Travel,  Vacation

Utah’s Mighty 5 – 2024

Deciding which parks to visit was probably the hardest part of the planning as there are just so much to see in NV, UT and AZ area. In the end, we decided to fly in and out of Las Vegas and tour the iconic Utah’s Mighty 5 and leave Page, Sedona, etc to the next trip.

We flew out of Philly very early morning of 3/9 and returned early morning of 3/17. That left us 7 days in the area. While we enroute to Vegas, Claire and Mau did the Costco grocery run for our breakfast and lunch needs. We settled in the hotel in Springdale in the evening which left us no time to visit the park.

Sunday morning, daylight savings time started. It seemed at first we lost an hour, but it turned out to be a blessing as we have much longer day and it enabled us to visit the other parks in the evening during our trip.

Here are the parks we visited, along with couple small attractions outside of Zion and Las Vegas. The trip was completed with great weather, incredible views, amazing hikes and precious family time. We really can’t ask for a better vacation.

Thor’s Hammer, Bryce Canyon National Park
Delicate Arch, Arches National Park
Fire Wave, Valley of Fire State Park NV


  • America The Beautiful card is great. It gets you into all of these parks. It costs $80 for a year. We got our card when we visited Grand Canyon and Death Valley last spring. Since then our card had brought us into many other National and State Parks. Without America the Beautiful, Zion itself costs $35, Arches $30, Canyonland $20, Capitol Reef $20, and Bryce $35.
  • Get lunch material before hand. This saves a lot of time during the trip. Towns like Orderville, Torrey don’t have sophisticated deli shop. We got bread, cheese, ham and turkey at Costco in Las Vegas. Each morning, we spent 15 minutes making sandwiches for lunch.
  • One way rental is very expensive, particularly if you start in Vegas and end else where. I heard the other direction seems to be better.
  • Some people hate to pack and move and choose to drive extra. We prefer to move when we need to in order to be near the park and be flexible. We ended up staying 2 night at Springdale (1 mile from Zion visitor center), 1 night in Orderville (45 minutes east of Zion, not the perfect location, but it works for us and we loved the Yurt), 1 night in Torrey (10 miles from Capitol Reef NP) and 3 nights in Moab which is where everyone stays for Arches and Canyonland. Even though it takes some extra 15-20 minutes to pack up, it offers us more visits to the parks.
  • Know the towns where you plan to stay. Both Springdale and Moab have good selection of restaurants, particularly in Moab, there are all kinds of great food. Orderville had nothing, we ended up having grill cheese sandwich and tomato soup by fire pit at our Yurt. It was a very heartwarming dinner, but you need to have all the ingredients for this to happen. Torrey is quite small as well, but it does have a few restaurants.
  • Arches requires timed reservation from 4/1 which I heard is quite competitive. When we went, we didn’t need to make reservation. I also noticed that after 4pm, the gate is not manned, which means you can enter without a reservation. Capitol Reef scenic drive will be closed between April and October this year 2024 for road expansion. Angels Landing needs permit! So advanced planning is indeed quite important.
  • Keep drinking water at all times. Even though clean bathrooms are not always readily available, but the effect of dehydration is unbearable. So stay hydrated!
  • Utah has so much to offer. Each of the parks deserves more time, however, we only had a week and did the best we could. As to when is the best time to visit, March turned to be great for several reasons. There isn’t as much snow in March, the possibility of decent weather is quite high. It’s the beginning of the peak season, so the crowd in all parks are not bad. Arches doesn’t need timed reservation. Summer can be very hot in most of the parks. Many trails are quite exposed, so it might be quite intolerable to hike some of them.
  • The drive between each park are very scenic. They were all very pleasant drives. We did almost all the driving in the afternoon. I wouldn’t do so at night. The highways were dark and many have very very high speed limit, some as high as 80mile. Sections along the way had open cattle ranches, so there are good chance of animal crossing. Nighttime drive would be quite dangerous.

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