Hiking Utah's National Parks

Destination: National Parks in Utah

| Activities: Hiking

Southern Utah is home to four of the most well known National Parks, each with its own special magic and unique attractions. Zion National Park is famous for its soaring red Navajo Sandstone cliffs. Nearby Bryce Canyon is a testimonial to the erosive power of ice and rainwater, carving its colorful limestone into windows, fins, and soaring spires called hoodoos. Capitol Reef is a monument to the amazing power of uplift. Goblin Valley State Park demonstrates just how bizarre rocks shaped by erosion can get and also the magic of slot canyons. And Arches National Park lives up to its name with over two thousand sandstone arches of all shapes and sizes. While we need to drive between parks (on some of the most scenic highways you will ever have the pleasure to drive on), this is not primarily a driving trip. We will hike between 3 and 6 hours every day and see each park as only hikers can. Maximum group size: 10

Highlights

  • Exploring the Emerald Pools Trail in Zion National Park
  • Walking among the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Slithering through the slot canyons of Little Wild Horse
  • Hiking to some of the many arches in Arches National Park
  • Enjoying the remoteness and solitude of Capitol Reef National Park

Departures and Prices

April 09 to April 16, 2022
$2995.00 - FULL
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Inclusions

  • 1 - 2 experienced AGC guides based on group size
  • Seven nights of double occupancy accommodation (unless you upgraded to a single)
  • All meals as listed on the itinerary
  • Transportation during the trip
  • National Park entry fees

Not included: Airfare to St. George or from Moab, alcoholic beverages, guide gratuities and travel insurance

Trip Documents

Trip Intro

We have rated this trip as a 3 and a 4 because of the choice of a longer and shorter hike on most days. This trip is a great choice for women in very good physical condition with some hiking experience who are looking for hiking, some of it challenging, in a desert environment. Prior to beginning the trip, participants should be engaged in aerobic conditioning such as walking vigorously up hills, jogging, or stair stepping for 30 - 45 minutes at least 3 - 4 times a week. If you are planning on the longer hikes, we recommend aerobic exercise for 40-50 minutes 4-5 times a week and additional endurance exercise (e.g. going for a 2 hour hike once a week) and/or strength training. If you are looking for a trip in this area with shorter hikes or have very limited prior hiking experience, please look at Exploring the National Parks of Utah. Rating: 1 2 3 4 5.

This trip combines hiking with an immersion into the unique geology of this fascinating area - there is no better way to understand the different geologic processes that formed each Park than to explore them on foot. Because we offer choices of hikes each day, it is an excellent trip for intermediate and advanced hikers. The town of Moab at the end of the trip is an ideal spot for those who like to browse shops or bookstores, or sample excellent coffee and local beer and wine.

We stay at a variety of accommodations on this trip, starting with one night at a hotel in St. George, Utah. We then stay at lodges that are located right inside the parks, one night at Zion Park Lodge and two nights at Bryce Canyon Lodge, a very short walk from the rim. Then there is one night at a motel in Hanksville, before finishing the trip with two nights in Moab in beautiful luxury condos. (Women who have paid for the single will have their own bedroom and bathroom throughout the trip). Women in shared accommodations will be assigned rooms in Moab randomly (where rooms have a variety of layouts), otherwise will be sharing with one roommate in double queen bed rooms on each night of the trip.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

DAY 1
Our trip starts today at the St. George, Utah airport (SGU). Plan on flying in by 3:30PM to meet the group by 4PM. It's a small but bustling airport. Nestled in a vast expanse of red rock scenery, St. George is listed as one of the best places to live in the United States and on the list of Fortune 500’s "Great Places to Retire In." We'll start getting to know each other and have a trip orientation in the evening before sharing our first dinner. Bedtime is likely to be early tonight! (D)

