4 Epic Hikes in 4 Days: Southern Utah National Parks
The Utah National Parks are not to be missed. Follow this four-day itinerary to have the best time and conquer some of the most epic hikes in all of America! Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon will be checked off your bucket list on this amazing adventure and you'll also get to check out the small town of Kanab, which also has some incredible scenery.
The Fora Difference
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Where to stay
A rustic and cozy retreat nestled in the heart of canyons, providing a serene escape with warm hospitality and access to stunning natural wonders.
Under Canvas Zion
Relaxing property located on 196 acres and across from Zion National Park with upscale, safari-style tents.
Zion National Park Lodge
Backpackers dream cabin-style lodgings in Zion with a seasonal Castle Dome Café and horseback tours.
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Day 1: Bryce Canyon-Queens Garden/Navajo Loop hike
We decided to start our Southern Utah Itinerary from the furthest point and work our way back. We started at Bryce Canyon, went through Kanab and then ended at Zion before flying back out of Las Vegas.
I did not realize how much I would fall in love with Bryce National Park. The uniqueness of this trail is something I will never forget. For the whole trek, I was constantly marveling at the scenery around me. The hoodoos are something that everyone must see in person-the pictures just don’t do them justice. This was the first hike on our Utah Trip and I fell in love with the beauty of the state right then and there. The Queens Garden/Navajo Loop Hike definitely goes on my top 10 hikes of all time!
Trailhead: Start at the Sunrise Point Trailhead and end at the Sunset Point. You can either shuttle back to Sunrise point or it’s an easy and flat 10-minute walk around the rim of the canyon back to the starting point
Distance: This is around 3-miles depending on how you do it. We opted to go all the way down to the bottom of Queen’s Garden, and when you arrive at the fork and beginning of the Navajo loop you can either turn right or left. Right takes you to Thor’s Hammer and Left takes you to Wall Street. Since we had already seen (we think!) the hammer from the top, we opted to go left for Wall Street and back up from there, only completing about half the loop and only having to climb the switchbacks once! I would consider most of this trail a moderate level, but in the last 20, or so, minutes the climb was tough. There is some altitude that comes into play, but there are plenty of spots to take a break on the way up. Also, Bryce Canyon is much cooler than the other parts of Utah we were in and there were lots of places to catch some shade throughout Wall Street before climbing back up.
Getting There: This is the center of Bryce Canyon National Park. They have a great shuttle system and it’s easy to navigate because of its small size! We stayed at North Campground while here, and the start of this hike was only about a 15-minute walk from our site!
Recommendations: Bring a good camera or a selfie stick with a tripod to take some great pictures.
Day 2: Kanab, Utah-Peekaboo Slot Canyon hike
The next day we made the drive from Bryce to Kanab. It was less than an hour and we made a few quick stops along the way to our main hike for the day.
Quick stops: Belly of the Dragon-A quick stop off the highway to a cave that looks just like its namesake. We also stopped at the Sand Caves for a great picture opportunity.
Peekaboo Slot Canyon
When planning our trip to Utah, seeing a beautiful slot canyon was definitely something we wanted to do. Antelope Canyon came highly recommended, but on such a short timeframe, we didn’t want to drive too far out of the way. We were on our way from Bryce NP to Zion and Kanab offered the perfect stop along the way to check this off our list. It did NOT disappoint and we absolutely loved this. Nate thoroughly enjoyed driving the ATV at full power, as the guide recommended, over the dunes on the way to our destination.
Trailhead: Red Canyon Slot aka Peek-a-Book Trailhead (Kanab, UT), this is not to be confused with the Peekaboo in Escalante!
Distance: Around 1 mile of walking (easy) once you get to the slot canyon!
Getting There: Drive to the trailhead easily marked on Google Maps! You have to have a special vehicle to get there (do not drive your rental car!) We took an ATV with Expedition Kanab and it was a bucket-list experience.
Recommendations: We loved our tour guide, Brayden, because he taught us some really cool photography skills! The best way to take pictures of the slot canyons is to use your “panorama” mode vertically! We had never thought of turning the camera the other way and it made for some great pictures for the rest of our trip!
Another place to visit in Kanab is the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. We ended up doing a quick stop here to check out the dunes!
Day 3: Zion National Park-Observation Point
This was quite the best way we could have started our time in Zion! The views of Zion Canyon from Observation Park can hardly be beaten! The whole hike is beautiful, but when you reach the point, you’ll be in awe. The coolest part is you look right down over Angel’s Landing, one of the most famous hikes in the world!
Trailhead: East Mesa Trail (Outside the Park) - As of now, the trail to access from inside the park is closed due to a rockslide!
Distance: 7 miles roundtrip (moderate difficulty) The trail is very well-marked and most of it is flat, although you will have some hills on the way back from the point!
Permit Needed: No! And the great thing? No crowds!
Getting There: You can find the trailhead on Google Maps. Driving there would probably take a 4-wheel drive as you’re on some bumpy back roads. There are also limited parking spaces at the trailhead. We took the shuttle ($7/person) from Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort. It runs every 30 minutes.
Recommendations: Take plenty of water with you, as a lot of the trail is exposed. We each finished our Water Bladder throughout the hike! We were also glad we packed some snacks to have while we waited for the shuttle on the other end.
Day 4: Zion National Park & The Narrows
This climbed the list to one of our favorite hikes of all time! The narrows need to be added to your bucket list if you like to hike. This was like nothing else we’ve ever done. Situated in Zion National Park, it is one that takes you on a trek through the Virgin River. It is an extremely large slot canyon that will take your breath away at every turn!
Trail: Riverside Walk Trailhead/Temple of Sinawava.
Distance: Up to 10 miles (moderate to difficult): You can go in as far as you’d like & turn around, making this an in-and-out hike. We recommend going at least three miles into the famous “Wall Street." This is more of a “Strategic” hike than a “strenuous hike.”
Permit Needed: Not if you decide to hike the bottom up (the most popular way!). You will need a National Parks Pass to Enter Zion!
Getting There: We highly recommend using ZionGuru to rent E-Bikes! The trip into the Narrows this way was absolutely stunning. Take the Canyon Scenic Drive all the way to the end/last stop and then hike in! You can also take the free NP shuttle, but with this you are limited to what you see and may have to wait in some lines.
Recommendations: Our top tip is to rent the necessary gear to truly enjoy your experience (Hiking Stick, Neoprene Socks and Special Hiking Shoes). We were also really glad we had our waterproof phone case to take pictures in!
Need to Know
This is an incredible way to hike your way through some of the most beautiful parks in Southern Utah. We definitely want to return one day to finish out the Mighty 5 Utah National Parks with our toddler when he's old enough!
Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my guide, Your Family Escape to Catalina Island: Top 5 Adventures.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Utah.