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The Grand Canyon and Beyond: The Ultimate 7-Day Itinerary in Northern Arizona & Southern Utah

Pack your hiking boots, sunscreen and selfie stick. You’re going to need all of them for what promises to be your Best. Week. Ever.

If you have seven full days to explore the star attractions of the area of the American Southwest known as the Grand Circle, you already know how lucky you are. What you may not know is which order to visit them in, how many days to spend at each place, and what you can do there. Well, grab your tablet, phone or – gasp! – pen and paper, sit back and relax and get ready to start planning the ultimate 7-day vacation to the Grand Canyon and  beyond!

Before we dive into it, there are a few things to keep “front and center” in your mind:

  1. Since Las Vegas, NV is a popular “jumping off” point for a good majority of travelers to this area, this itinerary will be based on the assumption that you’re staging your trip from there as well.
  2. Buses, trains and other mass transit options are scarce to non-existent in this part of the country, therefore, this will be a self-drive itinerary. Click here if driving is not an option.
  3. Speaking of driving, drive times are on the long side. That’s how we roll in this part of the country, and you should be ready to do so as well. You’ll also notice that we give rather wide variations on drive time estimates. The first number is an estimate for “direct drive,” which rarely happens. You always have to factor in bathroom breaks, meal stops, and the inevitable “oh, wow, look at that!” moment.
  4. Grand Canyon South Rim lodging will be the most time-sensitive element of your trip plans. Hotel availability in this National Park should be the “lynchpin” around which your plans revolve, and evolve. Though this itinerary will go off the assumption that it will be the first stop on your tour, be prepared to hit these attractions in reverse order should Grand Canyon hotels be fully booked for the first part of your trip. Don’t worry, you’ll still have a great time!
  5. This itinerary includes several National Parks which charge anywhere from $20-$30 per vehicle to enter. Save money and time by purchasing the “America The Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass.” For just $80, this handy little card grants you access to all National Parks, Monuments and other Federal Fee Areas for 1 year’s time. Exclusions: Native American Tribal Parks such as Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon, the Little Colorado River Overlook, Moenkopi Dinosaur Tracks. Pre-order online (allow 6-8 weeks for processing) or simply purchase it in-person at the first National Park you visit.
  6. Book everything in advance, and we do mean everything, especially if your visit will take place during the peak visitation times, which is typically between March and November. Hotels, tours, dinners at higher-end restaurants, all should be prearranged. You can’t just “wing it” and hope for the best. Trust us, we live here.    

Here’s how we’re breaking down your week:

  • Day 1 – Las Vegas to Grand Canyon
  • Day 2 – Grand Canyon to Monument Valley
  • Day 3 & 4 – Page/Lake Powell
  • Day 5 – Bryce Canyon
  • Day 6 & 7 – Zion National Park

So let’s do this!

Day 1

Morning: Drive from Las Vegas, NV to Grand Canyon South Rim: driving time – 4.5-6.5 hours.*

Head Southeast on US93. With an early enough start, you might stop at Hoover Dam, tour the visitor’s center and watch a short film presentation on the construction of this enormous yet elegant structure that made the West what it is today. If making good time is your first priority, proceed directly over the Pat Tillman-Mike O’Callaghan Memorial Bridge and enjoy the view of Hoover Dam from a lofty perch of 900’ above the bedrock!

Continue South to Kingman, AZ and head East on I-40. If you’re getting hungry at this point, Kingman has a good number of restaurants to choose from. Mr. D’s Route 66 Diner is a favorite in this area for its retro decor and hearty Mexican and American fare. You might also use this opportunity to stop into a grocery store, purchase a small cooler and stock up on supplies for a rimside picnic at the Grand Canyon. More on that later.

In Williams, AZ, head North on AZ64. Train, history or Route 66 buffs may also enjoy a stop in this Grand Canyon gateway community that is home base of the Grand Canyon Railway.

3 miles South of the entrance gate of Grand Canyon South Rim is the small town of Tusayan, AZ, also known as Grand Canyon Village South. Here you can stop and see the world-famous IMAX film presentation, “Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets” or do a little shopping before you head into the park.

Upon arrival at Grand Canyon South Rim, stop at the Canyon View Information Plaza located near Mather Point. Browse the informational displays to learn more about how the canyon was formed, talk with a helpful park ranger on how to make the most of your time at the South Rim, or hop on the free Village Loop Shuttle and tour the Grand Canyon Village Historic District. Don’t forget to grab that cooler and sandwich fixins you bought earlier. Park restaurants tend to get crazy at mid-day, so better to enjoy a relaxing “al fresco” lunch than to waste valuable sightseeing time waiting for a table at a restaurant.

Early afternoon: check into your Grand Canyon hotel and do a little decompressing from the day’s drive and activities. Not ready to downshift? Take in more Grand Canyon views on the free Hermit’s Rest/West Rim (Red) shuttle line, or get a taste of the inner canyon with a short hike on the Bright Angel Trail. If you take us up on the latter, remember to double your time down as your estimated time to hike back out. 30 minutes down = 60 minutes out. Water and sun protection must also be carried.

Sunset: be somewhere – anywhere – on the canyon rim! Try to get to your chosen spot 30 minutes prior to sunset, and remain for another 30 minutes afterward to experience the full range of light changes, and the best photo ops. Popular viewpoints for Grand Canyon sunset viewing include, but are not limited to:

For dinner, choose from one of six restaurants within Grand Canyon Village, the deli at Grand Canyon Market Plaza, or the diverse array of options in Tusayan/Grand Canyon Village South.

In the course of your trip plans, you may have heard that dinner at El Tovar Hotel is a culinary don’t-miss, and you’d have heard right! Reservations, though not required per se, are strongly recommended. They can be made 6 months in advance for guests of the El Tovar, and up to 30 days in advance for everyone else. Click here for contact information. If the prospect of dinner here doesn’t appeal or work out, breakfast or lunch at the El Tovar are just as memorable, and delicious!

 

Day 2

Sunrise: If you missed sunset the night before, or even if you didn’t, greet your day in “grand” style be witnessing sunrise over the Grand Canyon. Like sunset, there’s no such thing as a “bad” place to be for sunrise, but there’s no denying that the best views are on the Desert View/East Rim Drive, which, by coincidence you’ll be passing through on your way to your next destination: Monument Valley!

Morning: Drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Monument Valley, UT: Drive time: 3-5 hours

Note that the Navajo Indian Reservation observes Daylight Saving Time whereas the remainder of Arizona does not. You will “lose” an hour traveling from Grand Canyon South Rim to Monument Valley.

Head due East on AZ64 toward Cameron, AZ. Time permitting, stop at:

  • Grandview Point (the author’s personal favorite for sunrise!)
  • Navajo Point
  • Zuni Point
  • Moran Point
  • Lipan Point
  • Desert View Watchtower

Upon exiting the park, you’ll be on Navajo Indian Tribal Lands. A stop at the Little Colorado River Overlook will give you a greater appreciation for the beauty and complexity of the Colorado River ecosystem, and its spiritual significance to the native peoples of this area.

Visit the Historic Cameron Trading Post at the junction of AZ64 and US89 for a bathroom break/leg stretch, or breakfast. The Navajo Taco with an egg on top must be seen (and eaten) to be believed! Don’t be surprised, or concerned, if you end up with leftovers. Remember that cooler you bought? Grab a to-go box and enjoy your leftovers as a snack later on.

Head North on US89 for a short distance, then turn off on US160 East toward Tuba City and Kayenta. Time permitting, you might stop at the Moenkopi Dinosaur Tracks just West of Tuba City. One of the largest sites of its kind in the world, you can see clearly where a three-toed dinosaur left its indelible mark in the sandstone millions of years ago.

In the mood for some hiking? Make a detour off US160 to AZ564 and visit Navajo National Monument. A 2.5-mile round-trip hike up the Sandal Trail (no, that doesn’t mean you should wear sandals on it!) rewards you with a bird’s eye view of the Betatakin/Talastima cliff dwelling complex, one of the most sophisticated and well-preserved examples of Ancestral Puebloan architecture in the Southwest.

Continue East-Northeast to Kayenta, AZ, then proceed due North on US163 toward Monument Valley. Time permitting, and/or if you’re craving a Whopper®, stop at the Kayenta Burger King and learn more about the Navajo Code Talkers, a group of 29 soldiers who used their native language to help the U.S. transmit coded messages that were virtually indecipherable to Japanese and German radio operators during World War II. Featuring authentic artifacts and first-hand accounts, the Navajo Code Talkers’ Exhibit is regarded as one of the best and most comprehensive exhibits on the subject matter in Northern Arizona – and it’s free, how cool is that?

Early afternoon: arrive in Monument Valley. Stop at the Tribal Park Visitor’s Center and take in the iconic views of Merrick Butte and the Mittens. One look at this dramatic panorama and you’ll know why movie producers fell in love with this area! The displays here will inform you about how these formations were made, and acquaint you with the traditional “Blessing Way” lifestyle observed by many residents of this area. If you’ve followed our advice at the beginning of this article, you’ll have made advance reservations for a guided tour of Monument Valley. If not, the staff at the Visitors Center can advise you about available options and make bookings for you.

Check into your Monument Valley hotel, relax or enjoy dinner at your hotel’s on-site restaurant, or one of the local spots in Mexican Hat, UT or Kayenta, AZ.

Day 3

Morning: rise early, eat a good breakfast, and enjoy a guided tour of Monument Valley. The valley interior can only be accessed by a 17-mile dirt road. Though private vehicles are allowed to drive on this road, the practice is discouraged, especially for those driving rental cars. Car rental contracts expressly forbid off-road driving and any damage sustained by disobeying this rule will be your responsibility. A guided tour is not only safer, but will be more informative and memorable since they are conducted by local Navajo guides.

Depending on your traveling party, personal preference, physical fitness, interests and budget, you can choose from:

  • Guided jeep or 4×4 tours
  • Horseback rides
  • Guided hikes

Tour durations vary from 2 hours to all day. Horseback tours are typically conducted on gentle trail horses walking nose-to-tail; age and weight requirements may apply. Hiking tours may require previous desert hiking experience and may not be suitable for younger children. Click here for more information on guided Monument Valley Tours.

Late morning/early afternoon: Drive from Monument Valley, UT to Page, AZ – Drive time: 2-3 hours.

Note: Page, Arizona does not observe Daylight Saving Time. You will “gain” an hour as you pass from the Navajo Reservation to Page, AZ. Even though Antelope Canyon is situated on Navajo Indian Tribal Land, most Antelope Canyon tour operators go by Mountain Standard Time for the convenience of Page visitors.

From Monument Valley, UT, head South on US163, West on US160, then Northwest on US98. Unfortunately – or fortunately, depending on your point of view – this stretch of road doesn’t offer much in the way of points of interest to stop at, until you hit Antelope Canyon Navajo Tribal Park just outside of Page, AZ. This world-famous slot canyon is on the “must-do” list for 99.99999% of travelers to Northern Arizona. Consequently, it’s become very popular. Advance reservations for tours is a must!

From the Tribal Park Entrance gate on US98, you can tour Lower or Upper Antelope Canyon, or both. Lower is the more physical of the two, requiring some stair climbing and mild boulder scrambling. Upper is a cakewalk, 100 yards of flat, easy trail, punctuated by some areas of deep sugar sand depending on weather conditions at the time of your visit.

Though mid-day is considered “prime time” to tour these canyons, visiting during the later afternoon hours (or earlier in the morning, if you prefer) has several advantages. The shapes and colors of the canyon walls are still beautiful, morphing into richer, deeper hues as the sun sinks lower in the sky. The biggest plus is you’ll have fewer people to contend with as you enjoy a more congenial and mellow experience with your guide.

Allow 90-minutes to 2 hours to experience each side of Antelope Canyon. Antelope Canyon Tour Reservations

If all that walking has made you hungry, take a late lunch or early dinner at the Sandbar, a lakeside restaurant in the Antelope Point Marina complex, or pick up some hand-made sandwiches for another “al fresco” picnic lunch from the Deli at Big Lake Trading Post.

Late afternoon: After touring Antelope Canyon, head West on US98 to US89 and turn left. Between mile markers 544 and 545 you’ll see signage for the Horseshoe Bend Overlook, another natural wonder that has helped put this corner of Northern Arizona “on the map.”

A .6 mile walk on a dirt trail will take you to a stunning view of a hairpin turn of the Colorado River, or an “entrenched meander” in geologist-speak. Be sure to allow 60-90 minutes to enjoy the view, maybe even take in the sunset (or a few bites of your sandwiches from Big Lake), but be sure to keep children and pets under control at all times. There are no guardrails here and it’s a long drop to the river! Also, remember to pack out your trash. “Leave no trace” is your M.O. for this trip.

Though manageable for most people in good physical condition, the uphill incline at the beginning of the Horseshoe Bend Overlook trail may be a challenge for anyone with mobility issues. Tips for those unable to walk to Horseshoe Bend. This area is also completely exposed to the elements, so water, hats and sunscreen should be carried with you.

Evening: Check in at your hotel in Page, AZ, get a good night’s rest, or a good dinner at one of many quality Page, AZ restaurants.

Day 4

Sunrise (optional): Does your day back home usually start with a brisk walk or jog to get the motor running? Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you have to take a vacation from your fitness regimen. Here, you can get some exercise and do a little sightseeing on the Page Rim View Trail. Popular with local walkers, runners and cyclists, this unpaved trail makes a 10-mile circuit around Manson Mesa, Page’s original townsite. Most adults and children who are at least moderately fit report enjoying this walk that offers beautiful views of Lake Powell (but no lake access). Springtime visitors are treated to a visual bonus of desert  wildflowers in bloom. Once on the trail, you aren’t committed to doing the full 10 miles! There are several paths back to “civilization” you can take if you wish. Keep in mind it is completely exposed to the elements, so bring water, wear sunscreen, and of course, appropriate walking or running shoes.  

Your day is going to be busy, and a good breakfast will keep your energy up. Select Page, AZ hotel room rates include continental or cooked-to-order breakfast. Guests at vacation homes or repurposed apartments can do their own cooking. Groceries can be purchased at Super Wal-Mart or Safeway. The River’s End Cafe inside Colorado River Discovery, the Ranch House Grille and Canyon Crepes are among Page’s most popular breakfast stand-bys.

Option 1 – 6.30 AM: Check in for the Glen Canyon Half-Day Float Trip. This scenic raft trip travels 15 miles down a flat stretch of the Colorado River, through Glen Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. Suitable for children 4 and up, rafts launch from the base of the mighty Glen Canyon Dam. At Petroglyph Beach, you can take a cool dip in the river, and ponder the meanings of carvings in the canyon walls left by Ancestral Puebloan people thousands of years ago. This is also the perfect time to enjoy a snack or bag lunch from one of the local grocery stores or restaurants. After disembarking from the your river raft, a motorcoach will pick you up at Historic Lees Ferry, and bring you back to Page at approximately 11:30 AM.  

After lunch, or a quick bite, walk or drive to the John Wesley Powell Memorial Museum where you can learn more about the museum’s namesake, the Civil War veteran who in 1869, became the first known person to raft the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. The success of his expedition opened the Southwest U.S. up to settlement and development, and raised questions about civilization vs. preservation that remain unresolved even now. Specimens of locally-excavated dinosaurs, and ancient artifacts made by the native peoples of the Colorado Plateau are also on display at the JWP. It’s a great place for souvenir shopping as well.

Option 2 – 7:00 AM: Check in for the Lake Powell & Rainbow Bridge Boat Tour at Lake Powell (formerly known as “Wahweap”) Marina. This 6-hour tour will show you the majesty of Lake Powell from the most intimate and personal perspective: by boat. Cruise past secluded sandy beaches, fjord-like inlets of Warm Creek Bay, Padre Bay and Navajo Canyon en route to Rainbow Bridge National Monument, the largest natural stone arch discovered to date. A sacred site to many Native Americans in the Four Corners area, people of many faith traditions find the gravity-defying bridge against the backdrop of sapphire water evokes similar feelings of reverence. For Hollywood producers, Lake Powell evokes visions of dollar signs as a backdrop for big budget epics.

