Arizona-Utah National Parks Itinerary
We have many families who travel domestically this year.
Here is just one of many itineraries we built.
Arizona - Utah National Parks
Saturday, July 11 - Tuesday, July 22
Sunday, July 11
Arrive to Las Vegas
Pick up Rental Car, drive to Zion National Park via Valley of Fire The drive from Vegas to Zion National Park in Utah takes just about 2.5 hours. You could make straight for Zion, or you could make a brief detour to Valley of Fire State Park. Valley of Fire is just off I-15 (which you'll be driving on anyway), and is an incredible park filled with red rock formations. Fun fact: It was Nevada's very first state park. Even if you just have an hour or two, you can drive the epic White Domes Road and hike out to the Fire Wave – it makes for an excellent introduction to the Southwest. If you skip Valley of Fire, you could visit Zion in the afternoon/early evening. Or, explore Springdale a bit before getting an early night to prepare for hiking Zion. Some of the best attractions at Valley of Fire State Park include: Rainbow Vista – color-streaked rocks with a great view Atlatl Rock – ancient petroglyphs Elephant Rock – natural arch shaped like said animal Mouse Tank Road – epic road with surrounding red rocks (that road you see all over social media!) White Domes Trail – beautiful view, best at sunrise Fire Canyon/Silica Dome – great sunset views Arch Rock – natural arch, conveniently on the side of the road Fire Wave – beautiful streaks of color on a short, easy trail
Hotel: Holiday Inn Express Springdale - Zion National Park Area, an IHG Hotel
Monday, July 12
Morning: Visit Zion National Park early in the morning. Afternoon: Drive to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. Rent sled ($25 for three hours) and ride down sand dunes. Wear close-toed shoes (not sandals!) and hats and bring lots of water.
Wake up early to catch the free shuttle into Zion National Park, the first of the Mighty 5 parks you'll visit on this road trip. From March through early autumn, no private vehicles are allowed to use the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, so you'll need to pick up another shuttle at the Visitors Center in order to head further into the park. Zion is known for its rust-red mountains, winding canyons, and epic hikes. The most popular hikes in Zion are Angels Landing and The Narrows, both intense hikes that should only be attempted if weather conditions are good. (The Rangers at the Visitors Center can let you know about incoming weather and trail closures.) Check out the easy and moderate hikes on Zion's hiking guide. There are plenty to choose from that range anywhere from 30 minutes to 5 hours to complete, all with great Zion views. Some not-as-difficult hikes include the Pa'rus Trail, Riverside Walk, the Lower Emerald Pool Trail that I mentioned above, and the Canyon Overlook Trail. Things to do in Zion National Park that don't involve hiking: https://www.dangerous-business.com/zion-national-park-not-hiking/ Stay: Holiday Inn Express Springdale - Zion National Park Area, an IHG Hotel Standard Room,
Tuesday, July 13 - Wednesday, July 14
Bryce Canyon National Park
Head out of Zion via the Mount Carmel Highway (the stretch of Route 9 between Zion's entrance and Highway 89) that includes some great scenery and a 1.1-mile-long tunnel. Keep an eye out for bighorn sheep. The drive from Zion to Bryce Canyon National Park only takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes, meaning you'll have plenty of time for photo stops and no need to rush. Once you get to Bryce Canyon, head straight into the park for some sightseeing! Bryce Canyon has some nice hiking trails, too, though it's better known for its 18 mile scenic drive and lookout points like Inspiration Point, Natural Bridge, and Rainbow Point. I recommend driving all the way out to Rainbow Point first, and then working your way back to the park entrance, stopping at all the viewpoints along the way. When you get to Sunset Point, take the 1-mile rim trail to Sunrise Point for some beautiful views. Be aware, though, that Bryce is at a higher elevation – warm layers are a must! If you decide to hike, there's one hike definitely worth doing at Bryce Canyon: the Navajo Loop Trail. This trail will take you down into the canyon, right among all the orange hoodoos.