Overnight: St. George
DAY 2
After an early breakfast, we'll load up and drive to a nearby hidden gem. Our first hike of the trip is at Snow Canyon State Park, a 7,400-acre scenic park quietly tucked amid lava flows and soaring sandstone cliffs in a strikingly colorful and fragile desert environment. We will see a little bit of everything the park has to offer on a loop connecting the following trails: Butterfly, Lava Flow, West Canyon, Red Sands, Whiptail, and Petrified Dunes. (4.8 miles, 639 feet elevation gain) Against a backdrop of red rocks and sage brush, we’ll have a picnic lunch here before continuing on to Zion. Those who would like another hike can explore the Emerald Pools Trail System in Zion this afternoon. The 3-mile hike (we take about 2.5 hours) to the Upper Pool passes through pinyon-juniper habitat as we visit the lush environment of the lower pool and gaze at the soaring canyon walls of the upper pool. Along the way we'll talk about how Zion Canyon was formed and see evidence that it is a process that is still quite active. Our lodging tonight is right in the bottom of Zion Canyon, in one of the most beautiful and peaceful settings in the entire park system. (B, L, D)

Overnight: Zion National Park.
DAY 3
Today our choice of hikes starts on the trail to Scout's Landing. This paved trail switchbacks up on a wide trail for about 2 miles. For those who have no fear of heights and want a mental challenge, we offer Angels Landing, one of the classic hikes in Zion. From Scouts Landing, the trail follows a narrow ridge (there are chains there for support) out to a fantastic overlook high above Zion Canyon. For many, however, this will be far enough, and you can either wait (the view is amazing) or return to the trailhead and walk along the Virgin River trail. In either case you can make your final decision once you've actually seen the trail. Hiking up to Angels Landing is about .5 miles out and back. In late afternoon we'll drive to Bryce Canyon. The Zion-Mount Carmel Highway is a dramatic feat of engineering, taking us through a very different looking part of the Park. We'll arrive in Bryce in time for dinner. Our lodging tonight is about a 5 minute walk from the rim. Hiking: 5 miles, 4 hours. (B, L, D)

Overnight: Bryce Canyon National Park
DAY 4
Another park, another choice of classic hikes: the Peekaboo or the Fairyland Loops. No matter which you choose, we'll start by descending into Bryce Canyon. The Peekaboo Loop is a 6 mile trail, which follows an up and down loop around a major formation with constantly changing views and provides an excellent opportunity to see hoodoos from the bottom up. For those wanting a bit longer hike, the Fairyland Loop is an 8 mile trail. The trail starts with 2.5 miles along the rim before plunging down into the hoodoos of Fairyland Canyon. The scenery is spectacular: along the way we get a great view of the Chinese Wall, hike past Sinking Ship Mesa, and take a short spur to Tower Bridge. With much less traffic here than other trails in the park, it may be one of the park's best kept secrets. That evening we'll have the chance to watch the sunset over some of the most amazing geology you'll ever see. Bryce is known for having one of the most glorious nighttime skies of anyplace in the U.S. and if stargazing appeals to you, this is the perfect place to do it. Hiking 6 - 8 miles, 4 - 5 hours. (B, L, D)

Overnight: Bryce Canyon National Park
DAY 5
Our three hour drive this morning to Capitol Reef National Park is one of the most scenic of the whole trip as we drive through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, crossing over vast stretches of slickrock before climbing up and over the Boulder Mountains. Capitol Reef is a small section of the Waterpocket Fold, a 100-mile long wrinkle in the earth's crust composed of colorful canyons, buttes, mesas, and monoliths. We explore only a small portion as we hike on the Frying Pan trail, a 6 mile primitive trail through Cohab Canyon to Cassidy Arch and out Grand Wash. This hike offers more solitude and wilderness than any other on the trip as we follow it across the country that is typical of the entire Park. Alternatively, for a shorter hike one can do an out and back hike from Grand Wash up to Cassady Arch, packing significant elevation gain and spectacular scenery into 3 miles. We stay overnight at a motel in Hanksville, a small Utah town that was a supply post for Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch, who would hide out at Robbers Roost in the desert southeast of town. During the uranium mining frenzy following World War II, Hanksville became a supply center for the prospectors and miners scouring the deserts of the Colorado Plateau. Hiking 3- 6 miles, 3 - 4.5 hours (B, L, D)

