Backyard America Hero

Let the National Parks of Utah Pull You In

by Liz Deslauriers

August 10, 2023

4 minute read

Is it me or do Utah’s national parks have their own gravitational pull? Mention Utah or the Mighty 5 and watch your parks-loving friends go gaga over imagining the perfect sequence for a multi-day sojourn through this holy grail of outdoors destinations.

Part of the appeal must just be how much you can see and do in one trip. Parks fans can check off five national parks as well as several state parks across Utah in a matter of days. On top of that, there’s the chance to experience Rocky Mountain National Park just by flying in or out of Denver. With Utah as the centrepiece, even the Grand Canyon in Arizona is within reach for anyone seeking a park-packed holiday.

Once you decide on making a trip to Utah, it’s a matter of setting priorities. Which parks are a must? How many days can you budget in for each park? One can find thoroughly thought-out itineraries on Utah’s tourism website that align with most visitors’ timelines and interests and plenty of room for customization. Of course, if you really don’t want to miss a thing and like having the logistics handled, you could go with a guided tour such as Collette’s 9-day Painted Canyons of the West featuring Utah’s five national parks.

Let’s dive into this canyon country and ways to explore day by day while making your way to Utah’s Arches, Bryce, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Zion, as well Colorado’s Rocky Mountain.

Start in the Rockies


Flying into Denver can open up some exciting possibilities for a park-packed journey and an incredible road trip. Start in Rocky Mountain National Park and enjoy the scenery on the drive out to Grand Junction and along Rim Rock Drive through Colorado. Get a taste of Colorado wine country before Utah pulls you in.

Arches and Canyonlands

Arches National Park

At Arches National Park, explore red rock terrain in a wonderland containing over 2,000 arches – that’s more arches in one place than anywhere else in the world. And in Canyonlands National Park, in the heart of the Colorado Plateau, discover a world of mesas and canyons. Look out over a landscape of valleys at the Island of the Sky and over the sheer sandstone cliffs of Dead Horse Point State Park.

Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park

Visit Capitol Reef, named for the curved white walls that resemble the U.S. Capitol building. This seemingly endless, stark landscape stands out from the other big parks on your route –contrasts that become all the more vivid as you explore the unique elements of these awe-inspiring places in nature each day.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce celebrates its 100th year in 2023. Plan to spend a full day in Bryce Canyon National Park and see the vibrant rock spires known as hoodoos that have been likened to fairy chimneys. If you love stargazing, you should know Bryce Canyon is has some of the darkest skies in the country.

Zion National Park

Zion National Park

Take your time to take in the red and white sandstone cliffs of Zion. You can hike the trails and you can hop on the open-air tram that winds along the Virgin River through the 2,400-foot deep, half-mile wide Zion Canyon.

Endless wonders are within reach over the course of a week or more when you travel to Utah. There’s no substitute for setting foot in these iconic places for yourself, where you’ll truly grasp the grandeur of some of America’s most beloved parks. Go ahead and let the painted canyons colour you amazed.

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