Utah Road Trips: 9 Amazing Itineraries To Plan Your Dream Vacation

by Mark & Kristen Morgan
Three Epic Utah Road Trips Our Car At Capitol Reef National Park Scenic Drive

Boasting dramatic landscapes and fascinating rock formations, Utah is home to one of the most popular road trips in the US: The Utah Mighty 5 National Park circuit.

Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches and Canyonlands form the foundations of a truly unforgettable experience. But we will take you further afield, including hopping over the border into Northern Arizona for yet more mind blowing scenery.

We think the Beehive State is a serious contender for the crown of best road trip in the states. A bold claim among an extremely distinguished list!

If you’re looking for efficient Utah road trips, look no further than the 9 we have crafted here.

We want you to have the best Utah Road trip possible so let’s jump right into the action!

*Please note this post may contain affiliate links. If you click on one of them, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you! We recommend only products we use and as always, all ideas or opinions expressed in this post are entirely ours. Thank you for the support and happy travels!*

Table of Contents hide

Planning Your Utah Road Trip

Kristen standing on rocky path next to river in slot canyon the Narrows hiking trail Zion national park

There are 2 key elements to consider when planning your Utah road trip.

Where do you want to visit and how much time do you have?

If you know the answers to both of those questions, perfect! You will find the most efficient road trip itinerary for those places and that timeframe below.

However, if you’re not quite sure where to go yet or how many days to spend at each place, you can find all the information you need here. We will run you through the best places to visit in and around Utah, before showing you how much time to spend in each place.

Knocking together a random 7 day road trip itinerary isn’t going to to help you plan when you only have say … 5 days available. And maybe you only want to visit one particular area?

So instead, you will find 3 separate road trip regions:

  • 1 – Southeast Utah
  • 2 – Southwest Utah
  • 3 – The Mighty 5

And within each region you will find 3 suggested itineraries ranging from minimum to optimal times needed to enjoy each amazing place!

Road Trip Preparation: Are you sure you’ve packed everything you need for road tripping in Utah? Be sure to check off each of these essential Road Trip items before you leave home! You can even download a free checklist to make things easier.

Why Choose Utah Over The Competition?

Sunset over Bryce Canyon National Park amphitheater

You could close your eyes, point to a map of the US and find an awesome road trip nearby. That’s how diverse and varied the land is in America.

California, South Dakota and Wyoming are excellent choices for natural beauty, whereas the Deep South is perfect for history, music and food.

So, why choose Utah?

Well, it’s pretty obvious, isn’t it?! None of those areas have 5 amazing family friendly National Parks within such close proximity. The Utah Mighty 5 road trip circuit is top level bucket list checking!

Weather conditions allow a longer peak visiting season when compared to Northern and Southern states. Utah has wonderfully comfortable conditions in Spring and Fall. Summer gets extremely hot but can still be visited with care.

Unique landscapes and rock formations are the major draw for Utah Mighty 5 road trippers. Where else can you see such a high concentration of arched rocks, jagged canyons and eerie needle-like hoodoo towers?

And hiking fans will know all about Utah’s renowned trails like the Narrows and Angels Landing…

US Road Trips: If you’re looking for a more off the beaten path adventure that delivers a surprise package, check out our South Dakota Road Trip article and you’ll be blown away by its beauty!

Must Visit Mighty 5 National Parks on Your Utah Road Trip

Mark Kristen Canyon Overlook Zion National Park Utah Road Trip

We’ll take a stab in the dark that Utah’s Mighty 5 National Parks are your top priority. As well they should be! Each of our itineraries is primarily focussed on getting you as much National Park action as possible.

Our top tip for visiting Utah National Parks is to pre-purchase a US National Park annual pass. Trust us, it will save you a lot of money that could go towards a nice meal and glass of wine!

Read our America the Beautiful article for more information.

Let’s take a quick look at each of the National Parks:

Arches National Park

Arches National Park Delicate Arch before sunset

Arches is full of wow-moments and explanation defying sandstone rock formations. We loved this National Park. Arches is under 5 miles from Moab, which is the best place to set up base for a few days in Southeast Utah.

Best things to do at Arches?

A fantastic 7 mile loop hiking trail called Devil’s Garden and an extraordinary sunset scene at Delicate Arch are your two must do attractions.

How long do you need to see Arches?

You can visit Arches in 1 day but 2 would give you more time to explore slowly. We recommend you plan to spend a night in Moab so you can watch sunset and stargaze at Delicate Arch.

Who is Arches for?

Families, photographers, lovers of amazing rock formations!

Entrance Price?

US$ 30 (free with America the Beautiful Pass)

Essential Reading: How to visit the best bits of both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks in One Epic Day!

Canyonlands National Park

Green River Overlook Canyonlands National Park Utah Road Trips

Canyonlands is a huge National Park consisting of rugged ravines formed by the Colorado and Green Rivers eroding its soft sandstone canyon floor. Frustratingly, this park is split into various regions with different entrance points.

