The Ultimate Utah National Parks Road Trip Itinerary

With its otherworldly landscapes, Mighty Five national parks, fascinating slot canyons, and its seemingly endless number of state parks and other beautiful natural spots, Utah is, without a doubt, one of the most unique states in the USA–and nothing puts that uniqueness on display quite as well as a Utah national parks road trip.

Utah was made for road tripping: there is no shortage of dirt roads to meander down, quiet corners to explore, stargazing to enjoy, and iconic landscapes to seek out.

We’ve taken several road trips in Utah at this point, and every time we visit, we end up even more enchanted with a state whose landscapes encompass the word “otherworldly” so perfectly that I will no doubt overuse it in this blog post.

Planning your first (or third) Utah Mighty Five road trip and want to make sure you make the most of your time in southern Utah?

We have you covered: this Utah national parks road trip itinerary covers all of Utah’s Mighty Five national parks, along with several state parks, small towns, and interesting side trips.

Here’s how to structure the ultimate road trip through Utah’s national parks!

Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah as seen from Bryce Point. Bryce Canyon NP is one of the best places to visit in Utah
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How We Structured This Utah Road Trip Itinerary

We structured this Utah road trip itinerary not as a loop, but as a trip with different starting and ending points.

Since this Utah national parks road trip takes place in primarily very rural areas, you’ll need to get yourself to the starting point of Moab if you fly into the region–we’ll cover more on how to do that later–and back to the airport (or a different airport) from Zion National Park after your trip is over.

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Later, we’ll also cover possible additions to this road trip, including in neighboring states, if you’d like to consider turning your trip into a Utah and Arizona road trip or even a general southwest road trip.

This blog post is quite long, so feel free to use the table of contents above in order to navigate through different sections!

We also have many, many more blog posts about exploring Utah’s national parks and the southwest in general here on Our Escape Clause.

While we’ll link them throughout the post, you can also use the search bar in the top right of the screen (on desktop) or on the pop-out menu (on mobile) to search for blog posts about various parks and topics!

Empty road in Capitol Reef National Park near sunset with golden rock formations on either side of the road. Views like this are an essential part of road trips in Utah!

Getting Around During Your Utah National Parks Road Trip

If you’re planning to rent a car for your Utah road trip, the best company to rent from will likely vary dramatically depending on exactly when you’re traveling.

Sometimes large international carriers offer the best prices, sometimes local outfits.

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Sometimes one company has an excellent base price, but terrible rental requirements.

The best way to find your rental car is to search through Discover Cars, which will sift through dozens of companies to find the best combination of low prices and reasonable rental terms for your road trip.

We’ve taken several road trips in the southwest over the years, and have never used or needed a 4-wheel drive–but if you want to get far off the (literally) beaten path, you may want to consider renting one!

Check rates & book your rental car for your Utah Mighty 5 road trip!

We have offered suggestions for the best hotels in each place but if you are doing this as a true road trip it is really cool to do it in an RV. You can rent incredible RVs and camper vans from Outdoorsy, book here for your next road trip!

Kate Storm at the viewpoint at the Canyon Overlook Trail in Zion National Park Utah

The Ultimate Utah National Parks Road Trip Itinerary

The Utah national parks road trip outlined here takes place over 9 days.

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In other words, it takes just enough time to take one week off of work and make a trip through the southern part of the state at breakneck speed, which is similar to what we did on our very first Utah road trip back in the day (no regrets).

However, any of Utah’s Mighty Five national parks could easily soak up more time, so if you have more days to work with, you’ll definitely find plenty to do!

kate storm holding ranger storm at dead horse point state park

Day 1: Kick off your Utah National Parks road trip in Moab.

Moab is the perfect starting place for your Utah road trip itinerary!

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This small, outdoorsy town in southeastern Utah is perfectly positioned to access not one, but two of Utah’s Mighty Five national parks, as well as state parks and other highlights!

If you get into town early enough, consider spending the afternoon and evening kicking off your explorations of Arches National Park, which is located just outside of town!

Kate Storm and Jeremy Storm sitting inside Twisted Doughnut Arch on the Delicate Arch trail

Where to Stay in Moab

Moab has plenty of hotels and motels to choose from, but fair warning–it’s one of the priciest destinations covered during this road trip, so don’t expect to nab a great deal during high season!

