Hoodoos and Stars
Hoodoos and Stars takes advantage of the proximity of Zion, Bryce and Capitol Reef national parks to slow down and also experience some of the must-see southwestern Utah landscapes and experiences along the way — including the world's best dark skies.
Start: Las Vegas
In the option shown below, you'll travel west to east from Zion to Capitol Reef National Park. Consider adding an extra day or two for a more leisurely return drive and departure from Salt Lake City. Salt Lake start: You could also reverse the days, land in Salt Lake and head first Capitol Reef for a Zion finish and a departure from Las Vegas.
Hoodoos and Gems takes advantage of the proximity of Zion, Bryce and Capitol Reef national parks to also experience some of the must-see destinations along the way.
Day 1: As shown below, this Utah itinerary starts in Zion National Park by way of Las Vegas. The hikes at Zion include Angels Landing, a perennial top hike by any measure and 5.4 miles you’ll never forget. After a dip (or extended walk) in the Virgin River that carved The Narrows, stay overnight in or near Zion.
Days 2–3: The next day, make way for Bryce Canyon via the historic Zion-Mt. Carmel Scenic Drive, saving time for the Canyon Overlook Trail just past the tunnel. Even better? Get there early for sunrise. The day's drive will take you to Bryce Canyon, but not before a stop at nearby Red Canyon to follow in the footsteps of outlaw Butch Cassidy or break out the mountain bikes. Once in Bryce, you'll have very good reason to stay up for the pristine dark skies. During the day, tackle the Queens Garden/Navajo trail, easily one of the best 3-mile hikes around.
Day 4–5: The All-American Highway Scenic Byway 12 fills your windshield with a splashy desert palette while you drive towards Capitol Reef National Park. There is a lot to see and do along the way, and we call a lot of that the Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument. Much of the monument is rugged and remote, and we'll save it for another trip. For just a taste of the landscape, consider the spur road to Kodachrome Basin State Park before continuing up the byway. Then, it's dinner reservations at Hell's Backbone Grill in Boulder.
Days 5–6: In Capitol Reef, cruise the scenic byway behind the visitor center to spot ancient petroglyphs or grab a hike along S.R. 24. There are shorter options for families and longer options for adventurers. Either way, save time to pick fruit in season and grab fresh-baked pies at Gifford Homestead for everyone. Nearby Torrey offers great dining options and Capitol Reef is an accredited dark sky park, so you'll welcome a couple of nights in this majestic land.
Days 6–7 (optional): After a couple of days in Capitol Reef, return the long route to Las Vegas or consider a departure from Salt Lake with time to explore all this outdoorsy and welcoming city has to offer.
Anasazi State Park Museum
The Anasazi State Park Museum near Boulder, Utah is the former site of one of the largest Puebloan communities in the region. Learn more and plan a visit!
Dark Sky Parks
Head to one of Utah’s many Certified International Dark Sky Parks for the best celestial views on earth. You can find a dark sky experience that fits every itinerary.
Goblin Valley State Park
Goblin Valley State Park could almost be mistaken for a martian landscape with intricate and bizarre geologic formations. Bring the family and experience this amazing place by hiking, camping, mountain biking and exploring the surrounding canyons.
Lower Calf Creek Falls
Calf Creek is a perennial stream located in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. There are two waterfalls which you can visit, the upper falls and the lower falls.
Snow Canyon State Park
Located at the edge of the Mojave Desert, Great Basin and Colorado Plateau, Snow Canyon State Park explodes with dramatic geology perfect for your outdoor adventure — and photo opportunities.
The All-American Road: Scenic Byway 12
This is 122.863 miles (to be exact) of pure driving bliss. Welcome to Utah’s Scenic Byway 12, a designated All-American Road.