We recommend you prioritize Island in the Sky region and with more time include Needles.

Best things to do at Canyonlands?

Sunrise at Mesa Arch, Green River Overlook and Grand View Point/Hike.

How long do you need to see Canyonlands?

Half a day is enough to see the major attractions in Canyonlands Island in the Sky, with an emphasis on Sunrise at Mesa Arch – one of our top recommendations for road trips in Utah. With more time, there are hundreds of miles of canyon hiking trails to discover.

Who is Canyonlands for?

Serious hikers/backpackers, photographers.

Entrance Price?

US$ 30 (free with America the Beautiful Pass).

Essential Reading: The best places to visit in Canyonlands and Arches if you’re short on time!

Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park Fruita Schoolhouse Fall colors

Capitol Reef might be the lesser known and visited of the Mighty 5, but it packs a punch of its own. Featuring a number of family friendly short hikes, fruit picking orchards, a famous barn and sharp rock features, Capitol Reef is not one to dismiss easily.

Best things to do at Capitol Reef?

Hiking to Hickman Bridge and photographing Fruita Barn are your top two must do activities. If you time it right in Fall, you will be treated to the most stunning Autumnal colors of all the Utah parks.

How long do you need to see Capitol Reef?

Half a day to hit the highlights.

Who is Capitol Reef for?

Families of all ages, low key and easy trail hikers, photographers.

Entrance Price?

US$ 20 (free with America the Beautiful Pass)

Essential Reading: How to plan the perfect One Day Capitol Reef Itinerary as a first time visitor!

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park hoodoo rock formations utah Road Trips

Bryce Canyon is famous for its eerie burnt orange hoodoo’s. Needle like jagged rocks rise out of an amphitheater creating a unique spectacle drawing in photographers from around the world. Sunrise is the best time to see Bryce Canyon’s beauty as its orange rocks transform into a bright red glow.

Best things to do at Bryce Canyon?

Sunrise over its amphitheater, Queens Garden Hiking Trail, Walk the Switchbacks

How long do you need to see Bryce Canyon?

1 day is long enough to see the highlights and hike the popular trails but 2 days allows you to hike less busy trails, hit the scenic drive and watch an amazing sunrise.

Who is Bryce Canyon for?

Families of all ages, low key and easy trail hikers, photographers

Entrance Price?

US$ 35 (free with America the Beautiful Pass)

Essential Reading: Comprehensive road trip itinerary for a weekend Bryce Canyon and Zion 3 day adventure!

Zion National Park

Mark and Kristen summit of Angels Landing terrifying hike

Zion is the most famous and most visited of the Utah Mighty 5. Magnificent canyon views, one terrifying hike called Angels Landing and one fantastic slot canyon river hike called the Narrows are at the heart of Zion’s magnetic pull.

Best things to do at Zion?

Hike to Angels Landing and hike the Narrows.

How long do you need to see Zion?

Ideally, you need 2 full days at Zion: 1 day for Angels Landing and Canyon Overlook plus 1 day for the Narrows.

Who is Zion for?

Adventurous hikers, photographers and families (not the big hikes!)

Entrance Price?

US$ 35 (free with America the Beautiful Pass)

Essential Reading: Detailed itinerary for 3 awesome days in Zion and Bryce Canyon

Must Visit Places Just Across The Border Into Arizona

The Utah / Arizona border is a geological wonder. Although technically in Arizona, Horseshoe Bend and Grand Canyon’s North Rim are a part of the typical Utah road trip loop.

Of course, these extra stop offs will only be relevant for those who have enough time to include them!

Page – Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, Lake Powell

Horseshoe Bend Colorado River Page Arizona on a longer Utah Road Trip

Page is a hugely popular base town for Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon, just as Moab is for Arches and Canyonlands.

Horseshoe Bend is a striking curved canyon shaped like … a horseshoe. A 300 meter drop to the Colorado River makes for an exceptionally dramatic scene, above which 3 million annual visitors snap countless millions of photographs. Read more about hiking, sunset and photography at Horseshoe Bend.

Antelope Canyon is probably the most famous slot canyon in the US, split into 2 separate canyons called Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons. The only way to visit is by booking a guided tour or a photography tour. Both require advanced planning and payment. It has been reported that the world’s most expensive photograph sold at $US 6 million was taken in Antelope Canyon. Maybe yours will be next?!

Lake Powell is not actually a lake, it’s a reservoir! You can hike and camp among fascinating rock formations with an oversized swimming pool for company. Water sports and climbing are other popular activities.

Grand Canyon North Rim

Dramatic Grand Canyon North Rim View Close to Zion on Utah Road Trip

Although dwarfed in popularity by its twin 18 miles across a mind-blowing landscape, the Grand Canyon’s North Rim would be a fantastic addition to your Utah Road trip.

