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All Five National Parks in Utah and Havasu Falls in 16 Days

Guest post by Dina6040

Map tips: each color represents a different day. Click a marker to learn more about the spot, and click the star in the map header to save the entire map under Your Places in Google Maps.

We took this Road Trip starting and ending in Las Vegas in October 2015. Along the way, we saw all five of Utah’s National Parks, Monument Valley, the Grand Canyon South Rim, and hiked to Havasu Falls. We were lucky enough to get permits to hike The Subway in Zion and spend 2 nights at Havasu Falls.

Day 1: Vegas to Zion National Park

  • Valley of Fire
  • Watchman Campground

We flew Southwest to Las Vegas from Pittsburgh, landing at 7:15 AM.  We got our rental car at Sixt and headed to Zion by way of Valley of Fire State Park.  It was HOT but we enjoyed the viewpoints and scenic drive.  This is a very nice park and well worth a little detour.  Afterward, we continued on to Zion which is one of our favorite national parks.  This time, we would be here for 3 nights camping inside the park.

The Watchman, Zion National Park

Day 2: Zion

  • The Subway
  • Canyon Junction Bridge

We were lucky enough to score Subway permits for this day.  To get advanced permits you have to enter a lottery and we lucked out.  The hike there and back took most of the day.  The hike involves a lot of scrambling and wading through the water to get you to one of the most incredible sites – a really unique slot canyon.  This was a highlight!  Afterward, we headed to one of our favorite photography spots – the bridge covering the Virgin River near Canyon Junction.  We took photographs here until after dark.  Great day in the park!

Day 3: Angels Landing

We spent all day exploring Zion today.  We had been here a couple of years before but enjoyed visiting again.  We hiked Angels Landing which is an INCREDIBLE view when you get to the top and requires hanging on to chains and some precipitous drops.  It is a scary climb but the view from the top are world- class.  We stopped at every shuttle stop and enjoyed the views, took some shorter hikes, and photographed everything in sight.

Angels Landing, the prominent peak, from ground level

Day 4: Zion to Bryce Canyon National Park

  • Checkerboard Mesa
  • Red Canyon
  • Dixie National Forest

The drive between Zion and Bryce is stunning.  We traveled out the western entrance/exit to Zion and toward Bryce.  While still in Zion, we saw bighorn sheep and checkerboard mesa.  We got out and explored Red Canyon as we got closer to Bryce.  At Bryce, we stayed in the park at the Bryce Canyon Lodge.  We had a cabin that was just a few steps from the rim.  Bryce is one of the most beautiful places in the world.  We went to as many of the viewpoints throughout the park as we could and enjoyed a beautiful sunset.

Day 5: Bryce to Capitol Reef National Park

We started the morning off taking a couple of steps outside our cabin and enjoying a sunrise.  Sunset and sunrise are the best times to be on the rim at Bryce.  After breakfast at the lodge, we headed to Capitol Reef National Park by way of Utah-12.  This is a fantastic drive and we stopped many places.  At Capitol Reef, we checked into the Red Sands Hotel and headed into the park for some sunset views.

Day 6: Capitol Reef

We spent all day exploring Capitol Reef – Utah’s least visited national park.  It is a little bit of a hidden gem and we really enjoyed our time.  We took a few short hikes, picked apples from the working orchards, and enjoyed the petroglyphs and the Hickman Natural Bridge.  We found an amazing mexican restaurant for dinner and enjoyed our final evening in Torrey.

Day 7: Capitol Reef to Moab

  • Goblin Valley State Park
  • Little Wild Horse Canyon
  • Sego Canyon Rock Art

This was a great road trip day – we spent the whole driving from Torrey to Moab and stopping at some amazing stops along the way.  Goblins Valley was one of my favorite places we went on the whole trip.  We spent a few hours here and had a picnic.  My husband walked up into the “Goblin’s Lair” which he loved.  We walked a little ways through a neat slot canyon called “Little Wild Horse.”  After that we took a short detour to the Sego Canyon petroglyphs which were incredible.  Afterward, we headed on to Moab where we were staying for the next three nights.

Day 8: Arches National Park

  • Double Arch
  • Landscape Arch
  • Sand Dune Arch

We spent the day exploring Arches National Park – driving the main park roads and stopping and taking many short hikes to the various arches and viewpoints.  We also spent some time walking around Moab itself, shopping at the stores.

Day 9: Delicate Arch

We spent another day around Moab and Arches.  At sunset, we took the famous hike to Delicate Arch which is just fantastic.  When in Moab, I always like to stop at the Moab Diner for the milkshakes and green chili!

Delicate Arch

Day 10: Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point

  • Newspaper Rock State Historical Monument
  • False Kiva
  • Dead Horse Point State Park

Today was a great day driving out to Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park.  We had one of the best hikes we have ever taken to False Kiva which is not on park maps and may have since been closed to the public – ask a ranger for more information before trying to go.  Canyonlands scenery is overwhelming and we want to go back and spend more time in the back country.   We enjoyed our final night in Moab before heading on to Monument Valley the next morning.

Day 11: Monument Valley

Today we took our time driving to Monument Valley.  It takes a while to get there from anywhere and we weren’t in a rush.  When driving through the tribal land there are often people selling handmade crafts and other wares on the side of the road and we bought some souvenirs.  The View Hotel in Monument Valley lives up to its name and is fantastic.  Unfortunately, there was heavy fog when we checked in but you have an unobstructed view of the Mittens and the Valley from your bed!  Each room also has a balcony overlooking the Valley.  You are on tribal land so alcohol is not allowed and is not served in the restaurant.  I highly recommend this hotel!

Day 12: South Rim of the Grand Canyon

We made our way from Monument Valley to Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim).  We got up for sunrise and enjoyed the view right from our room, taking photographs from the balcony.  After a nice breakfast, we were on our way to the South Rim.  The weather was rainy and heavily foggy so the views at the Grand Canyon were not ideal.  We ended up checking out some of the different viewpoints and checking into our hotel inside the park.  The fog became so heavy you really couldn’t see anything.  We did have a nice dinner at El Tovar which is a great restaurant.

Day 13: Route 66 to Peach Springs

We spent the first half of the day exploring the South Rim as the weather was a little better.  We did a few short hikes along the rim and enjoyed the various viewpoints.  Around noon, we had to depart and make our way toward Peach Springs, Arizona for the night because the next day we would be hiking into Havasu Falls.  We spent the night at a place I can only describe as quirky – the Grand Canyon Caverns.  There are dinosaurs in the lawn and a supposedly haunted underground section you can actually spend the night in (we did not).  We met my husband’s brother and uncle here and spent the night.  The hotel is really convenient to the Havasu Trail Head.

Day 14: Hiking to Havasupai

We left the hotel and drove about an hour down Indian Route 18 to the trail head to hike into Havasu Falls.  There are no services so have a full tank of gas and water and supplies for your adventure.  The trail head is a big parking area with beautiful views down into the canyon.   We got a nice early start and hiked the 8 miles through the canyon to the Supai village.  At the village, you check in using your reservation number.  Then it’s about 2 more miles to the campground which is on both sides of the river between Havasu and Mooney falls.  You cannot come here without the reservation which you have to get well in advance.  In the village, there’s a little restaurant serving fast- food type meals.  When you first see the blue waters – that’s an amazing sight after all the hiking!  We set up a camping spot and enjoyed the waters!

Day 15: Waterfalls

  • Havasu Falls
  • Mooney Falls
  • Navajo Falls
  • Fifty Foot Falls

Today we swam in the waters and photographed the waterfalls.  This was just a fantastic and fun day.  We made our meals at the campsite and soaked in some of the best views in the world.  This was our first trip to Havasu and we loved it so much we came again the next year!

Mooney Falls

Day 16: Back to Vegas

Today we made the loooooong, dusty, hot hike out of the canyon and back to the hilltop where our car was.  The hike out is no joke and we paid to have our bags carried by mules.  We were pretty tired when we made it out and were glad we brought enough water.  From there, we drove to Las Vegas and stayed on the strip for a night before our flight out the next day.

This trip was just amazing. All five national parks in Utah are incredible. The South Rim is maybe my least favorite national park but it’s impressive nonetheless. Add in Monument Valley and Havasu and this was one of the best trips we have taken!!

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