Visiting the Mighty Five National Parks of Utah

All across America, there are a variety of special lands that are designated to be federally protected, due to their beauty and significance. Of these spectacular areas, sixty-two places have been designated as national parks, to be protected for the future enjoyment of all visitors. Of all the national parks found in the United States, the five Utah parks, otherwise known as the Utah Mighty Five, are some of the most fascinating. Each of these parks holds something new and exciting, providing a gorgeous place to vacation. Those with an RV can easily visit the five parks in one big trip, as they are all relatively close together. With the availability of both private and national park campgrounds, there are many places to camp in your RV. Continue on for a full list of the parks, what each has to offer, and where you can camp on your next big road trip to Utah’s Mighty Five.

1. Zion National Park

Zion National Park is the southernmost national park in Utah. This stunning park is located inside a deep canyon in the southern Utah desert. The crystal clear Virgin River runs through the center of the canyon, with lush vegetation, and red sandstone cliffs in every direction. Common activities enjoyed here include hiking, biking, climbing, wildlife viewing, and canyoneering.

RV Camping

Within Zion, there are two RV-friendly campgrounds to choose from. Watchman Campground is the most popular, since it offers electrical hookups, but South Campground offers more campsites at a lower price point. Both campgrounds allow reservations and must be booked well in advance because of the park’s popularity. 

Outside of Zion, there are several campgrounds and RV resorts, some located just outside the park and others a bit further, in the nearby towns of Hurricane and St. George. Each of these provides full hook-ups and more amenities than the campgrounds within the park, but they can be expected to cost more and require additional driving distance to visit Zion. The best parks to consider include Zion Canyon Campground and RV Resort, Zion Crest Campground and RV Park, Zion West RV Park, and St. George/Hurricane KOA. Be sure to reserve your campsite well in advance to ensure availability.

2. Bryce Canyon National Park

After leaving Zion, you can travel about two hours northeast to arrive at Bryce Canyon National Park. This beautiful park is characterized by its stunning red spires (called hoodoos) set deep within an orange and red-toned canyon. In the winter, the hoodoos rise out of the snowy ground, offering the perfect juxtaposition of colors. Popular activities here include hiking, scenic driving, and winter activities seasonally.

RV Camping

If you are visiting in your RV, there are several campground options. Within the park, the North Campground and Sunset Campground are both available to RVs. North Campground operates on a first-come, first served basis, while Sunset Campground allows reservations in peak season. Each is affordable but does not offer hookups.

Outside the park, there are several great camping options. Bryce Canyon Pines Campground and Cannonville/Bryce Valley KOA Holiday are both great options, offering full hookups among many other amenities. Be sure to make reservations a few months ahead during the busiest seasons.

3. Capitol Reef National Park

Leaving Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef National Park is located another two hours northeast. Despite its unique and rare beauty, this park is the least-visited of the Big Five. It is best known for its layers of canyons, striking rock formations, and sandstone structures. Popular activities here include hiking, biking, climbing, canyoneering, and scenic driving. Don’t forget to take a drive out to Cathedral Valley when you come to visit!

RV Camping

Within the park, Fruita Campground is the only RV-accessible campground. It is open year-round, with reservations available during the peak season. There is potable water and a dump station available, as well.

Outside the park, the best camping options are Sandcreek RV Park and Wonderland RV Park. Each of these parks offers full hookups and other amenities, such as laundry, WiFi, and more.

4. Arches National Park

About another two hours east, we arrive at Arches National Park, just outside of the city of Moab. With so many recreational opportunities, Moab itself is a popular tourist destination. If you decide to visit Arches, plan to visit Moab as well, as it has many excellent restaurants and shops, as well as awesome nearby outdoor activities.

Arches National Park is an incredible place, filled with over 2,000 natural sandstone arches, set against a gorgeous backdrop of both mountains and sprawling desert. Park visitors tend to enjoy hiking to the arches, the most famous of which is Delicate Arch, as well as auto touring, canyoneering, rock climbing, and more. Of all the Utah parks, this one tends to be the busiest.

RV Camping

Those planning to camp in or near Arches have several options. Devils Garden Campground is the only option in the park. It is open year-round and allows reservations in peak season. Due to the park’s popularity, it can be difficult to secure a reservation here, but those who do will be treated to some incredible views.

Outside the park, there are many camping options in the nearby town of Moab. Some of these include Archview RV Resort and Campground, Moab Valley RV Resort and Campground, Portal RV Resort, Canyonlands RV Resort and Campground, Moab Rim RV Park, and Moab KOA Holiday. In addition, there are several public lands camping options nearby.

5. Canyonlands National Park

About thirty minutes drive from Arches, you can end your road trip at Canyonlands National Park. If you are visiting the whole Moab area, it is typical to see both parks, since they are in such close proximity to each other. Situated at a higher elevation than the majority of Moab, this park overlooks layers upon layers of canyons and sandstone structures in the valleys below. Famous Mesa Arch is located here, and this arch has been the subject of many popular photos for decades. Although Canyonlands is less popular than Arches, it is incredibly stunning and well-worth a visit. Popular activities here include hiking, climbing, and off-road driving.

RV Camping

For RV camping, there are two national park campgrounds, each located in a different area of the park. In the Island in the Sky region, there is a very small campground that operates year-round on a first-come, first served basis. In the Needles District, there is another small campground available, which also operates on a first come-first-served basis.

Outside the park, visitors can stay in the same Moab campgrounds listed above in the Arches camping section.

Utah is an incredibly beautiful place, and its national parks are some of the most incredible in the country. This road trip is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so be sure to follow this itinerary if you ever get a chance to visit Utah’s incredible Mighty Five Parks.

Have you visited Utah’s Mighty Five? How was your experience? Which was your favorite? Feel free to share in the comments below!

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  1. Thomas J Bernota
    8th November, 2020

    We’re doing a month long trip through the southwest as I write this. Just spent four days touring Arches and Canyonlands, and arrived in Leeds last night, about 40 minutes from Zion. Occasional bad weather aside (our drive from Moab was through a brief but intense snowstorm, and many hours of winds gusting to 30+!), its been a great time to visit the parks. Much less crowded, daytime temps in the 60’s (usually), and with the sun lower in the sky generally, better photo ops. I would highly recommend at least two days per park, and better with three or more if you really enjoy hiking. A week each would not be too much.
    Looking forward to Zion, but we’ll have to come back for Bryce and Capitol Reef. Wish we were full timing!

    1. Sam Leash
      11th November, 2020

      So glad to hear you are enjoying your trip! The Southwest is such a fun place to visit at this time of year. Happy trails!

  2. Ellen
    7th November, 2020

    Love Love LOVE UTAH!!! My all time favourite place to visit!!
    Have toured all across Canada and the USA – and Utah is the most spectacular!
    I kept expecting to see more of the same and every one of the Mighty Five was different in it’s own unique way.
    We drove up the Moki Dugway in our 24′ Winnebago Class C and the views were amazing. We also drove down into Capital Gorge with Winnie and every turn and bend was awe inspiring!
    The red rock and spires and arches just seem to nourish my soul!! Goblin Valley with its little aliens and Kodachrome should not be missed! Mesa Verde in Colorado with it’s cliff dwellers is also a must see!
    Would go back in a heart beat – but it’s along way from Ontario!!

    1. Sam Leash
      11th November, 2020

      The American Southwest is truly amazing! So glad you enjoyed your trip, and I hope you can make it back soon!