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Total 14 nights

Day 1

Arrival Salt Lake City

Depart London Heathrow – 11:30

Arrive Salt Lake City – 16:40

Journey Time 9 hours 30 minutes

(Please note: Flight times are subject to change)

Arrival in Salt Lake City, where you will pick-up your rental vehicle and travel towards Salt Lake City and your hotel. Drop your bags, freshen up, and enjoy dinner. Salt Lake City offers a wide dining choice from upscale steak restaurants, to Italian, Greek, Chinese or simple American Bistro.

Overnight – Salt Lake City

Day 2
Salt Lake City to Moab-Arches & Canyonlands National Parks – 234 miles

This morning  take the opportunity to explore Salt Lake City. Founded by the Mormons in 1847, Salt Lake City today is the cultural and ecclesiastical as well as the political Capitol of Utah, and lies in a spectacular setting at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains. In the heart of downtown lies Temple Square, containing several points of interest relating to the Mormon Religion and Utah’s pioneer history. The neo-gothic Salt Lake Temple, built over a 40 year period starting in 1853, is the massive and inspiring focal point of the square. Take a tour of the Tabernacle, home to the world famous Tabernacle Choir, where it is said that a pin dropped at the front can be heard all the way at the back. Free guided tours depart from in front of the Tabernacle every hour starting at 9AM. Free Parking for up to 2 Hours is available at City Creek Center (use the West Temple street entrance for closest access to Temple Square sights).

Continue to Moab, approximately 4 hours driving time. Depart for Moab via I-15 South and US-6 East toward Price/Green River.

The Town of Moab is the perfect destination to explore the surrounding sights. Downtown Moab has a great collection of restaurants, shops and galleries.  Stroll through the downtown shops for a great selection of southwestern arts and jewelry, souvenirs, t-shirts, and much more. There is a very good information center downtown which can help you plan your days exploring the area. Moab’s diverse cuisine will please any palate, from regional southwestern fare to world-class gourmet.

Overnight – Moab

Day 3

Full day seeing Arches National Park

Arches National Park lies 5 miles northwest of Moab on US-191. As you enter, you’ll receive a park map showing you all of  the stops you can make in the park to view the stunning rock formations. Arches has the world’s largest collection of sandstone arches and we suggest enjoying one of the walks or hikes to view these marvels of mother nature up close.  Details on short walks and longer hikes are also provided at the Visitors Center (Open 8am to 6pm). Allow 4 to 5 Hours to enjoy most of the major stops and short walks or a full day if you wish to make a longer hike.

Overnight – Moab

Day 4
Moab to Monument Valley via Canyonlands National Park – 210 Miles

Canyonlands National Park is a 40 minute drive from Moab via US 191 North, then 22 miles South on SR 313. The Islands in the Sky District is the easiest district to visit in a short period of time. (Visitor Center open 9am to 4pm). The 34 scenic roundtrip offers spectacular views from a paved scenic rode.

Here you must certainly stop at the Mesa Arch short loop trail….you will not be disappointed. Once again there are many stops and the map provided at the park entrance marks them all. 3-4 hours for this visit should be allowed.

Depart Canyonlands National Park via SR 313 North and US 191 South toward Monument Valley.

Overnight – Monument Valley

Day 5

Full day seeing Monument Valley

Monument Valley, a red-sand desert region on the Arizona-Utah border, is known for the towering sandstone buttes.  Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is located just off of US 161 (open daily from 6am to 8:30pm May-Sept). The park, made famous by western movies and John Wayne is one of the most photographed places in America. There are great views of the valley from the scenic drive along Hwy 163, but to get up close and personal you will need to visit the Monument Valley Tribal Park. You can tour parts of the park in your private car or take a Navajo lead tour to some of the more remote areas. If you decide to tour the valley on your own, please be advised that many roads are off limit to private cars and can only be toured with a Navajo guide since the Monument Valley is their traditional Tribal Park. Please respect their privacy at all times and never take a photograph without permission. If permission is granted, gratuity is expected for the photograph.

Overnight – Monument Valley

Day 6

Monument Valley to Page – 130 Miles

On the way to beautiful Lake Powell we recommend a stop at the Navajo National Monument (US 160 to SR 564), which preserves three of the most-intact cliff dwellings of the Anasazi.

The sparkling blue waters of Lake Powell are magnificently framed by towering rock formations and soaring red cliffs which surround the area for as far as the eye can see. The red rock desert surrounding Page and Lake Powell is truly magnificent and a photographer’s paradise.

