Exploring the National Parks of Utah

Destination: National Parks in Utah

| Activities: Hiking

Southern Utah is home to four of the most well known National Parks, each with its own special magic and unique attractions. Zion National Park is famous for its soaring red Navajo Sandstone cliffs. Nearby Bryce Canyon is a testimonial to the erosive power of ice and rainwater, carving its colorful limestone into windows, fins, and soaring spires called hoodoos. Capitol Reef is a monument to the amazing power of uplift. Goblin Valley State Park demonstrates just how bizarre rocks shaped by erosion can get and also the magic of slot canyons. And Arches National Park lives up to its name with over two thousand sandstone arches of all shapes and sizes. While we need to drive between parks (on some of the most scenic highways you will ever have the pleasure to drive on), this is not primarily a driving trip. We will hike between 2 and 4 hours every day and see each park as only hikers can. On this trip we extend a special invitation to anyone who prefers an option for leisurely shorter hikes with more time for other activities. Maximum group size: 10


  • Exploring the Emerald Pools Trail in Zion National Park
  • Walking among the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Slithering through the slot canyons of Little Wild Horse
  • Hiking to some of the many arches in Arches National Park
  • Enjoying the remoteness and solitude of Capitol Reef

Departures and Prices

September 24 to October 01, 2022
$2995.00 - Limited Availability
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  • 1 - 2 experienced AGC guides based on group size
  • Seven nights of double occupancy accommodation
  • All meals from dinner on the first day to breakfast on the last day
  • Transportation during the trip
  • National Park entry fees

Not included: Airfare to St. George, UT or from Moab, UT, alcoholic beverages, guide gratuities and trip insurance

Trip Documents

Trip Intro

We have rated this trip as a 2 and a 3 because of the choice of a longer and shorter hike on most days. Any healthy, active woman can be comfortable on the shorter hikes; women who want to do the longer hikes should exercise regularly prior to the trip. If you chose to do that longer hikes, a rating of 3 requires aerobic conditioning, such as walking vigorously up hills, jogging, or stair stepping for 30 - 45 minutes at least 3 - 4 times a week. If you are looking for a trip in this area with longer hikes, look at Hiking the Grand Staircase or Hiking Utah's National Parks Rating: 1 2 3 4 5.

This trip combines hiking with an immersion into the unique geology of this fascinating area - there is no better way to understand the different geologic processes that formed each Park than to explore them on foot. Because we offer choices of hikes each day, it is an excellent trip for novice and intermediate hikers who like hikes of intermediate or shorter length. The town of Moab at the end of the trip is an ideal spot for those who like to browse shops or bookstores, or sample excellent coffee and local beer and wine.

We stay at a variety of accommodations on this trip, starting with one night at a hotel in St. George, Utah. We then stay at lodges that are located right inside the parks, one night at Zion Park Lodge and two nights at Bryce Canyon Lodge, a very short walk from the rim. Then there is one night at a motel in Hanksville, before finishing the trip with two nights in Moab in beautiful new condos, each with three bedrooms and a private hot tub. One bedroom has a private bathroom and the other two (one bedroom has a queen, the other has twins) share a bathroom. Women who have paid for a single get the mistress bedroom and otherwise the rooms are assigned randomly.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

