Fly to Denver
Arrive in Denver and take the A Line train to Union Station where your overnight hotel is located. Here you’ll find some lovely cafes and restaurants for a relaxing evening before you start your adventure.
Overnight: Kimpton Hotel Born (or similar)
Denver – Glenwood Springs
Check out of your hotel and board the Rocky Mountaineer for a spectacular rail journey through the Rockies. Sit back and enjoy the views of rugged canyons and the Colorado River. You’ll be served lunch Listen to the interesting and entertaining commentary whilst you enjoy lunch and drinks. The train travels a “Kodak Speed” allowing you plenty of opportunities to photograph the landscapes and wildlife. Mid afternoon you’ll arrive into the charming resort town of Glenwood Springs where it’s just a short walk to your overnight hotel - your luggage will be transported for you.
Glenwood Springs – Moab – Arches National Park - Moab
Depart Glenwood Springs on board the Rocky Mountaineer and enjoy breakfast as you continue ayour rail trip. Cross the Colorado-Utah border with panoramic mountain views which merge into red sandstone landscapes as you approach Moab around midday. Take a taxi to the car hire depot to pick up your rental car, then drive into Moab to get your bearings. We’re suggesting a three night stay here as there is so much to do in this area with two amazing national parks on the doorstep – Arches and Canyonlands. So this afternoon head to the Tourist Information Centre in Moab to work out whether you want to hike, bike, or book a white-water rafting trip. There are also some amazing off-road guided tours which get you off the beaten track and exploring the deep into the rugged terrain. Then check-in to your chosen hotel for your three night stay.
Overnight: Big Horn Lodge or upgrade to the Hilton Hoodoo Curio, Homewood Suites or Hyatt Place
Perhaps today you explore Arches National Park and discover some of the 2,000 natural sandstone arches found in this magical place. One of the most famous is the massive, red-hued Delicate Arch and other geological formations to discover include Balanced Rock, towering over the desert landscape.
A day to discover the beautiful Canyonlands National Park, just 30 miles from Moab. En route it’s highly recommended you visit Dead Horse Point State Park - from here you will have the most astonishing view of Canyonlands sculpted pinnacles and buttes. Drive into Canyonlands and you will find a dramatic desert landscape carved by the mighty Colorado River. Island in the Sky is a huge, flat-topped mesa with panoramic views, the Needles are towering rock pinnacles and you will enjoy the short hike to iconic Mesa Arch.
Moab - Natural Bridges National Monument - Bluff (180 miles)
Today you’re going to be heading to the southeastern corner of Utah. After an hour and a half you’ll leave the US-191 and travel west to the Natural Bridges National Monument. Stop off at the visitor centre to pick up information and then drive the loop where there are three main stops at the natural bridges – at each of these you can pick up hiking trails of varying length. If you have time you can also visit Horse Collar Ruin, which is a well preserved ancestral Puebloan site, inhabited over 700 years ago. Continue onto Bluff which will be your base for the night.
Overnight: Desert Rose Resort & Cabins
Bluff – Monument Valley (45 miles)
It’s just a short drive to Monument Valley so you might want to take a short detour en route to Goosenecks State Park, which gives superb views of an “entrenched meander” of the San Juan River as it winds its way through the desert 1000 feet below. Continue to Monument Valley where you will marvel at the iconic sight of the towering sandstone buttes.
Overnight: Gouldings Monument Valley Lodge
Monument Valley – Lake Powell – Kanab (196 miles)
If you want to enjoy some great watersports on Lake Powell then it’s worth an early start to get there mid morning. You can rent boats, kayaks, paddle boards and have a great day out on this beautiful lake. Continue onto Kanab on the Utah/Arizona border for your overnight stay.
Overnight: Best Western Red Hills (or similar)
Kanab – Zion National Park (43 miles)
It’s just a short drive today and we’re suggesting a two night stay near Zion to give you time to relax and enjoy this stunningly beautiful place.
Overnight: La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham at Zion Park or upgrade to Cliffrose Springdale Curio Collection by Hilton.
Zion National Park
You have a full day to explore this most stunning of national parks – Zion. Take the shuttle through the centre of the canyon leading to forest trails surrounded by the towering canyon walls. It’s a big park at 230 square miles so as you can imagine there are some gorgeous walking trails giving many different perspectives of the park, so perhaps do several short walks such as Canyon Overlook and Riverside Walk.
Zion to Bryce Canyon National Park (87 miles)
It’s just a couple of hours drive to Bryce Canyon, so set off straight after breakfast so that you can enjoy a good few hours exploration of the fourth of your Utah Mighty Five parks! All of the parks have their different iconic features and Bryce Canyon is characterised by its crimson coloured “hoodoos” – spire-shaped rock formations. As with all the great Utah national parks, there are extensive walking trails which take you to the best viewing points and iconic sights. You an take the Rim Trail and perhaps late afternoon walk to Sunset Point.
Overnight: Bryce View Lodge or upgrade to Best Western Plus Ruby’s Inn or Best Western Plus Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel
Bryce Canyon – Kodachrome Basin State Park – Capitol Reef National Park (110 miles)
It’s just a 40 minutes drive to the Kodachrome Basin State Park – named after the popular colour film by a 1948 National Geographic Society expedition due to the colour and beauty of the park, with its red rock formations and blue blue skies.
Then drive for approximately 2 hours along All-America Scenic Byway 12 to the last national park of your trip - Capitol Reef National Park. The iconic feature of this park is the 100 mile “Waterpocket Fold” – also known as a geologic monocline or a wrinkle on the earth! Another park with wonderful trails to discover the natural stone domes, bridges, canyons and cliffs. After a great afternoon drive to your overnight hotel in nearby Torrey.
Overnight: Days in by Wyndham Torrey Capitol Reef or upgrade to Capitol Reef Resort
Torrey – Salt Lake City (218 miles)
It’s the final leg of your journey today and you’re heading north through Utah to Salt Lake City. On the way, a nice place for a stroll is the Fishlake National Forest and then you might want to stop for lunch in Provo which has a great choice of restaurants in the downtown area. Or if you want to do some outlet shopping before you return home, then you can visit the Outlets at Traverse Mountain in Lehi which is directly off the I15.
Our suggested hotel is in downtown Salt Lake City so that you can explore on foot to see the impressive buildings of Temple Square and the Utah State Capitol Building, and perhaps do some shopping. But if cities aren’t your thing, then we can always book you a convenient hotel at the airport for your flight the next day and you can explore Antelope Island State Park – a beautiful area with free-roaming bison.
Overnight: Holiday Inn Express Salt Lake City Downtown or upgrade to Kimpton Hotel Monaco
It’s time to drive to the airport and fly home. Or if you have another four or five days, you could continue north through Wyoming to visit the stunning national parks of Yellowstone and Grand Teton – just let us know and we’ll tailormake a holiday for you.