Page, a small town in northern Arizona sits on a hill overlooking beautiful Lake Powell offering spectacular views of the lake and the surrounding desert.  This friendly community offers visitors outstanding recreation opportunities and services. The location is ideal for exploring many of the American Southwest’s renowned national parks and monuments, and discovering the unique culture of the Navajo Nation.

Overnight – Page

Day 7

Full day seeing Lake Powell

Spend the day exploring the area around Page and Lake Powell.

With Lake Powell and the Colorado River at your doorstep you are at the heart of unparalleled beauty. With so many choices today a great place to start is the Lake Powell Museum because it’s an Arizona State Visitor Center where you can pick up brochures and have your questions answered. One of the most frequently visited areas is the Antelope Canyon whose entrance and exit are completely at ground level. These amazing canyons were formed over thousands of years by wind and water. Due to the popularity advance reservations are highly recommended. Time permitting you can also enjoy a float trip down the Colorado River through the dramatic Glen Canyon recreational area or a boat tour from the Wahweap Marina at Lake Powell – so many possibilities!

Overnight – Page

Day 8
Page to Kanab via Marble Canyon/Grand Canyon North Rim – 204 Miles

Depart for the Grand Canyon North Rim via US 89Alt and AZ 67 South.

More dramatic and incredible scenery waits as you leave Page. About 40 miles outside Page at Lee’s Ferry the ancient rock walls rise to form the majestic Marble Canyon, the beginning of the Grand Canyon. Crossing over Navajo Bridge one of only seven land crossings of the Colorado River enjoy scenic views of Marble Canyon and the Colorado River. Marble Canyon is a misnomer because there is no marble there. Although Powell knew this when he named the canyon, he thought the polished limestone looked like marble. In his words, “The limestone of the canyon is often polished, and makes a beautiful marble. Sometimes the rocks are of many colors – white, gray, pink, and purple, with saffron tints”.  We recommend a stop at Cliff Dwellers Restaurant just 9 miles from Marble Canyon to enjoy a delightful lunch or light refreshment at this unexpected culinary delight.

Your destination Grand Canyon North Rim offers a serene and enthralling Grand Canyon experience. It is more remote and less developed than the South Rim inviting you to slow down, ponder and fall in love with landscape. Your first stop should be at the visitor center where you can orient yourself and enjoy one of the most spectacular views in the world. To make your visit to the north rim even more memorable consider booking a mule ride. Gentle mules and informative guides offer one or three hour rides along the rim of the canyon. Various times are available to work in conjunction with your schedule and advance reservations are recommended.

This afternoon depart the Grand Canyon North Rim via AZ 67 North to Jacob Lake, then US 89Alt North to Kanab. Estimated drive time for this segment is an hour and 40 minutes.

Named for a Paiute word meaning “place of the willows,” Kanab was settled in 1864 when Fort Kanab was built on the east bank of Kanab Creek for defense against the Indians and as a base for the exploration of the area. Indian attacks forced the abandonment of the fort in 1866. In 1870, ten Mormon families moved into the fort and began to establish the present town. Today, Kanab is a scenic tourist town with a friendly western spirit where tens of thousands of tourists stop to enjoy the “Old West” quality of life each year. The history in Kanab comes alive in the architecture of the old homes and buildings of the community.

Kanab Movie History – In 1931, the Parry Brothers opened Parry Lodge in Kanab so they could feed and house as well as transport the casts and crews. Armed with hundreds of photos of the area’s scenic locations, they made several trips to Hollywood calling on studio executives and locations scouts.

Their efforts were wildly successful. Over the next 50 years, Kanab area scenery and residents were used in over 100 featured films and hundreds of television episodes. Most of those productions made Parry Lodge their home away from home.

Overnight – Kanab

Day 9

Kanab to Springdale / Zion National Park – 42 Miles

Just inside the east gate of Zion, a notable park feature includes Checkerboard Mesa. The unusual crack pattern in the sandstone hills resemble a grid much like you would see on a checkerboard. The east side of the park is served by Zion–Mount Carmel Highway, which passes through the Zion–Mount Carmel Tunnel and a switchback rode ending at the valley flow. From March 12 through the end of October and on weekends in November the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is accessible by shuttle bus only. There is such a wide variety of things to do and see, but probably the single most important activity for visitors is traveling the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive  stopping at viewpoints to see many of the park’s best-known rock formations. One of the most recognizable of Zion’s highlights, the Court of the Patriarchs bear the biblical names of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Viewpoints of these three photogenic peaks are easily accessible via the Zion shuttle. Among the spectacular rock formations that you won’t want to miss is the Great White Throne, which can be seen from Zion Canyon Scenic Drive as well as from several hiking trails.

