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

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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!

284 Comments

  1. Chad Meyer says:

    Hi Alley,

    I’m so excited to share with you my family trip plans and to get your ever-so-knowledgeable review on it as it would be most helpful and greatly appreciated.

    First of all, we plan to do this in April as this is when we get the most time off of work in the year apart from December. Secondly, you’ll note I’ve already taken into account your previous recommendations for times of certain tours.

    The itinerary goes as such:

    Day 1 – Santa Monica to Havasu Springs, Arizona – 1 Night stay
    Drive: 4hrs35min – 290 miles from last destination
    Stay: Havasu Springs Resort
    Highlights: Joshua Tree N.P.
    Sandal Trail – Navajo National Monument
    Hoover Dam Lookout
    London Bridge Visit
    Seligman (Route 66) Visit
    Tusayan for Imax film
    Mr D’s Diner

    Day 2 & 3 – Havasu Springs, Arizona to Grand Canyon Village – 2 Nights stay
    Drive: 3hrs50min – 248 miles from last destination
    Stay: 7 Mile Lodge
    Highlights: Grand Canyon N.P.
    Little Colorado River Outlook
    Breakfast at Historic Cameron Trading Post
    Havasu Falls
    Moenkopi Dinosaur Track
    Navajo National Monument hike to cliff dwellings
    Lunch at Kayenta

    Day 4 – Grand Canyon Village to Monument Valley, Arizona – 1 Night stay
    Drive: 3hrs16min – 182 miles from last destination
    Stay: Goulding’s Lodge
    Highlights: Monument Valley N.P. (Afternoon)
    Arches N.P. (Morning)

    Day 5 & 6 – Monument Valley to Page, Arizona – 2 Nights stay
    Drive: 2hrs15min – 131 miles from last destination
    Stay: Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas
    Highlights: Horseshoe Bend (Early Morning)
    Antelope Canyon Tour (Lower Canyon)
    Lake Powell and Rainbow Bridge Tour (Morning)

    Day 7 & 8 – Page to Bryce Canyon, UT – 2 Nights stay
    Drive: 2hrs 37min – 149 miles
    Stay: Air B&B – Panguitch and Duck Creek Village
    Highlights: Zion N.P. – Angel’s Landing (Morning)
    Bryce Canyon N.P. (River Rafting)

    Day 9 – Bryce Canyon to Vegas, NV – 1 Night stay
    Drive: 4hrs 11min – 262miles
    Stay: Air B&B / hotel
    Highlights: Vegas Strip
    Show

    Day 10 – Vegas to Santa Monica, CA
    Drive: 4hrs 33min – 285miles

    I have four burning questions to ask. Firstly, who would you recommend for the river rafting tour and is this even the right time of year for it? Secondly, which parks do we need a guided tour with us and where would you recommend we do this? Thirdly, I will be taking my camera with me to document this trip and to take photos, however, I see that I need a permit for certain places like Antelope Canyon and Monument Valley. Do I need it for anywhere else and where do I acquire this? Lastly, my brother has a US National Parks card but now we are in Navajo Parks territory so which parks will we need to purchase other permits for?

    I eagerly anticipate your reply.

    Chad from South Africa.

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Chad, and thank you for visiting our site.
      You’ve obviously spent a great deal of time planning your trip out, which is why it pains me to say that it’s in need of a serious reality check. It seems to me you haven’t looked at a map and gotten a sense of where things are really located, so some highlights of certain days need to be shifted either forward or back, or eliminated altogether. Havasu Falls, for example (which you’ve indicated wanting to see on day 2 and 3) — it’s not going to happen, friend. This is a very remote area, only accessible on foot, and permits for lodging and camping are booked out months in advance. You also need at least 3 days to do the area justice (you are required to commit to at least that many days to get a camping permit anyway). For more information, visit http://www.HavasupaiReservations.com and think about saving this very special place for a future visit.
      So let’s get down to it: first of all, when you state you’ll be going to “Havasu Springs,” I think you’re actually referring to “Lake Havasu City,” unless you’re referring to the Havasu Springs Resort, which is located in Parker, AZ, a suburb of Lake Havasu City. In any case, your drive time estimate is slightly off. According to Google Maps, it’s more like a 5-hour drive, and that’s wheels turning, no stops. That rarely happens since the drive does have some scenic, cultural, and historic highlights that have already piqued your interest, so you should pad drive times by anywhere from 20-30% just to be on the safe side.
      You’ve also got the sequence of a few trip highlights mixed up on different days. On Day 1, for example, your travels will take you by Joshua Tree National Park, which is worth a stop, but other attractions, such as Seligman, and Tusayan, are closer to Grand Canyon Village, and Navajo National Monument is located between Grand Canyon Village and Monument Valley. Getting back to your first day’s plan, at 90 minutes minimum (one way) from Parker, AZ, Mr. D’s Diner in Kingman, AZ, is too far out of the way to be realistic. Ditto for Hoover Dam, which is another 90 minutes minumum (again, one way) from Kingman, AZ. If you’re prepared to get a very early start out of Santa Monica, CA, and are open to re-arranging your itinerary a bit, you could do something like this:
      Day 1: Drive from Santa Monica, CA, to Hoover Dam (~6.5 hour drive with brief stop near Mojave National Preserve)
      Continue on to Mr. D’s Diner in Kingman for late lunch/early dinner (90 minute drive from Hoover Dam)
      Drive to Havasu Springs Resort to stay overnight (90 minutes-2 hours from Hoover Dam)

      Still, man, you’re looking at a LOT of driving, anywhere from 8-9 hours, at a time of year when you only have about 12.5 hours of daylight to work with. Personally, I’d recommend taking Hoover Dam and Mr. D’s off the table and just concentrate on getting to Havasu Springs, with a stopover at Joshua Tree. That will make for a shorter drive at a more relaxed pace.
      On the drive to Grand Canyon Village for day 2 and 3 of your trip, here’s where you’d want to hit Seligman, AZ, then see the IMAX movie in Tusayan, AZ. Regarding Havasu Falls?

      The Little Colorado River Outlook, Historic Cameron Trading Post, Moenkopi Dinosaur Track, Navajo National Monument and the Navajo Code Talkers’ Exhibit would be the agenda for Day 4, when you drive from Grand Canyon Village to Monument Valley. That’s really cool that you got reservations at Goulding’s Lodge!

      Unfortunately, Arches National Park needs to come off the agenda, too. For one thing, it’s a 3-hour drive, one way, bare minimum, from Goulding’s Lodge to Moab, UT, the gateway community for both Arches and Canyonlands. This is another area that requires at least 4-5 days to explore fully. That’s time that you just don’t have. Sorry 🙁
      Monument Valley is an area where you should plan on doing a guided tour. There are a variety to choose from, including jeep tours, horseback riding, guided hikes, and photography tours. For more information, visit the Navajo Tribal Park authority’s website, where you can find a complete list of authorized Monument Valley tour companies. Regarding photography permits, unless you plan on selling your photos or using them to promote a product or generate some sort of profit for yourself, your tour price typically includes the right to take as many photos as you want. Your tour ticket will also include your Navajo Tribal Park entrance fee, so be sure to keep your receipt as you should be able to apply it to your Antelope Canyon tour ticket, too.
      In Page, AZ, the Rainbow Bridge Boat Tour departs at 7:30 AM and can last anywhere from 6-8 hours depending on the level of Lake Powell. In any case, be prepared to take a 2-3 mile round-trip hike to see Rainbow Bridge, and not to plan any other activities for that day. Even though the weather in April is typically pleasant, being out on the water and in the sun for that length of time can zap your strength if you’re not used to boating, so, all you’re likely to want to do afterward is grab a good dinner and maybe a cocktail and go to bed. Fortunately, the Lake Powell Resort complex has all that on site. Horseshoe Bend is best visited just after sunrise, which you’re apparently already planning to do, which is good. Be sure to book your Antelope Canyon tour in advance, which you’ll be able to do in November-December of this year, when the tour companies open up seat inventory for 2020.
      On Day 7 & 8 where you indicate you’d do “river rafting in Bryce Canyon N.P.,” here again, that’s not quite right. There are no river rafting trips offered in Bryce Canyon National Park itself. There are some offered in nearby Marysvale, UT, on the Sevier River, but they don’t start running until Memorial Day. Limited rafting opportunities have been available on the Virgin River near Zion National Park in the past, but recent low water levels have rendered that portion of the river “unraftable” of late. Of course, things could change by the time you arrive, but obviously it’s too soon to call. If you are wanting to include river rafting in your trip, a more reliable option would be the Glen Canyon Half Day Float Trip out of Page, AZ. It does not go through any rapids, but it does include a lot of beautiful scenery and compelling history. The downside is you’d probably have to give up the Rainbow Bridge Boat Tour in order to accommodate it in your schedule. I know it’s a hard choice!
      So… now to answer your “burning questions:”
      1. See the above paragraph for advice re: river rafting
      2. Antelope Canyon definitely requires a guided tour; for Monument Valley, it’s strongly recommended, but not 100% required
      3. See the advice on Monument Valley for information on commercial photography permits (which I don’t think you’ll need)
      4. You acquire your Navajo park permit when you purchase a guided tour in any Navajo Nation Tribal park
      5. Your brother’s National Park Pass will cover you for all National Parks, Monuments, and U.S. Federal Fee areas on your trip
      Oh, time permitting on the drive from Bryce to Vegas, try and make the easy detour to the stunning Valley of Fire State Park. It’s a beautiful area that you won’t regret making the time for!

      I know that’s a lot to digest, and I get that you’re coming from a long way away and that this trip might be a once in a lifetime opportunity. Still, we want you to remember it as a vacation and not a constant race against the clock to get to your next destination.
      Feel free to contact us again if we can be of further assistance,
      Alley 🙂

      • Chad Meyer says:

        Hi Alley,

        It seems that my idea of where some of these places was a bit far off so having said that the first day we will travel from Santa Monica to Havasu Springs resort, AZ and will pass via the Joshua Tree N.P.

        I think it’s best to drop Seligman and reserve more time for hiking in the Grand Canyon.

        I will definitely follow the idea for the itinerary before arriving at Monument Valley.

        I will sadly remove Arches N.P. as per your advice.

        Everything else is noted and greatly appreciated. I actually forgot to ask you about the Valley of Fire so that’s a plus.

        You are a star. Thanks for all your help.

        • Alley Keosheyan says:

          Hey again, Chad,
          Glad our suggestions helped. Hard as it may be, I think it’s a good call to remove Arches/Canyonlands from the itinerary. Not that the Moab, UT, area isn’t beautiful — it is, amazingly so — but you just don’t have enough time to explore and enjoy it fully. If there’s any chance you can make a return trip to the American Southwest in the future, check out how you can include Arches, Canyonlands, and so much more on this 14-Day Grand Circle Itinerary on our companion site, HorseshoeBend.com.
          Take care, have fun, and let us know how you get on!
          Alley 🙂

  2. Magrid Wichers says:

    I will be traveling to all of the location’s mentioned on a 11 day tour. Can you please forward article so I can print?
    Thanks

  3. Judy Brislin says:

    My sister and I are considering a trip in February 2020, possibly Feb 15-22. We could fly into Phoenix or Las Vegas, just not sure about the weather conditions that time of year. We would like to see Grand Canyon, and we are not necessarily hikers, altho we did average about ten miles/day last February walking around all the Disney and Universal parks in Orlando for a week!! As far as nature hiking, we are inexperienced and in our mid-60’s. We enjoy taking scenic photos, and we are open to jeep tours, etc. Is this a place we might enjoy for a February trip? I was somewhat thinking of flying into Phoenix, and staying in Sedona as our base and just doing day trips perhaps??

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Judy,
      To coin a phrase, there’s good news and bad news here: the good news is that you don’t have to be a hard-core hiker to have a fabulous time in Northern Arizona! The bad news is that in February, your plans might be kaboshed by winter weather, up to and including snow. But then again, the scenery is even more beautiful with a coat of “white frosting,” and the area tends to be less crowded, so there’s an upside there, too!~
      That said, I wouldn’t recommend using Sedona as a “base camp” from which to explore the various attractions in the area. For one, it’s a 2.5-3 hour drive, each way, from Sedona to the Grand Canyon, and also to Page, AZ, home of Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. Another thing working against you at the time of year you’re visiting is daylength: it’s short. Sunrise occurs at around 7:15 AM and sunset takes place shortly after 6:00 PM. You want to be sure that any driving is done during daylight hours in this part of the U.S. due to lack of lighting on local roadways (a deliberate move to preserve the natural darkness of the night sky), and the possible presence of deer, elk, free range cattle, and other nocturnal wildlife. The last part of the drive to Sedona through Oak Creek Canyon is very twisty, which can be crazy-scary at night — trust me, I’ve done that drive myself at night and won’t do it again!
      A better plan would be to stay overnight near the attractions you wish to visit for optimal safety and comfort. With your timeframe, you could do something like this:
      February 15 – fly into Phoenix, overnight in Phoenix
      February 16 – drive to Page, AZ (~5-6 hour drive factoring in stops), lunch in Flagstaff, AZ, tour Antelope Canyon, overnight in Page, AZ
      February 17 – drive to Grand Canyon South Rim, stop at Horseshoe Bend on way out of town, breakfast/brunch at Cameron Trading Post, enter the park at Desert View Point, visit Desert View Watchtower, stop at other Grand Canyon viewpoints as desired, overnight at Grand Canyon
      February 18 – 2nd day at Grand Canyon: if hiking is not practical due to snow on trails, don’t worry, there’s plenty to see and do! Possible activities include driving the scenic Hermit’s Rest/West Rim Drive of the park, which is open to private vehicles during the winter months. Ranger programs are also occurring on a limited basis. Overnight at Grand Canyon
      February 19 – drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Sedona (~3 hours), if desired, visit the National Geographic Visitors Center in Tusayan and see the IMAX movie “Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets” or take a scenic airplane or helicopter flight over the canyon, overnight in Sedona
      February 20 – 2nd day in Sedona, take Pink Jeep Broken Arrow Tour, visit Chapel of the Holy Cross, Tlaquepaque, Airport Mesa, other easy but scenic hikes, etc., overnight in Sedona
      February 21 – 3rd day in Sedona – possible spa day? Overnight in Sedona
      February 22 – drive back to Phoenix (~2.5 hours), fly home

      Of course, you can flip-flop this itinerary if you prefer to get your R&R on at the beginning of your trip instead of the end.
      Hope that helps! Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  4. […] The Grand Canyon And Beyond: The Ultimate 7-Day Itinerary In Northern Arizona & Southern Utah | Antelope Canyon […]

    • Anupama G says:

      Hi Alley,

      We are planning a trip to Grand Canyon for 10 – 11 days starting on November 1, 2019 in Las Vegas.

      We are planning to rent a “Compact RV” from CruiseAmerica.com

      Can you please suggest an itinerary + various campground facilities? We need to itinerary for the visit in an RV.

      We are professional photographers and never seen Grand Canyon before.

      Thank you

      Anu

      • Alley Keosheyan says:

        Hi Anu and thank you for visiting our site!
        You’ll have no shortage of beautiful areas to photograph on your trip, and you’ll be glad you had 10-11 days to work with.
        As to which order you visit various sites, it will depend largely on availability at developed RV parks (you’ll want access to electricity and reliable heat at the time of year you’re traveling). Here’s what I’d recommend:
        Day 1: Drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim, with stop at Hoover Dam if you wish. Drive time: ~6 hours, factoring in stops. Overnight at Trailer Village or Grand Canyon Camper Village.
        Day 2: Use free shuttles to explore Grand Canyon Village and Hermit’s Rest Scenic Drive, 2nd night at Grand Canyon.
        Day 3: Drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ, 3.5-4 hour drive factoring in stops along the Desert View/East Rim Drive, Cameron Trading Post (good meal stop), Chinle formation views, Horseshoe Bend. Tour Antelope Canyon that afternoon. Overnight at Wahweap RV Park or Page/Lake Powell Campground
        Day 4: Drive from Page, AZ, to Moab, UT via Monument Valley and Goosenecks of the San Juan State Park. Drive time: ~6 hours (again, factoring in stops, meals, etc.), overnight in Moab, UT. There is a wide selection of commercial campground in this area, so you’ll need to do a little research to determine which one fits your needs best. Moab, UT, Commercial Campgrounds
        Day 5: Explore Arches National Park, 2nd night in Moab
        Day 6: Explore Canyonlands National Park, 3rd night in Moab
        Day 7: Drive from Moab, UT, to Capitol Reef National Park, drive time: ~3 hours, overnight in Torrey, UT. Here again, several commercial RV parks to pick from, visit the link provided for further details on what’s avaialable
        Day 8: Drive from Torrey, UT, to Bryce Canyon, overnight in Bryce area (outside park)
        Day 9: Drive from Bryce to Zion (~2.5 hours), overnight in Springdale, Utah
        Day 10: Explore Zion National Park using free shuttles from Springdale, do some easy but scenic hiking, 2nd night in Zion
        Day 11: Drive back to Las Vegas (~4.5 hour drive due to construction taking place on I-15 in the Virgin River Gorge area)

        If you find that availability at RV parks is more conducive to visiting Zion first, you can flip-flop this itinerary, saving the Grand Canyon for last.
        Remember that at the time of year you’re visiting, it’s starting to get cold, so pack a jacket and some gloves, especially for exploring Bryce Canyon, since it’s 8,000′ above sea level. Also, remember that your RV is not going to break any speed records, and the driving times I’ve proposed tend to hold true for passenger cars, so you might want to pad your estimates a little higher.
        Hope that helps! Good luck and safe travels,
        Alley 🙂

        • Wendy says:

          Alley,
          I love this route. Is it doable with hotel stays and a rental car? We are starting in Las Vegas on 11/2 and plan to stay our first 2 nights in Williams at the Grand Canyon Hotel and do the train ride. After that we plan to follow the itinerary but need hotel ideas.

          • Alley Keosheyan says:

            Hi Wendy!
            Yes, this is absolutely doable with hotel stays and a rental car.
            As for where to stay, obviously, the closer to the attraction, the better. Your biggest challenge at this point will probably be Monument Valley lodging. There’s not a whole lot to work with in this area to begin with, and I wouldn’t be surprised if everything in the immediate vicinity was sold out already. If you find that to be the case, you might still be able to work it in by either visiting as a day trip from Page, AZ — it’s a 2-hour drive each way, but with careful planning and an eye on the clock, it can be done in November (I know, I’ve done it). Just make sure you time your return drive so that you’re back in Page, AZ, by sundown. Driving at night is strongly discouraged in this part of the U.S. due to roads that are very dimly lit and the possible presence of deer, elk, free range cattle, and even wild horses. Another option would be to fly over Monument Valley from Page, AZ, in a fixed-wing airplane. Straight overflights run about 90 minutes; half-day air/ground tours are also available. For more information, visit Westwind Air Service.
            In Page, AZ, there are 40-50 hotels you can choose from in a wide variety of price points and amenity classes. Where to stay in Page, AZ
            For Bryce Canyon, there is only one lodge inside the park, which tends to be sold out all the time. Fortunately, there are a variety of hotels in several gateway communities outside the park, including Bryce Canyon City, Tropic, Hatch, Panguitch, and Kanab, UT. Bryce Canyon lodging
            Ditto for Zion, the sole in-park lodge is usually booked up a year ahead of time, so here again, you’ll need to look outside the park for lodging. Springdale, UT, is a popular choice because it’s on the Western border of the park, and has a good selection of chain and independent hotels. It’s also the hub of the Zion Canyon shuttle system. In the event that area is sold out, Kanab, UT, can be used as a “base camp” from which to explore Bryce and Zion. Same rule applies about nighttime driving and keeping an eye on the clock so you’re not doing the drive back to your hotel at night. Kanab, Utah Lodging
            Hope that helps. Good luck and safe travels!
            Alley 🙂

  5. Todd Brunjes says:

    Hi Alley,

    we are planning trip sometime in july or august 2020.

    Would like to add Sedona to your suggested plan …

    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

    what would you recommend? we can do up to 10 days

    also we would like to do some mountain biking -> where would you recommend

    Thank you

    Todd

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hey Todd!
      If you can lengthen your trip to 10-12 days, you could easily work Sedona into your itinerary. The best place to do that would be between Las Vegas and Grand Canyon South Rim. Allow 3 days for that area as it’s absolutely stunning and there’s lots to see and do in Sedona!
      So a revised trip plan, still using Las Vegas as your staging city, would go roughly like this:
      Day 1: Drive from Las Vegas to Sedona (~5 hour drive), stop at Hoover Dam if desired, overnight in Sedona
      Day 2: Full day in Sedona, suggested activities: sunrise hot air balloon ride, Pink Jeep Broken Arrow Tour, Chapel of the Holy Cross, sunset on Airport Mesa, 2nd night in Sedona
      Day 3: 3rd day in Sedona, possible activities: mountain biking, shopping at Tlaquepaque, wine tasting tour, day trip to Montezuma’s Castle/Well and/or Jerome, Verde Valley scenic railroad, 3rd night in Sedona
      Day 4: Sedona to Grand Canyon (~3 hour drive), overnight in Grand Canyon **you might also do some bike riding here with Bright Angel Bike Rental
      Day 5: Grand Canyon to Monument Valley (~4.5 hour drive factoring in stops), overnight in Monument Valley
      Day 6: Drive from Monument Valley to Page, AZ (~2 hour drive), tour Antelope Canyon, overnight in Page
      Day 7: 2nd day/night in Page, AZ – possible activities: Glen Canyon Half Day Float Trip, Rainbow Bridge Boat Tour, you might also do some electric mountain biking on the Page Rim View Trail
      Day 8: Page, AZ, to Bryce Canyon (~3 hours), overnight in Bryce Canyon area
      Day 9: Bryce Canyon to Zion/Springdale, UT (~2 hour drive), use Zion Park Shuttle to explore the park and take hikes as desired, overnight in Springdale, UT.
      Day 10: 2nd day/night in Zion
      Day 11: Drive back to Las Vegas (~4 hour drive due to possible construction on I-15 through Virgin River Gorge), fly home

      Even though you’re planning your trip well in advance — which we definitely commend you for! — it’s not too early to start making hotel reservations. Monument Valley will be the hardest place to find a room since there’s not much to work with in that area to begin with. If for some reason you can’t find lodging in the immediate vicinity of Monument Valley, you might consider adding a 3rd night to Page, AZ, and visiting as a day trip. It is a 2-hour drive each way, but with days being long at the time of year you’re visiting, you should be able to pull it off.
      Hope that helps. Good luck and safe travels!
      Alley 🙂

  6. Cassie says:

    Hi Alley,
    These itineraries are awesome. My husband and I will be traveling with our 2 boys (ages 11 and 15) in September and we have 1 week (Sat – Sat), flying into Phoenix and returning through Phoenix. We were hoping to drive through Sedona on Day 1 (we arrive early morning), spend the night in either Sedona or Flagstaff, then hit the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley/Antelope Canyon/Horseshoe Bend, and Zion for the rest of the week. Is this doable, or are we nuts? I realize we are at the mercy of whatever hotel accommodations are available at this point, but last minute is how we roll. 😉 We aren’t trying to cram too much in, but want to hit the best spots if we can! Thank you so much!

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Cassie,
      You are correct in that availability — or lack thereof — of hotels in the area will be the primary determining factor as to whether your itinerary will work, and what order you will visit the various attractions on your wish list. Another consideration is whether you prefer to get the longer drives of the trip out of the way first, or if you’d rather save them for last.
      With a week to work with, you should be able to hit most of the places you wish to see, but will probably need to trim back your expectations a bit. Also, when it comes to Sedona, you’re going to find that a quick overnight isn’t nearly long enough to do the place justice. You should try to free up at least another night, if not two. Believe me, lots of people stay out there for 4-5 days and still report feeling as though they’d only “scratched the surface!” So with all that in mind, here is what you could feasibly do:
      Day 1 – Fly to Phoenix, drive to Sedona (~2.5 hours), overnight in Sedona
      Day 2 – 2nd day in Sedona, possible activities: sunrise hot air balloon ride, Pink Jeep Broken Arrow Tour, some easy but scenic hiking Things To Do In Sedona
      Day 3 – Drive from Sedona to the Grand Canyon (~3 hours), take shuttles around GC Village and to overlooks on the Hermit’s Rest/West Rim Drive, overnight at Grand Canyon
      Day 4 – Drive from Grand Canyon to Page, AZ, stopping at Grand Canyon overlooks along East Rim/Desert View Drive, lunch at Cameron Trading Post, visit Horseshoe Bend (parking permitting); drive time ~3.5-4 hours factoring in stops, tour Antelope Canyon that afternoon, overnight in Page, AZ
      Day 5 – Visit Horseshoe Bend that morning if you were unable to do so that afternoon. Options for this day: day trip to Monument Valley (2-hour drive each way), Glen Canyon Half Day Float Trip, Rainbow Bridge Boat Tour, drive to Kanab (~90 minutes) to spend the night.
      Day 6 – Drive to Springdale, UT (~1 hour from Kanab), catch Zion Park Shuttle to explore the park (lots of good easy hikes in that area), spend 2nd night in Kanab, UT.
      Day 7 – Drive back to Phoenix (~6 hours from Kanab), fly home

      The reason I suggest doing a day trip to Monument Valley on Day 5 is because at this point, you’re highly unlikely to find rooms available there (there’s not much to work with there). If the prospect of doing all that driving doesn’t appeal, you might consider taking a scenic flight over it from the Page, AZ, Municipal Airport. Fixed wing airplanes depart daily (weather permitting) and mornings are typically the best time to fly for light and lack of wind. Monument Valley Air Tours
      Zion is another area where you’ll probably come away feeling as though you didn’t have enough time. Frankly, Zion is more convenient to visit using Las Vegas as a staging city, so, push comes to shove, you might save this park for another time when you can give it the time it deserves, and visit Bryce, Capitol Reef, Arches and Canyonlands, aka “Utah’s Mighty 5!”
      Hope that helps! Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  7. Tracy says:

    Hi Alley,
    This is so helpful! Thanks so much!!! My family (myself, my husband and 2 daughters, ages 11 & 12) are planning a trip for late March 2020. Anything you would add or do differently if traveling with kids? What about the Petrified Forest, any good way to add that in? Thank you, Thank you!

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hey Tracy, thank you for your compliments. Glad you like the itinerary!
      Traveling with kids your daughters’ age, you should be able to do most activities suggested, but adjustments for weather are definitely warranted.
      In Northern Arizona/Southern Utah, March falls into that transitional period between winter and spring, so, depending on the whims of Mother Nature, it could be snowing, especially at higher elevation parks such as the Grand Canyon (7,000′ ASL) or Bryce (8,000′ ASL). Best case scenario, it will be cold in the higher elevation areas, but pleasantly cool down lower, such as Page, AZ (4,500′ ASL) and Zion, which is at about the same elevation. Nevertheless, you’ll need to keep a close eye on the weather, and start monitoring it in the various locations you want to visit about 2 weeks before you get set to travel.
      If you wish to add Petrified Forest/Painted Desert to your itinerary — and March is a great time to do it! — I would suggest flying into Phoenix instead of Las Vegas. That would situate you perfectly to add Sedona to your itinerary, which is amazing! A nice one-week itinerary using Phoenix as a staging city could go something like this:
      Day 1 – Fly into Phoenix, drive to Sedona (~2 hour drive), overnight in Sedona
      Day 2 – Do Pink Jeep Broken Arrow Tour (weather permitting), 2nd night in Sedona
      Day 3 – Drive to Petrified Forest/Painted Desert National Park (~3 hour drive), also visit Meteor Crater if desired, overnight in Holbrook, AZ, or Winslow, AZ
      Day 4 – Drive to Page, AZ (~4 hour drive), have lunch at Cameron Trading Post, visit Horseshoe Bend on way into town (parking permitting), overnight in Page, AZ
      Day 5 – Visit Horseshoe Bend just after sunrise if you couldn’t get there the day before; tour Antelope Canyon, perhaps take a short boat tour on Lake Powell, spend 2nd night in Page.
      Day 6 – Drive from Page, AZ, to Grand Canyon South Rim (~3.5 hour drive factoring in stops), overnight at Grand Canyon South Rim
      Day 7 – Drive to Phoenix (~5 hour drive), fly home

      Naturally, that itinerary can be flip-flopped depending on availability of Grand Canyon lodging and/or Antelope Canyon tours, of if you prefer to get the longer drives of the trip out of the way first. If you prefer to experience Bryce and Zion, you’d be better off flying into/out of Las Vegas. Dropping Monument Valley would be the best way to accommodate the Painted Desert if you went that route.

      Hope that helps! Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  8. Timm Mackley says:

    We followed this itinerary almost to the letter in July, 2019.
    It was perfect! We were grateful for every one of the suggestions made here.

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hey Timm,
      Thank you so much for taking the time to report back on our itinerary! Glad it worked out well for you and your family. We hope you get a chance to come back to the area, and maybe try out our 14 Days In The Grand Circle trip plan.
      Take care and have a wonderful rest of your summer, fall, and Holiday Season,
      Alley 🙂

  9. Sharon says:

    Hi, wow so much information that helps make sense into how to plan each day. We are planning on arriving I Vegas on October 8th and would like to travel starting in Zion from October 10th for 7 days. I saw your plan starts from GC, would that be preferable?
    My very rough plan:
    10/10 Vegas – Zion
    10/11 Zion
    10/12 Bryce
    10/13 Bryce-Paige
    10/14 lake powell
    10/15 lower antelope and shoe bend driving to south rim GC (can we fit something in GC here?)
    10/16 GC and drive back to Vegas with Hoover dam on the way. (Is it too much?).
    Is mid October recommended? Less crowded? or is the weather too unexpected?
    I am concerned that things are too tight. Should we try and fit in another day and where? Or else how would you plan out the days if we plan on leaving Vegas to NY in the night of October 17th? Are there specific activities that we should not plan on (like a boat tour in lake Powell) or will that still be happening at that time?

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Sharon,
      Mid-October is a great time to be here, my favorite, in fact, so good decision there! Weather is usually pleasant and quite stable.. note, “usually.” It can actually vary widely from place to place, due to the difference in altitudes. Las Vegas, for example, is only 2000′ above sea level. Grand Canyon South Rim is ~7,000′, Page and Zion are between 4,500′-5,000′, and Bryce goes all the way up to 8,000.’ While snow is unlikely at that time of year, you might encounter an occasional rainstorm, and you’ll definitely want to pack at least a light jacket for cold nights. Of course, it’s too soon to tell how the weather will actually be right now, but start monitoring the weather about 2 weeks before you get set to travel. Check it in all places you plan to visit. That will give you the best idea of how to pack.
      As for whether you start your trip in Grand Canyon or Zion will depend largely on lodging availability in either place. If availability in Zion (Springdale, UT, or Kanab, UT) is more conducive to beginning your trip there, then by all means, do so! And if you can free up an extra day, you won’t have any trouble finding things to see and do. I’d recommend giving it to Zion or the Grand Canyon if you’re able to swing it.
      Since Springdale, UT, is the central departure point for the Zion Canyon Shuttle System, that is where you should try to obtain lodging for the Zion portion of your trip. If that area is booked up, then Kanab, UT, is your next best option. In fact, you could even use Kanab, UT, as a “base camp” from which to explore both Zion and Bryce. It takes ~1 hour to drive from Kanab to Springdale, then ~90 minutes to drive from Kanab to Bryce (figures are one-way). Devote at least 2 days to Zion, and 1 to Bryce.
      The drive from Kanab, UT, to Page, AZ, takes ~1 hour. The two towns are on different time zones, so keep that in the back of your mind. Utah is 1 hour ahead of Arizona, so you’ll “gain” an hour traveling from Kanab to Page, or “lose” it if you were to travel from Arizona to Utah. On your Bryce-Page transition day, you could tour Antelope Canyon the afternoon of your arrival, save that 2nd full day for a water-based activity such as the Rainbow Bridge Boat Tour or the Glen Canyon Half Day Float Trip, then hit Horseshoe Bend just after sunrise on the way down to the Grand Canyon. As for “fitting something at GC in” on the day you travel from Page to GC, the drive will naturally take you along the scenic East Rim/Desert View Drive of Grand Canyon National Park. There are over half-a-dozen named viewpoints of the Grand Canyon along this route, all with different perspectives and features to marvel at! Prior to arriving at the Grand Canyon, you’ll be on Navajo land, which also has many beautiful features that will no doubt pique your curiosity. The Cameron Trading Post makes a good breakfast/brunch stop. The Navajo tacos there are legendary!
      Whatever you decide, a couple things to keep in mind:
      1. There is a major construction project taking place on a stretch of I-15 through the Virgin River Gorge. This will affect your drive time between Las Vegas and Zion, typically tacking on an extra 30-60 minutes.
      2. Everything — lodging, tours, reservations at fancier restaurants, etc. — should be booked in advance. Do not leave anything to chance!
      3. You should plan on buying an “America The Beautiful Federal Lands Access Pass.” For $80, this card grants you access to all the National Parks, Monuments, and Federal Fee Areas in the U.S. for 1 year’s time. The only areas it won’t work are State Parks (such as Valley of Fire, a short but stunning detour you should try to make on the drive from Las Vegas to Zion!), and Native American Tribal Parks (Antelope Canyon is one of these), but it will still pay for itself on the trip you’re planning to take. Just pick it up at the first National Park you visit on your tour.
      Hope that helps. Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      • Sharon says:

        Alley
        Thank you so much, we have not yet booked our tickets flying in to Vegas so things may still move around. We may loose a day on the parks route so will have to figure things around.
        If we book our flight out of Vegas on a red eye to NYC (11:45 pm) do you think on the last day we can start in GC travel a bit there and on the way and take the drive back to Vegas straight to the airport? Will that be too risky if we need to be there by 9pm?
        Thanks

        • Alley Keosheyan says:

          Hey Sharon!
          The drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Las Vegas typically takes ~5 hours with minimal stops, so with an early enough start out of GC, you should be able to make it back to Las Vegas by 9:00 PM without much difficulty. If you wish, you might take the opportunity to visit Seligman, AZ, a Route 66 mainstay, and Hoover Dam, along the way.
          Have a wonderful time!
          Alley 🙂

  10. David M says:

    Hi Alley
    Looking for some help in planning a trip from Las Vegas, touring most of the above places and then to depart from Phoenix. We arrive in Las Vegas on Friday Sep 20th at 12.45 PM. We leave from Phoenix on Saturday Sep 28th at 9.55 AM. We plan to rent a car in Vegas and drop it off in Phoenix. We would like to see Zion, Grand Canyon and Sedona. Rest everything is add on.