The return trip to Lake Powell Resort features a stop at Dangling Rope Marina, a facility that only boats can access. If you’re feeling the heat, a delicious soft-serve ice cream cream cone from the local snack bar will cool you off nicely. Depending on Lake Powell’s water level, a 3-mile round-trip walk may be required to get to the viewing area of Rainbow Bridge and back to the boat dock. Individuals with mobility problems or difficulty with sun exposure should know that portions of this walk are slightly uphill, and devoid of shade. Please consider these facts carefully – we want you to enjoy this tour! Water, coffee and lemonade are provided on the tour boat free of charge. Snacks and/or preferred beverages may be brought in reasonable amounts.  

Afterwards, everything from light appetizers and custom coffee beverages to gourmet entrees with a world-class wine list can be had at one of five on-site dining outlets at Lake Powell Marina. The food is great, and the lakeside views are even better! Or, head directly back to town, but first, stop at the Glen Canyon Dam for a tour with the Glen Canyon Natural History Association. In 45 short but memorable minutes, you’ll venture deep inside this monumental and controversial structure that brought Lake Powell into existence, and remains an integral part of the Colorado River Storage Project. Tours are conducted on a first-come first-served basis. As a federally-managed facility, Department of Homeland Security regulations are strictly enforced at Glen Canyon Dam. You will be required to pass through a metal detector, and carry money, keys and identification in pockets since bags or purses may not be brought on the tour. No knives or any weapons will be permitted in the building, and armed guards monitor the facility 24/7.

Relax and reflect on your day’s discoveries back at your hotel, or discover a cool place for dinner. Those with energy to burn later might take the short drive off the mesa to the Glen Canyon Dam Overlook, also known as the “White House” overlook, or put on your dancing shoes and cut a rug to some great local bands at Ken’s Old West, the Windy Mesa or the Dam Bar before hitting the hay.

Day 5

Early morning: Drive from Page, AZ to Bryce Canyon National Park, UT – Drive time: 2.5-4.5 hours

Note: Utah does observe Daylight Saving Time, whereas Arizona does not. You will “lose” an hour traveling from Arizona to Utah during DST.

Grab a breakfast burrito or bagel and cream cheese from your hotel’s continental breakfast spread and hit the road for Bryce Canyon. A straight-through drive is unlikely to happen as there are several points of interest to stop at along the way, including, but not limited to:

  • The “New Wave:” just past the Glen Canyon Dam and opposite the Lake Powell Resort turn-off on US89 is an unmarked road to a small cluster of rock formations that bear an uncanny resemblance to “The Wave.”  Unlike the “Old” Wave, the “New Wave” doesn’t require a permit, or charge admission. Because the road is not regularly maintained, it does wash out occasionally. If signage states “no admittance,” you’ll have to skip it.   
  • The Big Water Visitor Center: 15 miles Northwest of Page, AZ and just over the Utah border on US89, this unassuming facility offers up some impressive surprises, such as dinosaur bones excavated locally, a topographical relief map of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and paleontology and geology displays kids and adults will love.
  • The Paria Rimrocks-Toadstools Trail: Between Page, AZ and Kanab, UT on US89 between mile  markers 18 and 19 is a 1.5 mile round-trip trail leading to an unearthly rock garden where bizarre hoodoos, balanced rocks and other geological oddities grow. A moderate walk, don’t stop at what appears to be the end of the trail; the main hoodoo area is located up a short rock scramble.
  • Kanab, Utah: a charming small town with a star-crossed path of a different sort, Kanab was once a popular site for Western movies and television shows. These days, tourism gets top billing on the economic marquee. A good stop for shopping or dining, the Rocking V Cafe and Houston’s Trail’s End Restaurant are popular among locals and visitors.

Option 1 – 1:30 PM UTAH TIME (12:30 PM Arizona Time): Check in at the Bryce Canyon Lodge for your horseback ride to the very bottom of Bryce Canyon! From Sunrise Point, well-trained trail horses will descend into the canyon as local cowboys orient you to the compelling history and fascinating geology of Bryce Canyon. Go ahead and bring your cameras, because you will be able to take pictures and experience the Canyon at your fingertips on this ride that is safe for people of all riding experience levels, even none at all! Bryce Canyon Horseback Riding Reservations

Option 2 – 1:30 PM UTAH TIME (12:30 PM Arizona Time): Take the free National Park Service tour to Rainbow Point. From Rainbow Point and its “neighbor” Yovimpa Point, you can see a good portion of Bryce Canyon to the North as well as some impressive cliff formations and hoodoo structures in the distance. You can board the buses at any one of six shuttle stops:

  • Ruby’s Inn
  • Ruby’s Campground
  • Shuttle Parking and Boarding Area (across the street from Ruby’s Inn)
  • Bryce Canyon Lodge
  • North Campground
  • Sunset Campground

The tour consists of approximately eight stops at scenic viewpoints in the southern section of the park. Visitors are advised to dress appropriately for the weather and bring lunch, snacks, water, etc. Reservations are required and can be made in advance by calling 435-834-5290 between the hours of 8:00 AM and 7:00 PM local time.

Option 3 – 2:30 PM UTAH TIME (1:30 PM Arizona Time): Check in at the Bryce Canyon Car Care Center (Sinclair Station) for a guided ATV ride. In just one hour, you’ll experience the lesser known areas of Bryce Canyon in a manner that’s fun, exciting and best of all, very safe. This guided ride on well-maintained ATV’s will get your blood pumping, while providing you with views of a primeval alpine landscape, and Bryce Canyon itself. Bryce Canyon ATV Tour information

Enjoy dinner at Bryce Canyon Lodge or one of the dining establishments at Ruby’s Inn, Bryce Canyon City, or nearby Tropic, Utah before retiring for the night and getting a good rest before the next day’s adventures!

IMPORTANT: PLEASE TAKE THE ROUTE FROM PAGE TO BRYCE CANYON MARKED IN BLUE! THE ROUTE MARKED IN GRAY IS AN UNPAVED, INCONSISTENTLY MAINTAINED ROAD THAT IS PRONE TO WASH-OUTS, ROCK FALLS AND OTHER WEATHER RELATED DAMAGE. TAKING A RENTAL CAR ON THIS ROUTE WILL VOID YOUR RENTAL INSURANCE AND YOU COULD BE HELD LIABLE FOR ANY DAMAGE SUSTAINED.

Day 6

After breakfast, explore Bryce Canyon a bit more before going on to Zion National Park.

Option 1 – Ride the free hop-on/hop-off park shuttle to some of the viewpoints you might have missed on your first day here. The voluntary shuttle can be picked up at the shuttle station north of the park, or at Ruby’s Inn and the Grand Hotel. It then stops at:

  • Bryce Canyon Visitor Center
  • Sunset Campground (Southbound/does not enter campground)
  • Bryce Point
  • Inspiration Point
  • Sunset Campground (Northbound/on main road/does not enter campground)
  • Sunset Point
  • Bryce Canyon Lodge
  • Sunrise Point (General Store & High Plateau Inst. are nearby)
  • Bryce Canyon Visitor Center

Option 2 – Take one of several easy but spectacular hikes along the canyon rim, such as:

  • Mossy Cave (.8 mi / 1.3 km round trip) – a streamside walk up to a mossy overhang and small waterfall
  • Sunset Point to Sunrise Point Trail (1 mi / 1.6 km round trip) – see the amphitheater and its hoodoos via a paved and fairly level trail
  • Bristlecone Loop (1.0 mi / 1.6 km round trip) – a hike through a spruce-fir forests to bristlecone pine-adorned cliffs and canyon vistas
  • Queens Garden (1.8 mi / 2.9 km round trip) – the least difficult trail into the canyon, featuring ‘Queen Victoria’ (use your imagination) at the end of a short spur trail

Option 3 – Take one of several moderate scenic hikes into the canyon:

  • Navajo Trail (1.3 mi / 2.2 km round trip) – this trail begins at Sunset Point and goes through a slot canyon where tall Douglas Firs reach skyward in a quest for sunlight and water, ending down in Bryce Amphitheater
  • Tower Bridge (3 mi / 4.8 km round trip) – ancient Bristlecone Pines and the China Wall whet your appetite for the 1/4-mile shaded spur trail leading to the Tower Bridge formation
  • Hat Shop (4 mi / 6.4 km round trip) – observe a cluster of balanced-rock hoodoos after the descent to the Under-the-Rim Trail; not for visitors with bad knees

Note: what goes down must come up! Remember to double your hiking down time in order to calculate your hiking out time (1 hour down = 2 hours out) if you venture onto inner canyon trails. Adequate footwear, sun protection and water must be brought on any of the listed hikes.

