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Welcome to an extraordinary journey through the breathtaking beauty of Utah’s National Parks! Brace yourself for a thrilling 7-day adventure through landscapes that seem plucked from dreams. From towering red rock formations to mystical hoodoos and verdant canyons, this road trip will immerse you in the natural wonders that make Utah a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.
In this unforgettable expedition, you will traverse the iconic national parks of Utah, each boasting its own unique charm and jaw-dropping vistas. Prepare to be captivated by the otherworldly arches of Arches National Park, stand in awe at the mighty canyons of Canyonlands National Park, and witness the ancient geological wonders of Capitol Reef National Park.
But the adventure does not stop there. You will witness the magical hoodoos of Bryce Canyon National Park, where a labyrinth of stunning rock formations awaits. Then, you will find yourself in the magnificent Zion National Park, a paradise of towering cliffs, lush valleys, and narrow slot canyons.
Join us on this incredible Utah National Parks 7-day adventure itinerary through spectacular landscapes, where every twist and turn reveals a postcard-worthy scene. Lace up your hiking boots, grab your camera, and get ready for an experience that will leave you in awe of the natural world’s grandeur.
- 1. Map of Utah National Parks: 7-Day Adventure Through Spectacular Landscapes
- 2. DAY 1 - ARRIVAL
- 3. DAY 2 - ARCHES NATIONAL PARK
- 3.1. Take Arches Scenic Drive and Make Stops and Take Short Hikes Along the Way
- 3.2. Hike Devils Garden Trail to See Landscape Arch and Double O Arch
- 3.3. Hike to Delicate Arch at Sunset
- 4. DAY 3 - CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARK
- 4.1. Hike to Mesa Arch at Sunrise
- 4.2. Stop at Grandview Point Overlook
- 4.3. Hike Murphy Point Trail
- 4.4. Visit Upheaval Dome Overlook
- 4.5. Stop at Shafer Canyon Viewpoint
- 5. DAY 4 - CAPITOL REEF NATIONAL PARK
- 5.1. Drive from Moab, UT to Capitol Reef National Park
- 5.2. Visit Fruita District
- 5.3. Hike Cassidy Arch Trail
- 5.4. Hike the Grand Wash Trail
- 5.5. Hike Capitol Gorge Trail
- 5.6. Settle Into Your Accommodations in Torrey, UT
- 6. DAY 5 - BRYCE CANYON
- 6.1. Drive to Bryce Canyon National Park
- 6.2. Hike the Rim Trail
- 6.3. Hike Navajo Loop Trail and Queens Garden Trail
- 6.4. Take Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive
- 6.5. Watch the Sunset in Bryce Canyon
- 6.6. Drive towards Zion National Park
- 6.7. Settle Into Your Accommodations in Springdale, UT
- 7. DAY 6 - ZION NATIONAL PARK
- 8. DAY 7 - ZION NATIONAL PARK and DEPARTURE
- 9. Intrepid Scout's Tips for Road Trip Through Utah National Parks
Map of Utah National Parks: 7-Day Adventure Through Spectacular Landscapes
GOOD TO KNOW: The best option for this trip is to start it in Salt Lake City, UT, and end it in Las Vegas, NV (it can easily be reversed). This option involves the least amount of driving and gives you more time to explore the parks. However, it might be more expensive to fly one way and then drop the car rental at a different location.
However, this trip can easily start and end at the same location (either Las Vegas or Salt Lake City). You will avoid extra costs associated with one-way flights and dropping the car rental at another location.
PRO TIP: Since you will be visiting 5 national parks, then make sure to get America the Beautiful National Park Pass. This pass will save you $70. It is valid for 12 months and gets you into all 400+ national park sites.
Arrive in Salt Lake City, UT
Welcome to the start of your exhilarating 7-day journey through the spectacular landscapes of Utah National Parks!
Your adventure begins as you touch down in Salt Lake City, a vibrant city nestled against a backdrop of rugged mountains. Get your car rental and take a moment to soak in the atmosphere before embarking on a scenic drive that will lead you to the heart of the red rock wonderland.
Drive to Moab, UT and Settle Into Your Accommodations
The drive from Salt Lake City to Moab is about 3 hours and 45 minutes (239 miles). Keep your eyes peeled for glimpses of Utah’s dramatic landscapes, with sweeping vistas and majestic rock formations.
Moab is known as an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. It is a perfect gateway for exploring Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. It will serve as your basecamp for the next 3 days.
Tonight, settle into your accommodation in Moab, where you can rest and prepare for the captivating days ahead.
GOOD TO KNOW: Here are some places I stay at whenever I am in Moab, UT, and visiting Arches or Canyonlands National Parks. They are not anything fancy, but they all have clean rooms and comfortable beds.
My first choice is La Quinta by Wyndham Moab. I stayed at this place a few times and I have no complaints. It is clean and well-managed, and it is conveniently located. If La Quinta is all booked, then my recommendation is to try Mainstay Suites Moab.
