Road Trip to Utah’s Mighty 5 National Parks

Utah’s Mighty 5 National Parks are a sight to behold, each with its own unique natural wonders. This captivating video takes you on a seven-day road trip to explore all five national parks, including other attractions like Valley of the Gods, Monument Valley, and Horseshoe Bend. The video provides a detailed itinerary, showcasing the beauty of Utah’s landscapes in February 2022. From hiking the famed Canyon Overlook Trail in Zion National Park to witnessing the breathtaking sunrise at Bryce Canyon, this road trip is packed with awe-inspiring experiences. Join the narrator on this unforgettable journey and don’t forget to share your favorite park in the comments!

Utah’s magnificent national parks are waiting to be discovered, and this video offers a comprehensive guide to help you plan your own adventure. Starting with day one in Zion and Bryce Canyon National Park, the road trip takes you through scenic drives, historic sections, and stunning viewpoints in Capitol Reef National Park. You’ll get a taste of the unique rock formations and snowy landscapes, hike through trails like Hickman Bridge, and marvel at the ancient petroglyphs in Capitol Reef. The journey continues to Arches National Park, Canyonlands, Monument Valley, and concludes with the iconic Horseshoe Bend. Get ready for an incredible exploration of Utah’s natural splendor, all captured beautifully in this road trip video.

Day 1: Zion National Park

Exploring Zion National Park

Welcome to Zion National Park! This is the first stop on your road trip through Utah’s Mighty 5 national parks. Zion is known for its stunning red rock formations, towering cliffs, and beautiful canyons. As you explore the park, you’ll be amazed by the sheer natural beauty that surrounds you.

Canyon Overlook Trail

One of the must-visit trails in Zion National Park is the Canyon Overlook Trail. Located near a historic tunnel that used to be the longest in the United States, this trail offers breathtaking views of the canyon and famous rock formations. It’s a 1-mile round trip with 150 feet of elevation gain, making it a moderate hike suitable for most visitors.

Views of the Canyon and Rock Formations

The highlight of the Canyon Overlook Trail is the incredible views it offers. From the overlook, you’ll be able to see the vastness of the canyon and the unique rock formations that make Zion National Park so special. The red and orange hues of the rocks, combined with the lush greenery of the surrounding vegetation, create a picture-perfect backdrop for your adventure.

Trail Details and Difficulty

While the Canyon Overlook Trail is relatively short, it does have some steep sections on rocks, so it’s essential to wear proper footwear and take caution while hiking. The trail is well-maintained and clearly marked, ensuring that you won’t get lost along the way. It’s a popular trail, so expect to encounter other hikers during your journey.

Parking Situation

Parking at the trailhead for the Canyon Overlook Trail can be challenging, especially during peak seasons. The parking lot is relatively small, and spaces fill up quickly. If you arrive later in the day, you may need to park in the overflow lot, which is located further away. Plan accordingly and try to arrive early to secure a spot closer to the trailhead.

Day 2: Bryce Canyon National Park

Drive to Bryce Canyon

After a fantastic day exploring Zion National Park, it’s time to continue your road trip to the next destination: Bryce Canyon National Park. The drive from Zion to Bryce takes approximately one and a half hours and covers a distance of 77 miles. Along the way, you’ll be treated to stunning views and scenic pullouts.

Scenic Pullouts and Checkerboard Mesa

As you drive towards Bryce Canyon, be sure to make stops at the various scenic pullouts along the route. These pullouts offer magnificent views of the surrounding landscapes, including one that showcases Checkerboard Mesa. This unique rock formation features a distinct pattern of squares and lines, resembling a checkerboard.

Coffee and Donuts at Rock Shop

If you’re in need of a quick pick-me-up, make a pit-stop at the rock shop along the way to Bryce Canyon. This quaint little shop not only sells an assortment of rocks and minerals but also serves delicious coffee and donuts. It’s the perfect place to refuel before continuing on your journey.

Scenic Views on Scenic Byway 12

Once you’ve had your coffee and donuts, get back on the road and prepare to be amazed by the scenic views along Scenic Byway 12. This stretch of highway offers breathtaking vistas of red and orange rock formations, showcasing the natural beauty of Utah. Take your time to soak in the surroundings and capture some memorable photos.

Arrival at Ponderosa Hotel

Upon reaching Bryce Canyon National Park, check into your accommodation for the night, the Ponderosa Hotel. This conveniently located hotel is in close proximity to the park entrance, making it easy for you to explore Bryce Canyon without having to travel too far. Rest up and prepare for an unforgettable sunset experience at the park.

