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Love nature? Thrive in fresh air? Crave adventure, but love to sink into a lush mattress after a long day of activity? Southern Utah might just be your dream vacation destination.
Southern Utah—Hoodoo country, miles of easy-driving roads that curve through lush valleys and among red rock domes, mountains of juniper and pine ready to climb. This area is home to Utah’s Mighty Five® national parks and landscape that beckons those adventurous at heart. But lesser known is the incredible range of luxury camping options along the way, offering nature-inspired accommodations off the beaten path and with stunning views right from your king size bed. If that sounds divine, read on for ideas on how to plan your glamping road trip across Southern Utah.
Zion National Park | Photo: Tom TillBegin (and end) this epic adventure in Salt Lake City. On day one, head south on 1-15 to let the wonder of Zion National Park unfold. Zion, which translates to “The Promised Land,” is the perfect name for this stunning landscape of red rocks, slot canyons and sparkling waterfalls. Experience some of the most spectacular hiking of your life through the Emerald Pools (easy to moderate 5+ km), then catch your breath climbing the trail to Angel’s Landing (an intermediate 8 km) or keep it breezy with an easy 4 km at the Riverside Walk. Watch the flickering shadows at the Court of the Patriarchs, or if you’re feeling ambitious, venture into The Narrows—a gorgeous slot canyon with walls as high as 30 feet, but consider hiring a guide and prepare to get your feet wet!
Open Sky Zion is right on the edge of Zion National Park but still tucked away from the hustle. Ultra-comfy king-size beds, private en suites and sultry linens and bath towels are beckoning from luxuriously appointed safari tents, complete with heated floors. Fall asleep under the Milky Way and wake up to the sweet sound of silence, enjoyed from your private patio before hitting the Black Sage for a deluxe breakfast.
Navajo Loop in Bryce Canton | Photo by Matt MorganStep into another world—Hoodoo Country, where the view from 9,000 feet (2,743 m) is unlike anything you’ve seen before. Bryce Canyon National Park is a series of naturally formed amphitheatres, nestled among red and pink rock and punctuated by hoodoos. For an extra treat, catch the shifting colours at sunrise and sunset through endless hiking trails or over a 55 km scenic driving loop.
Fireplaces, fridges and full bathrooms, oh my! Luxury domes at Bryce Glamp And Camp are the ultimate one-of-a-kind escape, tucked down a mile of dirt road at the foot of Bryce Canyon. Admire the stunning landscape through geometric windowpanes while lounging on your cush sofa, or revel from the outdoor area where gas BBQ, fire pit and chairs are perfect for relaxing. Feeling frisky? Gather the gang for some volleyball, horseshoes or cornhole, or try your hand at frisbee golf—all on site.
Grand Staircase-Escalante is home to towering mesas, sculpted slickrock and oases galore. This hiking extravaganza offers the beauty of Southern Utah in a more remote and less visited locale and boasts the most extensive network of slot canyons in the state. Highlights of the Escalante Canyons include Calf Creek Falls Recreation Area and the popular and short slot canyons where many canyoneers find glory—Peek-a-boo and Spooky Gulch. At Grand Staircase, don’t miss Kodachrome Basin State Park and the fascinating formations along the rugged and unpaved Cottonwood Canyon Road, or take a trip to Grosvenor Arch for an iconic photo. The Kaiparowits Plateau, which falls between Grand Staircase and the Esclanate Canyons, is an absolute treasure with its sedimentary rock formations, which contain an unbroken record of fossils spanning 30 million years.
Imagine yourself waking up on Canyon Rim Plateau with your very own slot canyon and sweeping views to soak in the moment you open your eyes. Cozy into a king size bed in one of these upscale, safari-inspired tents, enjoying plush linens, hot showers and ambient, wood-burning stoves. This is the place in Southern Utah to discover the splendor of the American Southwest. And as the sun sets, relax with al fresco dining, finish with complementary s’mores dessert, and relive your day’s adventure to live acoustic music.
