Epic Utah Mighty Five National Parks Itinerary – Brandy Gilbreth

foreign [Music] as far as road trips go Utah's Mighty five i...

foreign [Music] as far as road trips go Utah's Mighty five is top of the charts and it should also be on top of your bucket list but how do you make your trip perfect welcome back to wonderfully lost your home for all things travel today we're talking about all things Mighty 5 and how you can get the best of all the sites the stays and the food so pack your bags and get ready to hit the pedal number one archers National Park you might have realized that we're starting our trip from the Northern end of Utah don't worry if you're from Vegas though because you can just hit these places in opposite order instead and our first stop Arches National Park this Wonder of nature will give you everything you could possibly ask for with big beautiful Skies stunning rock formations that will leave you gagging and you guessed it over 2 000 arches but the most iconic one is landscape Arch and to get there you'll have to put on your hiking shoes and get ready for some climbing at the devil's Garden but if you're looking for something even more daring keep hiking until you reach double O Arch and dark angel now those will be a sight to behold or you could check out the tower Arch Trail instead which will bring its own unique sights if you want a bite to eat try a picnic lunch at Park Avenue Viewpoint or the windows and when you're tired after a long day of hiking don't worry Moab is a pretty close drive you could stay at the Red Cliffs Lodge for beautiful sights next to the Colorado River or at MainStay Suites if you want something a little easy on the wallet oh and don't forget to grab a beer at the Moab Brewery either it's a Once in a row trip experience after all number 2. Canyonlands National Park when you're refreshed after a comfortable night in get ready to drive up to destination number two Canyonlands National Park Canyon lens is absolutely massive it's so big in fact that it had to be divided into four districts by rivers and each of them will bring you its own unique flavor now the island in the sky district is the most accessible and also the most popular imagine being with your spouse as you watch the sunset at the Grand Viewpoint can you imagine anything more romantic but if you ask us the Needles District will bring you views like no other and it's worth every second of the extra three hours of driving here you can combine the heights of elephant Hill Druid Arch Trail and Chester Park to make one Grand Adventure and if you decide to spend two days here you could even do both needless to say whichever Hotel you decide to stay at in Moab will be seeing a lot more of you number three capital Reef National Park next up we have this Heaven of sandstone Cliffs white domes and Slot Canyons Capital Reef Park is A Feast for the eyes oh and the best part about this place you can give your weary legs a much needed rest after the intense hiking of the past few days most of capital Reef Park can be viewed from the comfort of your car so sit back relax and put on some tunes as you drive on the highway that runs straight through the splashes of color will be a sight to behold and if you step a little closer you'll be able to see rock art petroglyphs of the Fremont culture you'll basically be driving through memory lane or in this case memory Highway once you're in Fruita the heart of the park check out the pie at the Gifford Homestead for a midday snack the Freddy flavor will leave your stomach begging for more but there's a little secret about this place if you step out of your car at sulfur Creek Trail you'll come across a Haven of Canyon views and waterfalls the best part since so few people come here you'll have the place all to yourself you'll have to stay the night in Tori which is the nearest town check out the Capitol Reef Resort or if you're in the mood for a little dip the indoor pool at broken spur Inn and Steakhouse will be right up your alley number four Bryce Canyon National Park now Bryce Canyon National Park is a little more special compared to the rest but before we explain why we have to ask do you know what hoodoos are these Rock spies can be found all over Bryce Canyon National Park and make this place a site you won't find anywhere else in the world you can find a lot of the great viewpoints by car alone but if you want to really spice up your experience Our advice would be to hike to the Queen's garden and Navajo loop it's a three mile hike so you better be prepared but it's well worth all the effort you put into it because when you reach the peak you'll see the best of what this park has to offer settled down for a picnic wait for the sun to go down and watch as the whole world comes alive with color or if you're a fan of Safety First you could just go to Sunset Point instead after all this one's basically built to be a fantastic site to stay the night you can find several options in the town of Bryce but the town of Tropic is just 10 miles from the park and will give you a lot more variety oh and don't forget to take a few layers of clothes with you especially if you visit anytime other than the summer Bryce Canyon gets colder than any of the other Mighty five in fact for about 200 days a year the temperature Falls below freezing this place is coolest heck in every sense of the word number 5. Zion National Park and we've finally arrived at Zion National Park well done you're going five for five and Zion National Park might just be the best of them all from Bryce it's about a two-hour drive to Zion National Park and rest assured there's absolutely no shortage of sites to see on this stretch of the road either you'll see the burning colors of the Red Canyon which comes alive in the mornings and take the twists and turns of the Zion Mount Carmel Highway and as you go through its tunnels and switchbacks you might come across the realization that the journey might be just as good as the destination this place brings in thousands of visitors every year cementing its spot is one of the best hiking spots in the United States and for good reason too every inch and every corner will unveil a breathtaking view that will have your camera shutter clicking like crazy as you document everything you see Angels landing and the Zion Narrows are two of the most iconic hikes here but if you're looking for something a little shorter or more family friendly don't worry because this place has that too check out the canyon Overlook Trail or Emerald pools if you're a little short of time but if you really want to milk this place for all it's worth you'll have to stay for at least a couple of days for that we recommend picking out a place in Springdale and if you're a bit of a foodie then Oscar's Cafe serves great nachos and huge portions of Mexican food or you could check out King's Landing Bistro in Springdale for a royal experience follow this guide and your Utah trip memories will be just as mighty as the mighty five thanks for wandering with us if you enjoyed this video check out our Kentucky Derby planning guide next bye now [Music] oh [Music] foreign [Music]

The video above is a different Utah Mighty Five route, but still applicable for planning. See below the step-by-step itinerary we had a lot of success with. Detailed planning notes provided after each day.