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Red Stone Inn — Centrally located in Moab, the Red Stone Inn feels like a callback to another era of American road trips.

If you’re looking for an inexpensive slice of Americana, the Red Stone Inn is a great option–and the swimming pool and laundry services located on-site are a selling point, too.

Check rates & book your stay at the Red Stone Inn!

corona arch moab utah on a sunny day


Comfort Suites Moab — We stayed here during a recent visit to Moab, and couldn’t have been happier with the comfortable rooms, exceptional customer service, and great location in town.

Check rates & book your stay at Comfort Suites Moab!

Tower arch in arches national park utah


Hyatt Place Moab — Moab isn’t exactly a destination that lends itself to luxury, but those looking for some great creature comforts during their trip will find them at the new, swanky Hyatt Place Moab, which is just a few years old!

In addition to its swimming pool, included breakfast, and great rooms, Hyatt Place Moab also boasts an exceptional location on the edge of Moab, just minutes from the entrance to Arches National Park.

Check rates & book your stay at Hyatt Place Moab!

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Vacation Rental

My Place Hotel — Need access to a kitchen while exploring the best activities in Moab? Consider the studios at the brand-new My Place Hotel!

We stayed here on our most recent trip to Moab and loved the kitchen access (though be warned, it’s not stocked, so bring your own plates/pans), the view, the extreme cleanliness, and beyond all, the location.

My Place Hotel is located on the edge of town, a short drive from Arches National Park, making it an ideal place to stay for hikers.

It’s also pet-friendly, a must for Ranger!

Check rates & book your stay at My Place Hotel!

vertical photo of faux falls, one of the best things to do in moab utah

Day 2: Explore Arches National Park.

On day 2 of your national parks road trip in Utah, head (back) to Arches to knock off at least one of its iconic hikes.

We have a full post detailing the best hikes in Arches here, so I’ll try not to repeat myself much, but the Delicate Arch trail and the full Devils Garden trail are among our favorites.

Even if you’d rather not go more than, say, a mile along a trail, though, Arches still has plenty to offer!

In the evening, head back to town to enjoy dinner at one of the great restaurants in Moab.

Double Arch in Arches National Park Utah

Day 3: Check out Canyonlands + watch the sunset at Dead Horse Point State Park.

Canyonlands National Park is enormous, and it is divided into three distinct sections: Island in the Sky, the Maze, and the Needles.

This Utah road trip itinerary includes a visit to Island in the Sky, both because it is the easiest section to access from Moab and because it is the district that is most accessible in general.

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Be sure not to miss the iconic (and short) hike to Mesa Arch: it’s popular at sunrise for a reason, but even if you’re not willing to get up well before dawn, it’s still worth visiting at any time of day.

You’ll want to pack a picnic lunch for this part of your Utah road trip because after spending the bulk of the day on the Island in the Sky, we recommend stopping by Dead Horse Point State Park on your way back to Moab to enjoy the sunset from one of Utah’s best sunset spots.

If you’re on a strict budget, you may want to skip Dead Horse Point State Park as it’s an additional $20 fee per car to enter–but the sunsets are magical enough that we have visited more than once.

Sunset at Dead Horse Point State Park, one of the best places to visit in Utah

Day 4: Drive to Capitol Reef National Park + stop at Goblin Valley State Park.

Today, it’s time to leave behind popular Moab and head off to the least-visited of the Mighty Five national parks in Utah: Capitol Reef National Park. 

We recommend traveling along beautiful Highway 24–the scenic drive is worthy of being considered a tourist attraction itself!

Along the way, consider making a detour to Goblin Valley State Park.

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This valley is populated by a unique set of hoodoos that look remarkably like goblins! 

A stop here doesn’t necessarily need to be longer than a couple of hours to be worth the effort, but be sure to come prepared for lots of heat and sun exposure: the valley floor is mercilessly hot and exposed.

Once you finish checking out the goblins, head to Capitol Reef to finish your day with some absolutely stunning views.

Kate Storm wearing a blue tank top walking between two formations in Goblin Valley State Park Utah

Where to Stay Near Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park is located in a very rural area, but there are a decent number of nearby hotels to consider, particularly in Torrey.

We personally went for a more unique stay when we visited and stayed in a covered wagon!

