Utah’s Mighty Five
October 10-17, 2021 • 8 Days • $2800
Arrive: Salt Lake City, UT
Depart: Las Vegas, NV
Join us for an eye-popping, jaw-dropping, camera-stopping odyssey through Utah’s Mighty Five National Parks!
We spend nearly all of our Adventure exploring the Colorado Plateau, a geology wonderland covering southern Utah and parts of Colorado and Arizona. This high plateau is crisscrossed by a seemingly endless spider web of stunningly-colorful, bizarrely-shaped stone canyons.
It truly feels like its own world, shut off from the rest of planet Earth, and the central part of Utah, from Boulder to Escalante, was one of the last places in the Lower 48 to be penetrated by roads, rather than be serviced by packmules. You’ll understand why when we drive Utah’s Journey Through Time Scenic Byway along the Hogsback, a narrow bridge of stone, surrounded by a sea of sandstone valleys, barely wide enough to lay a 2-lane road.
Join us for this unforgettable exploration of the geological wonders of amazing Utah!
- All land travel by motorcoach as outlined
- Group airport transfer at end of tour
- Tourist class or better hotel accommodations
- 7 breakfasts plus 1 dinner
- 6 walk routes as listed, plus an additional optional walk route on Day 1
- Walking fees for 4 walks for those collecting AVA walk credit (if AVA sanctions approved)
- WAI guide service throughout
- Cultural and historical expertise of our local guide in Escalante area
- Pricing is based on double occupancy. A limited number of single rooms are available for a supplement of $550. We also provide a roommate matching service for those interested.
Visits to/Admission fees
- Arches National Park
- Dead Horse Point State Park
- Canyonlands National Park
- Goblin Valley State Park
- Capitol Reef National Park
- Guided tour of Highway 12 ~ All American Road
- Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
- Anasazi State Park Museum
- Wild West Retreat Dinner
- Bryce Canyon National Park
- Zion National Park
Tour Pace: 1 2 3 4 5
Walk Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5
Scott & Ruth Burk
Sharing the best of Europe and America, the Burks have been leading Walking Adventures for several years. Unforgettable Utah is one of their favorite domestic destinations—complete with other-worldly red rock formations and a palatable Wild West aura. They are excited to lead walks in each of the five National Parks at the cornerstone of this Adventure and explore countless other unexpected gems along the route. Always on the lookout for a great vista or neighborhood foodie hangout, they enjoy sharing their enthusiasm for travel with others. In between tours, you’ll likely find Ruth attending to her backyard chickens and Scott reading the newspaper on the front porch with their dog, Titan.
Click on each day to reveal more details. BD refers to meals included ~ Breakfast or Dinner.
Day 1-Oct 10: Arrive Salt Lake City, Utah
Optional Salt Lake City Capital Walk – 5/10 km, rated 2B
Travelers arrive into Salt Lake City today for the beginning of our tour of remarkable Utah. No activities are planned for the day but walkers are welcome to explore Salt Lake City, Utah’s state capital, on a walk sponsored by a local walking club. We’ll rendezvous at the hotel this evening for a Welcome Orientation get together.
Day 2-Oct 11: Salt Lake City – Moab, Utah (B)
Arches National Park Walk – 9 km, rated 1B
A lovely drive down country roads takes us into the Colorado Plateau area that we’ll be traveling through for the rest of the adventure. The small town of Moab serves as a base for two unforgettable national park experiences. Today’s 3-part walk in Arches National Park is characterized by graceful, gargantuan arches and windows carved into magnificent reddish sandstone monoliths. The bonus of walking right up to many of the formations adds an almost sacred sense of scale to the experience.
Day 3-Oct 12: Activities from Moab (B)
Canyonlands National Park Walk – 11 km, rated 2C
A 4-kilometer walk at Dead Horse Point State Park is a great warm up for the main event in Canyonlands—three additional short trails in the aptly-named ‘Island in the Sky’ section of the national park. A top-of-the-world feeling overtakes us as we walk along mesa rims, looking down 2000 feet to the canyon floor spread before us to infinity. Our eyes are drawn deeper still, into the dark grooves of a third tier of sandstone below, through which the Colorado and Green Rivers have carved their way. Vistas offered on these walks are among the most dramatic we’ve ever witnessed!
Day 4-Oct 13: Moab – Escalante, Utah (B)
Goblin Valley Walk – 3 km, rated 1B (unsanctioned)
Hickman Bridge – 3 km, rated 3C (unsanctioned)
Goblin Valley really shouldn’t be situated on planet Earth. The goofy, mud-colored, larger-than-life shapes seem to belong more in a corny, 1960s sci-fi film. The fact that they’re real, however, allows us to share child-like delight as we wander through the bizarre formations. Capitol Reef National Park also has its share of geological wonders. Our first stop offers a memorable hike to spectacular shades of sculpted sandstone at Hickman Bridge. It’s the abandoned, early 20th century settlement of Fruita that makes this park unique among Utah’s Mighty Five. Fruit orchards offering a variety of produce are still tended by National Park Service staff. The final leg of our journey takes us down storied Highway 12, designated an All-American Road for its combined offerings of scenery and history.