    If we have time we do not mind staying on the evening of arrival on Friday in Vegas and start the trip in the morning on Saturday Sep 21 or we can start afternoon Sep 20th. We have not booked anything so far. I am hoping I can start booking them today once I get some in put from you.

    Sep 20- ? Stay overnight in Vegas and leave on Sep 21st or Leave at 3 PM after getting the car towards Zion and stay in Zion?
    Sep 21- Explore Zion – Stay overnight
    Sep 22- Explore Zion and drive in the afternoon to Bryce, stay in Bryce. Or stay in Zion overnight?
    Sep 23- Either drive to Bryce in the am or spend the day in Bryce [after having stayed the night before] and drive to Page in the evening, stay in Page?
    Sep 24- Page and surrounding, stay in Page.
    Sep 25- Drive to GC. Stay in GC.
    Sep 26- Drive to Sedona, stay in Sedona.
    Sep 27- Stay Sedona. Drive to Phoenix in the evening or early morning Sep 28 to catch the flight at 9.55?
    Sep 28- Leave from Phoenix at 9.55 AM.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi David,
      So sorry for the delay in response to your inquiry.
      Your plan looks pretty fun, whether or not it materializes the way you envision it will depend largely on availability of lodging – or lack thereof, maybe – in the various locations you wish to visit.
      On your arrival day in Las Vegas, you might simply plan on spending the night there, especially if you’re traveling from the East Coast or overseas. You’re bound to be pretty whooped by the time you get to Vegas, and the logistics of collecting your luggage and sorting out your rental car is bound to take ~2 hours. You might feel a bit better making that drive when you’ve had a good night’s rest. The drive time from Las Vegas to Springdale, UT, where you have to go to catch the Zion Park Shuttle, normally takes ~3 hours, but these days, it’s taking 4-4.5 hours due to a long-term construction project taking place on a stretch of I-15 through the Virgin River Gorge (another compelling reason not to make that drive during the afternoon rush hour!). Get as early a start as possible on the trip; sunrise occurs about 6:30 AM. If possible, try to book your lodging in Springdale, UT, for convenience. If nothing is available in that area, try Kanab, UT, on the Eastern border of the park. In fact, you can use that area as a “base camp” for exploring Bryce Canyon, too, if lodging in the immediate area is sold out. The drive from Kanab to Springdale is ~1 hour; Kanab to Bryce is ~90 minutes, then Kanab to Page, AZ, is ~1 hour.

      The main thing you want to avoid once you get out of Las Vegas and into Southern Utah and Northern Arizona is driving at night. Roads in this part of the U.S. are very dimly lit, which is a deliberate move to preserve the natural quality of the night sky. Another possible hazard is deer, elk, free range cattle, and even wild horses have a tendency to come out at night and graze on the shoulder, which ratchets up the chance of your having an accident. That can definitely put a damper on your vacation in an area where cell service is spotty (or non-existent) and a tow truck will be a long time coming, not to mention very expensive. So where you say “drive to Page, AZ, in the evening,” I wouldn’t do that if I were you. You want to be sure you’re at your final destination for each day, well before sunset, which in Page, AZ, occurs at ~6:15 PM; in Utah, that’s 7:15 PM since they are 1 hour ahead of Arizona.
      In Page, AZ, Antelope Canyon tours are one of the most popular activities. Be sure you make reservations for these ASAP, along with all lodging on the various legs of your trip. Plan on hitting Horseshoe Bend on your way out of town just after sunrise. That’s the best time to be there for cooler temperatures and thinner crowds!
      A word of warning about Sedona: it’s amazing. OK, that’s not really a “warning,” but a word of caution: one night’s stay will leave you wishing you had more time. People spend 4-5 days there and report feeling as though they’d only “scratched the surface,” so don’t be surprised if you find yourself planning a return trip, which isn’t such a bad thing 😉
      Since your flight is at 10:00 AM, and you’ll probably need to check in at least 1 hour prior to departure, I’d recommend spending the night prior in Phoenix. The drive from Sedona, AZ, only takes ~2 hours, but then you hit Phoenix at rush hour, which may delay you at the worst possible time.
      Hope that helps! Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      • David says:

        I have revised my trip based on some of the suggestions. Please advise if this will work.

        [Fri] Sep 20: Arrive at Las Vegas at 1 PM. Collect rental car by 3 PM. If time permits drive to Hoover dam and then stay in Vegas or just simply stay in Vegas for the night based on when I get the rental car.

        [Sat] Sep 21: Drive to Springdale UT. Start around 7 and reach Springdale by 12 PM [TIme change]. Perhaps try the Narrows in the afternoon. Rest in the evening in Springdale.

        [Sun] Sep 22: “Angel Landing”, start at 6ish. Hopefully return by 1 PM. Then drive to Bryce. Drive time 3 hours. Arrive between 4-5 PM. Stay in Bryce.

        [Mon] Sep 23: Morning sunrise and spend time in Bryce, then drive to Page at around 2-3 PM. Stay in Page. Drive time 4 Hours.

        [Tue] Sep 24: Drive to Monument valley, return and stay in Page. [No hotels in MV]. 3 Hours each way.

        [Wed] Sep 25: Leave page at 7 AM to Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Canyon. Then drive to Grand Canyon. Stay in Tusayan. Drive time 3 Hrs.

        [Thu] Sep 26: Explore Grand Canyon. Then drive to Sedona for the night. Drive time 3 Hrs.

        [Fri] Sep 27: Explore Sedona – and leave to Phoenix at 5-6 PM. Stay in Phoenix. Drive time 2-3 hours.

        [Sat] Sep 28: Return rental and arrive at airport at 8 AM, flight leaves at 9.55AM.

        • Alley Keosheyan says:

          Hi again, David,
          That looks like a great trip, and it’s good that you’re “overestimating” drive times. Just about every mile of blacktop out here is very scenic, and you rarely get from point A to point B without stopping to take a picture!
          The Narrows in Zion might be a little too ambitious by the time you arrive in Zion. If for some reason water flows are over 150 CFS, Park Service will close the area off, but there is no shortage of beautiful and relatively easy hikes you can do in Zion. Ditto if you determine that Angel’s Landing is too much, or the heights get to you.
          Not surprised to find that there are no rooms available in Monument Valley. You might check back for cancellations periodically, or, if the prospect of driving 5-6 hours in one day doesn’t appeal as time gets closer, another option you might consider is to fly over it. Fixed wing airplanes depart from the Page Municipal Airport daily. Overflights of Monument Valley typically last ~90 minutes, or you can choose a 1/2-day air/ground tour. Mornings are generally the best time to fly for best light and lack of wind. For more information, visit Westwind Air Service Page, AZ.
          One thing I just wanted to clarify when you say “drive to Antelope Canyon,” Antelope Canyon is located on Navajo Indian Tribal Lands and therefore requires a tour to visit, which must be reserved in advance. How to book a tour for Antelope Canyon
          Have fun!
          Alley 🙂

  11. Anvi Shah says:

    Hi Alley! Loved your website. Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a detailed itinerary.. It has been very helpful.

    We are a group of 3 adults travelling this Sept. We land in Vegas on 21st morning, rent a car and head to GC south rim.

    Below is the brief outline itinerary. Not sure if its doable. Please could you have a look and let me know.
    Its our 1st time in the US and I really wanted to spend sometime in the Canyons, but never have enough time to do everything!!!

    Day 1 – hoover dam & GC south rim, stay the night there
    Day 2 – monument valley, antelope Canyon & horseshoe bend, stay the night at Page
    Day 3 – glen Canyon – rafting & late evening Bryce Canyon, Stay the night at Bryce
    Day 4 – bryce Canyon – ATV ride, explore some sites on our way back to Vegas. Reach Vegas by late evening.
    Day 5 & 6 – 2 days and 1 night in Vegas, fly out to San jose on 26th night.

    Unfortunately, our flights into and out of Vegas are booked so don’t t want to change that.
    Will appreciate it if you could let me know your thoughts.
    Many thanks.
    Anvi

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Anvi, thank you for visiting us!
      Your itinerary looks OK, still warrants a couple small reality checks and one big one. More on the latter in a minute.
      On Day 2, you are looking at a long drive: ~4-5 hours from Grand Canyon South Rim to Monument Valley, factoring in stops, and another 2 hours to Page, AZ. If you have your heart set on touring Antelope Canyon that afternoon, you’ll need to either a. get a very early start out of the Grand Canyon to Monument Valley, or b. drop Monument Valley from the itinerary. Not that it isn’t lovely – believe me, it is! It’s just a long way to get there and you have limited time as it is. Another thing you’re up against at the time of year you’re visiting is daylength that is rapidly shortening. Sunrise occurs at ~6:15 AM, sunset at around 6:30 PM. You want to avoid doing any driving in the dark in this part of the U.S. due to the lack of artificial lighting on local roads, and the possibility of encountering large animals such as deer, elk, free range cattle, and even wild horses. That can be quite a disconcerting experience in an area where cell service is spotty and a tow truck might be long in coming, not to mention very expensive!
      If you prefer not to drop Monument Valley, you might be better off doing all your Page, AZ, activities on Day 3 as follows:
      – Just after sunrise: visit Horseshoe Bend
      – Sometime that morning: tour Antelope Canyon
      – 12:00 PM – Check in for the 1:00 PM Glen Canyon Float Trip
      – Spend a 2nd night in Page, AZ
      On Day 4, drive to Bryce, explore and stay the night in that area (if nothing is available, check out Kanab, UT)
      Day 5, head back to Las Vegas via Zion National Park. This is where the “big” reality check comes in: you haven’t built any time at all in your itinerary for Zion, which is a real shame. It’s a beautiful park with a lot to see and do. It really deserves at least 3-4 days time to do it justice, but unfortunately, you don’t have that kind of time. 1 night, maybe 2 would be all you could squeeze in, and here again, this could be accomplished by dropping Monument Valley. However, there still might be a way you can work it in… more on that in a minute 😉
      A revised itinerary, without changing your flights, would be as follows:
      Day 1 – Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon South Rim, overnight at the South Rim
      Day 2 – Drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ, visit Horseshoe Bend (parking permitting), tour Antelope Canyon that afternoon
      Day 3 – Hit Horseshoe Bend just after sunrise if you couldn’t manage it the day prior, take 90-minute scenic flight over Rainbow Bridge and Monument Valley first thing in the AM, do Glen Canyon Rafting Trip in afternoon, drive to Kanab, UT, to spend the night
      Day 4 – Drive to Bryce, explore that area, then drive back to Kanab, UT for a second night
      Day 5 – Drive to Springdale, UT, get on shuttle to explore Zion National Park, spend the night in Springdale
      Day 6 – Drive back to Las Vegas, fly home
      Whatever you decide, be sure to get your lodging and guided tours reserved ASAP. Good luck, I know it’s a hard choice.
      Alley 🙂

      • Anvi Shah says:

        Hi Alley, thank you for for taking the time and writing back to me.

        The revised itinerary looks perfect.. Except that I don’t think we can manage to do Zion. We have booked the show ‘o’ for 25th evening and want to spend sometime in Vegas as well.

        And since Zion anyways needs 3-4days, to do it justice, I’ll leave it for the next time.. Till then we’ll make do with the national parks back home in Kenya 😉

        I was actually thinking about dropping Monument Valley after looking at the maps.. Great idea of taking the flight. Will check if its available.
        Many thanks again!
        Cheers.
        Anvi

        • Alley Keosheyan says:

          Hey again, Anvi!
          If you have “O” tickets for the 25th, I agree that a “drive-by” of Zion isn’t such a good idea. It sounds like you’re well aware of the fact that your time is limited and there’s no avoiding leaving something out. Hope you get a chance to return to the area and maybe do the “Mighty 5” of Utah: Zion (3-4 days), Bryce (1-2), Capitol Reef (1-2), Arches & Canyonlands (4-5 days).
          As for the National Parks of Kenya, that sounds amazing, I may hit you up for advice if I am ever lucky enough to make it out that way! 😉
          Take care and have a wonderful trip,
          Alley 🙂

  12. Julie says:

    Hi, Alley! Your website has been so helpful in trying to plan our trip. Thank you for taking the time to answer so many questions. I would like to get any advice or suggestions on our itinerary. We leave in two weeks. I am really excited and hoping we have jammed packed our trip with too much to do. There is just so much to see and explore. I wish we had a month to visit!
    August 15th – Flying into Salt Lake City (evening)
    August 16th – Exploring Salt Lake City (My son lives here so he has several places he wants us to visit. We will be making trips in the future to visit him to see more.)
    August 17th – Leave for Bryce. Explore Bryce. Spend the evening near Bryce (still haven’t found a place so we may have to go on to Springdale)
    August 18th – Leave for Zion. Explore Zion. We will be glamping at Zion Ponderosa Ranch.
    August 19th – Leave for Page, AZ. Spend the day in Page. Explore Horseshoe Bend. Afternoon tour of Lower Antelope Canyon. Staying in Page
    August 20th – Travel to Grand Canyon South Rim. Explore Canyon and Staying in Williams.
    August 21st – Travel to Las Vegas. Stop at Hoover Dam.
    August 22nd – Spend the day in Las Vegas. Show that evening.
    August 23rd – Afternoon Flight home.

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hey Julie!
      Your itinerary looks pretty fun.
      Not surprised that the Bryce area is full. I did a cursory check of hotels in that area myself for that date and came up with the same result. Keep checking back as cancellations do happen, but instead of schlepping all the way to Springdale that afternoon, you might see if you can get another night at Zion Ponderosa. That frees up another hour for sightseeing at Bryce, which you’ll probably appreciate after a 4+ hour drive from Salt Lake. You would end up having to go to Springdale the next morning to get on the Zion Park shuttle, though, so it’s 6 of one/half a dozen of another, but I would at least book something somewhere as a back-up plan so you’re not left hanging.
      Hopefully you already have reservations in place for an Antelope Canyon tour. If not, book a tour ASAP.
      I would recommend hitting Horseshoe Bend just after sunrise on your way out of town en route to Grand Canyon South Rim. That way, you can take advantage of cooler temperatures and fewer people to contend with. If you try to visit the afternoon of your arrival, you’ll be jockeying for a parking space with hundreds of other people with the same idea as you. Not fun, IMO.
      A couple of other things: be sure to pick up an “America The Beautiful Federal Lands Access Pass.” For $80, this card grants you access to all the National Parks, Monuments, and Federal Fee Areas in the U.S. The only areas it won’t work are State Parks and Native American Tribal Parks; Antelope Canyon falls in the latter category. Still, the card will pay for itself on the trip you’re proposing to take, plus it’d good for 1 year, so if/when you come back to SLC in the next few months, you can use it to hit Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and maybe Yellowstone and Grand Tetons as well.
      Another thing: keep an eye on the time, and be sure that you’re at each day’s final destination by nightfall. You want to avoid driving at night in this part of the U.S. due to the lack of ambient lighting on local roads (a deliberate move to preserve the natural darkness of the night skies), and the strong possibility of deer, elk, and other large wildlife to be about. You don’t want to have a collision with one in an area where cell phone service is spotty and a tow truck may be a long time coming, not to mention really expensive. Sunrise in Utah takes place at ~6:45 AM; sunset occurs at around 8:30 AM. At the Grand Canyon and Page, AZ, the sun comes up at ~5:45 AM and goes down at about 7:15 PM.
      Another thing (last one, I promise! LOL): time zones — they’re wonky. Nevada is on Pacific DAYLIGHT Time. Utah is on Mountain DAYLIGHT Time. Arizona, however, is on Mountain STANDARD Time (except for the Navajo reservation, which you don’t have to sweat too hard this time around). Therefore, you’ll “gain” an hour traveling from Utah to Arizona, “lose” it for a short time traveling between Page and Grand Canyon South Rim (Navajo reservation), “regain” it as you enter Grand Canyon National Park, then remain on the same time as you wrap up your trip in Las Vegas.
      Hope that all helps! Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      • Julie Russell says:

        Alley,
        I just wanted to thank you for your advice on our itinerary. We had an awesome trip and I have to say your site helped very much in the planning process! The National Park pass was a great recommendation. We hope to go back within the year and maybe hit another couple of parks so we will be able to use it then as well. Also, I thought I would let you know that we did find a very nice Bed & Breakfast near Bryce. I highly recommend The Panguitch House. Our rooms were very private, clean and nicely decorated. Owner was very nice and served a great breakfast. Thanks again for all your insight to visiting this area. We hope to go back again in the future as there is so much more to visit and explore!

        • Alley Keosheyan says:

          Hey Julie,
          What a pleasant surprise to hear from you! Thank you so much for taking the time to let us know how your trip went, and for the recommendation for the Panguitch House. That property will certainly be “on our radar” from here on out. If you have time, you might post reviews of the property on TripAdvisor, Yelp, Google, TrustPilot, or whatever consumer review site you prefer. Hoteliers are always grateful to hear what they got right, and about areas where they might improve.
          Hope you get a chance to come back soon. Have a good rest of your summer, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
          Take care,
          Alley 🙂

  13. Elizabeth says:

    Hi I wish I had come across your website sooner before I started planning and booking for my trip in September. I would like to share with you a basic outline of my schedule.

    Sept 12th. Land in Vegas. Visit seven magic mountains and visit the strip
    Sept13th-17th. Stay in Washington Utah. On the way stop at Death Valley state park. Plan to visit Bryce Canyon and Zion national, sand hollow state park as well as yant flat and snow canyon.
    17th-18th drive to orderville. Do rock climbing in a slot canyon and visit pink coral sands
    18th-20th. Page Arizona.. paddle lake Powell, horseshoe bend and upper antelope. Also possibly thinking of going to the arches national park.
    20-21at Las Vegas and fly out.

    Does this seem reasonable?

    Thank you

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Elizabeth,
      Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I can’t fully endorse this itinerary. It seems as though you haven’t looked at a map and familiarized yourself with where things are, not to mention the realistic driving distances between places.
      On your arrival day, for example, you indicate you want to try and hit the Seven Magic Mountains art installation, but depending on when your flight arrives, and how long you have to wait to collect your rental car and check into your hotel, you might be too exhausted to even think about doing this by the time you’ve gotten your “Vegas legs.” If you are wanting to see this attraction, as well as visit Death Valley, I would recommend booking an extra night in Las Vegas in order to accomplish this. 7 Magic Mountains can be visited as a short “detour” en route to Death Valley.

      I am not certain if you are committed to staying Washington, UT, on the next leg of your trip, but if you aren’t, I would recommend cancelling the last two nights at those accommodations and moving to either Springdale, UT, or Kanab, UT. Washington is an OK place to use as a base from which to explore Sand Hollow, Yant Flat, and Snow Canyon, but it’s a bit far afield for Zion and Bryce if you’re doing day trips to those locations. The main concern is re: nighttime driving. You want to avoid it in this part of the U.S. due to the lack of ambient lighting on local roads, and the possibility of encountering deer, elk, and other wildlife. A collision with a large animal in an area where cell service is spotty and help will be a long time coming (and very expensive) is a sure way to ruin a vacation. If you wish, you could extend your stay in Kanab or Springdale to encompass slot canyon exploration and the Coral Pink Sand Dunes.
      RE: Arches National Park, take it off the list. Again, it’s too far removed from the main points on your itinerary (~6 hours from Page), plus it’s an area that needs at least 3-4 days to fully enjoy and explore. Save it for another trip when you can give it the time it deserves.
      So, all that said, a revised itinerary would look something like this:
      09/12 – Arrive in Las Vegas, overnight in Las Vegas
      09/13 – Day trip to 7 Magic Mountains, Death Valley National Monument, 2nd night in Las Vegas
      09/14 – Drive to Washington, UT (~3 hour drive taking into account construction taking place on I-5 through the Virgin River Gorge), visit Sand Hollow State Park, overnight in Washington
      09/15 – Explore Yant Flat and Snow Canyon, 2nd night in Washington

      09/16 – Drive to Springdale, UT (~1 hour from Washington) or Kanab, UT (~2 hours from Washington), get on Zion Canyon park shuttle to explore park, overnight in Springdale or Kanab
      09/17 – Day trip to Bryce, overnight in Springdale or Kanab
      09/18 – Day trip to local slot canyon and Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, overnight in Springdale or Kanab
      09/19 – Drive to Page, AZ (~2.5 hours from Springdale, 90 minutes from Kanab), do Antelope Canyon hiking tour and Lake Powell kayak tour, overnight in Page, AZ
      09/20 – Visit Horseshoe Bend, drive back to Las Vegas, overnight in Las Veags
      09/21 – Fly home
      Another couple of things to keep in mind: time zones. Las Vegas is on Pacific Daylight Time, and Utah is on Mountain Daylight Time, BUT – Arizona is on Mountain STANDARD Time. This means that you’ll “lose” an hour traveling from Las Vegas to Utah, “gain” the hour back traveling from Utah to Arizona, then stay on the same time as you drive from Arizona back to Las Vegas.
      Hope that makes more sense. Good luck and safe travels!
      Alley 🙂

  14. Bill Drain says:

    We just did this itinerary in June. We flew into Vegas on Wednesday June 19th, then headed for the Grand Canyon the next morning. We finished up the following Thursday and flew home to Maryland. It was, in a word, fantastic. One of our best ever vacations. The only thing I would do differently is that I would’ve added a 2nd night at the Grand Canyon. By the time we stopped at Hoover Dam, we didn’t get there until 6pm on Thursday the 20th, and we have to be on our way to Monument Valley by 10am the following day. That said, now we just have an excuse to go back to the Grand Canyon in the not too distant future so we can spend more time checking it out. Anyway, thanks for posting, this was fantastic.

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hey Bill,
      Thank you for reporting back on our itinerary! Hope you get a chance to return to our area sooner rather than later 😉
      Take care and have a wonderful summer,
      Alley 🙂

  15. Tara Pianko says:

    Hi Alley!! Your posts are AMAZING. I am so overwhelmed and was really hoping I could get your help and advice. My mom and I are planning a last minute trip to Vegas and are wanting to see the Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, and antelope canyon. We arrive on Monday 8/5, have an antelope canyon tour on 8/7 at 11:30 AM, and leave from Vegas on either 8/10 or 8/11. We really want to see all of the parks and also potentially the SkyWalk at the Grand Canyon. I just don’t know how to plan our trip efficiently with our antelope canyon tour on 8/7. Do you have any recommendations on an itinerary with our dates and wanting to get a taste of each place? Thank you SOOO much for being so helpful to all of us and allowing us to better see the beauty of the west!!

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Tara and thank you for your compliments!
      At the time of year you’re visiting, I’d recommend skipping the Grand Canyon Skywalk. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a pretty cool attraction, and there are other things you can do there that you can’t do anywhere else, but during the summer months, GC West is GHASTLY hot, as in 120 degrees in the shade hot. The South Rim, what with being 7,000′ above sea level, will be cooler, plus offer the iconic “picture postcard” views you’re expecting to see.
      That said, the order in which you visit the different parks on your wish list will depend now on availability of lodging at Grand Canyon South Rim. Since you’ve already got your Antelope Canyon tour booked (at prime time, too — SWEET!), here’s what I’d recommend:
      08/05 – Arrive in Las Vegas, overnight in Las Vegas
      08/06 – Drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim with stop at Hoover Dam if desired. Approximate drive time, ~4.5-6 hours (latter with frequent stops), overnight at the Grand Canyon
      08/07 – Drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ, ~3.5-4 hour drive factoring in stops at Grand Canyon viewpoints, the Cameron Trading Post and other points of interest along this very scenic drive, tour Antelope Canyon that afternoon, overnight in Page, AZ
      08/08 – Visit Horseshoe Bend just after sunrise, head to Bryce Canyon (~3 hour drive), overnight in Bryce Canyon
      08/09 – Drive to Springdale, UT (~90 minutes from Bryce), take Zion Canyon Shuttle into park, overnight in Springdale, UT
      08/10 – 2nd day in Zion, all kinds of easy scenic hikes to do, or hike Angel’s Landing if you prefer a challenge! 2nd night in Zion
      08/11 – Drive from Springdale, UT, back to Las Vegas — this drive could take anywhere from 3.5-4.5 hours because of construction taking place in the Virgin River Gorge — fly home
      Now, if you find that lodging at the Grand Canyon is not available on 08/06 but you can find availability on 08/09 or 08/10, you can flip flop this itinerary easily enough, but you’d end up sacrificing a day in Zion. Zion really deserves at least 2 days to explore and enjoy.
      Hope that helps! Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  16. Vikki Ewert says:

    Hi! I’d love your opinion on an itinerary that I’ve begun drafting for June 2020. We are coming from Ohio so will fly and rent a car. We are a family of 4 with 2 teens. We want to see as much as we can yet not be so pushed for time we can’t make impromptu changes or have any time to relax and rest from driving and hiking. We like to hike but easy to moderate day trails. We do NOT want to fly in and out of the same city and prefer to see as many different areas as we can. I sort of prefer not to sleep somewhere different EVERY night but unsure how else to approach. We are not campers.

    What are your thoughts about this? Same order or reverse it? Too much for 8 days? Would leave Saturday and return the following Sunday.

    Day 1- Phoenix to Sedona, stay over in Sedona
    Day 2- Sedona, drive to South Rim and stay in Grand Canyon village or somewhere near on the way
    Day 3- Grand Canyon, take Hwy 64 out after sunset and stay in upon entering Cameron on Hwy 89
    Day 4- Drive to Monument Valley and then back to Page, AZ for the night (or do we skip Monument and go straight to Page?)
    Day 5- Spend the day at Lake Powell, Glen Canyon NRA, stay in Kanab, UT
    Day 6- See Grand Staircase NP, Drive to Bryce Canyon NP and spend the night there
    Day 7- Drive to Zion NP, stay over
    Day 8- Drive to Las Vegas and fly home

    Feels like I’m trying to do too much but don’t know what to cut or where to trim. My husband can only take off one week. Would be fun to have a night in Vegas to relax and introduce our kids to the city that never sleeps.

    Another idea pending airfares would be to fly into Flagstaff on Frontier and then to Sedona or skip Sedona entirely if able to start at Flagstaff. SUPER APPRECIATE your time and response when you are able to.

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Vikki, we’re glad you found us!
      So when you say at the end of your inquiry, “skip Sedona,” I take it you are traveling from the U.S. and are in a position to visit Sedona another time? If that is the case, you may indeed want to skip it regardless of where you fly into this time around. The reason I suggest this is because Sedona is the kind of place you can spend 4-5 days at and still feel as though you only “scratched the surface.”
      I would also suggest not using Flagstaff, AZ, as your “staging city” simply because there are no direct flights into there, you always have to connect through Phoenix, no matter what. After all’s said and done, you’d probably find that you didn’t save any time going to Flagstaff, and you certainly won’t save any money. I’ll put it this way: most people who fly into Flagstaff report that they would have “bitten the bullet” and done the longer drive out of Phoenix or Vegas if they had it to do over again.
      RE: Monument Valley, whether or not you visit it depends largely on lodging availability, or lack thereof. At this point in time, you may be looking at “lack thereof.” Monument Valley does not have that many lodging options to work with in the first place, and the better hotels, generally regarded as The View and Goulding’s, tend to sell out a year or more in advance. Alternate locations for lodging are also few and far between, namely Kayenta, AZ, and Tuba City, AZ. So, for practicality’s sake, you’ll probably end up dropping MV from the “wish list,” but there still might be a way to work it in. More on that in a minute…
      So, with all that said, here’s what I’d recommend:
      Day 1 – Arrive in Phoenix, overnight in Phoenix
      Day 2 – Start early, drive to Grand Canyon South Rim (~5 hour drive, 6 with frequent stops [it’s a very scenic drive]), take free shuttles in afternoon to overlooks on Hermit’s Rest/West Rim Drive, overnight at Grand Canyon South Rim
      Day 3 – Early start (that’s how we roll around here!), drive to Page, AZ, stopping at overlooks along East Rim/Desert View Drive en route. Breakfast/brunch at Cameron Trading Post. Stop at Horseshoe Bend Overlook on way into town (parking permitting), overnight in Page, AZ.
      Day 4 – Morning fixed wing airplane tour over Monument Valley (~90 minutes), tour Antelope Canyon in afternoon, 2nd night in Page, AZ
      Day 5 – Hit Horseshoe Bend just after sunrise if you couldn’t get there in days prior, drive to Bryce Canyon (~2.5-3 hour drive), overnight in Bryce Canyon area
      Day 6 – Drive to Springdale, UT, take Zion Canyon Shuttle to explore park, overnight in Springdale, UT
      Day 7 – 2nd day in Zion, lots of good hikes to do in varying degrees of difficulty, if you’re up for a challenge, try Angel’s Landing, 2nd night in Springdale
      Day 8 – Drive to Las Vegas (~3.5-4.5 hours depending on whether Virgin River Gorge construction project is complete), fly home
      Notice I didn’t build an overnight in Vegas into your itinerary. For one, summertime is not my favorite time of year there by a long shot. It gets SUPER hot there, and another consideration is that if your kids aren’t 21 yet, you’ll be somewhat limited on places they can go, not to mention there are Vegas “purists” who insist that their town is not a family destination and never should have been marketed that way. Take that information how you wish, but I’ll add my personal perspective here: I got married in Reno, NV (more years ago than we’re going to discuss LOL) and my then-teenage brother was constantly getting yelled at not to go here, not to go there, stay behind that line, etc. Frankly, a family trip to Las Vegas is a trip I’d save for when the kids are 21+ and for a cooler time of year so you can visit Valley of Fire, Red Rock Canyon, and maybe Death Valley.
      Anyway, hope that helps. Wishing you good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  17. Lisa Jefferies says:

    hello
    At last after doing lots of googling i came across your site which i have found extremely useful. We are a family of 4 (Mum, Dad and 2 adult children) looking to do a mini tour of USA next year. We arrive in Vegas in 21st July 2020 and plan to have a couple of nights there before doing a sightseeing self drive to Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon and then Zion NP before heading back to Vegas. Can we fit in Horseshoe anything else on route? I did think doing it the opposite way around, but it seems you prefer this way. My question is would you recommend motor home/V hire or car hire and hotels? Also we ideally would like to do it over 4 nights / 5 days. Is this possible? We are not big hikers, but like a walk. Also we plan to do the arranged tours of the parks as opposed to doing it ourselves.
    Any advice or suggestions greatly appreciated.
    Once we have done this area we will be flying onto San Francisco, LA, New Orleans, Nashville and New York. Cant wait 🙂
    Thanks
    Lisa

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Lisa,
      It’s good that you’re planning your summer 2020 vacation well in advance. You’ll be glad you did, trust me!
      First off, if you are serious about doing this in an RV, don’t expect to save all that much vs. conventional hotels. At the time of year you’re visiting, it’s HOT, and you will want to have access to reliable air conditioning. That means staying in developed RV parks with electrical hook-ups, which, unbelievably, can be just as expensive as regular hotels depending on where you stay. Just wanted to put that out there.
      4 nights/5 days may sound like a lot of time, but it really isn’t. To see all the places on your “wish list,” and allow enough time to fully enjoy them, you really need 7-10 days. If this is not an option, you’ll need to sacrifice a destination or two to make it happen, and the destination that makes the most sense to drop is Monument Valley. Not that it isn’t beautiful (it is), but for one, there isn’t much there in the way of lodging, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s sold out already.
      RE: Horseshoe Bend, yes, you can fit it in as well as Antelope Canyon. Both attractions are located in Page, Arizona, which you pretty much have to pass through anyway to get from Grand Canyon South Rim to Bryce and Zion.
      As for doing “arranged tours,” vs. self-touring, there are some parks where this is feasible, if not required (Antelope Canyon falls into the latter category), but others where self-touring kind of comes naturally. Traveling from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ, for example, the most logical route takes you along the East Rim/Desert View Drive of the park, where there are over half a dozen named viewpoints you can stop at, as well as the Tusayan Ruins and Museum. Upon exiting the park, and entering the Navajo Reservation, there’s even more to see. Plan on getting an early start on that drive so you can enjoy breakfast/brunch at the Cameron Trading Post. The Navajo Tacos are awesome!
      All that said, here’s what I recommend:
      Day 1 – Drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim with stopover at Hoover Dam. 5-6 hour drive. Overnight at Grand Canyon South Rim
      Day 2 – Drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ. ~3.5-4 hour drive factoring in stops. Visit Horseshoe Bend and tour Antelope Canyon, overnight in Page.
      Day 3 – Drive from Page, AZ, to Bryce Canyon National Park, ~3.5 hour drive, take free shuttle around the scenic rim drive, overnight in Bryce Canyon.
      Day 4 – Drive from Bryce to Springdale, UT, ~2.5 hour drive, take Zion Canyon Shuttle into park, overnight in Springdale, UT.
      Day 5 – Further exploration of Zion if desired, drive back to Las Vegas, ~3.5-4.5 hour drive depending on whether construction project in Virgin River Gorge is completed
      If you still feel as though your vacation would somehow be incomplete without seeing Monument Valley, there’s still a way you might work it in without actually going there: fly over it. Fixed wing airplanes depart from the Page Municipal Airport daily. Scenic air tours of Monument Valley are about 90 minutes in length, and morning is the best time to fly for better light and less wind.
      Hope that helps! Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      • Lisa Jefferies says:

        Hi
        Thanks for your response. We really feel MV is a must and so far there is availability in accommodation there. We are definitely rethinking the RV and feel car / hotel may be best. Thinking possibly Bryce and Zion same day with overnight at Zion or adding 1 extra night. So much to do and see, so little time!!! Thanks for your help really appreciate it.
        Lisa

        • Alley Keosheyan says:

          Hi Lisa,
          If push came to shove, you could do a quick “pop-in” to Bryce, seeing as though it’s the smallest National Park in Utah, square-mileage wise. Zion, on the other hand, is huge and deserves at least 2 days to explore and enjoy.
          It will take you 2.5 hours to drive from Page, AZ, to Bryce, then another 2 hours to drive from Bryce to Zion.
          If you are able to find lodging at Monument Valley, terrific, just slide that in between the Grand Canyon South Rim and Page, AZ, if at all possible.
          I know it’s a hard choice. Best wishes for a safe and memorable journey!
          Alley 🙂

  18. Sue A says:

    Hi Alley,
    Wow – I am in Australia & have never been to America before, so trying to work out an itinerary around the Grand Canyon was so difficult ……. until I found your site. It is pretty much exactly what we plan to do now – so thankyou !!
    I’ve listed below the slightly tweaked itinerary (we had 1 less day) & wondered if you could take a look, The main questions I have is finding accommodation to suit ( we are 2 adults & 3 kids 17/15/13). And also ideas on what we do to fill our jam packed days – we do not want to spoil things by over doing it, but def want to make the most of the amazing surrounds. We have 3 boys & we are all fit & active:

    Day 1; Vegas to GC south Rim – Hoover Dam lookout, Mr D’s diner, Tusayan for Imax film, Check into Yapavai Lodge (If avail). Shuttle to GC view, possibly Bright Angels hike. Sunset
    Day 2: Sunrise Desert View, Little Colorado River Outlook, B’fast at Historic Cameron Trading Post, Moenkopi Dinosaur track, Najavo National Monument hike to cliff dwellings, Lunch at Kayenta. Arrive MV – Tribal Park Visitor Centre – Merrick Butte. Looking at The View Camproung in cabins
    Day 3: Early guided tour of MV – either 4×4, Horse or Mule , Lunch & then drive to Page – afternoon Antelope Canyon Tour & Horseshoe Bend for sunset. Check in to Page – maybe Lake Powell Resort
    Day 4: Lake Powell & Rainbow Bridge boat tour. After lunch drive to Bryce Canyon via The New Wave, Paria Rimrocks Toadstools & Hoodoos. Check in at Bryce Canyon Lodge (if avail)
    Day 5: Guided ATV tour of Bryce Canyon, then maybe a hop on, hop off tour & hikes. Late afternoon head to Zion – possibly Ponderosa Resort in Wagons
    Day 6: Full day in Zion today – so hikes to Upper Emerald pool trail, or Riverside walk, Tubing on Virgin River, Horseriding ?? Not sure how much we can fit in here.
    Day 7: Leave early to have almost a full day in Vegas.