Less popular means fewer crowds, which equals greater enjoyment!

You can drive to Point Imperial and Cape Royal for views you do not see every day! Or hit the dusty trails on North Kaibab, Transept and Bright Angel Point.

US National Parks: Looking for more in depth itineraries for your upcoming vacations? Don’t miss our Yellowstone,Yosemite and Joshua Tree travel guides!

Where To Begin Your Road Trips In Utah?

Unless you live within a few hours drive of Utah or are on a huge US road trip, it’s likely you will have to fly into the region from further afield and hire a car.

The closest major airports to the most popular Utah road trips are Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. Both are international airports which is perfect for those visiting from outside of the US.

We always use and recommend Skyscanner to book flights, not just for best value but for options as you can compare prices easily.

Let’s take a quick look at these major cities!

Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City Temple Latter-day Saints Church on Utah Road Trip

Salt Lake City airport is conveniently located just 7 miles from downtown.

If you’re flying into Salt Lake City and have pencilled in a few days in the epicenter of the Church of Latter-day Saints, here are a few of the top sights to check out:

  • Temple Square – 35 acres with 20 Latter-day Saint attractions centered around impressive Salt Lake Temple. Don’t miss the Tabernacle for an organ recital.
  • Park City – Hosted the Winter Olympics in 2002 and home to Alpine ski / snowboarding, located 30 miles Southeast.
  • Great Salt Lake – 1,700 square miles of natural salt water located 25 miles West of town, great for hiking and picnics.

Las Vegas

Welcome to Las Vegas sign Nevada

McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas is located under 3 miles from the strip!

Vegas needs no introduction. There are endless things you can do in the Entertainment Capital of the World. But with just a few days, narrow it down to some of these top rated attractions:

  • See a Cirque du Soleil show like O or KA, we saw O at the Bellagio and it was amazing.
  • Party at a Las Vegas nightclub such as Hakasan, Omnia, Marquee or Tao.
  • Walk the strip, explore the most famous Hotels and Casinos – but save your money for eating on the road trip!

Nearby Major City Distances

When planning your Utah road trip, use our itineraries as a guide but consider your origin and end points with care. Are you doing a loop or a straight line and back through the state?

Where possible, try to make a loop circuit so you don’t go back on yourself. Many of Utah’s roads are extremely scenic, particularly Highway 12 between Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon.

Let’s take a quick look at driving times and distances from nearby major cities to their logical starting points:

  • Salt Lake City to Capitol Reef – 225 miles / 3 hours 35 minutes
  • Denver to Moab – 355 miles / 5 hours 35 minutes
  • Las Vegas to Zion – 160 miles / 2 hours 40 minutes
  • Phoenix to Page, AZ – 273 miles / 4 hours 15 minutes
  • Albuquerque to Monument Valley – 317 miles / 5 hours 5 minutes

Best Time Of Year For A Road Trip In Utah

Mark stood on Shafer Trail overlook ledge canyonlands national park
  • Spring: Comfortable temperatures, spring bloom, lowest rainfall and fewer crowds make April and May the perfect months to road trip Utah.
  • Summer: Soaring temperatures (particularly between 3-7pm), far greater crowds but more daylight hours and best for stargazing make June, July and August a mixed bag. Hiking would be tough and busy but you’ll see more and have incredible star shows at night.
  • Fall: Similar to Spring – comfortable temperatures, fewer crowds and Autumnal foliage colors contrasting the deep orange rock formation is beautiful. We visited in October and November without issue, except cold mornings. September and October highly recommended.
  • Winter: Extremely cold and snowy, not recommended for a Utah road trip. You would be limited with campgrounds and hiking trails could be closed.

Hiking Safety: Weather conditions can cause issues on longer hikes in Utah and there are more things to consider before hitting the trails. Check out our 21 top hiking safety tips so you don’t run into any problems!

Road Trip Essentials

Sunset campground Bryce Canyon toolbox tent and cooking equipment road trip essentials

Before we get into the awesome itineraries, let’s have a quick look at some road trip essentials to help get you ready for your adventure:

Hiring a Car 

If you’re not driving your own vehicle and need to hire as you arrive, we recommend searching for prices with Rental Cars. We’ve hired a few cars with them and we’ve always had excellent experiences. You can pick a hire car up at Las Vegas Airport and Salt Lake City Airport. Consider you might need an international driving license.

What to Pack 

There are some things you just can’t live without on a road trip! Our top recommendation is a cool box and we know we wouldn’t have survived without ours. They’re perfect for keeping food fresh and drinks cool. If you’re traveling on a low to mid range budget, a 2 ring camping stove will save you a fortune. Cook two meals instead of eating out and you’ve already paid off the stove!

Safety Checks 

Whether your own vehicle or a hire car, be sure to keep on top of maintenance and remember it is dry in the desert. Gas is cheap enough but there are fewer places to fill up than you might be used to, don’t run out in the middle of nowhere!

