Utah is renowned as one of the most beautiful states in the US. It is home to 5 spectacular national parks known as the Mighty Five: Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion. These parks are known for their stunning red-rock formations, desert seclusion, and more than 1,000 miles of hiking trails.
With enough trails to keep you busy for weeks, these parks are a hiker’s paradise with plenty of hidden gems and instagrammable terrains.
Spring and fall months are the best times to visit Utah because the weather is pleasant, and you can avoid the large crowds that swarm the parks throughout the summer.
If traveling during the summer, expect high temperatures, heavy crowds, high accommodation fees, and a lot of traffic at viewpoints and on hiking paths.
The parks are significantly less popular in the winter since temperatures can drop below freezing and snow is likely, particularly in Bryce Canyon.
Zion National Park is a paradise of spectacular, jaw-dropping views. Because Zion is just about 15 miles long, trailheads are concentrated in this relatively small area. No matter how many images you've seen of Zion's famed pine-tree dotted sandstone cliffs on your computer screen, they'll take your breath away when right in front of you. The lush, riparian canyon floor contrasts with the dramatic red walls, so you're in for a treat no matter what time of day you visit.
During peak season (spring through fall), the shuttle system is the only way to get around Zion Canyon. Due to the park's popularity, shuttle tickets must be purchased in advance! To escape crowds in the middle of the day, go early in the morning.
Hikes in Zion National Park
· Observation Point
· Angel’s Landing
· Emerald Pools
· Canyon Overlook
· East Rim Trail
· The Narrows
· Taylor Creek Trail
It's difficult to put the unique beauty of Arches National Park into words. The journey into the park from the entrance is incredibly dramatic, and properly sets the tone for what's to follow as you tour the park.
The park is named after the thousands of red-rock Arches that are found within the park. Though small in mileage, Arches is huge in views, and the multitude of shorter trails makes it ideal for casual hikers. You can hike during the day and still have time to eat dinner in Moab thanks to short routes, favorable terrain, and plenty of views. The park's proximity to town is also a big plus: there are plenty of hotels and activities within 15 minutes of the park's entrance..
Hikes in Arches National Park
· Delicate Arch
· Devil’s Garden Loop
· Fiery Furnace
· Double Arch
· Sand Dune And Broken Arch
· Windows Loop
· Landscape Arch
Canyonlands may be the destination for you if you're an adventurous traveler looking to get into the heart of the rugged desert. With hundreds of miles of trails and dozens of authorized backcountry campsites, you could spend a lifetime exploring this area and never run out of things to do. Of all the amazing Utah national parks, this may be the most untouched.
The park is split into several arresting districts, such as the Island in the Sky, the Maze, and the Needles. While other parks will have you elbowing your way past crowds, Canyonlands will provide you with secluded areas and vast areas to roam.
Canyonlands National Park Hiking Trails
· Druid Arch Trail
· The Mesa Arch Trail
· Murphy Point Trail
· White Rim Overlook Trail
· Grand Viewpoint Trail
· Upheaval Dome Trail
· Aztec Butte Trail
Bryce Canyon National Park is home to spectacular pinnacles and hoodoos. The tall, colorful sandstone hoodoos, formed by erosion, rise like chimneys from the harsh desert environment. The panoramic views from the rim of Bryce Canyon's amphitheater are breathtaking.
However, in order to fully appreciate the Park's grandeur, you must hike below the rim to grasp its scale. Plus, the high elevation of Bryce Canyon (almost 8,000 feet) offers another dimension: rich, green pine trees that contrast beautifully with the expanse of red. The Bristlecone Pine is one of the most intriguing tree species in Bryce Canyon. These 1,000-year-old trees can be found on various of the Park's hiking paths, including the Bristlecone Loop.
Bryce Canyon National Park Hiking Trails
· Queen's Garden/Navajo Loop Combination Trail
· Sunset Point to Sunrise Point
· Fairyland Loop
· Peek-A-Boo Loop Trail
· Queen's Garden
· Navajo Trail
· Bristlecone Pines Hike
Capitol Reef National Park is the least visited of Utah's Mighty 5 and provides visitors with not only magnificent desert views but also tranquility and seclusion! This region boasts some of the most spectacular geologic features in the state, including the Waterpocket Fold — a 100-mile wrinkle along the Earth’s surface. Capitol Reef is a treasure trove of domes, canyons, and cliffs in the middle of red rock country. With a wealth of hiking paths, 4WD routes, picturesque roads, and the fascinating Fruita district, this pPark features a stunning display of geological diversity and offers experiences for adventurers of all types. — all with a fraction of the crowds you’ll find at Zion or Arches.
Best Hikes in Capitol Reef National Park
· Goosenecks & Sunset Point
· Chimney Rock
· Hickman Bridge
· Capitol Gorge
· Cassidy Arch
· Grand Wash
· Cohab Canyon
· Get a National Parks Pass. An annual pass to all NPs for $80 a year. While paying the entrance price to each national park is unquestionably worthwhile, you can save money by purchasing the National Park Pass if you plan to visit multiple parks, each costing about $30 each time you enter.
· Download an offline map of your location so that you can access it even if you lose service. There is very minimal cell service in many national parks and on many of the highways that connect them. Alternatively, as a backup, purchase a paper map of the area. This national geographic map is both waterproof and tear-resistant.
· Stay hydrated! Whether you’re visiting in the summer months or in the cooler months, keep in mind that Utah is desert, and dehydration can creep up if not accounted for.. Water stations are available at some popular trailheads, but bring your own to be prepared.
· Wear good shoes. If you decide to take on any of the longer hikes, you will likely want proper hiking boots with adequate support and cushion.
· Beware of the sun. We all know it: sunburns are the worst; avoid it by using (and re-using) sunscreen and wearing a hat whenever possible.
· Be prepared for any type of weather. Many of Utah's national parks have their unique microclimates, which means that the weather can never be completely predicted. Wear layers that you can shed (or put back on), and keep a raincoat in your daypack at all times.
· Utah’s national parks get millions of visitors a year. Expect crowds regardless of the month you visit. The best solution? Start early for a chance of solitude before the crowds start rolling in.
· Respect the abundance of life around you and stay on the trails to avoid harming fragile plants and animal habitats. Leave plants, rocks, and artifacts where they are – it is illegal to remove anything from the park.
· Hiking with pups and dogs is NOT allowed on trails in these parks.
Do you want to explore these Mighty Five? Skip the planning and start exploring with these adventures!
Share the love: