A sparsely populated state of spellbinding scenery, jaw-dropping desert landscapes, soaring canyons and a host of diverse and dreamy national and state parks, a holiday to Utah promises endless adventure and memories to last a lifetime.
Utah's 'Mighty 5' National Parks Self-Drive Itinerary
Southern and central Utah is home to five fantastic national parks - Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches and Canyonlands - which together are (justifiably) known as the 'Mighty 5'. Home to some of the most thrilling hiking trails and iconic landscapes in the US, each park offers something slightly different.
To help you experience the very best of this bucket-list destination, our travel experts have carefully curated an unmissable week-long, self-drive itinerary that takes you from Vegas through each of the 'Mighty 5' parks, before ending with an authentic western ranch experience in Moab. As well as driving through the striking scenery at your own pace (including along the iconic, 'All-America' Scenic Byway 12) you will enjoy adventures in each of the five parks. Drive beneath the unique arches of the aptly named Arches National Park by 4WD, hike through the red rock forest of the Bryce Canyon National Park, feel the thrill of canyoneering in the sprawling Zion National Park, marvel at the mesas of Canyonlands National Park, and truly get closer to nature amid the lesser-visited Capitol Reef National Park.
Of course, you'll be staying at the best accommodation in each destination - from luxury lodges to action-packed ranches - enjoying an authentic western experience with a little added luxury.
The delights of the state don't disappear with sunset, and stargazing in Utah is some of the best on the planet. There are a number of certified 'International Dark Sky Parks' dotted across the state, chosen for their gloriously clear night skies. This includes every single one of the 'Mighty 5' national parks that are already included in the above itinerary - Zion, Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef - as well as many other locations across the state. Prepare to be utterly blown away and magically humbled as you gaze up at the Milky Way, the stars illuminating the rock formations of the parks.
Striking State Parks
Along with the five national parks, Utah is home to an endless list of striking state park to explore as well, offering yet more alfresco activities and incredible scenery. The route in the above tour will take you close to several of these, and our experts would be pleased to tailor-make your itinerary to incorporate these natural marvels. Options include Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park (unsurprisingly known for its silky sandy dunes), Snow Canyon State Park (an area that explodes with its dramatic geology) and Kodachrome Basin State Park (home to utterly incredible rock columns, canyons and more).
If you venture away from the route highlighted above, there are countless more state parks to uncover. Close to Salt Lake City (the state's only major metropolis), you'll find Antelope Island State Park, sat within the Great Salt Lake, home to free-roaming bison and antelope herds, as well as many miles of hiking trails. The Goblin Valley National Park is utterly unique and often compared to Mars, the landscape covered with sandstone 'goblins' and other fascinating formations, whilst the primitive Goosenecks State Park has been formed by around 300-million-years of erosion, so expect fascinating formations and ancient Navajo tribal parks.
Summer in the Mountains
If you're staying at the Lodge at Blue Sky (an exclusive mountain ranch) during the summertime, don't miss a trip to The Park City Mountain Adventure Park nearby. Breathe in the fresh mountain air as you hike into the hills, soar above them by scenic gondola, feel the thrill of riding Utah's longest mountain coaster, and embrace over 400 miles of mountain bike trails. Afterwards, refuel with exceptional mountain cuisine and unwind as you listen to the live music of the Summer Concert Series, whilst admiring amazing views.
Luxury in the Canyons at Amangiri
A descending arrival track and endless canyon views set the scene for Amangiri, an exclusive outback retreat from legendary luxury brand AMAN. Camouflaged within the desert valleys of Utah, amongst some of continent's most outstanding protected areas, this unique hotel cleverly combines five-star living with an authentic Utah experience. After hiking along valleys, searching for dinosaur tracks, meeting local Navajo people or feeling the thrill of canyoneering, return to your luxury suite or tented pavilion at Amangiri. The 25,000-square-foot spa is also simply spectacular, offering treatments that embrace the local heritage, whilst there is a duo of restaurants celebrating cuisine from the American Southwest.
From Amangiri, you can also visit the charming town of Kanab for a classic American West experience, surrounded by towering Navajo sandstone cliffs and vistas of sagebrush. Dubbed 'Little Hollywood', Kanab is known for its rich movie heritage, the town's scenery having lured filmmakers for nearly 80 years. As you stroll around, look out for a number of abandoned film sets, movie posters and autographed photographs from the stars, as well as visiting the Little Hollywood Museum.