Driving in Utah 

Many of the scenic highways are beautiful but require concentration, particularly the windiest sections at night. For example highway 12  between Capitol Reef and Bryce is amazing, but at night it’s just you and your driving skills!

Essential Reading 

Don’t miss our comprehensive Ultimate Road Trip packing list to make sure you have everything you will need for your Utah Road trip.

The 3 Best Utah Road Trip Routes

Landscape arch long narrow natural sandstone arch arches national park

So, we’ve touched on National Parks and the closest major cities, but now we need to consider how much time you have available.

Use the interactive map (at the end) to find all points of interest, hikes, overlooks, campgrounds, hotels, airports and pretty much every single reference made in the upcoming itineraries!

Below you will find our suggested minimum and optimal amounts of time required for either a highlights or in depth visit to each place on that specific road trip region itinerary.

Itinerary 1 – Southeastern Utah 

Where: Moab, Arches, Canyonlands, Monument Valley, Page
Time: Minimum 1 days / Optimal 3 days

Itinerary 2 – Southwestern Utah 

Where: Zion, Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef

Time: Minimum 3 days / Optimal 5 days

Itinerary 3 – The Mighty 5 Plus Extras 

Where: Mighty 5 plus GC North Rim, Page, Monument Valley
Time: Min 6 days / Optimal 9 days

Utah Road Trip #1 – Southeast Utah (Arches & Canyonlands)

Head to this region if you’re short on time. Arches and Canyonlands are perfect for serious photographers and families. Moab is the perfect base for the National Parks, Monument Valley and Page, AZ if you have extra time.

Moab is just 3 hours 45 minutes from Salt Lake City and 5 hours 30 minutes from Denver.

Don’t Miss: Mesa Arch, Delicate Arch and Devil’s Garden Hike.

1 Day Itinerary – Arches, Canyonlands

You’ll be surprised at how much you can fit into one day. If you follow this itinerary exactly, you will see the best bits of Arches and Canyonlands. But be ready for a long and tiring day!

Mesa Arch Sunrise spectacular scene canyonlands national park Utah road trip
4am-7.30am Wake up a few hours before sunrise, drive to Canyonlands (Island in the Sky) and take the very short hike to Mesa Arch for one of the most incredible sunrises you will ever see.
7.30am-9.30amDrive to Grand View Point and hike an easy 2 mile round trip canyon top trail. Green River Overlook offers similar views with a different perspective.
9.30am-11amLeave Canyonlands, stopping off at Shafer Trail Overlook on the way out. Drive to Arches, stop at the Visitor Center before continuing to the Windows section.
11am-12pmExplore North/South Windows, Turret Arch, Double Arch and Balanced Rock.
12pm-4.30pmDrive to Devil’s Garden Trail and hike the awesome 7 mile loop. You will pass 7 arches and 1 spire, plus have some fun on a party primitive trail section.
4.30pm-7.30pmHike up to Delicate Arch before sunset to be amazed by Mother Nature!
7.30pm-?After a beautiful sunset, wait for the Milky Way to sparkle brightly and take some incredible photographs.

2 Day Itinerary – Arches, Canyonlands, Monument Valley

With 2 days you can slowly explore both Arches and Canyonlands. If you are quicker and can’t miss Monument Valley, split your time on day 2 with Canyonlands. Don’t sacrifice time at Arches.

Sunset delicate arch arches national park on Utah road trips trail
Day 1
MorningDrive to Arches, look around the visitor center before hiking Park Avenue to Courthouse Towers. Explore the Windows Section more thoroughly, including a short loop around the Windows.
MiddayLet loose around Devil’s Garden Trail hike, taking more time to appreciate the magnificent arches along the way.
Afternoon / EveningHike to Delicate Arch, stay for sunset and stars.
Day 2
MorningWake up early for sunrise at Mesa Arch in the Islands in the Sky region of Canyonlands. Hike along Grand View Point and check out Green River Overlook. Hike part of the Upheaval Dome trail for amazing views inside a crater.
AfternoonDrive to the Needles region of Canyonlands, hike Chesler Park View (Elephant trailhead) and walk among the needles along various smaller trails. Some require climbing ladders.
EveningIf you have energy left, head back to Arches for sunset at either Delicate Arch or the Windows. Stars are fantastic through North Window but we’d say get back up to Delicate Arch!
Alternative Option
Day 1Spend day 1 as we suggest in the 1 day itinerary above.
Day 2Drive to Monument Valley (2h 30m / 146 miles) and spend the morning driving around the dirt track inside the park (US$ 20). Stop off at Needles on the way back to Moab and pick up the remainder of the itinerary.