    Hopefully this looks doable – please let me know if it is not in a good order, or if I have included or missed out any highlights. And in particular, any info on accommodation would be much appreciated. It does not need to be anything too flash , as we will barley be in our rooms – most of our time will be out exploring the amazing sites. I know accomm books out fast, so will plan to get onto that asap.

    Again, thanks so much for the brilliant info you have given already – & hey, if you ever plan a trip to Australia , I would happily return the favour 🙂

    Thanks,

    Sue

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hey, Sue!
      We’re glad you found us and that our advice has proven helpful so far.
      Your itinerary looks pretty fun. Still, I do have an immediate concern that you seem to be trying to schedule every. single. second. of your days out here. Believe me, I totally understand the desire to see as much as possible, especially coming from such a long way! But try to allow for some “downtime” in your schedule, and be open to letting some moments just happen. Oftentimes, those are the most memorable parts of a vacation 😉
      With a family of two adults and three young adults, trying to cram everybody into one hotel room is probably less than desirable. A “family-style” room at Yavapai would be a good bet for the Grand Canyon, and hopefully it’s still available. In other areas, you might want to consider Air B&B’s or vacation rental homes, as well as conventional hotels. If you go the hotel/motel route, you’ll probably want to get two rooms for everyone’s comfort and sanity! LOL
      A few items that call for a “reality check:”
      On Day 1 where you say you might do a “Bright Angel trail hike,” by the time you drive over from Las Vegas, see IMAX, check into your hotel and ride the shuttles, you may be too knackered to even think about anything resembling a hike! The easy, paved rim trail may be more realistic at this point. If you are still feeling energetic enough to attempt a short hike on the Bright Angel Trail, going as far as the “first tunnel” will give you enough of a sense for how different the inner canyon feels from the rimside. Always remember when it comes to hiking below the rim that 1 hour down = 2 hours out and that food and water should be carried by each member of your party! You might also want to carry flashlights or headlamps if you find yourselves “burning daylight” as John Wayne used to say. Once the sun goes down, it gets really dark out here.
      On Day 2, the “hike to the cliff dwellings at Navajo National Monument” probably won’t happen. For Keet Seel, an advance permit is required; for Betatakin, it’s first-come/first-serve, but those slots are usually snatched up pretty early in the morning. Another consideration, if you’re traveling in the summertime, is that these hikes are frequently getting cancelled due to extreme heat warnings. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t stop and visit Navajo National Monument, you definitely should, but you’ll probably want to stick to the Sandal Trail (no, don’t wear sandals!), which is a 1-mile paved trail where you can see the Betatakin Ruins from. After lunch in Kayenta, be sure to pop by the WWII Navajo Code Talkers’ exhibit in the local Burger King Restaurant!
      On Day 3, where you indicate wanting to “visit Horseshoe Bend at sunset,” be aware that tons of people are going to have the same thing in mind, and you may have trouble finding a parking space. If that’s the case, you might try visiting the ‘Bend at sunrise the next morning.
      On Day 4, I’m assuming that you’ll be taking the morning departure of the Rainbow Bridge boat tour, which wraps up at 2:30 PM, which leads me to the conclusion that you’re traveling during the summer months. Keep in mind that depending on the level of Lake Powell, which is higher than it has been in years past, a 2-3 mile round-trip hike could be required to get to Rainbow Bridge from the boat dock. Although the rest of the tour is not strenuous, don’t be surprised if afterward, you’re in no mood to do anything else but go back to a hotel room and crash, or at most, go find a meal and some cocktails! Around here, we refer to this state of mind as being “sun drunk.” Being on the water out in the sun can zap the energy out of you pretty quick, so here, you might consider spending a 2nd night in Page, then visit Bryce the following morning as a “day trip” before heading to Zion Ponderosa (a cool place, by the way!).
      On Day 6, whether or not you do the tubing on will be highly dependent on the water level of the Virgin River. Sometimes it cooperates, other times it doesn’t, so you’ll want to check with the tour outfitters on this. Right now, for example, one of the river tubing companies states on their website that “tubing season has ended as of July 18th due to low water levels.” Horseback riding would probably be a safer bet, and you can do that right at Zion Ponderosa. If you do opt for a trail ride, as with all labor-intensive activities, try to do it in the morning when it’s cooler.
      One more thing: no matter what you decide to do, keep an eye on the time, and be sure to time all your drives for daylight hours. You do not want to do any driving at night in this part of the U.S. due to lack of ambient lighting on local roads, and the tendency of deer, elk, free range cattle and sometimes even wild horses to congregate around them. Also: remember that whilst Arizona DOES NOT observe Daylight Savings Time, Utah and the Navajo Reservation DO. Therefore, if you’re traveling between March and November, Las Vegas will be on the same time as the Grand Canyon; Monument Valley will be one hour “ahead” of the Grand Canyon; Page, AZ, will be one hour “behind” Monument Valley, then Utah will be one hour “ahead” of Page; finally, you’ll “regain” an hour traveling from Utah back to Las Vegas.
      *whew* Hope that doesn’t leave your head spinning! Please don’t hesitate to hit us up again if you need further guidance.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      • Sue A says:

        Hi Alley,
        Thanks so much for your reply – being that you do this all the time, I’m guessing you know how amazingly helpful it is to have someone with so much local knowledge, to help with finer details – particularly when I am on the other side of the world.
        I really appreciate you advising on some changes to make the trip a little less hectic – you are right that I don’t want to over schedule , but don’t want to miss out either!!
        So in saying that, I wondered if I could ask one more question – I have juggled our itinerary a bit further down & pinched an extra day for this part of the trip. So with an extra day/night, I am keen to know where you would spend it ? We are planning to be there in mid April.
        Thanks again – your info has been invaluable..
        Sue 🙂

        • Alley Keosheyan says:

          Hi again, Sue!
          Thanks so much for writing back.
          With an extra day to work with, I would recommend giving that to Zion National Park. It’s a huge park with a lot to see and do. While one day there is certainly better than none, a second day will allow you to explore areas you might have missed that first day. If you’re up for a challenge, you might consider taking on something like Angel’s Landing, which is considered the “Grand-Daddy” of all Zion hikes. Fair warning that lacking a fear of heights is strongly recommended before you attempt it.
          Another option? You can simply use the time to “wind down,” “chill out,” or however you’d say “intense relaxation” in your part of the world! The Zion Ponderosa Ranch has a nice pool and jacuzzi area for that, or you might simply watch for wildlife on your cabin deck.
          Also, knowing that your visit is scheduled for mid-April helps put things into context a bit better. For some reason, I thought you were traveling in the summer months. April is in the “transitional” period between winter and spring in this part of the U.S., so in areas at high altitude like the Grand Canyon (7,000′ ASL [Above Sea Level]) and Bryce Canyon (8,000′ ASL), you might run into a late season snowstorm. Be sure to pack a couple of items of warmer clothing, but you needn’t stuff your suitcases with sweaters, by any means! Start monitoring the weather at your various trip destinations about 2 weeks before you get set to travel to get the clearest picture of how you need to pack. The upside? Temperatures will not get so ghastly hot at lower altitudes (such as Page, AZ, Monument Valley, Zion), so the concern about having to get all your high-impact activities done during the morning isn’t as crucial as it would be if you were traveling in June or July.
          Since I had (wrongly) assumed that your trip would be taking place during the summer, one suggestion I omitted was on your way back to Las Vegas, you might make a bit of a detour to the stunning Valley of Fire State Park. The scenery in this area is simply breath-taking, many say reminiscent of “The Wave,” only no advance permit required! Plus it won’t take you too far out of the way on the trip back to Las Vegas.

          Hope that helps! Thanks again for your compliments 🙂 By the way, we’d love to know how your trip went afterwards. Feel free to let us know how you got on!
          Alley

  19. Beth says:

    This is so unbelievably helpful! I’ve also read through many of the comments and wondered if you’d mind taking a look at our itinerary. At this point in planning the trip is kind of a hypothetical, but I want to prepared to be able to start booking campgrounds in the parks as soon I’m able. We’re looking to drive from Michigan to the GC in June of 2020! Crazy, I know. We are a family of 5, (two 10 year olds and one 7 year old at time of trip) and we’re planning to haul an ~17-20 ft. camper. We’re planning 4 days to get to Holbrook, AZ, via some stops along the old Rte. 66. My list includes the south rim, north rim, Page, Zion, Bryce, and up to Rocky (hopefully a stopover at Arches otw) to head back east to home. We have a little wiggle room over 2 weeks, and I know this list includes A LOT, but I’m not sure when/if we’ll make it back so I’d like to see as much as we can!

    Days 1-4 Drive to Holbrook, AZ
    – Petrified Forest
    Day 5
    Travel to S GC
    Day 6
    Explore S GC
    Day 7
    Travel to Page, AZ
    Spend afternoon exploring
    Day 8
    Spend morning exploring
    Travel N GC
    Day 9
    Explore N GC
    Day 10
    Travel to Zion
    Explore in afternoon
    Day 11
    Zion
    Day 12
    Travel to Bryce
    Explore
    Day 13
    Travel to Arches
    Day 14 Travel to Rocky
    Day 15
    Rocky Mountain NP
    Days 16-18
    Travel back to MI

    I’ve also considered staying in Kanab between Page, NGC, Zion and Bryce, but I don’t know whether I want to give up doing all the things at each of those that is suggested first thing in the morning. Just wondered what your thoughts may be. Thanks so much!

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Beth,
      First off, it’s good that you’re planning your 2020 vacation well in advance. You’ll definitely be glad you did!
      Second, as I’m sure you’re aware, pulling a trailer, you’ll have to be a bit more conscious than the average visitor of what constitutes realistic travel times. A drive that may take someone a couple of hours in a Ford Taurus is more likely to take you 3 hours. Also, be aware that many roads around here are two-laners, so be especially careful about passing and making U-turns, if you do it at all. You might indeed want to use Kanab, UT, as a “base camp” for exploring Zion and Bryce, especially Zion since the Mt. Carmel Tunnel requires buses, motorhomes, and larger vehicles to have an escort, which is a pain.
      Having a tow vehicle that can be unhooked and hooked back up as needed is definitely advantageous over a large motorhome in some ways for sightseeing, but at the time of year you’re traveling, you’ll definitely want to stay in developed RV parks with electrical hook-ups. Our area is HOT at that time of year, so having access to air conditioning is a convenience you’ll be eternally grateful for!
      The one area where I have a bit of a problem with your itinerary is when you get to Arches. The Moab, Utah area is absolutely stunning and requires at least 3-4 days to fully enjoy. To accomplish this, as much as I hate to say it, I’d suggest dropping the North Rim from your itinerary. Yes, it is beautiful, but the South Rim definitely has more to offer in the way of visitor facilities, and square mileage of the Grand Canyon that is driveable. However, there still may be a way for you to work it in. More on that in a minute… Also, I suggest reducing your time at Grand Canyon South Rim to just one night since you’ll do a good chunk of your Grand Canyon sightseeing on the drive to Page, AZ.
      So a revised version of your itinerary would look something like this:
      Days 1-4 Drive to Holbrook, AZ – Petrified Forest/Painted Desert, overnight in Holbrook, AZ, on Day 4
      Day 5 – Travel to South GC (~3-4 hours from Holbrook), overnight at Grand Canyon (either Trailer Village inside the park or GC Camper Village in Tusayan)
      Day 6 – Take morning helicopter flight over GC North Rim (see what I did there? LOL), then travel to Page, AZ (~4-5 hours factoring in stops), overnight in Page, AZ (Wahweap RV Park near Lake Powell or Page/Lake Powell Campground in Page [RV and Camping Options in Page])
      Day 7 – Visit Horseshoe Bend just after sunrise, tour Antelope Canyon, 2nd night in Page, AZ
      Day 8 – Drive to Kanab, UT (~2 hours from Page, AZ), park RV for 3 nights (Kanab, UT, RV parks)
      Day 9 – Day trip to Zion NP. Drive to Springdale, UT (~1 hour away), catch Zion Canyon Park Shuttle, hike in main visitor area of park. Possible hikes include Canyon Overlook Trail, Emerald Pools Trail, Riverside Walk, Watchman Trail
      Day 10 – Day trip to Bryce, drive Scenic Loop Drive or do some light hiking (Top Hikes in Bryce Canyon)
      Day 11 – Drive from Kanab, UT, to Moab, UT (~7 hour drive), park RV for 3 nights (Moab, UT RV Parks)
      Day 12 – Explore Arches NP 2nd night in Moab
      Day 13 – Explore Canyonlands NP 3rd night in Moab
      Day 14 – Drive to Rocky Mountain National Park (~7 hours), park RV in Estes Park, CO for 2 nights
      Day 15 – Explore Rocky Mountain National Park
      Day 16-18 – Head back to Michigan

      Hope this helps! Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  20. Maria says:

    Hi Alley,

    We are planning a trip from Denver to CO/UT/AZ area flying back from Phoenix to NJ. We want to venture out to places we have not been to and those we love to go back to (Bryce, Zion, GC both North & South rims, MV, CO Nat’l Mon). Here is my tentative itinerary, please give you feedback/suggestions. Thank you!
    8/29: Denver to GC, drive through CO Nat’l Mon (don’t remember how long but it’s a very narrow and curly drive, you have to slow down) , then to Arches Nat’l Park (Stay at Moab)
    8/30: Canyonland, Deadhorse Point, Cedar Mesa (maybe) (Stay at Monticello)
    8/31: National Bridges Nat’l Mon, Valley of Gods, Mon Valley (Stay at Page?)
    9/1: Upper Antelope and maybe Lower Antelope (Stay at Page)
    9/2: Bryce & Zion (Stay at Kanab)
    9/3: GC North & South Rim (Stay at GC Village)
    9/4: South Rim to Phoenix, fly home late evening

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Maria,
      Sorry, I can’t endorse this itinerary at all, for the following reasons.
      1. It requires WAY too much driving. With all due respect, you need to look at a map and get a truer sense for the distances you’ll need to travel.
      2. It doesn’t allow for hardly ANY downtime, which is what vacations are all about anyway, right?
      3. In some areas, it’s a complete pipe dream (unrealistic).
      4. You’re traveling over Labor Day weekend, one of the busiest travel periods in the U.S., and if you haven’t made lodging reservations already, you’re going to have a hard time finding places to say in some areas.
      For starters, traveling from Denver to Moab, UT is going to take 7 hours minimum, whether you go through Colorado National Monument or not. It’s a drive best broken up into two days, but seeing as though Phoenix is your final destination, I’d suggest starting to make your way South a lot sooner. As much as I hate to say it, this will mean skipping Arches/Canyonlands. Where should you go instead? Mesa Verde. It’s a wonderful park, featuring an unusually large number very well-preserved Ancestral Puebloan cities, complimented by some beautiful natural scenery. Like the drive to Moab, UT, it’s 7 hours minimum if you were to try and drive out all the way from Denver, which I don’t recommend. I’d recommend instead breaking up the drive in Gunnison or Montrose, CO.
      Monument Valley is going to be next to impossible to find lodging in, but you can still realistically see that area as a “drive by” between Mesa Verde and Page, AZ.
      Unfortunately, I’m also going to recommend cutting out Bryce and Zion, too. If your final destination was Las Vegas, it would be easier to pull off, but since you’re ending your trip in Phoenix, these parks will be too far out of your way to give sufficient time to. Zion itself deserves at least 3-4 days. Instead, substitute Sedona. Here again, this is an absolutely stunning area with striking red rock formations, easy but scenic hiking, and some opportunities to swim if you want. Plus at just 2 hours from Phoenix, it makes for a good place to end your vacation in a more relaxed frame of mind. Grand Canyon North Rim also doesn’t make the cut as far as driving there, but there’s still a way you might be able to see it. More on that in a minute…
      So, here’s a revised trip plan for you.
      08/29 – Drive from Denver, CO, to Gunnison or Montrose, 4-5 hour drive depending on which place you choose to overnight, maybe swing through the Curecanti National Recreation Area along the way.
      08/30 – Drive from Gunnison or Montrose to Mesa Verde National Park 4-5 hour drive depending on previous night’s lodging location, overnight in Mancos, Durango, or Cortez, CO.
      08/31 – Drive to Page, AZ, via Monument Valley (~4.5 hours), overnight in Page, AZ.
      09/01 – Tour Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon, 2nd night in Page, AZ
      09/02 – Drive from Page to Grand Canyon South Rim (~4 hours factoring in stops), visit Horseshoe Bend just after sunrise, have lunch at Cameron Trading Post, overnight at Grand Canyon South Rim.
      09/03 – First thing in the morning, take a helicopter flight over Grand Canyon North Rim, then drive to Sedona, ~3 hour drive
      09/04 – Pink Jeep Broken Arrow Tour or hot air balloon ride, drive to Phoenix for flight home (~2 hour drive). You might go through Jerome, a really cool little artist’s colony, which will only add about 1 hour to your drive time.

      I hope you will give this revised itinerary its due consideration. I think it would make for a much more relaxed pace, and a better quality vacation for you and your traveling party.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  21. Erica says:

    I just wanted to give you a huge thank you for the recommendations. We used your guide for our first anniversary trip June 20-29. It was amazing! We did a few things different and were able to add a day in Moab (Arches and Canyonland) then split Bryce with Capitol Reef in one day (which was not enough time for either really). Just for other readers a few things we did/ thoughts. In Monument Valley we stayed in a hogan at Firetree ($220 one night but room for 6). It was a neat experience but I wouldn’t do it again the View seemed like it would have been a better pick. The tour guides for Monument Valley are right at the reservation and we were able to have a private tour since it wasn’t really busy. Page was as amazing as everyone is saying! We stayed in Hanksville, Utah at Dukes Slickrock campground in the cabins. It was the cleanest and nicest place we stayed the entire trip. There is a nice little diner right there for breakfast. It probably would have been good for dinner if we had made it in time. The Narrows had just opened in Zion and were busy but 100% worth it and one of my favorite things. We stayed at Zion Ponderosa Resort in covered wagons which was so neat. They have a restaurant onsite that provides a buffet breakfast as part of your room fee. It is good stuff not just chain hotel level. We went to Red Rock which is right outside Las Vegas before returning our rental then spent the next two nights in Vegas. After a week in the parks Vegas seemed ultra commercial but we don’t regret it.

    Thanks again for all your wonderful recommendations. It may the trip amazing!

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Erica!
      Wow, thank you for taking the time to report back on your trip, and for sharing your vacation “finds” with us. We’re glad you had a good trip and anniversary, and hope you get the chance to return to the area in the future.
      Have a wonderful summer,
      Alley 🙂

  22. Lauren says:

    Hi Alley,

    Thank you so much for this awesome itinerary and guide! We are mapping out a trip for the beginning of August, as we cannot travel in the off-season, and your advice has been so helpful in our planning. I am hoping to get your input regarding our tentative plan, as we are two 22 year olds hoping to stick to a tight budget! If there is anything we could cut out without missing too much, that would be great to know. Here is what we are thinking:

    Day 1: Arrive in Vegas at night (around 10:00-11:30pm) and stay overnight
    Day 2: Spend the day in Vegas and stay overnight
    Day 3: Drive to Grand Canyon South Rim, tour Grand Canyon, overnight in Tusayan
    Day 4: Drive to Antelope Canyon, tour Antelope Canyon, lunch in marina, sunset at Horseshoe bend, overnight in Page
    Day 5: Floating tour Glen Canyon, tour and lunch in Lake Powell, dinner in Page, night at Glen Canyon overlook, overnight in Page
    Day 6: Drive to Bryce Canyon, Rainbow Point free tour, ATV tour, dinner and overnight in Bryce Canyon
    Day 7: Drive to Springdale, tour Zion Park, dinner and overnight in Springdale
    Day 8: Virgin River tubing, drive back to Vegas for nighttime flight home

    We are estimating $1000 total for hotels based on some research, $200-400 for a car rental with gas, $80 for a national park pass, and some extra for tours based on your advice. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated! Thank you so much.

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Lauren,
      Your trip looks very well-planned, and really fun! The biggest obstacle I can see you running up against, however, is with a car rental. Many rental car outlets require that you be at least 25 to rent a vehicle. Those who do rent to individuals younger than 25 may tack a pretty hefty “young driver charge” onto their fees, so do check into that thoroughly before you commit.
      A few other observations: August typically falls within what’s known as “monsoon season” in the American Southwest. Therefore, any tours you do in the Page, AZ, area should be scheduled for earlier morning hours. Afternoon tours are often cancelled due to heightened flash flood danger, excessive heat warnings, or both. It looks as though you have planned accordingly for that, so again, high five!
      On Day 4 – plan on hitting Horseshoe Bend just after sunrise. Sunset at Horseshoe Bend is terribly crowded, and you may have troubles finding a place to park. In August, sunrise occurs at about 5:30 AM. I know that sounds awfully early, especially when you’re on vacation, but trust me, you’ll enjoy cooler temperatures and fewer people competing for that perfect photo op!
      If you have the option to add another day onto the end of your trip, I’d recommend doing so. Otherwise, you may want to skip the Virgin River tubing on your 8th day. Activities like that, though not particularly dangerous (usually), tend to leave a person in a state we refer to as “sun drunk.” Afterwards, all you’ll probably be in the mood to do is relax with a cocktail and have an early night, not make a 3.5+ hour drive to the airport and a red-eye flight home! Whatever you decide, keep in mind that there will be construction taking place on I-15 through the Virgin River Gorge that could delay your arrival into Las Vegas by 30-60 minutes.
      Hope that helps. Please feel free to hit us up again if we can offer further suggestions!
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  23. Sanzeeda says:

    Hi Alley!
    I am so glad that I found your plan and followed it last week to a perfect trip including food. I really appreciate your time and efforts 🙂
    Sanzeeda

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Sanzeeda,
      Thank you so much for taking the time to let us know how your trip went! We’re glad that our itinerary helped. If you ever have a chance to return to the area, check out our 14-day Grand Circle Tour itinerary for even suggestions on cool places to go and fun things to do.
      Take care,
      Alley 🙂

  24. Jenny says:

    Hi Alley!

    I have an itinerary planned for September that I am now having ‘cold feet’ about! I have 6 nights arriving into Vegas at 10.30am Sunday and departing 9am Saturday current plan is…..

    Sunday: arrive Vegas 10.30am and drive to Bryce. I have a cabin booked at Bryce Lodge…this is a long drive I know and hopefully we can get there before sunset….am I being too optimistic?

    Monday: sunrise at Bryce then do a short hike maybe Queens Garden and Navajo Loop Trails approx 3 hours for the hike. Then drive to Zion staying at Cable Mountain Lodge

    Tuesday: planning on spending until 2pm in Zion NP. I know this is not enough! I am Interested in smaller trails and not Angels Landing or the Narrows as they would be too much for my son. 2pm leave for Page where I have 2 nights booked.

    Wednesday: A slot tour, Horseshoe Bend and Glen Canyon Dam?

    Thursday: Have the day to drive to South Rim accomodation booked at Kachina lodge

    Friday: Sun rise at the rim and walk around then drive to Vegas via Hoover Dam…..not planning on doing a tour. Accommodation is booked near the airport as have a 9am flight

    Saturday: 9am flight

    Bryce is more important than Zion….Am I trying to do too much or is this doable? Any suggestions to tweak. Traveling with my husband and son who is 12.

    Thanks so much

    Cheers, Jenny

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hey Jenny,
      Your itinerary looks pretty fun, and well-planned. Most visitors doing a trip such as yours hit Zion first, since it’s closer to Las Vegas, then Bryce, then Page, AZ. Since you already have your lodging reservations made, though, I’d recommend keeping everything as is. Changing them at this point will be next to impossible.
      Hopefully your flight to Las Vegas will arrive on time and you’ll experience minimal disruptions in picking up your rental car. Even if all goes according to plan, expect to take at least 60-90 minutes after landing to get underway from McCarran Airport. Then, you’re looking at ~5 hours’ drive from Las Vegas to Bryce. The reason for the longish estimate is because there is construction taking place on a stretch of I-15 through the Virgin River Gorge that is very likely to hold you up. The key is to make sure that you get to your final destination well before sunset. Driving at night in this part of the U.S. is strongly discouraged due to the lack of ambient lighting on local roads, and the tendency of deer, elk, free range cattle and feral horses to congregate around them at night. Sunset at Bryce in September occurs at ~7:30 PM. Keep in mind that Nevada is on Pacific Time and Utah is on Mountain Time, which means that LAS is 1 hour behind Bryce. You’ll “lose” an hour traveling from one state to the other.
      In Zion, if you don’t wish to take on anything as labor-intensive as Angel’s Landing, you’ll be happy to know that there are plenty of easy hikes you can enjoy. When you leave Utah, you’ll “gain” an hour traveling to Page, AZ, since Arizona does not observe Daylight Saving Time.
      On Wednesday, plan on visiting Horseshoe Bend just after sunrise. The mid-day hours get very crowded, and hot. A sunrise visit offers the advantages of cooler temperatures and fewer people to contend with. Sunrise in Page, AZ, in September occurs at approximately 6:00 AM. Be sure to make your Antelope Canyon tour reservations ASAP if you haven’t done so already.
      As for whether you’re trying to do too much, I don’t think so. But if some of the plans don’t materialize as you’ve made them, try not to fret too much about it. Oftentimes, the best memories of vacations are the moments that unfold unexpectedly. RE: Zion, you are correct in that more time there would be preferable. I can pretty much guarantee you’ll be pining for a return trip after you get home!
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      • Jenny says:

        Alley, thank you so much for your words of wisdom…you are amazing! Great to know it is better to head to Horseshoe Bend just after sunrise to avoid the crowds! All things considered it might be wise to head to Zion first and then head to Bryce on Monday…..It looks like there will be the same road works going to Zion…how long do you think it will take to get to Zion??? I have checked and luckily I am able to change my Zion Accom to the Sunday night and it looks like I can get a room no problem at Ruby’s and will look out for a cancellation at Bryce Lodge 🙏 I know the drive from Ruby’s into Bryce but is it advisable for to do this before sunrise? Thanks again 😊

        • Alley Keosheyan says:

          Hi again, Jenny!
          I’m pleasantly surprised to hear that you are able to change your reservations at Zion. If you end up doing that, expect the drive from Las Vegas to take 3-3.5 hours with the construction.
          As for whether you make the trip into Bryce from Ruby’s before sunrise, I would at least wait until it is somewhat light out so you can see what’s on the road ahead of you. However, getting an early start on your sightseeing is always a good idea during peak travel season so you can avoid the crowds that descend on the parks during the mid-day/early afternoon hours!
          One thing I didn’t mention in my previous reply was to purchase an America The Beautiful Federal Lands Access Pass. For $80, this card grants you access to all the National Parks, Monuments, and Federal Fee Areas in the U.S. for 1 year’s time. It won’t work in areas like Native American Tribal Parks (Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon) or State Parks, but it will still pay for itself on the trip you’re planning to take. Just request it at the entrance station of the first National Park you visit.
          Have a great trip!
          Alley 🙂

          • Jenny says:

            Thanks again Alley for your help 😊 we will definitely get an America The Beautiful Pass! Luckily I have now found a cancellation at Bryce Canyon Lodge for the Monday night so that will make things a lot easier for sunrise and sunset there! Looking forward to our trip which has been so much easier to organise with all your information and tips!

          • Alley Keosheyan says:

            Hi again Jenny,
            Good job on scoring a cancellation at Bryce Canyon Lodge! Have a wonderful trip 🙂
            Alley

  25. Krista Buchholz says:

    Wow- so much great information!! I’ve been trying to map out the “perfect vacation” to see the Utah loop and have heard that the North Rim is a must see. I am now trying to see what I can do to make it all work. Here are the details- Leave the Black Hills area early on June 29…had planned a stop somewhere between there and Moab but have not reserved yet. We will have a pull camper and I realize we may be in for some long drives (pretty unavoidable). So I have two nights reserved in Moab (June 30 and July 1), then I had planned a night in Monument Valley, a night in Springdale, and then a night in Torrey before heading home (either straight through or staying in CO somewhere)… Could I just change the following: Monument Valley to somewhere near North Rim and add a night there? What do you suggest?? Thank you so much!!

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Krista (that’s my sister’s name!),
      You are correct in that you’re looking at some long drives, and pulling a camper, you may be slightly restricted on what roads you use. Be sure to verify the feasibility of any routes you propose to travel before you setting out. Utah Scenic Byway 12 for example is an amazingly beautiful road, but some advise against traveling it with a camper in tow. Then again, others have done it and lived to tell the story, so do some research and decide for yourself.
      You’re looking at a 12+ hour drive from the Black Hills of SD to Moab, UT. A good place to break up the drive would be Ft. Collins or Boulder, CO. On the drive back from Torrey, UT, you might stop over in Ouray or Montrose, CO.
      RE: adding Grand Canyon North Rim to your itinerary, you are correct in that the most logical way to accomplish this would be to drop Monument Valley from your wish list. Unfortunately, it’s going to be darn near impossible to find lodging at the North Rim on this short of notice, so here’s what I’d recommend you do: cancel your reservations in Springdale, UT, and book 2-3 nights in Kanab, UT. Kanab is on the Western edge of Zion, so it only takes about 30 minutes one way to drive to Zion — assuming you can unhook your tow vehicle from your camper easily enough — then the following day, visit the North Rim as a day trip. It takes ~90 minutes, each way, to drive from Kanab, UT, to Grand Canyon North Rim. In late June, you have long daylengths working in your favor. Keep an eye on the clock and make sure you time your return trip so you are back to Kanab by sunset. In late June, sunrise in Kanab, UT, occurs at 6:15 AM, sunset shortly before 9:00 PM.

      Hope that helps! Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  26. MArti Hood says:

    Hello I need some help please. We are in need of a schedule we land in vegas (Not sight seeing there) and have 9 days.
    We want to see Hoover Dam., Grand Canyon, Page AZ and then Sedona and fly out of Phoenix. Can someone help please?

  27. Tami says:

    Alley-
    I love reading your posts! So happy I found you! We are a family with 2 teenage boys planning a trip this summer and I was hoping to get some feedback from you…
    June 28- arrive in Las Vegas
    June 29- arrive Grand Canyon South Rim
    June 30- arrive in Page
    July 1- drive thru Momument Valley and arrive at Moab
    We will then be heading into Colorado since we will need to check into a dude ranch near Laramie July 4.
    I originally wanted to add Zion at the beginning of the trip but decided that might be too much. Unless you think we could squeeze it in?
    Any advice or recommendations would be greatly appreciated!
    Thanks so much!

