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Southern Utah National Parks Trip Ideas

Avid outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty of activities to keep them occupied in Southern Utah’s National Parks from backpacking to rafting and everything in between, but so too will nature lovers, road trippers, and those simply looking for a reason to be outdoors. Consider these great trip ideas:

  • Backpacking: Head into the canyons and washes of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
  • Canyoneering: Hike through the water of the Virgin River on the Narrows hike in Zion. For something more challenging, plan ahead and go to the Subway, accessible via the less traveled Kolob Terrace area of Zion.
  • shallow green water running through red canyons
    The Narrows in Zion National Park. Photo © Joecho-16/iStock.
  • Horseback Riding: Sorrel River Ranch offers trail rides through dramatic red-rock landscapes just across from Arches National Park.
  • Kid-Friendly Activities: There’s something magical about the sandstone spans and hoodoos in Arches, and exploring these awe-inspiring landmarks doesn’t require a lot of stamina from little legs.
  • view through sandstone arches at sunset
    Arches National Parks at sunset. Photo © Josemaria Toscano/123rf.
  • Mountain Biking: Moab gets all the press, and serious mountain bikers must visit, but Red Canyon (just outside Bryce) has good biking without the hype.
  • Photography: Sleep the day away if need be, but be sure to catch sunrise and sunset at Bryce. And don’t stop there; the hoodoos are at their most photogenic when you hike down to visit them close up.
  • Along the Navajo Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park.
    Along the Navajo Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park. Photo © sergein/123rf.
  • Rafting: The Colorado River offers sensational river rafting, with outfitters in Moab tempting you with everything from tame family excursions to adrenaline-pounding white water.
  • Rock Climbing: The big walls in Zion Canyon attract climbers, but the true hotspot is just east of Canyonland’s Needles District, at Indian Creek.
  • A Scenic Driving Tour: Head east from Bryce and follow Highway 12 all the way to Capitol Reef. It’s only a little over 100 miles, but it’s best to allow at least half a day for the drive.
  • Notom-Bullfrog Road
    Notom-Bullfrog Road in Capitol Reef. Photo © Judy Jewell.
  • Solitude: It’s true—the marquee parks like Arches and Bryce are busy places. Plan a backcountry trek in Capitol Reef to have the wilderness to yourself.
  • Winter Sports: Cross-country skiers can enjoy the quiet (and cheap) season at Bryce, when snow makes the hoodoos especially lovely.
Travel map of Southern Utah
Southern Utah

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