3 Day Itinerary – Arches, Canyonlands, Page AZ

If you want to see as much as possible and don’t mind the extra driving, follow this itinerary. You don’t need any more than half a day at Canyonlands unless you’re a serious hiker or backpacker looking to get off the beaten path into Canyonlands deep canyons with an overnight hike.

Following this itinerary would work effectively if you’re traveling through Utah without looping back to Salt Lake City. If you do have to return to SLC, we don’t recommend including Page on Day 3. It’s too much driving for 3 days and would take away from exploring landscapes.

Delicate Arch astrophotography stunning scene
Day 1Spend the full day at Arches, including all hikes and sunset.
Day 2Spend your morning at Island in the Sky and your afternoon at Needles. Drive to Page, AZ and spend your second night here. If you’re in time before sunset, head up to picture perfect Horseshoe Bend for photography in golden hour.
Day 3Join your tour at Antelope Canyon (book way in advance) and visit Horseshoe bend in whichever order suits. If you can squeeze it in, quickly check out Glen Canyon Dam Overlook. Drive back to Moab, stopping at Monument Valley on the way.

Utah Road Trip #2 – Southwest Utah (Zion, Bryce Canyon & Capitol Reef)

You will need a minimum of 3 days to see the best bits of Zion, Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef. We suggest 5 days as being the perfect amount of time for this region.

Zion’s fantastic Narrows trail can be hiked top to bottom, but only with a permit you would need to book way in advance. It would take up 2 full days of your itinerary but would definitely be worth it!

We will assume you are beginning in Las Vegas for the following itineraries. If you are starting in Salt Lake City, simply reverse the order.

Don’t Miss: The Narrows Hike, Angels Landing and Bryce Canyon Amphitheater at sunrise.

3 Day Itinerary – Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef

This is an action packed 3 days spending just enough time at each park. However, if you’re a big hiker, we have to recommend you skip Capitol Reef to spend more time at Zion and Bryce Canyon.

The Narrows is fantastic and should be prioritized.

Kristen waist deep in water walking up a slot canyon the narrows Zion national park Utah road trip
Day 1
Morning / AfternoonHike the Narrows (one of the best hikes in the US!). Out and back, 10 mile roundtrip with 3 small waterfalls conclusion. Total time is 8 hour day. Awesome!
NightDrive towards Zion-Mount Carmel tunnel. Stop on a hairpin bend for clear night sky star photography.
Day 2
MorningEarly start, hike up to Scout Lookout and assess whether you want to continue to Angels Landing. This is not for the feint hearted!
MiddayJump in the car, drive through the tunnel and park immediately the other side. Hike up the far less terrifying Canyon Overlook trail and enjoy majestic valley views.
AfternoonDrive to Bryce Canyon, hike Queens Garden Trail to immerse yourself into Bryce’s famous orange hoodoo spires. Check out Wall Street and Thor’s hammer, oh and enjoy the switchbacks!
EveningEnjoy sunset over Bryce amphitheater before heading down slightly into the bowl for one of many excellent star photography spots.
Day 3
MorningAnother early start. Bryce’s amphitheater glows with an intense and beautiful burning red color at sunrise. Drive the stunning Highway 12 through Escalante to Capitol Reef.
MiddayExplore Fruita where you will find orchards for picking fruit and a postcard perfect barn. Snap some shots of the photogenic barn and pick up a fresh pie at Gifford House.
AfternoonDrive the scenic road before returning to Fruita schoolhouse and Fremont petroglyphs. Hike family friendly Hickman Bridge trail with cool conclusion. Gooseneck and Sunset point as you leave.

4 Day Itinerary – Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef

With 4 days you can slow down and include more hikes. The major difference to 3 days is staying at Zion on the second night, which means you can take your time with Angels Landing and Canyon Overlook.

Bryce Canyon sunrise over amphitheater gorgeous bright red glow
Day 1
Morning / AfternoonHike the amazing Narrows trail upriver and back again. Emerald Pools, Pa’rus, Sand Bench Loop or Watchman back near the campground are excellent alternatives if you don’t want to spend the whole day hiking through a river or have younger children.
NightStargazing.
Day 2
MorningHike Angels Landing (earlier is better to avoid crowds) and hike to Emerald Pools. If Angels Landing isn’t for you, take the trail to Hidden Canyon and Observation Point a little further along Canyon Drive. Hidden Canyon gives you a taste of death defying cliff edge walking but less severe and Observation Point has the best view in Zion.
AfternoonDrive over to Canyon Overlook and hike the trail but this time head back to Sprindale for a more relaxing end to your second day. Hike Watchman trail behind the campground.
Day 3
MorningDrive to Bryce Canyon and hike Fairyland Loop (use shuttle to reduce distance).
AfternoonHike Queens Garden Trail / Navajo Loop.
EveningWatch sunset and stargaze over Bryce amphitheater.
Day 4
MorningSunrise over Bryce amphitheater and drive to Highway 12 to Capitol Reef.
AfternoonFruita barn, orchard, petroglyphs and hike to Hickman Bridge.
EveningStop at Gooseneck and Sunset Points on the way out of Capitol Reef for awesome views at the perfect time of day.