Overnight: Hanksville
DAY 6
Today's hike is the Little Wild Horse/Bell Loop. The entire loop is about 8 miles and goes through two slot canyons that can be as high as 250 feet and as narrow as 2.5 feet. For a shorter hike, an out and back through one canyon is a great option. Hiking in slot canyons is always dependent on weather but these are two of the most accessible in Utah. Depending on how far we go and how long it takes us, we may have time to visit Goblin Valley State Park. Goblin Valley is one of those state parks that is so spectacular, it would be a National Park in any other area. It gets its name from the thousands of mushroom-shaped pinnacles that have been carved by wind and water over the centuries. After finishing our hike we continue on to our condos in Moab. Moab is one of the most charming small towns in Utah, known for its great shops and limitless outdoor opportunities. If you want a chance to explore the many restaurant options in Moab, this is the night. Alternatively the guides will get some take out pizza and salad and if you want to just kick back at the condos after the day, you are welcome to join them. Hiking up to 8 miles, 5 hours. (B, L)

Overnight: Moab
DAY 7
Due to Arches National Park's unique geology, this park contains the largest concentration of arches of anyplace in the US. Again we offer two choices. One is to start with Delicate Arch trail, a classic Arches hike and not to be missed. We'll take the short spur trail to a Ute Indian Petroglyph and then walk up gradually sloping slickrock to a small valley surrounded by red rocks on the way to the arch. Just when you think you must have taken a wrong turn, the arch suddenly appears and you immediately understand why it is the most photographed arch in Utah. There are several other short hikes to different arches so some of us may decide to continue with more hiking while others will want time in Moab, the most fun place to shop in Utah. Alternatively the 8 mile Devil's Garden Trail is a more challenging hike that passes seven arches before following a primitive route down washes past some more arches. Tonight we celebrate our week of hiking with a final farewell dinner at our condos. Hiking up to 8 miles. (B, L, D)

Overnight: Moab
DAY 8
This morning we share a final breakfast, pack-up, and say our goodbyes to Utah. We will drop you off at the Moab Regional Airport (CNY) by 10AM and you can plan to fly out anytime after 11:00 AM (it's a small airport and an hour is plenty of time to check in). (B)

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "What made this trip special for you?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

4.9

(39 reviews)
4.4 Food
4.2 Lodging
4.4 Safety
5
(34)
4
(5)
3
(0)
2
(0)
1
(0)
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Kimberly H.
6 months ago

Yes, this was my first trip with AGC and I felt like it was run very well. Some of the hikes were cut short due to weather which was a little disappointing but understood. We had just enough time to look at souvenir shops but not too much since we weren't there to shop. The women on this trip were another of the big reasons it was so great. I loved getting to know each of them. I laughed so much on this trip which was mostly in the van. So I say the traveling was difficult but if we hadn't we wouldn't have had the crazy laughter and good times in the Sparkle Pony!!

Phyllis T.
6 months ago

Peggy C.
6 months ago

Each location we visited was beautiful with fun and challenging hikes.

Trish H.
6 months ago

Yes, the accomodations and food was great. The guides were fantastic. What we saw in a week was so beautiful, and I loved the hiking in the different parks. The trip exceeded my expectations! Thank you

Mandy F.
6 months ago

I heard the food would be good and it was. The accommodations were also a big part of the experience. I loved that we got to stay at the lodges within the park. The stay at the condos was also a treat. By this time in the trip, I knew the women in our condo. I loved the home-cooked meals and eating all together.

Pam F.
6 months ago

Gerrilyn B.
6 months ago

Sheila B.
2 years ago

The guides! And their skills allowed me to enjoy each location and be challenged as expected! The places we stayed were great, the places we ate, and comfortable vans to travel in. I could not believe the wonderful surprises of the places we went to and the unique hikes we could do. Loved it.

Martha S.
2 years ago

Scenery, guides, companions wonderful; food/lodging better than expected.

Elizabeth F.
2 years ago

Hiking highlights were scaling Angel's Landing and our long day at Little Wildhorse Canyon. The other highlight was simply spending a week with a group of amazing women. This was my second trip with AGC and once again I was touched at how quickly a group of mostly strangers were able to bond, even if it was only for a week.

Susan H.
2 years ago

Juluia L.
2 years ago

All the National Parks were a highlight, along with the accommodations and the food. I'm glad we had two vans to travel in comfortably.