Sunset at Bryce Canyon National Park

Make your way to Sunset Point within Bryce Canyon National Park to witness a truly magical sunset. As the sun dips below the horizon, the canyon comes alive with vibrant colors and dramatic lighting. Take a seat, relax, and marvel at the beauty surrounding you. This is a moment you won’t want to miss.

Sunrise at Inspiration Point

The following morning, set your alarm early to catch the sunrise at Bryce Canyon’s Inspiration Point. This viewpoint offers panoramic views of the canyon, and as the sun rises, it bathes the rock formations in a warm, golden light. It’s a truly breathtaking sight and an excellent way to start your day of exploration in Bryce Canyon.

Hiking the Navajo Loop Queen’s Garden Trail

Now that you’ve experienced both the sunset and sunrise at Bryce Canyon, it’s time to get out on the trails. One of the most popular hikes in the park is the Navajo Loop Queen’s Garden Trail. This trail takes you deep into the canyon, allowing you to witness the unique rock formations up close and personal. The trail includes tunnels and features notable formations such as Queen’s Rock and Thor’s Hammer.

Tunnels and Rock Formations

As you make your way along the Navajo Loop Queen’s Garden Trail, be prepared to pass through tunnels carved into the rock formations. These tunnels add an exciting element to the hike and provide a sense of adventure. Keep your eyes peeled for the intricate details of the rock formations as you navigate the trail.

Visiting Viewpoints in Bryce Canyon

After completing the Navajo Loop Queen’s Garden Trail, take some time to explore the various viewpoints in Bryce Canyon. Natural Bridge, Agua Canyon, Rainbow Point, and Bryce Point are just a few of the viewpoints you can visit. Each offers a unique perspective and showcases the natural beauty of the park from a different angle. Be sure to have your camera ready to capture these stunning vistas.

Day 3: Capitol Reef National Park

Drive from Bryce Canyon to Capitol Reef

Bid farewell to Bryce Canyon National Park and prepare for the next leg of your road trip, which will take you from Bryce Canyon to Capitol Reef National Park. The drive between the two parks offers scenic views of the Utah landscape, with canyons and rock formations dotting the horizon.

Head of the Rocks Viewpoint

As you travel towards Capitol Reef National Park, make a stop at the Head of the Rocks viewpoint. This overlook offers stunning views of multiple canyons and the colorful slick rock that characterizes the area. Take a moment to appreciate the natural beauty of this unexplored region of the United States.

Scenic Drive and Hogback

Continuing on the road, you’ll pass through the scenic drive in Capitol Reef National Park. This drive showcases the park’s stunning landscapes, with red rock cliffs and canyons stretching as far as the eye can see. Keep an eye out for the hogback, a section of the road with drop-offs on both sides, adding an element of excitement to your journey.

Boulder and State Park Museum

As you make your way through the scenic drive, you’ll pass by the town of Boulder. This isolated town offers a state park museum where you can learn about the history of the area and gain more insight into the region’s natural wonders. It’s worth a stop to delve deeper into the rich heritage of Capitol Reef National Park.

Scenic Overlooks on Scenic Byway 12

Leaving Boulder behind, you’ll continue on Scenic Byway 12, which takes you through Bryce, Torrey, and eventually Capitol Reef National Park. This scenic byway reaches a high point of 9,600 feet and offers numerous overlooks that provide breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes. Keep in mind that some overlooks may be inaccessible during the winter months.

Arrival in Torrey

Your destination for the night is the town of Torrey, located just outside of Capitol Reef National Park. Torrey offers a range of accommodations, allowing you to find the perfect place to rest and relax after a day of exploration. Take some time to settle in and prepare for another exciting day in the park.

Breakfast at the Pioneer Kitchen

Before venturing into Capitol Reef National Park, fuel up with a delicious breakfast at the Pioneer Kitchen in Torrey. This local restaurant serves up hearty meals to start your day off right. Whether you prefer a classic American breakfast or something with a Southwestern twist, you’re sure to find a satisfying meal to prepare you for your adventures.

Chimney Rock and Goosenecks Overlook

With your belly full, it’s time to head into Capitol Reef National Park. Start by visiting the Chimney Rock and Goosenecks Overlook, two iconic sights within the park. Chimney Rock is a striking formation that stands tall against the desert landscape, while the Goosenecks Overlook offers mesmerizing views of meandering canyons carved by the river.

Exploring the Park’s Interior and Historic Sections

Capitol Reef National Park is not only known for its stunning natural beauty but also its historic sections. Take some time to explore the park’s interior, where you’ll find remnants of past settlements, including an old schoolhouse and other historic buildings. Immerse yourself in the rich history of the region as you wander through these well-preserved sites.