5 Day Itinerary – Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef

This itinerary allows you to hit the very best of each park and slow it down to a relaxing pace. Don’t miss Hidden Canyon and Observation Point on Day 3 at Zion!

Sheer drop back side on angels landing summit Zion national park
Day 1
Morning /
Afternoon
Hike the Narrows. With 5 days you can really relax and take your time with this trail. Don’t forget a sturdy pole!
NightStargazing.
Day 2
MorningHike Angels Landing.
Afternoon
/ Evening
Hike to Emerald Pools, Pa’rus, Watchman and any other smaller trails you like the look of at Zion.
Day 3
MorningHike Hidden Canyon and Observation Point.
AfternoonHike Canyon Overlook and drive to Bryce Canyon.
EveningWatch sunset and stargaze over Bryce amphitheater.
Day 4
MorningSunrise over Bryce amphitheater and hike Queens Garden/Navajo trail.
AfternoonHike Fairyland Loop trail and drive the 18 mile one way Bryce Scenic Road.
Day 5
MorningDrive highway 12 to Capitol Reef. Stop at Fruita barn, orchard, and petroglyphs.
AfternoonHike to Hickman Bridge.
EveningStop at Gooseneck and Sunset Points on the way out.

Utah Road Trip #3 – The Utah Mighty 5 Plus Extras (Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches & Canyonlands)

Utah’s Mighty 5 National Parks are positioned almost in a straight line on a Southwest to Northeast trajectory or vice versa.

If you are traveling through Utah (ie from Nevada to Colorado) you can hit the National Parks in a simple one way direction without losing time driving. However, if you would like to include Monument Valley, Horseshoe Bend / Antelope Canyon or Grand Canyon North Rim, it is more efficient to work in a loop.

The following loop circuit itineraries will again assume beginning and ending in Las Vegas. Remember to switch the route if you are beginning in Salt Lake City, Denver, Phoenix or Albuquerque.

Don’t Miss: Horseshoe Bend

5 Day Itinerary – Mighty 5, Page AZ

Time is the one thing we wish we all had more of, right?! Well, this is an extremely tight schedule but it does take in the best bits of each Utah Road trip. You will be exhausted at the end but you will also have a lot ticks in a lot of boxes in just a few days!

Fruita Barn Capitol Reef National Park photogenic barn with orange rocks behind
Day 1
ZionHike Angels Landing and a shortened version of the Narrows.
Day 2
Zion and Bryce CanyonHike Canyon Overlook on the way out of Zion and hike Queens Garden / Navajo Loop at Bryce. Watch sunset and stargaze.
Day 3
Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef and MoabSunrise over Bryce amphitheater and drive highway 12 to Capitol Reef. Stop at Gooseneck point and quickly explore Fruita, before hiking to Hickman Bridge and driving onto Moab.
Day 4
Canyonlands and ArchesEarly start for sunrise at Mesa Arch, hike Grand View Point and head to Arches. Explore windows, hike Devil’s Garden trail and Delicate Arch for sunset / stargazing.
Day 5
Monument Valley and Page ArizonaDrive to Monument Valley (sun positioning favorable early in day) but don’t go inside the paid area. It takes up too much of your day. Instead, continue on to Page where you can visit Horseshoe Bend and/or Antelope Canyon before returning to Las Vegas.

7 Day Itinerary – Mighty 5, Page AZ, Grand Canyon North Rim

The extra days on this itinerary allow you to slow down and potentially include Grand Canyon North Rim if you have any energy left at the end! For this Utah loop, we think 7 days is just enough time to squeeze everything in.

Switchback trails in Bryce Canyon Amphitheater to Wall Street and Thors hammer
Day 1
ZionHike the full length of the Narrows.
Day 2
Zion and Bryce CanyonHike Angels Landing and Canyon Overlook on the way out of Zion. Drive to Bryce Canyon, hike Queens Garden / Navajo Loop and watch sunset / stargaze.
Day 3
Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef and MoabSunrise over Bryce amphitheater and drive highway 12 to Capitol Reef. Stop at Gooseneck point and quickly explore Fruita, before hiking to Hickman Bridge and driving onto Moab.
Day 4
CanyonlandsEarly start for sunrise at Mesa Arch, hike Grand View Point and drive to Needles region to hike and explore.
 
Day 5
ArchesSpend the full day at Arches hiking and exploring amazing rock formations. End at Delicate arch for sunset and stars.
 
Day 6
Monument Valley and Page ArizonaDrive to Monument Valley and continue on to Page where you can visit Horseshoe Bend and/or Antelope Canyon.
 
