Grand Canyon, Zion, Moab & More: 14 Days In The Grand Circle

By Vin Paitoon & Alley Keosheyan

Listen… Hear that? That’s the sound of angels singing your praises (in a lovely key of A♭flat augmented, no less) for landing the “holy grail” of vacations: 2 weeks in Northern Arizona and Southern Utah. A fortnight in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, Grand Circle. 14 days of fabulousness… and you have no clue what you’re going to do with them. HorseshoeBend.com to the rescue!

OK, first thing’s first: we’re going to assume that Las Vegas (LAS) is going to be your (pardon the expression) jumping off point. Statistically speaking, that’s the city that most Grand Canyon area visitors choose to fly into and out of, seconded closely by Phoenix (PHX), thirded (is that a real word? Guess it is now) by Salt Lake City (SLC). If you need help tweaking your itinerary for these or any other “secondary” staging cities, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below. As you can see, we are happy to answer questions personally! So let’s get you planning.

Day 1 – Arrival: Fly into Vegas/McCarran Airport, pick up your rental car, enjoy a nice dinner (LAS has no shortage of awesome restaurants!), and stay overnight in your choice of Las Vegas hotels.

Day 2 – Drive from Las Vegas to Zion National Park (3 hours), maybe stop in Mesquite, NV for lunch or 9 holes of golf. Upon arrival at Zion, buy an America The Beautiful Federal Lands Access Pass. Then hike the Canyon Overlook Trail, a short but breathtaking hike where the full panorama of this canyon of the Virgin River literally lays at your feet. Try and time it for sunset for some knock-out photos. Overnight in Zion National Park, or Springdale, Utah near the Western entrance to the park.

Day 3 – Zion National Park Day 2

Day 4 – Drive from Zion to Bryce Canyon National Park (2 hours) and take the shuttle tour of the major viewpoints. Overnight at The Lodge at Bryce Canyon or at one of many fine hotels in the park’s gateway communities such as Ruby’s Inn, Tropic or Panguitch.

Day 5 – Bryce to Capitol Reef National Park (2 hours). Usher in the day at Sunrise Point, then hike the Navajo Loop Trail that goes down into the main amphitheater. Drive Scenic Byway 12 to Capitol Reef, stopping at sites along the way, such as:

There is no lodging within Capitol Reef itself, so overnight in Torrey, Richfield, or Loa, UT.

Day 6 – Capitol Reef to Arches/Canyonlands National Parks (2.5 hours). Take the Capitol Reef Scenic Drive, an easy 8-mile out and back. Then start towards Moab, Utah, your lodging location for the next 3 nights.

Day 7 – Explore Arches National Park via the main scenic drive to The Windows Section. If desired take a 30-minute stroll beneath North Window and Double Arch. Continue to Delicate Arch Viewpoint and stop by historic Wolfe Ranch Homestead on your way back. In Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point and Islands in the Sky are must-see viewpoints that are easily accessible from the main park roads. Find a nice place to eat, turn in and get a good night’s sleep. You’re going to need it for the next day’s excitement!

Day 8 – Day 3 in Moab

  • For the ambitious: Choice of a Hummer Safari tour, whitewater raft trip through Cataract Canyon, horseback ride or a mountain biking tour if you’re up for it. Ask your hotel front desk or concierge for recommendations or visit the Moab Adventure Center to make arrangements.
  • For the mellow: go wine tasting. What, you didn’t know that Moab was “wine country in waiting?” Pick up a bottle or two from Castle Creek Winery at Red Cliffs Lodge or Spanish Valley Vineyards & Winery, just minutes from downtown Moab.  

Day 9 – Moab to Page, AZ via Monument Valley (4.5 hours [2.5 hours Moab to MV, 2 hours MV to Page). Get an early start and drive from Moab to Monument Valley. Don’t forget to take your own “Run, Forrest, Run” shot as you approach Monument Valley from its “back side.” IF you have a vehicle with sufficient clearance and a beefy enough suspension that’s not a rental, drive the 17-mile scenic loop. If not, take a guided tour. Then, take the remaining 2-hour drive to Page, AZ and get to your hotel by nightfall.

Day 10 – Page, Arizona – Tour Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon (or one of several alternate slot canyons if the aforementioned are sold out), and Horseshoe Bend, then take a Lake Powell Boat Tour,  kayak or SUP (Stand-Up Paddleboard) tour or Glen Canyon Half-Day Float Trip . Go back to your hotel and collapse, or go have a drink and do some dancing.

Day 11 – Day trip from Page, AZ to Kanab, UT (1 hour). Get there before 9:00 AM local time (remember Utah is one

Classic Wave shot

hour ahead of Arizona during Daylight Saving Time!) and apply for a Wave Permit. The maximum number of people who can apply for one permit is 6.  Plan on not getting it because hundreds of people will show up for the lottery and they only give out 10 permits in person a day.* If you get a permit via the in-person lottery, it is valid for the NEXT day so your itinerary will change, but it is SO worth it.

After you don’t win the lottery (which is likely to be the case, statistically speaking), call Paria Outpost (between Page and Kanab at Mile Marker 22 of US89), Dreamland Safari Tours (Kanab, UT) or Antelope Canyon Tours (Page, AZ) and see if you can join a tour to White Pocket either that day or the next day. This area boasts some eye-poppingly amazing scenery, and at the present time is permit-free, but does require some very difficult off-roading through deep sand, which is why we don’t recommend attempting this activity with a rental vehicle.

If you don’t do White Pocket, take the 90-minute drive south from Kanab and visit Grand Canyon North Rim. Eat dinner at the lodge, try and get seating overlooking the Canyon (reservations suggested).

Back to your hotel in Page, AZ.

* If you’re really serious about hiking The Wave, you can apply for the online lottery 4 months in advance.

Day 12 – If you won the permit for the Wave, wake up super early, do the happy dance, then go hike it. Be prepared for high temps, start before sunrise.

If you don’t get it, you can:

Or skip all that and get a head start on the 2.5-hour drive to Grand Canyon South and overnight in Grand Canyon Park Village or Tusayan/Grand Canyon Village South.

Day 13 – Page to Grand Canyon South Rim (2.5 hours) – Drive to Grand Canyon South Rim, coming in from the Desert View/East Rim Drive. Stop at the Cameron Trading Post at the junction of AZ64 and US89 for a late breakfast/early lunch of Navajo Tacos. Visit the Little Colorado River Navajo Tribal Park if you want. Hopefully, you hung onto your Antelope Canyon Navajo Tribal Park Fee receipt – it will get you into this area, too!). Upon entering Grand Canyon National Park,  stop at any of the Grand Canyon viewpoints that strike your fancy, including:

  • Desert View Point and Watchtower
  • Navajo Point
  • Lipan Point
  • Tusayan Ruins and Museum
  • Moran Point
  • Grandview Point
  • Pipe Creek Vista
  • Yavapai Point
  • Canyon View Information Plaza

Park your vehicle in Grand Canyon Village, hop on the Village Loop Shuttle and get off at Bright Angel Lodge. From there, walk the easy, paved Rim Trail, or just a little ways down Bright Angel Trail. For the latter, remember 1 hour down = 2 hours up. Or forget hiking altogether and take the hop-on/hop-off Hermit’s Rest/West Rim Shuttle and just stop at whichever viewpoints catch your eye. Hopi Point is particular good for sunset viewing.

Find an open bar, raise a glass to a grand conclusion to an unforgettable adventure, then overnight at the Grand Canyon.

Day 14 – Grand Canyon South Rim to Las Vegas (4.5 hours), return rental car, evening flight back home.


Day 15, 16, 17, 18  and so on (optional):  

  • Upload your amazing photos
  • Post detailed trip reports on TripAdvisor
  • Post reviews of the hotels, restaurants and tour companies you patronized on your trip on:
    • TripAdvisor,
    • Yelp,
    • Facebook,
    • FourSquare,
    • Google,
    • Yahoo,
    • YellowPages.com, etc. etc. etc.
  • Blow up Pinterest, Instagram, SnapChat, etc.  
  • Tell your friends, neighbors, co-workers, and anyone within earshot that the American Southwest is the bomb and that their lives won’t be complete without a vacation here!

