Meet Utah’s Mighty 5 National Parks: What You Should Know Before You Visit

by Vibrant Management


Nov 21, 2022

Big news: Utah’s Mighty 5® makes it onto National Geographic’s 2023 “Best of the World“. And while we’re biased, we completely agree.


Utah’s Mighty® 5 national parks are some of the most incredible and breathtaking places in the world. Whether you’re hiking through Zion, marveling at the red rock formations in Bryce Canyon, admiring the cascading waterfalls in Capitol Reef, or strolling along the canyon walls in Arches, each park offers a unique experience that will leave you in awe.

Planning Your Utah Mighty 5® Road Trip


While you’re organizing your Utah Mighty 5® road trip, we want to let you in on some insider tips and tricks to help you make the most of your trip. First, take a look at our map of the National Parks in Utah so that you can get a feel for which route would be best. Then you can read through our description of each park so you know how to plan your perfect trip.

Canyonlands National Park

If you’re starting your Utah Mighty 5® road trip coming from Salt Lake City, you should begin at Canyonlands (if you’re coming from Las Vegas, do this list in reverse). With lush forests, soaring red mesas, and vast canyons, this national park is unlike anything else in the world.


One thing to keep in mind about Canyonlands is that it’s only 15 minutes away from Moab, which means you can find plenty of great restaurants, shops, and activities to do during your visit. So don’t forget to plan some time for exploring other parts of Moab as well!

Can’t Miss Spots

  • The Island in the Sky district: in the Island in the Sky district, you’ll find dramatic overlooks and panoramic views of the surrounding landscape 
  • The Needles district: the Needles district is known for its colorful sandstone spires
  • The Maze district (an off-the-beaten-path area with narrow canyons and steep cliffs) 
  • Dead Horse Point State Park (a scenic park overlooking the Colorado River)

Arches National Park

For the next stop on your Utah Mighty 5® road trip, hop over to Arches National Park—just a quick 30-minute drive away. This park is home to more than 2,000 natural arches and a variety of other geological formations including spires, pinnacles, cliffs, and bridges.


The park is located in eastern Utah and is less than two hours from both Moab and Salt Lake City. Arches National Park offers a wide variety of recreational activities including hiking, biking, camping, fishing, and kayaking.

Can’t Miss Spots

  • Delicate Arch
  • Windows Section
  • Park Avenue
  • Fiery Furnace
  • Landscape Arch
  • Petroglyphs at Wolf Ranch

To make the most out of Arches, pick three or four scenic areas to drive to (it has amazing, scenic roads throughout the park) and one or two hikes to do, depending on how long they are. You won’t be able to experience everything in one day, so prioritize the areas and features you most want to see.

Capitol Reef National Park

To get to Capitol Reef, you’ll take a 2-hour road trip (if you’re coming from Arches). Expect to be blown away by the stunning red rock formations, colorful canyons, and towering cliffs in this area.


Unlike some of the other national parks, Capitol Reef can be less crowded. This means that you’ll have a little more space to breathe and enjoy yourself when you’re here. But it also means that there are fewer amenities and services, so make sure you’re prepared with food and water before heading out.

Can’t Miss Spots

  • Cathedral Valley Loop: a scenic drive through dramatic landscape
  • Hickman Bridge: an iconic sandstone arch
  • The Waterpocket Fold: a breathtaking labyrinth of sandstone cliffs and canyons

Bryce Canyon National Park

Next on our list is Bryce Canyon National Park. This park is known for its breathtaking natural amphitheaters and awe-inspiring hoodoos—tall, thin spires of rock that rise out of the canyon like a fairyland.


Bryce Canyon can be quite busy during peak season (May to September), so we recommend visiting during a shoulder season (early spring or late fall) if possible. In addition to the incredible sites, there are plenty of hiking trails and other outdoor activities in the area, so make sure you come prepared with appropriate gear and clothing for any weather conditions.

Can’t Miss Spots

  • Sunset Point
  • Inspiration Point
  • Rainbow Point
  • For a more challenging hike, try the Fairyland Loop or the Navajo Trail.
  • Make sure to check out the Bryce Canyon Lodge—an iconic stone structure that was built in 1923 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Zion National Park

Last but certainly not least is Zion. The most popular of all the national parks in Utah, Zion offers hundreds of miles of hiking trails, a variety of outdoor activities, and scenic viewpoints. There’s truly something for everyone at Zion.


Our most important tip for Zion is to plan ahead. Because it’s so busy, some of the hikes—Angel’s Landing and The Subway—require a permit, so you’ll need to book your spots in advance and have some backups in case you don’t get a permit.

Can’t Miss Spots

  • Canyon Overlook
  • The Narrows
  • Angels Landing – permit required – Recreation.gov 
  • Zion-Mount Carmel Highway Tunnel

We love a good road trip, and there’s nothing quite like a Utah Mighty 5® road trip.  All within about 400 miles of each other, these parks offer some of the most stunning landscapes and natural beauty in the country. Whether you’re hiking through trails or driving along scenic roads, there’s something for everyone.


So get your road trip playlist ready, pack your favorite snacks, and hit the road! With the beauty and adventure of the Mighty 5®, you’re sure to have an unforgettable trip.

Take the Stress Out of Your Trip with Utah Luxury Tours

Some people love pulling out the maps, picking the route, and planning every stop on their next trip. But for those of us who prefer to turn that responsibility over to someone else, there’s Utah Luxury Tours!


With customizable tour packages including transportation, accommodations, food, and more, Utah Luxury Tours takes all the guesswork out of your next road trip. Take a look at our trips and book a group tour today.

RElated Posts

Read More