If you’re looking for unique accommodation, Capitol Reef is a great place to look. Yurts, glamping tents, covered wagons, and beyond are fairly easy to come by!

historic shop in capitol reef national parks utah road trip itinerary


Broken Spur Inn & Steakhouse — We stayed at the Broken Spur during our time at Capitol Reef National Park and loved the novelty of sleeping in a covered wagon!

For those looking for a well-located property close to the national park with a few more creature comforts, though, the inn does also have more typical rooms available in the main building.

Check rates & book your stay at Broken Spur Inn & Steakhouse!

Kate Storm laying on a bed in a covered wagon at the Broken Spur Inn near Capitol Reef NP Utah


Austin’s Chuckwagon Motel — With great reviews and plenty of southwestern curb appeal, Austin’s Chuckwagon Motel is a convenient and reliable place to stay near Capitol Reef National Park–and the views from the property aren’t bad, either!

Check rates & book your stay at Austin’s Chuckwagon Motel!

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Capitol Reef Resort — Set on a beautiful property and boasting amenities like a luxurious pool with a view and a fitness center, Capitol Reef Resort is a choose-your-own-adventure style accommodation.

Whether you’d like to glamp in a tent, indulge in a memorable night’s stay in a covered wagon, or simply stay in one of the resort’s more traditional rooms, Capitol Reef Resort has an option for you!

Check rates & book your stay at Capitol Reef Resort!

Deer grazing in a field in Capitol Reef National Park with a rock formation behind them

Day 5: Enjoy Capitol Reef National Park.

Many Utah road trips skip past or barely touch Capitol Reef National Park, partially because it’s small and partially because it’s a bit out of the way, but that’s a mistake.

In our opinion, Capitol Reef is incredibly beautiful, and also has the benefit of being less crowded than parks like Arches and Zion!

The scenic drives through the park are stunning, and there are several cool hikes worth checking out, including the popular Hickman Bridge and the Cassidy Arch Trail, so named because it is said that Butch Cassidy once hid out there.

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Be sure to also spend some time in the Fruita Historic District: this small village was built by 19th-century Mormon settlers, and the fruit trees there produce some truly remarkable things to eat.

Head to the Gifford House, now a small shop, where you can pick up homemade jams, pies, baked goods, and other desserts that are made from the fruit grown on-site.

The triple-berry pie is one of the best pies we’ve ever had in our lives, and it makes a delicious post-hike snack!

Fruita Historic District in Capitol Reef NP with a fence in the foreground and a rock formation in the background

Day 6: Drive to Bryce Canyon National Park via Highway 12 + start exploring.

The scenic route from Capitol Reef National Park to Bryce Canyon National Park along Highway 12 will see you spending most of your driving time in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

In other words, the views are pretty incredible, and you may want to stop a few times along the way!

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Once you reach Bryce Canyon, head directly into the park and start exploring: scenic viewpoints like Inspiration Point and Bryce Point are the perfect way to start exploring the park.

For sunset, head to the aptly-named Sunset Point to watch the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon shift color as the sun goes down.

Inspiration Point at Bryce Canyon National Park on a sunny day

Where to Stay Near Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon City is located right outside Bryce Canyon National Park and is the best place to stay when visiting.

Here are a couple of great places to consider!

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Bryce Canyon Pines — For basic, comfortable accommodation with a wildly popular restaurant on-site, Bryce Canyon Pines is an excellent option!

We stayed here during our most recent trip to Bryce Canyon and found it to be exactly as advertised: basic but decent enough for a quick stay.

Check rates & book your stay at Bryce Canyon Pines!

kate storm and jeremy storm hiking in bryce canyon national park on a utah mighty five road trip


Best Western Plus Bryce Grand Canyon Hotel — After staying in literally hundreds of hotels over the last several years, we still count this as one of our most memorable stays–in part because of the hotel’s absolutely phenomenal breakfast, and in part because of the excellent location and customer service.

This is our #1 choice of where to stay near Bryce Canyon, and we will always check if it’s available before booking anywhere else when we return to the park!

Check rates & book your stay at the Best Western Plus Bryce Grand Canyon Hotel!

Kate Storm looking down into Wall Street Slot Canyon in Bryce Canyon, an unforgettable stop on a Utah road trip itinerary

Day 7: Spend the morning at Bryce Canyon before driving to Zion National Park.

