Utah’s Mighty Five Roadtrip Summary

Day 0

Waited in line for 1.5 hours in order to pick up a rental car. I was extremely angry, until they gave me this beauty…

(c) ABR 2017

Day 1

We hiked 3.9 miles in Natural Bridges National Monument. I really wanted to hike the loop that went through the canyon here, but we didn’t have time. We settled for hiking down to each of the bridges instead. We also had to convince a ranger that we didn’t have anything against National Monuments, and we forgot the name of our hotel for the night since I left our itinerary at home.

(c) ABR 2017

Day 2

It snowed over night, and while we were trying to drive up to the Moab area. Due to the weather, we skipped out on seeing the Needles sector of Canyonlands, and went up to Island in the Sky instead. It was windy and cold as heck, but we still managed to hike to the second overlook of Upheaval Dome, Whale Rock, Aztec Butte, Grand View, and Mesa Arch (7.3 miles). We dressed really warmly so that we could stay out in the weather, and people kept commenting on how prepared we were. When we got back into town, we met someone who had flipped their car in the storm that we had driven through. It was a sobering moment.

(c) ABR 2017

Day 3

Fearing crowds, we got into Arches early and hiked to Delicate Arch first thing. Luckily, the weather was much nicer this day. Nice enough that we actually managed to take our jackets off (unlike the day before), and enjoy our picnic lunch without freezing. After seeing the arch that is on most Utah license plates, we checked out many other arches, and managed to hike another 7.4 miles.

(c) ABR 2017

Day 4

Capitol Reef was probably the least developed park of the five, but we started the day off by visiting another arch. I wasn’t expecting to be super excited about it, after Arches, but it was actually really cool. We also climbed up to a view point of historic Fruita, where Fremont Native Americans and then Mormon farmers lived, and walked through Capitol Gorge (6.5 miles hiked this day). This park felt a little disorganized, but it was nice to escape the crowds, and I loved the variation.

(c) ABR 2017

Day 5

Bryce Canyon was… mindblowing. I had no idea that Thunder Mountain in Disneyland was based on a real place, but here it is! Hoodoos every where, and even though we had to slip down ice, and slog through mud, the hiking here was wonderful. We visited Tower Bridge (another arch, go figure), and then wandered through the Queen’s Garden (where the trail winds through the hoodoos) and by the end that day we had hiked 6.4 miles. It was beautiful, and blessedly not all that crowded.

(c) ABR 2017

Day 6

Our last day was a mix of proud and disappointing moments. We wanted to hike Angel’s Landing, but the ranger at the gate freaked us out about parking, and there were only nasty port-a-potties at the visitor center. So, the start to the day was awkward. But we did find parking, and we powered up the steep incline of Angel’s Landing to the saddle before the part of the trail that crosses the spine of the mountain. I was scared, there were cliffs on either side, but it was worth it! I was so proud of us for making if up the cliffside and facing our fears, and we finished the trail in nearly half the time that the park signs thought we would. After lunch, we also made it out to Emerald Pools. But that was it for us and Zion, because it was so busy. There was no parking and it definitely turned us off a little bit. 7 miles hiked!

(c) ABR 2017


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  1. Wow, such a beautiful area!

  2. Capitol Reef is definitely an underappreciated park, IMO. I also wouldn’t give up on Zion so easily. Snag a permit for a top-down backpack from Chamberlain Ranch through the Narrows for a memory you’ll never forget. And if you want to enjoy some really amazing and scenic country without any crowds, spend some time in Bears Ears National Monument.

    • Thanks for this information! Since we were doing a whirlwind trip through all the parks, we definitely missed alot. Hopefully we will have the opportunity to go back and explore each one in more detail. I would love to do some backpacking in each, especially Canyonlands. Bears Ears is definitely on the list as well, but I’d for sure give it some more priority now, with your recommendations. 🙂

  3. tatumskipper

    I would love to do this roadtrip! Sucks you had to wait so long but Mustangs are a lot of fun! I did a mini road trip like this through Arizona. I can’t believe you hiked so much! 7.4 miles…6.5 miles etc. That’s awesome. I guess spread out over an entire day isn’t so bad! Will pin this for later too!

