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Mesa Arches at Canyonlands NP

How I Visited Four National Parks in One Day

It’s quite fascinating to say that I visited four national parks in a day. Not only that, I also hiked in two of these four and visited one state park on the way.

Well, it’s possible only in Utah. Utah is a state in the USA that includes a few top-listed national parks at close distances.

Here’s the list of national parks I visited on that day:

  • Canyonlands NP
  • Arches NP
  • Capitol Reef NP
  • Bryce Canyon NP

The state park I visited on the same day is the Dead Horse Point SP.

Here’s how you can do the same if you want to cover all four in a day.

Stay Overnight in Moab

First of all, you have to stay the previous night at a hotel in Moab, Utah. Get up early in the morning and have breakfast as early as you can.

On our road trip, we arrived in Moab at around 12 p.m. and checked into our hotel room. That day, we came from Arizona and visited the Horseshoe Bend, Monument Valley, and Goosenecks State Park along the way. I will discuss more in a separate post on how we had a road trip in the Grand Circle.

Choose Canyonlands or Arches NP as the First Destination

Both Canyonlands NP and the Arches NP are at a close distance from Moab. Arches is closer and only a few minutes away from the town.

Preferably, Arches NP can be the first destination. However, Arches NP is the only national park in Utah that requires timed entry.

A timed entry means you have to reserve the entry time ahead of your visit. So, depending on the time you can manage, you have to choose wisely about the first venue. I would say if you can not manage an entry time at around 7-9 a.m., you should head first towards the Canyonlands NP.

The Scenic Drive at the Arches NP

After you enter the Arches NP, you can drive through the scenic drive up to the base of the most popular Delicate Arch. Unless you are a pretty good hiker, you should not hike it in order to manage time.

Only driving through points and taking photos are good enough at the Arches. There will be many visiting points like the Balanced Rock and a lot of scenic overlooks along the drive.

Canyonlands NP and the Dead Horse Point SP

The Dead Horse Point SP is right before the entrance of the Canyonlands NP. I would recommend visiting the state park first and then entering the Canyonlands NP.

The Dead Horse Point SP offers a stunning panoramic view that includes the Colorado River flowing below, the valley floor with off-roads, and distant rocky mountains.

After visiting the Dead Horse Point SP, you take the same road towards the Canyonlands NP. Canyonlands NP has numerous scenic overlook points, hiking/biking/4-wheel trails, and dirt roads along the way until the final point, named the Grand View Point Overlook. This point is one of the best overlooks in the entire park and offers 360 views of the valley.

On the way, we stopped at the Mesa Arch trailhead to visit the Arch. The Mesa Arch looks like a window towards the valley. It’s a short 1 mile roundtrip, and anyone across age or fitness can accomplish it. Plus, it doesn’t take much time to go back and forth.

So, overall, both the national park and the state park will give you an excellent experience and future plans for dirt road activities.

Drive through the Capitol Reef National Park

Well, the Moab part is done; let’s head toward Bryce Canyon City now. On the way, the Capitol Reef NP will add an extra 30-60 minutes if you take the detour. The Capitol Reef NP has a beautiful long scenic drive that you can take on the way from Moab to the Bryce Canyon National Park.

The park is full of golden sandstone, canyons, and striking rock formations. Since you just take the scenic byway, you can stop at the visitor points and enjoy the beauty of the park.

Hike the Navajo Loop Trail at the Bryce Canyon NP

Well, we have to arrive at the Sunset Point of the Bryce Canyon NP at least an hour before the sunset. From there, you can have a beautiful hike down the Navajo Loop trail. I would say this one is the best trail in the region, which is also the shortest.

If you have extra time, you can hike to the Queen’s Garden and get on top again through any of the Sunrise points. Through the hike, you can enjoy the beautiful formations of the Hoodoos. Hoodoos are unique rock formations and are mostly seen in this park (although available throughout Utah).


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