Stay: Best Western Plus Bryce Canyon Grand Hotel
Wednesday, July 14 Bryce to Moab via Goblin Valley Stay: Hoodoo Moab, Curio Collection by Hilton
Head from Bryce to Moab via Goblin Valley. There are two ways to get from Bryce Canyon to Goblin Valley, you can take Route 12, which takes you through Escalante and meets up with Route 24 so you can briefly drive through Capitol Reef National Park. On the way, consider stopping for lunch at Kiva Koffeehouse, which is a super cool cafe within Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument (about 1.5 hours from Bryce). They serve up homemade soups, breads, and pastries, and also have a full espresso bar – a perfect lunch break amid some typical Utah scenery. Get to Goblin Valley in the afternoon, and spend an hour or so exploring The Valley of Goblins. This is a large area filled with short, squat hoodoos that have been dubbed “goblins.” Even through Bryce is also known for its hoodoos, the ones in Goblin Valley are entirely different. From Goblin Valley, it's another hour and a half to Moab, total driving time: 5.5-6 hours
Thursday, July 15
Canyonlands National Park Canyonlands actually has two main sections of park – Island in the Sky and The Needles – which are about 60 miles apart. The Needles is more suited to hikers, so I recommend spending your day at Island in the Sky to mix in sightseeing with a little hiking. This section of Canyonlands is only about 45 minutes from Moab. Start out your morning with a visit to Mesa Arch. Many photographers will get here before sunrise in order to watch the arch be lit by the first orange glow of morning, but it's much less crowded if you visit slightly later in the day. From there, drive to the viewpoints at Grand View Point and the Green River Overlook. You can also do a short hike out to Upheaval Dome. On your way back to Moab, be sure to stop at Dead Horse Point State Park, which offers up dramatic overlooks of the Colorado River and Canyonlands National Park. Total driving time: 2-3 hours (including driving in the park)
Friday, July 16
Arches National Park Located even closer to Moab (only 15 minutes from town), Arches National Park is really the star in this part of Utah. And for good reason: the park has more than 2,000 natural stone arches, along with pinnacles, cliffs, and balanced rocks all in a brilliant orange-red hue. Spend the first half of your day driving the 18-mile-long scenic road through the park, stopping off at some of the viewpoints and shorter walks out to the arches. Park Avenue, Balanced Rock, the Windows Section, and Double Arch would be my top picks. The most iconic hike at Arches National Park is the hike to Delicate Arch, the most famous arch in the park and the symbol of the state of Utah. Most people tackle this hike at sunset, when the setting sun paints the 65-foot arch an incredible rusty orange color. The hike is tough going up, so allow yourself 1-1.5 hours to reach the arch in time Saturday, July 17 Moab to Page, AZ via Monument Valley
Located on the Utah/Arizona border, Tsé Biiʼ Ndzisgaii (Monument Valley) is a Navajo Tribal Park renowned for its towering sandstone buttes. You may even recognize it from old Western movies, since it was a favorite filming location for directors like John Ford. You absolutely CAN explore the 17-mile Valley Drive in your own vehicle, but if you really want to learn about the park and see some of the backcountry (which is not accessible to normal visitors), you'll need to book a guided tour. After the tour, drive the remaining two hours to Page to arrive just around dinnertime. Total driving time: 4.5 hours Hotel: Best Western View of Lake Powell Hotel
Sunday, July 18 Page, Arizona Page is a tiny little town that packs a big punch. Not only is it near Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, but it's also just a short drive from Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon. Start your morning off with a visit to Horseshoe Bend. It's just a 10- or 15-minute drive from your hotel, and is one of the most Instagrammable places you're likely to visit in the Southwest. A short hike will take you from the parking area to an overlook 1,100 feet above where the Colorado River makes a massive bend through a deep canyon. The hike to the lookout isn't long (only about 3/4 of a mile), but it's almost entirely sand, so keep that in mind when you're planning your time AND your footwear. Consider booking a cruise on nearby Lake Powell, or maybe rent a kayak or standup paddleboard. Monday, July 19 Grand Canyon Start out at Desert View at the east entrance to the Grand Canyon and make our way along Route 64, stopping at all the viewpoints on the way to Grand Canyon Village and the South Rim visitor center. After checking out the visitor center and nearby Mather Point, hop on one of the free park shuttles that travel along the South Rim. These shuttles are a great stress-free way to access trails, viewpoints, and other points of interest, some of which are only accessible by bus. Visit amazing lookouts like Maricopa Point, Mohave Point, The Abyss, Pima Point, and more. You can even do a short hike between two of the shuttle stops along the Rim Trail. If you want to catch a great sunset at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, Hopi Point is the most famous spot, but you can find great views at Yaki, Pima, and Yavapai Points, too. Hotel: The Grand Hotel at Grand Canyon
Tuesday, July 20 Grand Canyon to Sedona The 7.5-mile Red Rock Scenic Byway, which starts after you take exit 298 off Interstate 17, has plenty to see and do. In fact, it's often referred to as a "museum without walls." Stay: Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock
Wednesday, July 21 Sedona Morning Visit Red Rock State Park Afternoon Take 4x4 tour of Sedona or visit Sedona art galleries and shops. Stay: Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock
Thursday, July 22 Departure from Phoenix
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