Utah National Parks Ultimate Adventure

Trip Length 8 Days
Group Size 4-12
Activity level
Starting from
$3,379 for REI Members
$3,679 for non-members

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Canyonlands, Arches, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon and Zion: this 8-day trip covers them all.

This trip combines five exceptional national park experiences into one unforgettable adventure. The national parks of southern Utah are a masterful expression of nature’s best work. Unique landscapes sculpted over the millennia by powerful forces of erosion highlight the vast beauty of the high desert. Hike along some of the most spectacular trails in the American Southwest by day, and relax in comfort and good company at our cozy campsites each night.

Hike amid spectacular hoodoos in Bryce Canyon. Experience otherworldly tranquility in Canyonlands. Feel small while wading in the magnificent Zion River Narrows. Explore a 100-mile-long wrinkle in the Earth's crust in Capitol Reef. Lose count of the number of incredible arches found in aptly-named Arches National Park. With each bend in the trail comes another breathtaking landscape. Along the way, our guides take care of all of the details. Their skilled interpretation brings the desert to life, instilling in us a lasting love for this remarkable wilderness.

Arches National Park contains over 2,000 sandstone arches of all shapes and sizes.

Trip Highlights

  • Explore all five of Utah’s national parks in one unforgettable, action-packed trip
  • Visit Canyonlands, Arches, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon and Zion
  • Set out on some of the most scenic and exhilarating hikes in the Southwest
  • Learn about the ancient cultures that once made this rugged region their home
  • Learn about Utah's rich geological and natural history from our exceptional guides

Activities

This trip is rated Moderate [3]. Upon arrival in Utah you should be able to hike up to 10 miles with a 5–10 pound daypack over terrain with elevation gain and loss of up to 2,200', for consecutive days, without major discomfort. Trails are composed of dirt, loose rock, sand and slickrock with some steep sections and exposed overlooks.

Most hikes take place at altitudes between 5,000'–8,000'. This may cause hikes to feel harder and use more energy than at lower levels. In the summer, temperatures can soar and may also make hikes feel more strenuous. Please keep these conditions in mind when training for this adventure.

  • Hiking
  • Camping

What's Included

Seven nights camping accommodations; guide leadership; van transportation from Salt Lake City, UT to Las Vegas, NV; all meals as indicated on the itinerary; beverages including coffee, hot tea and hot chocolate; all group camping equipment; park fees and local taxes.

Accommodations

Camping, 7 nights.

Your Adventure Itinerary

Itinerary map for Utah National Parks Ultimate Adventure
Day 1

Travel to Moab and take a late day hike to Delicate Arch

Our trip begins in Salt Lake City, Utah. We rendezvous with our guides in the morning and, following introductions and a brief orientation, set off for Moab, the adventure outpost that serves as gateway to the marvelous red-rock country that lies beyond. After lunch near Moab, we continue to our nearby campsite, set up our tents, and prepare for our first memorable high desert hike. We make the short drive to Arches National Park for a late day hike up to arguably the most extraordinary natural arch in the Southwest: magical Delicate Arch. Perched above an orange sandstone basin, the graceful shape, color, and location of Delicate Arch make it a photographer’s dream. We spend some time lingering near the arch, marveling at its ability to seemingly defy gravity, before heading back down trail to our waiting van. Returning to our basecamp, we eat a tasty guide-prepared dinner under the star-filled Utah sky. We spend the next two nights in our camp near Moab. All meals included beginning with lunch on Day 1 through lunch on Day 8.

Hiking: 3 miles with 610’ elevation gain/loss; Transfer: 4.5 hours.

Day 2

Enjoy a full day of active exploration in Canyonlands’ Island in the Sky District

Today’s hike in Canyonlands’ otherworldly Island in the Sky region provides an ideal introduction to the wind and water-carved landscapes and unique geology of this awe-inspiring national park. Island in the Sky is filled with trails that lead us over dirt, sand and slickrock to vantage points offering breathtaking views across the Colorado River canyon. As we gaze out at the ever-changing panorama, we see the pinnacles, arches and spires of the park’s Needles district and the lofty La Sal Mountains looming in the distance. Our guides can choose from various trail options depending on conditions but every route will deliver picture-postcard vistas and unforgettable views. After our active day of adventure in Canyonlands, we return to our cozy camp in time for appetizers and a delicious al fresco dinner.

Hiking: Up to 8 miles with elevation gain/loss of up to 1,500’; Terrain: slickrock and dirt trails. Transfer: 2.5 hours.

Day 3

Return to Arches National Park and hike the Devil's Garden Trail

We break camp this morning and transfer back to extraordinary Arches National Park. With over 2,000 sandstone arches of all shapes and sizes lying within its borders, the park contains the largest concentration of natural stone arches on Earth. After a stop at the visitor center, we drive to the Devil’s Garden trailhead where we begin today’s hike. Winding our way over wind-sculpted sandstone, we visit a variety of the park’s iconic arches including Double O Arch and 306-foot-long Landscape Arch, one of the longest natural stone spans in the world. After our walk in the “Garden”, we end the day with a final road transfer to our campsite in Torrey, Utah, a stone’s throw from Capitol Reef National Park.

