A beautiful self-drive itinerary of Utah's Big Five for you
Updated: Jul 14, 2020
The Big Five:
Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches and Canyonlands
Suited to travelers of all ages and abilities, this exciting self-drive itinerary traces a route through the heart of the Southwest, visiting its most captivating protected natural area along the way.
Beginning in Las Vegas, journey through Utah's Big Five with local expert guides with these highlights:
Hike and try your hand at canyoneering in Zion National Park
Catch glimpses of Bryce Canyon National Park’s dramatic "hoodoo" formations
Stand in awe at the foot of Capitol Reef National Park's majestic Temple of the Sun and The Moon,
Enjoy incredible views of the Colorado River from the Canyonlands National Park's Shafer Trail.
Meander through sandstone fins and dunes on a back-country 4x4 tour in and around Arches National Park.
Wander among majestic sandstone canyons on a sightseeing cruise on the Colorado River.
Day 1: Las Vegas to Springdale, Utah
Your Itinerary starts in Las Vegas where you will pick up your rental car and drive through the desert to the charming town of Springdale, Utah. Check into the Springdale hotel just outside the boundaries of Zion National Park, and enjoy the rest of your day at leisure to explore Springdale's cute shops, eclectic restaurants and impressive views.
Day 2: Zion National Park
Kick off your adventure early this morning as your private driver guide picks you up from your hotel to embark on a customizable guided tour in and around Zion National Park. Adventure-seekers will delight in an exhilarating hiking program coupled with an adrenaline inducing introduction to canyoneering. Midway through the day, pause to enjoy a gourmet picnic lunch, then round out the afternoon with a dip in a secluded desert oasis.
Less active sightseers may opt to sit back relax and enjoy the views from the comfort of their luxury vehicle. After your picnic lunch, head to an authentic ghost town where you can relive the excitement of the Wild West.
After your day tour has concluded, your guide will return you to your hotel to spend the evening at leisure.
Day 3: Zion to Bryce Canyon National Park
This morning, enjoy an early breakfast before driving to the town of Tropic, where you will park your car and meet your local driver guide for a tour Bryce Canyon National Park. Enjoy glimpses of unique "hoodoo" rock formations that are often said to evoke Gothic churches, castles, animals and even people on a hike tailored to your skill level.
You may elect to walk along the amphitheater rim for an interpretive of the park's unique geology, or for a more challenging route, hike down to the canyon floor to get a closer look at this otherworldly landscape. Enjoy a picnic lunch among a grove of 2000-year-old Bristlecone pine trees, then continue onward to the best viewpoints that the Bryce Canyon has to offer.
After your day of adventure concludes, your guide will escort you back to Tropic to check into your accommodations at the Stone Canyon Inn.
Day 4: Capitol Reef National Park
Today you will enjoy a long, scenic drive through the heart of Southwest
en-route to Moab. Traveling along Utah’s famed ST 12 highway– considered one of the most beautiful byways in the nation– break for a guided off-road Jeep tour of the stunning Capitol Reef National Park. With your ex-park ranger guide, explore 200 million years of geologic history revealed through white sandstone domes and rocky cliffs that are said to resemble capitol buildings and coral reefs. Admire Navajo petroglyphs and dinosaur bones before stopping for a scenic picnic lunch, then make your way to one of the park's major highlights– the awe-inspiring Temple of the Sun and The Moon.
Make sure to grab some coffee and homemade pie and ice cream at the nearby Gifford Family Homestead before hitting the road again. Arrive in Moab in the late afternoon and check into your rooms at the Sorrel River Ranch Resort & Spa, enjoying a well-earned evening of rest and relaxation.
Day 5: Arches and Canyonlands National Parks
Today, your private driver-guide will pick you up from your hotel for a day of exploration in the breathtaking Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Your tour begins high atop Canyonlands' Island in the Sky mesa and descends via the steep switchbacks of the Shafer Trail. Along the way, enjoy incredible views of the Colorado River and the surrounding natural beauty. Make your way through Arches National Park to the surreal Devil's Garden for deli-style lunch.Then, embark on a backcountry 4x4 tour. The trail climbs a steep but short rock wall, cuts across a valley and meanders through sandstone fins and dunes. En route, pass famed geologic formations and naturally-formed arches such as the Marching Men, Tower Arch, and the Eye of the Whale. Exit the park via an old cowboy trail and stop to see dinosaur tracks on your way back to Moab. Your driver will transfer you to back to your hotel to spend the evening at leisure.
Day 6: The Colorado River
This morning, your driver guide will pick you up from your hotel and take you on a sightseeing river cruise on the mighty Colorado River. Enjoy a mild ride that will allow you to meander deep within majestic sandstone canyons and take in the grandeur of this stunning natural area. Float past Dead Horse Point as you delight in unrivaled views of some of the most photographed scenery in the world, then break for a short hike to see Indian rock art and ruins. At the end of the tour, your driver/guide will return you to your hotel where you can enjoy lunch and your final afternoon in Moab at leisure.
In the morning, make your way to Canyonlands Field Airport, where you will drop off your rental car. Journey home with wonderful memories and rejuvenated spirit!