Utah's 5 stunning national parks are filled with red rock formations of all shapes and sizes. In this guidebook, you'll find two of the top hikes in each of the Mighty 5 national parks.Less
Experience the epic beauty of soaring sandstone arches in one of America's most famous national parks.
The soaring sandstone arches found in the park are some of the largest and most impressive on the planet! You’ve undoubtedly seen images of the ultra-famous Delicate Arch, even if you didn’t realize it at the time. But Arches National Park is home to so much more than just Delicate Arch, with a plethora of strange and beautiful arch formations and weather-worn sandstone rock sculptures. This guidebook rounds up both the most famous hikes in Arches, along with some of the most under-rated hikes.
Canyonlands National Park is at the confluence of two mighty rivers, which are together the lifeblood of a vast desert body. On a map, the landscape resembles some great breathing organ of the living earth––with arteries that are rivers and veins that are branching side canyons. In this system, one slender mesa protrudes like a stony sternum toward the heart of it. It’s called the Island in the Sky, so named for its solitary stance above the canyons.
Druid Arch is one of the most popular hiking destinations in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. The Arch "stands high above the far upstream end of Elephant Canyon, surrounded by slickrock benches and multicolored pinnacles," according to AmericanSouthwest.net. "The isolated, freestanding arch projects outwards at right angles from the Cedar Mesa sandstone cliffs and is notable both for its height (450 feet) and shape."
"Mesa Arch is a spectacular stone arch perched at the edge of a cliff with vast views of canyons, rock spires, and the La Sal Mountains in the distance," writes the NPS. This short loop to and from the arch forms an ultra-popular short hike in the Island in the Sky region of Canyonlands National Park. Made famous by social media, Mesa Arch perfectly frames the sunrise, with the rock glowing a rich gold color if you catch it at the perfect time.
Zion National Park is renowned as one of the most beautiful national parks in the United States of America. Utah’s first national park, here you can “follow the paths where ancient native people and pioneers walked. Gaze up at massive sandstone cliffs of cream, pink, and red that soar into a brilliant blue sky. Experience wilderness in a narrow slot canyon,” according to the National Park Service.
Angels Landing is the world-renowned must-do of Zion National Park, notorious for "the chains" that guard the final overlook. The chains are an upward traverse of a an exposed ridgeline that drops away sheerly for hundreds of feet. In the steepest parts, steps are cut in the rock and chains are anchored for support, but a slip can certainly be fatal. The difficulty is mostly mental, however, and anyone of average physical fitness who is not afraid of heights can make the trek.
The experience is unparalleled: wading in a knee-deep stream less than fifty feet wide, with thousand-foot canyon walls soaring overhead. This is the Narrows, one of the most famous slot canyons in the world. Its full length is more than 10 miles, but the final four miles above its mouth in Zion Canyon are some of the narrowest and most dramatic, and this section is easily accessible. The only path through this tight gorge is the riverbed itself, and it flows year-round.
Bryce Canyon is well known for some of the most scenic hikes in any national park, namely the Queens Garden and Navajo Loop trails which wander among a mind-blowing assortment of the park’s famous hoodoos. These are “irregularly eroded spires of rocks,” as explained by the national park website, but that description undersells the true grandeur of this landscape.