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Tami, I’m glad you have found our site useful so far!
      The only way I can see to squeeze Zion into your itinerary would be to reverse the order in which you visit Grand Canyon South Rim and Page, and visit Zion as kind of a “drive-by” between Las Vegas and Page. Note that there is some construction going on on a stretch of I-15 through the Virgin River Gorge that will add some time onto an already long drive, anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. The article linked in the prior passage does suggest an alternate route.
      Whether or not you can do this is contingent on whether or not you can change your lodging reservations in Page, AZ, and the Grand Canyon, as well as your Antelope Canyon tour reservations. If you are able to pull all that off, you can then hit Monument Valley and Moab, UT, as originally planned. BTW, you’re looking at a couple of long drives also from Grand Canyon South Rim to Moab (at least 6 hours), then from Moab, UT, to Laramie, WY (~7 hours). Hope you’re prepared for that. Nevertheless, plan on spending at least 2 days in Moab. Still, I can pretty much guarantee you’ll be planning a return trip for when you can stay longer!

      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  28. wendi chase says:

    I am so glad I found this site !! Planning a trip to Vegas and onward to drive around the Canyon and back… your 7 day trip seems a bit rushed, if I followed it but spread everything out over 2 days would you recommend that ? Or would you recommend some areas , one day is enough? just myself and my husband, we are very physically fit but not hiking fanatics , going for the view and and some R&R to celebrate our 25th anniversary ..

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hey Wendi, and congratulations on your upcoming anniversary!
      If you have more time to spend on this American Southwest tour itinerary, then by all means, do it. You’ll find no shortage of things to see and do in all the different parks and monuments out here, or, as you say, just having some R & R should no doubt be welcome. Speaking of R & R, a good place for some intensive chill time is Sedona, AZ. If you’re flying into and/or out of Phoenix, Sedona is ~2 hours North of PHX, and warrants 2-3 days minimum of your time.
      But then again, if you have 14 days to spend, you could do something like this: HorseshoeBend.com: Grand Canyon, Zion, Moab & More – 14 Days in the Grand Circle
      The good news is, it’s hard to go wrong with any kind of vacation out here, whether you try and make the most of every moment, or let things unfold at a more leisurely pace.
      Hope that helps. Feel free to his us up again if we can offer further guidance!
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  29. Jennifer E says:

    Hi there! Your itineraries are amazing!!! We are thinking of flying into Las Vegas and spending a day or two there and then heading to Grand Canyon for a couple of days. From there we would like to visit Monument Valley and stay there a night or two and then thinking of heading up to Salt Lake City to fly back home. What are your thoughts on this? We are thinking about 7-10 days for the trip. It is 2 adults and 2 children ages 12 and 8. Thanks in advance!

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Jennifer and thanks for the compliments 🙂
      First off, you’ll definitely want to allow 10 days or more for this trip. Lots to see and do, and with the distance between airports, you’ll be glad you had the extra time! Assuming that you will indeed have 10 days, I’d recommend as follows:
      Day 1 – fly into Las Vegas, stay overnight
      Day 2 – 2nd day/night in Las Vegas. With the 2 kids being underage, you’ll be somewhat limited in where you can go/what you can do, but there is still plenty on offer to keep kids entertained! Kid-Friendly Las Vegas Activities
      Day 3 – Drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim (~5 hours), stop at Hoover Dam if desired, overnight at Grand Canyon **IMO you’ll only need 1 night at Grand Canyon because a big chunk of your Grand Canyon sightseeing will be done the following day.
      Day 4 – Drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ (~3.5-4 hours factoring in the stops you’ll make at various Grand Canyon viewpoints along the East Rim/Desert View Drive, maybe stop for brunch/lunch at the Cameron Trading Post in the Navajo Indian Reservation), overnight in Page, AZ
      Day 5 – Visit Horseshoe Bend just after sunrise for ease of parking, cooler temperatures, then tour Antelope Canyon (consider bundling your Antelope Canyon tour with a visit to the Navajo Village Heritage Center or a boat tour of the waterside of Antelope Canyon), 2nd night in Page, AZ
      Day 6 – Drive to Monument Valley (~2.5 hours), overnight in Monument Valley.
      Day 7 – Take backcountry tour of Monument Valley, drive to Moab, UT (~2.5 hours), stop at Forrest Gump Point and/or Goosenecks State Park, overnight in Moab
      Day 8 – 2nd day/night in Moab, explore Arches National Park
      Day 9 – 3rd day/night in Moab, explore Canyonlands National Park **Visit Moab Adventure Center for suggestions on activities, including white water rafting, 4WD tours, horseback riding, etc.
      Day 10 – drive to SLC (~4 hours), fly home

      The first thing I would recommend verifying is availability of Grand Canyon lodging, then Antelope Canyon tours. You may need to be prepared to flip-flop this itinerary if availability of those two trip elements is more conducive to doing so.
      Plan to purchase an America The Beautiful Federal Lands Access Pass also. For $80, this card grants you access to all National Parks, Monuments, and Federal Fee Areas in the country for 1 year. It won’t work in areas like Antelope Canyon and Monument Valley, which are Native American Tribal Parks, or State Parks, which Goosenecks of the San Juan falls under, but it will still pay for itself on this trip. If you’re in the US, you might pre-order it online, or simply purchase it at the first National Park you visit on your itinerary.
      Hope that helps, feel free to hit us up again if you need/want to bounce more ideas off us.
      Good luck and safe travels!
      Alley 🙂

  30. cecilia says:

    Hi Alley,

    For a 7 day trip including 4 corners what would you recommend. We can start any location! Thank you!

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Cecilia and thank you for your inquiry.
      First of all, before you totally upend your vacation plans, you should decide whether or not you really want to include the Four Corners Monument in your itinerary. According to many who’ve been there, it’s just OK. If you truly want to tick it off your bucket list — having been there myself, I understand the appeal of doing so — it wouldn’t be too hard to incorporate it into this 7-day itinerary. On your Monument Valley travel day, simply head directly for 4 Corners, which is ~a 4 hour drive from the Grand Canyon, then return to Monument Valley via Bluff, UT. That would be ~a 90 minute drive from 4 Corners, and that way you can easily pop by Mexican Hat, and Forrest Gump Point.

      If you’re not opposed to “reinventing the wheel” as it were, Four Corners is ~a 4 hour drive from Albuquerque, NM, which makes for a good starting point for a loop through Northern New Mexico and Southeastern Colorado, which would potentially include Mesa Verde National Park, the Durango/Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, Telluride, Ouray, Chama, Taos, and Santa Fe.

      Hope that helps! Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  31. Kathy says:

    Hi Alley, Wow so much good information here! Thank you! We are retiring in a few months and to celebrate we’re hitting the road to visit the Western United States and could use your help with a bit of planning … it’s a little in advance of our travel but it’s gonna be a long trip and we are trying to make the best of our time there … We should arrive in Williams, Arizona about May 1, 2020 and we’ll have about 3 weeks to see as much as we can see during this section of our trip heading towards Las Vegas … we’d like to include the Grand Canyon, Sedona, all the National Parks in Utah … Page, Zion, Antelope Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Monument Valley, Moab … we want to see as much as possible … if we need more time then now is when we need to know that to make adjustments to our time line … we will be towing a 40′ 5th wheel so please keep that in mind as far as paved roads etc … also one last note – I am very into photography so if there is anything off the beaten path that you feel is a must see please let me know … we’ve dreamed about this trip for a long time and so excited that it’s within reach. We’ve been to Hoover Dam a few times so not necessary to stop there again. if you could suggest a route and about how much time we need at each area it would be greatly appreciated! Thank you again 🙂

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Kathy, and congratulations on your impending retirement! It’s definitely good that you are planning your American Southwest vacation well in advance.
      At the time of year you’re visiting, you’ll definitely want to plan on staying in developed campgrounds. Early May is in that “transitional” zone between winter and spring, so what the weather will be like is anybody’s guess. You could get an early teaser of summer weather where you’ll be glad you had air conditioning, or, old man winter might decide to try for a last stand or two, where you’ll definitely want reliable heat. Also, being willing/able to unhook your 5th wheel from your tow vehicle will open up more possibilities for self-touring in the various locations you stop at.
      With 3 weeks to work with, you can definitely tick off all the items from your “wish list,” and maybe include some time in Western Colorado, or take a swing up into Northern Utah, depending on the weather, and your particular interests. With a 40′ RV, you’ll want to verify that all roads you propose to travel are conducive to RV travel. If you haven’t done so already, I’d recommend joining TripAdvisor and consulting their regional travel forums as well as the “Road Trips” forum. RV.net is a good source of guidance, too.
      With that in mind, a sample itinerary would go something along the lines of:
      Day 1: Drive to Sedona, AZ. Overnight in Sedona.
      Day 2: Visit Bell Rock, Chapel of Holy Cross, Tlaquepaque, etc. 2nd night in Sedona. 100 Things To Do In Sedona
      Day 3: Take sunrise hot air balloon ride, Pink Jeep Broken Arrow Tour, 3rd night in Sedona.
      **Driving to Sedona, you may wish to avoid taking 89A from Flagstaff as this road is very narrow and windy; it can be done, and has been done by people pulling trailers, but if you’re the least bit apprehensive about it, go in and out through the “back way” via I-17 and AZ179. Do not attempt to go through Jerome, AZ, as it has a 50′ total length limitation on local roads.***
      Day 4: Drive to Grand Canyon South Rim (~3 hours from Sedona via ), overnight in Grand Canyon Trailer Village (in-park) or Grand Canyon Camper Village (in Tusayan, 7 miles outside the park).
      Day 5: Sightseeing at Grand Canyon, use free shuttles to tour Grand Canyon Village area and overlooks on Hermit’s Rest/West Rim Drive. 2nd night in Grand Canyon.
      Day 6: Drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ along East Rim/Desert View Drive, stop at overlooks that permit RV’s, Cameron Trading Post for lunch/brunch (~3.5-4 hour drive factoring in stops), overnight in Lake Powell Resort RV Park or Page/Lake Powell Campground in Page, AZ.
      Day 7: Visit Horseshoe Bend first thing in AM, tour Antelope Canyon, possibly short Lake Powell Boat Tour. Antelope Canyon land/waterside tour bundles
      Day 8: Take tour to White Pocket (great photography location, not much hiking required), spend 2nd night in Page, AZ.
      Day 9: Drive from Page, AZ, to Monument Valley (~2.5 hour drive), overnight in Monument Valley.
      Day 10: Take backcountry tour of Monument Valley, 2nd night in Monument Valley.
      Day 11: Drive from Monument Valley to Durango, CO (~3.5 hour drive), overnight in Durango.
      Day 12: Explore Mesa Verde National Park, 2nd night in Durango.
      Day 13: Take Durango/Silverton Narrow Gauge train trip, 3rd night in Durango.
      Day 14: Drive from Durango, CO, to Moab, UT (~3 hour drive), overnight in Moab.
      Day 15: Explore Arches National Park, 2nd night in Moab Things To Do in Moab
      Day 16: Explore Canyonlands National Park, 3rd night in Moab
      Day 17: Drive from Moab, UT, to Capitol Reef National Park, overnight in Torrey.
      Day 18: Drive from Torrey to Bryce Canyon (via UT24 & UT62 through Loa and Antimony, NOT via UT12), overnight in Bryce Canyon area
      Day 19: Drive from Bryce to Zion, ~2.5 hours, overnight in Springdale, UT **please read this guide to taking RV’s in the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel to determine if your 5th wheel will fit**
      Day 20: Hiking in Zion, 2nd night in Springdale
      Day 21: Drive from Springdale to Las Vegas (~4.5 hours [longer than usual due to a long-term construction project on I-15 through the Virgin River Gorge]).

      Be sure to purchase an America The Beautiful Federal Lands Access Pass. Those 62 and over qualify for a lifetime pass. You can pre-order it online, or simply purchase it at the first National Park you visit.
      Hope that helps. Feel free to hit us up again if we can be of further assistance.
      Alley 🙂

  32. AikiPapi says:

    Alley and Friends –

    Can’t thank you enough for sharing all of this guidance – it has been both informative and educational to read through.

    We’re planning a mini-grand-circle tour (~8 days) for our NJ family of 5 at the end of next month (June), including parents and three “children” (ages 20, 20, and 11). Trying to see and do as much as possible and keep everyone entertained without outstripping attention spans and our tolerance for too many back-to-back long car rides together : )

    With this in mind, I’ve put together the loose itinerary below in the hopes that you may be able to further advise in terms of (1) a reality check toward “do-ability”, and (2) any notable sites we might want to hit along our circular route.

    Thanks in advance for any further insights you can share!

    Day 1: Arrive in LV (LAS) around noon
    • Lunch in LV area
    • Drive 45 min. to Hoover Dam for afternoon tour
    • Drive 2 hrs. to Hualapai Lodge in Peach Springs, AZ
    o Stop/Shop/Snack in Kingman, AZ en route
    • Dinner at Diamond Creek (in Lodge)

    Day 2: Peach Springs, AZ
    • Breakfast in Lodge
    • 1-day rafting trip with Hualapai River Runners (aka Rivers and Oceans?)
    • Drive 2 hrs. to Hotel in Tusayan, AZ near South Rim of GC
    • Dinner in Tusayan

    Day 3: Tusayan/GC South Rim
    • Breakfast at Hotel?
    • Hit Grocery Store to fill cooler for picnic later
    • FREE TIME?
    • Grand Canyon Village
    o Cooler Picnic Lunch
    o Canyon View Information Plaza & Film
    o Hike Bright Angel Trail?
    o Be at rim for sunset
    o Dinner in Village
    • Drive 2.5 hours to Hotel in Page, AZ
    o (Super Wal-Mart & Safeway in town)

    Day 4: Page, AZ
    • Combo Lower Antelope Slot Canyon Hike and Kayak Tour: https://www.kayakpowell.com/
    o Hike 1.1 miles (~ 1.5 hrs.) @ 9:15 AM
    o Big Lake Trading Post for food
    o Kayak 4-5 miles (~ 3 hrs.) 20 min. away @ 12:30 PM
    • Canyon X or Secret Canyon are alternatives
    • Back to Hotel – RELAX
    • Dinner?

    Day 5: Page, AZ
    • Morning Hike 0.6 miles to Horseshoe Bend (Colorado River) view
    • Breakfast at Ranch House Grille or Canyon Crepes
    • 1-2 hours Jetskiing on Lake Powell (from Antelope Point Marina?)
    • Lake Powell
    • See Rainbow Bridge? (would love to, but seems like a half-day commitment unto itself)
    • Drive 2.5 hours to Hotel @ Bryce Canyon, UT

    Day 6: Bryce Canyon, UT
    • Tour canyon via ATV or MTB (if we can find a nice beginner to intermediate trail)
    https://www.rubysinn.com/activities-in-bryce-canyon/
    o Hike Canyon if we’re better off mountain biking in Zion
    • Free shuttle to scenic spots from station north of park, or at Ruby’s Inn and the Grand Hotel?
    • Drive 1.5 hours to [Hotel] at Zion National Park, UT Hotel

    Day 7: Zion National Park, UT
    • Upper Emerald Pools Trail (3-mile) or Narrows (riverbed) Hike?
    o Perhaps MTB tour if not done at Bryce
    • Dinner in Springdale, UT?
    • Drive 2.5 Hours to [Hotel] Las Vegas, NV
    o Leave evening or next morning

    Day 8: Las Vegas, NV
    • Hotel Pool
    • Dinner Reservation
    • Tour Strip

    Day 9: Depart LV (LAS) mid-day
    • Pool (if time)
    • Leave for McCarran Airport

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi AikiPapi,
      Boy, I wish we had a trip planning prize, because if we did, I’d give it to you!
      Your itinerary looks really fun and very well thought out, and as much as I hate to say it, it’s a trifle overplanned. Day 4, for example, the Combo Lower Antelope Slot Canyon Hike and Kayak Tour should be plenty of fun for one day! One thing you need to keep in mind is that June is going to be really hot in areas like Page, AZ, and Las Vegas, so you definitely want to get your more “labor intensive” activities done in the morning. By the time you get done with the kayaking part of the tour, you’re going to be more inclined to relax with a cocktail than see another slot canyon. If you do have more energy to burn, I recommend something that takes place indoors, where there’s air conditioning, such as visiting the John Wesley Powell Museum, or maybe firing off a few rounds at Gunfighter Canyon. For dinner, you might consider “Into The Grand” which is a cultural/historical experience more like a dinner theatre than a restaurant.
      But I’m getting a little off-track…
      You have the 1-Day Grand Canyon White Water rafting trip planned, which is awesome! Having taken that trip myself, however, I can tell you that the last thing you’ll want to do afterwards is face a 2.5 hour drive to the South Rim. If the helicopter airlift at the end of the raft trip is cancelled due to wind or whatever reason, that’s going to add another 2 hours onto your trip time. I’d recommend trying to get another night at Hualapai Lodge or maybe Seligman, AZ, if you possibly can, then head to the Grand Canyon after you’ve all had a good night’s sleep. Another consideration is that nighttime driving is not a good idea in this part of the country due to the dearth or sometimes complete lack of artificial lighting on local roads, and the tendency of deer, elk, free range cattle, and even wild horses to congregate around them at night. For a similar reason, I’d recommend leaving the Grand Canyon for Page, AZ, well before sunset, or seeing if you can overnight in the Grand Canyon area on Day 3. One thing working in your favor at the time of year you’re traveling is the longest daylengths of the year; sunrise occurs at ~5:00 AM and sun sets at around 8:00 PM (Arizona time).
      On Day 5, there’s no way you’re going to be able to do a boat tour to Rainbow Bridge unless you ’86 all your other plans. You are correct in that Lake Powell boat tours will take the better part of a day, 7-8 hours usually. The current tour schedule is two daily departures, one at 7:30 AM and a second at 12:30 PM. Also, depending on the water level of Lake Powell, you may have to hike 2-3 miles round trip from the boat dock to the bridge. If that doesn’t appeal, one way you might still be able to check Rainbow Bridge off your wish list is to fly over it. Fixed wing airplanes depart from Page Municipal Airport daily. Mornings are the best time to fly for best light and lack of wind. Just after sunrise is also the best time to visit Horseshoe Bend for cooler temperatures and thinner crowds.
      As for the rest of your trip, if downtime happens, don’t fret. Every vacation should have at least some unscheduled time where moments just “happen,” or… nothing happens at all.
      One more thing: at the time of year you’re traveling, a construction project is scheduled to get underway on a small stretch of I-15 through the Virgin River Gorge. This will potentially add another hour on your drive time between Zion and Las Vegas.
      Hope that helps! Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  33. Jazmin says:

    Thank you very much for all of this information – I really appreciate it. One additional question – if we don’t include the Santa Fe area but keep your recommendations for Mesa Verde and the Bryce Canyon/Capital Reef/Arches areas, what would you suggest the itinerary look like? Thank you again.

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hey again, Jazmin, sorry again for taking a few days to get back to you. If you’ve already made your decisions/reservations, I truly understand!
      So, a revised itinerary, sans the New Mexico destinations, would look more like this:
      June 16th: Arrive in Phoenix, stay overnight
      June 17th: Drive to Sedona (~2.5 hours), visit Chapel of the Holy Cross, Tlaquepaque, or explore the many art galleries and museums in the area.
      June 18th: Second day in Sedona, in the morning, do one of several easy but scenic hikes in the area, perhaps take the Pink Jeep Broken Arrow Tour, hit some sites you may have missed the day prior. 2nd night in Sedona.
      June 19th: Drive from Sedona to Grand Canyon South Rim (~3 hour drive), overnight at Grand Canyon
      June 20th: first thing in the AM take a fixed wing airplane or helicopter flight over the North Rim, then drive to Page, AZ (~3.5-4 hour drive), tour Antelope Canyon that afternoon, overnight in Page.
      June 21st: Visit Horseshoe Bend just after sunrise, then take AM Glen Canyon Half Day Float Trip (6:00 AM check-in, 7:00 AM departure), second night in Page.
      June 22nd: Drive from Page, AZ, to Mesa Verde, CO, via Monument Valley (~5-6 hour drive), overnight in Durango, Cortez, or Mancos, CO.
      June 23rd: Drive from Mesa Verde, CO, to Moab, UT, overnight in Moab.
      June 24th: Explore Arches National Park, 2nd night in Moab.
      June 25th: Explore Canyonlands National Park, 3rd night in Moab.
      June 26th: Drive from Moab, UT, to Bryce Canyon via Capitol Reef National Park (~5-6 hour drive), overnight in Bryce.
      June 27th: Drive from Bryce to Zion (~2 hour drive), overnight in Springdale, UT.
      June 28th: Drive to San Diego, CA, via Las Vegas, ~9 hour drive, maybe stop at Hoover Dam if time permits.

      As you can see, this has you doing one LOOOOOONG drive at the end of your trip, when you may be least inclined to do so. If you agree with that assessment, there are opportunities where you can shave some time off, for example, dropping that 3rd night in Moab, UT, or perhaps driving from Page, AZ, to Monument Valley and spending the night in that area instead of 2 nights in Page, AZ. Before you commit to those alterations, however, be sure that lodging availability in ALL proposed destinations would accommodate doing so.
      Have fun and feel free to hit me up again for further guidance,
      Alley 🙂

  34. Jazmin says:

    Hi Alley,
    I’m trying to plan a road trip to the GC area but there are so many beautiful options that is very difficult to decide and overwhelming. We are taking 17 days for this trip and renting a car, we wish to do the following. We are landing in Phoenix June 16th at 10 am (staying 1 night tentative), visit Sedona, GCSR, Santa Fe, Mesas Verde Monument Valley, Horseshoes bend, GCNR, Zion, Hoover Dam and ending in San Diego for 3 days) and we are flying from San Diego to Connecticut on July 2nd 10 pm. We only have booked the hotel in San Diego so far. As I’m researching, this plan might not be doable. If the trip is possible, what would the schedule look like? If not, suggestions will be sooo appreciated. My husband and I and two children (15 and 11) enjoy walks and easy hikes but we don’t consider ourselves hiker. We would like to do some walks or swim by a river or a boat ride, do a guided tour of the mesas dwellings or a guided tour of the Monument Valley. Also I will like to include a stay at a ranch that offers horseback riding or rodeo show, maybe a living history museum. I’m open to any suggestion and thank you in advance.

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Jazmin, thanks for visiting us. I apologize for the delay in response to your inquiry.
      As you’ve correctly deduced, you have a very ambitious “wish list” which will inevitably require some paring down in order to assure that your vacation is truly a vacation and not a constant “pack up and drive” exercise. Given the constraints you indicate, i.e, staying overnight in Phoenix on your arrival day, then capping off the trip with a 3-night stay in San Diego, that essentially gives you 11-12 days to work with in the Southwestern U.S. Another top-of-mind consideration is that you’re visiting during the hottest time of the year, which will have a definite affect on what you do and when. Essentially: do all your hiking or high-intensity activities in the morning. Here’s how I recommend you proceed:
      June 16th: Arrive in Phoenix, stay overnight
      June 17th: Drive to Sedona (~2.5 hours), visit Chapel of the Holy Cross, Tlaquepaque, or explore the many art galleries and museums in the area.
      June 18th: Second day in Sedona, in the morning, do one of several easy but scenic hikes in the area. Overnight in Sedona.perhaps take the Pink Jeep Broken Arrow Tour, hit some sites you may have missed the day prior. 2nd night in Sedona.
      June 19th: Drive from Sedona to Grand Canyon South Rim (~3 hour drive), overnight at Grand Canyon
      June 20th: first thing in the AM take a fixed wing airplane or helicopter flight over the North Rim, then drive to Santa Fe, NM (~8 hour drive). On the way, you might take the opportunity to stop at the Acoma Pueblo just West of Albuquerque. Guided tours are offered, and should be reserved in advance. Overnight in Santa Fe.
      June 21st: Second night in Santa Fe, explore the historic plaza area, or visit one of the many art galleries and museums in the area. Santa Fe NM Activities
      June 22nd: Drive from Santa Fe, NM to Mesa Verde, ~5.5 hour drive, overnight in Durango, Cortez, or Mancos, CO Mesa Verde Lodging
      June 23rd: Drive to Page, AZ via Monument Valley (~5 hour drive); tour Antelope Canyon that afternoon, overnight in Page.
      June 24th: Visit Horseshoe Bend just after sunrise, then take AM Glen Canyon Half Day Float Trip (6:00 AM check-in, 7:00 AM departure), 2nd night in Page.
      June 25th: Drive to Zion, ~2 hour drive, along the way stop at mile marker 19 on US89 for the relatively easy and fun Paria Rimrocks/Toadstool Trails Hike, overnight in Springdale, UT
      June 26th: 2nd day in Zion, maybe hike the Weeping Rock, Watchman, or Emerald Pools Trail. There are lots of easy but beautiful hikes in Zion! , overnight in Springdale.
      June 27th: Drive from Springdale to Las Vegas (~3-3.5 hours), overnight in Vegas.
      June 28th: Drive to San Diego, CA, ~5.5 hour drive, stop at Hoover Dam on your way out of town.
      June 29th – July 1st: San Diego

      So — as you can see, some long drives are going to be required in order to pull this all off. If the prospect of all that time behind the wheel doesn’t appeal, you might consider taking New Mexico and/or Colorado off the table this time around and perhaps pulling your trip radius in a bit tighter. By doing so, you could add Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, and perhaps Arches/Canyonlands to the mix, which wouldn’t cramp your style in the least!
      I know it’s a hard choosing what to leave in and what to leave out. Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have further questions.
      Good luck and save travels,
      Alley 🙂

      • Rob Gunnemann says:

        Hi Alley,

        I love your website & I love that you give help with people’s itineraries. My wife & I are planning a short trip to Arizona/Utah the beginning of June 2019. We’ve been to the Grand Canyon & Sedona. I’ve never been to the other parks in AZ or UT. We have family in Prescott Valley, AZ that we wanted to visit at the end of this short park tour. We will be driving from Redlands, CA

        This is what I think we should do. Please let me know if I should choose another path or go somewhere else instead.

        Day 1 = 06/01 Saturday
        Drive from Redlands, CA to Springdale, UT = 6 hours
        Maybe see the sunset over Zion

        Day2 = 06/02 Sunday
        Hike Zion national Park
        Drive from Springdale, UT to Bryce, UT = 1 hour 50 minutes

        Day 3 = 06/03 Monday
        Hike Bryce Canyon
        Drive from Bryce Canyon to Moab,UT = 4 hour 20 minutes

        Day 4 = 06/04 Tuesday
        Arches national Park & Monument valley
        Drive from Moab, UT to Page, AZ = 4 hours 25 minutes

        Day 5 = 06/05 Wednesday
        Antelope canyon & Horseshoe Canyon Tour
        Drive from Page, AZ to Prescott Valley, AZ = 3 hour 28 minutes

        My wife also wants to see Monument Valley. Where can I add this?

        What would you change or do different?

        • Alley Keosheyan says:

          Hi Rob and thank you for visiting our site!
          Thanks also, for pointing out that you have already been to the Grand Canyon and Sedona 😉
          Your trip looks pretty well-planned, but you really don’t have time to do Moab, UT justice. It takes 4-5 days, bare minimum, to explore Arches, Canyonlands, Dead Horse Point, maybe do some rafting or 4-wheeling, etc., etc. Another consideration is that the time of year is crazy-hot and crazy-busy, so you’ll burn a lot of hours just waiting in line at the entrance gate. In light of all that, I recommend taking Moab off the table, saving it for a future trip at a cooler time of year and either a. giving Zion an extra day or b. booking another night in Page, AZ, and visiting Monument Valley as a day trip from there. From Page, AZ, Monument Valley is a 2-hour drive, each way, but with a relatively long daylength working to your advantage (sunrise at ~5:00 Am, sunset around 8:00 PM Arizona time), a day trip is more doable in June than at any other time of year. Another way of seeing Monument Valley that doesn’t involve so much driving is to fly over it. Fixed wing airplanes depart from the Page Municipal Airport daily, usually first thing in the morning for best light and lack of wind. Scenic flights of Monument Valley last 90 minutes and also include a flyover of Rainbow Bridge!
          Try to hit Horseshoe Bend just after sunrise so you can take advantage of cooler temperatures and fewer people to contend with. Between 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM parking is virtually impossible to find.
          Another piece of advice: pad your drive times by 20-30%. Most of these drives are very scenic and you will be stopping to take photos often, I guarantee! On the way from Bryce to Page, AZ, for example, the Paria Rimrocks/Toadstool Hoodoos hike is a worthwhile stop at mile marker 19 of US89 between Kanab and Page. Also, on the drive from Redlands to Springdale, there’s a small section of I-15 through the Virgin River Gorge that’s scheduled to be under construction project at the time of year you’r visiting. That could delay your arrival into Springdale, UT, up to an hour.
          Good luck and safe travels!
          Alley 🙂

  35. Sarah Hooley says:

    Your itinerary is so very helpful! If you have 8 full days (arrive at 4 p.m. on June 10th and leave early morning on June 18th) where would you spend the extra day? We’re traveling with a young family (4 kids ages 1-9) so several of the activities are off the table. I’m also trying to keep my family sane even though I’m a “suck the marrow out of life” type vacationer. Thanks so much for your help!

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Sarah,
      Thank you for your compliments on our itinerary!
      If you have an extra day to work with, I’d say either a. give the extra day to Zion — there are lots of family friendly activities in that area, and you can easily spend 4-5 days there yet still feel as though you only ‘scratched the surface’; or b. go to Sedona — stunning area, also with an ample selection of activities and hikes in varying degrees of intensity, but I can pretty much guarantee that once you see it, you’ll wish you had more time there.
      Hope that helps! Please feel free to hit us up again if we can be of further assistance.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

    • Jennifer Rojas says:

      HI Alley,

      I love your post! Thank you for the suggestions. My family and I are planning to do a road trip in late June. Thus far we plan to arrive in LV on 6/21, spend the night there, and drive east to the parks on 6/22. We will have to drive back to LV on 6/30 so we can fly out on 7/1. We were planning to rent an RV and drive, but I am wondering if we should rent a car and stay in hotels? We want to see the big parks in Utah as well as the Grand Canyon and Antelope Canyon. I would really love to get to Moab so my husband and kids could see Arches, but I realize it is the furthest away. I’ve seen most of the places before except for Antelope Canyon and canyonlands… so that is a must on our list. My husband and girls have not seen any of the southern Utah parks or the Grand Canyon. Our girls are 10 and 12 and quite fit so we are able to hike and do most activities. What would you suggest? I LOVED Zion and would happily spend two days there. I hadn’t planned to see Lake Powell… is it worthwhile? I love hiking, and the girls and I ride horses so some trail rides would be fun. Should we start at GC and loop around ending at Zion? Or should we do the opposite?

      • Alley Keosheyan says:

        Hi Jennifer, and thank you for visiting our site.
        RE: the hotel vs RV debate, many visitors consider going that route because they think it will save them money, but in reality, it usually ends up being a “wash.” Between typical summertime gas prices, and the fact that you’ll need to stay in developed RV parks for air conditioning (you’re traveling at the hottest time of year), don’t be surprised if you find this vacation ends up costing just as much as it would have if you had gone the rental car and hotel route. The area where you can potentially realize some significant savings is with the ability to prepare your own meals instead of eating out all the time. Long story short, it’s your call, and RV’ing is fun, but like with any situation, it has its pros and cons.
        So, given your flight dates, you have 8 full days to work with on this vacation. In light of that, and the fact the Moab, UT, is SUPER-hot at the time of year you’re visiting, I’d recommend taking it off the table. It’s just too far afield to be realistic, and you really need anywhere from 3-5 days to do it justice. Here’s what I’d recommend instead:
        06/22 – Drive from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon South Rim, stop at Hoover Dam along the way, overnight at Grand Canyon
        06/23 – Drive from Grand Canyon to Page, AZ, drive time 3.5-4 hours (there are a lot of cool places to stop on this drive!), visit Horseshoe Bend (parking permitting) overnight in Page, AZ.
        06/24 – Visit Horseshoe Bend after sunrise if you weren’t able to visit the day before, tour Antelope Canyon and Lake Powell (yes, Lake Powell is worthwhile!), spend 2nd night in Page, AZ.
        06/25 – Drive from Page, AZ, to Bryce Canyon (~3 hour drive), overnight in Bryce.
        06/26 – 2nd day in Bryce, take ATV tour, or one of many beautiful hikes in the area.
        06/27 – Drive from Bryce to Zion, ~2 hours, overnight in Springdale, UT.
        06/28 – 2nd day in Zion, maybe hike The Narrows or Angel’s Landing, overnight in Springdale.
        06/29 – Spend 3rd day in Zion, or drive to Mt. Charleston, NV (~3.5 hours), overnight at Mt. Charleston or Las Vegas
        06/30 – Free day in Las Vegas
        07/01 – Fly home
        Another option would be to hit Sedona, AZ, before the Grand Canyon and spend a couple of days there. I know your priority was the Utah parks, but Sedona, AZ, is a beautiful area with all kinds of beautiful hikes and fun activities that are family-friendly. You might also need to be prepared to flip-flop this itinerary in case lodging availability at the Grand Canyon (or lack thereof) is more conducive to hitting last on your tour.
        Hope that helps. Good luck and safe travels!
        Alley 🙂

  36. Dolly Davis says:

    Hi Alley,

    You have so many great ideas. I might be able to cobble an itinerary together based on all your responses, but thought if you have a moment I’d see if you have anything to add. I am planning on taking my kids to Kanab to spend a few days at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary the first week in August. They are thirteen year old twins, one boy and one girl. We are from south Florida. We will fly in and out of Vegas, I think. I’d love to show them some nearby sites, including the Grand Canyon and an ATV tour sounds super fun. Moab looks amazing, but might be too far to add given that we only have seven or eight nights, Saturday to Sunday. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks in advance.

