Utah is home to some of the most picturesque national parks in America. From admiring Bryce Canyon’s iconic hoodoos to stargazing in Arches National Park or hiking Canyonlands scenic trails – Utah will leave you speechless! These national parks will leave you spellbound!
An unforgettable road trip through Utah’s Mighty 5 is sure to give any traveler a special and exciting adventure! Read on to discover our selections for Utah’s finest national parks!
1. Zion National Park
Zion National Park in Utah is one of the state’s most breathtaking national parks, boasting towering umber-colored cliffs, winding slot canyon trails with jaw-dropping backdrops, and spectacular vistas of desert mesas from dizzying heights. Zion not only showcases nature’s grandeur, but has been home to various human communities for millennia; today descendants from these groups continue to contribute their rich cultural heritage through oral histories, family records, and archaeological research stewardship efforts.
Zion National Park’s unique geography allows a diversity of plants and animals to flourish within its four life zones, from riparian forests to high-altitude mountains – providing habitat for an array of species.
Zion National Park is another popular tourist destination and the visitor centers, shuttle routes and hikes can become overrun with visitors in summer months. Although you might encounter crowds while at Zion, that doesn’t prevent you from experiencing its breathtaking scenery and hiking opportunities! For an easier experience at this stunning park visit in spring or fall to avoid overcrowded parts.
Zion National Park offers many different trails for those interested in hiking, from an intensive 13-mile round-trip trek to Angels Landing or more relaxing 2-mile loop at Weeping Rock. Or you can simply drive through its canyon corridor to admire its incredible red rock formations dotted with hoodoos and monoliths.
One of the most captivating hiking experiences in Zion is exploring Narrows Canyon. This mesmerizing canyon features a meandering river with depths ranging from ankle to waist level – truly an awe-inspiring experience that must be seen. If you want a challenge, attempt the full 19-mile Narrows canyon hike in one day; just ensure you bring all necessary supplies and plan properly beforehand!
Zion National Park features several historic lodges worth viewing for their architecture and grandeur, while nature enthusiasts will adore viewing bald eagles, mountain lions, and possibly California Condors, the largest bird in North America that was recently removed from endangered status due to a successful captive breeding program.
2. Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park is one of Utah’s premier destinations and it is easy to understand why. The otherworldly landscape consists of 12 amphitheater-shaped canyons spread along an eroded escarpment on Paunsaugunt Plateau, each one distinguished by erosion that created fins, windows and tall skinny spires – known as hoodoos – created from rainwater erosion that wears away loose sediment in rocks forming intricate formations known as Hoodoos.
Visitors to the park can hike, discover its many viewpoints or simply relax during a scenic drive. With 13 overlooks offering magnificent vantages of Hoodoo amphitheaters and canyon floors below. Plus you can hike down into canyons to witness firsthand how hoodoos were formed.
Bryce Canyon National Park should be visited from late spring to early fall when temperatures tend to be milder and less crowded than during the peak summer season. Due to its higher altitude, mornings can still be cool even during July; as such, when hiking during these times you should bring along a hydration pack in case it rains.
Bryce Canyon National Park stands out as an exceptional place to ski in Utah national parks during winter, providing one of the few opportunities available for snow sports enthusiasts and photographers alike. Its towering cliff walls become breathtaking when covered with white powder – creating the ideal opportunity to appreciate Utah scenery from an entirely unique viewpoint.
Park residents can see wildlife such as foxes, badgers, mule deer, pronghorn and three endangered species (Utah prairie dog, California condor and Southwestern Willow Flycatcher) protected under the Endangered Species Act at any given time; an array of birds can also be spotted throughout the year during migration seasons.
3. Arches National Park
Arches National Park in southeastern Utah is an extraordinary attraction that delights amateur geologists and landscape photographers. Boasting over 2,000 natural sandstone arches and stunning red rock formations including towering stone bluffs, deep canyons and abundant plant life – erosion has carved these iconic arches out over millions of years and they can be seen from various viewpoints within the park and along hiking trails. Colossal sandstone fins, massive balanced rocks and towering pinnacles also amaze visitors as they explore scenic drives or trails within its grounds – visitors will discover this park wonderment.
North of Moab lies this 76,679-acre park that is famed for its collection of over 2,000 natural sandstone arches – such as Delicate Arch (which can be seen on state license plates), Devils Garden and Balanced Rock – that form its impressive geological landscapes.
A scenic drive provides an excellent introduction to the park’s highlights. For further exploration, there are hiking trails that take visitors close to its arches. However, hiking in summer temperatures that exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit and fall off at night may present challenges; thus it’s wise to bring plenty of water. Visit the visitor center for maps and advice about which hikes are the best fit in this region.
Viewing the breathtaking arch formations at sunset is one of the park’s most beloved activities, so arriving early to witness Delicate Arch will allow for optimal results without crowds impeded viewing experience.
If you want to enhance your experience of Utah’s most famous national park, why not opt for a guided trip through Moab National Park? Commercial tour companies in Moab offer guided hikes, sunset tours, educational driving tours and backcountry outings. These trips allow access to parts of the park which would otherwise remain out of reach and give a memorable trip through its unique locales.
4. Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park in Utah is an exceptional gem, boasting sheer sandstone cliffs, deep canyons, and stunning rivers carved out by erosion over millennia. Canyonlands offers great hiking and canyoneering experiences and four districts are split apart according to distinct character: Island in the Sky is home to flat-topped mesas while Needles boasts towering spires while Maze is made up of seemingly endless network of canyons – finally Horseshoe Canyon includes both Colorado River and Green River in its districts!
Canyonlands National Park is an incredible place for wildlife enthusiasts, boasting more than 50 different species that call this park home, such as black bears, coyotes, cougars, bobcats, badgers and two different ring-tailed cat species – plus deer such as mule deer, pronghorn antelope and elk! Additionally, Canyonlands has become increasingly popular as an area to enjoy mountain biking with plenty of trails offering challenging terrain to conquer.
One of Canyonlands’s most beloved landmarks is Mesa Arch. At 27-feet long, it frames spectacular views of Canyonlands’ deep chasm below and the La Sal Mountains beyond – drawing photographers who lay out early each morning hoping to get the ideal shot. This natural wonder also attracts travelers interested in photography.
An excellent way to explore Canyonlands on your own may seem daunting, so guided tours are an invaluable way to experience it all. A knowledgeable local guide can show you how the canyons were formed, gain more insight into Ancestral Puebloan culture of the area and help create a stronger relationship between you and this special land. There is an assortment of Canyonlands tours available ranging from hiking tours and scenic drives.
Canyonlands is best visited in spring or fall when temperatures offer ideal daytime temperatures with cooler evenings – perfect conditions for hiking and other outdoor activities.