Our northern neighbor-state Utah is a superb destination for spring and fall hiking, and our Southern Utah Highlights tour to the Grand Staircase-Escalante, Bryce, and Zion includes one spectacular scene after the next. This tour is self-guided and lodge-based, spending one night in St. George and two nights apiece in Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park. Each day you will enjoy some of the finest hiking in the Southwest with beautiful scenery as you drive from one National Park to the next.
After arriving and spending your first night in St. George you’ll split your time at two gorgeous inns near each park, taking memorable hikes each day. Colorful spires, hidden waterfalls, narrow canyons and soaring rock walls make every day a highlight. A typical day starts with breakfast at your hotel or a nearby restaurant (not included). Soon you’ll be out on the trail exploring each of these parks in depth. Your hikes should be timed for you to finish your hike around 4 pm, giving you time to wash up, relax and perhaps enjoy the sunset. After that you can enjoy dinner at your hotel or another local restaurant – often local southwest specialties and always delicious!
This tour can be combined with our Northern Arizona Highlights tour for a longer, 2-week Southwest tour, with a $300 discount for combining two tours. Please ask if you are interested.
Our self-guided tour packages include detailed route descriptions and maps to help you navigate our favorite hikes in the area. Each day you’ll get to choose which one sounds best to you, but here is a sample of what a typical self-guided tour will look like.
St. George, Utah – Fly directly to St. George Municipal Airport or fly to Las Vegas and rent a car or take a shuttle to St. George. You may want to stock up on lunch supplies here in town for the first couple days of hiking. You’ll head up the hill and stay at the Inn on the Cliffs . You might enjoy dinner at the adjacent Cliffside Restaurant with views sweeping over town below and the distant mountains beyond.
Bryce and Grand Staircase-Escalante – This morning you’ll head off to our first destination, Bryce Canyon National Park. If you prefer to head straight to Bryce, the Figure 8 hike is a wonderful introduction to the area, winding through the Navajo, Peek-a-Boo and Queen’s Garden trails.
Alternately, you might start with a visit to nearby Grand Staircase-Escalante, a land of fantastic spires, buttes, and twisting canyons. The drive on Hole in the Rock road is unpaved and a bit rough in places, but worth the effort. Peek-a-boo and Spooky gulches are two fantastic hikes right next to each other – you can do either or both – through narrow, slot canyons. Peek-a-boo is a bit easier, while Spooky is so narrow in places, you will have to squeeze. Spend the night in nearby Bryce Canyon after your hike.
Bryce Canyon – Bryce is known for its natural bridges and otherworldly amphitheaters of colorful spire-like formations called “hoodoos”. After a leisurely morning, you’ll head out to explore the park.
The Fairyland trail offers a great opportunity to soak in the atmosphere on a 4-5 hour hike through some of the finest scenery in the park. You can hike right to your accommodations for the night at the Bryce Canyon Lodge. Built in the 1920’s, the historic Bryce Canyon Lodge is set just a short walk from the canyon rim.
Since you’re staying here 2 nights, it would be easy to hike Bryce your first day, and do a daytrip to Grand Staircase-Escalante on your 2nd full day.
Zion N.P. – Today you will discover Zion National Park; stunning with its orange-red canyon walls that tower over 3000′ above the canyon floor.
A morning drive to Zion is followed by a spectacular hike, perhaps to Observation Point, one of Zion’s best hikes, with sweeping canyon views that will take your breath away. Your lodging tonight will be either the Cliffrose or Desert Pearl Lodge, both luxurious hotels just outside the park in nearby Springdale with outdoor swimming pool, hot-tub, and peaceful riverside views.
Zion N.P. – Another of Zion’s classic hikes leads through the Zion narrows. Wading through the Virgin River (sometimes up to your thighs), this hike is a unique and challenging opportunity to hike through a impressive and narrow gorge, with waterfalls, hanging gardens and memories galore.
The Narrows are not a cold-weather hike though, and fall, winter and spring visitors might opt for either a shorter walk along the river (without the wading), or the thrilling hike to Angel’s Landing, across a narrow sandstone fin to outstanding views in all directions. Truly a classic and fitting way to finish a great trip! Return to Springdale for your last night.
Depart – After breakfast, you’ll return to St. George, Las Vegas, or you can continue on to your post-tour destinations.
Join one of our group tours for a guided experience!