The last time I visited Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, I stayed at Element Moab, which I liked a lot. It is modern, yet simple, and it has a full kitchen, which is very convenient.
PRO TIP: There are lots of dining options in Moab, UT. If you like pasta or pizza then head to Pasta Jay’s. It is a busy place, however, service is fast. Their pasta and all the sauces are very good. However, my vote is for the thin-crust pizza.
Moab Diner is nothing fancy or gourmet, however, it is just good comfort food at a very reasonable price. Don’t miss their milkshakes. They know what they are doing!
I like good pizza, so Antica Forma is my place to go to. Their pizza menu is extensive! Plus, if you like Italian food, then there are lots of choices. What you simply cannot miss is their homemade mozzarella. It is delicious. For dessert try their tiramisu.
Get ready to step into a realm of mesmerizing natural wonders as Day 2 of your Utah National Parks adventure leads you to the captivating Arches National Park. Known for its iconic red rock formations and an abundance of awe-inspiring arches, this park promises an unforgettable day of exploration and discovery.
GOOD TO KNOW: From April to October Arches National Park implements a timed-entry system to help manage traffic and improve visitor experiences. The park releases tickets on a first-come, first-served basis on Recreation.gov three (3) months in advance in monthly blocks. A limited number of tickets is available for purchase one day before entry at 6 pm MDT through Recreation.gov.
Once you get your ticket print it, download it, or take a screenshot of it (cell phone service is limited inside the park). Your Timed-Entry Ticket ($2 processing fee), photo ID, and park entrance pass or America the Beautiful Pass are required to enter the park.
PRO TIP: There is no shuttle service at Arches National Park. The only way to get around the park is by driving your vehicle.
Take Arches Scenic Drive and Make Stops and Take Short Hikes Along the Way
Prepare to be enthralled as you embark on the captivating Arches Scenic Drive in Arches National Park. This iconic route winds through the heart of the park, offering an array of notable stops where you can witness the remarkable beauty and geological wonders that make this area so unique.
Here are some of the notable stops along the drive:
- Park Avenue: As you begin your drive, Park Avenue greets you with towering rock formations resembling skyscrapers, creating a dramatic and awe-inspiring corridor. Take a moment to walk the Park Avenue Trail, immersing yourself in the grandeur of these majestic sandstone monoliths.
Park Avenue Viewpoint / Utah National Parks: 7-Day Adventure Itinerary
- Courthouse Towers: The Courthouse Towers area features towering sandstone formations that resemble ancient castles and fortresses. The impressive rock spires rise majestically against the vast desert backdrop, creating a picturesque scene that is a feast for the eyes.
- Balanced Rock: This incredible geological formation is a sight to behold. A massive sandstone boulder perched precariously atop a slender pedestal, Balanced Rock is a testament to the forces of nature and the enduring artistry of erosion.
- The Windows Section: One of the park’s most iconic areas, the Windows Section boasts the North and South Window arches, as well as Turret Arch. The breathtaking arches frame the stunning desert landscapes beyond, providing a perfect opportunity for stunning photographs.
The Windows Section / Utah National Parks: 7-Day Adventure Itinerary
- Fiery Furnace Viewpoint: Fiery Furnace is a labyrinth of narrow sandstone canyons and fins that are a challenge to navigate. While a guided tour is required to explore this area, a stop at the viewpoint offers a glimpse into the mysterious and captivating landscape.
- Sand Dune Arch: Nestled amidst the fins and rock formations, Sand Dune Arch offers a unique experience. Surrounded by soft sand, this arch feels like a hidden oasis waiting to be discovered. Take a stroll beneath the arch and enjoy the peaceful ambiance of this secluded spot.
- Broken Arch: A short hike from the Sand Dune Arch brings you to the elegant Broken Arch. This stunning arch features a distinctive fracture, giving it a mesmerizing and photogenic appeal. Take a moment to bask in its beauty and capture the magnificence of this natural wonder.
Each of these stops along the Arches Scenic Drive showcases the incredible geology, mesmerizing formations, and jaw-dropping vistas that define Arches National Park. Take your time to soak in the beauty, capture photographs, and marvel at the remarkable forces of nature that have shaped this extraordinary landscape.
Hike Devils Garden Trail to See Landscape Arch and Double O Arch
Embark on a memorable adventure along the Devils Garden Trail, a trail that winds through an enchanting landscape of towering sandstone fins and an array of fascinating arches.
This moderate-to-strenuous trail offers various options for exploration, allowing you to customize your hike based on your preferences and fitness level.
- Landscape Arch: As you hike along the Devils Garden Trail, you will encounter the awe-inspiring Landscape Arch. This incredible arch spans an impressive distance, making it one of the longest natural arches in the world. Take a moment to marvel at its delicate and seemingly impossible formation.
- Double O Arch: For those seeking an extra challenge and reward, a side trail from the Devils Garden Trail leads you to the magnificent Double O Arch. This unique formation consists of two arches stacked atop each other, creating a captivating sight. Prepare for some rock scrambling to reach this impressive natural wonder.