Day 5-Oct 14: Activities from Escalante (BD)
Shannon, a born and raised local, hosts us on a driving tour this morning along Highway 12 through the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to Boulder. Our stop at Anasazi State Park Museum sheds light on the mysterious predecessors of the Navajo, the Anasazi, who inhabited this part of the Southwest for over a thousand years! On the return drive, we enjoy the view while Shannon shares memorable tidbits on the area’s history and culture, and maybe even a dinosaur track sighting! This evening, we meet Shannon’s wife, Jenifer, our hostess for a down-home Utah, back-country dinner at the Wild West Retreat.
Day 6-Oct 15: Escalante – Springdale, Utah (B)
Bryce Canyon National Park Walk – 9 km, rated 2B
Bryce Canyon boasts some of the most colorful, fantastical rock formations on a journey chock-full of incredible canyons! We walk at our highest elevation here, around 9,000 FASL, and use two different trails to see the canyon. Part 1 has a “standard” option along the rim or a “challenge” option that drops down amongst the captivating hoodoo formations of the Queen’s Garden trail. We walk Part 2 together, relishing non-stop classic views of formations like the Cathedral and Silent City from the Rim Trail. More scenic driving takes us through tunnels east of Zion National Park to Springdale, situated on the southern border of Zion, and our home for the last two nights.
Day 7-Oct 16: Activities from Springdale (B)
Zion National Park Walk – 10 km, rated 1B
Zion’s excellent shuttle system and network of trails and viewpoints make this a delightful, low-stress way to unwind after 6 days packed with “amazing”! WAI guides orient you to the park and the shuttle service, providing our approach and trail recommendations to Zion; then you are on your own to enjoy the day!
Day 8-Oct 17: Depart from Las Vegas, Nevada (B)
Breakfast is followed by a drive across the desert to the Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS). Here, we say farewell to our walking pals, and to an otherworldly walking adventure in amazing Utah!
How do I lock in my place on this Adventure?
To register, a transferable $200 deposit is required to hold your spot. This amount is non-refundable; however, up until 60 days before departure, it can be transferred to a different tour. A final payment is due 60 days before departure and you will receive a prompt email from us a week or two in advance.
An email with critical information on flight arrangements will be sent soon after registration, as well as important steps to take in the months before your trip. Please do not buy your airline tickets until you review the Flight Arrangements email.
Please follow this link to read our full General Tour Conditions.
What's a Classic Curated Tour?
With help from local experts and walking guides, these itineraries are crafted with extensive on-site planning by WAI tour planners.
When planning Classic Curated Tours, our objective is to capture the essence of a destination—the history, culture, and natural wonders unique to that part of the world. We then build activities and walks that take us inside these characteristics.
Yes, these tours are educational, but they are also interactive and immersive; walking gets us off the bus and penetrates local cultures to not only see, but also touch, smell, and feel these special spaces.
Along the way, interactions with locals amplify the experience by sharing insights into the magic of that particular location.
Traveling on the Colorado Plateau involves walking at higher than normal altitudes. Most walks are at elevations of 4000 to 5000 feet above sea level (FASL), with the exception of Bryce Canyon National Park, at just under 9000 feet above sea level. Be prepared for our walks in Bryce Canyon National Park to feel more challenging than a walk of similar difficulty at lower elevation.
Though trails in natural settings like the wide open spaces of Utah are more likely to be called “hikes” than “walks”, we intentionally look for routes that are manageable for most walkers in good physical condition and for trails with minimal tricky footing.
In addition, walk distances listed for most days are a combination of two or more shorter trails, offering time in between hikes to rest, ride the coach to our next trail, or have a picnic lunch.
We generally walk at a pace of 2 to 3 miles per hour. In most cases, we are not “strolling.” We are walking at a relaxed but steady pace. Your experience will be significantly affected by your level of physical fitness. Because these are group walks, the success of the walks is predicated upon walkers having this minimum level of fitness in order to ensure that we are walking at a somewhat similar pace. If not walking regularly at home, we strongly recommend that you make a priority of “training” beforehand in order to both enjoy the trip and avoid medical issues due to overexertion. If you have questions about your ability to participate, please talk with our office.
We have adopted a walk difficulty rating system which contains a numeric indicator for trail incline and an alpha indicator for trail terrain. The explanation for this system is presented below:
1. Very small hills or very little stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: up to 200 feet.
2. Some moderate hills and stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 200-1000 feet.
3. Some significant hill or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 1000-2000 feet.
4. Lots of significant hills or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 2000-3500 feet.
5. Many steep hills. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: more than 3500 feet.
A. Almost entirely on pavement.
B. A significant part of the route is on well-groomed trails with very few obstacles.
C. A significant part of the route is on somewhat difficult terrain (rocky / rooted paths or soft sand).
D. A significant part of the route is on very difficult terrain.
E. The majority of the route is on very difficult terrain.
Elevation on Tour
Through most of this adventure, we are traveling on the Colorado Plateau. The elevation of our hotels—where we overnight—has a greater impact on us physically than where we travel or walk during the day. That is, the elevation of where you sleep overnight is usually more important than the elevation of activities during the day. Our hotels are located around 4000 to 5000 feet above sea level (FASL), with one just under 6000 feet above sea level.