Day 7
Page and Grand Canyon North RimHorseshoe Bend or Antelope Canyon (whichever you didn’t do the day before) and drive to Grand Canyon North Rim. Spend a few hours before driving back to Zion/Las Vegas to complete the loop.

9 Day Itinerary – Mighty 5, Monument Valley, Grand Canyon North Rim, Page AZ

And finally, the 9 day Utah loop itinerary encompassing the Mighty 5, plus all extras. You’ll have enough time to explore and relax at the same time!

Kristen standing underneath Delicate Arch during the day dwarfed by the huge size of the arch
Day 1
ZionHike the Narrows.
Day 2
ZionHike Angels Landing, Hidden Canyon and Observation Point. Big hiking day!
Day 3
Zion and Bryce CanyonHike Canyon Overlook on the way out of Zion. Drive to Bryce, hike Queens Garden / Navajo Loop and Bryce scenic drive or hike Fairyland Loop trail. Sunset and stargazing at Bryce. 
Day 4
Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef and MoabSunrise over Bryce amphitheater and highway 12 to Capitol Reef. Stop at Gooseneck point and explore Fruita, before hiking to Hickman Bridge and driving onto Moab.
 
Day 5
CanyonlandsEarly start for sunrise at Mesa Arch, hike Grand View Point and drive to Needles region to hike and explore.
 
Day 6
ArchesSpend the full day at Arches hiking and exploring amazing rock formations. End at Delicate arch for sunset and stars.
 
Day 7
Monument Valley and Page, AZDrive to Monument Valley, enter the paid area to explore the sandstone buttes. Continue on to Page where you can visit Horseshoe Bend for sunset and stars.
 
Day 8
Page and Grand Canyon North RimCheck out Antelope Canyon and drive to Grand Canyon North Rim. Spend the rest of the day and camp or stay at the lodge.
 
Day 9
Grand Canyon North Rim and Las VegasSunrise over the Grand Canyon, hike to Bright Angel Point and part way down the North Kaibab Trail. Drive to Point Imperial and Cape Royal before returning to head back to Vegas in time for a show.

Other Places To Consider Spending Time

Mesa Arch after sunrise orange glow underneath canyonlands national park

Utah’s National Parks should be highest on your road trip wishlist but there are plenty of other awesome stop offs along the way.

You can include various parks throughout Utah, Northwestern Arizona and Southeastern Nevada if you have extra time.

Here’s a list of places you can add to your road trip that we did not feature in our examples:

  • Grand Staircase Escalante – Around 1 million acres of cliffs, terraces, monoliths, arches, slot canyons and natural bridges. Amazing sunsets.
  • Lake Powell – With more time in Page, spend a water sports and adventure sports day on a man made reservoir shaped like veins.
  • Natural Bridges – Similar to Arches bridge like formations, between Canyonlands and Monument Valley.
  • Goblin Valley State Park – Similar topography to Badlands in South Dakota but orange! Rocks are shaped like mushrooms.
  • Dead Horse Point State Park – Close to Canyonlands entrance. Although a fantastic landscape, we’re not sure it’s worth the extra US$ 20.
  • Monument Valley Park – Optional 17 mile dirt track loop to include driving through Monument Valley. We did it and would have rather saved the US$ 20 but that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy it!
  • Bonneville Salt Flats – Roughly 1 hour 30 minutes West of Salt Lake City, the salt flats are like a smaller version of Bolivia’s world famous salt flat.
  • Coral Sand State Park – Sand dunes for 4×4 fun, located between Zion and Grand Canyon North Rim.

Utah Road Trips FAQ’s

Kristen standing on a rock slab in the middle of virgin river slot canyon Zion the narrows

I only have 1 day free in Utah, which region should I visit?

Visit Zion if you’re looking for top-drawer hiking. If you prefer photography, head to Moab so you can visit Canyonlands at Arches for spectacular landscapes and twilight hours.

I’m on a longer Southwest US road trip, is it easier to split the Mighty 5 up?

Yes absolutely, that’s exactly what we did. As an example, we drove down from Wyoming through Salt Lake City, hit Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon and Zion before heading to Las Vegas. We then looped all of California in an anti clockwise direction (Death Valley, Yosemite, SF, LA, SD, Joshua Tree) and drove through Grand Canyon to Page, AZ, monument valley and up to Moab, Arches and Canyonlands before continuing to Colorado.

Should I buy a National Park pass?

You should 100% buy an America the Beautiful National Parks Annual Pass. The Mighty 5 will cost you US$ 155 whereas the pass costs just US$ 80 and lasts for a year, which you can use in other parks around the country.

Is it worth paying for Dead Horse Point, Monument Valley, Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon?

In truth, we have to say we don’t think Dead Horse or Monument Valley are worth US$ 20 each. Dead Horse is cool but not on the same level as nearby National Parks and we honestly thought Monument Valley (the self guided drive) was disappointing. You can see all you need from the main road. Horseshoe Bend is US$ 5 per vehicle and definitely worth paying. Antelope Canyon is expensive but a dead cert for photography enthusiasts.