    • The mustang was really fun! And 6-7 miles per day was pretty tiring at the beginning, but we got used to it and by the end we were champs. It was pretty awesome. I wish I could do that every day. XD

  4. I have never been to America but if I do Utah will be very high on my list due to its amazing national parks. I would especially love to visit Zion and Bryce Canyon, they seem to stand out for me. If I were you I would definitely return and do all the hikes you couldn’t this time. You were so lucky with that rental car!

    • Yeah! Definitely check out Utah and Arizona for sure. And yes, I would love to go back and do some of the longer backpacking trails that get you out of the crowd. But when you have a day to see each one, there is still tons of accessible hiking to do.

  5. I would’ve been happy as well if I was given that mustang to play with!! I’ve never been hiking because I’m afraid I’ll trip and fall off a cliff. I’m definitely a klutz. That happened to one girl here in Florida. She was hiking the Grand Canyon. That article sealed the deal for me. I’ll jut live vicariously through you all. Lol.

    • The Grand Canyon is home to many a strange death. People feel like they are in a theme park and they under-estimate the desert. It’s really sad. But there are trails for everyone! Maybe you just avoid cliffs. XD

  6. First of all, nice ride!!! And then Bryce Canyon… so stunning 👌🏽 Can’t wait to explore more of the US

  7. Wow, so beautiful! I’m looking for a roadtrip to do this summer from Alberta, and this would be a great option! Thanks for sharing! I’m pinning to save for this summer!

  8. Just love those red rocks and arches. I spent some time around Lake Mead a few years ago and they had similar sights. Nature is beautiful isn’t it! @rovingjay

  9. I’m doing a U.S. road trip this summer so this is very helpful and I’ll definitely be in the Southwest!!

  10. Haha, I never knew thunder mountain was a real place either!
    I have to say, you are braver than I. I can’t handle a hike in cold weather, especially weather that can flip a car. The ricks of Utah look amazing though. Did you need full hiking boots or would walking shoes do?

    • I honestly thought I couldn’t either, as I am from Phoenix- so I can handle heat not cold. But I brought good gear and that really helped. As for shoes, it really depends on the condition of the trail and how long you want to go. If things are dry, regular athletic shoes are fine, but if you have a heavy pack and are walking for longer, I would always suggest a boot. When it is slippery and muddy, boots are best as well.

  11. Sounds like a fun adventure! I’ve never been to Utah, but this looks like a wonderful road trip. Beautiful pictures, thanks for sharing!

  12. Utah does have some awe inspiring scenery. That’s the one thing I dislike about Zion…it’s always so busy on the main stretch! If you go back further in it will thin out but for the most part….crowded. What an amazing feeling to conquer your fears. Overall it sounds like it was a great week!

    • Yeah! I think that will be what I need to do if I go again- try to go out where there are less crowds. But I did really enjoy Angel’s Landing for the reason you mention. XD

  13. Stunning pictures! Sounds like a great trip even with some hiccups along the way. I love that you included the hiccups in your post.

  14. I plan on being in your neck of the woods mother’s day weekend. My friends are heading to the grand canyon to hike 👀

    I love your journey. I hope to capture and experience some of the same adventures as you

  15. Just breathtaking photos and scenery. I’ve been to Utah ski parks several times, and Salt Lake City, but some of this great outdoors has not been on my agenda. Next time for sure!

    • I’m hoping to go to Salt Lake City in the near future, but hopefully for some hiking rather than skiing. There are just too many fun things to do there!

  16. Amber

    What a great trip! Gorgeous area. I’ve never been.

  17. That looks like a great adventure, and a beauty of a car 🙂

  18. What beautiful land formations! I wish I can go there too! The car was cool too! May I know how much did you pay for the rent?

  19. Love this itinerary! Something I definitely want to do in the future. This post is definitely inspiring me to do it sooner!

  20. Utah is in my list and I am hoping to make it this summer. Gorgeous photos:)

  21. Wow, this seems a really great roadtrip! Utah looks amazing, I hope to visit it someday!

  22. blair villanueva

    Sometimes, best are always worth the wait.. just like your rental car 🙂 Amd the destination you’ve been 🙂

  23. Utah looks like such beautiful place. I only went to Salt Lake City as a child. I hope to head back to all this beautiful scenery 🙂

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