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Utah’s National Parks

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Utah is home to five incredible national parks, The Mighty Five: Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Arches National Park, and Canyonlands National Park.

If you plan to visit all five of these parks you will want to fly into either Salt Lake City, Utah or Las Vegas, Nevada and make a loop. I will begin describing this from Zion National Park and then heading to the other parks.

Do you have a 4th grader, are a senior or have a family member with a disability? There are also free days every year. Click for all National Park Pass information.

Zion National Park

Zion National Park has a lot to explore, so I suggest a minimum of two full days to see it. You could easily spend many more. Click on the Zion National Park link for details, but here are a few highlights. Family-friendly hikes in Zion are Riverside Walk (1.9 easy), Canyon Overlook (1.0 easy), Emerald Pools (1.2-3.2 easy/moderate miles), Weeping Rock (0.5 easy miles), and Par’us Trail (1.7-3.4 easy miles).

If you are up for more of a challenge a few difficult hikes to try are Zion Narrows (0-8.5 difficult miles top down requires a permit), Angel’s Landing (5.4 difficult miles permit required), Scout’s Lookout (3.8 difficult miles), Observation Point (7.0 moderate miles), and The Subway (9.1 miles permit required)

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park is spectacular, but can be seen more quickly. Unless you plan to do several long hikes, you can see it in 1-2 days.

Scenic Overlooks and small walks include Sunrise Point, Sunset Point (0-1.1 easy miles), Inspiration Point (0.6 easy miles), Bryce Point Trail (0.2 easy miles).

Hiking below the rim is highly recommended, even if you don’t have the time or health to go far. The Navajo Loop/Queen’s Garden Trail or Wall Street are great options.

There is also a scenic drive, wildlife, and nearby Mossy Cave and Waterfall (0.8-1.0 easy miles).

Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef is the least visited of the Mighty Five, but has so much to offer! You could easily spend several days here, but you’ll want at least 1-2 full days. Some of the easier hikes are Sulphur Creek Waterfall (1.8 easy miles), Goosenecks Overlook (0.6 easy miles), Grand Wash Trail (1-4 easy miles).

Cassidy Arch (3.0 moderate miles), Hickman Bridge (1.8 moderate miles), and Cohab Canyon (3.0 moderate miles) are a little more challenging, but with huge pay offs.

Arches National Park

Arches National Park is most famous for the arches, but there are other great places to explore. You will want 1-2 full days in Arches. Delicate Arch (3.0 moderate miles), Landscape Arch (1.9-2.5 moderate miles), and Sand Dune Arch (0.3 easy miles) are just a few.

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands is split into three sections. The most popular is the Island in the Sky section near Moab that looks down on the other two. The Needles District is the second most popular with The Maze section being virtually inaccessible. You would need to do the different sections on different days. You could do the Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands in one day.

Mesa Arch (0.6 easy miles) is amazing and worth a trip by itself.

Other cool Canyonlands Island in the Sky stops make it a great stop.

You can include other nearby National Parks like Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park or Colorado’s Mesa Verde National Park. Utah State Parks Snow Canyon and Goblin Valley are other good candidates to include. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is between Bryce and Capitol Reef.


We have so much beauty in Utah to explore! I love hiking and photography and can help you find your next favorite hike! All photos were taken by me!

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