The Gilbreth family is on an ambitious quest to visit all 63 U.S. National Parks. We left the babies at home for this trip and were able to knock out a handful of parks with our EPIC UTAH MIGHTY FIVE NATIONAL PARK ROADTRIP! And we saved our itinerary for you!

At the time our oldest daughter was 11 months old and she was our only baby. We decided to travel without her for this trip so we could enjoy all the beauty Utah has to offer without worrying about nap and meal times. This meant I would be pumping and storing breast milk throughout our trip. It was a lot of extra work but man was it worth it. If you’re reading this and the idea of travel sounds awful because you have to pump, I hear you. It’s not easy, but you’ll never regret it!

We’re lucky enough to have an awesome set of grandparents we left her with which allowed us to thoroughly enjoy our adult only time with little worry. Because we were travelling without her for the first time, we packed a lot into a few days so we could get home quickly. You could easily double or triple the length and still not see all this road trip has to offer. You could also totally bring your kids! You’d likely want to slow down the pace a bit depending on their ages, but what an incredible family adventure this would make!

We chose to fly into Las Vegas, rent a car and then fly home from Salt Lake City. You could also reverse the route or even fly in and out of the same airport, which would just add a few hours of drive time. Shop around for flights to see what works best for you from your home city.

Before leaving Las Vegas we stopped and got plenty of snacks for the road and for hiking. We didn’t want to be slowed down by food stops, so we mostly had one big meal per day at a restaurant and then snacked on what we had or grabbed small, quick bites for the other meals.

You’re also going to want to browse our family road trip essentials list before you venture out on the road!

Before you get lost in our blog, be sure to browse our Wanderful Storefront for all our favorite travel products, gear and must haves!

Monday – Zion National Park

  • Gilbreths land in Las Vegas 9:06am
  • Pick up rental car at airport
  • Drive to Springdale, UT (2.5 hours)
  • Get on Shuttle to Zion at Bumbleberry Inn
    • Observation Point Trail (8 miles)
    • Emerald pools trail (Paved trail 2-4 miles)
  • Stay at La Quinta Inn – Springdale
  • Dinner at Bit and Spur – Fantastic food! Probably our favorite food of the trip. Don’t skip dessert.


  • We ended up pulling an audible after we dropped our daughter off at her grandparents and jumped on the next flight out the night before our trip was supposed to start. We grabbed a room in Vegas and started our trip bright and early. Now that we’ve experienced this, I highly recommend you do the same. You’ll want as much time at each park as you can get!
  • Zion is known for The Narrows and Angels Landing. These two hikes weren’t in the cards for us this trip but we absolutely plan to go back for them one day. If you have the time, don’t miss them! (They do require advanced reservations). But if like us, you don’t have the time, you won’t leave the park feeling cheated. Zion has so much more to offer.
  • Zion offers very limited parking so they recommend you use their shuttle system. There are stops all throughout Springdale where you can hop on and off the shuttle. We did this and while I remember feeling overwhelmed and confused about the shuttle while I was planning the trip, once we got there it was such a breeze to use.

Tuesday – Bryce Canyon National Park

  • Quick breakfast at Deep Creek Coffee Co in Springdale – Another of our favorite meals!
  • Drive through Zion via Mount Carmel Highway on the way out of Springdale
  • Drive to Bryce Canyon (2 hours)
    • Stop at Belly of the Dragon trailhead on the way to Bryce
    • Navajo Loop and Queens Garden (2.9 miles)
    • Peek a Boo trail (5.5 miles)
    • (Can combine Navajo Loop and Peek a Boo – 6.4 miles)
    • Mossy Cave trail for waterfall view (1 mile)
  • VRBO Cattle Ranch in Hatch, UT.


  • Don’t skip Mount Carmel Highway as you leave Zion and stop at all the overlooks. You’ll find breathtaking views for the first hour of your drive if you go this route.
  • The area surrounding Bryce Canyon NP has little to offer in the way of food and lodging.
  • We stayed on a Cattle Ranch outside Hatch and absolutely loved the experience. I linked the exact house we stayed in above in the itinerary. We cooked dinner at the house that evening because there weren’t many other options and we wanted to spend time in the serenity of the ranch.
  • Bryce Canyon ended up being my favorite park. I was in absolute awe of the Hoodoos and the vibrant shades of orange throughout this park.
  • Bring real hiking shoes. I prefer boots but as long as you have good hiking grip, you’ll be fine. Tennis shoes will not be enough for some of these hikes.

