Michelle Bucher | March 3, 2015 9:00 PM ET
Utah’s 'Mighty 5' Road Trip Adventure
This is one of my favorite road trips. Utah offers some stunning canyon scenery, and great outdoor adventures. This is the perfect state for a road trip adventure.
VisitUtah.com has been promoting their “Mighty 5” attractions, so we figured we’d go on a road trip to check them out.
Arches National Park
We started off our Utah road trip at Arches National Park. We actually drove all night to get here, arrived first thing in the morning, and spent the day exploring the park. Our journey started off at the Double Arch, then onto an easy hiking trail that overlooked the Delicate Arch, but we eventually decided it would be more fun to actually make it up to the arch itself. We took a semi-easy trail up to the arch, spent the afternoon in the sun enjoying the arch and surrounding scenery, before making our way back down.
We were also planning on hiking Devils Garden up to the Double O Arch and Private Arch, but the sun was beginning to set and we had to move on with our road trip journey.
Road trip tip: Make sure you allow enough time in the park to see everything you wanted to see.
I actually left Arches feeling fairly disappointed. We never realized how big the park was, and how much time we really needed to explore this park. While road tripping through the park, we did pass the campsite area. The next time we come to Arches, we`ll definitely camp here. This will give us more time to explore, and also enjoy the sunrise and sunset in the park, and spend all night star gazing.
Zion National Park
Hands down, this is my favorite national park.
We road tripped here from Arches National Park the night before, so we were fairly tired when we arrived. We spent a rest day in the surrounding town before heading into the park. The following morning, we actually hiked up Angles Landing in Zion National Park. Such an amazing hike with stunning views of the park from up at the viewpoint.
The elevation gain for this trail is 1,400 feet, so you can imagine how high up we were. I find this is one of the best ways to explore a national park, just hitting the hiking trails. You get a whole different view of the park from the trail.
When we were getting ready to leave Zion, a fellow hiker mentioned The Narrows to us. I wish we knew of this sooner, I would have added this to our road trip itinerary. With a limited amount of time, we had to leave this for our road trip bucket list, and hope we make it down to Zion again soon to do The Narrows.
Hiking tip: don’t fill up your camelback at Subway. For the entire duration of our eight-hour hike, we were sipping on Subway flavored water. It didn’t make for a great experience.
It was on this day that we learned the importance of scheduling rest days. After hiking for several hours in Zion, we woke up the following morning pretty sore, but had to carry on with our road trip. Bryce Canyon is only 1.5 hours from Zion, so we enjoyed a beautiful scenic drive through southern Utah to Bryce Canyon.
Bryce Canyon was an amazing, and unique experience. Being that we were quite sore from our hike the day before, we opted to do an easy hiking trail in Bryce Canyon, the Rim Trail. We only hiked from sunrise point to sunset point as this was considered the easiest part of the trail, but we were still treated with great views of the surrounding canyon.
The drive from Bryce Canyon to Capitol Reef was about 2.5 hours. It was easily one of the most beautiful/scenic drives we’ve ever done, aside from the Oregon and California coast of course. We didn’t have much time to explore the park, and by this day we were fairly tired and sore from days of exploring. We chose to just do the scenic drive along Highway 24.
We did stop for Panorama Point for some spectacular views of the surrounding park. I think if we had more energy, we would have done the short hike to Hickman Bridge, but we were enjoying the scenic drive too much.
This park reminded me a lot of Arches mixed with the Grand Canyon.
Parts of this park really remind me of the drive through Monument Valley in Arizona.
I was amazed at how big this park was, and you literally need several days to explore it. We chose to head up to The Island in the Sky area of the park for the scenic drive. We spent a good 4-5 hours driving the 20 mile scenic roadway. There`s some great viewpoints along this road, perfect for an afternoon road trip. We enjoyed a nice afternoon picnic at one of the viewpoints, and were even fortunate to catch a bit of the sunset before leaving the park.
After we left Canyonlands, we headed for Salt Lake City. We spent a few days in the city relaxing before heading home.
The one thing I loved about doing the “Mighty 5” road trip was that each canyon or national park that we visited had a little something different to offer. I love the orange/red rock canyons that are found around southern Utah, and it was a real treat to explore each of these “Mighty 5.”
This really does make the perfect road trip as you can do a loop trip, but I would recommend taking your time at each park/canyon. Don’t rush this road trip. I also recommend bringing your camping gear; this will give you a great opportunity to spend some time in each of the parks and really enjoy your trip.
Which is your favorite park/canyon in Utah?
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