Grab lunch to go (remember, you have that cooler!), then drive to Springdale, Utah: 2-3.5 hours

Afternoon: check into your Springdale, UT, hotel, take the free Springdale shuttle, then transfer to the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive Shuttle (mandatory for those not staying at in-park lodging) to the Zion Human History Museum. Here, you can get an excellent “pre-trip briefing” on the scenery and sanctuary that have made Zion National Park so famous. A free 20-minute video provides an overview of activities and park facilities, plus rangers are on hand to answer any questions you might have.

Get back on the shuttle and head up to Zion Lodge. Even those that are not staying at the historic hotel are welcome to stroll the grounds, dine at the on-site restaurants, or rent bikes for one hour or a full day from Xanterra Parks & Resorts, the authorized in-park concessioner. But as they say, the best things in life are free, and one of the best things about Zions is that the most fun can be had without spending a penny, in the form of hikes ranging in difficulty from “easy-peasy” to “are-you-kidding-me?” One of our favorites is the Upper Emerald Pools trail, a 3-mile round-trip hike requiring some uphilll walking, leads to a picturesque waterfall and pond. Swimming is not allowed, but generations of families have enjoyed this iconic Zion Canyon trail for many years. The Riverside Walk, also known as the “Gateway to the Narrows,” is an easy, scenic walk from the Temple of Sinawava to the shores of the Virgin River. Wear Tevas, Chacos or other footwear that hold up to water, but are still good for hiking. You’ll definitely want to get your feet wet! Easy Zion National Park Hikes

Head back to Springdale, UT for dinner. Restaurants are plentiful here, so choosing might be hard, but enjoying your meal won’t be. Get some sleep, and be down for some serious adventure in the morning!

Day 7

Option 1 – Hike the Narrows. This is the hike to take in Zion National Park for the ultimate bragging rights. Traversing a cool riverbed through a narrow slot canyon, a hike in the Narrows can be virtually whatever you want to make of it: a quick hour’s jaunt to get your feet wet (pardon the pun), or a 10-mile round-trip all day slog. Doing the hike from the “bottom up” (from the Temple of Sinawava as far as Big Spring) does not require a permit and is therefore the easier way to go; the “top down” approach (from Chamberlain Ranch to TOS) does require a permit, and more in the way of advanced planning. Don’t want to do any planning at all? Hire a licensed guide to hike the Narrows and let them do all that for you! Caution: The Narrows are subject to flash flood dangers, especially during the monsoon season of late July – early September. It may be closed to hikers during this or any other timeframe, or in weather conditions determined to be dangerous.

Option 2 Hike to Angel’s Landing. This is the grand-daddy of all Zion National Park hikes, not for the faint of heart, out-of-shape, or terrified of heights. Don’t believe us? A few people have fallen off the trail. We’ll just leave that there. Named for a terminus that evoked images of an angel landing on the head of a pin, Angel’s Landing is not a super-long hike (5 miles round-trip), but it’s a strenuous one on a steep uphill grade. Chains are placed on either side of the trail to aid those who might need extra leverage on the section between the Hogsback to the Landing. For those who initially think they might be able to handle it, but change their minds midway, Walter’s Wiggles makes for a good turn-around point. The trail begins and ends at the Grotto in Zion Canyon. Do your research, watch YouTube videos, and do more research before you commit to this hike. As with all hikes in the Southwest U.S., water and snacks should be brought, and appropriate broken-in footwear worn.

Option 3Go tubing on the Virgin River. Prefer an activity for your last day of touring that’s a little more kick back and relax-y and a little less huffy and puffy? Rent a river tube from one of several Springdale, UT outfitters, hop in and enjoy the 2-mile ride down the Virgin River, which carved Zion Canyon, and believe it or not, empties into Lake Mead near Las Vegas. Children must be at least 8 to take part in this activity, which is also contingent on a sufficient volume of water in the river. At the time this piece was written (May 2017), the snowpack in many Southwestern US watersheds is better than it’s been in many years, so Virgin River tubing should definitely be on for summer 2017!

Option 4 – Go horseback riding. Rides of one and three hours in length show you natural wonders of Zion National Park both out in the open, and behind the scenes such as the Three Patriarchs, the Beehives, and beautiful cactus gardens. The 1 hour ride (open to children 7 and up) follows the Virgin River to the Court of the Patriarchs and back to the loading corral. For those more adventurous (and at least 10 years old) the three-hour trip will take you around the Sandbench Trail, gradually ascending 500,’ culminating with a breath-taking view of the Southern portion of Zion National Park. Advance reservations strongly recommended. Book a Zion National Park Horseback Ride.

Go back to your hotel, and if it has a hot tub, enjoy a nice long soak, order in for dinner, then rest up for the 2.5 hour drive back to Las Vegas.

Like the sound of this, or did we leave anything out? Feel free to leave us a comment below. And remember, your experiences – the good, the bad and the ugly – will always be of help to future travelers in the area. Travel-related sites like TripAdvisor, Frommer’s, Fodors, even Facebook and Instagram love trip reports. Don’t forget to post one when you get back home!

About the author

Alley Keosheyan

With 20+ years in the tourism industry in Northern Arizona, including 7 years at Grand Canyon South Rim and 15 years at Lake Powell, Alley has taken part in virtually every commercial tour there is! She has ridden the Grand Canyon mules, hiked rim to rim, rafted the rapids of the Colorado River (and the smooth bits, too), enjoyed many a houseboat weekend on Lake Powell, logged countless hours on both airplanes and helicopters, walked on air on the Grand Canyon Skywalk and frolicked in the blue-green waters of Havasu Falls. About the only thing on her "to-do" list now is the Tower Butte Helicopter tour! She now makes a living as a freelance writer by day, bass player in a cover band by night.

46comments
Greta - July 7, 2018

Hello! I love this itinerary! I wonder if you could guess a ballpark cost range for this week’s intinerary for a low-maintenance family of five in budget-friendly hotels. I have one year to save for our trip. Would this itinerary be doable in an RV instead of hotels?

Reply
    Alley Keosheyan - July 7, 2018

    Hi Greta!
    I hesitate to throw out a price figure as 1. it could change between now and when you travel and 2. when you travel can make a significant difference in your trip cost.
    Unfortunately, if you’re traveling during peak season (spring/summer/fall), you’re going to be hard-pressed to find “budget-friendly” hotels. Granted, you’ll find your share of Motel 6’s, EconoLodges, and similar properties in Page, AZ, but in the summertime, you shouldn’t be surprised to find even those kinds of properties running in the $250+ per night range. I just checked myself and couldn’t believe it!
    If you were to use Flagstaff, AZ as a base and use the “hub-and-spoke” approach (where you do day trips to the different attractions), that could save you money on lodging, but you might eat up those savings on gas, depending on prices at the time you travel (and, as we all know, gas has an uncanny knack for being more expensive during the summer months). Another viable option might be to stay a few days in Flagstaff, then move to St. George, UT for a few days.
    There’s also the matter of meals to consider. Here, you could save money by staying in a vacation rental home vs. a traditional hotel room. The former typically have full kitchens, so you can do your own cooking instead of eating out all the time.
    As for doing the trip in an RV vs. hotels, that ends up being a “wash” in my experience. My husband and I have a small camper, so have some experience in that regard.
    If you are really concerned about saving money, here’s my advice to you: visit us in the off-season. That means the late fall/winter/early spring months. Yes, you could encounter snow, and you’ll most certainly have cooler weather for most of your trip, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find the majority of days are sunny, and hotels tend to be a little more realistic with their prices. For example, I just checked Page hotels for December 1-3, and found prices at budget chains as low as $50/night.
    Hope that helps — good luck, and safe travels!
    Alley 🙂

    Reply
Tena Hargrove - June 14, 2018

Alley,

Have you ever done the Dark Ranger Telescope Tours at the Dark Ranger Observatory in Bryce Canyon?