This morning, we recommend hiking a combination of Bryce Canyon’s most popular trails: Navajo Loop to the Queen’s Garden Trail (via Wall Street if it’s open). 

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If you get a prompt start, you can easily finish before lunch and be ready to head onto Zion, while still getting to see what are arguably the best views in Bryce Canyon first!

Once you reach Zion, if you have the energy for a second hike, consider knocking a short one off of your wish list–but be sure to leave enough energy for tomorrow, when you’ll tackle one of the most unique hikes in Utah!

Queen's Garden Trail in Bryce Canyon NP with hikers descending down it, as seen during a Utah national parks road trip

Where to Stay Near Zion National Park

Springdale is the closest town to Zion National Park and the ideal place to stay when visiting–however, like Moab, it is popular and therefore pricey.

If you’re on a strict budget, you can also consider looking a bit further out in towns like La Verkin.

However, be prepared for a 30+ minute drive into the park each morning if you stay further out!

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La Quinta Springdale — Located just a few miles from Zion National Park, La Quinta Springdale has comfortable rooms, great reviews, and a beautiful pool to cool off in to go along with its prime location.

Check rates & book your stay at La Quinta Springdale!

view from angels landing trail with zion canyon to the left and a rock wall to the right, one of the best hikes in zion national park


Best Western Plus Zion Canyon Inn & Suites — With fantastic reviews, great amenities, and a prime location in the heart of Springdale, this hotel is a reliable and comfortable option for visiting Zion National Park!

Check rates & book your stay at Best Western Plus Zion Canyon Inn & Suites!

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Holiday Inn Express Springdale — With beautiful lodge-style architecture and phenomenal reviews, Holiday Inn Express Springdale is located less than 2 miles from Zion National Park and is the perfect place to cool off after a long day of hiking.

Check rates & book your stay at Holiday Inn Express Springdale!

Jeremy Storm standing in a cave in Zion NP overlooking a grove of trees

Day 8: Go hiking in Zion National Park.

On your full day in Zion National Park, we recommend tackling one of Zion’s two most famous and incredible hikes: Angel’s Landing (which requires a permit as of April 2022) or the Narrows.

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Angels Landing is a bit terrifying for people like me who are scared of heights, but ends in a positively stunning view of Zion Canyon, and it ranks among the best hikes in the USA for a reason!

The Narrows, in contrast to the soaring heights of Angel’s Landing, involves hiking directly in the Virgin River as you descend deeper and deeper into the canyon.

Kate Storm and Jeremy Storm wearing dry suits to hike the Narrows in Zion National Park
We hiked the Narrows in December and had the canyon almost completely to ourselves–we’ll never forget that experience!

Both are utterly unforgettable, and while you can technically attempt both in the same day, that’s really only suitable for very athletic and determined hikers.

Other hikes to consider include the West Rim Trail (if you’re up for a big challenge), or if you’re lucky enough to nab a permit, the Subway.

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Unfortunately, a few popular hikes in Zion, including Observation Point and the Weeping Rock Trail, are closed for the foreseeable future due to large rock falls.

Check here for updates before visiting.

Also, keep in mind that from March to October, you can’t drive your private vehicle onto Zion’s Scenic Drive–you’ll need to catch the shuttle instead!

Angels Landing in Zion National Park Utah as seen from the trail

Day 9: Say goodbye to Utah’s Mighty Five + head home (or to wherever is next).

On the final day of your Utah national parks road trip, say goodbye to Zion National Park and head home–or to wherever is next!

If you have time for one more quick hike before leaving Zion, we highly recommend the Canyon Overlook Trail for something fast and easy with a great pay-off at the end (and unlike most hikes in Zion, you can drive your own vehicle to the trailhead year-round).

Jeremy Storm relaxing at the end of the Zion Canyon Overlook hike with the view in the background

Getting to Utah’s Mighty Five (Where to Fly Into + Out Of)

As fantastic and rewarding as a Utah Mighty Five road trip is, this road trip does take a bit of effort to actually start, as there are no major airports in the direct vicinity of Moab.

That being said, it is slightly more convenient to get to/from Zion National Park at the end of the trip.

