Our northern neighbor-state, Utah, is a superb destination for spring and fall hiking, and our Southern Utah Highlights tour to Grand Staircase-Escalante, Bryce and Zion includes one spectacular scene after the next. This tour is self-guided and lodge-based, with 2 nights in Escalante, 1 in Bryce, 2 nights at Zion National Park and a final night in St George. 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 arrival in Las Vegas, you’ll make the scenic drive through Southern Utah to the small town of Escalante. Escalante is lightly visited but oh so beautiful, with narrow, twisting slot canyons and surprising hidden streams and waterfalls. After 2 days here, you’ll head to nearby Bryce National Park, with its strange colorful spires and red rock walls. From Bryce, continue west to Zion National Park, on the short list for the most beautiful park in the country. We’ll help you with the classic hikes and also to escape the crowds to quiet trails and viewpoints that really make this park special. Then after a final day of hiking around Zion, head out to St George for a luxurious and relaxing final night in Southern Utah.
This tour can be customized to fit your needs, with extra nights if you want to explore further, or combined with our Northern Arizona Highlights tour for a longer, 2-week Southwest tour. 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.
Escalante – Arrive in Las Vegas, rent a car, and head out on the gorgeous 5 hr drive through Southern Utah. Escalante is a small town, but this is a big country around it, with a ton of scenic highlights.
If you arrive early enough, continue east a short distance for the beautiful Calf Creek Falls hike. Only 3.5 miles each way, and relatively flat, this hike can easily be done in half a day. It follows a pleasant stream through a dramatic red rock canyon to a 125 ft. waterfall that is as surprising as it is beautiful. Take a dip in the water if you need to cool off and head back to Escalante to your comfortable hotel.
Escalante – For the adventurer in you, today is a great day to explore the slot canyons of Escalante. After the buffet breakfast at your hotel, follow Hole in the Rock road to the Dry Creek trailhead, where you’ll explore the classic Peekaboo and Spooky slot canyons. Narrow, twisting and beautiful, they have just enough scrambling to make you work but require no technical gear or skills. Peekaboo is a bit easier, while Spooky is so narrow in places, you will have to squeeze sideways quite a bit. There’s plenty of time to do both.
If a narrow slot canyon is not for you, the nearby Grand Staircase region offers some easier exploration. The Willis Creek slot canyon is not quite as memorable, but is definitely easier and still very pretty. A nice mellow walk through a dramatic slot that is in places only a few feet wide. While you’re in the area, nearby Kodachrome Basin State Park is also worth a visit, filled with colorful sandstone spires and easy trails.
Bryce Canyon – Bryce is known for its natural bridges and otherworldly amphitheaters of colorful spire-like formations called hoodoos. After a short drive this morning, you’ll head out to explore the park.
There are many trails into Bryce, but it’s hard to beat the Figure 8 hike that starts at Sunset Point and winds through the Navajo, Peek-a-Boo and Queen’s Garden trails. You can make an easy loop of it, or do the full hike for a longer day.
Zion – Today you will discover Zion National Park; stunning with its orange-red canyon walls that tower over 3000 ft. above the canyon floor.
A morning drive to Zion is followed by a spectacular hike to Observation Point, one of Zion’s best hikes, with sweeping canyon views that will take your breath away. We send you on a little-used trail from the East Rim through Echo Canyon, where you are sure to find plenty of solitude on this gorgeous hike. Your lodging tonight will be the Desert Pearl Lodge, a luxurious hotel just outside the park in Springdale with outdoor swimming pool, hot-tub, and peaceful riverside views.
Zion – 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 an impressive and narrow gorge, with waterfalls, hanging gardens and memories galore.
The Narrows aren’t for everyone, but even the first part of this hike, the Riverside trail, is incredibly beautiful. We like to rent e-bikes in town for the ride into Zion Canyon. It takes an easy hour on quiet trails and roads, and you can stop wherever you like along the way… Emerald Pools, the Zion Lodge, Big Bend. There is much to explore!
Zion to St. George, Utah – Before leaving Zion, you have time for one more hike. The West Rim trail, with an optional detour to Angel’s Landing, is an all-time. If you’re up for the challenge of this crazy hike, go for it, and you won’t be disappointed. If not, we have a great hidden viewpoint for you just a little bit higher up the trail that is sure to be a highlight. Nobody leaves disappointed.
Afterwards, head back to Springdale and drive to nearby St. George for your final night. After the bustle of Zion, it’s nice to exhale a bit in this relaxing corner. You’ll head up the hill and stay at the beautiful Inn on the Cliff hotel. Be sure to make a dinner reservation at the adjacent Cliffside Restaurant with views sweeping over town below and the distant mountains beyond.
Depart – After a delicious breakfast from your hotel, you’ll return to Las Vegas, or you can continue on to your post-tour destinations.