Our trip starts today at the St. George, Utah airport (SGU). Plan on flying in by 3:30PM to meet the group by 4PM. It's a small but bustling airport. Nestled in a vast expanse of red rock scenery, St. George is listed as one of the best places to live in the United States and on the list of Fortune 500’s "Great Places to Retire In." We'll start getting to know each other and have a trip orientation in the evening before sharing our first dinner. Bedtime is likely to be early tonight! (D)
The drive to our first destination, Zion National Park, is about 3 hours. Our first stop is our picnic area where you can explore the area or take a break while your guides prepare lunch. After the first of many delicious picnic lunches and some instruction on how to hike happily and safely for the week, we'll explore the Emerald Pools Trail System. The 3-mile hike (we take about 2.5 hours) to the Upper Pool passes through pinyon-juniper habitat as we visit the lush environment of the lower pool and gaze at the soaring canyon walls of the upper pool. Along the way we'll talk about how Zion Canyon was formed and see evidence that it is a process that is still quite active. Our lodging tonight is right in the bottom of Zion Canyon, in one of the most beautiful and peaceful settings in the entire park system. Overnight Zion National Park. (B,L,D)
Today we'll head back towards the Visitor's Center to hike the Watchman Trail, another Zion classic. The trail is about 2 miles round trip with 500 feet elevation gain through a desert environment. Along the trail we'll see many of Zion's landmarks: Beehives, Towers of the Virgin, West Temple, and the Altar of Sacrifice. The trail ends up at a viewpoint that oversees much of the lower canyon as well as the Watchman, a red spire rising to an elevation of 6545 feet. We'll then visit the Zion Human History Museum, or possibly join one of the Zion rangers for what are always informative walks. In late afternoon we'll drive to Bryce Canyon. The Zion-Mount Carmel Highway is a dramatic feat of engineering, taking us through a very different looking part of the Park. We'll arrive in Bryce in time for dinner. Our lodging tonight is about a 5-minute walk from the rim. Overnight Bryce Canyon National Park. (B,L,D)
Another park, more classic hikes: The Peekaboo Loop. In contrast to yesterday where we climbed out of Zion Canyon, today we'll start by descending into Bryce Canyon. This 6-mile trail, which follows an up and down loop around a major formation with constantly changing views, provides an excellent opportunity to see hoodoos from the bottom up. For those wanting a bit shorter hike, the Navajo - Queen's Garden loop is an excellent 3 mile alternative. That evening we'll have the chance to watch the sun's rays light up some amazing geology. And after dinner, Bryce is known for having one of the most glorious nighttime skies of anyplace in the U.S. - if stargazing appeals to you, this is the perfect place to do it. Overnight Bryce Canyon National Park. (B,L,D)
Our three hour drive this morning to Capitol Reef National Park is one of the most scenic of the entire trip as we drive through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, crossing over vast stretches of slickrock before climbing up and over the Boulder Mountains. Capitol Reef is a small section of the Waterpocket Fold, a 100-mile long wrinkle in the earth's crust comprised of colorful canyons, buttes, mesas, and monoliths. We'll visit the Visitor Center and then have a picnic in an area where Mormon settlers once farmed. We explore only a small portion as we hike through Cohab Canyon to its exit on the other side. This hike offers more solitude and wilderness than any other on the trip, with options for a couple of side hikes up to higher points in the Canyon. We'll finish our visit to Capitol Reef with a visit to petroglyphs along the road. We stay overnight at a motel in Hanksville, a small Utah town that is a great jumping off point for hiking. Overnight Hanksville, UT. (B,L,D)
Today we start with a hike into Little Wild Horse Canyon. This is a slot canyon that can be as high as 250 feet and as narrow as 2.5 feet, and we'll do it as an out and back, going as far as we choose. Hiking in slot canyons is always dependent on weather but this is one of the most accessible in Utah. After lunch a short drive takes us to Goblin Valley State Park, one of those state parks that is so spectacular, it would be a National Park in any other area. Goblin Valley gets its name from the thousands of mushroom-shaped pinnacles that have been carved by wind and water over the centuries.

After finishing our hike, we continue on to our condos in Moab. Moab is one of the most charming small towns in Utah, known for its great shops and limitless outdoor opportunities. If you want a chance to explore the many restaurant options in Moab, this is the night. Alternatively, the guides will get some take-out pizza and salad and if you want to just kick back at the condos after the day, you are welcome to join them. Overnight Moab. (B,L,D)
Due to Arches National Park's unique geology, this park contains the largest concentration of arches of anyplace in the US. We'll start with Delicate Arch trail, a classic Arches hike and not to be missed. We'll take the short spur trail to a Ute Indian Petroglyph and then walk up gradually sloping slickrock to a small valley surrounded by red rocks on the way to the arch. Just when you think you must have taken a wrong turn, the arch suddenly appears and you immediately understand why it is the most photographed arch in Utah. There are several other short hikes to different arches so some of us may decide to continue with more hiking while others will want time in Moab, the most fun place to shop in Utah. Tonight, we celebrate our week of hiking with a final farewell dinner at our condos. Overnight Moab. (B,L,D)
This morning we share a final breakfast, pack up, and say our goodbyes to Utah. We'll drop you off at the Moab (CNY), airport by 10:00AM.