Of course, there’s no rule stating you need to follow this Utah national parks road trip itinerary exactly.

Depending on your flight schedule and what airport you choose, you may prefer to reverse this trip (though personally, I am partial to starting in Moab if you can).

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Assuming you’re flying into the region for your trip, there are several cities that would work as a starting point–here are some that we recommend checking flight prices and times for.

Depending on exactly when you’re visiting and what your priorities are, the best (and most affordable) airport will vary, but that being said, Las Vegas is a very popular option.

In addition to those listed here, if you plan to extend your Utah road trip into a larger Utah and Arizona road trip and/or southwest road trip, you may want to check prices for Albuquerque and Phoenix as well.

Rock formation as seen along Queen's Garden trail in Bryce Canyon NP on a Utah national parks road trip itinerary

St. George

For sheer convenience alone, St. George is arguably the best airport to fly into for this Utah national parks itinerary.

St George is about an hour from Zion National Park, and a little under 5 hours from Moab.

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Las Vegas

Las Vegas is often the cheapest and most convenient option when flying into the US southwest.

Flights are plentiful and typically affordable from a wide variety of initial destinations, and Las Vegas is about 6.5 hours from Moab and less than 3 hours from Zion National Park.

Welcome to Las Vegas sign, one of the most popular weekend getaways in the USA

Salt Lake City

Utah’s capital city makes a solid starting point and is located under 4 hours from Moab and under 5 hours from Zion National Park.

If you want to extend your itinerary to include northern Utah, SLC is the clear choice for you!

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At more than 5 hours from Moab and 4 hours from Zion National Park, Flagstaff isn’t the most convenient airport for this Utah road trip–but it is ideal if you’d like to add a stop at the Grand Canyon to your trip!

ooh aah point in grand canyon national park with wood sign in foreground

Other Places to Add to Your Utah National Parks Road Trip

Have more time to spend on your road trip in the southwest?

The first thing we would recommend is adding additional time to your favorite national parks–Zion and Arches, in particular, could each use more time, especially for enthusiastic hikers.

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Adventurous travelers with access to 4-wheel drive may want to visit other sections of Canyonlands and Capitol Reef, as well.

In addition to extending your time, though, here are a few other places to consider adding to your Utah road trip itinerary!

kate storm, jeremy storm, and ranger storm posing in front of wilson arch moab utah
Snapped this photo at Wilson Arch near Moab!

Within Utah

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

This Utah national parks road trip already takes you right through Grand Staircase-Escalante–you’ll drive through it on Highway 12 between Capitol Reef and Bryce–but it’s well worth spending some time in if you have a chance to spend longer in Utah!

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There is plenty of diverse hiking in Grand Staircase-Escalante, but these days it’s known for its incredible slot canyons. 

Some of the most popular include Zebra Canyon, Peekaboo Canyon, and Spooky Canyon, where we took this photo:

Inside Spooky Canyon in southern Utah, one of the best honeymoon destinations in USA for outdoor-loving couples!

Coral Sand Dunes State Park

Want to see some rolling sand dunes without leaving Utah?

At Coral Sand Dunes State Park, you can–and depending on the light that day, the dunes can indeed look a bit pink.

There are also several other fun things to do in Kanab that are worth checking out after your visit!

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Utah on a sunny day with a large dune in the center of the frame. This park is one of the best places to visit in Utah

Monument Valley Tribal Park

Situated in Navajo Nation right along the Utah/Arizona border, Monument Valley is known for its soaring rock formations and its status as a popular place to film movies–including, perhaps most famously, Forrest Gump!

Monument Valley as seen near sunset in Navajo Nation

Natural Bridges National Monument

Home to 3 stunning natural bridges, those who fell in love with Arches National Park will also enjoy Natural Bridges National Monument!

Sipapu Bridge in Natural Bridges National Monument, one of the best places to go in Utah

Beyond Utah

The Wave

Located just over the border in Arizona, the Wave is not easy to access–its permit system limits access to just 20 people/day.

If you manage to nab one of the elusive Wave permits, though, it’s worth rearranging your road trip itinerary to make it happen!