Working Orchards and Petroglyphs

Capitol Reef National Park is home to working orchards, providing a unique glimpse into the area’s agricultural history. Depending on the time of the year, you may even have the opportunity to pick fruit from the orchards. Additionally, the park is home to ancient petroglyphs dating back to 600-1300 A.D. These fascinating rock carvings offer insight into the lives of the early inhabitants of the region.

Hickman Bridge Trail

Embark on the Hickman Bridge Trail, one of the park’s most popular hiking trails. This trail leads you to a beautiful natural arch and offers stunning views of lava rock formations and Pectel’s Pyramid. It’s a moderate hike suitable for most visitors and provides ample opportunities to capture memorable photos along the way.

Historic Buildings and Gifford House

As you continue your exploration of Capitol Reef National Park, be sure to visit the historic buildings scattered throughout the park. The blacksmith shop and Gifford House are highlights, known for their historical significance and unique architecture. Additionally, the Gifford House is renowned for its delicious pies, making it an excellent spot to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Grand Wash and Cassidy Arch Trails

Cap off your day in Capitol Reef National Park by hiking the Grand Wash and Cassidy Arch trails. The Grand Wash trail is a flat and family-friendly trail, perfect for leisurely strolls and enjoying the stunning scenery. On the other hand, the Cassidy Arch trail offers a more challenging experience, with steep switchbacks and exposed sections. Whichever trail you choose, you’re bound to be in awe of the views and marvel at the natural wonders of the park.

Day 4: Moab and Arches National Park

Drive from Capitol Reef to Moab

Say goodbye to Capitol Reef National Park as you hit the road again, this time heading towards the adventure hub of Moab. The drive from Capitol Reef to Moab offers scenic views of the Utah landscape, providing a glimpse into the beauty that awaits you in Arches National Park.

Arrival in Moab

Arriving in Moab, you’ll immediately feel the energetic and outdoor-oriented atmosphere that permeates the town. Known as the gateway to both Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, Moab is a vibrant destination filled with outdoor activities, charming shops, and delicious restaurants. Take some time to settle in and prepare for your exploration of Arches National Park.

Exploring Arches National Park

Get ready to be amazed as you enter Arches National Park, home to over 2,000 natural sandstone arches. This park is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike, offering countless opportunities for adventure and breathtaking beauty.

Hiking Trails in Arches

Arches National Park boasts a variety of hiking trails that cater to different skill levels and interests. From short, easy walks to more challenging hikes, there’s something for everyone. Delicate Arch, Fiery Furnace, Landscape Arch, Park Avenue, Balanced Rock, and Double Arch are just a few of the iconic hikes worth exploring in the park.

Delicate Arch

Delicate Arch is arguably the most famous arch in the park and a must-see attraction for visitors. Standing alone against the backdrop of the desert landscape, this arch is a true marvel of nature. The hike to Delicate Arch takes approximately 3 hours round trip and offers stunning views along the way.

Fiery Furnace

For a more off-the-beaten-path adventure, consider exploring the Fiery Furnace area of Arches National Park. This hike requires a permit and is best done with a guide due to its challenging and maze-like nature. The rewards, however, are unparalleled, as you’ll discover hidden arches, narrow passages, and otherworldly rock formations.

Landscape Arch

Landscape Arch is one of the largest and most captivating natural arches in the world. The trail to Landscape Arch is relatively flat and easy, making it accessible to a wide range of visitors. Witness the delicate curves of this incredible arch and marvel at the forces of nature that created it.

Park Avenue

The Park Avenue trail offers a unique experience, allowing you to walk among towering rock formations that resemble the skyscrapers of a canyon city. As you navigate the trail, you’ll be in awe of the grandeur and magnitude of the rock formations that surround you. It’s a true feast for the senses.

Balanced Rock

Balanced Rock is a popular stop in Arches National Park, showcasing a unique geological formation where a large rock seems to balance precariously on a smaller pedestal. This iconic landmark is easily accessible from the park’s main road and offers an unforgettable photo opportunity.

Double Arch

Lastly, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Double Arch, a stunning formation where two arches intersect. This dramatic sight will leave you in awe of the sheer beauty and intricacy of nature’s creations. Take a moment to appreciate the scale and magnificence of this natural wonder.


As your road trip through Utah’s national parks continues, the beauty and wonder of Arches National Park leave a lasting impression. From the iconic arches to the striking rock formations, this park is a treasure trove of natural wonders. Take your time to explore the trails, visit the viewpoints, and immerse yourself in the magnificence of Arches National Park. Your journey is far from over, so stay tuned for the next chapter of your adventure.