Double O Arch Along Devils Garden Trail / Utah National Parks: 7-Day Adventure Itinerary
Hike to Delicate Arch at Sunset
Delicate Arch is one of the most iconic and recognizable landmarks in Utah and Arches National Park. Standing proudly against a backdrop of vast desert landscapes, this natural wonder has become a symbol of Utah’s unique beauty.
GOOD TO KNOW: Delicate Arch is a freestanding natural arch composed of Entrada sandstone. It has a distinctive shape, resembling a delicate and gracefully curved bridge. The arch stands at a height of 52 feet (16 meters) and has a span of 32 feet (10 meters).
The hike to Delicate Arch is approximately 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) roundtrip and is considered a moderately strenuous hike. The trail begins at the Delicate Arch Trailhead, located in the Wolfe Ranch area of Arches National Park.
The trail winds through slickrock slopes and crosses open areas, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes. As you approach the arch, the trail becomes more challenging, involving some sections of steep incline and exposure to heights.
Sunset is a popular time to witness the enchanting beauty of Delicate Arch.
- Check the sunset time for the day of your visit and allow ample time to complete the hike before dusk.
- Bring layers of clothing, as temperatures can drop significantly after sunset.
- Pack a headlamp or flashlight for the hike back, as the trail may be dark after sunset.
- Consider bringing a tripod if you want to capture stunning long-exposure photographs of Delicate Arch during sunset.
- Arrive at the arch early to secure a good viewing spot, as it can get crowded, especially during peak seasons.
Delicate Arch at Sunset / Utah National Parks: 7-Day Adventure Itinerary
Today is day 3 of the road trip through Utah National Parks and today, you will visit Canyonlands National Park. Specifically, you will explore the Island in the Sky District at Canyonlands National Park. It is the most accessible area of Canyonlands and can be easily explored within one day.
What you need to know is that Island in the Sky is a mesa with 1,000-foot sandstone cliffs. It sits between Colorado and Green River, giving it its name ‘island in the sky’.
The entrance to the Island in the Sky District at Canyonlands is about 35 minutes (30 miles) from Moab, UT.
If you thought that Arches National Park was spectacular, wait till you see Canyonlands National Park! It is absolutely breathtaking! You will see views of mesas, buttes, spires, and fins carved out by Colorado and Green Rivers that are simply off the charts. Hiking, stargazing, camping, and rock climbing are just a few of the activities, that you can enjoy at the park.
GOOD TO KNOW: There is no shuttle service at Canyonlands National Park. The only way to get around the park is by driving your vehicle.
Hike to Mesa Arch at Sunrise
Rise early and witness a truly magical moment as the sun paints the sky with vibrant hues, casting its warm glow over the iconic Mesa Arch.
This short ad easy hike (0.5 miles) will lead you to an overlook where you can marvel at the sunrise illuminating the arch and the surrounding canyons. Take a deep breath and let the beauty of the moment wash over you.
- To witness the mesmerizing sunrise at Mesa Arch, plan to arrive early, ideally 30-45 minutes before sunrise, to secure a good viewing spot.
- Bring a tripod and your camera to capture stunning photographs of the vibrant sunrise illuminating the arch and the expansive canyonlands beyond.
- Be respectful of other hikers and photographers by minimizing noise and avoiding obstructing their view.
Mesa Arch at Sunrise / Utah National Parks: 7-Day Adventure Itinerary
Stop at Grandview Point Overlook
Grand View Point offers sweeping panoramic views of the canyons and cliffs stretching out before you.
It is a short walk from the parking area and provides a breathtaking introduction to the vastness of the park. From the viewpoint at 6,080 feet elevation, you can see distant mountains, canyons, basins, and the White Rim Road.
Grand View Point Overlook / Utah National Parks: 7-Day Adventure Itinerary
Hike Murphy Point Trail
Next, embark on the Murphy Point Trail.
It is a moderate 3-mile roundtrip hike, with an elevation gain of approximately 300 feet, that will take you through a diverse landscape of sandstone cliffs, expansive vistas, and twisted juniper trees.
As you ascend, each step reveals a new panoramic view of the vast canyonlands stretching out before you.
The trail culminates at Murphy Point, where you will be rewarded with breathtaking vistas that seem to stretch on forever. Take your time to soak in the grandeur of the canyonlands and capture unforgettable photographs.
View of Famous Candlestick Tower from Murphy Point / Utah National Parks: 7-Day Adventure Itinerary
Visit Upheaval Dome Overlook
Next, make your way to the Upheaval Dome Overlook. This unique geological feature has long puzzled scientists, with its massive crater-like structure shrouded in mystery.
The overlook is accessible by a short walk from the parking area.
You will be able to gaze into the depths of this enigmatic formation, pondering the powerful forces that shaped it and contemplating the fascinating theories surrounding its origin.
