Roadtrips are great because you can stop and see so much along the way to your destination. Sometimes however they can seem overwhelming when trying to decide what route, hikes and things to see along the way. With that said we've outlined what we think is the best route from Colorado to Utah to conquer the Mighty 5. But take this with a grain of salt and feel free to X some things from the list and your own MUST SEE's because this is YOUR roadtrip.
For those of you who haven't heard of the "Mighty 5 Challenge" - let's touch on that first. Utah is an incredible state and home to 5 National Parks all within 3 to 4 hours (even less) from eachother. This makes it the perfect place to vacation to - to conquer all 5 National Parks in on trip! It's such a popular TO DO they've turned it into a challenge - The Mighty 5 Challenge.
Alright, let's dive into it....
On the way there are a couple of options to stop while still in Colorado. If you're ready for the desert scenery and want to check out ancient cave dwellings at one of Colorado's 4 national parks, Mesa Verde. It is pretty impressive to see how our native ancestors lived in homes carved into the sidse of mountains and caves. It is hard to imagine their endurance to build these structures that have lasted so long. It makes for an incredible cultural stop along the way.
Alternatively, a little more out of the way, you could swing into Silverton for a beautilful mountainous hike. You'll really appreciate the "Colorful Colorado" nickname in this area of the state, especially during wild flower season.
If you make it to Silverton you'll want to make sure conquer Ice Lake - and let me tell you if you can complete this hike you'll feel more than capable to take on the Mighty 5. They compare the difficulty/incline of this hike to climbing 2 Empire State buildings stacked on top of eachother. The path is long and strenuous but packed full of shoulder high fields of wildflowers. Once you make it to the crystal blue caribbean lake at the top I gaurantee you will be glad you endured till the end.
After bagging Ice Lake we than suggest trudging on to Arizona along the way to Utah and hitting Antelope Canyon & Horseshoe Bend - you will NOT regret it! Horseshoe Bend is only a half mile hike but it’s extremely hot there so make sure you have EXTRA water. If you decide to go to Antelope Canyon you have to make a reservation and they fill up quick so don't procrastinate on reserving your spot. You can do so here. You could do both of these in the same day because they’re right next to each other. I would suggest doing these around Sunset for the best photos.
Once you make it to Utah - this is our suggested route:
Zion to Bryce to Capitol Reef to Arches & Canyonlands.
Zion National Park
- The Narrows - This is a narrow slot canyon so be careful for flash floods and expect murky water during rainy season. Plan this one according to the weather. If there has not been a flash flood in the past week - make sure this a must do hike. When the water is clear this is such a unqiuely beautiful hike. Be prepared to get wet you will most likely be hiking through knee deep water and some parts could even be waste deep.
- Angels Landing - This is probably Zion's most iconic hike. We recommend getting there as early as possible to bear the crowds and possible afternoon lightning storms as the hike is largly exposed. This is hard but rewarding even if you don't make it to the top.
- Zion gets really packed we got there at 5 am to beat the crowds!
- If you want to get away from the crowds drive down Kolob Rd there’s a big lake out that way that you can hang a hammock at or kayak on or just relax by.
- Rainbow Point - You 100% have to drive out to Rainbow Point to catch the sunset while visting Bryce Canyon. The drive is incredible and so is the view from the top!
- Mossy Cave Trail - This is an easier hike with a waterfall - perfect for cooling off at on a hot summer day.
- Hoodoo Trail - A must see.. Enough said.
- Queens Garden to Navajo Loop Trail - This will take you through some of the caves and gets you down in the hoodoos - it offers a different perspective on Bryce Canyon.
This National Park is definitely different from the other Utah National Parks I've mentioned - in that there's more purple and white clay colors throughout, not just red. This park features an apple orchard that has persisted since settler days and they bake amazing pies here! Definitely worth checking out but if you don’t have a ton of time maybe come back for this one.
Arches & Canyon Lands
These two can be tackled in one day. Unless you want to conquer one of their longer hikes. If not, there are a lot of half mile to one mile small hikes you can do to cover a lot of ground. You can see a lot just by driving here, but you can also take days to explore each if you have the time. Arches was a favorite of mine. The window arch section is a must see. In canyon lands make sure to look over the edge to check out the 100 mile road below (makes for great picture sitting on the ledge!)