The Wave rock formation in northern Arizona, a hard-to-reach but amazing place to visit on a utah arizona road trip

Valley of Fire State Park

If you fly into or out of Las Vegas, Nevada’s beautiful Valley of Fire State Park makes for an excellent stop along the way–even half a day is long enough to see some of the coolest spots in this park.

view of an rv driving through valley of fire state park, one of the best day trips during 3 days in las vegas nevada

Horseshoe Bend + Antelope Canyon

Hop over the Utah/Arizona border, and you’ll immediately find Page, the small, unassuming town that is home to two of Arizona’s most popular attractions: Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon.

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While Horseshoe Bend can be accessed spontaneously (it’s $10 per vehicle to park and visit), visiting Antelope Canyon requires some advance planning and a tour guide. 

The canyon is located on Navajo land, and you can check the availability of tours here, on the Navajo Nation’s national parks website.

antelope canyon in arizona with a beam of light streaming into the canyon

Grand Canyon

Of course, no discussion of places to visit near Utah’s Mighty Five could skip over the Grand Canyon in northern Arizona, which is one of the most famous national parks on the planet!

Just be aware of the distance involved: the Grand Canyon may look close on the map, but in order to reach the popular South Rim from Utah, you’ll need to drive around most of the canyon!

descent to cedar ridge as seen from above

Essential Tips for a Utah Mighty Five Road Trip

Check to see if you need a reservation.

Starting in April 2022, Arches National Park is piloting a reservation system to enter the park between 6:00 AM and 5:00 PM.

This applies daily between April 3 and October 3, so be sure to book your dates as soon as you can!

Other national parks have also been introducing reservation systems for hikes and even access in the last couple of years (such as Angel’s Landing in Zion or the timed access requirements for Rocky Mountain National Park), so it’s best to double-check to see what the latest requirements are as you plan your Utah road trip.

Grab an America the Beautiful Pass before getting started.

The America the Beautiful Pass is the USA’s annual national parks pass and is priced at $80/year for most travelers (there are discounts available for seniors and military personnel).

The $80/year covers daily use fees for all lands that the National Park Service controls.

And, considering that each of Utah’s Mighty Five costs between $20-35/car to enter, you’ll absolutely save money on this trip alone by having one!

Grab your America the Beautiful pass today!

Quirky ghost town roadside attraction near Zion NP, as seen on a utah road trip

Book your accommodation early!

If you’re traveling during high season, and especially on the weekends, it’s imperative to book your hotel stays ASAP.

Hotels do fill up, especially in places like Bryce Canyon where there are relatively few choices, and you don’t want to be stuck with a less-than-ideal place to stay or an extra-long drive to your park of choice!

We book all our lodging for Utah road trips on

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Be prepared for a few dirt roads. 

You don’t need a 4-wheel drive vehicle for this Utah national parks road trip (though it would help you reach a few more spots, including Cathedral Valley in Capitol Reef), but you very well might end up down a dirt road or two!

Dirt road in Capitol Reef National Park Utah

Check on permits if you have your heart set on exclusive hikes.

Some hikes you could potentially complete during your southern Utah road trip do require permits, including the Subway in Zion National Park, the Fiery Furnace in Arches National Park, and the Wave (technically in northern Arizona, but very close to the border).

If you have your heart set on anything in particular, be sure to do a bit of research on how to make it happen before you go.

Fiery Furnace in Arches National Park as seen from above

You’ll probably want to do laundry along the way.

This isn’t difficult–most towns along this route, including Moab, have laundromats available, but to make life easier, you may want to bring quarters along with you instead of needing to track down cash during your trip!

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Watch the weather carefully during your Utah national parks road trip.

The brutal heat of the desert summer, the snowstorms of the winter, and the potential flash floods throughout the year all mean that watching the weather during your Utah road trip is imperative.

Be sure to bring plenty of season-specific supplies when hiking in Utah, and as always, make sure to put safety first during this Utah national parks trip.

Southern Utah Road Trip Itinerary Map

Take This Map With You! Click each highlight to pull up the name of the destination. To save this map to “Your Places” on Google Maps, click the star to the right of the title. You’ll then be able to find it under the Maps tab of your Google Maps account! To open the map in a new window, click the button on the top right of the map.

What to Pack for a Utah Road Trip

America the Beautiful Pass — I mentioned this above, but it bears repeating: a national park pass is a must on a Utah national parks road trip!

If you don’t have one before leaving, each of the Mighty Five does sell the in-person.