- Learn about the various theories behind the formation’s origin, including a meteorite impact or a salt dome uplift
- Bring binoculars to get a closer look at the fascinating rock layers and formations within the dome.
Upheaval Dome / Utah National Parks: 7-Day Adventure itinerary
Stop at Shafer Canyon Viewpoint
As you journey through the park, take a moment to stop at the Shafer Canyon Viewpoint. Marvel at the sheer magnitude of the canyon walls as they plunge down into the depths below.
The rugged beauty of this vista is a testament to the forces of erosion that have shaped this incredible landscape over millions of years. Marvel at the Shafer Trail as it winds its way through the canyon.
GOOD TO KNOW: The Shafer Trail at the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park is an iconic road that descends 1,500 feet (457 m) through a colorful, massive sandstone cliff.
Its function has changed through the years; from a route made by Native Americans to access resources on the mesa top, to a trail for sheepherders moving flocks to better foraging in wintertime, and then a road for trucks moving loads of uranium from the backcountry to market.
Today, the Shafer Trail is a challenging, unpaved back-country road for recreational users seeking the experience of a lifetime.
The Shafer Trail / Utah National Parks: 7-Day Adventure Itinerary
GOOD TO KNOW: Right in-between Arches and Canyonlands National Park is Dead Horse Point State Park. The park sits on top of a narrow mesa with Colorado and Green Rivers 2,000 feet below. The views in this place are off the charts! Check out How to Spend One Day in Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah.
The Views of the Colorado River from Dead Horse State Park / Utah National Parks: 7-Day Adventure Itinerary
Join us for Day 4 as we continue our exploration of Utah’s national parks, venturing into the spellbinding landscapes of Capitol Reef National Park. Get ready for a day filled with scenic drives, fascinating geology, and remarkable adventures.
Drive from Moab, UT to Capitol Reef National Park
The drive from Moab, UT to Capitol Reef National Park will take you about 2 hours (137 miles) before you reach Capitol Reef National Park.
PRO TIP: When you drive from Moab, UT to Capitol Reef National Park make sure to take Capitol Reef Country Scenic Byway (UT-24). If you have more time, then on the way make a stop and hike Little Wild Horse and Bell Canyons. It is a great hike through some spectacular canyons. Another stop that I am highly recommending is Little Goblin Valley with intricate rock formations resembling goblins.
GOOD TO KNOW: There are two paved roads run through the park: Capitol Reef Country Scenic Byway UT-24, and Capitol Reef Scenic Drive:
- Capitol Reef Country Scenic Byway UT-24 runs from Moab, UT to Torrey, UT (east to west, or vice versa) and a section of this road goes through the park.
- Capitol Reef Scenic Drive is an out-and-back road that runs north to south through the length of the park. It starts at Fruita District and ends at Capitol Gorge Road. Let’s get started with Fruita District.
Visit Fruita District
Start your exploration by visiting the Fruita District, an oasis nestled in the heart of Capitol Reef. Discover the remnants of a historic Mormon settlement and explore the orchards that still thrive today.
PRO TIP: If in season, consider picking some fresh fruit or enjoying a slice of homemade pie at the historic Gifford House.
Hike Cassidy Arch Trail
Next, embark on the Cassidy Arch Trail.
The trail is a moderate 3.4-mile roundtrip hike located in Capitol Reef National Park. Named after the infamous outlaw Butch Cassidy, who supposedly found refuge in the area, this trail offers a captivating journey through stunning landscapes.
Here’s what you can expect:
- Trailhead and Starting Point: The trailhead for Cassidy Arch is located along the Scenic Drive in Capitol Reef National Park. Look for the parking area near the Grand Wash Trailhead, where the Cassidy Arch Trail begins.
- Trail Difficulty and Terrain: The Cassidy Arch Trail is considered moderate in difficulty, making it suitable for most hikers with a reasonable fitness level. The trail has a few elevation changes and rocky sections, so be prepared for some uphill climbs and uneven terrain. Wearing sturdy hiking shoes and carrying plenty of water is recommended.
- Scenic Views and Rock Formations: As you hike along the Cassidy Arch Trail, you’ll be treated to breathtaking vistas of the surrounding landscapes. Towering cliffs and colorful rock formations create a stunning backdrop for your hike, offering ample opportunities for photography and immersing yourself in the natural beauty of Capitol Reef.
- Cassidy Arch: The highlight of the trail is the Cassidy Arch itself. Perched high on a sandstone ridge, the arch offers a magnificent panoramic view of Capitol Reef National Park. The arch is a natural sandstone formation, and its unique shape and position make it a memorable sight to behold.
- Panorama Point: After reaching Cassidy Arch, continue a short distance to Panorama Point. From here, you can soak in even more breathtaking views of the surrounding canyons and the expansive landscape of Capitol Reef National Park. It’s a great spot to rest, take photos, and appreciate the grandeur of the area.
