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The Ultimate One-Week “Mighty 5” Utah Road Trip


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Gina Ramires



Welcome to the ultimate one-week “Mighty 5” Utah road trip! Utah is a state known for its stunning natural beauty and diverse landscapes, and the “Mighty 5” national parks – Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, and Zion – are the crown jewels of this southwestern wonderland.


Embark on this epic road trip adventure and prepare to be awe-struck by the breathtaking red rock formations, towering cliffs, narrow slot canyons, and sweeping vistas that await you in each park. Whether you are a seasoned outdoor enthusiast or a nature lover, this itinerary will guide you through the highlights of each national park, providing you with unforgettable experiences and memories to last a lifetime.


From the vibrant city of Salt Lake City to the rugged beauty of each national park, this road trip will take you on a journey through Utah’s natural wonders. Buckle up, tune in to your favorite road trip playlist, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure!


Day 1: Arriving in Salt Lake City

Your Utah road trip begins in the vibrant city of Salt Lake City. After arriving at Salt Lake City International Airport, pick up your rental car and make your way to your hotel in the downtown area.


Once you’ve settled in, take some time to explore the city. Start your day with a visit to Temple Square, the iconic headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Explore the beautiful gardens, historic buildings, and the majestic Salt Lake Temple.


For lunch, head to the downtown area where you’ll find a variety of restaurants and cafes offering delicious local and international cuisine. Afterward, take a stroll through City Creek Center, a premier shopping destination with a mix of high-end shops and popular brands.


In the afternoon, make your way to the Utah State Capitol building, located on a hill overlooking the city. Take a guided tour to learn about the state’s history and admire the stunning architecture.


As the sun begins to set, drive up to Ensign Peak, a scenic viewpoint with panoramic views of Salt Lake City and the surrounding mountains. It’s the perfect spot to capture some memorable photos.


In the evening, indulge in a delightful dinner at one of the city’s renowned restaurants. Salt Lake City offers a diverse culinary scene, with options ranging from international cuisine to local farm-to-table specialties.


After dinner, you might want to take a stroll around downtown and enjoy live music or grab a drink at one of the local breweries or cocktail bars.


Head back to your hotel and get a good night’s rest, as tomorrow you will start your adventure through the “Mighty 5” national parks of Utah.


Day 2: Exploring Arches National Park

Rise and shine! Today, you’ll venture into the enchanting world of Arches National Park, just a short drive from Moab. After a hearty breakfast, pack some snacks, water, and your camera gear, and hit the road.


As you enter Arches National Park, you’ll be greeted by the iconic red rock formations that make this place so famous. The park is home to over 2,000 natural sandstone arches, including the world-famous Delicate Arch, Landscape Arch, and Double Arch.


Begin your exploration with a visit to the visitor center, where you can gather information about the park’s trails, viewpoints, and safety guidelines. Don’t forget to grab a detailed map and any necessary permits.


One of the must-see sights in the park is Delicate Arch. To witness its grandeur up close, embark on the moderate 3-mile round trip hike. The trail takes you across slickrock and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.


If you’re looking for a shorter hike, head to the Devils Garden area, where you’ll find an array of trails of varying lengths. Explore the impressive Landscape Arch, which spans over 290 feet and is one of the longest natural arches in the world.


As the day progresses, drive along the scenic Arches Entrance Road, stopping at viewpoints such as Balanced Rock and Park Avenue. These spots provide fantastic photo opportunities, so be sure to capture the beauty of the unique rock formations.


For those seeking more adventure, consider taking one of the ranger-led hikes or attending a guided tour to learn more about the park’s geology, flora, and fauna. It’s a great way to gain a deeper understanding of this remarkable landscape.


As the sun starts to set, make your way to the Windows Section of the park. These popular formations, known as the North and South Windows and Turret Arch, create a stunning setting as the golden hour bathes them in warm light.


After a full day of exploration, head back to Moab and reward yourself with a delicious dinner at one of the local restaurants. Share your stories and photos from the day’s adventures, and get a good night’s sleep, as tomorrow you’ll continue your journey to Canyonlands National Park.


Day 3: Discovering Canyonlands National Park

Get ready to immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring beauty of Canyonlands National Park. After a hearty breakfast in Moab, head west to enter this magnificent park that boasts stunning views and rugged landscapes.


Upon arrival, start your day by visiting the Island in the Sky District, known for its towering cliffs and panoramic vistas. Begin at the visitor center to gather information and learn about the park’s history and geology.


Make your way to the world-famous Mesa Arch, an iconic natural arch perched on the edge of a cliff. As you stand beneath the arch, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the vast canyons below. Be sure to arrive early to catch the magical sunrise illuminating the arch.