(43 reviews)
4.6 Food
4.7 Lodging
4.9 Safety

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "What made this trip special for you?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

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Most Recent

Susan G.
2 months ago

The landscape, the people, traveling with my sister

Janet K.
2 months ago

Brenda and Danya were a good duo. Brenda's knowledge of hiking and the geology and history of the area added to the trip. I especially appreciated her gentle nature and insight into the needs of the variety of people in our group. Danya provided a bit of a spark to the trip!

Joanne F.
2 months ago

I wasn't sure I was prepared enough physically for the trip, but Brenda and Danya were supportive and reassuring. Being the oldest in the group (72), I was often at the slower end of the line where Danya "brought up the rear". She was delightful. We shared about our lives and got to hear about each others' perspectives. I really appreciated that. Brenda was wholeheartedly focused on my self-acceptance and I was grateful to embrace her perspective that MY hike was mine - not to be compared with other participants' status. I also had the benefit of having a session with Brenda on "nature journalling" which got me very excited about appreciating nature in a new way. It was also a special trip because I was with my sister, Susan Gaeta, and we were celebrating my 70th birthday - 2 years late.

Sandy M.
3 months ago

Getting to see all the parks with some amazing ladies!

Peggy E.
3 months ago

Brenda and Danya. They did all the work.

Sarah K.
3 months ago

The hikes were awesome. We got to experience many different parks. I learned a lot about the geology of the area. Brenda was an excellent guide. She was very knowledgeable, a good teacher, and accommodating. I think it would be easier to fly into Las Vegas. It was challenging to fly into St. George and other participants had the same experience. One person had to take three flights to get to St. George.

Heidi P.
8 months ago

I really enjoyed the "road trip" aspect. Living on Maui, there's really no such thing as a road trip!

Carol S.
9 months ago

Visiting the different parks, with their completely different landscapes, was so beautiful and I had not known how much variety we would be seeing so that was amazing to me. Also, our guides were incredible! I felt safe and cared for in every way so I could really just let go and enjoy the trip. Finally, we had an ideal group of women that all seemed to get along, there was no negative drama, and I really enjoyed everyone I met and would welcome traveling with them again one day!

Patricia L.
9 months ago

I was able to see a different part of the country with excellent hiking led by wonderful guides with a fantastic group of interesting women.

Louise B.
9 months ago

The guides were fabulous, the hikes were beautiful, and the trip was so organized. We knew what to expect and everyone stayed calm and patient when we needed to adjust. The other women were easy to get along with and all worked to get to know everyone.

Barbara P.
9 months ago

Knowledgeable guides, different and. interesting hikes. Great food planning and execution. Great group of women.

Michele S.
9 months ago

Being able to go to several National Parks and a couple of state parks was wonderful for me as I will likely not get back to Utah. The guides were terrific; making sure everyone was comfortable with the hikes, the altitude changes and the meals they fixed were delicious. The other guests on the trip provided great conversation, laughs and were excellent company.

Jody Q.
9 months ago

Seeing a part of the country that is so unique and beautiful without doing the driving. Travelling with intelligent and like minded women too,

Lynda G.
9 months ago

The guides were EXCELLENT, the other travellers were wonderful - we felt cared for every step of the way. Amazing organization, great food, fabulous hikes, it really exceeded my expectations!

Jill B.
1 year ago

Joanna M.
1 year ago

Nancy Z.
1 year ago

Susan M.
1 year ago

Karen N.
1 year ago

Janice B.
1 year ago

I believe I could have been challenged more and will look at trips that can push me to the next level.

Karen A.
1 year ago

It was over my expectations! I would like to do it again!

Karen S.
1 year ago

Lived up to and exceeded.