Tena

Reply
    Alley Keosheyan - June 14, 2018

    Hi Tena!
    Unfortunately, I have not taken part in this particular activity, but according to the reviews on Yelp, TripAdvisor and elsewhere, it sounds incredible. Let us know how you liked it,
    Alley 🙂

    Reply
Rani - May 22, 2018

Hi Alley,

Your itinerary suggestions have helped us chalk out a plan for our visit really well. Thanks for the same.

We have overlapped a lot of your suggestions as shown below. However we are undecided for Day 5 & 6. Is it better to skip Bryce and go straight to Zion on Day 5 OR skip Monumental Valley and add in Bryce plus Zion, so we have more quality time there and save driving time as well?

Day 1 (June 7):
Arrive in Las Vegas @ 8AM
Sightsee Las Vegas, stay the night

Day 2 (June 8) :
Drive to Williams, AZ via Hoover Dam visitor center
Hotel check-in?
OR
Drive straight to Grand Canyon South Rim
Lunch at El Tovar with reservation
Free shuttle to viewpoints on West Rim/Hermit’s Rest Road
Sunset watch and stay in Williams

Day 3(June 9):
Drive to Monument Valley, UT (3-5 hrs)
Stop at Little Colorado River Outlook
Visit Cameron Trading Post / Navajo Taco 🙂
Stop at Moenkopi Dinosaur Tracks OR Navajo National Monument / Sandal Hike / Puebloan Architecture
Stop at Tribal Park Visitor Center at MV for views
Stay at MV

Day 4 (June 10):
Guided tour of MV (Book in advance)
Drive to Page (2-3 hrs)
Antelope Canyon afternoon tour (Book in advance)
Stop at Horseshoe Bend, trail
Stay at Page, AZ

Day 5 (June 11):
Glen Canyon Half Day Float Trip (Book in advance)
Have lunch
Drive to Bryce Canyon National Park, UT (2-4hrs)
Stay at hotel

Day 6 (June 12):
Do horse or ATV ride at BC
Drive to Springdale UT / Zion National Park (2-3hrs)
Hike the Narrows (1 hour)
Stay at Springdale

Day 7 (June 13):
Drive to Las Vegas (3-5 hrs)
Depart to Atlanta @ 3:45pm

Reply
Rani` - May 20, 2018

Hi Alley,

Your itinerary suggestions have helped us chalk out a plan for our visit really well. Thanks for the same.

We have overlapped a lot of your suggestions to our visit given below. We are undecided for Day 5 & 6. Is it better to skip Bryce and go straight to Zion on Day 5 OR skip Monumental Valley and add in Bryce plus Zion, so we have more quality time there and save driving time as well?

Day 1 (June 7):
Arrive in Las Vegas @ 8AM
Sightsee Las Vegas, stay the night

Day 2 (June 8) :
Drive to Williams, AZ via Hoover Dam visitor center
Hotel check-in?
OR
Drive straight to Grand Canyon South Rim
Lunch at El Tovar with reservation
Free shuttle to viewpoints on West Rim/Hermit’s Rest Road
Sunset watch and stay in Williams

Day 3(June 9):
Drive to Monument Valley, UT (3-5 hrs)
Stop at Little Colorado River Outlook
Visit Cameron Trading Post / Navajo Taco 🙂
Stop at Moenkopi Dinosaur Tracks OR Navajo National Monument / Sandal Hike / Puebloan Architecture
Stop at Tribal Park Visitor Center at MV for views
Stay at MV

Day 4 (June 10):
Guided tour of MV (Book in advance)
Drive to Page (2-3 hrs)
Antelope Canyon afternoon tour (Book in advance)
Stop at Horseshoe Bend, trail
Stay at Page, AZ

Day 5 (June 11):
Glen Canyon Half Day Float Trip (Book in advance)
Have lunch
Drive to Bryce Canyon National Park, UT (2-4hrs)
Stay at hotel

Day 6 (June 12):
Do horse or ATV ride at BC
Drive to Springdale UT / Zion National Park (2-3hrs)
Hike the Narrows (1 hour)
Stay at Springdale

Day 7 (June 13):
Drive to Las Vegas (3-5 hrs)
Depart to Atlanta @ 3:45pm

Reply
    Alley Keosheyan - May 23, 2018

    Hi Rani,
    Honestly, I’d keep your itinerary just as it is! I know it’s a hard choice as to whether to schedule more time in Zion at the expense of Bryce or Monument Valley, but you’ve planned it well, and hopefully made your tour reservations in advance.
    The only “red flags” I see are for the first leg of your trip, is there any particular reason you’re staying in Williams instead of Grand Canyon Village? If it was due to lack of availability in the park, I understand that, but if you can possibly make a switch to a hotel inside the park or Tusayan/GC Village South 7 miles South of the park, that will situate you better to catch sunset and/or sunrise at the South Rim. If you stay in Williams, it’s 1 hour’s drive each way to the park, and driving at night is strongly discouraged in this part of the country due to lack of supplemental lighting and the tendency of deer, elk and other wildlife to congregate around them after dusk. Something to consider. Grand Canyon South Rim Hotels
    RE: the El Tovar dining room, reservations are not taken for lunch, it’s first-come/first-served. We strongly recommend you time your arrival there for 11:30 AM, right when the restaurant opens. The reason for this is because the Grand Canyon Railway pulls in at 11:45 AM, and once those passengers hit the rimside restaurants, you’ll find it nearly impossible to get a table.
    Keep in mind that while most of Arizona does NOT observe Daylight Savings Time, the Navajo Reservation DOES, so you will “lose” an hour driving from Grand Canyon South Rim to Monument Valley. Fortunately, it doesn’t look as though you have anything time-sensitive scheduled for your day of arrival in MV. Upon returning to Page, you’ll “gain” the hour back as Antelope Canyon tour operators run on Page, AZ (Mountain Standard) time.
    Be sure to pick up an America The Beautiful Federal Lands Access Pass at the first National Park you hit on your trip. For $80, this card grants you access to all National Parks, Monuments and Federal Fee Areas in the US for 1 year’s time. It does not work at Navajo Tribal Parks, but it will still pay for itself on this trip.
    Best wishes for safe travels!
    Alley 🙂

    Reply
Tricia Oakes - April 27, 2018

Hi
I’m sort of doing a hybrid of the 7 day tour you have mapped out here. My question is : I will be flying into Phoenix and driving up to Williams. Staying in Williams for 3 nights and using it as a base to visit Grand Canyon. I probably waited too long to make my accomodations, therefore, the reason for staying in Wiliams (actually a VRBO cabin outside of Williams). I plan to leave the cabin on day 4 (July 7) and travel to Bryce. I have 3 grandchildren with me (ages 10, 13 and 15). I believe Williams to Bryce is too much / long of a drive for all of us. I need an overnight stay. My thoughts are to drive either to Page (seems to be the shorter distance) or to Kanab (a little bit longer drive) and spend the night. Up eary to drive to Bryce. So, I have basically 1 day in Bryce which would be July 8. I plan to leave Bryce on July 9 and travel to Zion. Will be in Zion for 9,10,11 and leave early on the 12 for Vegas and fly home on July 13th.
What would your suggestion be – stay in Page or Kanab? And how could we use our time wisely and see the most of Bryce as we can? Thanks!!!

