Utah's "Mighty 5" national parks offer some of the most stunning desert hikes on planet Earth!
Utah's five stunning national parks are filled with red rock formations of all shapes and sizes. From towering hoodoos to soaring arches, majestic cliffs, and deep slot canyons, the beauty and grandeur of the Utah desert is guaranteed to excite the imagination of everyone that visits!
The five Utah national parks are Arches, Canyonlands, Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Capitol Reef. Now known as "The Mighty 5" due to the state of Utah's ultra-successful marketing campaign by the same name, these five national parks create a bonafide bucket list that can be turned into one of the most epic road trips of your life! In this guidebook, you'll find two of the best hikes from each of these national parks, for a lust-worthy 10 hike hitlist.
"It’s no surprise that Arches National Park is one of the top national parks in America: it’s a 73,234-acre wonderland of eroded sandstone fins, towers, ribs, gargoyles, hoodoos, balanced rocks, and, of course, arches northwest of Moab," writes VisitUtah.com. "The park protects an amazing landscape that includes the largest proliferation of arches in the world," they continue. During your visit to Arches, you have to view the ever-popular Delicate Arch. But for a more adventurous journey through the park, try the challenging Devil's Garden hike on for size!
Just next door to Arches, Canyonlands National Park offers a wide array of adventure opportunities. Split into two different districts, the Island in the Sky area is home to some of the easier hikes in the park, with Mesa Arch serving as a perennial crowd-pleaser. For more rugged and more remote hikes, head to the Needles district. Druid Arch is one of the highest-acclaimed hikes in that area of the park.
Zion National Park is renowned as one of the most beautiful national parks in the United States of America. The first national park to be established in Utah, in the heart of Zion you can “follow the paths where ancient native people and pioneers walked. Gaze up at massive sandstone cliffs of cream, pink, and red that soar into a brilliant blue sky. Experience wilderness in a narrow slot canyon,” according to the National Park Service. The #1 most popular hike in the park is Angel's Landing, and while you'll undoubtedly share the trail with hundreds of other people, the stunning views from the top are unquestionably worth it. For a more epic adventure, try wading up the Narrows.
"Bryce Canyon is well known for some of the most scenic hikes in any national park, namely the Queens Garden and Navajo Loop trails which wander among a mind-blowing assortment of the park’s famous hoodoos," according to adventure writer Jesse Weber. "These are 'irregularly eroded spires of rocks,' as explained by the national park website, but that description undersells the true grandeur of this landscape." After you hike Queens Garden, head to the Peekaboo Loop for even more stunning hoodoos!
Finally, despite being one of the famous Mighty 5, Capitol Reef National Park still tends to fly well below the radar... which makes it the perfect place to get off the beaten path! "Those willing to disappear down a side canyon are apt to find the park’s most fascinating scenery with no one else around," writes Jesse Weber. Two of the best hikes to discover this fascinating scenery are Upper Muley Twist Canyon and Lower Pleasant Creek.
With these 10 trail selections from the Mighty 5 National Parks, you're now equipped to embark on the perfect spring hiking road trip. Time to pack your bags and hit the road!