Judith B.
1 year ago

Well organized, great guides and beautiful National Parks! Great hikes!

Robin S.
2 years ago

It far exceeded my expectations.

Felicia F.
2 years ago

Shelda F.
2 years ago

The beauty of the national parks in Utah was just amazing. I also enjoyed the slot canyon hike as it was so different than anything I have done before. Great guides and the camaraderie of the women on the trip was a bonus.

Calla L.
2 years ago

Linda S.
2 years ago

Just my second trip with AGC, both they've both been fantastic.

Monica H.
2 years ago

It actually went beyond my expectations. I was not expecting Utah to be so beautiful. And best hiking ever!

Teri L.
2 years ago

Exceeded my expectations

Felicia F.
2 years ago

The group of women in our tour were amazing. The guides were great and took care of everything. The park hikes and scenery were perfect.

Debby H.
2 years ago

Having never been on an AGC trip, I really had no expectations. This surpassed any expectations I may have had.

Teri L.
2 years ago

Great group of women with a lot of laughs. Guides Karen and Lainie were fun, great cooks and guided us on some of the best hikes.

Debby H.
2 years ago

This was a phenomenal trip. I expected to enjoy myself but never expected to have as much fun as I did. The guides were great, and all the women meshed as if we had known each other for years. I also appreciated the patience the guides had with me on the trails, as I was mainly in the back. I feel a great sense of accomplishment. Thank you to all those on the trip, and especially to Lainie and Karen. I can't imagine any better guides.

Robin S.
2 years ago

This trip exceeded my expectations exponentially! Everyone meshed so well. The guides were excellent, encouraging, helpful and fun. The beautiful sights at each of the parks were a wonderful surprise.

Elizabeth R.
3 years ago

It was a fantastic trip. I saw many sights that I would never have been able to visit on my own.

Diane C.
3 years ago

I really enjoyed meeting the other women on the trip and especially appreciated our very informative guide, Lisa. The beauty of the area was awesome.

Marlene L.
3 years ago

The guides were awesome and accommodated every persons wish. The daily hiking wild hose slot canyon was the best. The hotel at Zion was beautiful. Another big plus was the ability to order off the menu.

Karen M.
3 years ago

I have never traveled with a tour group before, so the rigid schedule and jam packed schedule was a bit too much for my personal tastes. I'd have preferred cutting out one of the parks and doing a little less each day, leaving time for reading, meditating or just being alone.

Holly C.
3 years ago

Wow!!! Fabulous trip!! Fabulous guides!! Each park was at least as awesome as the one the day before. Very well organized. The guides made everything so easy and relaxing and fun!!

Janet F.
3 years ago

Scenery, hikes, leaders, organization of the trip, flexibility of leaders, pre-trip information, food, accommodations. Chris took me on the Peek a Boo hike in Bryce Canyon when I was the only hiker. Having two guides offered some flexibility regarding options for hikes and other activities. For example, Chris took some of us in one van to an area for more hiking, while the others returned to the condo in Moab. I like the idea of changing up roommates. Lots of stops for the bathroom.

Marisa V.
3 years ago

Carla G.
3 years ago

The Parks and hikes were a highlight. The leaders were excellent. The accommodations were generally quite nice. And the group was surprisingly pleasant and compatible!

  1. Where do we eat?

    Most breakfasts and dinners will be in restaurants where you can order off the menu or a buffet. Before you start the day, the guides will put out lunch 'fixings' and you'll take a packed lunch or occasionally lunch will be picnic style. The guides will cook the final dinner at the condos.
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    If we know well in advance, we can accommodate vegetarian, lactose-free, and gluten-sensitive diets. We cannot guarantee a completely gluten-free diet and we cannot provide a kitchen guaranteed to be free of cross-contamination. If you are vegan, we ask that you bring some additional protein bars; and if you are gluten-sensitive, please bring some gluten-free snacks. If you have severe allergies, Celiac disease and/or other significant dietary restrictions, please call the office before you register.
  3. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    You only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room. Otherwise we’ll pair you up with someone and then switch roommates every time we switch lodging.