Inspired by simpler times, Yonder Escalante is a nod to when vacation was a true adventure. Located near Bryce Canyon National Park and within Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, it sits on the grounds of an old drive-in movie theater that still shows pictures every day after dusk. Choose from deluxe cabins with panoramic windows and ensuite restrooms with a private outdoor shower; vintage Airstreams, transformed into luxe living quarters with modern comforts and plenty of space to spread out; or custom-designed cabins with 11’ ceilings and glass walls. The park’s private, spa-like bathhouses equipped with heated indoor-outoor private showers and high-quality products are a diving experience, or enjoy an open-air sensory escape in the West Bathhouse with an outdoor private shower.
Capitol Reef National Park doesn’t get as much attention as some of Utah’s majestic parks, but it is undoubtedly a hidden treasure. Located in south-central Utah, this is the heart of red rock country, with bluffs, domes, canyons and bridges along its highlight—the Waterpocket Fold, a geologic monocline or wrinkle in the earth. Visit Cathedral Valley, with its sandstone monoliths and sweeping desert vistas, or Loop the Fold by car for a relaxed, scenic day trip.
Just a mile from the park entrance, Capitol Reef Resort offers serenity and stunning mountain views from luxury cabins, 250 square foot, water-resistant, stand-alone teepees featuring a double pillow-top King bed and large, flatscreen TVs, or step back in time for an unforgettable experience in a Conestoga Wagon, designed to take you back to the 19th century (except with a private bathroom, pillow-top mattress and Wi-Fi).
The Navajo Nation’s Monument Valley Tribal Park is one of the most magnificent and popular places on earth. Famously photographed sandstone mesas tower over the desert floor with a gorgeous wide-open sky as the perfect backdrop for photos or quiet observation. Visit this spellbinding landscape while driving the 28 km dirt road that begins at the visitor center, and prepare to be awestruck by the sheer size and overwhelming beauty of the Mitten Buttes, Three Sisters, Yei-bi-chai, North Window and the famous slender, jutting formation, the Totem Pole. It isn’t difficult to see why Monument Valley is often used as a filming location for westerns.
Under Canvas destinations are well known for their comfy, well-serviced safari-inspired tents that offer up the perfect connection to nature in some of the country’s most incredible outdoor destinations. The Monument Valley location is brand new and offers the same type of tucked away ambience along with stunning views, plenty of onsite and into the wild activities, and everything you need for a plush and restful stay.
There is nothing quite like Moab—not only because of Canyonlands and Arches national parks, but also, because this is one of the most sought-after adventure destinations in the American Southwest. Looking to mountain bike or hike breathtaking red rock landscapes? Check. Craving small-town hospitality? Done. Blown away but the unparalleled beauty and force of the Colorado River? Moab is the place for you.
If it’s thrill-seeking on two wheels you seek, don’t miss the world-famous Slickrock, Porcupine Rim and Amasa back trails, or shred the singletrack on the Sovereign Trail and Magnificent 7. Explore the Colorado River’s handiwork among countless canyons and buttes in Canyonlands National Park where rivers have divided the park into Island in the Sky, The Needles, The Maze and the rivers themselves. These wild places invite adventure and exploration in one of the country’s largest undeveloped areas.
Arches National Park is home to the world’s largest density of natural sandstone arches and is the ideal destination for scenic biking, rock climbing and hiking. Whether you spend a quick half hour or a full day hiking or prefer to tour by vehicle, the park is sure to please—especially if you make it to the iconic Delicate Arch Viewpoint.
Launch your Moab adventure from Under Canvas Moab, located 12 km from the town of Moab and near Canyonlands and Arches national parks. Enjoy plush linens and upscale, organic bath products after living out your adventure climbing, mountain biking, hiking or touring the geologic wonders of Utah’s Canyon Country. Grills and picnic areas are yours to enjoy, while live music, morning yoga and kids’ activities make your stay complete.
Ready to plan your ultimate glamping adventure across Southern Utah? Visit amatravel.ca/utah and make all your adventure dreams come true.
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