- Trail Duration: The Cassidy Arch Trail typically takes around 2 to 3 hours to complete, depending on your pace and the time spent enjoying the views. Plan accordingly and allow for additional time if you want to explore Panorama Point or take breaks along the way.
Cassidy Arch / Utah National Parks: 7-Day Adventure Itinerary
Hike the Grand Wash Trail
Next, venture into the dramatic Grand Wash, a narrow canyon renowned for its towering walls and vibrant rock formations.
The Grand Wash Trail is a relatively easy 4.4-mile (7.1-kilometer) roundtrip hike that takes you deep into the heart of this captivating canyon. Marvel at the geological wonders and enjoy the peaceful solitude that the trail offers.
Grand Wash Trail / Utah National Parks: 7-Day Adventure Itinerary
Grand Wash Trail / Utah National Parks: 7-Day Adventure Itinerary
Hike Capitol Gorge Trail
Conclude your day by hiking the Capitol Gorge Trail, an easy 2-mile roundtrip trek through a narrow gorge.
Along the way, you will encounter fascinating rock art panels, historical inscriptions, and unique geological features.
As you reach the end of the trail, marvel at the towering walls that seem to close in around you, providing a sense of the area’s remote grandeur.
Capitol Gorge Trail / Utah National Parks: 7-Day Adventure Itinerary
Capitol Gorge Trail / Utah National Parks: 7-Day Adventure Itinerary
Capitol Gorge Trail / Utah National Parks: 7-Day Adventure Itinerary
Settle Into Your Accommodations in Torrey, UT
GOOD TO KNOW: There are two places that I always stay at whenever I am visiting Capitol Reef National Park.
My first choice is Capitol Reef Resort. I stayed at this place a few times and I have no complaints. The rooms are clean and the beds are comfortable. The location is excellent, right at the entrance to the park. Plus, they have an on-site restaurant, which makes it very convenient after a full day of exploring Capitol Reef.
Another relatively comparable place is Broken Spur Inn & Steakhouse. Again, good location, right at the entrance to the park. They also have a restaurant on-site and breakfast is included with your stay. The rooms are clean and the beds are comfortable.
PRO TIP: There is not a ton of places to eat around Torrey. My first choice is The Rim Rock Restaurant. I like it because of the view and they serve good comfort food which is much needed after a long hike. Another place, that you might check out is Slackers Burger Joint. It is nothing to rave about, but it is convenient and quick and the food is decent.
Drive to Bryce Canyon National Park
On Day 5 of your Utah National Parks adventure, you will drive from Torrey, Utah to Bryce Canyon National Park. It will take you about 2 hours (108 miles) to get to the entrance to Bryce Canyon. Next, you will visit Bryce Canyon National Park.
After visiting Bryce Canyon National Park, you will head in the direction of Zion National Park. You will stay and sleep in Springdale, Utah. It takes about 2 hours (86 miles) to get to Springdale from Bryce Canyon National Park.
GOOD TO KNOW: Bryce Canyon National Park is famous for its unique geology. The erosional force of frost-wedging and the dissolving power of rainwater have shaped Bryce into distinctive hoodoos, spires, and towers that appear as forests of rock. The hoodoos at Bryce range from 5 feet to 150 feet tall.
PRO TIP: Shuttle Service is offered in Bryce Canyon. You can hop on (with proof of park admission) and hop off at any of the shuttle stops. The shuttle is not mandatory, however, it is highly recommended especially during the summer months, since finding a parking spot could be very challenging.
Hike the Rim Trail
The Rim Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park is approximately 11 miles (17.7 kilometers) in length, stretching from Fairyland Point to Bryce Point.
However, you can customize your hike based on the desired distance and viewpoints you wish to explore. The trail is mostly flat and offers breathtaking views of the hoodoos and the expansive canyon.
Along the Rim Trail, there are several spots that offer stunning views of the hoodoos and the expansive canyon:
- Sunrise Point: As the name suggests, Sunrise Point is a popular spot to witness the sunrise over the hoodoos. The early morning light casts a warm glow on the rock formations, creating a magical atmosphere. From here, you can enjoy breathtaking views of the Silent City, a collection of towering hoodoos.
- Sunset Point: Sunset Point is another fantastic viewpoint along the Rim Trail. It offers sweeping vistas of the Bryce Amphitheater, where you can see an array of hoodoos in various shapes and sizes. The changing colors of the sunset paint the landscape with vibrant hues, providing a memorable visual experience.
- Inspiration Point: Inspiration Point lives up to its name, providing awe-inspiring views of the Bryce Canyon hoodoos. From this vantage point, you can see the hoodoos stretching across the horizon, revealing the intricate details and layers of the rock formations. The overlook is elevated, allowing for breathtaking panoramic views.
- Bryce Point: Bryce Point offers one of the most expansive and sweeping views of the Bryce Canyon National Park. From this viewpoint, you can see the vast expanse of the amphitheater, dotted with a multitude of hoodoos. It provides an incredible opportunity to appreciate the scale and grandeur of the canyon.