Reply
    Alley Keosheyan - April 27, 2018

    Hi Tricia, great question!
    As you have seen, Grand Canyon lodging does tend to book up quite far in advance, but thankfully, Williams isn’t that far a drive (~1 hour). Just make sure you get your sightseeing done well before sunset so you avoid driving in the dark. Sunset occurs at about 7:15 PM in July.
    That said, I believe you’ll find 3 nights to be too long. Most families like yourselves find 2 days to be plenty of time to have a fulfilling visit to the Grand Canyon. What’s more, you can do a good chunk of your Grand Canyon sightseeing on the drive to Page. If possible, I’d recommend dropping one night in Williams and spending 2 nights in Page.
    On your first sightseeing day, concentrate on Grand Canyon Village Historic District, then take the free shuttle out to the viewpoints on the West Rim/Hermit’s Rest Road. Then when you get ready to head toward Bryce, drive into the park once again, then take the East Rim/Desert View Drive out of the park. Along the way, you can stop at one of a half-dozen plus Grand Canyon overlooks, including, but not limited to, Pipe Creek Vista, Grandview Point, Moran Point, Lipan Point, Zuni Point, and finally Desert View Point and the Watchtower before exiting the park. In Cameron, at the junction of AZ64 and US89, plan on stopping at the Trading Post for at least a leg stretch/bathroom break and maybe even brunch. The Navajo tacos are awesome! Upon leaving Cameron, head North on US89 to Page, stopping at the Horseshoe Bend Overlook on the way into town. With an early enough start, you might also be able to get an Antelope Canyon tour in, but these too must be reserved well in advance. Stay at a hotel or VRBO property , then the next day, take the Glen Canyon Half Day Float Trip. In July, you should choose the morning departure as afternoons tend to get very hot.
    Since Bryce Canyon is a relatively small park, one day is sufficient for most families to see it. Good call on 3 nights in Zion, though. You’ll be glad you did that.
    Long story short, I’d suggest Page over Kanab as a place to break up the drive from Williams to Bryce, but you can certainly stop in Kanab on the way to Bryce if you wish. Kanab Creek Bakery comes highly recommended as a breakfast stop.
    Hope that helps and that you have a wonderful vacation!
    Alley 🙂

    Reply
Tee Goh - April 25, 2018

Thanks very much for this info. I have been wanting to do something like this for a long time, with some adjustments. I am wondering why you did not recommend a stop at the Grand Staircase Escalante Natl Monument since the routing goes right past it. I am also thinking of making it a 10-12 day itinerary.

Reply
    Alley Keosheyan - April 25, 2018

    Dear Tee Goh,
    That is an excellent question, and you are right, our proposed itinerary takes one right past Grand Staircase-Escalante!
    There were several reasons why we didn’t actively promote it in this piece, one being that its future is uncertain what with the current government’s proposed reduction of its size, and intentions of splitting it off into 3 different monuments: the Grand Staircase, Escalante Canyons and Kaiparowits Plateau.
    The main reason, though, is the ruggedness of the terrain, which certainly has a strong appeal for many visitors. But, for the average family driving a rented vehicle they cannot take down an unpaved backcountry road, with young children, seniors or anyone else who’s not a hard-core hiker in tow, it’s just not feasible to really delve that deeply into it. For those with the time and inclination, though, opportunities abound for exploration and discovery. If nothing else, the drive from Bryce Canyon to Torrey (Capitol Reef National Park’s gateway community) via Scenic Byway 12 is absolutely stunning.
    Hope that answers your question sufficiently and that you have a wonderful trip!
    Alley 🙂
    P.S. Since you have more time to work with, check out this piece on our sister site, HorseshoeBend.com on 14 Days in the Grand Circle!

    Reply
Lynn B - April 24, 2018

I might have missed this, but how many miles did you end up traveling (with a start and end in Vegas)?

This is a great plan!

Reply
    Alley Keosheyan - April 24, 2018

    Hi Lynn,
    Nope you didn’t miss it, I am ashamed to say I didn’t think to include the mileage figure: it’s 973!
    Have fun 😉
    Alley

    Reply
JD - April 16, 2018

Hi, Alley,

Thank you for your itinerary. It is exactly what I am looking for. I plan to have a trip from June 1 to 10. I will travel with my 9-years daughter from Cincinnati to arrive late night at 8:20 PM in Las Vegas. I will mainly follow your itinerary with slight adjustment, instead of stay one night at Grand Canyon, I am thinking to stay two nights at Grand Canyon, which means, spend a entire day to explore those points that you suggest to stop on the way heading to Monument Valley:
Grand View
Zuni
Moran
Lipan
Desert View Watchtower
etc

Any advise are welcome.

Thanks

Reply
    Alley Keosheyan - April 16, 2018

    Hi JD,
    With a 9-year-old in tow, you want to be careful to avoid overscheduling your itinerary.
    Since you’re arriving late to Las Vegas, I’d plan on spending the night there, then heading to Grand Canyon first thing the next morning. There really isn’t much for folks under 21 to do in Las Vegas.
    While you’re in Page, be sure to plan on touring Antelope Canyon, visiting Horseshoe Bend, and perhaps taking the Glen Canyon Half Day Float Trip.
    Best regards for safe travels!
    Alley 🙂

    Reply
      Jiandian Ni - April 18, 2018

      Alley,

      Thank you for your advise. I skipped the Monument Valley entirely to have more time on other places.

      Roughly here is the plan:
      6/1 Arrive at Las Vegas from Cincinnati, Oh
      6/2 Drive to Grand Canyon
      6/3 Stay in Grand Canyon
      6/4 Morning, drive to Page
      Reserved Lower Antelope tour at 12:30 (Check in 12:00)
      Reserved Upper Antelope tour at 3:00 PM (check in 2:30)
      Visit House bend
      6/5 Float Trip in Glen Canyon
      6/6 Morning, drive to Bryce
      Horseback riding (To be reserved)
      6/7 Drive to Springdale
      6/8 Hiking
      6/9 – 6/11 In Las Vegas. The flight takes off at 3:40 PM 6/11

      I have not booked the hotel in Springdale. I may drive back to Las Vegas after hiking in Zion 6/8. How do you think?

      Thanks
      JD

      Reply
        Alley Keosheyan - April 18, 2018

        Hi JD –
        This is a much better plan, but still warrants some modifications.
        On 6/4, you can hit Horseshoe Bend on the drive in to Page as it’s located just South of town on US89.
        Visiting both Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon really isn’t necessary to have a fulfilling visit in Page. If you’re physically up for doing Lower Antelope Canyon, I’d stick with that and skip Upper. Your reservations for Lower Antelope are at peak viewing hour, so you’ll get to see the canyon in its best light. If you have more time to work with in the afternoon, you might take a tour of Glen Canyon Dam or visit the “New” Wave. You might also do one of these activities on the day you take the Glen Canyon Float Trip.
        On 6/6, do plan on staying overnight in the Bryce Canyon area if you haven’t already.
        As for what to do the night of 6/8, I’d spend it in Springdale. Depending on how much hiking you do in Zion, you’ll probably be tired and a good night’s rest would no doubt feel nice. You’d then be fresh to make the 3 hour drive to Las Vegas in the morning.
        Hope that helps!
        Have a wonderful time 🙂
        Alley
        P.S. Be sure to purchase an America The Beautiful Federal Lands Access Pass when you get to the Grand Canyon. It will pay for itself on this trip!

        Reply
          Jiandian - April 22, 2018

          Hi, Alley,

          Thank you for your advise. You already became my virtual tour guide.

          I listen to your suggestion and will stay in Zion two nights.

          I booked “Wilderness River Adventure Half Day” Tuesday, June 5, 2018 1:00 PM – 5:30 PM. So we will have 3-4 hours June 5 morning to explore some place. You mentioned “New” wave, where is it? There are many waves pop up in Google, I am not sure which wave you mean.

          Thanks
          JD

          Reply
          Alley Keosheyan - April 22, 2018

          Hi JD, we are humbled by your compliments!
          If you don’t mind another suggestion, I would recommend changing your Wilderness River Float Trip to the morning departure. Afternoon temperatures on the river can get very hot, in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit at that time of year. Mornings tend to be much more comfortable.
          As for the location of the “New” Wave, it is a short distance outside of Page, AZ: as you cross the Glen Canyon Dam bridge heading from Page, AZ to Kanab, UT, the road veers to the right and you’ll come to an unmarked road that crosses US89. Turn onto the section on your left, then take the fork immediately to your right and park your vehicle. You can realistically spend an hour or so exploring around this area.

