Discover the highlights of Utah and southwestern Colorado's National Parks and Monuments on this eight-day itinerary. Perfectly combining natural landscapes with cultural histories, you will hike and drive from Mesa Verde to Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon, ending in Zion National Park.

Highlights

  • See how the Anasazi built their homes into the sides of cliffs in Mesa Verde
  • Picnic under one of the ancient 'bridges' at Natural Bridges National Monument
  • Enjoy iconic vistas in Grand Staircase-Escalante
  • Trek the Riverside Walk to the Narrows and Emerald Pools in Zion National Park

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive; Mesa Verde National Park and Hovenweep Monticello
Day 2 Bears Ears and Natural Bridges Torrey
Day 3 Capitol Reef National Park Torrey
Day 4 Capitol Reef and Boulder Mountain Boulder
Day 5 Grand Staircase-Escalante and Anasazi State Park Bryce Canyon National Park
Day 6 Bryce Canyon National Park Bryce Canyon National Park
Day 7 Zion and Cedar Breaks;  Springdale
Day 8 Transfer to Las Vegas; Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive - Mesa Verde National Park and Hovenweep

Stone villages built into the sides of cliffs in Mesa Verde
Stone villages built into the sides of cliffs in Mesa Verde

Start the morning with a brief orientation before setting off to Mesa Verde National Park. A perfect blend of natural and cultural beauty, you will have the opportunity to hike the park and discover some of the dwellings built right into the sides of cliffs.

From there, you will make your way west to stop at two cultural highlights, Hovenweep and Canyons of the Ancients. Here you will learn how the Anasazi, a northern Ancestral Puebloan culture, thrived.

Day 2: Bears Ears and Natural Bridges

Bears Ears
Bears Ears

This morning you will begin your exploration of the Bears Ears region with a visit to Newspaper Rock State Park. Enjoy a closer look at the Bears Ears rock formation before enjoying a picnic lunch at Natural Bridges National Monument. Here you will visit three natural bridges carved over time by the power of water.

Continue west and drive through Glen Canyon National Recreation Area crossing the Colorado River and driving along the scenic Highway 95 as you make your way to Capitol Reef National Park.

Day 3: Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef National Park

Your exploration of Capitol Reef begins with a morning hike to Grand Wash followed by a stroll to Hickman’s Bridge. After lunch, you will visit Capitol Gorge to check out some of the human histories of the park. Enjoy discovering petroglyphs, as well as a pioneer register, etched into the stone on a short hike in a slot canyon (3 miles).

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Day 4: Capitol Reef and Boulder Mountain

Capitol Reef
Capitol Reef

Start the day with a short hike in Cohab Canyon for a chance to discover the historic Gifford House. Continue a way south to drive part of the famed Burr Trail. Here you will drive through a narrow canyon, surrounded by imposing walls of sandstone rising hundreds of feet above you.

Settle into your accommodation this evening and relax in charming Boulder Mountain.

Day 5: Anasazi State Park and Grand Staircase-Escalante

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Park
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Park

Take the morning to visit Anasazi State Park where you will visit its anthropology museum and an excavated site of a thousand-year-old village. The Fremont prehistoric people occupied most of Utah during the same period as the Ancestral Puebloans. Artifacts recovered from this site, as well as its architecture, reflect a prehistoric melting pot.

Stop for a picnic lunch after hiking one of the several trail options to the beautiful Grand Staircase before venturing on to Bryce National Park.

Day 6: Bryce Canyon National Park

Aerial view over Bryce Canyon
Aerial view over Bryce Canyon

Today you will visit the Bryce Canyon Visitor Center and hike the Rim Trail. Enjoy panoramic views of the canyon’s intricate geological display from the Rim at Bryce Point and Paria View, as well as below the Rim on the Navajo and Queens Garden trails (a 3-mile loop).

This afternoon settle into your cabin and appreciate your accommodation and surroundings - a National Historic Landmark designed in 1924 by master architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood.

Day 7: Zion and Cedar Breaks

Zion National Park's Riverside walk
Zion National Park's Riverside walk

A morning drive will bring you to Cedar Breaks National Monument for a short hike. Located at over 10,000 feet,  this unique amphitheater is a must see. From there, you will make your way to Zion National Park. Here you will explore some of the park’s trails, including the Riverside Walk to the beginning of the Narrows and to the Emerald Pools for breathtaking views of Zion’s canyon.  

Day 8: Transfer to Las Vegas - Depart

Zion National Park
Zion National Park

After one last post-breakfast hike in Zion, you will make your way down to Las Vegas before bidding farewell to a great week of discovering Utah's national parks.

Map

Map of Utah's National Parks - 8 Days
Map of Utah's National Parks - 8 Days