188 Responses

  1. Hi Alley,
    Your itineraries are amazing!! I’m having a hard time figuring out our trip. We land in Vegas on Friday, April 2nd and leave Vegas early Sunday, April 11th. We already booked the Grand Canyon from Saturday, April 3rd to Tuesday, April 6th. We want to be back in Vegas by Friday April 9th.

    We’d like to visit:
    Hoover Dam and Lake Mead on the way to Grand Canyon
    Grand Canyon
    Zion
    Bryce
    Arches
    Antelope Canyon (if open– or something similar?)
    Horseshoe Bend
    Coral Pink Sand Dunes to ATV/UTV (or somewhere else we can ATV/UTV)

    We want to be back in Vegas by Friday, April 9th so we can have the full day Saturday to relax after a week of nonstop hikes!

    Is this at all possible?! Do you have any other suggestions?
    Thank you SO much!

    1. Hey Sarah, and thanks for your compliments!
      Unfortunately, you’re going to have to trim your itinerary down a bit if you don’t want to spend all your days behind the wheel, and the most logical place to do said “trimming” is Arches/Canyonlands. Moab, UT, is simply too far a swing out of your way to be realistic this time around. Plus you need to plan on 4-5 days in that area in order to do it justice. It’s a huge and stunning area with lots to see and do, so definitely plan a future trip there when you can give it the time it deserves!
      Another observation: you’ve allotted too much time to the South Rim. Most first-time visitors find 1-2 days is ample for a fulfilling visit. More on that in a minute 😉
      With the Antelope Canyons being closed and since you’ve expressed interest in the Coral Pink Sand Dunes in Kanab, UT, I’d recommend planning a tour of Red Canyon/aka Peek-A-Boo Canyon. With twists and turns on par with the Antelope Canyons, it’s been a popular alternative during the COVID-19 closures. While a guided tour is not required to visit Red/Peek-A-Boo, we strongly recommend you take one, because while the walk through the canyon is relatively easy, the drive to get there is anything but. 4WD vehicles with high clearance are a must, and parties in rental cars would void their insurance the minute they left paved roads. There are several companies that offer tours to Peek-A-Boo Canyon, but the one we are most familiar with is Dreamland Safari Tours. Ask them about combining your slot canyon tour with a visit to Coral Pink Sand Dunes!
      So without further ado, here’s what I’d recommend:
      Saturday, April 3rd: Drive to Grand Canyon South Rim (~5 hours) with optional stopover at Hoover Dam (currently open with limited facilties due to COVID-19), overnight at Grand Canyon South Rim
      Sunday, April 4th: 2nd day/night at Grand Canyon
      Monday, April 5th: Drive to Kanab, UT, with stop at Horseshoe Bend; this will be at least a 6-hour drive due to the closure of AZ64 from Desert View Point to Cameron, AZ [thanks COVID-19!], necessitating that travelers detour through Flagstaff, AZ, then back up North, overnight in Kanab, UT
      Tuesday, April 6th: early AM tour Red Canyon/Peek-A-Boo and Coral Pink Sand Dunes, then drive to Bryce Canyon (~90 minutes from Kanab), overnight in Bryce Canyon area
      Wednesday, April 7th: early AM sightseeing in Bryce Canyon area, then drive to Zion (~2 hours), overnight in Springdale, UT
      Thursday, April 8th: full day in Zion, 2nd night in Springdale, UT **note you’ll have to use the Zion Canyon Shuttle to access the main sightseeing area, which may require advance purchase of tickets***
      Friday, April 9th: drive back to Las Vegas (~3-3.5 hours), if desired, detour through Valley of Fire State Park (gorgeous!), overnight in Las Vegas
      Saturday, April 10th: chill day in Las Vegas
      Sunday, April 11th: fly home
      Trip map
      Hope that helps, I know it’s a lot to digest! Feel free to write in again if you need to bounce any more ideas off us, or contact me directly at [email protected]
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      1. Dear Alley
        I just came across your amazing site & Itineraries. I’m blown away by your email response to people!
        We are looking to plan a 14 day or so trip from Ca to the southwest. We are a fun family of 4 . Parents are late 40s reasonably fit – not crazy fit. 2 girls aged 10 & 12. We just have loose plans right now and are thinking of renting either an RV or a camper van ( like adventure van) was thinking that would give us more flexibility where to stay. We are planning on bringing our tent as well as the van We are open to sometimes staying at a not too expensive hotel.
        I saw you had some suggestions of doing whitewater rafting ( that sounds awesome!) id love some suggestions of things to do that are not just hiking – so Amy water adventuras would be awesome .
        I’m kind of nervous it might be too hot in places in June.
        Please can you recommend places to stay, campgrounds , rv sites that are fun for the whole family and some off the beaten path. What advanced permits do
        I need? Or am I too late for that ?
        Places to eat , fun things to do or must see sites along the way. We do regularly camp but this would be our first time in a camper van / long road trip & I’m really hoping to have a good experience.

