Looking to spend a week on the open roads of Southern Utah? Spend your Utah destinations vacation at The Mighty 5® — our iconic national parks — and at the equally majestic national monuments and state parks in between. We don't use “iconic” and “majestic” lightly. These are the standard bearers of Utah, the giants whose splendor has inspired humans for centuries.
From the start, you’ll be transported to a new world with massive expanses of technicolor cliffs, brilliant-hued hoodoos and wide-open spaces around Bryce Canyon National Park. After dark, you’ll be treated to a stellar night sky — the Milky Way streaking across it so brightly that it seems you could walk the stars like a trail.
Ride horseback through stone spires, hike to stone arches, or hop around stone goblins seemingly frozen in time. Revel in the majestic view of Delicate Arch, one of the most famous geologic features in the world. Test your mettle with slickrock mountain biking. Gape at the towering stone sentinels of Monument Valley that have long defined the world’s image of the American West.
Summit to impossibly high — even heavenly — perches, where you’ll get a vertiginous view into the heart of Zion Canyon National Park. Then, from the depths of a gorge, gape upwards at the sheer scale of the narrow walls that surround you as you wade through the river that carved them.
Nowhere else will you find such varied desert terrain in such a concentrated area. You’ll get a huge taste of Utah’s inspiring beauty and outdoor adventure. Peruse our inspirational itineraries, based on mileage, provided below which include lodging and accommodations suggestions.
Read these resources to learn how to travel thoughtfully and experience Utah most fully.
St. George to Cedar Breaks
Devote your first day to touring the intersection of the lofty Colorado Plateau of southwest Utah and the fascinating Mojave Desert. You’ll start in the warmer, lower elevations exploring the domes and dunes of Snow Canyon before catching views from the Kolob Canyons scenic drive in the northwest corner of Zion National Park. Don’t worry; we’ll return to the main canyon of Zion later on this journey. Finish the day with a drive to 10,000 feet and soak in majestic sunset views over the red rock amphitheater of Cedar Breaks National Monument. Camp here or overnight in Panguitch.
Panguitch To Bryce Canyon
The western introduction to the All-American Road Scenic Byway 12 includes the famous red rock arch tunnels near Red Canyon. Mountain bikers can stop to ride Thunder Mountain, and everyone can shuttle in for today's marquee hike: Bryce Canyon’s iconic 3-mile Queens Garden to Navajo route. Other hikes in Bryce Canyon include the excellent Bristlecone Loop at the 9,000-foot-level of Yovimpa Point. As beautiful as Bryce Canyon is during the day, some believe the show really starts at night. This grand sanctuary of natural darkness serves up pristine dark skies. Plan an overnight in the lodge, Bryce Canyon City or camping under the stars.
Kodachrome Basin to Boulder
The journey east on the All-American Road continues. Kodachrome Basin State Park offers a photogenic snapshot of Grand Staircase geology, particularly on the excellent Panorama Loop Trail. Continue to Calf Creek Falls for a 6-mile, round-trip hike to a true oasis in the desert. You’ll also pass a mighty pictograph on the canyon wall, evidence of early travelers here. The next stretch of Highway 12 is the famous Hogsback, a winding feat of civil engineering along a razor-thin ridge. Cap the day with a farm-to-table dinner at Hell’s Backbone Grill. Overnight in Boulder or nearby Torrey for quick access to Capitol Reef tomorrow morning.
Capitol Reef to Arches
You could spend days in Capitol Reef National Park and still have plenty left to explore. Consider touring the Capitol Reef Scenic Drive behind the visitor center and stopping to pick fruit in-season at the park’s historic orchards. Today’s featured hike, however, is a 1.8-mile round-trip journey to the 133-foot Hickman Bridge — a breathtaking natural bridge. Well-conditioned hikers may also opt to climb even higher toward Navajo Knobs. Continue along S.R. 24 through Capitol Reef Country along the colorful Fremont River toward Goblin Valley for a romp with the martian hoodoos. Finish the day with a sunset hike to Delicate Arch and overnight in or near Moab.
Canyonlands to Natural Bridges
You’ll need an early start to hit Mesa Arch by sunrise — but it’s worth it. Continue exploring Canyonlands on nearly 20 miles of scenic roadways, stopping at overlooks or trying your legs on some of the longer hikes. Don’t miss the Grand View Point’s vantage over the distant confluence of the Colorado and Green rivers. Mountain bikers will want to make haste for the Slickrock Trail. There are easy and difficult options, and places to rent bikes in Moab. Overnight in Blanding. Campers may opt for a night under the stars of Natural Bridges, the world’s first certified International Dark Sky Park.
Monument Valley to Lake Powell
Whether you start your day at Natural Bridges or Monument Valley, you’re starting a spectacular day. (Note: Large RVs are not recommended on Moki Dugway of S.R. 261) Stick to the scenic overlook at Natural Bridges or try a longer hike. A guided jeep tour at Monument Valley gets you the best access, or consider a self-guided drive. Next, you have early and late-afternoon options to tour Lake Powell by boat. No one will blame you if you decide to extend this itinerary a day by hiking the Wildcat Trail in Monument Valley today, then opting for the full-day boat tour to Rainbow Bridge tomorrow. Overnight in Kanab.
Kanab to Zion National Park
If you're waking up in Kanab, the approach to Zion National Park from the east is the historic Zion–Mount Carmel Scenic Drive. Start early and pause for a sunrise hike at the Canyon Overlook Trail or continue through the Zion–Mount Carmel Tunnel, a marvel of 1930s engineering. As the sun rises in the east, it pulls back the curtain of night on Angels Landing. Set out early and meet the rising sun at the top. When the canyon warms up with the summer sun, cool off in the Virgin River by hiking as deep into the Narrows as daylight and your legs permit.