Hiking: 4-6 miles; Elevation gain/loss: 500-800’; Terrain: slickrock and dirt trails; Transfer: 4 hours.

Day 4

Explore Capitol Reef National Park on a hike in Waterpocket Fold

Still relatively undiscovered, Capitol Reef National Park is a gem in the U.S. National Park system. Waterpocket Fold, the park’s central feature, is a 100-mile-long wrinkle in the Earth's crust which has eroded over time into massive sandstone domes, narrow slot canyons and graceful arches. We spend most of the day exploring some of the highlights of Capitol Reef starting with a scenic drive to our trailhead along Waterpocket Fold’s tilted layers of burgundy, grey, red, orange and white-colored rock. Today’s through-hike traverses part of the Grand Wash and gives us access to some of the best backcountry in the park. After our immersion in this untrammeled wilderness, our trail ultimately leads us back to our vehicle, waiting to shuttle us to our nearby camp.

Hiking: 6 miles; Elevation gain/loss: 1,000’; Terrain: slickrock, sandy washes and dirt trails; Transfer: 1.5 hours.

Day 5

Hike to Calf Creek Falls in Grand Staircase-Escalante

It's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument that captures our imagination today as we explore the monument on a hike to a hidden waterfall. Departing Torrey this morning, we head south and west along Utah's Scenic Byway 12 to our trailhead for Lower Calf Creek Falls. Here we begin our six-mile hike to the 130-foot waterfalls, a lush oasis concealed deep within the tumbled stone and slickrock of Grand Staircase-Escalante. Continuing to Bryce Canyon, we spend the night in a campsite near the national park, an ideal spot for stargazing in one of the darkest nighttime locations in the U.S.

Hiking: 6 miles; Elevation gain/loss: 200'; Terrain: dirt trails; Transfer: 3 hours.

Day 6

Spend the day in Bryce Canyon hiking the Fairyland and Navajo Loops

Gazing into Bryce Canyon for the first time, it's hard not to feel an overwhelming sense of awe at the sheer number of hoodoos that rise from the canyon floor forming a jagged, colorful landscape unlike any other on the planet. We take full advantage of our hiking time in Bryce today beginning with the outstanding Fairyland Loop hike this morning. During our walks, photographic opportunities abound as we descend into the canyon proper surrounded by the warm-colored sandstone, stands of jade green pine trees, and the whimsical hoodoos that make this national park so uniquely captivating. In the afternoon, we transfer to Sunset Point and hike the Navajo Loop trail before returning to the canyon rim. Saying goodbye to Bryce we jump back aboard our van and hit the road for Zion National Park, the final stop on our amazing journey.

Hiking: 9 miles; Elevation gain/loss: 2,300'; Terrain: dirt trails and sandy washes; Transfer: 2-3 hours.

Day 7

Discover Zion National Park. Hike the Watchman Trail and the Narrows

Our first hike in Zion National Park this morning takes us on the Watchman Trail, one of the park’s best trails for vantage points with breathtaking views stretching out over Zion Canyon. Retracing our steps to the valley, we hop aboard the park shuttle to the entrance of the spectacular Zion Narrows. Alternating between hiking and wading, our trail is the Virgin River itself as it winds its way between 1,000-foot-tall canyon walls. We follow the river for a few miles, marveling at the hanging gardens, beautiful geology and play of light in this enormous slot canyon before returning downriver. At camp tonight, we gather for a special celebration dinner and reflect on all of the wonders we’ve seen during our time together.

Hiking: 6-7 miles; Elevation loss/gain: 368'; Terrain: dirt trails, river wading (sometimes in thigh- to waist-deep water).​

Day 8

Hike up Walter’s Wiggles to Scout Lookout and visit Emerald Pools

Before beginning our drive to Las Vegas, one final invigorating hike in Zion awaits us. The trail up to Scout Lookout is cut into sandstone walls and follows Walter's Wiggles, a series of 21 switchbacks leading up to a lofty viewpoint overlooking the soaring cliffs of Zion Canyon. After descending from the lookout, we continue our hike to Emerald Pools, a verdant oasis located in a side canyon and consisting of a series of streams and tiered natural pools. After our morning outing, we have lunch before setting out for Las Vegas where we’ll say our final farewells. Please do not schedule any flights out of Las Vegas until later this evening.

Hiking: 6.5 miles; Elevation gain/loss: 1,500’; Terrain: dirt trails; Transfer: 3 hours.

Itinerary map for Utah National Parks Ultimate Adventure

Gear List

The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To get maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection. This gear list has been created to help you choose the proper equipment. Try to bring only what is necessary; this will help you and the field staff.

What to pack

Contact Us

Feel free to give us a call at 1 (800) 622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales ( 1 (800) 426-4840 ) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out REI Expert Advice , which has great information to help you prepare for your trip.