        Drive from near Yosemite to
        Las Vegas 1 night ( pick up van or RV )
        Zion 2 nights
        Bryce 2 night
        Canyonlands 2 night
        Grand Canyon 2 night
        1 night stop on way home
        Thanks so much for any help

        1. Hi Tracey,
          Thanks a lot for your compliments, I really appreciate them!
          Your itinerary looks pretty fun and well-paced; even so, I’d recommend a couple of minor adjustments. More on that in a minute 😉
          June is not too hot to have an enjoyable time in Northern Arizona and Southern Utah! Some areas will be warmer than others, such as Las Vegas, NV, Moab, UT, and Page, AZ, but others, such as Bryce Canyon, Zion, and the Grand Canyon will be pleasant seeing as though they’re anywhere from 5,000-8,000′ above sea level. Still, I’d recommend seeking out RV parks with full electrical hook-ups so you can have access to air conditioning during the day. Otherwise, your RV will just be a tin can sitting in the sun, and all that that implies.
          I can’t see anything on your itinerary that would require an advance permit, per se. In Zion, things have gotten so crowded, even with COVID-19, that they are periodically requiring advance purchase of tickets for the Zion Canyon Shuttle. You should definitely check and see if that rule applies during your proposed timeframe. If that’s the case, and you’d rather not mess with it, you can still have an enjoyable visit to Zion without using the shuttle. More on that in a minute 😉
          A couple of things jumping out at me is:
          1. that you haven’t planned for enough time in the Moab, UT, area. You have allotted 2 days for the Canyonlands area, but there’s also Arches National Park, and the Castle Valley area, just to name a few. If you wanted to do some white water rafting, this would be the place to do it. I would plan for at least 1 more day there.
          2. you’re going to pass by the Capitol Reef area, which warrants 1 night’s stay. Take 1 night away from Bryce Canyon to accommodate that, if desired. Bryce is a small enough area so that a 1 night stay will be sufficient to have a fulfilling visit.
          3. the drive from Arches/Canyonlands to Grand Canyon South Rim (I assume that’s the side you’re wanting to visit?) is quite long, and you should take the opportunity to stop in Page, AZ, to see Horseshoe Bend and possibly tour Antelope Canyon (the latter is tentatively scheduled to reopen by summertime, God willing and the creek don’t rise!).
          So, in light of those concerns, I’d recommend:
          Day 1: Pick up RV in Las Vegas, NV, stay overnight Las Vegas RV parks
          Day 2: Drive from Las Vegas, NV, to Zion National Park (~3-4 hours), overnight in Springdale, UT RV park, sightseeing in Zion via the Zion Canyon Shuttle, or immediate area of Springdale
          Day 3: 2nd day/night in Zion, if Zion Canyon area is not feasible, then take day trip to Kolob Canyons area
          Day 4: Drive from Zion National Park to Bryce Canyon (~2-2.5 hours), overnight in Bryce Canyon area RV park
          Day 5: Drive from Bryce Canyon to Capitol Reef (~3.5 hours), maybe hike Lower Calf Creek Falls en route (you must get an early start on that in summertime), overnight in Torrey, Boulder, or Hanksville, UT
          Day 6: Drive from Capitol Reef to Moab, UT (~3 hours), visit Dead Horse Point State Park, overnight in Moab, UT
          Day 7: 2nd day/night in Moab, UT, explore Arches/Canyonlands National Parks
          Day 8: 3rd day/night in Moab, UT, take half-day or full-day white water raft trip
          Day 9: Drive from Moab, UT, to Page, AZ, via Monument Valley (~6 hours), visit Horseshoe Bend, overnight in Page, AZ RV park
          Day 10: 2nd day/night in Page, AZ – Tour Antelope Canyon (if open), visit swimming areas at Lake Powell (Wahweap Swim Beach or Lone Rock Beach)
          Day 11: Drive from Page, AZ, to Grand Canyon South Rim **drive time could vary from ~3-5 hours if closure of AZ64 from Cameron to Desert View Point remains in effect; if it does, you’ll have to detour through Flagstaff, AZ, then back up North to Grand Canyon Village via US180/AZ64N** overnight at Trailer Village or Grand Canyon Camper Village
          Day 12: 2nd day/night at Grand Canyon South Rim
          Day 13: Drive back to Las Vegas to return RV (~5 hours)
          Day 14: Drive home
          Trip map
          I hope that helps, I know it’s a lot to process! Whatever you decide, be sure to reserve your RV park site and/or hotels in advance, as well as any guided tours that you might wish to take. If RV site availability (or lack thereof) dictates, you might need to be prepared to flip-flop this itinerary.
          Feel free to write in again if you need to bounce more ideas off us, either here or by private e-mail at [email protected]
          Good luck and safe travels!
          Alley 🙂