The entire Rim Trail provides a continuous panorama, allowing you to enjoy the beauty of the hoodoos from different angles and perspectives.
The View of Bryce Amphitheater from Rim Trail / Utah National Parks: 7-Day Adventure Itinerary
Hike Navajo Loop Trail and Queens Garden Trail
The Navajo Loop Trail and Queens Garden Trail combine to create a popular hiking loop within Bryce Canyon National Park. The trail starts at Sunset Point, which is easily accessible from the main parking area.
The Navajo Loop Trail is approximately 1.3 miles long, while the Queens Garden Trail is approximately 1.8 miles long. Together, they offer an immersive experience among the hoodoos, showcasing stunning rock formations and unique geological features. This loop usually takes around 2 to 3 hours to complete, depending on your pace and the time spent exploring the surroundings.
The Navajo Loop Trail takes you down into the heart of the Bryce Amphitheater, surrounded by towering hoodoos and striking rock formations. One of the trail’s highlights is passing through a narrow slot canyon known as Wall Street, where you’ll be surrounded by towering walls of vibrant-colored rocks.
The Queens Garden Trail allows you to explore a magical garden of hoodoos and experience the unique formations up close. The trail is named after the Queen Victoria rock formation, which resembles a person sitting on a throne. Along the way, you’ll encounter a variety of fascinating rock formations, each with its own distinctive shape and character.
GOOD TO KNOW: Hiking the Navajo Loop Trail and Queens Garden Trail as a combined loop is a popular choice as it offers a diverse range of scenery and showcases the beauty of Bryce Canyon’s geological wonders. As you descend into the canyon and explore the trail, you’ll be surrounded by a mesmerizing display of hoodoos, vibrant colors, and intricate rock formations.
Thor’s Hammer from Navajo Trail / Utah National Parks: 7-Day Adventure Itinerary
Navajo Trailhead / Utah National Parks: 7-Day Adventure Itinerary
Take Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive
Drive along the scenic route of Bryce Canyon National Park, stopping at various viewpoints along the way. Some notable viewpoints include Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, and Inspiration Point. Each offers a unique perspective of the park’s geological wonders, and you’ll be treated to awe-inspiring vistas at every turn.
GOOD TO KNOW: To fully experience the south end of the park, it is recommended to drive all the way to Rainbow Point and then make your way back, stopping at various viewpoints along the route. The scenic drive provides ample opportunities to soak in the beauty of Bryce Canyon and capture memorable photographs.
Rainbow Point offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the park. From this high vantage point, you can enjoy sweeping vistas of the surrounding forests, plateaus, and distant mountain ranges. On a clear day, you may even catch a glimpse of the Vermilion Cliffs in Arizona.
Yovimpa Point is located near Rainbow Point, a short distance away. It provides stunning views of the Aquarius Plateau, the highest-timbered plateau in North America. You can take in the expansive landscapes and appreciate the natural beauty of the area. Keep an eye out for wildlife as well, as this is a common spot for birdwatching.
PRO TIP: Do not miss the Natural Bridge Viewpoint offers a unique and captivating sight—a natural rock bridge spanning across the canyon. This natural bridge is formed by erosional forces over thousands of years, creating a magnificent geological feature. The bridge is a stunning example of the park’s fascinating rock formations and showcases the power of nature’s sculpting.
Natural Bridge Viewpoint / Utah National Parks: 7-Day Adventure Itinerary
Watch the Sunset in Bryce Canyon
Make sure to stay and watch a sunset at Bryce Canyon National Park. Sunsets can be quite spectacular at Bryce. During the famous Golden Hour, the hoodoos are all lit up by the setting sun and start to glow.
GOOD TO KNOW: Bryce Canyon offers several stunning viewpoints to watch the sunset. Some popular spots include Sunset Point, Inspiration Point, and Bryce Point. Each viewpoint provides a unique vantage point to witness the vibrant colors of the sunset painting the hoodoos with a warm glow. Arrive at your chosen viewpoint at least 30 minutes before sunset to secure a good spot and allow ample time to enjoy the changing colors of the canyon.
Sunset in Bryce Canyon National Park / Utah National Parks: 7-Day Adventure Itinerary
Drive towards Zion National Park
The driving distance from Bryce Canyon National Park to Zion National Park is approximately 85 miles (137 kilometers), which takes about 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions.
The scenic drive takes you through beautiful landscapes as you make your way to the next destination.
You will spend your next night in Springdale.
Settle Into Your Accommodations in Springdale, UT
Springdale, Utah is conveniently located right at the entrance to Zion making it a perfect getaway to both national parks. There are many options of where you can stay in Springdale and several good places where to can grab a bite to eat.
GOOD TO KNOW: I stayed in Springdale several times and my two top choices are Hampton Inn & Suites Springdale/Zion National Park, and SpringHill Suites by Marriott Springdale Zion National Park. Both places are clean and comfortable, and the location is perfect.