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Dolly,
      How wonderful that you’ll be doing volunteer work at Best Friends during your visit to Kanab! Las Vegas would probably be the best place to fly into and out of, but you might also look at Phoenix. Sometimes you can get deals on airfares there during the summer months since that’s considered “off-season” in the Phoenix area.
      If you’re planning on basing yourself in Kanab, UT, for your vacation, then I agree that Moab, UT, would be a too far out of the way to visit as a day trip. It’s a 5-hour drive each way, plus Moab is one of those areas that require a minimum stay of 3-4 days to do it justice. It’s definitely a fun place to visit, so you should definitely plan a trip there in the future.
      As for other sites to visit while in the area, Grand Canyon North Rim would definitely be a good choice, it’s ~2 hours each way from Kanab, UT. Bryce Canyon is another great spot, it’s ~90 minutes from Kanab, and ATV tours are available in this area. Another possibility is Zion, which you can visit as a day trip, or perhaps as a detour on your way back to Las Vegas. Definitely save a day for Page, AZ, so you can visit Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. You might also take advantage of the opportunity to do the Glen Canyon Float Trip with an early start out of Kanab. On the way there or back, time permitting, you might stop at mile marker 19 to do the very scenic and relatively easy Paria Rimrocks/Toadstool Hoodoos hike.
      A couple of things to always keep in mind: 1. Utah IS on Daylight Savings Time, but Arizona IS NOT. You’ll “gain” an hour traveling from Utah to Arizona, but “lose” it on the trip back. 2. Driving at night is strongly discouraged in this part of the U.S. due to lack of artificial lighting on local roads, and the fact that deer, elk, free range cattle, and even wild horses are always around, and tend to gravitate to the roads after sunset. You should try to be “back to base” well before nightfall.
      Hope that helps! If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us again.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  37. anthony says:

    Hi,
    Im looking to travel in early august from salt lake city down to southern utah national parks and include Antelope and horseshoe,page,Zion Bryce, moab in 8 nights, we dont mind driving. Thanks! Anthony

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Anthony,
      With 8 nights to work with, you should be able to enjoy Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Bryce, Zion, Moab, and maybe a few surprises in between. However, one place that’s conspicuously absent from your itinerary is the Grand Canyon. Have you already been there before? I’m going to assume “yes” in this case. If not, hit me up again and we’ll see how we can work it in!
      Here’s what I suggest you do:
      Day 1: Drive from SLC to Bryce Canyon, ~5 hour drive, overnight in Bryce.
      Day 2: Drive from Bryce Canyon to Zion, 90 minute drive, overnight in Springdale, UT, or Kanab, UT.
      Day 3: 2nd day in Zion, overnight in Springdale or Kanab.
      Day 4: Drive from Springdale or Kanab to Page, AZ, drive time ~2-2.5 hours, tour Antelope Canyon in the afternoon, overnight in Page, AZ.
      Day 5: Visit Horseshoe Bend just after sunrise, drive to Moab, UT, via Monument Valley, ~5 hour drive. Overnight in Moab.
      Day 6: Explore Arches NP, 2nd night in Moab **for suggestions on tours and activities for this area, visit Moab Adventure Center
      Day 7: Explore Canyonlands NP, 3rd night in Moab
      Day 8: Drive back to Salt Lake City, ~4 hour drive. Time/inclination permitting, you might make a short detour to Goblin Valley State Park.

      Be sure you make advance reservations for all lodging and guided tours in advance of your trip. Be prepared to flip-flop this itinerary if lodging availability is more conducive to hitting Moab first, then Bryce last.
      Hope that helps. Good luck and safe travels.
      Alley 🙂

  38. Rita says:

    Hi Alley,

    Thanks so much for the amazing itinerary and the tips! I am trying to adopt lot of your plans into our family trip in early June which is about 1 month away. We can’t wait, but still in planning phase. We will fly into Billings MT in the late evening on June 6th, and depart from Las Vegas at 11:00 PM on June 18th. I already booked the flights, and reserved 5 nights inside Yellowstone from 06/07 to 6/11. We plan to stay in Grand Teton, Jackson, Salt Lake City for a couple of nights. Then we are interested in going to Zion, Bryce, Upper Antelope, Page floating, Horseshoe bend, Monument Valley, Canyon South Rim, Hoover Dam, ideally see a show in Vegas before heading to the airport. I have been trying to work out our plan for a few days, and still doing pick and choose places within our limited timeframe. Do you think this plan is feasible? Could you please give me some suggestions where and how long we should stay in each area? what is a must see with the timeframe? We would really appreciate it. Thanks!

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Rita and thank you for your visit today!
      So if I’m interpreting your plan correctly, you intend on staying a couple of nights at SLC in between the Yellowstone and Southern Utah/Northern Arizona segments of your trip, namely the 12th and 13th? If that’s the case, that only gives you 3 full days to work with until you have to fly out of Las Vegas on 6/18. Therefore, no, your plan won’t be feasible. You’ll need to drop a couple of items off your “wish list” unless you’re OK with driving long distances every single day.
      June 14th: The distance from Salt Lake City to the Northernmost Utah park on your itinerary, Bryce Canyon, is ~4.5 hours. Zion would be a further 2 hours from there. If you get an early start out of Salt Lake, you could visit Bryce as a “drive by” on your way to Zion, pop in there for a few hours, then overnight in Kanab, UT.
      June 15th: The next day, you could head down to Page, AZ, which is ~2 hours from Kanab, do an early Antelope Canyon tour, then the afternoon departure of the Glen Canyon float trip, which requires you check in at noon for a 1 PM departure. One thing working in your favor here is that Utah IS on Daylight Savings Time, whereas Arizona is not, so you “gain” an hour traveling from Utah to Arizona. The trip would conclude at around 5:30 PM, then you should overnight in Page, AZ.
      June 16th: The next morning, get up early, hit Horseshoe Bend just after sunrise, then head to Grand Canyon South Rim. The drive is given “on paper” as 2.5 hours, but in reality, it ends up being more along the lines of 3.5-4 hours because it’s a very scenic drive, and you will be stopping to take pictures frequently. Overnight at Grand Canyon South Rim, then the next morning, head for Las Vegas.
      June 17th: The drive from Grand Canyon to Las Vegas typically takes ~5 hours, and Hoover Dam is an easy stop you can make on your way into town. See show that night, fly out of Las Vegas the following morning.
      If you’re OK with sacrificing your wish to see a show in Las Vegas on the 17th, that would free up a night you could stay over in Bryce Canyon, which is preferable to seeing it en route to Zion. Another consideration: one night in Zion really isn’t enough to do that park justice. Most visitors agree that 3-4 nights is the minimum time you should allot.
      As you can see, Monument Valley has been stricken from this itinerary, but another option would be, again, sacrifice the night in Las Vegas, and hit Monument Valley between Page, AZ, and Grand Canyon South Rim. However, I don’t think you’ll be able to find lodging there at this point in time. So, a 3rd possibility would be to, again, scratch the Vegas plans, add a second night in Page, AZ, and visit Monument Valley as either a day trip — it’s a 2-hour drive EACH WAY — or, before making the drive to the Grand Canyon, take a scenic flight over the area in a fixed wing airplane. Flights over Monument Valley last approximately 90 minutes

      Hope that helps, I know it’s a difficult choice of what to leave in and what to leave out.
      Another thing: if you do take us up on the suggestion to visit Monument Valley as a day trip from Page, keep an eye on the time. Remember that Monument Valley DOES observe Daylight Savings Time and Page, AZ, does not. So you’ll “lose” an hour traveling from Page to MV, but regain it as you travel back. Be sure to time your return drive so that you are not doing any of it at night. It’s VERY dark on area roads, and deer, elk, free range cattle, and sometimes wild horses are notorious for causing accidents in areas where it’s sparsely populated and cell phone service is virtually non-existent.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      • Rita says:

        Hi Alley,
        Thank you so much for sending me these great ideas to make our trip plan work better. I am trying to make our final plan by using your suggestions. Thanks again for taking lot of your time to make the plan for us, we really appreciate it! 🙂

  39. Wendy says:

    Allie, I just want to thank you for your invaluable hints and suggestions. We just returned from our 8 day trip to your Grand Circle and followed most of your itinerary, except in reverse; Las Vegas, Zion, Bryce, Antelope (lower), Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam and return to Las Vegas. We spent two nights everywhere except for in Page, one night there, and just a stop at the Hoover Dam. That gave us a full day and a half in each place for exploring, it was a perfect amount of time. It also gave us three days with no driving, which was appreciated. This was also such a good time of year to visit, the weather was great and the crowds were certainly manageable. A huge thanks from us in Maine. You are the BEST. (My daughter said that she feels like we should have found you while we were in Page and bought you a gift, your advice was so helpful.) 😉

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Wendy,
      OMG, thank you SO much for posting a follow-up! I’m overjoyed to hear that you had fun, and that you were able to enjoy 3 days of “drive-free” time as well 🙂
      As for giving me a gift, that is so thoughtful, but unnecessary, plus, the thing is I no longer live in Page, so you would have done a lot of running around in vain. But I appreciate the sentiment. Hope you get a chance to return to the area someday.
      Take care and have a wonderful summer,
      Alley 🙂

  40. Julia Porto says:

    Hi Alley!

    I’ve learned so much already reading your comments, by far the most helpful source I’ve found! Thank you for keeping this public.
    I’m heading next week to a FULL 4-day road trip, and still have many doubts so hopefully, you can give us some last minute tips. This is the so far planned itinerary:
    Day 1: Early morning Las Vegas to Zion. Spend the day until mid afternoon. Leave to Bryce for sunset/lodging.
    Day 2: Sunrise at Bryce, explore Bryce until noon. Leave to Horseshoe bend. If still time, boat tour in Lake Powell. Lodge in Page.
    Day 3: Free morning, thinking about Cathedral or Secret Canyon, or do you suggest another tour? Booked Upper Antelope at 12:30 pm.
    Leave to Grand Canyon for sunset at Hopi point. Lodge in Grand Canyon.
    Day 4: Grand Canyon sunrise. Leave to Sedona, nothing booked there so far. Heading to Flagstaff for the night.
    Day 5: Depart from Flagstaff in the morning

    I’m thinking it’s going to be too much to do in a little time…We are 3 in the party and 2 of us have already visited the Grand Canyon. Still, we wanted to fit at least a stop along the way there. Yet, we could skip the Grand Canyon night, and stay a second night in Page (day 3) heading for a full day in Sedona (day 4). If you have time I would love to hear your opinion!
    Also, what we should not miss (hikes/viewpoints) in Zion, Bryce, Sedona and/or along this route?
    Thank you very very much!!!

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hey Julia, thank you so much for your compliments!
      IMO your itinerary warrants a little “tweaking” for everyone’s comfort and enjoyment.
      On Day 1, for example, where you’re planning to travel from Las Vegas to Bryce via Zion, I’d suggest overnighting in Zion instead. The drive from Las Vegas to Zion, under normal circumstances, takes ~3 hours, but right now there is some construction taking place on a stretch of I-15 through the Virgin River Gorge that is going to add another 30-60 minutes onto your drive. In light of that, plus the fact that Zion has so much to see and do, I’d recommend at least an overnight there. Springdale, UT, on the Western border of the park, or Kanab, UT, just East of the park have the most lodging choices.
      On Day 2, do the drive to Bryce, which is about 1.5 hours from Kanab, or ~2 hours from Springdale, then overnight in Bryce, or nearby.
      On Day 3, drive to Page, AZ, which is ~3 hours from Bryce, do a slot canyon tour. If you’ve already got Upper booked, I’d recommend sticking with that, and then if you wanted to do another activity, a Lake Powell boat tour would be good. With your limited time, you’ll need to stick with one of the shorter ones, such as the 90-minute Antelope Canyon waterside boat tour, or perhaps the Canyon Princess Dinner Cruise. Then overnight in Page, AZ.
      On Day 4, hit Horseshoe Bend, and start heading toward Sedona. Since you’ve already been to the Grand Canyon, instead of going all the way into Grand Canyon Village, I’d recommend doing a quick “pop-in” to the Desert View Watchtower by turning West off US89 onto AZ64 from Cameron. After giving the Grand Canyon a quick wave, head down to Sedona, and instead of driving back to Flagstaff, AZ, that night, simply overnight in Sedona. Then, if you’re going back to Las Vegas on day 5, the drive will be ~4.5 hours. You could stop by Hoover Dam on the way if you wanted.

      Something very important to keep in mind is that nighttime driving is strongly discouraged in this part of the U.S. This is due to lack of ambient lighting on local roads, and the tendency of deer, elk, free range cattle, and sometimes wild horses, to gravitate toward them at night, which ratchets up your accident risk. Any driving needs to be done during daylight hours. Also, Utah DOES observe Daylight Savings Time, whereas Arizona DOES not. Therefore, you’ll “lose” an hour driving from Las Vegas to Utah, then “regain” it as you travel from Utah to Arizona. Sunrise in Page, AZ, occurs at ~5:30 AM and sunset takes place around 7:30 PM at the time of year you’re traveling.
      As for hikes, viewpoints, etc., in the various stops on your tour, choices are ample in a wide range of “degrees of difficulty,” timeframe, and highlights. Zion in particular has had a lot of rain and snowfall this year, which has resulted in some of the more popular hikes being off-limits until trails are repaired. I’d advise visiting the National Park Service pages for Zion and Bryce, and then the Sedona Visitors Bureau’s website.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  41. Leah says:

    Hi! I am working on planning a 6 night (Sun-Sat) Trip! We do not have flights yet. We have arrangements for the hotel on Wednesday evening 7/3 in the Grand Canyon. I haven’t booked anything else as I am struggling with the details! Must sees: Zion & Grand Canyon. Nice to see: Horsehoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, Hoover Dam. Would love to do a water activity at some point because it will be first week of July. Also 4th of July is that Thursday- any suggestions on where we should spend the 4th??

    This is what I was thinking– not sure if it is feasible! Thank you so much in advance!
    Sun: Arrive in LV drive halfway to Zion-is there anywhere interesting to stop and stay overnight? If not we could drive all the way there and do a smaller hike or walk through the park ? Monday Hike Angels landing , dinner in Springdale, stay overnight. Tuesday- drive to Horseshoe Bend or Antelope Canyon? Weds am- drive to GC. stay overnight, GC sunrise Thursday am. This leaves us with Hoover Dam on Friday and Friday evening in Vegas, Leave Saturday.

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Leah, and thank you for visiting.
      On that first day, I’d recommend just driving all the way to Zion. It’s only ~3-4 hours from Las Vegas, give or take a few, which is a hop-skip-and-a-jump in these parts LOL. There is some construction taking place along a stretch of I-15 through the Virgin River Gorge that you’ll have to pass through, which could add another 30-60 minutes to your drive. Plan on staying in Springdale, UT, on the Western border of the park, or at a hotel in Kanab, UT, about half an hour West of the park.
      The trip from Kanab, UT, to Page, AZ, for Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon is about 1.5 hours, but you might get an early start so you can take advantage of the opportunity to do the relatively easy Paria Rimrocks/Toadstool Trail hike on the way. Be sure to make advance reservations for Antelope Canyon Tours. If you’re wanting to do a water-based activity, consider booking your Antelope Canyon walking tour plus a 90-minute boat tour as a “bundle.” It’s a lot easier than trying to book both tours separately, trust me! Then plan on hitting Horseshoe Bend just after sunrise on your way out of town to the Grand Canyon.
      Regarding 4th of July, they don’t do any kind of fireworks at the Grand Canyon, at least not of the man made variety. For that, you might want to go to Flagstaff, AZ, Williams, AZ, or even Las Vegas, NV. One caveat to that, though, is that if the summer is abnormally dry, fireworks displays may be cancelled for safety reasons. After all, it is the desert!
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  42. Jeff says:

    Alley,
    I e-mailed you yesterday and already have change of plans. Would like to include Sedona. My daughter has never been to LV. Wanted to spend a day there. Do you think I really need 2 days in Sedona? Can I see in one day?
    7/20 – fly from FLL to LV, overnight in LV – 2 nights
    7/21 – spend day I LV
    7/22 – LV to Sedona, overnight in Sedona 1 night
    7/23 – Drive Sedona to Grand Canyon South Rim, overnight in GC
    7/24 – GC to Page, tour Antelope Canyon, overnight in Page,AZ
    7/25 – Page to Bryce Canyon, overnight in Bryce
    7/26 Bryce to Zion, overnight in Zion (Springdale)
    7/27 – Zion to LV, fly to FLL

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hey Jeff, thank you for visiting today.
      So, do you need 2 days in Sedona? No. You need 3 or 4 at least, but 2 days is definitely better than 1. People report spending a week there yet feeling as though they’d only scratched the surface. Personally, I’d drop a night in Las Vegas so you can spend 2 nights in Sedona. If you prefer to spend the time in Vegas, then I’d suggest dropping the night in Sedona and planning a return trip for when you can give it the time it deserves.
      If you drop Sedona off the list, you could make room for Monument Valley, as you expressed interest in in a previous inquiry, like this:
      07/22 – Drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim, with stop at Hoover Dam en route. Drive time: ~5 hours, overnight at Grand Canyon
      07/23 – Drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Monument Valley, stopping at Grand Canyon viewpoints on East Rim/Desert View Drive, Little Colorado River Overlook, Chief Yellowhorse’s Souvenir Stands, the Cameron Trading Post, Moenkopi Dinosaur Tracks, Navajo National Monument, or the Navajo Code Talkers’ Exhibit… just to name a few. Overnight in Monument Valley, Kayenta, AZ, or Tuba City, AZ.**
      07/24 – Drive from Monument Valley to Page, AZ. Drive time: 2-2.5 hours. Tour Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend.
      07/25 – Drive from Page, AZ, to Bryce Canyon, UT, drive time: 2.5-3 hours. Overnight in Bryce or nearby.
      07/26 – Drive from Bryce to Zion, drive time: 2-2.5 hours, overnight in Springdale.
      07/27 – Drive from Springdale, UT, back to Las Vegas, NV. Drive time: ~4-4.5 hours, factoring in construction on I-15 through Virgin River Gorge that could extend drive time up to 1 hour.
      **On 07/23, if you’re unable to find lodging in Monument Valley, drive to Page, AZ, spend 2 nights, and visit Monument Valley as a day trip. Drive is ~2 hours each way, but since lodging is scarce to begin with in Monument Valley, it’s very likely to be sold out already. Another option if you really want to see Monument Valley is to do a flight over it out of Page Municipal Airport.
      Good luck, I know it’s hard deciding what to leave in and what to cut out.
      Best wishes for safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      • Jeff says:

        Alley,
        I like your suggestion to spend 2 days in Sedona and will drop day from LV. I already made reservation at El Tovar Hotel in GC on 7/22. Rooms are sold out on 7/23. Do you recommend going to both Sedona and Momument Valley or should we go elsewhere? My daughter definitely wants to do Antelope Canyon. Tentative sched is as follows (feel free to suggest alternative sched. Thx a million and your help is really appreciated.
        07/19 Fly FLL to LV Hotel in LV
        07/20 – Drive LV to Sedona Hotel in Sedona 2 nights
        07/21 Sedona
        07/22 AM drive to Grand canyon (GC) Hotel El Tovar
        07/23 – Drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Monument Valley, stopping at Grand Canyon viewpoints on East Rim/Desert View Drive, Little Colorado River Overlook, Chief Yellowhorse’s Souvenir Stands, the Cameron Trading Post, Moenkopi Dinosaur Tracks, Navajo National Monument, or the Navajo Code Talkers’ Exhibit… just to name a few. Overnight in Monument Valley, Kayenta, AZ, or Tuba City, AZ.**
        07/24 – Drive from Monument Valley to Page, AZ. Drive time: 2-2.5 hours. Tour Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend.
        07/25 – Drive from Page, AZ, to Bryce Canyon, UT, drive time: 2.5-3 hours. Overnight in Bryce or nearby.
        07/26 – Drive from Bryce to Zion, drive time: 2-2.5 hours, overnight in Springdale.
        07/27 – Drive from Springdale, UT, back to Las Vegas, NV

        • Alley Keosheyan says:

          Hi again, Jeff!
          If you can swing both Sedona and Monument Valley, I think you’ll find both places worthwhile. If you had to prioritize one place over another, Sedona would definitely win out. You could spend a week there and only feel as though you’d scratched the surface. However, since your Grand Canyon hotel night is already booked, and it’s highly unlikely you could move your reservation (especially at El Tovar), here’s what I’d recommend if you can’t find lodging at Monument Valley (which is entirely possible at this point), or you decide to eliminate it: simply go straight to Page, AZ, and extending your time there to 2 days. You won’t find any shortage of things to do in that area to occupy your time. The Glen Canyon Half Day Float Trip is a popular choice for families (kids must be at least 4 to take part); at the time of year you’re visiting, you’ll want to take the morning departure, which departs at 7:00 AM (6:00 AM check-in) and returns at 11:30 AM. Other popular activities include, but aren’t limited to, Rainbow Bridge Boat Tours (6-7 hours, 2-3 mile round trip hike required to see the bridge), tours to Alstrom Point or White Pocket, or, you can work Monument Valley in with a 90-minute scenic overflight by fixed wing airplane.
          There are all kinds of ways to have a fun and memorable 2-day visit to Page, AZ.
          Have fun!
          Alley 🙂

          • Jeff Schorr says:

            Alley, you are so helpful and your website is so informative. I have decided to bypass monument valley and spend 2 days in page, AZ. However, I am a bit concerned about when to visit Antelope canyon. I will be driving from grand canyon to Page on 7/23. i read that if temp gets above 105, they will close tours to antelope canyon by 1100 AM. I have reserved a tour at 700AM on 7/24. Do you recommend I keep this and then go to horseshoe bend after antelope canyon on 7/24? If so, what do you suggest my daughter and I do on 7/23 in the afternoon when we arrive in page? Also, possibly we will do the Glen Canyon half day trip or rainbow bridge tour on 7/25. we will also leave that day for Bryce Canyon. Is this schedule a good plan or do you recommend changing (doing Antelope canyon and/or horseshoe bend on 7/23 in late afternoon? Please advise

          • Alley Keosheyan says:

            Hi Jeff!
            You have probably made a good call to drop Monument Valley at the time of year you’re visiting. It’s SUPER hot and very exposed, so visiting that area at the peak heat of summer would not be my idea of fun, but, there might still be a way you can work it in… more on that in a minute.
            You are correct that Antelope Canyon tours may be cancelled in the event of excessive heat, which is a frequent occurrence in late July, along with flash floods. Touring Antelope Canyon at 7:00 AM will still be beautiful, and cooler. However, instead of trying to hit Horseshoe Bend after Antelope Canyon, I’d actually recommend hitting it beforehand, preferably, just after sunrise. Horseshoe Bend is another one of those places that doesn’t offer a lot of shade, and by 8:30 AM, it’s already starting to heat up pretty quick. Not to mention, it’s starting to get really crowded. In addition to cooler temperatures, a sunrise visit also offers the benefit of fewer people to contend with. Sunrise in late July occurs at about 5:30 AM. If the prospect of that early a morning doesn’t appeal, you might see if you can find parking at Horseshoe Bend on your way into town from the Grand Canyon. You’ll pass right by it anyway. For more information and tips for visiting Horseshoe Bend, please visit our companion site, http://www.HorseshoeBend.com
            On 7/25, instead of driving to Bryce Canyon after your Glen Canyon Float Trip or Rainbow Bridge Boat Tour, I’d recommend staying that night in Page, AZ, then getting an early start to Bryce the next morning. The reason for that is because although neither tour is strenuous,* you’ll still be surprised at how tired you are afterwards. Around here, we refer to it as being “sun drunk:” prolonged exposure to the sun tends to zap the energy out of you in pretty short order, and you’ll probably find yourself in no mood to face a 2.5 hour drive in that state of mind. Please don’t interpret these statements as advice against either the Rainbow Bridge Boat Tour or the Glen Canyon Float Trip, though. Either tour would be a very worthwhile addition to your vacation! Just be sure you drink plenty of fluids, and choose the earliest departure available for maximum comfort. *Depending on the water level of Lake Powell, a walk of up to 3 miles round-trip might be required to see the Bridge.
            Oh, regarding how you might still get to see Monument Valley without actually driving there: you might consider flying over it. Fixed wing airplanes depart from the Page Municipal Airport daily, usually first thing in the morning for better light and less wind. A 90-minute overflight of Monument Valley also includes a flyover of Rainbow Bridge!
            Hope that helps – good luck and safe travels!
            Alley 🙂

    • Jeff Schorr says:

      Alley,
      I have finalized my trip as follows but have questions on what to do at each location besides what I have identified below:
      07/19 Fly FLL to LV Hotel in LV
      07/20 – Drive LV to Sedona
      on the way ;
      –Hoover dam
      –Mr D’d Route 66 diner
      — get cooler – snacks, etc for picnic ?
      In Sedona
      –Chapel of Holy Cross
      — Tlaqueuepaque
      07/21 Sedona
      –hike to Bell Rock
      –Pink Jeep Broken Arrow?
      –Oak Creek?
      07/22 AM drive to Grand canyon (GC) Hotel El Tovar
      –lunch at Cameron trading post?
      –explore GC national District
      –Hermits rest Overlook
      See sunset at ???
      07/23 – Drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page AZ – stay 2 night in Page, AZ
      –***need to fill in things to do this day / places to see on the way?***
      07/24 –
      –530 AM see sunrise at Horseshoe Bend. 630 AM – Tour Lower Antelope Canyon (I made reservation),
      ***need to fill in things to do rest of day***
      07/25 – Drive from Page, AZ, to Bryce Canyon, UT, drive time: 2.5-3 hours. Overnight in Bryce
      — Navajo/Queens Garden
      –Inspiration point
      –Sunset Point
      –Fairyland Point
      –ATV Tour
      ***may not do all of these, and some may do next day – suggestions?***
      07/26 – Drive from Bryce to Zion, drive time: 2-2.5 hours, overnight in Springdale.
      —How much time to spend in Bryce / when to leave to drive to Zion?
      07/27 – Drive from Springdale, UT, back to Las Vegas, NV
      –700 am – hike Angels landing
      –what time should I leave zion to drive back to LV? My flight is not until 1000 PM?
      –any other suggestions on what to do in Zion NP?

      Overall question – is there anything else I should make advance reservation for?
      We decided not to do flight over monument park.
      My daughter (21 yrs old) and I like jet skiing and water activities. can incorporate this in one or more venues above?

      Any suggestions/ changes are greatly appreciated. You are quite helpful and can’t thank you enough.

      • Alley Keosheyan says:

        Hey Jeff,
        Your itinerary looks pretty well-planned as it is. Strange as it may sound, I suggest resisting the temptation to plan every. single. minute. of your day. Having a little downtime here and there is no sin, and is bound to be welcome when you least expect it, especially if you’re dealing with jet leg, or acclimating to a higher altitude.
        On your first travel day, for example, you indicate that after a 5-hour drive from Las Vegas to Sedona, you want to try to hit the Chapel of the Holy Cross and Tlaquepaque. Since these are located on opposite ends of town, you may only be in the mood to visit one or the other before calling it a night, which is OK.
        You might actually want to plan a visit to Chapel of the Holy Cross on your second day, as it’s located fairly close to the Bell Rock Trail.

        The Pink Jeep tour office would then be a further 10-minute drive or so up the road. The Broken Arrow tour lasts ~2 hours, so time and inclination permitting, you could do a short hike in Oak Creek Canyon.
        RE: good viewpoints for sunset at the Grand Canyon, anywhere on the rim is good, but Hopi Point and Yavapai Point are generally regarded as having the best view. My personal favorite spot is Grandview Point, ~5 miles East of Grand Canyon Village. It’s more secluded than the other points mentioned, and has good views of the Colorado River. Forward to the 1:07 mark on this video to see what it looks like.
        On 7/22, where you indicate you might “have lunch at the Cameron Trading Post” en route from Sedona to the Grand Canyon, move this activity to 07/23. The most logical route from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ takes you through there anyway. As for what to see/do on the way, there will be plenty to fill your time here! Between Grand Canyon Village and Desert View (the Eastern boundary of the park), there are over half a dozen named Grand Canyon viewpoints you can stop at. The Tusayan Ruins and Museum is another worthwhile, often overlooked point of interest. Upon exiting the park and entering Navajo Indian tribal lands, there’s even more to see, including the Little Colorado River Overlook, Chief Yellowhorse’s souvenir stands, Chinle formation views, and the Cut overlook, just to name a few. Taken at a nice leisurely pace, this 150-mile drive can easily be extended to 3.5-4 hours.
        On 07/24, where you’re looking for other activities to fill your 2nd day in Page, here is where you can and should take the opportunity to do some water-based activities on Lake Powell. Options include boat tours or boat rentals, kayak tours/rentals, or personal watercraft rentals. The main lakeside concessionaires are Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas and Antelope Point Marina.
        As for when to leave Bryce to head to Zion, the drive takes ~2 hours, and the main objective is to make sure you’re not doing any of your driving at night. If I failed to mention it previously (apologies if I am repeating anything), nighttime driving is not a good idea in this part of the U.S. since most of the roads are very dimly lit. This is a deliberate move to preserve the natural quality of the night sky, but can ratchet up the chances of having a collision with a deer, elk, free range cow, or even a wild horse. Not the sort of thing you want to have happen in areas where the cell phone reception is spotty and help will be a long time coming, with a hefty price tag.
        I recommend allowing ~5 hours to make the drive back to Las Vegas from Zion. The main reason why is because construction is taking place on a stretch of I-15 through the Virgin River Gorge, which will tack another 30-60 minutes onto your trip. Depending on whether your flight is international or domestic, and depending on the policies of your airline, check-in will be required 1-2 hours prior to departure. However, since Las Vegas is on Pacific Time and Zion is on Mountain Time, you will “gain” an hour traveling from Utah to Nevada.
        In Bryce, I’d recommend making reservations for the ATV tour if you’re truly interested in that. It’s a fairly popular activity.
        Have a great trip! If you think of it, feel free to post a report on it afterwards. We’d love to know how it went and if our suggestions helped (or not LOL).
        Alley 🙂

  43. holly letterman says:

    Hi Alley – I am looking to plan a vacation to UT this summer and I am just in the beginning phases of planning. I plan to fly into Las Vegas and from there I have an open slate. I will be bringing my 19yo and my 15yo (who can do only mild hiking – he has Cerebral Palsy). I don’t mind driving and can spend 5-8 days. Could you help me build an itinerary? We don’t mind driving, we just want to see as much as possible but have fun too!!

    Thanks!
    Holly

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Holly,
      Using Las Vegas as your “staging city,” how your itinerary gets built will revolve, and evolve, around 2 key elements: lodging availability (or lack thereof) at the Grand Canyon, and availability of Upper Antelope Canyon tours (that branch of the canyon is easiest to tour with only a 100 yard walk required). Start by checking those two things first, and the rest of your tour elements should fall into place rather easily.
      With 1 week to work with, a typical itinerary goes something like this:
      Day 1: Travel day to Las Vegas
      Day 2: Drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim with optional stopover at Hoover Dam (~5-5.5 hour drive), overnight at South Rim
      Day 3: Drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ (~3.5-4 hour drive factoring in multiple stops), tour Antelope Canyon, overnight in Page, AZ
      Day 4: Sunrise visit to Horseshoe Bend if ADA trail is completed, if not, perhaps a scenic flight over it, drive on the Bryce Canyon (~3 hours), overnight in Bryce
      Day 5: Drive from Bryce to Zion (~2.5 hour drive), overnight in Springdale, UT
      Day 6: 2nd day in Zion, overnight in Springdale
      Day 7: Drive back to Las Vegas (~3-4 hour drive, actual drive time may vary due to construction taking place on this route), either overnight in Vegas or fly home
      All of the parks featured on this route have many hiking options, a good number of which are very easy, so your whole family should have no shortage of things to fill your days. If you have an ADA placard, bring that with you. It might grant you access to areas that are normally closed to private vehicles. Be sure to clarify these guidelines upon entry into each park, or visit the individual accessibility guides online for each park.
      If you find that Grand Canyon lodging availability is more open towards the back end of your trip, you can always flip-flop your itinerary, and do a Las Vegas > Zion > Bryce > Page > Grand Canyon > Vegas loop.
      Hope that helps – good luck and safe travels!
      Alley 🙂

  44. Anthony says:

    Hi Alley! I read your articles, really those are amazing! You give more information in all .

    Our big family will be in GC on May, from 6th to 13th. We have also 4 kids below age 5.

    We will flight to and from Las Vegas airport.
    We will reach at Las Vegas at night on 5th May.

    I was wondering if you can help me with the itinerary. I have read your previous response. Our biggest goals are GC, Antelope canyon.

    Would you suggest us an unforgettable itinerary?
    Thank you so much!!!

