Desert Solitude, we specialize in helping our guests get off the beaten path and enjoy epic adventures in Utah’s most incredible destinations. Some of our most popular destinations are Utah’s national parks.
Utah ranks third on the list of states in the U.S. with the most national parks. It’s beaten only by California, which has nine national parks, and Alaska with eight. While many states have just one or two national parks within their borders, Utah has five. While all five are situated in Southern Utah, each is completely distinct, with its own unique natural features and attractions.
We offer a variety of Day Tours, Multi-Day Tours, and RV Glamping Tours that will allow you to explore one or more of Utah’s national parks. Still on the fence about which tour is right for you? Keep reading as we break down what you need to know about each of Utah’s national parks and what they’re known for.
Arches National Park
Our most requested tour is to Arches National Park. Located in popular Moab, Arches National Park is known for its namesake rock formations. The park is home to more than 2,000 natural stone arches, as well as a variety of other stunning rock formations. It’s home to the world’s largest collection of natural stone arches. The longest arch in the park is Landscape Arch, which has an opening that’s more than 300 feet across. The tallest arch, Double Arch South, has a vertical opening that is 112 feet high.
This park is popular for hiking but is also easy to explore by car. This makes it a great option for those looking for easy or moderate trails to enjoy. Or for families looking for an accessible trail. There are plenty of roadside stops where you can take in some of the park’s incredible views.
Canyonlands National Park
Located just next door to Arches is Canyonlands National Park. While this park is sometimes overshadowed by its more popular neighbor, Canyonlands is actually the largest of Utah’s national parks. It’s divided into four districts; Island in the Sky, the Needles, the River, and the Maze.
While Canyonlands may not have the many arches you’ll find in its sister park, here you’ll discover beautiful towering red rock cliffs, and deep canyons carved by winding rivers. A scenic drive is one of the most popular ways to explore this park.
Many of our Multi-Day Tours include visits to both Arches and Canyonlands National Park. On our day in Canyonlands, we’ll take a scenic cruise through the Island in the Sky district. You can also opt for an optional hike to Mesa Arch. This stunning arch clings to the edge of a cliff. It frames the landscapes beyond and creating one of Utah’s most incredible views.
Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef National Park is perhaps Utah’s most overlooked national park. Too many visitors drive right through this park without stopping to appreciate the undisturbed tranquility of this unique national park.
The park is home to a few features you won’t find elsewhere in Utah’s national parks. The community of Fruita, once a pioneer town, remains in the park. You can visit a historic farm, and even pick fruit from its orchards seasonally. The Waterpocket Fold, a natural phenomenon that causes a wrinkle in the earth’s crust, runs through the park, creating stunning cliffs and peaks that seem to rise straight out of the flat desert.
On Desert Solitude’s tours of Capitol Reef, we take guests off the typical tourist route, to explore the park’s dirt roads. We’ll ride through Cathedral Valley to the Temple of the Sun and Moon, and many more miles of unspoiled wilderness to see a side of the park that few visitors ever get to see.
Zion National Park
Zion National Park is perhaps the best-known of Utah’s national parks. It certainly attracts the highest number of annual visitors. The park currently holds the distinction of being the second most visited national park in the country, beating out popular parks like Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, and Rocky Mountain National Park. It was also Utah’s first national park. The land that is now Zion was first designated as Mukuntuweap National Monument in 1909, before becoming Zion National Park in 1919.
Today, the park is known for its stunning Lower Canyon. Sandstone cliffs tower on either side of the canyon, with peaks reaching more than 2,000 feet high. After you enter the Lower Canyon, it gets progressively narrower, until cars and buses are forced to turn around.
Here, you can stroll the Riverside Walk, a shady trail that follows the Virgin River into the increasingly narrow canyon. At the end of the walk, you’ll find the start of The Narrows, one of Zion’s most famous trails. Another popular trail, Angels Landing, will have you hiking over five miles and climbing more than 1,500 feet of elevation gain to get to the park’s most stunning overlook.
While the Lower Canyon is the most-visited section of the park, the Upper Canyon, as well as the Kolob Canyons area, another section of Zion located a 45-minute drive from the Lower Canyon, also offers plenty of hiking, peaks, and other landmarks.
Bryce Canyon National Park
The last of Utah’s national parks is Bryce Canyon. While it may be located just a short drive from Zion National Park, the two parks could not be more different! Bryce Canyon features stunning orange cliffs, covered in narrow, sharp rock formations called hoodoos. Shaped by wind and water over hundreds of years, the park has the largest collection of hoodoos in the world. Many are concentrated in Bryce’s natural “amphitheater,” a massive bowl-shaped canyon that is a focal point of the park.
The many colors of Bryce Canyon’s hoodoos and rock faces mean that you’ll enjoy a completely different park depending on the time of day and the lighting when you visit. On a visit with Desert Solitude, guests will have a chance to explore the park through hiking, guided horseback riding, and more. Take a sunset or sunrise hike to see how the park’s colors change throughout the day.
Visiting Utah’s National Parks
With so much to see and do in each of Utah’s national parks, it can be tough to decide which one to visit on your next trip. Can’t decide? You’re in luck!
The Mighty 5 in 5 Tour by Desert Solitude is designed to give guests a taste of each of Utah’s incredible national parks. Over five exhilarating days, you’ll climb towering cliffs, dive into deep canyons, and experience arches, hoodoos, spires, and more.
Click here to learn more about this amazing tour, and to book your next trip with Desert Solitude.