Located just outside the parks southern entrance, the charming town of Springdale  is home to amazing and unique hotels, inns, B&B’s, restaurants, cafes, markets, galleries, tour guides, outfitters, gift shops, outdoor stores, and more.

Overnight – Springdale

Day 10

Full day seeing Zion National Park

Full day sightseeing Zion National Park via free town shuttle bus.  Zion Canyon is a spectacular gorge being carved through strangely colored sandstone and shale by the Virgin River. About half a mile deep and half a mile wide at its mouth, the canyon narrows to about 300 feet at the Temple of Sinawava.

Overnight – Springdale

Day 11

Zion National Park to Bryce Canyon National Park – 85 Miles

Depart for Bryce Canyon National Park via the Zion- –Mount Carmel Tunnel and Highway UT 9. At Mount Carmel Junction take US 89 North and UT 12 East.

Bryce Canyon National Park, a sprawling reserve in southern Utah, is known for crimson-colored hoodoos, which are spire-shaped rock formations. The park’s main road leads past the expansive Bryce Amphitheater, a hoodoo-filled depression lying below the Rim Trail hiking path. It has overlooks at Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Inspiration Point and Bryce Point. Prime viewing times are around sunup and sundown.

Overnight – Bryce Canyon City

Day 12
Bryce Canyon National Park to Capitol Reef National Park via Kodachrome Basin State Park and Grand Staircase National Monument

Depart for Capitol Reef National Park via UT 12 East toward Tropic/Cannonville.

Kodachrome Basin State Park contains 67 monolithic stone spires, called sedimentary pipes, accentuate multihued sandstone layers that reveal 180 million years of geologic time.  The color and beauty found here prompted a National Geographic Society expedition to name the area Kodachrome, after the popular color film, in 1948.

Continue on US 12 North toward Escalante.

Depending on where you stand, Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument has been quietly doing its thing for between 275 million and 50 million years. But it’s relatively new to us humans: It was the last part of the lower 48 United States to get cartographed, and once people started poking around they realized they were dealing with an un-spent wealth of ancient and modern science and culture. President Bill Clinton set it aside as a national monument in 1996 because its untrammeled significance distinguishes it for researchers and explorers alike. Due to its relatively undeveloped and access only via unpaved roads to many of the major sights, we recommend that you enjoy the vistas afforded you along US 12.

Capitol Reef National Park is in Utah’s south-central desert. It surrounds a long wrinkle in the earth known as the Waterpocket Fold, with layers of golden sandstone, canyons and striking rock formations. Among the park’s sights are the Chimney Rock pillar, the Hickman Bridge Arch, and Capitol Reef, known for its white sandstone domes. In the north are the towering monoliths of Cathedral Valley. The visitor center is open daily (except for some major holidays) from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with extended hours spring through the fall.

Overnight – Torrey

Day 13
Torrey-Capitol Reef National Park to Park City – 214 Miles

Depart for Park City UT via UT 24 West and I-15 North to US 189 North.

When three off duty soldiers discovered silver in the mountains above Park City in the 1870’s, they started a rush that produced millions of dollars’ worth of silver from mines surrounding the area. Today Park City is a unique blend of the old and new. Sixty-four of Park City’s buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, many of which are located along the town’s Main Street, and more than 1,200 miles of tunnels wind through the surrounding mountains, remnants of the silver mining era.

Park City’s Main Street Old Town area has a great collection of restaurants, shops and galleries. And if you’re in the mood for a brand-name bargain, stop by Park City’s popular Tanger Outlet Center.

Overnight – Park City

Day 14

Full day seeing Park City

An interactive pictorial of Park City’s colorful mining history is on display at the newly renovated Park City Museum, located at 528 Main Street, in the heart of Park City’s historic Old Town district.

During the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, Utah Olympic Park (3419 Olympic Parkway) hosted bobsled, skeleton, luge, and Nordic ski jumping events. Home to six Nordic Ski Jumps, 1,335-meter sliding track with five start areas, freestyle aerials winter training and competition hill, and newly renovated Big Air pool, the Utah Olympic Park serves as a training center for Olympic and development level athletes and is a popular destination for visitors.

The Park features the Joe Quinney Winter Sports Center, which houses both the Alf Engen Ski Museum and George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles 2002 Olympic Winter Games Museum. Parking and admission to the museums and venue is free. There are also nature trails throughout the venue, so feel free to wander and explore.

Overnight – Anchorage, AK

Day 15

Depart for UK

Return to Salt Lake City International Airport for your flight home.

Depart London Heathrow – 20:10

Arrive Salt Lake City – 13:00*

Journey Time – 9 hours 50 minutes

* = Next Day Arrival

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The post The Mighty Five National Parks of Utah appeared first on Complete North America.

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