Looking for the perfect spring break or May adventure? Look no further than the state of Utah for a road trip that will give you plenty of variety in desert, canyon, and mountain exploration. You can start your trip from either Las Vegas or Salt Lake City. This itinerary loops out of Salt Lake but you could also do Salt Lake to Las Vegas, or Vegas to Vegas. Across 8 days, you’re looking at about 18 hours of driving. Not bad for 5 National Parks!
Day 2: Head to Canyonlands Island in the Sky Region. This region is about 45 minutes from Moab. There are so many hikes to do in the area but we recommend taking a bunch of smaller hikes so that you can see more. We really enjoyed the Murphy Point and the Grand View hikes. Stringing together these mini-hikes might keep your legs fresh enough for another foray into Arches after an afternoon meal break. Try the Windows for a short hike or meander out to Devils Garden Primitive trail if you’re ready for something longer.
Day 3: Head south to the Needles District of Canyonlands. Hike the Chesler Park loop for a real backcountry adventure (pack plenty of water!). This district of Canyonlands is often overlooked because it’s further away from Moab than Island in the Sky. But it’s more than worth a visit.
Day 4: Head out to Capitol Reef. From Moab, it should take you 2.5 hours to get to the park, leaving you plenty of time to take a hike or drive through the park today. We haven’t been, but my brother strongly recommends you stop for a visit in Goblin Valley State Park on your way to Capitol Reef.
Day 5: Head out to Bryce Canyon National Park (another 2.5 hour drive). We visited in early March and there was still snow in the amphitheater and on some of the trails, which really added dimension to the view. Take a hike along the Rim Trail in Bryce Canyon or head down into the canyon and do the Peekaboo Loop.
Day 6: Wake up for sunrise and head out to Sunrise or Sunset point. Then, drive over to Zion (2 hours to get to Springdale on the west side of the park). On your way into the park, pull over for views whenever you want. You’ll be driving across the park from the East entrance and the views are great. We recommend you stop for a short hike at the Canyon Overlook trail.
Day 8: Head out to the airport, about a 4 hour drive. You’ll pass right by the Kolob Canyon region of Zion. This is great for a drive and if you have time, a 5 mile hike on the Taylor Creek Trail.
If you’re traveling in May, remember that it’s already summer in Utah by now. You’ll need to hike early and late in the day to enjoy your time but it’s completely doable (we hiked Chesler park on a day with a 115 degree forecast.) Just pack plenty of water and pay attention to your body.