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Anthony!
      With that many children under the age of 5, your itinerary will be highly influenced by what they can and cannot do, mostly the latter.
      You want to avoid spending too much time behind the wheel and factor some “downtime” into your itinerary.
      Grand Canyon lodging should be the “lynchpin” around which the rest of your itinerary revolves and evolves, so check availability there first. Staying inside the park is always most desirable; if nothing is available there, then Tusayan, 7 miles outside the park is your next best option.
      It will take approximately 4.5 hours to drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim. From Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ, for Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend, Google maps gives the drive time as ~2.5 hours, but that rarely materializes as the drive is very scenic, and you’ll find yourself stopping to take pictures quite often. 3.5-4 hours ends up being a more realistic figure.
      With your timeframe, I’d recommend:
      May 6th: Drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon, with an optional stop at Hoover Dam, perhaps another at Seligman, AZ, a Route 66 mainstay. Approximate drive time is 5 hours, no stops. Overnight at the Grand Canyon
      May 7th: Spend 2nd day at Grand Canyon, exploring around the Grand Canyon Village area, maybe taking the Hermit’s Rest/West Rim Drive shuttles, check out the IMAX movie in Tusayan, overnight at Grand Canyon again.
      May 8th: Drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ, stop at viewpoints along the East Rim/Desert View Drive, possible brunch/lunch stop at the Cameron Trading Post. Hit Horseshoe Bend on the way into town, parking permitting. Overnight in Page, AZ.
      May 9th: 2nd day in Page, AZ, take Antelope Canyon tour. Because of the ages of the children, for their safety, you’ll be limited to touring Upper Antelope Canyon. There are 4 tour companies that tour Upper Antelope Canyon, but only 3 allow younger children. Advance reservations are required. If inclined, you might also take a brief boat tour on Lake Powell, but I’d recommend something no longer than 1.5-2 hours. Or some of the party might opt to stay behind with the kids if you don’t think they can handle it. Spend 2nd night in Page, AZ.
      May 10th: Drive from Page, AZ to Bryce Canyon (~3 hour drive), stop in Kanab, UT, for meal/leg stretch/bathroom break, explore the rim drive overlooks, overnight in Bryce Canyon or nearby.
      May 11th: Drive from Bryce Canyon to Zion National Park (~2 hour drive), overnight in Springdale, UT. Explore around in Zion, there are lots of easy, but scenic hikes you can take as a family in that area.
      May 12th: Spend 2nd day in Zion area. Adults and/or older kids may hike for a short ways up the Narrows, but wouldn’t recommend this activity for younger kids. Overnight again in Zion, or drive back to Las Vegas (normally ~3 hours from Springdale, but please allow extra time due to ongoing roadwork on I-15 in the Virgin River Gorge).
      May 13th: Fly home
      Again, availability of lodging at the Grand Canyon will be the thing to book first. If you have to flip-flop your itinerary, i.e., hit Zion first, then Bryce, Page, GC, etc., then be prepared to do that. Be sure that you make reservations for Antelope Canyon tours in advance of your arrival as well.
      Good luck and safe travels!
      Alley 🙂

  45. Courtney says:

    What a helpful and detailed site! Thank you! Hopefully you can help me with my questions. Our family of 6 is driving an RV from LA (I know, I know!). We’d like to do at least the Grand Canyon and Zion, then head west to Four Corners, Mesa Verde and more. (Is 1 day per canyon, not including driving, enough?)
    I’m don’t know much about the GC but I see you highly recommend the South Rim. Would it be better for us to drive from LA to Flagstaff and approach the GC from the south? Or follow Google maps and go from LA, through Las Vegas and to Zion first?
    Also, we have an extra day not currently scheduled, and I am overwhelmed by the canyon possibilities. Bryce? Glen? Antelope is not an option at this point. Or is there something else you highly recommend doing as a family (I did look into the Float trip, horseback rides and other things)?
    Thank you!

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Courtney, and thank you for your compliments!
      There’s no problem with opting to go the RV route for your Grand Circle vacation, as long as you know what you’re getting into. Many people opt for RV’s for the novelty, others do it because they’re under the impression that they’ll save a lot of money vs. traditional hotels. The latter assumption sometimes ends up being a “wash,” as any money you save on hotels will be eaten up in gas. However, the ability to prepare your own meals is a definite money-saver.
      I don’t recall seeing when you were scheduled to travel, but I’m assuming it’s later this spring or summertime? If so, you’ll want to stay in developed RV parks with electrical hook-ups, because you’ll need that air conditioning, or heat depending on the weather. Grand Canyon South Rim has one RV park with hook-ups in-park, Trailer Village. If they are full, then Grand Canyon Camper Village in Tusayan (7 miles South of the park) is your next best option. For first-time visitors, Grand Canyon South Rim is recommended over the North Rim because it has more in the way of visitor services, plus the North Rim is only open from May 15th-October 15th.
      As to what order you visit the various parks in, that will most likely depend on when you can get reservations. Let Grand Canyon be the “lynchpin” around which the rest of your trip planning revolves, and evolves. If availability (or lack thereof) determines that you can do LA-Zion-Bryce-4 Corners/Mesa Verde-GC, then by all means, go that route. If RV park availability indicates that Grand Canyon should be first stop on the tour, you could do LA-GC-4 Corners/Mesa Verde-Bryce-Zion. BTW, 1 day in each place is enough for some, but not for others. Zion, in particular, deserves at least 2-3 days to do it justice.
      As for other attractions to add, there are all kinds of possibilities. Page, AZ, for Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and the Glen Canyon Half Day Float Trip would be my first recommendation. When you say “Antelope is not an option,” I assume you mean that Antelope Canyon tours are sold out? If so, consider touring one of several alternate slot canyons, many of which are in the same drainage system as Antelope, and are just as beautiful.
      On the way to Mesa Verde, you might consider stopping in Moab, UT, or Monument Valley. Moab, UT is another place that needs at least 3 days. Monument Valley can do with just 1. Between Bryce and Mesa Verde, Capitol Reef is a place you pretty much have to pass through anyway, and is beautiful. 1-2 days is sufficient to spend there. If your time is limited, you might consider leaving Mesa Verde off the table. Not that it isn’t incredible (it is!), but do you want to spend your whole vacation driving?
      Whatever you do, be sure to pick up an America The Beautiful Federal Lands Access Pass. For $80, this card gets you into all the National Parks, Monuments, and Federal Fee Areas for 1 year’s time. The only places it won’t work are Native American Tribal Parks (Antelope Canyon and Monument Valley), and State Parks (the Goosenecks of the San Juan is a neat one between Monument Valley and Moab), but it will pay for itself on the trip you’re planning to take.
      Hope that helps, I know it’s a hard choice! Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  46. Halima says:

    My husband and I would like to follow your suggested itinerary for our7 day trip this September with flying in and out from Las Vegas. Our journey will starts early in the morning of September 27 and fly home at 1 pm on October 3. Is it possible if we want to include Sedona in our trip? If yes, please advise how. Many thanks….

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Halima!
      First of all, you’ve picked a wonderful time to be here. Fall is our favorite season! Cooler temperatures, thinning crowds, and all the activities you want to do are still available.
      If you wish to add Sedona to your itinerary, you will need to sacrifice one of the stops on this itinerary, and I suggest dropping Monument Valley. Not that it isn’t beautiful, but Sedona has so much to offer, you need at least 2 days there. Even then, I can pretty much guarantee you’ll be planning a longer return visit once you catch sight of that first view!
      So here’s what I recommend:
      September 27 – Drive from Las Vegas to Sedona (~4.5 hour drive), overnight in Sedona
      September 28 – 2nd day in Sedona, hike to Bell Rock, Oak Creek, visit Tlaquepaque, Chapel of the Holy Cross, maybe a spa day, 2nd night in Sedona
      September 29 – Drive from Sedona to Grand Canyon South Rim (~3 hour drive), overnight in Grand Canyon
      September 30 – Drive from Grand Canyon to Page, AZ (~3.5-4 hours), stop at Grand Canyon and other viewpoints en route, lunch at Cameron Trading Post, visit Horseshoe Bend (parking permitting), tour Antelope Canyon
      October 1st – Drive from Page, AZ, to Bryce Canyon, UT (~3 hour drive), OR drive from Page, AZ to Zion (~2 hour drive), overnight in Bryce or Zion
      October 2nd – 2nd day in Zion, OR drive from Bryce to Zion, overnight in Zion (Springdale, UT, for lodging)
      October 3rd – Drive back to Las Vegas, ~3 hour drive from Springdale
      Hope that helps! Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      • Halima Currim says:

        Hi Alley,
        Thanks so much for your valuable input. However, on second thought, we would love to keep the Monument Valley this time and save Sedona for our next trip. If we extend for 1 more day, is it viable to include the Arches National Park between the Monument Valley and the Bryce National Park?
        Your further advice would be most appreciated.
        Halima

        • Alley Keosheyan says:

          Hi Halima, thanks for hitting us up again!
          So, in light of the fact that you’re going to save Sedona for another trip (good call; plan on spending at least 4-5 days), and that you’re in a position to extend your trip by one more day, here’s what I would suggest:
          September 27 – Drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim (~4.5 hour drive), overnight in Grand Canyon
          September 28 – Drive from Grand Canyon to Page, AZ (~3.5-4 hours), stop at Grand Canyon and other viewpoints en route, lunch at Cameron Trading Post, visit Horseshoe Bend (parking permitting), tour Antelope Canyon
          September 29 – Visit Horseshoe Bend at sunrise if you couldn’t manage it the day before; drive from Page, AZ, to Monument Valley (~2 hour drive, be aware of the time zone change), take a backcountry tour, overnight in Bluff, UT (~1 hour North of MV, will give you a bit of head start on next day)
          September 30 – Drive from Bluff, UT, to Moab, UT (~2 hours from Bluff), explore Arches NP, overnight in Moab, UT
          October 1st – Explore Canyonlands National Park, spend 2nd night in Moab
          October 2nd – Drive from Moab, UT to Bryce Canyon, UT, which is ~5 hour drive if you go direct, OR you might make a detour through Capitol Reef National Park, which will extend your drive by at least another hour, overnight in Bryce
          October 3rd – Sightseeing in Bryce (if you had a late arrival the day prior), drive to Zion (~2 hours), overnight in Springdale, UT
          October 4th – Drive back to Las Vegas, ~3 hour drive from Springdale
          Another option would be to just spend one night in Moab (for Arches NP) and spend 2 nights in Zion, or drop Arches off the list altogether. Both Moab and Zion really do need more than a day to do them justice. Sure you can’t add another night? LOL I know, so many places, so little time 😉
          Hope that helps. Feel free to write again if you want to bounce more ideas off us!
          Take care,
          Alley

          • Halima says:

            Wow Alley, you’re marvellous! I need some time to digest your suggestions before getting back to you for more details. Thanks so much again for your valuable information.
            Halima

          • Alley Keosheyan says:

            🙂

    • Paula says:

      Hi thank you so much for the great information! I’m using many of your ideas but could use a little guidance. We fly into Phoenix this Thursday 4/4 am and fly out Tues afternoon 4/9. I have 2 different plans and would like your opinion
      option 1 ( wondering if should I skip Sedona and stay longer in Zion? with this option)
      Th- day 1 phoenix to grand canyon, stay overnight Yavapni Lodge in Gc
      Fri-Day 2 -GC to Page, antelope canyon tour at 4:30, overnight Page
      Sat-Day 3-Page to zion, overnight Springdale, UT
      Sun-Day 4 -Zion to Bryce to Page-overnight Page
      Mon-Day 5-Page to Sedona, -overnight sedona
      Tues Day 6 -sedona to airport

      Option 2
      Th- day 1 phoenix to grand canyon, stay overnight Yavapni Lodge in Gc
      Fri -day 2- GC to zion-overnight springdale
      Sat.-day 3 -Zion overnight sprindale
      sun-day 4 zion to bryce to page, overnight page
      Mon-day 5 Page, antelope canyon tour at 8 or 12:30, to Sedona, overnight sedona
      Tues sedona to airport

      any ideas you have would be appreciated.
      Thank you

      • Alley Keosheyan says:

        Hi Paula,
        I’m assuming that since your trip is coming up so soon, you already have your lodging and tours booked? If so, it may be a bit difficult to change them at this point.
        As for which plan is better, it’s “six of one, half a dozen of another,” and frankly, I think you’re trying to cram too much into a short vacation. You’ve got the right idea by planning for 2 nights in Zion, but when you get to the point where you’re proposing to drive from Zion to Bryce, then back to Page, AZ, before going on to Sedona, that’s easier said than done. It takes at least 2 hours to drive from Springdale to Bryce, then another 3 hours or so to drive from Bryce to Page. You don’t want to get caught having to make any part of this drive in the dark, as it’s very dark on these roads, and some of them cross through a popular migration route for deer and elk. A nighttime collision with one of these animals has ruined many a vacation! Sunset occurs at ~7:00 PM in Page, AZ. Another thing to keep in mind is that Bryce and Zion are on Mountain DAYLIGHT Time, and Page, AZ, is on Mountain Standard. Page is 1 hour “behind” Bryce and Zion, so you will “lose” an hour traveling from Page to Zion, then “gain” it back as you travel from Utah to Arizona.
        If you’re inclined to go with option #1, as much as I hate to suggest it, you probably should take Bryce off the table and go directly to Sedona. That will also be a long drive, but that will give you more time in Sedona, which you’ll wish you had if you limit yourself to just an overnight stay. 3-4 nights minimum is suggested to do that area justice, and even then, people find that they could have spent a week or more there and still only scratched the surface! VisitSedona.com Or, leave Bryce in the mix and save Sedona for a future trip when you can give it the time it deserves.
        I know it’s a hard choice, but I hope that helps somewhat.
        Good luck and safe travels,
        Alley 🙂

        • Paula says:

          Thank you so much for your input! I only have one reservation for Thursday night for Maswik lodge at the Grand canyon, was trying to decide on route before making more reservations. I think springdale, UT might be the next hardest to find so guess I will look there next. Do you think Monument valley could be added to this trip and take out sedona? or still too much? If I take out sedona, where would that extra day be best spent? So much to see, so little time! Thanks again!

          • Alley Keosheyan says:

            Hey Paula, thanks for seeking out further guidance!
            I guess the thing to ask is do you think you could make it back out here in the foreseeable future to spend a week or so in Sedona? If not, then frankly, you’re going to have a hard time fitting Monument Valley into your plan at this point. The main reason being that lodging is going to be just about impossible to find. There’s not much to work with in the immediate area; The View and Goulding’s Lodge are the only hotels situated in Monument Valley “proper.” Other than that, there’s Kayenta, AZ, and Tuba City, AZ, but even they don’t have much to work with. The most convenient place to work it into your itinerary would be between Phoenix and Page, or vice versa, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend doing it as a “drive by.” That would make for a very long drive, ~6.5 hours at least.
            Howeverrrrrrr………ha ha ha……..there might still be a way you can work it in: by flying over it. Westwind Air Service offers fixed wing airplane flights over Monument Valley out of the Page Municipal Airport (scroll about half way down that page to get to the info you need). Flights typically last ~90 minutes, and first thing in the morning is the best time to fly.
            Hope that helps!
            Let us know how things go,
            Alley 🙂

  47. Wes says:

    We’re doing G.C. and Southern Utah in Nov 2019 over Thanksgiving and I have already booked places to stay that follow your suggested outline – GC South Rim, Page and then Springdale before back to Vegas (I must have had a good gut feeling b/c I booked before stumbling onto your site, which is awesome and will be super helpful! thank you!). It will be me, my wife and kids age 14, 12 and 7. Curious if you have advice on things we should definitely do and / or avoid given: 1) time of year; and 2) kids ages. We’re all active and love to hike but I don’t anticipate we’ll be overnighting or doing anything too strenuous. I assume any water activities are out of the question in November. Also, we have 10 days vs only 7 in case that inspires any more suggestions. Thanks in advance! Really appreciate your site!

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Wes and thank you for your inquiry!
      The Thanksgiving holiday, while technically falling into the “shoulder” season period, is still a busy time in the Southwest. The primary difference between November and the summer months, obviously, is weather, which will have an affect on what activities you might partake of. Fortunately, most are still in full swing, like Antelope Canyon tours. As you’ve correctly deduced, many water-based activities are scaled back or wrapped up altogether at that time of year, but there are a few notable exceptions, such as the Glen Canyon Half Day Float Trip, which is open to kids 4 and up, and Antelope Canyon waterside boat tours, which have no age limit. These of course run weather permitting, and may be contingent on a certain number of people signing up.
      With the extra time you have for your vacation, some destinations worthy of consideration for adding on include, but is certainly not limited to:
      – Monument Valley, AZ/UT, ~2 hours from Page
      – Sedona, Arizona, which is ~4.5 hours away from Las Vegas, or ~3 hours from Grand Canyon South Rim
      – Bryce Canyon, Utah, which is ~2.5 hours from Page and you’d ideally hit before Zion/Springdale
      – Death Valley, California, ~2.5 hours from Las Vegas, can be done as a day trip with an early enough start
      There are all kinds of possibilities in the American Southwest! The hardest part will no doubt be choosing which place to see.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  48. Deb says:

    We are staying in Brians Head UT for 7 days in October. Which parks and hikes (easy-med) do you recommend?

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Deb,
      Honestly, I don’t think using Brian Head as a “base” from which to tour the parks and monuments of the Grand Circle is a great idea. You’re situated OK to do day trips to Bryce Canyon and Zion; both parks are ~1.5 hours drive, one way, from Brian Head. As for everything else, such as Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Lake Powell, the Grand Canyon, etc., you’d be better off cancelling a few nights at Brian Head and staying closer to the afore-mentioned attractions. For Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and Lake Powell, Page, AZ, would be the place to stay. Otherwise, you’re looking at a 3-hour drive, each way, from Brian head to Page. For the Grand Canyon, whether you visit the North Rim or South Rim depends on when your visit is. South Rim hotels, restaurants, and other visitor facilities are open year round. North Rim hotels, etc., close for the season on October 15th. Grand Canyon North Rim is 4.5 hours from Brian Head; the South Rim is ~5.5 hours.
      Before I recommend any specific hikes or activities in any of the nearby parks, I’d strongly recommend rethinking your lodging choice. Not that Brian Head isn’t beautiful, it’s just a little too far removed for maximum enjoyment of all there is to offer in Northern Arizona and Southern Utah.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  49. Laura says:

    I am trying to plan an trip in June that would include Kanub, UT and Flagstaff and Sedona in addition to Zion and Grand Canyon National Park flying in and out of Las Vegas. That makes a long drive back to the Las Vegas Airport from Sedona though. Am I trying to do too much in a week? Have never seen any of these places! Thanks for your input.

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Laura,
      Putting Sedona at the end of your trip would definitely make for a long drive back to Las Vegas, about 5 hours. If you wish to minimize your drive on the back end of your trip, I would suggest hitting the attractions on your “wish list” in the following order:
      2 days – Sedona
      1 day – Flagstaff
      1 day – Page, AZ (Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend)
      1 day – Kanab, UT
      1-2 days – Zion, overnighting in Springdale, UT
      Staying in Springdale, UT, at the end of your trip would put you only 2.5-3 hours from Las Vegas, however, there is going to be road work in progress on a stretch of I-15 through the Virgin River Gorge, which is right on the route you’d take. It would probably be wise to pad your estimated drive time back to Vegas at ~4 hours.
      One observation I can make is that the Grand Canyon is conspicuously absent from your itinerary. Are you using Flag (that’s what we call it out here) as a base from which to tour the park? If so, that’s less than ideal as it’s a 90-minute drive, each way, from Flagstaff, AZ, to Grand Canyon South Rim. Better to look for lodging closer to the park, either in Grand Canyon Village, or Tusayan, just 7 miles South of the park. Grand Canyon hotels
      Hope that helps! Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  50. Manuela says:

    Hi! I read your article and I loved it! You’re too much!

    Me and my husband will be in GC on May, from 8th to 13th.
    We will flight to and from Las Vegas airport.
    I was wondering if you can help me with the itinerary (I thought it’s impossible for us to follow the one you described above). Our biggest goals are: west and out rim GC, Antelope canyon. First, we were planning to go to Monument valley too, but maybe it’s too much for only 5 days.
    Thus, I was thinking to add to our goals Bryce canyon and, if there is enough time, zion canyon.
    Would you suggest us an unforgettable itinerary?
    Thank you so much!!!

    Manuela

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi again, Manuela!
      As you can see in my reply to your earlier inquiry, I recommended taking Grand Canyon West off the itinerary and doing a loop of Grand Canyon South Rim, Monument Valley, Page, and back to Las Vegas. At that time, I recommended spending 2 nights in Page so you could take one of the water-based tours, such as the Rainbow Bridge Boat Tour, Glen Canyon Float Trip, or Lake Powell Kayak Tour. If you prefer, you could take that second day I recommended spending and Page and allot it to Zion or Bryce. Unfortunately, you can’t really see both parks comfortably in one day, and Zion is right on your way to Las Vegas. Spend the night in Springdale, UT, which technically puts you ~3 hours from Las Vegas, but keep in mind that some extensive roadwork is being done on the main highway between Zion and Las Vegas at the time of your visit. It would be wise to pad your estimated drive time by at least 1 hour to be on the safe side.

      RE: the time zones, Arizona is on Mountain STANDARD Time, Utah is on Mountain DAYLIGHT Time, so you “lose” an hour going from AZ to UT, but “regain” it going from Utah to Nevada as Nevada is on Pacific Daylight Time.
      Hope you have a wonderful trip!
      Alley 🙂

      • Manuela says:

        Thank you so much, your suggestions are precious for us!
        Sorry for the two questions, I thought my first one was lost!
        I think we’ll follow your advice and skip GC west.
        At the meantime, I saw that following your itinerary we will able to visit even the Monument Valley! So cool!

        Thank you very much again!
        Manuela

        • Alley Keosheyan says:

          You’re welcome, have a wonderful vacation! 🙂

        • Nena says:

          Love the itinerary & hope to do it in May or September. We would like at add in the north rim. Any suggestions?

          • Alley Keosheyan says:

            Hi Nena,
            The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is amazingly beautiful and I don’t blame you one bit for wanting to work it into your vacation itinerary! The reality of the situation, however, is that lodging in that area is extremely hard to come by. Whereas Grand Canyon South Rim has 12 hotels in the immediate vicinity of the park, Grand Canyon North Rim has 3, and that’s if you count the Jacob Lake Inn, which is 1 hour North of the park. With a relative dearth of options to choose from, you can imagine that rooms there book up a year or more in advance. May 2020 is bound to be sold out already, and competition for rooms in September 2020 is going to be fierce since that timeframe is prime season for autumn foliage viewing, and rim to rim hiking.
            If you are able to plan your trip for September 2020, you could alter the itinerary proposed in this post by dropping Monument Valley, driving directly from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, then proceeding to Bryce, Grand Canyon North Rim, and Zion (Springdale, UT). If lodging availability dictates, you could hit GC North Rim after Page, then Bryce and Zion. Another option, in the likely event that North Rim lodging sells out, is to book an extra night in Springdale, UT, or Page, AZ, and visit Grand Canyon North Rim as a day trip. Granted, that method is less than ideal: it’s a 2.5 hour drive, each way, from either town to Grand Canyon North Rim. Another consideration is daylength, which in September is rapidly shortening. Sunrise occurs ~6:15 AM, sunset at about 6:30 PM. You’ll need to keep an eye on the time and make sure to start your return trip early enough so that you’re not doing any driving in the dark. Nighttime driving is strongly discouraged in this part of the U.S. due to the lack of artificial lighting on local roads (a deliberate move to preserve the natural quality of the night sky [see “Dark Sky Parks” for more information]), plus the strong possibility that deer, elk, free range cattle, and even wild horses may be around. Trust us, you don’t want to have a nighttime collision with a large animal in an area where cell service is non-existent or spotty, and a tow truck will be a long time in coming (not to mention super-expensive). If you use Springdale, UT, as your base city for a day visit, you’ll also need to keep in mind the time difference: Utah is on Mountain DAYLIGHT Time, whereas Arizona is on Mountain STANDARD Time. Therefore, you will “gain” an hour traveling from Utah to Arizona, but “lose” it traveling back. That’s one factor that might make Page, AZ, the better choice for a GC North Rim day trip; less math to do LOL

            If all that sounds like a whole lot of hassle, frankly, it is. So — all that said, in my honest opinion, the best way to work the North Rim into this itinerary without jumping through all the afore-mentioned hoops is to take a scenic air tour over the North Rim from Grand Canyon South Rim. Fixed-wing airplanes and helicopters depart from Grand Canyon National Park Airport daily, and while sightseeing aircraft won’t land at the North Rim, they still allow for enough time over that side of the canyon to give you a sense of how different it is from the South Rim. Mornings tend to be the best time to fly for better light and less wind. Imperial Helicopter Tour with Eco-Star Grand Canyon Airlines Grand Discovery Tour
            Hope that helps. Good luck and safe travels,
            Alley 🙂

  51. Manu e Giu says:

    Hi!
    My husband and I are planning a trip to GC. We have already bought the tickets for Las Vegas, NV: from May 8th, evening, to May 13th, evening. Thus, we have 4 full days and one-half day. I read your itinerary and I loved It! But I know it’s impossible for us to visit every place you inserted. Our biggest goals are the grand canyon south rim (and also west rim would be perfect!) monument valley, antelope canyon. Do you think it’s feasible? Could you suggest an unforgettable itinerary, since we are planning to rent a car?
    I was also wondering how is the wheater like in May…

    Thank you so much!
    Manuela

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Manuela,
      You are correct that it won’t be feasible or comfortable to hit all the attractions on your “wish list” in your timeframe. You’ll need to take at least one place off the table if you don’t want to spend every day driving, and my suggestion would be to drop Grand Canyon West.
      Here’s why: it takes approximately 2.5 hours to drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon West. Once you get there, you’re looking at a sizeable sum of money to enjoy it fully, starting with a $25/person base entrance fee, then anywhere from $100-300 per person depending on what activities you wish to partake of, such as helicopter flights to the canyon floor, the Grand Canyon Skywalk, etc. Then, you’re looking at a 4.5 hour drive to Grand Canyon South Rim. There’s not much lodging to be had at Grand Canyon West; the nearest hotels are in Kingman, AZ, which is ~90 minutes away. Besides, the South Rim is where you’re going to find the iconic “picture-postcard” views that you’re expecting to see. At Grand Canyon West, not so much. Don’t get me wrong, GC West is beautiful in its own way (more rugged and desert-like), but with your limited time, and considering that GC West is already starting to get really hot, I’d recommend either skipping it, or if you have a full unplanned day in Las Vegas, you might use one of those days to explore GC West, either with a package tour, or self-drive.
      In light of that, here’s what I would suggest:
      May 9th: Drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim, with optional stopover at Hoover Dam. ~4.5-5.5 hour drive time, overnight at Grand Canyon South Rim.
      May 10th: Drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Monument Valley. ~3.5-4 hour drive. On this section of the trip, you’ll do a large chunk of your Grand Canyon sightseeing between Grand Canyon Village and Desert View Point. There are also many points of interest in the Navajo Reservation upon leaving the park. Stop at the Cameron Trading Post for lunch/brunch, take optional backcountry tour of Monument Valley, overnight in the area (Monument Valley, Kayenta, AZ, or Tuba City, AZ). **REMEMBER THAT THE NAVAJO RESERVATION OBSERVES DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME, THE REST OF ARIZONA DOES NOT, SO YOU’LL “LOSE” AN HOUR GOING FROM GC TO MV, THEN “REGAIN” IT TRAVELING FROM MV TO PAGE, AZ.***
      May 11th: Drive from Monument Valley to Page, AZ. 2-hour drive time. Tour Antelope Canyon prior to arriving in Page, AZ, overnight in Page.
      May 12th: Visit Horseshoe Bend just after sunrise (5:20 AM), then do a water-based activity, such as the Lake Powell Rainbow Bridge Boat Tour, the Glen Canyon Half Day Float Trip or a kayak tour into the waterside of Antelope Canyon. Spend 2nd night in Page.
      May 13th: Drive back to Las Vegas (~4.5 hours direct), optional detours through Zion National Park or Valley of Fire State Park will extend drive time to 6-7 hours. Fly home.

      Be sure that you have all lodging and guided tours reserved before you travel.
      Hope that helps! Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  52. Gina Willmann says:

    Alley-

    We are planning a trip with our 13 and 15 year old daughters in July. Here is our plan so far but have a number of questions in the itinerary. Please help!

    July 6- Arrive in Vegas in the early morning and drive to Grand Canyon. Spend afternoon at GC. Spend night at GC. Is 4-5 hours enough time in GC?

    July 7- Drive from GC to Page to visit Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe bend. We will do a tour of the Canyon in the morning and then go to Horseshoe bend in late afternoon. Is the Lake Powell boat trip worth doing? Stay in Page.

    July 8- Drive from Page to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Park and explore for the day. Any suggestions here? Stay at Bryce Canyon log cabins this night.

    July 9- Spend day at Bryce Canyon Park. What do you recommend to do here? Do we need more than one day here? Stay night in Springdale.

    July 10- Spend day at Zion National Park. What do you recommend to do here? Stay night in Zion

    July 11- Spend day at Zion National Park. Stay night in Zion

    July 12- NOT SURE WHAT TO DO THIS DAY…. I saw another itinerary where they drove to Las Vegas stopping by Red Cliffs, followed by late afternoon tour of Hoover Dam, then spend the night.

    July 13- drive to Vegas and fly home mid afternoon.

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hello Gina and thank you for visiting,
      Let’s dig right in!
      1) Yes, 4-5 hours is enough time to spend in the Grand Canyon before moving on to Page. The reason for this is because a good chunk of your Grand Canyon sightseeing will actually occur on the drive to Page. The route takes you along the East Rim/Desert View drive of the park, where there are over half-a-dozen named viewpoints of the Grand Canyon. Upon exiting the park at Desert View, you’ll then be on the Navajo Indian Reservation, where there’s even more to see, including but not limited to the Little Colorado River Overlook, Chief Yellowhorse’s souvenir stand, the Cameron Trading Post, Chinle formation views and The “Cut” Overlook. For your night in the Grand Canyon, concentrate your sightseeing on the Grand Canyon Village area, and maybe take the free shuttles out to a couple of viewpoints on the Hermit’s Rest/West Rim Drive. Hopefully you already have your Grand Canyon lodging booked!
      2) A Lake Powell boat trip is definitely worth doing, but you might need a second night night in Page, AZ, to pull it off, especially if you’re wanting to do a longer tour such as the Rainbow Bridge boat tour. For a shorter boat tour, such as the Antelope Canyon waterside, that can easily be accommodated in a single day along with Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. I recommend visiting Horseshoe Bend just after sunrise to take advantage of cooler temperatures and smaller crowds.
      3) For Grand Staircase-Escalante, that’s a huge area, with a lot of dirt roads that you shouldn’t try to navigate in a rental car. The good news, however, is that you’ll drive through a sizeable portion of it between Page, AZ, and Bryce Canyon. A good, easy hike you might stop for is the Paria Rimrocks/Toadstool Hoodoos Trail, which is located between mile markers 19 & 20 on US89 between Page, AZ, and Kanab, UT.
      4) There are all kinds of cool things to do in Bryce for half a day or less! Choose from day hikes, horseback rides, ATV tours, mountain biking, and much more! 100 Things To Do In Bryce Canyon
      5) For Zion, here again, no shortage of family fun to be had, and a 3-night stay is perfect for taking advantage of as many opportunities as possible! If you guys are relatively fit and adventurous, you might consider hiking the Narrows. In July, you’ll probably welcome the opportunity to get soaking wet in the cool Virgin River! If that sounds like too much, there are lots of easy but spectacular hikes you can take in the park. Those staying in Springdale, UT, will be required to utilize the shuttle system to visit the main scenic drive of the park.
      6) If you have an extra day to work with, you might consider making a side trip to Mt. Charleston, near Las Vegas, NV. At 7,500’+ above sea level, it will be cooler, and it’s a beautiful area to visit. There’s not much in the way of lodging there, so if you need to, you can swing through the area en route to Las Vegas. Another neat area near Las Vegas is Valley of Fire State Park, but I’d recommend getting there early in July since mid-day temperatures will be scorching hot. Another possibility would be to do the Black Canyon Adventure Float Trip from the base of Hoover Dam to Willow Beach.
      Hope that helps! Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  53. Rebecca says:

    This is a fantastic itinerary, THANK YOU!!!! You have saved me hours of planning and it includes everything I want my family to do! 🙂 Safe and happy travels to you!
    Becky

  54. Kelly says:

    What an amazing resource! I nearly have our spring break trip planned based on your itinerary, but am afraid we are trying to fit too much in travelling with 4 kids. We plan to arrive in Vegas before noon on April 13, but think the kids would like to see the lights and spend one night in Vegas. We would travel to Grand Canyon on 14th and start travelling from there. Our flight home would be at 1 am (eek) on Saturday the 20th, so we have a full day on the 19th to get back to Vegas. We need to cut one day from the itinerary in the blog. What do you recommend? Thank you!

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Kelly and thank you for your compliments.
      With the time you have to work with, I’d recommend eliminating Monument Valley from the itinerary. It tends to not have much of a draw for younger kids, and being on the Navajo Indian Reservation, it is quite remote. Grand Canyon South Rim, Page, Zion, and Bryce are more developed and offer more in the way of visitor services. If all the kids in your party are at least 4 years old, plan to spend a couple of nights in Page, so you can tour Antelope Canyon, visit Horseshoe Bend, and take part in the Glen Canyon Half Day Float Trip. As the name of the latter activity suggests, the trip does not go through any rapids, but is a wonderful family activity full of beautiful scenery and fascinating history!
      On the way back to Las Vegas, seeing as though you can take your time, you might make the short detour to the Valley of Fire State Park. Cool rock formations, and April is a decent time to visit.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  55. Alise says:

    This is wonderful information and advice and I’m hoping to get a bit more. We’re taking a 70-day trip beginning in April and I’ve allowed 15 days after we leave Yosemite (on 5/10) before we need to be in Boulder, CO (on 5/25). I’m hoping you can recommend an itinerary to make the most of our time in the area. I especially want to see Zion, Bryce, Grand Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley and Mesa Verde, but don’t know if that’s feasible in 15 days. Thanks, in advance!