Activities are generally in that range as well, with the exception of the walk at Bryce Canyon National Park, where we are at about 9000 feet above sea level. Because Bryce Canyon is near the end of the trip, it is likely that your body will have acclimated to mid-range altitudes by that time. It is important to pursue any concerns you have about altitude with your doctor. As always, travelers are free to opt out of any activities.
Good quality, tourist-class accommodations are the standard for our Adventure. Most accommodations on this tour are selected primarily as a practical base from which to pursue our itinerary. Because much of this Adventure is in small town Utah, a few of our properties are quality motels reflecting the spirit of our setting, which we think you’ll enjoy. Many, but not all, of our accommodations on this adventure are either single-floor or two-floors with elevators. Travelers should be able to carry their luggage up a number of steps to get to a second-floor room if necessary.
How Is Airfare Arranged?
This tour starts in Salt Lake City, Utah, and finishes in Las Vegas, Nevada. Travelers will fly into the Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) and out of the McCarran International Airport (LAS). We offer a group transfer to the McCarran International Airport at the end of the tour.
We recommend that you contact Laura Pfahler, the travel agent we work with, to help book your flight arrangements. In this age of airfare complications and airport uncertainty, using a travel agent is a good investment! More details about flight arrangements and travel agent contact information will be provided by email after you register for the Adventure. Please do not book your airfare prior to receiving these flight details from us!
WAI believes strongly in the importance of travel insurance for financial and medical protection from any number of unforeseen circumstances that can arise before departure or during your Adventure. This is now especially true in the era of COVID-19, which is typically treated like any other illness for travel insurance purposes. Many travel insurance providers are available for you to consider. Laura Pfahler and Sharon Mitchell of World Travel Inc. are travel agents who provide air travel and insurance services to many WAI travelers.
Check out Insurance Tips from World Travel for a short introduction to travel insurance. (NOTE: WAI receives no commission or financial remuneration from World Travel Inc.).
As always, do some shopping to ensure you are getting the best value. Using the SquareMouth.com website can be a good way to compare pricing.
Other options include:
- Travel Guard
- Travel Insured International
NOTE: We suggest purchasing from a reputable, well-established insurance company (avoid buying insurance from an unknown company found only online). Travelers interested in purchasing “cancel for any reason” insurance coverage should be careful to check pricing and terms BEFORE they register for a tour. Recent changes in the international travel landscape has caused changes in the policies of some insurance companies, and made the purchase of this particular type of policy even more time-sensitive.
Walking Adventures International reserves the right to cancel this tour departure with fewer than 12 participants, in which case registered participants will receive a 100% refund of payments received. This refund policy contains one exclusion related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Many suppliers require non-refundable deposits as a condition of booking services. Unforeseen circumstances linked to the virus can force us to cancel a tour. Due to these supplier’s non-refundable policies, WAI attempts to retrieve as much of these deposits as possible, but cannot guarantee a 100% refund. In cases where full refunds cannot be obtained for a cancelled tour, we will do our best to transfer unrefunded money as traveler credits to be applied to a future tour to that destination.
View our full Coronavirus FAQ for more details.
COVID-19 Policies and Procedures
Our Approach to Fun but Prudent Travel document identifies and explains Covid-19 mitigation policies and procedures WAI is using as a starting point for our 2021 tours. Because the knowledge base about COVID-19 changes daily, we review these policies and procedures on an ongoing basis, and will, of course, notify travelers of updates as we approach the departure date of your tour.
Contact our office with any questions at 360.260.9393 or [email protected].
COVID-19 Travel Waiver
During this age of COVID-19, WAI evaluates worldwide reports and conditions on an ongoing basis. Please read Our Approach to Fun but Prudent Travel document before signing the COVID-19 Travel Waiver. Participation in this tour requires your signature on the COVID-19 Travel Waiver.
Contact our office with any questions at 360.260.9393 or [email protected].
What Happens Next?
Upon registering for this Adventure, you will receive a welcome email and initial invoice notifying you of your tour balance and due date. You will be able to make that payment online or over the phone. Any other payments necessary for optional services or one-off decisions can also be made either way.
A Flight Arrangements email with critical information on booking your flights will be sent soon after registration, as well as important steps to take in the months before your trip. Please do not buy your airline tickets until you review the Flight Arrangements email.
About 70 days before departure, you will receive a final statement reminder about the final tour payment, which is due 60 days before departure. Please see our General Tour Conditions for the full terms and conditions for participation in this Adventure.
Around 2-3 weeks before departure, you will receive a final email packet with details of the program, including hotel names and contact information, a list of fellow travelers, and a more detailed daily schedule.
Take a few minutes to peruse the Utah’s Mighty Five itinerary. In the end, we think you will agree that walking is still and always the best way to experience our world!