that way later this summer or early fall.  I hope we make it there one day – it sounds like such an amazing area of the US!

  14.  I  never would’ve thought about Utah if it wasn’t for this article. I really didn’t know how beautiful Utah was. Your photos are so good and this article just brought interest in Utah to my life. I really like Bryce Canyon. It just looks so unique.

  15. Such a nostalgic look back at our own trip through these national parks. As always, there is a fresh angle we did not see…especially Bryce hoodoos with some snow…and the delicate arches you got close to!

  16. What an absolutely fantastic place! I find the Bryce Canyon particularly mesmerizing. I need to find a chauffeur to drive me through these majestic nation parks – I’m not driving which makes trips to the US a bit more complicated.

  17. I have been DYING to do a road trip throughout Utah and your post made me even more excited to plan one!! Thanks for sharing so much detail and your itinerary. It’s going to be so so so helpful when I get around to planning 🙂

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