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Alise,
      Wow, 70 days?!? Can I come with you? LOL
      With 15 days to work with between Yosemite and Boulder, you should be able to pull off just about everything on your wish list, plus a few other attractions that may not have pinged on your radar.
      So assuming you leave Yosemite on 5/10, the first stop on the itinerary I recommend is Grand Canyon South Rim. Since it’s a 12-hour drive from Yosemite to GC, I’d suggest breaking up the drive in Las Vegas, NV. On the “back end” of your trip, the drive from Mesa Verde to Boulder, CO is ~8 hours. Any number of cities or towns would be good places to divide that drive if you wish, and it’s certainly worth considering since it’s such a pretty drive. Gunnison, Crested Butte, or Montrose would get my vote.
      A day by day breakdown would be as follows:
      05/10 – Drive from Yosemite to Las Vegas (~8 hours), overnight in Las Vegas
      05/11 – Drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim, ~4.5 hours, overnight at Grand Canyon
      05/12 – Drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ (~3-3.5 hours), tour Antelope Canyon that afternoon, overnight in Page
      05/13 – Visit Horseshoe Bend just after sunrise, take Glen Canyon Half Day Float Trip or Rainbow Bridge Boat Tour, spend 2nd night in Page
      05/14 – Drive from Page, AZ to Zion (~2 hours), do some hiking in Zion, overnight in Springdale, UT
      05/15 – 2nd day in Zion, overnight in Springdale
      05/16 – Drive from Zion to Bryce, ~2.5 hours, take free shuttle around rim drive, overnight in Bryce Canyon area
      05/17 – Drive from Bryce to Capitol Reef, ~2.5 hours, overnight in Torrey, UT
      05/18 – Drive from Capitol Reef to Moab, UT, overnight in Moab
      05/19 – Explore Arches National Park, overnight in Moab
      05/20 – Explore Canyonlands National Park, overnight in Moab
      05/21 – Drive from Moab to Mesa Verde, CO — driving direct, the trip would take ~3 hours; you could also opt to swing through Monument Valley and Four Corners, which would extend the drive time to ~6 hours — overnight in Cortez, Mancos, or Durango
      05/22 – Take Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad trip, spend 2nd night in Durango/Cortez area
      05/23 – Drive from Durango to Boulder, overnight in Boulder, OR break up drive in Gunnison or other area before continuing on to Boulder
      05/24 – TBA
      05/25 – Drive to Boulder
      You may find that Grand Staircase-Escalante is conspicuously absent from this itinerary, but in reality, you’ll drive through a significant section of it between Page and Zion, as well as on the trip between Bryce and Capitol Reef.
      Another possible variation of this itinerary would have you visiting Zion first, then popping down to Grand Canyon NORTH Rim on opening day, which is May 15th. The biggest obstacle to that will be availability of lodging, or lack thereof. Not many hotels to choose from on the North Rim, so they tend to be booked out a year ahead of time. As you can see, the possibilities are virtually endless out here!
      Here is a map I’ve drawn up for reference:

      Hope that helps. Good luck and safe travels!
      Alley 🙂

      • Alise Rowan says:

        This is a huge help. Thank you so much! We’ll be camping, so lodging isn’t usually much of a problem, but would that change any of your suggestions?

        • Alley Keosheyan says:

          Hi again, Alise,
          If you’re camping, that shouldn’t affect your itinerary all that much, however, it has been known to snow in places like Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Bryce, and Colorado even in May! Start checking the weather for all your major stops about 2 weeks before you get set to travel.
          Like traditional lodging, camping reservations should be made in advance as well.
          Alley 🙂

  56. lnricker@gmail.com says:

    Hi!
    Thank you for all this great information. I am in the very beginning phases of booking a trip to do a Utah Roadtrip and am overwhelmed with the amount of information available. Being in the beginning phases I am trying to figure out what a reasonable time frame might be to get the most out of this trip without being super rushed? Also, I really want to make Sedona a part of my trip do you have any advice on how to include Sedona? My time frame can be pretty flexible.
    Thanks!
    Lauren

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Lauren,
      No surprise to hear that you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed in planning your trip to the Southwest, there’s almost too much beauty to see here!
      In order to include Sedona in your vacation plans, you might consider flying into and out of Phoenix. Another option would be to fly into/out of Phoenix, then into/out of Las Vegas. Option “B” might be quite expensive due to one-way rental car drop-off fees, so you should definitely check into that before committing.
      In order to get the most out of your trip and include some “downtime,” I’d suggest something like this:
      3 days – Sedona
      1/2 days – Grand Canyon South Rim
      1/2 days – Page, AZ (Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend)
      1 day – Bryce Canyon
      2-3 days – Zion
      Of course, your chosen travel season will have an affect on what you can realistically see and do. For example, if your trip is coming up within the next few weeks (winter/early Spring), some water-based activities at Lake Powell will be on seasonal hiatus, but most other tours are still in full operational mode. If you’re traveling in summertime, bear in mind that areas like Phoenix, Sedona, and Page will be very hot during the mid-day hours, so you’ll want to plan any activities involving walking or hiking for the earlier morning hours.
      Be sure to make all lodging and guided tour reservations well in advance of your vacation. Antelope Canyon tours are especially popular, so that should be one of the first things you check availability for.
      Hope that helps make sense of things. Do let us know if we can answer any other questions for you!
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  57. Kelsey says:

    Hi – my family and I (including my parents + 2 children 15 & 12) are travelling over from New Zealand late May/June for a wedding in Las Vegas. We have a rental car from LA and have our LA, Anaheim, Las Vegas part all sorted. We then have 8 nights from the 8th June to do a road trip and explore some of the national parks, drive over the Hoover dam and get back to LA by just after lunch on 16 June to fly home. I did look at your itinerary and then tried to adapt moving us down to LA through Sedona but not sure if I have bitten off too much. The trip would be Vegas – Grand Canyon Village – Page – Bryce Canyon via Springdale- Arches National Park – Monument Valley – Sedona – to maybe Joshua Tree NP – LA?? This does mean we are travelling everyday. Where would you suggest cutting out and maybe spending more time or is this doable??
    I want to see it all now that you have put up all the amazing things to do!!
    Many thanks in advance for any advice you can offer me. K:-)

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Kelsey and thank you for visiting our site!
      In light of what you’re trying to accomplish, I’d recommend dropping Arches from your itinerary. Not that it isn’t an amazingly beautiful park (it is!), but you really need about 4-5 days to do it justice, as well as nearly Canyonlands National Park. It’s simply too “far afield” in order for you to do that this time around.
      I’d recommend giving at least 2 days to Page, AZ, so you can tour Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and do either the Glen Canyon Float Trip and/or the Rainbow Bridge Boat Tour. Then give Sedona 2-3 days of your time as well as there is a ton to see and do in that area. Going back to LA, you could easily incorporate a stopover at Joshua Tree as it’s right on your way.
      When you say “go to Bryce via Springdale,” Springdale, UT, is actually on the Western border of Zion National Park, which is another park that deserves 2-3 days of your time!
      In light of all this, I’d recommend revising your itinerary as follows:
      Day 1: Vegas to Sedona
      Day 2: 2nd day at Sedona
      Day 3: Sedona to Grand Canyon
      Day 4: Grand Canyon to Monument Valley
      Day 5: Monument Valley to Page (Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon)
      Day 6: Page (Glen Canyon Float Trip or Rainbow Bridge Boat Tour) OR Page to Bryce Canyon
      Day 7: Bryce Canyon OR Zion
      Day 8: Zion to LAX via Joshua Tree
      If you were to drop another destination off this itinerary, it would be Monument Valley, again, not that it isn’t beautiful and worthwhile, but lodging there is hard to come by.
      Good luck and safe travels!
      Alley 🙂

  58. Mary Bonde says:

    Wow this looks amazing. How important is it to have “everything” booked in advance? We like to kind of be flexible to allow for extra hiking time, and the unexpected adventure, but don’t really want to miss out on these great sites. Our trip is April 22-28. We are flying in and out of Las Vegas and renting a car.

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Mary, and thank you for your inquiry.
      Your trip is occurring during what is, for many, the Spring Break holiday. Therefore, it is vitally important to have everything booked in advance. We’d hate to see you miss out on the best attractions, or have to drive for hours to find lodging in this very remote part of the U.S. For a first-hand account of how one family’s vacation was almost ruined by lack of planning, check out “Bryce Canyon: Why Being Spontaneous Is Not As Great As It Sounds
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  59. Jade Huynh says:

    Hi guys,

    thanks for the great info. I’m actually planning a 5 day trip in mid April with a friend of mine. I have been to the Wave and Escalante a few years ago and loved it. We originally were thinking of doing zion and bryce as well but it doesn’t look like we’ll have enough time. Especially since I read that the Narrows in Zion may be flooded and inaccessible at that time. So if we have 5 days (flying in 4/16 and leaving 4/21) from Las Vegas, what do you think would be feasible? I was thinking of arriving on 4/16 and driving to Grand canyon south rim. Looks like the hardest thing is getting a place to stay there? WE don’t need permits do we? My biggest goal of this trip is photography and hiking. We are an adventurous group. From there may drive to Page, AZ and doing Horseshoe Bend and Anteleope anyone. The next day go to monument valley then head back. Where do you think a side trek to sedona may fit in all of this? Our biggest goals are the grand canyon south rim, antelope and monument valley but it looks like we have extra time. Should I do Sedona on the way back or before Page, AZ or is there a must other place to visit? If I go to Sedona, should i fly out of phoenix home? Any help appreciated!

    Cheers,

    Jade

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Jade, and thank you for your inquiry!
      If you want to include Sedona in your itinerary, with only 5 days to work with, that will mean sacrificing one item on your “wish list.” Seeing as though The Narrows might not be doable at the time you’re traveling, I’d recommend crossing Zion off the list as an overnight, but you might still include it on your itinerary. More on that in a minute…
      Assuming you already have flights booked in and out of Las Vegas, you can accommodate Sedona into your itinerary by doing something like this:
      Day 1 – Travel from Las Vegas to Sedona, approximately 4.5-5 hour drive, overnight in Sedona
      Day 2 – Drive from Sedona to the Grand Canyon, approximately 3.5 hour drive, overnight at Grand Canyon (no, you do not need a permit just to stay on the rim)
      Day 3 – Drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Monument Valley, approximately 3 hour drive, overnight in Monument Valley
      Day 4 – Drive to Page, AZ (~2 hour drive), visit Horseshoe Bend, tour Antelope Canyon, overnight in Page **Monument Valley will be on Daylight Saving Time, Page, AZ, will be on STANDARD TIME in April, you will “gain” an hour going from MV to Page.**
      Day 5 – Drive back to Las Vegas, with a detour through Zion National Park, ~6-7 hour drive.
      As you have correctly deduced, availability – or lack thereof – of Grand Canyon lodging will probably be the biggest determining factor on the feasibility of your plans. If you find Grand Canyon hotels booked on Day 2 of the above itinerary, you might consider “flip-flopping” the order in which you visit these sites, and hit Page, AZ, first, then Monument Valley, Grand Canyon, Sedona, etc. Another option, though not ideal, would be to visit Grand Canyon as a “drive by” between Sedona and Monument Valley. That would mean making a 6-7 hour drive in one day’s time.
      As you can also see, the above itinerary has you packing up and moving every day. If you want to build some “chill time” into the trip, Sedona would be the place to do it, but you’d probably end up sacrificing one of your stops in order to pull it off. The most likely candidate would be Monument Valley, not because it isn’t beautiful (it definitely is!), but lodging is also relatively scarce in that area.
      Whatever you decide, be sure to make all lodging and Antelope Canyon tour reservations well in advance of your visit.
      Hope that helps. Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

    • Richard Gamble says:

      Alley, you’re awesome! What a description. You’ve got me pumped up already. If you could respond, how much variation would I need to this itinerary if it was to be done in Mid-March? Any help you could give would be appreciated. I would also be willing to do another route if necessary if you have any ideas or other posts. Again, thanks for doing this.

      • Alley Keosheyan says:

        Hi Richard and thank you for your excellent inquiry!
        The main consideration when traveling in Northern Arizona and Southern Utah in mid-March is weather. March is in that “transitional zone” between winter and spring. Therefore, the majority of your days will be sunny and brisk, but you could still encounter a late-season snowstorm (or two!), especially in the higher elevations such as Grand Canyon South Rim (7,000′ ASL) and Bryce Canyon (8,000′ ASL).
        With this in mind, advisable modifications to this itinerary would be to reconsider water-based activities such as the Glen Canyon Float Trip and any boat or kayak tours on Lake Powell. Good substitutions for these, if you’re so inclined, would be taking a good long hike, or opting for land-based tours such as the Alstrom Point Tour or a tour to White Pocket. Another option would be to simply take that extra day that you would have devoted to the boat or raft tour and give it to another stop on your trip. Zion would be a good candidate for this since it’s such a huge park and has so much to explore.
        Hope that helps. Best wishes for safe travels, and a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
        Alley 🙂

    • Joselle Clemente says:

      Hi ! What a great IT you got there! My husband and I are planning to visit these places come Feb 17 for a week, i dont know if we can do all and if the weather ia good enough to hike or do some activities… I would really appreciate if you can give us a suggestion. We are planning to fly in Phoenix-AZ from chicago and fly out las vegas, maybe spend 2nights in Las vegas. Its our 1st year wedding anniversary and my husbands bday, a good Itenerary would really help me surprise him… I’ve been searching for places and yours are the most extensive and well planned👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 I hope you could give me some nice routes since we will be renting a car as well! Thank you in advance!

      • Alley Keosheyan says:

        Hello Joselle, and congratulations on your upcoming wedding anniversary!
        Flying into Phoenix and out of Las Vegas, you could do something like this:
        Day 1 – Drive from Phoenix to Sedona, drive time ~2.5 hours, overnight in Sedona
        Day 2 – Explore Sedona. Popular activities include, but are not limited to, day spas, shopping, art galleries, wine tastings (yes, that’s actually a thing!), easy but scenic hiking, and backcountry jeep tours. Lots of possibilities, it just depends on your tastes and interests! For suggestions, check out VisitSedona.com: Things To Do
        Day 3 – Drive from Sedona to the Grand Canyon, drive time ~3 hours, catch the IMAX movie, explore Grand Canyon Village Historic District and the Hermit’s Rest overlooks. Overnight at Grand Canyon
        Day 4 – Drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ. Trip time for this segment is given as 2.5 hours “on paper,” but in reality, it ends up being more along the lines of 3.5-4 hours because it’s a very scenic drive and you’ll be stopping to take picture often. Photo ops here include, but aren’t limited to: over half a dozen named Grand Canyon viewpoints, all different and beautiful, the Little Colorado River Overlook, the Cameron Trading Post (great brunch/lunch stop!), Chinle formation views, the “Cut” Overlook, and the Horseshoe Bend Overlook. Overnight in Page, AZ.
        Day 5 – Tour Antelope Canyon, then drive to Bryce Canyon (~3 hours). Overnight in Bryce
        Day 6 – Drive from Bryce Canyon to Zion National Park (~2 hours), overnight in Springdale, UT
        Day 7 – Drive back to Las Vegas (~3 hours from Springdale)
        As you’ve deduced, the biggest factor that could alter or cancel any plans you make is weather. Grand Canyon South Rim and Bryce Canyon have both received a lot of snow this year, so be sure to start monitoring the weather about 2 weeks before you get set to travel. Grand Canyon weather
        Be sure to book all lodging and guided tours well in advance of your arrival since you’ll be traveling during the President’s Day Holiday weekend, and things are bound to be busy.
        Good luck and safe travels!
        Alley 🙂

        • HDy says:

          Is this itinerary doable in February? We are looking into February travel also

          • Alley Keosheyan says:

            Hi HDy,
            This itinerary is perfectly doable in February, as long as good weather holds out. At 7,000′ ASL, Grand Canyon South Rim does see its share of snow, as does Bryce Canyon, which is 8,000′ ASL. Be sure you don’t schedule any time sensitive activities too tightly in case you get delayed or detoured by inclement weather.
            Water-based activities in the Page, AZ, area probably won’t be an option as these are on seasonal hiatus, or curtailed significantly, at the time of year you’re visiting. The Glen Canyon Float Trip is completely dark, but Lake Powell Boat Tours may run on limited days of the week, contingent on a certain number of passengers traveling.
            Even though February is considered “shoulder” or “off” season, all hotel and guided tour reservations should be made well in advance of your arrival.
            Start monitoring local weather about 2 weeks before you get set to travel so you can pack appropriate clothing, and be ready to change plans if needed. Grand Canyon weather
            Good luck and have a safe trip!
            Alley 🙂

  60. sang says:

    Hi Alley,
    I will arrive Las Vegas in early morning April 14 and will be back to LA in April 19, I can stay at my friend’s house at Gilbert city. I’m looking for these places if it fit with my schedule, would you please give an advise where I need hotel to stay and which park i need to book a tour .
    -South Rim
    -Sedona
    -Arches National park
    -The wave
    -Horseshoe bend
    -Antelope
    -Bryce canyon
    -Glen canyon…
    Thank you very much Alley

  61. sang says:

    Hi Alley,
    I will arrive Las Vegas in April 14 and will be back to LA in April 18 I can stay at my friend’s house at Gilbert city. I’m looking for these places if it fit with my schedule, would you please give an advise where I need hotel to stay and which park i need to book a tour .
    -South Rim
    -Sedona
    -Arches National park
    -The wave
    -Horseshoe bend
    -Antelope
    -Bryce canyon
    -Glen canyon…
    Thank you very much Alley

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Sang,
      Unfortunately, with your limited timeframe, there’s no way you can fit all these destinations into your itinerary. To pull off the trip you’re wanting to accomplish per your post, you need at least two weeks. This time around, you realistically have three full days to work with. Assuming that April 14th will be a travel day, I’d recommend the following:
      April 15th: Drive from Las Vegas to Page, AZ (~5 hours), tour Antelope Canyon, overnight in Page Optional detour through Zion National Park, add 60-90 minutes onto your drive time.
      April 16th: Drive from Page to Grand Canyon South Rim (3.5-4 hour drive factoring in sightseeing, bathroom breaks, meal stops), overnight at the Grand Canyon
      April 17th: Drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Gilbert, AZ, with a detour through Sedona (~6 hour drive), hang out with your friend.
      April 18th: back to LA
      Hope that helps and that you have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
      Alley 🙂

      • sang says:

        Hi Alley,
        I’m sorry that I accidentally send you the old message. I make little change for my plan. I will start from Las Vegas in early morning April 14 and will be back to LA in April 20 from Gilbert city. I’m looking for these places if it fit with my schedule, would you please give an advise where I need hotel to stay and which park do I need to book a tour .
        -South Rim
        -Sedona
        -Arches National park
        -The wave
        -Antelope

        Thank you very much Alley

        • Alley Keosheyan says:

          Hi again, Sang,
          Thanks for clarifying some of the finer points of your itinerary. You’re going to have to do a LOT of driving in order to pull this off, but it can work.
          First thing to get out of the way: The Wave. Realistically, your chances of getting there are VERY slim. For one thing, a permit is required to hike there. Only 20 people per day are allowed to do so. 10 are chosen via an online lottery, which you must apply for 4 months in advance. Another 10 people are chosen via a walk-in lottery, held the day prior to when you wish to hike at the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Kanab, UT. If you don’t succeed at getting a permit through the online lottery, then trying your hand at the walk-in lottery will basically mean sacrificing a day when your vacation time is already limited as it is. Honestly, I’d take The Wave off the table, or explore the possibility of flying over it. Fixed-wing airplanes and helicopters can be chartered out of the Page Municipal Airport by advance arrangement.
          So, getting on to the rest of your “wish list,” here’s what I would advise:
          April 14th – Drive from Las Vegas, NV, to Moab, UT (gateway city for Arches/Canyonlands National Parks). Drive time: ~7 hours. If desired, you could make a detour through Zion National Park, and/or Capitol Reef National Park, but this will tack more time onto an already long drive. Overnight in Moab, UT.
          April 15th – Explore Arches National Park. This park is easy to tour on your own, or you can choose to go on a guided tour through the Moab Adventure Center. Time permitting, pop over to Dead Horse Point State Park. 2nd night in Moab.
          April 16th – Get an early start and drive to Page, AZ. Drive time ~5 hours. If desired, good photo stops include, but aren’t limited to, Goosenecks State Park and Monument Valley. Tour Antelope Canyon before getting into town (by advance reservation). Overnight in Page, AZ
          April 17th – Visit the Horseshoe Bend Overlook just after sunrise, head to Grand Canyon South Rim. Minimum drive time: 3 hours. Good scenic stops: the “Cut” overlook, The Gap Trading Post, Chinle formation views, Cameron Trading Post, the Little Colorado River Overlook, half a dozen+ Grand Canyon Viewpoints between Desert View Point and Grand Canyon Village. Overnight at Grand Canyon, preferably inside the park, or Tusayan/GC Village South if park is booked up. Grand Canyon hotels
          April 18th: Drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Sedona. Drive time ~3 hours. Here, you can opt to spend one night or two. Lots of activities and sights to enjoy, the #1 “must do” is the Pink Jeep Broken Arrow Tour.
          The drive back to LA from Gilbert, AZ will take approximately 7 hours.

          Good luck and have fun!
          Alley 🙂

  62. theresa cheng says:

    Hi Alley,

    Just wanted to give you a “Grand, Monumental” T-H-A-N-K Y-O-U!!!!! We are just back from touring this itinerary in Mid November, and it was awesome!!! Your advice was spot on, and a wonderful help in planning, particularly the part about the pit stops and the NPS annual pass…. Also, noteworthy is how much fun and easy, and head turninglingly amazing the whole drive was as the landscape continuously changes and morphs throughout the whole way…the road of this road trip was great!

    I thought that you and your readers may like a late fall perspective of how your itinerary may be experienced because of the very varying temperatures and limited daylight. We did a few tweaks, primarily by driving mid day except for Day One. This made it so we could visit each place by mid afternoon and again in the morning, which with the varying light during am and pm parts of day, made each place magically different for each experience. And made even better use of the NPS pass, since by your third entry, all your next entries are”free” and easy…Also dress in layers, as we went from + Mid 20s Celsius to -14 Celsius plus windchill… need a full gamut of hot and cold clothes including tuques and gloves..

    Since we did start and end in Vegas, we also added in a Valley of Fire day trip the day before this itinerary and for good measure, added a Death Valley day trip from LV at the end, instead of doing two days in Zion. Both of these of course are wonders too in their own right, and enjoyable to do in late fall. But not likely during summer months…

    The Grand Canyon one hour helicopter tour was great, and definitely worthwhile and worth the cost. And the red line bus tour was great, but it was also easy to drive yourself on the west side of the park towards Desert Watchtower with plenty of jaw dropping stops in between. Lodging last minute was no issue either.

    Monument Valley, with its majestic, timeless, quiet, mysterious presence was impressive and moving.

    As for the Page stop, we were uncertain that it was worth two days, but what a pleasant surprise this stop turned out to be! Again, given the time of year, we did a Horseshoe bend afternoon with a sunset on Day 1. On day 2, instead of a full 1/2 day boat tour, since it was pretty chilly, we took an AM one hour boat tour of Antelope Canyon starting from the Antelope Canyon Marina, which was just enough to capture the beauty of a water tour experience of Lake Powell. This was followed by a noontime Upper Antelope Canyon tour upon local recommendation, since the morning and afternoon tours have much less light, and would not have given as great an effect. The vermillion cliffs national park entrance near house rock road was an unpaved path, and while the drive to it was fantastic, but it is not recommended to go forth after to the park entrance without a 4×4. … Lake Powell is undescribably beautiful with all its curves , and Lone Rock Beach was magical in the dusk hour. The toadstool park was neat, but a little disappointing, probably because there was very little signage (is this the right way and are we there yet? ) and only a few toadstools. Glen canyon dam was impressive, and since we visited that, did not feel the need to go to the hoover dam later which though taller, is smaller…

    Bryce was overwhelmingly beautiful, mind boogling and other worldly. This was a highlight unique landscape not to be missed. It was easy to drive from point to point, but given the altitudes, the trails and look outs were very cold indeed and blustery.

    Zion was much more than we expected, even though many have spoken to its likability… The fall colours of the forest actually accentuated the kaleidoscope of colours of these powerful majestic peaks and canyons. Lots of wildlife too could be spotted.

    All in all, you can probably sense how much we were thrilled by this itinerary, and once again , thank you for your great insight and advice!

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Dear Theresa,
      All I can say is “W-O-W!” Thank you so much for letting us know how your vacation went, and that our trip planning advice helped you get the most out of it. That’s cool that you were able to add Death Valley and the Valley of Fire to your itinerary; that’s just one of many advantages to traveling in late fall. They’re both beautiful places, but I certainly wouldn’t want to go to either one of them during the scorching heat of summer!
      If you have the time, you might also post reviews of the hotels, restaurants, tour companies, and other businesses you patronized on your vacation. They always like to hear what they did right and what they might have gotten wrong in order to serve future customers better.
      Thank you again and best wishes for a Happy Holiday Season!
      Alley 🙂

  63. Jennifer Galperin says:

    Hi Alley,

    Thank you for this. I am excited to visit this area for the first time. I’m looking to plan the trip for one of the following time frames, could use your thoughts:

    1. April 2019 (spring break) with kids 10, 8, and 6. Concerned that my youngest will be too young to enjoy some of the activities.
    2. Late August, 2019. Concerned that it will be too hot and too crowded in late august.
    3. Wait until April 2020.

    What do you think?

    Jen Galperin

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Jen!
      I think that your youngest is not too young at all to enjoy most of the popular family activities in the area. I wouldn’t recommend taking him/her on any long, difficult hikes, certainly, but kids as young as 4 can take part in the Glen Canyon Float Trip. Younger kids are also welcome on Antelope Canyon tours (the main branches, Upper, Lower and X); age limitations may apply on some of the alternate slot canyons. Lake Powell boat tours and kayak tours are also an option, but you’d probably want to keep these on the short side.
      As for when you visit, I agree that August is way too hot and way too crowded. April 2019 should still be doable as long as you get a couple of important elements reserved: Grand Canyon lodging and Antelope Canyon tours. If you are able to pick and choose when you visit, though, honestly, the absolute best time of year is autumn, meaning late September/early October. I realize that that may not be conducive to your kids’ school schedules, however.
      Anyway, good luck and safe travels, and have a Happy Holiday Season!
      Alley 🙂

  64. Melissa says:

    Hi Alley,

    Ok I have been planning and since I came across your itinerary feeling much better about our trip. I am coming with my four children in June 2019. They are 14 – 24, we plan to see everything we can and love the history,

    Here’s my plan:
    Day 1 – Fly into Vegas, Drive to Southern Rim.

    Day 2 – Drive from Southern Rim to Monument Valley, guided tour, sleep at Goulding Lodge

    Day 3 – travel to page, Antelope Canyon Lower Canyon, Dinner at Sandbar, Horseshoe bend overlook, Sleep in Page

    Day 4 – Page River trail, Drive to
    Bryce Canyon, Explore
    Sleep at Bryce view Lodge

    Day 5 – Morning at Bryce, Travel up to Zion National Park
    Catch 1st free shuttle Zion Canyon Scenic Drive shuttle, 20 min video,
    Springdale Utah for Dinner Sleep at Zion Lodge

    Day 6 – Morning at Zion., then…

    Does this all seem good so far?
    Here is where I am stuck. We are ending our trip at Family’s in Hemit California, On the way through I plan to stop at Joshua Tree State Park. But this itinerary doesn’t include any time on the North rim, which is part of my desire to see. Is there a better way to route to see everything and make the last day ending at Hemit (about an hour and half West of Joshua Tree State Park). Please advise. Thank you so much for all your details, I have saved all of the points of interest along the way! Can’t wait!!

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Melissa, and thank you for your visit!
      Your itinerary looks quite well-planned. Since you specify where you’re staying for most of your itinerary, that makes me wonder: do you have your Grand Canyon hotels reserved? If not, I’d get on that pretty soon, as lodges inside the park tend to book up a year in advance. If you can’t find availability in Grand Canyon Village, then Tusayan/aka Grand Village South is your next best option.
      Regarding the North Rim, it is not necessary to go there in order to have a fulfilling visit to the Grand Canyon. Don’t get me wrong, it’s beautiful, but 1. lodging options are extremely limited there, and 2. there’s only a small area, square mileage-wise of the Grand Canyon that you can realistically and practically see from the North Rim. The South Rim has much more to offer in those respects, and is easier to navigate by car. If you insist on including it in your itinerary, you’ll need to find a place to stay, if not in the park, then somewhere nearby, such as Kanab, UT or St. George, UT. Otherwise, you’ll make an already long drive even longer: Zion to Hemet, CA via Joshua Tree is ~430 miles, 8 hours.

      Throw the North Rim into the mix, you’ll tack on another 225 miles and another 5 hours onto the trip.

      A way you can “have your cake and eat it too” here would be to fly over the North Rim from Grand Canyon South Rim. Airplane and helicopter tours depart from the Grand Canyon National Park Airport and include enough flight time over the North Rim for you to get a sense of how different it is from the South Rim.
      Good luck and safe travels. Have a Happy Holiday Season!
      Alley 🙂

      • Melissa Hardy says:

        Thank you and I LOVE the idea of the helicopter ride over! Of course I do want to have my cake and eat it too!

        I took your advice and reserved all my hotels now, because I saw some of my choices are already taken!!! (yikes)
        They do sell out early.

        I did make a change based on the hotels, which may flow better. New itinerary is:
        Day 1: Drive from Vegas to Bryce Canyon, we wont have too long in the park but can enjoy the shuttle and sunset at inspiration point 🙂
        Day 2: Zion National Park! Cant wait to hike and explore.
        Day 3: North Ridge, and Page. Antelope Canyon
        Day 4: Sunrise at Horseshoe Bend overlook, Riverview Trail hike, Monument Valley
        Day 5: Drive to South Rim! Hike Explore
        Day 6: Wake up on Southern Rim, enjoy sunrise, And drive through Joshua Tree State Park to Hemet CA.
        Thank you for everything.

        • Alley Keosheyan says:

          Hi again, Melissa!
          I’m glad to hear that you have all your hotels booked, but I’m still concerned that you might be trying to bite off more than you can chew, not to mention that you’re having to pack up and drive to a different destination every. single. day.
          On Day 1, for example: driving from Las Vegas to Bryce Canyon will take you 5-6 hours, plus you’ll “lose” an hour due to the time difference. If I remember correctly, you’re flying into Las Vegas that day, so hopefully a. your flight is scheduled to land sometime before noon and b. that it gets in on time. Keep in mind, too, it will take you another hour or so to get into your rental car, and another 30-60 minutes to make your way out of town (Las Vegas traffic is always a nightmare).
          If it’s not too late to switch things up a bit, you might consider going to Zion first. It’s only ~3 hours from Las Vegas to Springdale, UT (the gateway city on the Western border of the park). From there, the drive to Bryce is only about 2.5 hours.
          I can understand why you put things in the order you did, though, if you still insist on going to Page via Grand Canyon North Rim. If you can’t be swayed to take it (North Rim) off the table, then LAS-Bryce-Zion-GC North is the better way to go. Still, you’re looking at 5 hours minimum behind the wheel. If you come down from Bryce, add another hour onto the total drive. Fortunately, the days are longer at that time of year, if you were traveling in December, I’d say “forget it!”
          The trip from Page to Monument Valley is ~2.5 hours, and again, you’ll “lose” an hour here as the Navajo Reservation observes Daylight Savings Time, but Page, AZ, does not. You’ll “gain” the hour back on the trip to the South Rim, which according to Google Maps, takes 3 hours and change, but in reality, you could take anywhere from 4-5 hours because there are many viewpoints at which you’ll invariably stop, especially as you enter the park via Desert View Point.
          Upon leaving Grand Canyon South Rim, you’re still facing a 7+ hour drive back to Hemet via Joshua Tree, but with sunrise occuring shortly after 5:00 AM at that time of year, plus “gaining” an hour going back into Cali, you should make it to your destination well before dark.
          Best of luck to you, and if you happen to think about it, let us know how things went!
          Alley 🙂
          P.S. I don’t recall if I mentioned this before, apologies if I’m repeating myself, but be sure to pick up an “America The Beautiful Federal Lands Access Pass.” For just $80, this card gets you access to ALL National Parks, Monuments, and Federal Recreation Areas for 1 year’s time. The only areas it won’t work are State Parks and Native American Tribal Parks (like Antelope Canyon and Monument Valley, but be sure to save your tribal park entrance fee receipt from Antelope Canyon as it will carry over to MV). If you live in the US, you can pre-order the pass by mail, or simply pick it up at the first National Park you hit on your tour.

          • Melissa says:

            I actually printed all of your suggestions and put them in our travel folder. We will get the America the Beautiful Pass. I am actually using Christmas to get everyone hiking shoes and some other traveling items. I don’t think I could have planned this with out your input! Thank you – I will let you know how it all goes.

            My son said the same as you, and we will fly in a day earlier to “chill” in Vegas – this way we can get off the plane and get the rental car, and stock up the cooler with out the hurry to get on the road. Early start the next day! I guess the older kids wanted to see Vegas, who would have known?