Leslie H.
2 years ago

Our guides were wonderful - very knowledgeable and encouraging and fun, We got to see some breathtaking sights and a great variety of trails and locations. Everything was well organized and the timing always seemed just right.

Michelle B.
2 years ago

The itinerary was great and the accommodations far exceeded my expectations.

Marjorie L.
2 years ago

It was my first AGC trip - in fact it was my first group, guided hiking trip at all - so everything was baseline.

Ellen S.
2 years ago

Wonderful hiking and amazingly competent and great guides, yummy food, good company.

Ginny W.
3 years ago

I enjoyed visiting the parks I had never seen before and had only heard about. Five parks in one week was sensational.

Judith B.
3 years ago

The guides, parks, food, and accommodations all excellent. The group was very compatible and we had alot of fun together and with guides.

Laurie L.
3 years ago

Guides are professional, make traveling easy. Venue is awesome.

Linda H.
3 years ago

This was my first AGC trip and it rocked. I had a blast on this trip, and I loved getting to see so many National Parks with like-minded women who can't live without the outdoors.

Diana V.
3 years ago

This was my fourth trip with ACG, and was every bit as wonderful as the first three. Lisa and Anna Clair were wonderful guides, and it was a great group of women with wonderful conversations. I've already signed up for Cuba in January.

Kathy D.
3 years ago

Victoria E.
3 years ago

It fully met my expectations. I appreciated that the guides tweaked the original plans to provide additional hiking opportunities.

Debra A.
3 years ago

Gilah T.
3 years ago

Bryce Canyon. Group melded well. Guides great and got along well with each other too.

Elizabeth A.
4 years ago

Great guides and of course great parks!

Deanne L.
4 years ago

The scenery was beautiful. The group and leaders were great. I have been on a number of prior group trips, so I know it isn't always the case to have such a cohesive and fun group.

Deborah M.
4 years ago

The trip was well-paced. The accommodations were terrific (loved that we were staying in lodges inside two national parks)

Cindy L.
4 years ago

Elizabeth R.
4 years ago

Deborah G.
4 years ago

The scenery was spectacular ! The hikes were challenging but manageable. The women were all friendly

Jessica B.
5 years ago

It was a fantastic trip in an amazing part of the country with two great guides and a bunch of wonderful women. I feel like I have a number of new friends. And, most of all, I was able to experience so many beautiful places.

Barbara P.
5 years ago

I especially liked the hikes that were less populated and off the beaten path. The hike on the West Rim in Zion was excellent. Loved the slot canyon hike (in spite of the Johnson family reunion crowd!).

Priscilla P.
5 years ago

Each day was a new adventure!

Denise D.
5 years ago

Reaching the top of Angels Landing, of course!

Joan M.
5 years ago

wonderful hikes great supportive and informative guides fun and nice people

Susan H.
5 years ago

I thought that trip was an amazing experience!

Deb C.
5 years ago

My best day was the Hidden Horse slot canyon hike in Goblin Valley SP. A very unique and fun hike.

Kathleen S.
5 years ago

The guides were knowledgeable of the terrain/hikes as well as educating on how to best approach the hike options. They had high energy even when everyone else was tired. They both had excellent interpersonal skills and both cooked up some delicious meals.

  1. I have never hiked before. Would this be a good trip for me?

    This trip is designed for women with some hiking experience and our Exploring Utah's National Parks might be a better choice for your first hiking experience. That being said, if you have a good level of fitness and love a challenge, then please join us.
  2. Where do we eat?

    Breakfasts and dinners will be in restaurants where you can order off the menu or are buffet style. The guides will cook the final dinner at the condos. Before you leave in the morning the guides will put out lunch 'fixings' and you will take a packed lunch to eat along the trail.
  3. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    If we know well in advance, we can accommodate vegetarian, lactose-free, and gluten-sensitive diets. We cannot guarantee a completely gluten-free diet and we cannot provide a kitchen guaranteed to be free of cross-contamination. If you are vegan, we ask that you bring some additional protein bars; and if you are gluten-sensitive, please bring some gluten-free snacks. If you have severe allergies, Celiac disease and/or other significant dietary restrictions, please call the office before you register.
  4. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    You only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room. Otherwise we’ll pair you up with someone and then switch roommates every time we switch lodging.
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