What is the Mighty 5 in Utah?
The Mighty 5 Utah is the collective name of the 5 awesome national parks that lie within the state’s boundaries. They are:
Zion National Park:
The most visited of the Mighty 5, Zion is a long winding valley running up between 1000 ft limestone cliffs, Zion offers spectacular scenery and one of a kind hiking opportunities like Angels Landing or Observation Point. The Virgin River, which is responsible for the canyon, can be followed up the ever-narrowing chasm until you find The Narrows. Here you literally will walk up the river as the walls continue to close in on you, culminating in a series of slot canyons which can be explored for hours (or days.) Zion National Park Guide
Bryce Canyon National Park:
The crown jewel of the Grand Staircase, Bryce National Park is not so much a canyon as a weathering cliff face. The unique layering of the strata here combined with almost daily freeze/thaw cycles leave behind hundreds of red, orange and white spires called “hoodoos.” Bryce Canyon holds the largest collection of hoodoos in the world, arranged in several amphitheaters. The park offers miles of hiking trails in and around the spires. Since the park facilities sit along the rim of the cliffs, the views down into the amphitheaters are exceptional, especially at sunrise and sunset. Bryce Canyon National Park Guide
Arches National Park:
Situated near Moab, UT Arches National Park is famous for its collection of more than 2000 natural limestone arches. The park also offers hundreds of fins, cliffs, and balanced rocks. Arches National Park Guide
Canyonlands National Park:
Also situated near Moab, Canyons is the largest of the Mighty 5 and is a sight to behold. We think it truly rivals the Grand Canyon in sheer awesomeness and should not be missed. The Colorado and Green Rivers are the driving force in the park, digging out valleys 1500 feet deep in some places. The Islands In The Sky district of the park sits atop a massive mesa allowing views of hundreds of miles in some places and down into the river valleys all around the park. The 2 rivers convergence creates some of the best whitewater rafting anywhere. This park is designed to be left very raw and natural so luxuries like roads are not to be found everywhere. The Maze and The Needles districts of the park are best explored by 4WD. That being said, road travel in the “Islands” district is quite nice and walking travel to many of the viewpoints is quite easy. Canyonlands National Park Guide
Capitol Reef National Park:
This park is quite “other-worldly.” The landscape here is created by a wrinkle in the earth’s crust called the Waterpocket Fold. The result is over a hundred miles of jagged cliffs, spires, domes, slot canyons, and arches. Centered in the park is an old settlement called Fruita which still has operating businesses and fruit orchards. Capitol Reef National Park Guide
All of the Mighty 5 Utah National Parks parks are located in southern Utah and are relatively close together. Each of these parks offers spectacular scenery as well as top-notch outdoor adventure opportunities. When considered together with Utah’s other wonderful places of interest such as Goblin Valley State Park, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, and the Great Salt Lake near Salt Lake City, the state is jam-packed with adventure and sightseeing opportunities.
How Many Days Do You Need in Utah?
That is a very tough question to answer. It really depends on how deeply you wish to explore the parks. Outside Zion (shuttle only), each park has opportunities for quick vehicle-based sightseeing and anyone could be seen in a day. However, for the avid hiker, camper or back-country explorer, much more time can be spent getting deeper into each of these parks. While there are articles out there on how to see all of the parks in as little as 5 days, we ALWAYS suggest spending more time seeing less. All of these parks are awesome in their own right and the more patient traveler will benefit from visiting these places at different times of day, lighting conditions, etc. For instance, the environment in Bryce Canyon is completely different at sunset than it is at midday, and again in the evening. There is also some world class night sky viewing at this park (and several of the others.) So relax, you’ll get to them all…eventually.
Are Pets Allowed in The Mighty 5 Utah National Parks?
As a general rule, yes. However, the extent to which they are welcome usually makes it difficult to bring Fido along. In other words, typically pets are only allowed on the pavement and in campgrounds. So trails, buildings, nature areas are usually pet free. So bringing FooFoo along will most certainly limit your exploration. As usual, when bringing your pet along:
- Keep ‘em on a leash. No running free!
- Clean up after ‘em. No one wants to step in poop. (Really no-one!)
- Don’t let ‘em bark too much. It’s just annoying for others.
- Don’t leave ‘em in the car. It gets hot here.
- ID ‘em. In case number 1 gets broken.
- Vaccinate ‘em. Doggy diseases suck for other critters as well.
I know this is all obvious, but some people… well…you know…
How Much Does It Cost To Visit The Mighty 5 Utah National Parks?
The prices vary, but a typical entrance fee is $30 to $35 per vehicle. It may be very wise to get an Annual Pass which runs about $80 and covers your entry fee to ALL National Parks. So if you plan to visit more then a couple of parks during the year, this pass makes all minds of sense. There are also special pricing passes for Seniors, Military, etc. AND a free family pass for 4th graders!
Do you have any questions about the Mighty 5 Utah National Parks? Leave a comment here with your question, we’ll be glad to send you an answer.
Grainne Foley grew up in Ireland and spent summers caravanning around Europe with her family. Now, as a wife and mother of 2, she spent 5 years traveling the USA as a full time RVing family. She is passionate about travel, and helping others who are considering the RV lifestyle. She has created dozens of helpful RVing checklists which are available throughout the website, and has curated hundreds of simple, flavorful meals for families on the go.