          • Alley Keosheyan says:

            Hi Melissa,
            Thank you for your follow-up.
            Hiking shoes and travel items are sure to be well-received under the Christmas tree! However, be sure that your family uses the time between Christmas and your vacation to break in those hiking shoes. Long hikes in brand new boots are a surefire recipe for painful blisters. Even so, be sure to pack some moleskin and other first aid items just in case.
            Good call on incorporating a “chill day” in Las Vegas. Everyone should see the town at least once in their lives.
            Have a wonderful holiday season, and vacation!
            Alley 🙂

          • Melissa says:

            Alley,

            THANK YOU for all of your recommendations and help in making this trip of a lifetime for my family!!
            We are back home in Florida but thoroughly enjoyed every minute of our journey. It was all that and then some.
            Day 1: Flew into Vegas. I was not excited at all about spending any time there but my kids were. So after renting the car and checking into the LUXOR we hit the town and walked the strip. It was awesome!
            Day 2: My daughter and I went to Walmart while the boys slept and got a cooler and stocked up on lunch meat and car snacks! We scoped up the boys and started the long drive to Brice. We had a few pit stops, it was very scenic. We enjoyed a snowball fight (on June 1) and rock tower building by the river/ creek we were following. Awesome drive. Then we checked into our log cabin and headed into Brice. We were able to hike up to Inspiration Point – AMAZING! And watched the sun set on the rim.
            Day 3: We weren’t done with Brice yet. We did the Mossy Cave hike and an hour’s worth of the Queen’s trail.
            Then we drove to Zion, we were on the road by 12 noon – and enjoyed the science route. It was a creat ride through the tunnel and into Brice and we LOVED all of the red – we felt like we were in a different planet.
            We checked into our hotel, ate lunch, then took the free shuttle into Zion. We went to the last stop and were planning to hike the narrows but it was closed 🙁 so we settled for Hanging Gardens and Emerald pools. HOW FUN!!!!!
            That night we ate our left overs from lunch, got ice cream in Springdale and slept really well!
            Day 4: woke up, grabbed some bumble berry pie and head out! We topped and grabbed subs and went to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We went to the highest point and enjoyed our subs. We had a short rim hike and then got back in the car for Page – we booked a 4:00 hike of Water Holes Canyon. We pit stopped along the drive for ga, and climbing random boulders n the middle of no where and arrived at 3:59!
            Water Holes Canyon was amazing – I heard it was much like Antelope Canyon but that it was less crowded. It was just us and a couple on th tour so we had a great time with our guide. Jason helped us take pictures and told us everything about the area and history – such a rich experience.
            Afterwards we checked into our hotel in Page, ate at the Dam Bar, sopped at the Levi Outlet next door, and got a great night sleep.
            Day 5: Horseshoe bend at sunrise – we were leaving before 7 am and saw the droves of tour busses rolling in! Great timing!! Stopped at Clen Canyon Dam and falls and Walmart to stock up – and fill the cooler – then headed to the Navajo National Monument. This was great. The kids loved the trail we hiked where we saw the ancient cave dwellings. We were not in a hurry because we didn’t know how lucky we were about to get. We went and checked into our hotel and decided to try and get a monument valley tour (I was not sure if my budget was going to allow – but SOOOOO glad it worked out). Larry from Navajo spirit guides agreed last minute to a family tour and we met him at 6:00. The next few hours we will never forget as he drove us through the most amazing land telling us all about the relevance of the things we were seeing.
            Day 6: Work up and went to Burget King for the Navajo Code Talker exhibit ! The kids bought some souvenirs
            Then stopped at Cameron Trading Post
            And South Rim of the Grand Canyon!
            We went to the Dessert Tower and loved all the Hopi history. We saw moose! We saw elk!!
            We checked in to our hotel an then took the shuttle back into the park to explore the rim and caught sunset, elks, and geology. Happy satisfied mom moment.
            Day 7: We were going to have a sunrise tour of the Grand Canyon but I did not want to drive in the dark after all of the wold life I saw – so we came shortly after sunrise and hiked. Then we packed up and left headed to Hemet Cali to visit our family there. We went through Joshua Tree NAtional Park just after 5 pm and the kids climbed skull rock, and saw a rattle snake! We had a great trip. So much clutter and history. It was a,axing.
            We spent the next 10 days in Cali 0 and spent some time exploring San Diego, Los Angeles, and made it up to Pismo Pier and Morro. It was an amazing trip and I know I could not have done it all with out you – THANK YOU!!!

          • Alley Keosheyan says:

            Hi again, Melissa,
            OMG thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to report back to us about your trip! Sorry to hear that The Narrows was closed, but the mountains that feed the local rivers just got slammed with snow this winter, and the resulting volume of water would have made the hike too dangerous. Guess you’ll have to come back one of these days. What a shame *sarcasm*!
            Have a wonderful summer, and don’t hesitate to contact us again if we can be of further assistance,
            Alley 🙂

  65. Jenny says:

    Hi Alley, what an amazing resource you are! Your itinerary and responses on here are awesome.

    I am planning a trip late Sept 2019 with my husband and 12 yo son and would love your guidance…. we will have 6 or 7 nights and hopefully be flying in and out of LV. My wish list is….hoover Dam, DG south rim, Antelope Canyon, lake Powell, Bryce Canyon and Zion.

    Another option would be to fly into Phoenix and out of LV but may miss Hoover Dam…

    Your opinion would be very welcome.

    Jenny 😊

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Jenny and thank you for your compliments!
      With your timeframe, you should be able to pull off everything on your “wish list.” Before committing to flying into Phoenix and out of Vegas (or the other way around), check rental car drop-off fees. They can be pretty steep for returning a vehicle to any other location besides where yo picked it up in this part of the country due to the distances between cities. Also, if you do manage to find a decent deal for doing a PHX-LAS loop, you should build more time into your itinerary so you can include Sedona. It’s a stunning area with lots to see and do, so you should plan on spending at least 3 days.
      Since Hoover Dam is so close to Las Vegas, it’s pretty easy to include a stop there on your tour. It just depends on what’s most convenient for you.
      The “lynchpin” around which all your plans should evolve, and revolve is Grand Canyon lodging. Hotels at the South Rim book up to a year in advance, so now is not too soon to start checking availability. Ideally (IMO), you should hit the Grand Canyon first as that will be the longest drive of the trip (4.5-5 hours). You could hit Hoover Dam on the way. You could do a tour of just the Visitor Center or go down deeper into the Power Plant, depending on your curiosity. Those cost money; however, it costs nothing at all to just drive over it and take a look. Hoover Dam Tours
      After visiting the Grand Canyon, go on to Page, plan to spend at least 2 days, especially if you want to take part in water-based activities like the Glen Canyon Float Trip or the Lake Powell Rainbow Bridge Boat Tour. Then head over to Bryce for 1 night, Zion for 2. In Zion, plan on staying in Springdale, UT, as there are more hotels there to choose from than inside the park, and it will put you just 3 hours from Vegas for the final leg of your trip.
      Be sure to purchase an America The Beautiful Federal Lands Access Pass as well. For $80, this card grants you access to all National Parks, Monuments, and Federal Fee Areas in the U.S. for 1 year’s time. It doesn’t work for Native American Tribal Parks, such as Antelope Canyon and Monument Valley, but it would still pay for itself on a 7-day trip through the major sights of Northern Arizona and Southern Utah.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  66. kansha says:

    Hi Alley

    Greetings !! Planning a 7 day trip in December 2018 and wanted to see what iterinary you suggest. I am open to start from Las Vegas or Phoenix. Since i am travellign in December end want to know what I should consider weather wise and will most of the parks and monuments be open.

    Plannign to do Grand Canyon – Monument Valley – Sedona – Zion but will wait for your recommendation.

    Thanks
    Kansha

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Kansha, and thank you for visiting our site!
      You can have a wonderful trip by flying into either airport. What I would recommend is checking airfares for both options. They can differ quite widely for no obvious reason, so it’s worth investigating.
      One thing I notice, however, is that Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend are absent from your itinerary. If you’ve been there before and are content to skip them, that’s fine. If you haven’t been there before, though, you should definitely plan on at least 1 day in Page, AZ to experience these iconic landmarks. Besides, you pretty much have to pass through there anyway.
      If you end up flying into Las Vegas, a good one week itinerary would be:
      2-3 nights – Zion
      1 night – Bryce
      1-2 nights – Page
      1 night – Monument Valley
      1-2 nights – Grand Canyon South Rim
      If you use Phoenix as your “staging” city, a good itinerary would be:
      1 night – Monument Valley
      1 night – Page
      2-3 nights – Zion
      1 night – Grand Canyon South Rim
      2-3 nights – Sedona
      In both cases, the order in which you visit the various attractions will likely hinge on lodging availability at Grand Canyon South Rim. After you figure out which airport you’ll fly into, check on Grand Canyon hotels. The next most important element is Antelope Canyon tours.
      In general, you can expect colder weather at the time of year you’re visiting. While all the parks will be open, the possibility of encountering snow is fairly good, especially in higher elevation areas like the Grand Canyon, Bryce and Zion. In the lower elevation parks, like Page, Monument Valley, and Sedona, that usually translates to rain. Regardless, start monitoring local weather about 2 weeks before you get set to travel, and pack a few items of warmer clothing just to be on the safe side!
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      • kansha says:

        Thanks Alley !!

        Will definitely look into visiting Page and explore Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon. I was not aware that they will be open and hence skipped them.

        What do you suugest i should be doing in Zion and Sedona

        Thanks again

        • Alley Keosheyan says:

          Hi Kansha,
          You’ll find that the majority of National Parks and Monuments are open 365 days a year! They may curtail services and activities, but otherwise, it’s “all systems go.”
          As for what you can do in Sedona and Zion, there’s no shortage of beautiful sights and fun activities to keep you busy. What you choose to do is only restricted by your time constraints and physical fitness level. For guidance on these, visit the official National Park Service website for Zion National Park at http://www.nps.gov/zion and the Sedona Visitor Information Center at http://www.VisitSedona.com.
          Best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year!
          Alley 🙂

        • Alley Keosheyan says:

          Hi again, Kansha –
          For Zion and Sedona, there is no shortage of activities and beautiful sights. What you choose to do will be largely guided by your physical fitness level, budget, and time limitations! For suggestions, visit NPS.gov/Zion and VisitSedona.com
          Take care and have a great trip,
          Alley 🙂

  67. Laurie says:

    Hi Alli,

    Thank you so much for this itinerary! We just got back from our trip from to the southwest last week and it was amazing. We followed your itinerary very closely and you did not disappoint! A favorite of my teenage sons was the ATV tour in Bryce Canyon and the Navajo guided tour in Monument Valley. Thanks again. I could not have put such a great trip together myself. Many thanks!

    Laurie R

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Laurie,
      Wow, thank you so much for your feedback! We’re so glad to hear that your family enjoyed your vacation. Hope you didn’t run into too much rain.
      If any of your friends and/or family are planning trips out here in the future, be sure to send them our way, as well as to our companion sites: http://www.horseshoebend.com and http://www.thewaveaz.com I’d also recommend posting feedback on the hotels, restaurants, and tour companies you patronized on Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, or whatever consumer review sites you prefer. They are always grateful to hear how they did!
      Take care and have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s,
      Alley 🙂

  68. JAIDEEP R VIJAYAKAR says:

    Hi, would you recommend driving from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon Village and then drive on to Page for an overnight stay there?

    Alternately, if you stay near Grand Canyon Village then is it OK to drive early morning to get to Antelope Valley in the morning for their tours?

    Regards
    Jaideep

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Jaideep!
      I would not recommend driving from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon, then to Page in the same day.
      It takes approximately 4.5 hours to drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim. It then takes anywhere from 3-4 hours to drive to Page, AZ. I know that Google maps lists the latter drive time as ~2.5 hours, but that’s wheels turning, no stops. It’s rare that people end up doing that because the drive is very scenic and there will be many photo opportunities you’ll want to take advantage of. You also want to avoid driving at night in this part of the U.S. due to lack of ambient lighting and the possible presence of nocturnal wildlife such as deer, elk, coyotes, and such.
      A much better plan would be to overnight at Grand Canyon South Rim, then get an early start to Page, AZ to catch an Antelope Canyon tour. Be sure to book Antelope Canyon tours, Page, AZ and Grand Canyon accommodations well in advance of your arrival.
      Good luck and safe travels!
      Alley 🙂

  69. Kristi says:

    Alley-
    This is a WONDERFUL itinerary and very helpful as I am currently planning our Arizona/Utah Spring Break 2019 Road Trip!! We are two families of 4 with kids 14, 12, 12 and 9 and we are first-timers. Our plan is to fly in and out of Las Vegas making a loop but could fly in or out of Phoenix if helps maximize our time and travels. Your itinerary is inspiring me to include Monument Valley when I did not think we could squeeze it in. If we arrive Las Vegas early Sat 3/23 and plan to fly home on 3/31 (either from LV or Phoenix) what would you recommend? We are not huge hikers but plan to get out and experience the wonder and beauty of the region – our must-do’s include Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon and a float trip if we can squeeze it in. We want to experience Route 66 on this family road trip. Thanks in advance as I look forward to hearing your suggestions.
    Kristi

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Kristi and thank you for your compliments on our itinerary.
      First off, you must realize that the time of year you’re traveling is the “transitional” period between winter and spring up here. Weather will be on the cooler side, which IMO is a plus, but late March is notorious for having that one last snowstorm of the year blow through. Pack a few pieces of warmer clothing just to be on the safe side, and start monitoring local weather conditions about 2 weeks before you get ready to head out this way.
      Your plan to use Las Vegas as your staging city is a sound one, and if you want to catch some Route 66 highlights, the drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim is the ideal leg of your trip to do so. Seligman, AZ, which was the partial basis for the town of “Radiator Springs” in the Cars movies, is just a short detour off what is normally about a 5-hour drive. It still maintains that kitschy, “frozen in time” vibe which you’ll no doubt find endearing and fascinating. Stop at Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-in for a burger and some laughs. This leg of your trip is also where you’d want to hit Hoover Dam, or just get a bird’s eye view of it from the bypass bridge.
      Given your priorities and time frame, what I would recommend for you is this:
      03/23 – Drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon with stops at Hoover Dam and Seligman, AZ en route, stay at Grand Canyon South Rim ***note: due to the size of your party, you’ll need to get at least 2 rooms in each location; state fire codes forbid more than 5 people sleeping in one hotel room**
      3/24 – Sightseeing in Grand Canyon: explore Grand Canyon Village Historic District, ride free shuttles out to the Hermit’s Rest/West Rim Drive overlooks, see the IMAX movie (in Tusayan, just outside the park), take in a NPS ranger program, catch sunset, etc., stay another night at Grand Canyon South Rim
      03/25 – Drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Monument Valley – normally ~a 3-hour drive w/no stops, but you’ll definitely be stopping at the viewpoints along the Desert View/East Rim Drive of the Grand Canyon, the Cameron Trading Post (Navajo tacos are YUMMO!), maybe the Moenkopi Dinosaur Tracks. Stay overnight in Monument Valley, or Kayenta, AZ or Tuba City, AZ
      03/26 – Do early tour of Monument Valley, then drive to Page, AZ. It’s ~a 2-hour drive, but keep in mind, you have to factor in a time difference: Arizona DOES NOT observe Daylight Saving Time, the Navajo Reservation DOES, so – you’ll “lose” an hour going from Grand Canyon South Rim to Monument Valley, then “gain” it back as you drive to Page. Tour Antelope Canyon on the way into town. Spend the night in Page, AZ. **Page, AZ has a number of vacation rental properties that might be able to accommodate your entire party, so that would be worth checking out**
      03/27 – Hit Horseshoe Bend around sunrise, then do Glen Canyon Float Trip . Afternoon activities you might partake of include, but aren’t limited to the John Wesley Powell Museum, the Glen Canyon Natural History Association, tour of Glen Canyon Dam, hike to the “New” Wave (it’s easy). Spend 2nd night in Page, AZ.
      03/28 – Drive from Page, AZ to Bryce Canyon (~3 hours), maybe hit the Big Water Visitors Center or the Moqui Cave in Kanab, UT on the way. Overnight in Bryce Canyon. Time permitting, take park shuttle around the canyon rim.
      03/29 – Take Bryce Canyon park shuttle if you didn’t get to do it the day before, then drive from Bryce to Zion National Park. ~90 minutes, plan on staying in Springdale, UT on the Western border of the park. Time permitting, take Zion Canyon park shuttle, do some easy hiking.
      03/30 – More exploration of Zion National Park. 2nd night in Springdale, UT.
      03/31 – Drive back to Las Vegas (2.5 hours), maybe make a detour to Valley of Fire State Park, fly home.
      One possible “change-up” of this loop would involve dropping Zion and possibly Bryce from your itinerary, and spending your last 2-3 days in Sedona, Arizona, then flying out of Phoenix. However, before you commit to that, check on rental car drop-off fees. They can be pretty hefty for dropping a vehicle off anywhere other than where you picked it up.
      Even though your trip may seem far in the future, I strongly recommend getting reservations in place immediately for lodging and any guided tours you may be interested in, especially Antelope Canyon. This attraction has become crazy-popular of late and I’m already getting reports of Spring 2019 dates being sold out. If you find that to be the case, consider touring one of several alternate slot canyons that are just as beautiful, but a lot less crowded.
      *Whew* Good luck and safe travels! Please don’t hesitate to contact us again if you have any other questions.
      Alley 🙂

      • Kristi Gidley says:

        Thank you!!! I will let you know how things go…
        appreciate your time and expertise!

      • Jighnesh Patel says:

        This is a WONDERFUL itinerary and very helpful as I am currently planning our Arizona/Utah Christmas break Road Trip. We are 11 people. Starting from Las Vegas and end it Las Vegas. Is any way I can squeeze Arches National Park in this itinerary. Please be advice me with this big group.

        • Alley Keosheyan says:

          Hi Jighnesh,
          I hope you’re talking about Christmas break of 2019 and not this year. If you’re planning to travel this year, you’re going to have a hard time finding accommodations, especially for a group your size. If you want to stay in traditional hotels, you’ll need to reserve at least 3 rooms, because most hotels forbid more than 5 people staying in a single room, unless it’s a family suite or lodging unit designed for larger parties. You might also check out vacation rental homes as these can usually accommodate more people, but here again, you may have to book 2 units due to the size of your party and/or limitations of availability.
          Check Grand Canyon hotels first, as that will be the hardest place to find availability. The next most important element of your trip planning will be Antelope Canyon tours. If you’re traveling around Christmas of this year, you might be hard-pressed to find enough availability for your party and your group may need to split up. Or you might consider touring an alternate slot canyon like Antelope X, Cathedral Canyon or Waterholes Canyon. These slot canyons are just as beautiful – some would assert even moreso – but a lot less crowded.
          Regarding squeezing Arches National Park into your itinerary, this will require “sacrificing” Monument Valley as an overnight destination, but not dropping it from your itinerary entirely as you would have to drive by it anyway. It would also necessitate being prepared for a couple of days of long drives since it takes about 4.5-5 hours to drive from Page, AZ to Moab, UT, then another drive of about equal length to drive from Moab to Bryce Canyon. Moab, Utah really deserves 3-4 days of your time since Arches is just one of many sights in that area that you’d want to see, including Canyonlands National Park, Castle Valley, Dead Horse Point, just to name a few. Another downside to this modification is that it would have you skipping Capitol Reef National Park. Here again, you could do it as a “drive-by,” but it’s a shame to have to do that.
          Another factor working against having to make long drives in a single day at that time of year is daylength. It’s very short. Sunrise occurs at about 7:20 AM, sunset takes place at about 5:00 PM. You don’t want to put yourself in a position where you have to do any of your driving at night due to lack of ambient lighting on local roadways, plus the possible presence of large wildlife like deer, elk, and free range cattle.
          At any rate, a revised itinerary would look something like this:

          If you can possibly free up more time for your vacation, you won’t regret doing so!
          Good luck and safe travels,
          Alley 🙂

  70. Sarah says:

    Hi Alley!
    I am planning a family Grand Canyon trip for April 2019. The lodging on the south rim is sparse and we are looking at airbnbs in Williams or Tusayan. Will we regret not staying in the park? We want to make the most of our time there!
    Thanks!
    Sarah

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Sarah,
      First off, good on you for planning your Grand Canyon vacation well in advance. In order to make the most of your time at the park, it is best to choose lodging either within its boundaries or as close to it as possible. That way, you have easy access to the rim for sunset and sunrise viewing. Staying in Williams will put you 1 hour outside the park, and possibly necessitate nighttime driving, which is strongly discouraged in this part of the U.S. Tusayan, aka Grand Canyon Village South, is about 7 miles outside the park. It takes ~20 minutes to drive to the canyon rim from this area, which is better than 1 hour. The only Air B&B property located in this community is a bungalow-type home that rents for $283+/night. The next nearest bed and breakfast type facilities are going to be down around Valle, AZ, about 30 miles South of the canyon rim.
      Grand Canyon Park Village, as the name implies, is right inside the park. There are 6 hotels in this area, 5 of which are run by Xanterra South Rim, and 1 which is run by Delaware North Corporation. What these properties may lack in amenities, they more than compensate for in terms of location. 4 hotels are located right on the canyon rim (but they don’t guarantee a view of any kind), the other 2 are located from 1/4 mile to 1 mile from the rim. If there are any rooms available inside the park for your travel dates, I would recommend casting aside any unrealistic expectations of luxury or convenience, and booking them. Trust me, I used to work at the South Rim and if I had a dime for every time people offered their eye teeth, last dollar, arm and leg, etc. for even a broom closet inside the park, I’d be lying on a beach sipping mai-tais. Here is a list of Grand Canyon hotels in order of proximity to the rim, and hence, desirability: Grand Canyon South Rim hotels
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  71. kapper says:

    Greetings Alley,

    Most of my travels in the US and oversea have been self research (learning process is equally the fun!) and self guided tours for many years. Your guide and insights around Utah and Arizona are the most comprehensive and complete from the standpoint of travelers’ perspectives. My research for exploring canyons and parks now stop here. Thank you.

    Three couples will follow the routes and itineraries per your articulation in 3rd week of September 2019. What top three “must do” tours or excursions would you recommend? What would be rough cost per couple for this itinerary (Las Vegas to Las Vegas) excluding rent car related expenses?

    Very much looking forward to this trip next year!!!

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Kapper,
      Hello and thanks so much for your wonderful compliments, and kudos for planning your vacation well in advance!
      Boy, narrowing things down to 3 “must-dos” is difficult on this itinerary. If pressed through, I’d have to say, in no particular order:
      1. Grand Canyon helicopter tour
      2. Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend (Page, AZ) — I know that’s technically two, but they’re really close together 😉
      3. Hike a little ways into The Narrows at Zion National Park. If you’re not real big into hiking, there are all kinds of easy, pretty walks you can do. Easy Hikes in Zion
      As for cost, I really can’t make any kind of prediction there since prices tend to be subject to change without notice around here, especially during peak season, which is when you’re traveling. Gas prices can be all over the place, and lodging prices tend to be at their peak at that time of year. If you’re concerned about saving money, what I’d recommend you do is reschedule your trip for November or December. This is when things cool off significantly, in more ways than one, and discounts on hotels and other services are more readily available.
      Hope that helps. Good luck and safe travels!
      Alley 🙂

  72. Sandi says:

    This trip sounds just what we are looking for.
    We have been researching hotel, renting a car etc for late Sept or early Oct 2019. We would like to fly into Phoenix and finish the trip in Las Vegas. And do this same loop. We have also looked at bus tours for the same trip. We are 2 couples in mid 50s and mid 60s. I’m trying to decide between doing this on our own or doing a bus tour. Between all the hours driving, the cost of all the hotel which most are $200 or above and renting a comfortable car, it appears the bus trip might be cheaper and hassle free. Just wondering your thoughts
    Thank you

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Sandi!
      If at all possible, you should do this trip as a self-drive. Bus tours, as you’ve seen, are available, but you’ll always be at the mercy of their scheduling and time constraints. There will be very few opportunities for you to “call the shots” and stop to see sites and attractions that pique your individual curiosity. Yes, long drives are a fact of life in this part of the U.S., and hotels will be rather pricey at the time of year you’re traveling, but driving yourself will give you the freedom and flexibility to explore and discover at your pace, and on your terms.
      If saving money on hotels is a priority (which I totally don’t blame you for!), you might consider scooting your visit to November or even December. Though cooler temperatures and the possibility of rain or snow have to be kept in mind, you can also enjoy the benefits of fewer crowds, and more competitive prices on lodging.
      Hope that helps! Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  73. Eugenia says:

    Hi Alley,

    This has been the most helpful article. My friend and I are flying into Vegas on October 26. Spending a few days in Vegas and planning on renting a car on 10/28 and then driving through AZ/Utah on our way to a flight out of Phoenix on 11/4. This gives us approximately 7 days. We were hoping to hit Antelope Canyon, Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Horseshoe Bend, Sedona (ATV ride), and any other awesome spots. Do you possibly have an itinerary laid out for this type of trip? Do you have any recommendations for photography tours at any/all these? Also, we wanted to do a helicopter tour of the grand canyon, so any recommendations for a good company would be really appreciated. Thanks so much for this really awesome website!

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Eugenia, and thank you for visiting our site!
      A good 7-day itinerary using Las Vegas as your starting point and Phoenix as your ending point would go as follows:
      Day 1 – Zion National Park
      Day 2 – Zion National Park (both nights in Springdale, UT on the Western border of the park)
      Day 3 – Page, AZ – Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend , overnight in Page, AZ
      Day 4 – Monument Valley (overnight at The View, Goulding’s Lodge or Tuba City or Kayenta)
      Day 5 – Grand Canyon South Rim (overnight at Grand Canyon Park Village or Tusayan/GC Village South)
      Day 6 – Sedona
      Day 7 – Sedona (Sedona hotels)
      For Grand Canyon helicopter tours, we recommend Papillon Helicopters. We also strongly recommend flying first thing in the morning for best light and lack of wind.
      In Zion, there are all kinds of possibilities for tours that offer fabulous photo opportunities. Check out Utah.com’s recommendations for Zion Tour Guides and Outfitters or inquire at your chosen hotel for suggestions on what you might do here.
      For Antelope Canyon, photography tours are only offered in the Upper branch of the main canyon, or in most of the alternate slot canyons in Antelope Valley.
      In Monument Valley, you can also choose from hiking, 4×4, or horseback tours. Monument Valley Tours
      Grand Canyon is one of those parks that’s very conducive to self-touring, so no need to get a ground tour, per se, as you’ll do a large chunk of your sightseeing on the drive in from Monument Valley.
      In Sedona, the Pink Jeep Tours are considered a definite “must-do.” After that, you have a plethora of options for scenic, educational and cultural activities you can take part in. http://www.VisitSedona.com is an excellent resource for suggestions of all kinds of things from lodging and dining, to hiking and “retail therapy” LOL.
      Hope that helps — good luck and safe travels!
      Alley 🙂

    • Christie Harmon says:

      Hi, Alley,
      Thank you so much for all this info! I am wondering if you could give me some direction…
      My family and I are flying into Las Vegas in just over a week. Arrive late Sunday, spending the night there before heading out on Monday. We have 4 nights booked in Flagstaff and planned to use it as a base for seeing as much as possible before flying home on Saturday morning. Unfortunately, we don’t have more time, but we want to see as much as possible! What sort of itinerary would you recommend? I am thinking maybe I need to try to change accommodations.
      My kids really want to see Grand Canyon and Antelope Canyon. Other spots recommended to us to see are Sedona, the Painted Desert, Zion.
      What do you recommend?

      • Alley Keosheyan says:

        Hi Christie and thank you for visiting us! I apologize for the delay in response to your inquiry.
        First off, using Flagstaff as a base from which to explore Northern Arizona and Southern Utah attractions is an OK plan, but not really ideal. For Sedona and Grand Canyon, it’s not so bad, as driving distance from Flagstaff is relatively short: 45 minutes for Sedona (one way) and 90 minutes for Grand Canyon South Rim (again, one way).
        For Page, AZ (Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend) and Zion National Park, you might want to book accommodations more in the immediate vicinity in order to reduce drive times. Otherwise, you’re looking at 2.5-3 hours one way from Flagstaff to Page, and 4 hours one way from Flagstaff to Zion.
        Zion can be visited on the drive over from Las Vegas, or you can stay overnight in Springdale, UT, the gateway community on the Western border of the park. Honestly, though, you’ll kick yourself for not allowing more time there; ditto for Sedona. Zion and Sedona are places that really call for 2-3 days in order to do them justice. Page should also get at least 2 days of your time so you can tour Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend, and take part in the Glen Canyon Half Day Float Trip, which is a family-friendly rapids-free raft trip. If you only have 4 days to play with, though, you can do 1 day at the Grand Canyon, 1 day in Sedona, 1 day in Page and 1 day in Zion.
        I’d recommend taking the Painted Desert National Monument off the table, since 1. it’s also ~ a 2 hour drive from Flagstaff and you’d have to drop one of the above items off your wish list in order to accommodate it, and 2. you’ll actually see “painted desert” type rock formations, known as Chinle formations, on the drive to Page, AZ and elsewhere. It’s very common in this part of the U.S.
        Good luck and hope that helps — safe travels to you all,
        Alley 🙂

  74. Michele says:

    Hi Alley!
    I am loving this itinerary! I may tweak it a bit. We are coming in early May 2019 driving all the way from Illinois(Ya, I know, we’re crazy!) so we will have approximately 8/9 days to spend sightseeing before the long drive home! I’ve already booked 3 nights in Tusayan to be able to have a couple of days at the Grand Canyon. Now to just decide on the rest, but this has been most helpful! I am fascinated with the idea of a float trip and Antelope Canyon is a must. I’m thinking of eliminating Monument and concentrating on Zion and Bryce. What are your thought? Thanks!

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Michele and thank you for your visit! Kudos for planning your vacation well in advance, and glad to hear this site is providing some good guidance.
      First off, you’re not crazy, I love road trips! I mapped out the drive from Chicago, IL (see below) and you should plan for 3-4 days driving, each way, in order to get here and back. One destination you may not have factored in, but falls naturally on your itinerary is Moab, UT. This is the gateway city for not one, but two spectacular national parks: Arches and Canyonlands. You should plan on spending at least 2 days in this area, 3 if you can swing it. Then, since Monument Valley is someplace you have to pass through anyway on your way to the Grand Canyon, you might as well plan on 1 night there so you can break up the drive, and take the opportunity to visit other attractions in the area, such as the Goosenecks of the San Juan State Park, the Mexican Hat, and Monument Valley itself (don’t forget Forrest Gump Point). On the way to the Grand Canyon, hit the Navajo Code Talkers’ Exhibit at the Kayenta Burger King. The Moenkopi Dinosaur Tracks are also right on your way.
      Now, here is where I run the risk of sounding crazy: I’m going to recommend that you drop 1 or 2 of your 3 nights in Tusayan. The reason(s) for this are: 1. unless you’re a hard-core hiker and have long-distance hikes planned for every single day, you’ll probably find that you’ve accomplished all you can in 2 days time; 2. a good chunk of your Grand Canyon sightseeing is going to take place on the drive in from Monument Valley. Your route will naturally and logically take you along the East Rim Drive of the Grand Canyon, where there are over half a dozen named viewpoints with differing features and perspectives on the Canyon. No doubt, you’ll find yourself stopping at most, if not all of them. There is also a lot to see prior to entering the park as you pass through the Navajo Indian Reservation – the Cameron Trading Post is a great place to stop for brunch and/or a little shopping, leg stretch, bathroom break, etc. If you don’t catch all the GC viewpoints on the drive in, you can hit them on your way to Page, AZ, as this drive will take you along the same route until you get to the junction of US89 and US160.
      If you wish to tour Antelope Canyon and do the Glen Canyon Float Trip – which we highly recommend! – then plan on spending 2 nights in Page, AZ. Ditto for Zion National Park, then 1 night in Bryce Canyon, then head back up to I-70 via Loa and Whipup, UT, then head on home.
      So, a quick breakdown of my recommendations, not factoring in drive times from IL, are as follows:
      Day 1 – Moab
      Day 2 – Moab
      Day 3 – Monument Valley
      Day 4 – Grand Canyon
      Day 5 – Page
      Day 6 – Page
      Day 7 – Zion
      Day 8 – Zion
      Day 9 – Bryce

      Be sure to book all guided tours and overnight accommodations well in advance of your arrival. If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us again. Good luck and safe travels!
      Alley 🙂
      P.S. Be sure to pick up an America The Beautiful Federal Lands Access Pass. For just $80, this card grants you access to all National Parks, Monuments and Federal Fee Areas in the U.S. for 1 year’s time. The only areas it will not work are Native American Tribal Parks (like Antelope Canyon and Monument Valley), and State Parks (like Goosenecks). Still, it will pay for itself on the trip you’re proposing to take. You can pre-order it by mail, or just pick it up at the first National Park you hit on your itinerary.

  75. Kelly Day says:

    Hi Alley — we are arriving in Phoenix 8/27 late, driving to Sedona 8/28 am, and staying there 28th & 29th. Leaving morning 30th and heading up to Page. How can I print your article to carry with us? We fly out 9/7 from Phoenix and want to tour all these spots. Kelly

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hi Kelly,
      Check your e-mail, I just sent you a copy of that article that you can print more easily.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  76. Sean says:

    Hi Alley,
    Wonderful itinerary with great detail. Thank you.
    What are your thoughts on visiting in December, specifically the week of Christmas (Dec 23-29)?
    Thanks!

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      Hey Sean,
      Thanks for your compliments on the itinerary!
      A Christmastime visit can be wonderful, as long as you’re aware that this time of year can be just as busy as the summer months in the major parks, such as the Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce. Booking hotel rooms and guided tours in advance of your arrival remains a must. Water-based activities in Page, AZ, such as the Glen Canyon Half-Day Float Trip and Lake Powell Boat Tours, are on seasonal hiatus, so if you were hoping to take part in these tours, you might consider rescheduling your visit.
      Last but not least, cold weather is the norm, and White Christmases are not uncommon in the higher elevations, such as the Grand Canyon and Bryce. Be prepared with warm clothing, sturdy footwear, and a flexible schedule in case you get delayed or detoured by a big storm.
      Good luck and safe travels!
      Alley 🙂

  77. Greta says:

    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?

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      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 🙂

  78. Tena Hargrove says:

    Alley,

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

    Tena

  79. Rani says:

    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

  80. Rani` says:

    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

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      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 🙂

  81. Tricia Oakes says:

    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!!!

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      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 🙂

  82. Tee Goh says:

    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.

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      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!

  83. Lynn B says:

    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!

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      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

  84. JD says:

    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

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      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 🙂

      • Jiandian Ni says:

        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

        • Alley Keosheyan says:

          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!

          • Jiandian says:

            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

          • Alley Keosheyan says:

            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 🙂

  85. Amy says:

    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!

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      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 🙂

  86. amalesh says:

    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

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      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!

  87. Andrea says:

    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

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      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 🙂

      • Andrea says:

        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. 🙂

  88. Neeka27 says:

    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*

  89. Ania says:

    Hello Alley,

    this is awesome! So so helpful!

    Thank you for sharing!

    Best,
    Ania

  90. Deedra says:

    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??

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      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 🙂

  91. Michael says:

    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?

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      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 🙂

  92. Ted johns says:

    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?

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      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 🙂

  93. Stefano RUZZINI says:

    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.

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      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 🙂

  94. Debra Miller says:

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

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

      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 🙂

  95. Rick Reicker says:

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

    • Alley Keosheyan says:

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

      • Rani says:

        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.

        • Alley Keosheyan says:

          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 🙂

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