          One caveat: if you see any signage stating “no admittance,” or other indication that you should not pass further, please obey it. The road there is unimproved and is subject to washing out during extreme weather events.
          Have fun!
          Alley 🙂

          Reply
Amy - April 12, 2018

Hi Alley,
this itinerary looks wonderful! I learned about many hidden gems in AZ that I didn’t see from other itineraries.

I am planning for a 7-8 day trip in late May, and I really want to include Sedona in this trip. So I modified your suggested plan and the following is the draft.

D1. Phoenix (early afternoon arrival)-Sedona
D2. Sedona
D3. Leave for GC in the morning, thinking about staying at the north rim lodge. It still has availability.
D4. Spend morning in GC, leave for MV around lunch
D5. MV Tour in the morning, leave for page
D6. horseshoe band / antelope, white pocket, leave for Bryce
D7. Bryce.
D8. Bryce to LV or Phoenix. Will determine based on the flight ticket price

Does this plan look reasonable? We will not do any evening/night driving. I feel like I should drop one of these – MV /Bryce/Sedona. I’ve only been to GC (long time ago) and all the other places are new to me. If my trip should be 7 days, which one do you think should be dropped? I’m more prone to skip GC, but skipping Bryce looks more reasonable given the total driving hours (then I think I’ll do the rainbow bridge boat tour!).

I’d appreciate your opinion on this schedule. Thank you so much in advance!

Reply
    Alley Keosheyan - April 12, 2018

    Hi Amy!
    Thank you so much for your compliments.
    First off, I’d recommend switching your plans from the North Rim to the South Rim, especially if you’re a first-time visitor. Not only does it make more sense given your plans to fly into Phoenix, it also has more to offer in the way of lodging, restaurants, and activities. The drive from PHX to the South Rim takes about 4.5 hours; the drive to the North Rim takes about 6.
    2 nights in Sedona is a good call as there is a lot to see and do there.
    On Day 6, you have “White Pocket” in your plans, along with Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon and leaving for Bryce. This won’t happen, I can guarantee you. White Pocket is an activity that will take the better part of the day. Also, it’s not recommended for a “self-drive/hike.” The so-called “road” there goes through some deep sand and getting stuck isn’t uncommon. It’s best to go there with an authorized tour outfitter like Paria Outpost & Outfitters. Another consideration, is that Bryce Canyon is a relatively small park. One night is sufficient for most people to have a fulfilling visit there. As for where to fly out of after visiting Bryce, Las Vegas would be the more convenient option. It takes about 4 hours to drive from Bryce to Las Vegas, whereas it takes about 7.5 hours to drive from Bryce to Phoenix.
    Before you commit to this plan, be sure you check drop-off fees for rental cars. Hefty surcharges for dropping vehicles off anywhere other than where you picked them up from are standard procedure in this part of the country.
    Hope that helps! I know it’s a tough choice. Please don’t hesitate to to contact us again if we can be of further help.
    Alley 🙂

    Reply
amalesh - April 4, 2018

Hi
I want to tour Grand Canyon, Monument valley, Antelope, if possible(zion and bryce). I am planning with my wife and a kid of 2 yrs. I know driving but it will be single driver. So want to check if any good tour company within $2000 budget for 2Adult and 1 kid.
Is it possible ?
I checked for Bundu Bus hop on hop bus but it doesn’t show any reservations from GC to Page or Page to Bryce, Zion etc. It only shows Vegas to GC and GC to Vegas.
Can anyone tell me how should I plan ?
You can contact me directly amalerchithi@gmail.com

Reply
    Alley Keosheyan - April 4, 2018

    Dear Amalesh,
    Hi and thank you for visiting our site today.
    First off, I wouldn’t recommend using Bundu as I’ve read some pretty bad reviews about them in the past. There are other tour companies whose programs would fall within your budget, but their itineraries will be very rushed and require a lot of time on the road. This may not be ideal for a family with a 2-year-old. Driving yourselves would offer your family more freedom and flexibility to explore at a slower pace, and on your own terms.
    If a guided tour is indeed the way you prefer to go, Take Tours is one company that offers a 2-day package that includes everything on your “wish list.” Take Tours 2-Day Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Antelope Canyon Tour from Las Vegas
    Viator also offers a 3-day package that includes everything on your list except for Bryce, but their site indicates this tour is only offered during the off-season. Viator Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, and Zion 3-Day Tour from Las Vegas
    Please note that our providing you with the information about these tours does not constitute an endorsement in any way and that choosing one of these or any commercial tour offering is done at your own risk.
    Good luck and let us know how you get on,
    Alley 🙂
    P.S. For more tips and information about traveling in the American Southwest, visit our sister site, HorseshoeBend.com!

    Reply
Andrea - March 11, 2018

Hello, Alley!

Thanks so much for the amazing itinerary. We’re planning on going to the national parks this July, it’s going to be a 7-8 day trip. I’m wondering if it’s feasible to shorten the itinerary you gave if we’re just wanting to focus on seeing the national parks and the views, but not much on the museums and other activities? And is it feasible to go to arches also and when? So my draft itinerary is something like this—

Day 1
AM arrival to vegas, drive to grand canyon, watch the sunset.
PM drive to monument valley. Check in

Day 2
Monument valley
PM drive to Page. Check in.

Day 3
Antelope canyon, horseshoe bend overlook. Leave for Bryce canyon. Check in.

Day 4
Bryce and Zion

And then we go back to vegas and spend the rest of our days there

Reply
    Alley Keosheyan - March 12, 2018

    Hi Andrea,
    Thank you for your compliments on our itinerary. Unfortunately, I cannot endorse this plan as is because it is too rushed and involves too much driving, especially at night.
    On Day 1, for example, you’re proposing to drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim, which takes approximately 4.5 hours. You’re then wanting to view sunset at the Grand Canyon, which occurs at about 7:30 PM, then drive from the Grand Canyon to Monument Valley, which takes approximately 3 hours. That would put you at Monument Valley at approximately 11:00 PM. You have to realize that in Northern Arizona, local roadways are not very well lit, and in the Navajo Indian Reservation (where Monument Valley is located), some are not lit at all. I myself have made the drive from the Grand Canyon to Monument Valley at night and suffice it to say, I’ll never do it again. I saw my life flash before my eyes a couple of times.
    Stay at the Grand Canyon instead on Day 1.
    On Day 2, drive to Page (which takes approximately 3 hours), stop at Horseshoe Bend on the way into town. If you get an early enough start out of the South Rim, you might catch an afternoon tour of Antelope Canyon.
    On Day 3, you could take an overflight of Monument Valley, then proceed to Bryce Canyon (also about a 3 hour drive).
    On Day 4, you won’t have time to do much in Bryce Canyon because the drive to Las Vegas via Zion will take you about 4.5 hours.
    As for Arches, forget it — you simply don’t have enough time.
    Since you allude to “spending the rest of your days” in Las Vegas, that tells me you might be able to allot more time to this trip. I suggest you try to do so.
    Best regards and safe travels!
    Alley 🙂

    Reply
      Andrea - March 23, 2018

      Hi alley! I just saw your response. Thanks so much for all your help!! I really want to go to arches, maybe I’ll ask for one or two more days to spend so we can see it also. Again thanks so much! We’ll definitely use your suggestions. 🙂

      Reply
Neeka27 - March 5, 2018

Thank you for your itinerary & tips- this has seriously been my favorite road trip write up I have seen so far (and there has been many!). *high five*

Reply
    Alley Keosheyan - March 6, 2018

    Thank you so much, Neeka! Have a wonderful trip. For more tips you might find useful, visit our sister site, HorseshoeBend.com too 🙂

    Reply
Ania - February 21, 2018

Hello Alley,

this is awesome! So so helpful!

Thank you for sharing!