Wednesday – Capitol Reef National Park

  • Drive to Capitol Reef NP (2 hours)
    • Hickman Bridge Trail (1.7 miles out and back)
    • Grand Wash Trail (6.9 miles) We walked about a mile into this trail and then it all started to look the same so turned back and hit the trailhead for Cassidy Arch.
    • Cassidy Arch Trail (3.4 miles)
  • Stay at Capitol Reef Resort
  • Dinner – Rim Rock Patio This restaurant was right across the street from our resort and while it doesn’t look like anything special from the outside it ended up having awesome pizza!
  • Star gazing tour 9:15pm


  • Do not stay anywhere but Capitol Reef Resort! The actual rooms themselves are modest, but the experience of the resort cannot be matched. Out your backdoor you’ll find a small patio with the most amazing mountain view where you can enjoy the sunset. There’s a common area with campfires in the evening where you can sit and congregate with fellow wanderers. We met some fun people here! They also have an outdoor hot tub. The experience cannot be beat!
  • It ended up being too cloudy for our Stargazing Tour and although we were bummed, we were glad to have a little extra downtime at the resort to regroup.

Thursday – Arches National Park

  • Drive to Moab (2.5 hours)
  • Breakfast in Moab – Jailhouse Cafe Fantastic breakfast food!
  • Arches NP
    • Double Arch Trail (0.6 miles)
    • Delicate arch
    • Landscape arch
    • Windows Loop and Turret Arch Trail at sunset if possible (1.2 miles)
  • Hummer Safari Tour from Moab 1-3pm
  • Explore Moab – food and shopping
  • DoughBirds don’t skip these donuts!
  • Dinner – Zax had great pizza
  • Glamping through Under Canvas


  • April 1 through October 31 you’ll need a timed entry ticket to enter Arches. You can get yours at www.recreation.gov three months in advance of your visit. We highly recommend you get yours at the three-month mark as ideal times sell out quickly. Bring your ticket with you to enter the park at your designated time. If you don’t have a reservation though, you can enter the park before 7 a.m. or after 4 p.m.
  • Our hummer tour was such a thrill, one of the highlights of our whole trip! It doesn’t go through the National Park but is still an absolute must if time allows. We even saw some fossilized dinosaur footprints!
  • Moab is such a fun little town and if we had the trip to do over again, we would have stayed here at least another full day. Walk around their downtown area and pop in and out of the shops and cafes. The town itself feels quaint and has the coolest vibe.
  • Under Canvas was a fun experience! These ‘tents’ are equipped with a king bed and bathroom and make you feel like royalty compared to your traditional tent camping experience. Great location too!

Friday – Canyonlands National Park

  • 40 minute drive to Canyonlands NP
  • Island in the Sky section of park
    • Mesa Arch hike at sunrise (0.7 miles)
    • Stop at Green River Overlook
    • Grand View Point Hike (1.8 miles)
    • Upheaval Dome (1.4 miles)
    • Shafer Canyon Overlook
  • Dead Horse Point State Park
  • Drive to Salt Lake City (4 hours)
  • Courtyard Downtown SLC
  • Dinner in Salt Lake City


  • You could easily stay in Moab to visit both Arches and Canyonlands. Arches is right outside of Moab and Canyonlands is an easy and beautiful drive.
  • We only visited the Island in the Sky section but there is a whole lot more to see if you have the time. This section of the park was easy to see. There are plenty of overlooks as you drive through, you wouldn’t even have to hike if you didn’t want to.
  • Dead Horse was absolutely beautiful as well. We didn’t spend a lot of time there but some people will tell you they like this park even more than Canyonlands.

Sunday- fly home


Five days, five national parks, one state park, three hotels, one vacation rental, one glamping tent, two flights, 1200+ miles road tripped, countless miles hiked, TONS of laughs and four very full hearts. Our Utah Might Five was truly the trip of a lifetime where we made memories we will surely never forget with friends we love dearly.

Pro tips to consider

  • Bring sunscreen and a hat as the sun can be intense here.
  • Pack layers. In April we had some chilly mornings and hot afternoons, but overall, we loved this time of year in Utah. We were glad to have jackets at times though.
  • Stop by the visitor’s centers at each park to gather some knowledge and history of the park, grab souvenirs and a trail map.
  • Pack light and stay places with washing machines. Since you’ll be on the go constantly you won’t want to have a lot of luggage to haul around with you. We did laundry every couple of days and each only packed one small bag.
  • If you have more time than we did, there are tons more things to see along this route even outside the parks. Explore and enjoy all Utah has to offer.
  • We wanted to share our five-day itinerary because as parents of tiny babies we know sometimes you need to get away and then you also need to get back quickly. It’s possible moms and dads, and it’s worth it.

There’s so much beauty in our US National Parks. We often lose sight of all there is to see right in our own backyard. If like us, you’re checking the parks off your bucket list one by one you will love this trip as much as we did! Whether you follow our route or decide to make it a longer trip, you won’t be disappointed in the beauty that is Utah!

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