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Travel Insurance (For You) — We don’t ever suggest traveling without travel insurance–anything can happen, and an epic road trip is definitely a case of better safe than sorry. Check travel insurance policy inclusions and prices for your trip here.

Sunscreen — Keep your skin safe from sun exposure both in and out of the car by adding sunscreen to your road trip packing list!

Kate Storm and Jeremy Storm taking a selfie in Spooky Canyon Utah

Proof of Insurance (For the Car) — If you’re driving a rental car, this may or may not be covered by either your rental company, your credit card, or your travel insurance–but you’ll definitely want to know exactly what the expectations are before leaving!

Rental Contract (If Applicable) — If you’re renting a car for your road trip, be sure to keep your rental contract handy–we generally keep ours in the glove compartment.

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Roadside Emergency Kit — If you’re taking your own car on your road trip, hopefully you already have one of these packed and ready to go–but if not, now is the time to buy one!

Basic roadside emergency kits are extremely useful, very affordable, and a great way to stay safe on the road.

kate storm in a pink t-shirt standing underneath sand dunes arch, one of the best short hikes in arches np

Windshield Shade — During the hot summer months, you’ll no doubt come back from a sweltering hike during your Utah road trip to find your car practically boiling.

Windshield shades aren’t practical for flying with, but if you’re driving your own vehicle to visit Utah’s Mighty Five, you’ll be glad you picked one up before setting off!

Downloaded Maps — You will undoubtedly lose cell signal at some point during this Utah national parks road trip, so make sure to download your essential maps before heading off!

Courthouse Towers viewpoint in Arches National Park Utah

Hand Sanitizer — Sanitary hands are extremely important on a road trip, especially if you’re eating in your car or on the trail, but you may not always have access to hot water and soap–make sure to add some hand sanitizer to your road trip packing list!

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Reusable Water Bottle(s) — Cut down on plastic waste, save money, and make sure you don’t have to stop for water constantly: a reusable water bottle has lots of benefits on a road trip.

We personally love and use these, and love both the look and the functional design!

welcome to utah sign on the utah arizona border on a national parks utah road trip

Portable USB Charger — Limit stress about your phone dying during your long days on the road: add a portable USB charger to your Utah road trip packing list and you’ll be good to go.

Extra USB Cables and/or Phone Charging Cables — Whether it’s to charge your phone, your camera, or even your portable USB charger, odds are that you’ll be glad to have a few extra cables lying around.

How to Budget for a Trip: The Easiest Travel Budgeting Method (+ Tips!)

Hands-Free Phone Mount — This is especially important if you don’t have a reliable co-pilot: the last thing you want to do is be fumbling with the GPS on your phone during your road trip.

Pack a cell phone holder to attach to the car and you’ll be able to drive much more safely!

2 photos of Utah: Bryce Canyon and Dead Horse Point. Black text on a white background reads "the ultimate utah road trip"
About Kate Storm
Image of the author, Kate Storm

In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.

5 thoughts on “The Ultimate Utah National Parks Road Trip Itinerary”

  1. That sounds like a pretty kickass itinerary. I love the wild outdoors, and national parks are the one of the best ways to experience native natural history. Love this post wish I living in America right about now, only so I could take this on! lol

    • Thank you, it was a great trip!

      Our National Park system is one of, if not the, top reason to visit the USA in my opinion–we have some incredible (and diverse!) landscapes.

  2. how many days should we alot for this kind of a trip to UTAH? We were just going to Bryce and Zion but I would want to do the waves.
    From Utah we were going to Las vegas for a meeting so what would be the most logical place as a last stop in Utah?
    Thank you for this escape memoir

    • Hi Helen,

      The core itinerary outlined here takes place over 9 days, but the reality is that a southern Utah road trip can take up as much or as little time as you have!

      As I’m sure you know, hiking the Wave requires winning the lottery, so to speak, so you’ll want to base yourself in/around Kanab for as long as possible to give yourselves the best chance of getting to go. Luckily there is lots to see in the area, including the Vermillion Cliffs, Coral Sand Dunes State Park, etc. It is a bit out the way if you’re focusing on Zion/Bryce though!

      Driving from Zion to Las Vegas, you could stop around St. George before leaving Utah, or explore Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada.


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