5-Day National Park Itinerary

5-Day National Park Itinerary

By Chad Taylor & Jake Wilhelmsen
June 08, 2017

See enough canyons, cliffs, arches and bridges to last a lifetime. This five-day, five-park trip will leave you with a profound sense of awe, a phone full of photos and several pairs of reddish socks.

Have you always wanted to take a road trip through Utah’s famously scenic parks, but had the hoodoo scared right out of you by the thought of planning out your own food, arranging your own campsites, knowing which airport to fly into and finding the right trailheads?

Luckily the folks at MountainBased have it all figured out. Fly into Salt Lake City, meet up with your super cool guides, hop in a comfy van and embark on a five-day, 1,000-mile, seven-park camping trip. This is how you see Zion, Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon national parks along with Dead Horse Point and Goblin Valley state parks with just 5 days off of work.

Dead Horse Point State Park

Day 1

Morning: Meet the other folks in the group as you leave from Salt Lake City and drive through the beautiful Wasatch Mountain Range en route to southern Utah.

Midday: Explore the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park, enjoying hikes to sprawling desert views and the iconic Mesa Arch.

Afternoon: On the way out of the Canyonlands, stop at scenic Dead Horse Point State Park. A viewpoint worth a trip all itself, Dead Horse Point has been featured in movies and shows like Thelma & Louise, Mission Impossible II and Westworld.

All Camping Gear Included

Evening: Head to a camp you don’t have to set up, sit by a campfire you don’t have to build and enjoy s’mores you might even be able to get your MountainBased guide to cook for you. (But who doesn’t like roasting marshmallows?)

Arches National Park

Day 2

Morning: Enjoy a hot breakfast (with plenty of coffee) before departing for Arches National Park.

Midday: Explore some of the park's most iconic geologic features like the Windows and Double Arch before embarking on a 3-mile round-trip hike to the world famous Delicate Arch. (Ya know, the one from the license plate.)

Afternoon: Explore some more with optional activities within the park. Then, head to the visitor center to learn more about the geology and the region's history, before heading back to Moab.

Evening: Walk around downtown Moab and enjoy a group dinner in town. Head back to camp and gaze at the billion-star view.

Capitol Reef National Park

Day 3

Morning: Get nourished and strengthened with a guide-prepared breakfast and hot cuppa joe before journeying to Goblin Valley State Park. The small hoodoos (aka goblins) and open desert views will make you feel like you’re on Mars.

Afternoon: Travel Capitol Reef National Park's Scenic Drive, taking in views of the park's unique geologic formations. Time, conditions and hiking muscles willing, take a possible hike to Hickman Bridge.

Evening: After a drive to Bryce Canyon (and a quick glimpse at Bryce's little brother Red Canyon), camp at Ruby's Campground just outside of Bryce Canyon, eat a yummy dinner and sack out, starry-eyed once again.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Day 4

Morning: Watch the light touch the hoodoos with an early sunrise at Bryce Canyon.

Afternoon: Enjoy breakfast and a walk along Bryce Canyon's Rim Trail, stopping at several viewpoints. (Although the whole trail is a viewpoint.)

Next, hike down into the Bryce Canyon Amphitheatre to enjoy a new perspective on the hoodoos and this one-of-a-kind park. This moderate trail has been called "The world's best 3-mile hike," and is well worth the challenging sections.

Evening: Head to the campground at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort and take advantage of some very un-campground-like amenities, like a pool and jacuzzi. After dark, enjoy what will probably be the darkest sky of the trip (or your life?).

Zion National Park

Day 5

Morning: Breakfast followed by some serious exploration at your fifth national park in five days! Enter Zion National Park and hike through the world-famous Zion Narrows (conditions permitting).

Midday: Have lunch and continue to explore Zion with scenic drives and optional hikes.

Afternoon: Cruise back to Salt Lake City and reminisce about the full week of exploration.

Evening: Arrive in downtown Salt Lake City and promptly fall fast asleep, with visions of hoodoos dancing in your head. If you plan to fly out the same day, MountainBased asks that you not book a flight before 10 p.m.

Reserve your spot on an upcoming MountainBased tour to experience this once in a lifetime camping experience!

Other tours offered by MountainBased:

3-Day Zion & Bryce Tour

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