Next, embark on a scenic drive along the park’s main road, stopping at various overlooks to take in the expansive canyon views. Don’t miss the Grand View Point overlook, which offers a spectacular panorama of the canyons and the Green and Colorado rivers winding through the landscape.


If you’re up for some hiking, lace up your boots and tackle the moderate 2-mile round trip trail to Upheaval Dome. This fascinating geological feature, surrounded by a controversial origin theory, is a must-see. The trail leads you to an overlook where you can marvel at the unique rock formations.


For an adventurous thrill, consider taking a whitewater rafting trip down the mighty Colorado River. Companies in Moab offer various guided tours that allow you to experience the parks from a different perspective, floating through the stunning canyons and enjoying the rush of the river.


As the day winds down, soak in the tranquility of the park’s rugged beauty and enjoy the serenity of the natural surroundings. Find a quiet spot to witness the sunset casting shadows over the canyons, creating a mesmerizing display of colors.


After a day of exploration and adventure, head back to Moab and treat yourself to a hearty dinner at one of the local restaurants. Indulge in some delicious Southwestern cuisine and reminisce about the wonders of Canyonlands National Park.


Rest up and recharge, as tomorrow awaits another thrilling experience in Capitol Reef National Park.


Day 4: Adventure in Capitol Reef National Park

Get ready for a day full of adventure as you explore the rugged beauty of Capitol Reef National Park. After a delicious breakfast in Moab, hop in your car and make your way to this hidden gem nestled in the heart of Utah.


Start your day off by visiting the visitor center in Capitol Reef, where you can gather information about the park’s trails, weather conditions, and any necessary permits. Grab a detailed map to guide you through the park’s scenic wonders.


One of the highlights of Capitol Reef is the Waterpocket Fold, a 100-mile long geologic monocline that stretches across the landscape. Begin your exploration by driving the scenic Capitol Reef Scenic Drive, which will take you through the heart of the park.


For a moderate hike with stunning views, head to the Hickman Bridge Trail. This 1.8-mile round trip trail will lead you to a beautiful natural bridge spanning a wide gorge. Take your time to admire the impressive rock formations and the scenic beauty of the surrounding area.


Continue your adventure by driving the Capitol Gorge Road, an unpaved scenic route that takes you through towering cliffs and narrow canyons. Along the way, keep an eye out for ancient petroglyphs left by Native American cultures centuries ago.


If you’re up for a longer hike, the Cassidy Arch Trail is a must-do. This 3.4-mile round trip trail will lead you to a breathtaking natural arch named after the famous outlaw Butch Cassidy, who supposedly used the area as a hideout.


For a unique experience, consider driving the scenic Burr Trail Road, which winds through the remote and stunning landscapes of southern Utah. This road offers incredible views and opportunities for scenic photography.


As the day winds down, find a spot to witness the mesmerizing sunset in Capitol Reef. Capture the warm hues of the red rock formations as they glow in the fading light. It’s a perfect way to end a day of adventure.


After a day of exploration, head back to your accommodation in nearby Torrey and enjoy a well-deserved dinner. Relish in the local cuisine and reflect on the natural wonders you witnessed in Capitol Reef National Park.


Rest up and prepare for another day of excitement as you continue your journey to the next “Mighty 5” national park, Bryce Canyon.


Day 5: Enjoying Bryce Canyon National Park

Welcome to Bryce Canyon National Park, a place of unparalleled beauty and enchanting rock formations. After a hearty breakfast in Torrey, make your way to Bryce Canyon and get ready for a day filled with awe-inspiring sights.


Start your day by visiting the visitor center to gather information about the park’s trails, viewpoints, and any ranger-led activities. Pick up a map and plan your day accordingly to make the most of your time in this unique park.


The main attraction of Bryce Canyon is the incredible collection of hoodoos, tall and slender rock columns formed by erosion. Begin your exploration at Sunrise Point, where you’ll be greeted by a breathtaking panoramic view of the canyon and the sunrise casting a warm golden light over the hoodoos.


Embark on the Queen’s Garden Trail, a moderate 1.8-mile hike that takes you down into the canyon, allowing for an up-close encounter with the majestic hoodoo formations. Marvel at the intricate shapes and vibrant colors as you navigate the winding trail.


For a more challenging hike, take on the Navajo Loop Trail. This 1.3-mile trail features a series of switchbacks and offers stunning vistas of the canyon. As you descend into the amphitheater, you’ll pass through narrow slot canyons and towering walls of rock.


Midday is the perfect time to relax and enjoy a picnic lunch amidst the breathtaking scenery. Choose one of the designated picnic areas or find a quiet spot with a view and savor the tranquility of nature surrounding you.


After lunch, make your way to Bryce Point, another iconic viewpoint in the park. From here, you’ll be able to take in the vastness of the Bryce Amphitheater, with its dazzling array of hoodoos stretching as far as the eye can see.