          1. Hi Alley,
            Thanks so much for your amazing information. I’m going to dig deep into it today.
            One quick question I have is – I’m a bit of a hot springs fan – would you know of any natural hot springs that we could hit at any point on this trip ? Thanks very much Tracey

          2. Hey again, Tracey –
            OMG, I’m a yuuuuuuuuge hot springs fan! There used to be a nice one, Zion Pah Tempe, between Hurricane and LaVerkin, UT, but the county decided to wrest control of the land (and the springs) from its rightful owner and hasn’t been available for soaking since 2013. Don’t get me started on that subject…
            The hot springs that would probably be most practical for you to consider is Mystic Hot Springs. It’s a neat place, it’s a sulphur spring (and associated smell), it definitely has that hippie vibe going on, located in Monroe, UT. It would probably be most convenient for you to hit it between Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef. If possible, try to carve out an extra day so you can spend the night in that area. I know that after a good soak, the last thing I want to do is make a long drive! Otherwise Torrey, UT, and the communities near Capitol Reef are ~2 hours away.
            Another possibility, that would require a serious retooling of your itinerary, would be the town of Ouray, CO. Ouray is ~3 hours from Moab, UT, and has a nice assortment of commercial hot springs (including some clothing-optional), and a municipal hot springs and pool complex. But again, that’s a real big swing out of your way.
            If you ever get the chance to visit the Grand Tetons & Yellowstone National Parks, plan on visiting Lava Hot Springs in Southern Idaho. It’s a cute little town with a lithium spring (no smell, yay!), and ample ways you can enjoy them, from private pools at select hotels, to a lovely municipal hot spring complex.
            Have a great trip, and enjoy a soak for me 😉
            Alley

  2. Thinking of flying in to either Phoenix or Vegas for a 12-14 day trip with our 6 year old grandson and flying home out of the other. Suggestions to see or stay in St. George before Zion or is ths locartion in st. geaorge close enough to base frm, then onto Bryce, Capital reef, arches, etc in Moab for 3 nights. We want to skip monument valley and Page as we have done those in the past. We are trying to see the best way to get from moab to Petrified forest then onto Williams to take the Grand canyon railway into the GC for an overnight stay 2 nights in the park. We’d also like to stay in Zion if possible. Any suggestions you have is appreciated. We can do easy walks, hikes that are easy for early 60’s and a 6 year old. I saw The Inn Resort in St. George that just looks amazing for a 2 night relaxing stay before flying home from Vegas if that route works. Thank you for any information. Would be looking at June 11th on.

