If you’re looking for fantastic hiking, breathtaking views, and lots of natural arches, look no further than Utah. My girlfriend — and model — Michele and I took a 9-day road trip through Utah and Arizona at the end of March, and I’m going to tell you the best places you have to check out.

This trip was a lengthy one, with several stops and multiple hikes, so I’m going to break our adventure down into several, digestible parts. Check out the next posts here: Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5

Kanarra Creek

Kanarra Creek is one of the lesser-known hikes in Utah, compared to the other national parks, and it’s a bit out of the way. The park is off Old US Hwy 91, on a dirt road close to Kanarraville. There’s a paid parking lot ($10) that also has port-a-potties for before/after bathroom breaks. The hike is 3.5 miles round-trip and involves walking through pretty cold — but shallow — water. The trail threads in and out of the creek itself, the path along the sides being overrun in some places, so be prepared to get wet!

Kanarra Creek in Utah

The wet hike through Kanarra’s slot canyon

Kanarra Creek in Utah

The first of two waterfalls in Kanarra Creek

The first waterfall is actually the stepping stone to the second, if you can call a 15-foot waterfall a stepping stone. You have to climb a rickety looking ladder to get up, but it’s much sturdier than it looks. It tends to get wet though, so watch your footing and make good use of the stabilizer rope secured against the right side.

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Kanarra Creek in Utah

My feet were so cold

The second waterfall is amazing, but I’m not going to spoil it for you with photos. That’ll be your motivation for taking the hike yourself! We took the hike late in the day, and it started to get chilly on the way back. In all, it took about 4-5 hours, so be sure to give yourself ample time to not get caught in the dark!

A portrait in Kanarra Creek in Utah

The lighting was insane on our trek back

Bryce Canyon

Bryce is about a two hour dive away from Kanarra Creek. It’s a big park, with several trails, and quite a few gorgeous rock formations. We hiked Fairyland Loop, which is the longest, most strenuous hike of the lot. It’s about 8.2 miles in total, so be sure to put on your walkin’ shoes boots. Definitely boots.

We started from Sunset Point, which is about 2 miles from Fairyland Point, the official start of the loop. This increased our hike time by a good amount, adding up to almost 6 hours. Be sure to bring plenty of water; we ran out about 3/4 of the way through.

It was the end of March when we went, so the trails were very muddy and slippery from the snow melting. Again, be sure to wear proper hiking boots when on this trail, regardless of the weather. Fairyland will beat you up if you’re not prepared (that was a weird sentence to type).

Fairyland Loop in Bryce Canyon, Utah

An airplane flying behind Tower Bridge

If you take the path to the right before the beginning of Fairyland, you can get a view of Tower Bridge (which reminds me of Pride Rock from the Lion King). Then, you start on the Fairyland Loop and the fun begins. We stopped to chat with a few people (one woman who not only thought Michele was a llama — somehow — but also put us to shame on our pacing), but the trail was pretty sparsely populated.

Fairyland Loop in Bryce Canyon, Utah

A peephole view of Fairyland Loop

Fairyland Loop in Bryce Canyon, Utah

Handstands everywhere

A few miles into the hike, you’ll make it to a small stream with a tree-stump-seat that’s perfect for a break. The stream was very small when we were there, but the width of the riverbed means it grows to be a few feet wide during the rainy season. While the water looks clear, DON’T DRINK IT. It almost certainly contains Giardia parasites, which would definitely ruin your vacation.

Fairyland Loop in Bryce Canyon, Utah

Just hangin’ with my hoodoos

As you get toward the end of Fairyland Loop (and the end of your stamina), you’ll start the Rim Tour and get treated to an amazing view of Bryce’s famous hoodoos. This is a much calmer section of the hike, although not necessarily easy. We were struggling through most of it, with only thoughts of pizza keeping us going.

Fairyland Loop in Bryce Canyon, Utah

Top 3 most tired I’ve ever been

It took us almost six hours to make it through the entirety of Fairyland Loop, and we were exhausted afterward. Luckily, if you’re following this guide, it’s also the most strenuous hike we tackled, so it’ll be all smooth sailing from here.

This is the first of several posts on the various national parks and trails you must see in Utah. You can see the next posts here: Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5