PRO TIP: Hands down, if you are in Springdale, UT then head to Oscar’s Cafe. Everything on the menu is simply delicious! However, make sure to try the murder burger or the pork burrito. Another place you should check out is Spotted Dog. My recommendation is to try the Southwest Chicken with wild rice and fresh mango avocado salsa.
Zion National Park is Utah’s oldest and most visited national park, annually hosting an average of 4.5 million visitors. Zion offers 229 miles of towering cliffs, narrow canyons, and unbelievably beautiful scenery. Hands down, Zion is one of my favorites!
GOOD TO KNOW: Zion National Park has two shuttle routes that operate from March to November: the Zion Canyon Line which runs through the length of the park and stops at all the viewpoints and trailheads, as well as the Springdale Line, which provides service in the Town of Springdale and picks up and drops off visitors at the park’s pedestrian/bike entrance at Zion Canyon Village.
When the shuttle is in operation the Zion Scenic Drive is closed to all private vehicles. You do not need a permit or reservation to ride a park shuttle. The cost of the shuttle is included in your entrance ticket. You can hop on and hop off at any of the shuttle stops.
Take Zion Scenic Drive
Welcome to Zion Scenic Drive, a captivating route that winds through the breathtaking landscapes of Zion National Park. This scenic drive offers a remarkable journey through the heart of the park, showcasing the natural beauty and wonders that await you.
The Scenic Drive through Zion Canyon is approximately 8 miles long one-way. As a reminder, if you are visiting between March and November, then you will need to take a shuttle and hop on and off at all the best stops.
Each stop along the Zion Scenic Drive unveils a unique aspect of the park’s natural beauty, from towering cliffs to serene oases. Soak in the awe-inspiring views and let the wonders of Zion National Park leave an indelible impression on your journey.
Get ready to embark on this scenic adventure through Zion, where the beauty of nature will captivate your senses at every turn. Let the Zion Scenic Drive be your gateway to an extraordinary exploration of this remarkable national park.
Here are my recommended stops:
Zion Scenic Drive / Utah National Parks: 7-Day Adventure Itinerary
- Court of the Patriarchs Viewpoint
As you embark on this unforgettable drive, the first stop (Zion Shuttle Stop #4) is the Court of the Patriarchs Viewpoint. Be prepared to be enthralled by the majestic towering sandstone cliffs that bear the names of biblical figures. These impressive formations provide a glimpse into the geological marvels that define Zion.
What you will see are three neighboring sandstone peaks. They are named after fathers from the Old Testament. From left to right, or south to north, you can see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And, in front of Jacob, is Mount Moroni.
Court of Patriarchs Viewpoint / Utah National Parks: 7-Day Adventure Itinerary
- Lower Emerald Pools Trail
Next, get off at Zion Shuttle Stop #5 and take a short and easy hike to Lower Emerald Pools. Emerald Pools Trail is a Zion classic. It is an absolute delight to hike this trail. You will love this serene oasis nestled amidst the desert landscape. This tranquil haven offers cascading waterfalls and lush greenery and provides a refreshing escape in the midst of the arid surroundings.
GOOD TO KNOW: I need to mention that Emerald Pools Trail consists of three sections: Lower, Middle, and Upper. However, the Lower Emerald Pools Trail section is a perfect family-friendly hike in Zion. It is a paved trail with very little elevation change.
It takes about 2-4 hours to complete the entire trail, however, the hike to Lower Emerald Pools takes not more than 30 minutes.
What you need to know is that the waterfalls are reduced to merely a trickle during the summer months. However, if you are visiting in the spring, fall, or winter, you will definitely see an abundance of waterfalls!
Emerald Pools Trail / Utah National Parks: 7-Day Adventure Itinerary
- Weeping Rock Trail
The Weeping Rock Trailhead is located at Zion Shuttle Stop #7. It is a short and easy hike (0.5 miles round trip).
Weeping Rock Trail will take you along “weeping walls” with water dripping down the rocks and you will see small rushing streams almost everywhere (depending on the season). But, what is cool about this hike, is that you will see Zion’s famous hanging gardens.
Eventually, the trail will take you into a large bowl-shaped alcove with water flowing over its recess.
Weeping Rock Trail / Utah National Parks: 7-Day Adventure Itinerary
Hike Angel's Landing Trail
The Angel’s Landing Trail in Zion National Park is one of the park’s most iconic and thrilling hikes.
GOOD TO KNOW: Angels Landing Trail, known as America’s scariest hiking trail, is one of the most popular hikes in Zion. In response to concerns about crowding and congestion on the trail, on and after April 1, 2022, everyone who hikes Angels Landing needs to have a permit. You can obtain the permit either through a seasonal lottery or the day-before lottery.
Here’s a breakdown of the trail:
- Trailhead: The trail begins at the Grotto Picnic Area, located near the Zion Lodge in the main canyon of Zion National Park.