For a unique perspective, consider taking a scenic horseback ride through the park. Several companies offer guided tours that allow you to explore the hoodoos from the back of a horse, offering a different and memorable way to experience Bryce Canyon.


As the sun begins to set, head back to one of the viewpoints, such as Sunset Point or Inspiration Point, to witness the magical display of colors as the sunlight dances across the hoodoos. It’s a sight you won’t soon forget.


After a day of exploring the wonders of Bryce Canyon, head back to your accommodation in Bryce Canyon City. Treat yourself to a delicious dinner at one of the local restaurants and relish in the memories of the day’s adventures.


Rest up and recharge, as tomorrow you’ll continue your journey to the final “Mighty 5” national park, Zion National Park.


Day 6: Wrapping up in Zion National Park

Welcome to Zion National Park, the final destination of your “Mighty 5” Utah road trip. After a satisfying breakfast in Bryce Canyon City, make your way to Zion and prepare for a day of adventure in this breathtaking desert oasis.


Start your day by visiting the Zion Canyon Visitor Center, where you can gather information about the park’s trails, shuttle system, and any ranger-led activities. Grab a map and plan your day accordingly to make the most of your time in this spectacular park.


One of the must-see attractions in Zion is the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. Hop on the park shuttle and embark on a scenic journey through the towering sandstone cliffs, lush forests, and the Virgin River that meanders through the canyon.


Begin your exploration with a hike to the iconic Emerald Pools. This moderate trail takes you to a series of beautiful pools and waterfalls, offering a refreshing escape from the desert heat. Take the time to relax and soak in the tranquility of these natural oasis.


For those seeking a more challenging adventure, consider hiking to Angel’s Landing. This strenuous 5-mile round trip hike is not for the faint of heart, but the reward is well worth it. As you navigate the narrow ridgeline, secured by chains, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the Zion Canyon.


If you prefer a less strenuous hike, opt for the Riverside Walk, a leisurely 2.2-mile round trip trail along the Virgin River. Enjoy the shade provided by the towering canyon walls as you stroll along the paved path, listening to the soothing sounds of the flowing water.


A visit to Zion National Park is not complete without experiencing The Narrows. This unique hiking adventure takes you through the narrowest section of the park’s canyon, where you’ll wade through the Virgin River surrounded by towering cliffs. Be prepared with appropriate gear and check for current weather and water conditions before embarking on this adventure.


As the day winds down, head to the Canyon Junction Bridge to witness the breathtaking sunset casting warm colors across the canyon. Capture the golden hour light illuminating the unique rock formations, providing a perfect finale to your journey through the “Mighty 5.”


After a day of exploration, head back to Springdale, the gateway town to Zion, and enjoy a delicious dinner at one of the local restaurants. Indulge in some Southwestern cuisine or savor a gourmet meal and relish in the memories of your Utah road trip adventure.


As you bid farewell to the “Mighty 5” national parks of Utah, take a moment to reflect on the beauty and grandeur you experienced. It’s time to cherish the memories and start planning your next great adventure.



Congratulations! You have successfully completed the ultimate one-week “Mighty 5” Utah road trip, exploring the stunning national parks of Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, and Zion. From the towering rock formations to the breathtaking vistas, this road trip has taken you on an unforgettable journey through the remarkable landscapes of Utah.


Each park offered its own unique beauty and charm, showcasing the diverse natural wonders that Utah has to offer. From the delicate arches of Arches National Park to the majestic canyons of Canyonlands National Park, and from the rugged beauty of Capitol Reef National Park to the mesmerizing hoodoos of Bryce Canyon National Park, and finally, the awe-inspiring beauty of Zion National Park, you have been treated to a true feast for the senses.


Along the way, you have experienced unforgettable hikes, scenic drives, and breathtaking views. You have witnessed mesmerizing sunrises and sunsets, explored hidden canyons and slot canyons, and marveled at the geological wonders that have been shaped over millions of years.


Not only have you indulged in the natural beauty of the “Mighty 5” national parks, but you have also immersed yourself in the vibrant cities, enjoyed local cuisine, and embraced the outdoorsy spirit that Utah embodies.


As you wrap up your road trip and head back home, take the memories and experiences with you. Let the beauty of Utah’s natural wonders inspire you to seek out more adventures and appreciate the wonders of our planet.


Remember to leave no trace and respect the fragile environments you have visited. Spread the word about the importance of nature conservation and inspire others to explore and protect these precious landscapes.


Ready to embark on your next great adventure? Utah has so much more to offer, from the majestic landscapes of Monument Valley to the celestial beauty of Bryce Canyon’s dark skies. Plan your next trip, explore new horizons, and never stop seeking the magic that nature has to offer.


Safe travels and happy adventuring!