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Utah's Mighty 5

by Katie McCabe  |  @awelltraveledpair  |  October 13th, 2019

The more I travel internationally, the more I realize just how much beauty exists right here in the United States. From the pristine beaches of Hawaii to the enchanting natural wonders of Oregon, the United States of America definitely has its fair share of beautiful sights. One state in particular really knows how to wow its visitors. And that state is Utah. National parks fill the state from border to border and house an incredible amount of unique red rock formations and other-worldly landscapes. Five national parks in particular are so impressive that they were coined the "Mighty 5." These spectacular parks attract more than 10 million visitors every year. Whether you're looking for thrilling hikes, the ultimate outdoor adventures, or a leisurely vacation amongst nature, these national parks will surely satisfy. So, without further ado, Utah's Mighty 5. 

Zion National Park

It's no doubt that Zion is Utah's most popular national park. From exhilarating hikes, such as The Narrows, Angels Landing, and the Emerald Pools, to awe-inspiring scenery, Zion will not disappoint. When looking for accommodations, consider Springdale, an adorable town just outside of Zion with fantastic hotel and restaurant options. 

Entrance Fee: $35 per vehicle (valid for 7 days)

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Bryce Canyon National Park

A wonderland of unique hoodoo formations awaits you at Bryce Canyon National Park. Viewpoints, such as Inspiration Point, Sunrise Point, and Sunset Point, offer exceptional hoodoo views, while hikes along the Queen's Garden Trail and Navajo Loop Trail lead hikers down to stand amongst the towering rock formations. For lodging options, the town of Bryce has an abundance of choices while Bryce Canyon Lodge is the only hotel inside of the park. 

Entrance Fee: $35 per vehicle (valid for 7 days)

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Arches National Park

Arches National Park may be the smallest of the Mighty 5 but it surely packs a punch. Filled with short hiking trails and over 2,000 arches, this exquisite park should not be missed. Top sights include Delicate Arch, Balanced Rock, Double Arch, and Turret Arch. The town of Moab is a 10 minute drive away and has nice hotel and restaurant options. 

Entrance Fee: $30 per vehicle (valid for 7 days)

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Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park is an enormous stretch of land filled with buttes, mesas, canyons, hiking trails, and overlooks. With over 330,000 acres to explore, it can be difficult to know where to start. The park is split up into three sections - Island in the Sky, The Needles, and The Maze. The Island in the Sky is by far the most popular district and it's easy to see why. Mind-blowing sights, such as Mesa Arch, Shafer Canyon, and Grand View Point, will surely knock your socks off. The Needles is further inside the park (about an hour's drive) and offers more rugged, un-touched landscapes. The Maze is a remote area that is only accessible with 4x4 vehicles. Moab is about 45 minutes away from Canyonlands entrance and is an excellent place to stay.

Entrance Fee: $30 per vehicle (valid for 7 days)

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Capitol Reef National Park

Driving through Capitol Reef National Park will have you feeling like your car landed on Mars. This magnificent landscape is so unique and special. The best part? To see most of it, you don't even have to step outside of your car. With a 16-mile scenic drive that takes you to the most dramatic spots in the park, visiting Capitol Reef is extremely easy. If you're feeling extra adventurous, take a detour out to the Temple of the Sun and Moon. Or better yet, park your car and hike out to Hickman Bridge or Cassidy Arch. For lodging options, I recommend the nearby town of Torrey. 

Entrance Fee: $20 per vehicle (valid for 7 days)

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Additional Tips:

•The best months to visit Utah's Mighty 5 are April, May, September, and October. The weather is cool to warm and the crowds are minimal. During June, July, and August the heat is extreme and so are the crowds. The winter months are less crowded but snow accumulation and cold temperatures can make driving and/or hiking difficult. 

 

•Get to the parks EARLY!!! Crowds begin to arrive around 8/9AM. I recommend beginning hikes by 7:30AM. 

 

•Always be prepared. Pack plenty of water and snacks, and wear appropriate clothing and footwear. 

 

•If you're planning to hike, downloading apps, such as AllTrails, can be very helpful. 

 

•If you're planning on visiting at least three of the Mighty 5, purchase a National Park Pass for $80. It is valid for one year.