- Walter’s Wiggles: After leaving the trailhead, you will ascend Walter’s Wiggles, a series of 21 tight switchbacks carved into the steep sandstone cliffside. Take your time and pace yourself on this demanding section.
- Scout Lookout: At the top of Walter’s Wiggles, you will reach Scout Lookout, a small plateau that provides stunning views of Zion Canyon. This is a popular spot to rest and gather your strength before tackling the final section of the hike.
- Chain Section: The last half-mile of the trail is the most challenging and exhilarating part. It involves navigating a narrow ridge with steep drop-offs on both sides, using chains anchored to the rock for support. This section requires caution, as it can be exposed and nerve-wracking for those with a fear of heights.
Angel’s Landing Trail / Utah National Parks: 7-Day Adventure Itinerary
- Angel’s Landing Summit: Once you conquer the chain section, you will reach the summit of Angel’s Landing. At the top, you will be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of Zion National Park, including the sweeping red rock formations and the winding Virgin River.
- Return Journey: Descend the same way you came, being mindful of other hikers ascending the chain section. Take your time and exercise caution, especially on the steep sections of Walter’s Wiggles.
Hike to Canyon Overlook
The Canyon Overlook Trail is a scenic and relatively easy hike in Zion National Park that will reward you with breathtaking views of Zion Canyon.
Here are some details about the trail:
- Trailhead: The trailhead for the Canyon Overlook Trail is located on the east side of the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway (State Route 9), just east of the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel.
- Distance and Duration: The trail is approximately 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) roundtrip, and it typically takes about 1 hour to complete, allowing for time to enjoy the viewpoints.
- Trail Description: The trail begins with a short walk along a well-maintained path before ascending gradually along a series of switchbacks and rocky steps. Along the way, you will pass through a narrow section with beautiful sandstone walls, adding to the scenic experience.
- Viewpoints: As you reach the end of the trail, you will be greeted with a spectacular overlook that offers sweeping views of Zion Canyon, including the majestic red rock formations and the winding Virgin River below. The viewpoint provides an excellent vantage point to admire the vastness and natural beauty of the surrounding landscapes.
Zion Canyon / Utah National Parks: 7-Day Adventure Itinerary
Today is the last day of your road trip through Utah National Parks. My recommendation is that you finish off your trip with one of the most spectacular hikes in Zion National Park, namely Zion Narrows!
Simply put, Zion Narrows Trail is a legendary hike!
Notably, you are hiking the Virgin River upstream. The river is your trail. Moreover, you are hiking in the canyon where in some areas the walls rise to more than 1,000 feet, however, they are only 20 feet apart. Conversely, the rewards are great! You will see waterfalls, huge boulders, hidden canyons, hanging gardens, and so much more.
Hike The Narrows
The Narrows in Zion National Park is a unique and iconic hiking experience that takes you through the narrowest section of Zion Canyon, following the Virgin River.
Here is some information about hiking The Narrows:
- Trailhead: The trailhead for The Narrows is located at the Temple of Sinawava, at the end of the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. It serves as the gateway to the hike.
- Hiking in the River: The Narrows hike involves wading and walking through the Virgin River, as the trail follows the watercourse through the towering canyon walls. This is what makes The Narrows hike so distinctive and unforgettable.
- Equipment: Hiking The Narrows typically requires special equipment due to the water hiking aspect. Renting or bringing proper gear is essential, including sturdy waterproof hiking boots, neoprene socks, a hiking stick for stability, and a dry bag to protect valuables.
- Trail Options: The Narrows can be hiked as an out-and-back day hike, with the length depending on how far you choose to explore. Many hikers turn around at the Orderville Canyon junction, which is about 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) from the trailhead. However, some adventurers continue further upstream for a longer and more immersive experience.
- Scenic Beauty: Hiking through The Narrows offers unparalleled beauty, with towering sandstone walls rising up to 1,000 feet (305 meters) above you. The play of light and shadows, the intricate patterns on the rock walls, and the serene ambiance create a truly magical and awe-inspiring experience.
- Safety Precautions: The Narrows can be physically challenging and potentially dangerous, especially during periods of high water flow. Check the weather forecast and river conditions before embarking on the hike. Be aware of flash flood risks and be prepared to exit the canyon if necessary. It’s essential to practice water safety, wear appropriate gear, and use caution when navigating slippery rocks and currents.
Hiking The Narrows in Zion National Park is an extraordinary adventure that allows you to immerse yourself in the sheer beauty and grandeur of the canyon. It’s a memorable experience for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts seeking a one-of-a-kind hiking journey.
Zion Narrows Trail / Utah National Parks: 7-Day Adventure Itinerary
Drive to Las Vegas
This concludes your road trip through Utah National Park and it is time to head back home.
If you are finishing your trip in Las Vegas, then it will take you about 3 hours (167 miles) before you reach Las Vegas International Airport.
If you decided to head back to Salt Lake City, then you are looking at about 4 hours and 40 minutes (312 miles) before you reach the airport in SLC.