Best,
Ania

Reply
    Alley Keosheyan - February 22, 2018

    You’re welcome, Ania! Best to you,
    Alley 🙂

    Reply
Deedra - January 22, 2018

Hi Alley – this is really great. I’ve been scouring the internet and maps trying to figure everything out. But I think I made a mistake when I booked our lodging at Grand Canyon many months ago. We are flying into Vegas Friday evening or Saturday (March 23 or 24), and flying out the next Wednesday or Thursday (March 28 or March 29). But we have reservations for GC on Sunday and Monday (March 25 and 26) We don’t necessarily need to stay both though. How much can we see with these parameters? And it what order? Also we are traveling with our nine year old and I don’t want to be too ambitious. Any suggestions??

Reply
    Alley Keosheyan - January 22, 2018

    Hi Deedra and thank you for visiting our site today.
    It is probably too late to move your lodging reservations at the Grand Canyon up a day. That said, though, since you already have two nights reserved, you could feasibly drop one night at Grand Canyon South Rim and still have a fulfilling visit to the area. A good chunk of your sightseeing at the South Rim will actually take place on the trip East out the Desert View Drive of the park. There are several viewpoints you can stop at before exiting Grand Canyon and entering Navajo Indian Tribal Lands. A stop at the Cameron Trading Post is well-placed for a leg stretch/bathroom break, or even a late breakfast/early lunch.
    On your way into Page, hit Horseshoe Bend, then plan for a tour of Antelope Canyon if you can get an early enough start. Antelope Canyon tours must be reserved in advance.
    If you opt for a 2nd night in Page, you could take part in the Glen Canyon Half Day Float Trip. Or, you could just spend one night in Page and spend your last night in Springdale, UT after sightseeing at Zion before driving back to Las Vegas for your return flight home.
    So your trip plan would look something like this:
    March 23rd and/or 24th: Las Vegas
    March 25th: Grand Canyon
    March 26th: Page
    March 27th: Zion (Springdale)
    March 28th: fly out
    If you can somehow arrange your flight for March 29th, that would open up the option to stay 2 nights in Page and do the float trip, or spend a 2nd night in Zion.
    Hope that clarifies things. Have a great trip!
    Alley 🙂

    Reply
Michael - November 10, 2017

Alley, the 7 day trip in Northern Arizona / Southern Utah is well done – I really appreciate the detail and links. If we travel the end of November, would there be any weather issues to be concerned with… especially with driving a rental car in icy/snowy conditions?

Reply
    Alley Keosheyan - November 13, 2017

    Hi Michael, and thank you for your compliments!
    Snow is a very real possibility in late November, but obviously it’s too early to tell. I’d recommend keeping an eye on the weather about 2 weeks before you get ready to travel. If there are a few flurries or light snowfall present, that probably won’t affect the roads, but if there’s a full-on blizzard, that will result in road closure. In which case, you shouldn’t attempt to drive, just wait the storm out and adjust travel plans accordingly. A good website to use to check weather and road conditions is http://www.az511.com
    Even without precipitation, conditions will be cooler, so be prepared by packing jackets, gloves, etc., and clothing that you can layer and remove easily when or if the temperatures warm up.
    Good luck and safe traveling!
    Alley 🙂

    Reply
Ted johns - July 26, 2017

Can you recommend anyone that will set up the hotels for a driving 7 day trip around the canyon and surrounding area like your 7 day trip?

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    Alley Keosheyan - July 26, 2017

    Hi Ted, thanks for visiting our site.
    Unfortunately, travel agents are something of a vanishing breed due to the ease of making reservations online. If you have one in your local community, by all means utilize them, but keep in mind they may charge a fee for their services. If memory serves, I did include links to many of the hotels in the areas featured in the article. A good place to start is the Grand Canyon, since lodging there tends to book up the quickest. This site lists area hotels in order of proximity to the canyon rim, and hence, desirability. Grand Canyon Hotels
    Hope that helps,
    Alley 🙂

    Reply
Stefano RUZZINI - July 19, 2017

My wife and I will be in Las Vegas on October 20, evening flight from Salt Lake city. So we will start our tour Oct. 21 early morning and we have until Oct. 24 :Late afternoon flight to San Francisco.
What should we not miss in 4 days? And would Arches Canyon be too far to consider? We will be driving a rented SUV from LAS.
Thank you for your very useful tips.

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    Alley Keosheyan - July 19, 2017

    Hi, Stefano!
    Here’s the good news: you’ve chosen a lovely time to visit Northern Arizona and Southern Utah! Temperatures are cooling, crowds are thinning, and all the activities you may want to enjoy are still going on.
    The bad news? Well, not necessarily bad, just probably not what you were hoping to hear: with 4 days to work with, and the distance involved, Arches is not going to be realistic this time around. It’s a beautiful park, and one that deserves 3 or more days to fully experience. Hopefully you’ll make it back to this area in the future so you can give Arches the kind of time it deserves.
    Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of amazing things to see and do in 4 days time!
    October 21st – drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim, maybe stop at Hoover Dam, overnight at Grand Canyon South Rim. Grand Canyon Hotels Drive time: 4.5-6 hours depending on stops, etc.
    October 22nd – drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ. Stop at Grand Canyon viewpoints along the way, maybe have lunch at Cameron Trading Post. Stop at Horseshoe Bend Overlook on your way into town. Drive time: 2.5-4 hours depending on pace. Stay 2 nights in Page.
    October 23rd – Tour Antelope Canyon and take the Colorado River Discovery Float Trip. Depending on availability and tour times, the order in which you take these tours could go either way, Float Trip first, then Antelope Canyon, or vice versa. 2nd night in Page.
    October 24th – Drive back to Las Vegas via Zion National Park. Drive time ~5 hours.
    Another variation on this itinerary is on your second day, you could get a very early start from Grand Canyon to Page, visit Horseshoe Bend and tour Antelope Canyon on your arrival day, then spend one night in Page. Skip the float trip, then drive to Zion National Park (about a 2 hour drive from Page) and spend the night in Springdale, UT. The drive back to Las Vegas on the 24th would then be reduced to about 3 hours.
    Hope that helps – good luck and safe travels!
    Alley 🙂

    Reply
      Shelly DuLong - April 26, 2018

      Amazing itinerary! Thank you for taking the time to lay everything out! I don’t suppose you have a 2 week itinerary spelled out for this whole area? 😉

      Reply
        Alley Keosheyan - April 26, 2018

        Hi Shelly,
        Actually, we do: 14 Days in the Grand Circle
        Have fun!
        Alley 🙂

        Reply
Debra Miller - July 9, 2017

We were just talking about doing something like this in the beginning of June. Looks like a great trip.

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    Alley Keosheyan - July 9, 2017

    Debra,
    It definitely is! Kudos to you for planning ahead. June is peak travel season in this part of the country, so all lodging and tours should be booked well in advance. If you do this itinerary, or something similar to it, be sure to pick up an “America The Beautiful Federal Lands Access Pass.” For $80, this handy little card gets you into all National Parks, Monuments, and other Federal Fee areas for one year’s time. If you visit the Grand Canyon, Lake Powell (Glen Canyon NRA), Zion and Bryce Canyon, it will pay for itself. The only areas it won’t get you into are Monument Valley and Antelope Canyon (or other slot canyons) as these are on Indian Tribal Land.
    Good luck and safe travels!
    Alley 🙂

    Reply
Rick Reicker - June 24, 2017

Thanks so much for taking the time to put this together. Exactly what we were looking for!!

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    Alley Keosheyan - June 26, 2017

    Thank you Rick – hope you have a wonderful trip!
    Alley 🙂

    Reply
      Rani - May 23, 2018

      Hi Alley,

      We are planning a visit to the GC area on June 7th for 6 days. We are deciding between Monument Valley and Bryce Canyon as we may have time to only do one. Which one would you recommend? Also sent you our itinerary in an earlier post. Thanks.

      Reply
        Alley Keosheyan - May 23, 2018

        Hi Rani,
        See my reply to your earlier post — apologies it took me so long to get back to you, have been ill of late.
        Alley 🙂

        Reply
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