We’ve now officially become Junior Rangers at all five of Utah’s national parks! We finished the programs at Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, and Zion last year and made our way to Capitol Reef this summer. All five of the parks have something different to offer and can be completed in a relatively easy loop, which we recommend trying if you have five days to a week or more. Check below for more details on each site!
Arches National Park
This is the national park that stole our hearts and inspired us to find our park. We knew that there was even more to see and explore after this park, and the rest is history. Located near Moab, Utah, this park is home to over 2,000 natural arches.
Our recommendations: Delicate Arch and the Windows/ Turret Arch loop
In town: Back of Beyond Books and Gearheads Outdoor Store
Canyonlands National Park
The Island in the Sky district is right down the road from Arches National Park and a lot less crowded. There are four distinct districts in Canyonlands: Needles, Island in the Sky, the Maze, and the rivers. We have only been to Island in the Sky, so, unfortunately, we are not your best tour guides for this park.
Our recommendation: Mesa Arch
Capitol Reef National Park
This park has significantly less visitors than Arches, Bryce Canyon, or Zion, but it still has plenty to offer!! We skipped it last year and kind of regret it. This park preserves the Waterpocket Fold and the stunning rock formations that highlight the days when the area was, like Ariel, under the sea. Human history plays a key role at this park from the evidence of early inhabitants through petroglyphs to the orchards brought to life by Mormon settlers in Fruita.
Our recommendations: Hickman Bridge, ranger-led programs, the scenic drive, AND baked goods from the Gifford House
Bryce Canyon National Park
One word: hoodoos! This park’s claim to fame is the rock formation known as a hoodoo. The hoodoo is formed over the years as ice fills cracks in the rock, expands the rock, and thaws. Check out the movie in the visitor center for the full details on how these formations grow and change. We love the I Hiked the Hoodoos challenge at the park! The majority of the trails here, which all give stunning views of the famous hoodoos, have geological markers that hikers are asked to make a rubbing of or take a picture with. Three completed miles on these trails with picture proof lead to a special prize for hikers!
Our recommendations: Queens Garden/ Navajo Loop, Tower Bridge, Mossy Cave, Adopt-a-Prairie-Dog, and ranger-led programs
Zion National Park
Zion was Utah’s first national park, established by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919. This park can usually be spotted near the top of the list for most visited national parks as visitors flock to the scenic canyon drive, famous trails such as The Narrows and Angel’s Landing, and top-notch rock climbing opportunities.
Our recommendations: Angel’s Landing, The Narrows, ranger-led programs, and the canyon drive
In town: Zion Pizza and Noodle Co. and Zion Outdoor
Finding Utah’s Mighty Five
Check out our quick video for more inspiration to EXPLORE LEARN PROTECT in Utah’s five national parks!