In 1847, Brigham Young famously led Mormon pioneers into this Utah valley declaring "This is the right place." There are several highlights that are well worth a stop in this scenic city. On top of a hill at the northern end of Salt Lakeâ€™s main State Street is the elegant Utah State Capitol, patterned after Americaâ€™s Capitol Building, that has free guided tours available most of the year. Sculpture, murals and exhibits throughout the building tell the story of the settling of the West. Nearby recommended stops include the Pioneer Memorial Museum, Memory Grove Park, City Creek Canyon, and Council Hall for visitor information.For an overview of the region, we suggest a visit to the Natural History Museum of Utah. The main lobby opens up into a towering slot canyon, reflecting the geology of Southern Utah. Visitors work their way through exhibits covering past epochs, life, land, gems and minerals, first peoples, Great Salt Lake (with a view), indigenous voices, and rotating exhibits. The museum is also the trailhead for the cityâ€™s Bonneville Shoreline Trail System.
Overnight: Salt Lake City
Pick up your rental car and embark on an adventure through The Mighty 5 National Parks. 300 million years of erosion carved unbelievably dramatic landscapes sculpted by the passage of time. Start with Arches National Park which contains about 2,000 windowed arches, towering spires, harrowing hoodoos, and precarious pinnacles on display, including Delicate Arch, perhaps Utah's most iconic feature - a must-hike destination in the park. A paved 36-mile scenic drive from the park entrance provides numerous parking areas for trail access and scenic overlooks. You will discover a sun-soaked red rock wonderland of eroded sandstone fins, towers, ribs, gargoyles, hoodoos, balanced rocks and arches.
We combine both Arches and Canyonlands this day into one full day of guided sightseeing and exploring. Although you may have seen parts of Arches on the previous day, this guided tour adds a different dimension. We will take you through both Canyonlands and Arches National Parks as we jump off the main roads in 4WD vehicles, leave the crowds behind and the expert guides reveal magnificent views and interpretive secrets that few get to experience. You will see famous sights and natural geologic wonders like Delicate Arch and Eye of the Whale just to name a few. The day is packed with wonder as you see wave after wave of deep canyons, formed by the currents and tributaries of Utah's Green and Colorado rivers, divided with towering mesas, pinnacles, cliffs and spires. Canyonlands has four separate districts. Most visitors opt for the accessible views at Island in the Sky near Moab, but serious hikers can extend their stay and explore the more remote and dramatic parts of the park. The large petroglyph panel of Newspaper Rock is on the scenic road to the Needles District of Canyonlands. Visitor centres in Island in the Sky and Needles are open spring through fall.
Canyonlands is made for adventure enthusiast with countless canyons that have been carved out by the Colorado River and its tributaries. The canyon can be best experienced by rafting or kayaking the Colorado River.Dead Horse Point is a Utah State Park providing panoramic views of Canyonlands National Park and the Colorado River. From Moab, drive north on Hwy 191 for about 19 kms (12 miles) to Hwy 313 and take the signed turnoff to Dead Horse Point. Follow this for about half an hour as it winds to the top of the plateau and then south to Dead Horse Point. This gives you a birds-eye view of Canyonlands and the Colorado River over 1,000 feet below. It is an absolutely spectacular view of the river. Time permitting, take a half-day jet boat ride down the Colorado River into Canyonlands National Park and see Canyonlands from the river, a view that most people never experience. Glide along the top of the water going around bends in the river surrounded by high cliffs. If it is late afternoon or evening, you may catch a beautiful sunset over Canyonlands.
The large petroglyph panel of Newspaper Rock is on the scenic road to the Needles District of Canyonlands. From there, continue to the Edge of the Cedars State Park and then Bluff Fort before heading south to Monument Valley. The next experience is Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, an iconic symbol of the American West and the sacred heart of the Navajo Nation. As your indigenous guide escorts you through the park, you will learn of the importance of these ancestral lands to the Navajo people. Please respect tribal practices at all times. The rugged landscapes are infused with ancestral spirits, yet they are hauntingly familiar thanks to Hollywood's long love affair with this land. Under clear skies, itâ€™s also stunning at night.
Overnight: Monument Valley
It is a scenic drive north to Green River through Hanksville on Routes 95 and 24. Green River is famous for its melons, sold during the growing season and also a popular free ride mountain biking spot.
It is a 3 hours drive north to back to Salt Lake City. Aim to return around noon time to return your car and head to the airport for your return after your epic drive through Southern Utah and some of the most stunning landscapes on earth.