Best Photography Spots On Your Utah Road Trip

Arches National Park Utah stunning sunburst on delicate arch

Utah is incredibly scenic and you could spend months exploring popular or off the beaten path areas. Our top recommendations for hobbyist and professional photographers are as follows:

Mesa Arch Sunrise (Canyonlands) 

This scene will blow you away but you’ll need to arrive early to get a good spot. Mesa Arch is still worth visiting during the day but loses its major appeal.

Amphitheater Sunrise (Bryce Canyon)

A spectacular flame red glow illuminates the amphitheater as the first rays of sunlight kiss the eerie hoodoo’s at Bryce Canyon. Get your spot early at Sunrise Point.

Delicate Arch Sunset (Arches) 

The landscape in front of your eyes as the sun is setting is quite unbelievable. There’s a huge sandstone arch to your left and a smooth rounded bowl shaped depression straight ahead. On the far distant horizon, the sun sets and all the bright orange colors fade into cool, earthy browns. Golden hour is excellent at Delicate Arch.

Delicate Arch or The Windows Astrophotography (Arches) 

Both offer fantastic opportunities to shoot the Milky Way through a towering sandstone arch. Our visit was late in the season, so we couldn’t get the Milky Way through Delicate Arch but we got it just to its right and it was still an epic scene.

Fruita Barn (Capitol Reef) 

Historic barns are hugely popular among photographers and Fruita Barn is no exception. It might not have the same appeal as the two popular barns in Grand Teton National Park, but Fruita still has a wonderful backdrop for a fantastic photograph.

Where To Stay On Your Utah Road Trip

Utah National Parks (Plus Grand Canyon North Rim)

Camping at Watchman Campground Zion National Park

Capitol Reef

For camping at Capitol Reef, book into Fruita Campground.

The closest small town for hotels is Torrey, around 15 minutes drive away.

Check availability and prices for Hotels in Torrey.

Bryce Canyon

Camping inside Bryce is either at Sunset Campground or North Campground.

There are 3 hotels in Bryce right on the doorstep of the park, but they’re in demand and expensive. Nearby town of Tropic has more hotels and you can find a few along Highway 12.

Check availability and prices for Hotels around Bryce Canyon.

Zion

You can camp at either Watchman campground or South campground. Both book up quickly so be organized!

Excellent lodging options at Springdale, just minutes from Zion Canyon. However, in peak season you may need to look further afield, such as nearby La Verkin.

Check availability and prices for Hotels around Zion.

Arches

If you’d prefer to camp at Arches, book into Devil’s Garden Campground but book in advance! Hotel options below in Moab.

Canyonlands

The only campground at Canyonlands is Willow Flat and it has just 12 sites. Hotel options below in Moab.

Grand Canyon North Rim

Grand Canyon lodge is the only hotel in North Rim but you can also stay at North Rim Campground.

Cities and Towns on the Utah Road Trip Trail

The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas Lit up at night and car lights long exposure Utah road trip

Salt Lake City

Ideal location is between Downtown and Temple Square. We stayed 4 or 5 blocks South of Downtown which took around 20 minutes to walk into town. 

Check availability and prices for Hotels in Salt Lake City.

Las Vegas

Take your pick between hundreds of hotels in Vegas, but try to stay on the strip if possible. Cheap options include Luxor and Excalibur on the South end. Luxury options include The Cosmopolitan, The Bellagio, Caesars Palace and The Venetian.

Check availability and prices for all Las Vegas hotels.

Page

Fantastic selection of hotels for all budgets. Stay here for Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon and Lake Powell.

Check availability and prices for Hotels in Page, AZ.

Moab

We loved Moab! Stay here for visiting Arches and Canyonlands if you don’t want to camp. There are loads of hotel options, we stayed at Expedition Lodge and it was great.

Check availability and prices for hotels in Moab, UT.

Utah Road Trips Interactive Map

Use this interactive map to orientate yourself with Utah and all of the stops in the above itineraries. Click into the map, zoom and move around.

  • Black markers Salt Lake City and Las Vegas airports
  • Purple markers for accommodation (hotels and campgrounds)
  • Orange markers are all of the hikes, overlooks and things to do
  • Blue markers are the extra places to visit with more time (not included in itineraries)

We hope these example itineraries helped you plan your dream Utah road trip.

Please let us know if you have any questions about these itineraries or anything else about Utah’s Mighty 5 National Parks!

-Happy Road Trippin’-

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3 epic Utah Road trip itineraries arches Canyonlands Zion Bryce Canyon Capitol Reef mighty 5 horseshoe bend page Arizona grand canyon north rim
Utah Mighty 5 3 incredible road trip itineraries
Epic Utah Road trips 3 amazing itineraries

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