    1. Hi Liz,
      Using Las Vegas, NV, as your staging city, I think you can make this work, but if you specifically wanted to use the Inn at St. George (I think it’s actually called the Inn on the Cliff?) as your final “chill time destination” before heading home, IMO, your best bet is to do this itinerary in reverse from what you’ve loosely specified.
      With that in mind, here’s what I’d recommend:
      June 11th: early flight to Las Vegas, drive to Williams, AZ (~3.5 hours), overnight in Williams
      June 12th: take Grand Canyon Railway to Grand Canyon South Rim, overnight at South Rim
      June 13th: 2nd day/night at South Rim
      June 14th: return to Williams in afternoon (5:30-ish), overnight in Williams OR drive to Holbrook, AZ (~2 hours from Williams) for overnight
      June 15th: visit Petrified Forest/Painted Desert in AM (the earlier the better, June is HOT), then make your way to Moab, UT (~5 hour drive), spend 3 nights in Moab
      June 16th: visit Arches & Canyonlands, overnight in Moab
      June 17th: AM half-Day white water rafting trip (6 year olds are allowed!), 3rd night in Moab
      June 18th: drive to Capitol Reef National Park (~3 hours from Moab), overnight in Torrey
      June 19th: drive to Bryce Canyon (~2.5 hours from Capitol Reef), overnight in Bryce Canyon area
      June 20th: drive from Bryce Canyon to Zion (~2.5 hours), overnight in Kanab, UT (~30 minutes from Zion) **you’ll need to use the Zion Canyon Shuttle to access the main sightseeing area of the park, which might require an advance reservation**
      June 21st: 2nd day sightseeing in Zion, 2nd night in Kanab, UT
      June 22nd: drive from Kanab, UT, to St. George, UT, spend 2-3 days @ Inn on the Cliff
      June 23rd: 2nd day/night at St. George
      June 24th: 3rd day/night at St. George, OR drive back to Las Vegas (~2.5 hours from Las Vegas)
      June 25th: fly home
      Trip map
      You’ll note that I have you staying in Kanab, UT, for the Zion National Park leg of your trip. That’s because the only hotel inside the park, the Zion Lodge, is no doubt booked up by now, and Kanab is only ~30 minutes from the park. If for some reason that town doesn’t appeal, Springdale, UT, on the Western border of the park, is your next best bet. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend St. George as a base camp for Zion, because it’s 90 minutes, each way, from the park. IMO that’s time better spent sightseeing.
      I appreciate your letting me know that you’ve already been to Monument Valley and Page, but the best route to take from Moab, UT, to Petrified Forest is going to take you past there. Be aware that the section of US191 between I-40 and Bluff, UT, is on Navajo reservation land, and a sparsely populated section of it. Be sure that your vehicle is fully fueled and that you have adequate water and snacks to tide you over until you get to Bluff, UT. Right now, the Navajo Tribe is discouraging outsiders from stopping on Tribal Land due to COVID-19. Whether that will still be the case when you come through, remains to be seen, but better to err on the side of caution in this regard.
      I hope that helps, I know it’s a lot to digest! If you need to bounce any more ideas off me, feel free to e-mail me at [email protected]
      Otherwise, good luck and safe travels!
      Alley 🙂

  3. Hello Alley! my girlfriend and I have been delighted reading about all your suggestions. We plan to fly to Sedona on March 26th and we´d like to visit Northern Arizona and Southern Utah until April 2nd. We´ve never been there before!!! So we are really looking forward to exploring the area, doing some hikes, enjoying the scenery + any guided tours. We are in our mid thirties. We´d love to know your suggestions on the best ways to take advantage of the time we have. Thanks, and have a great evening!

    1. Hi Kepler,
      First of all, there is no commercial air service into Sedona. The closest airport with scheduled air service is Phoenix, which is only ~2 hours away. Assuming that March 26th and April 2nd are travel/logistics days, that gives you 6 full days to work with. While Phoenix/Sky Harbor Airport is conveniently located to Sedona and Grand Canyon South Rim, access is not that convenient for the Utah National Parks. Therefore, I’d recommend looking into the feasibility and costs of flying into Phoenix and out of Las Vegas.
      If this works, you could do something like this:
      March 26th: fly into Phoenix, overnight in Phoenix
      March 27th: drive to Sedona (~2 hours), visit Montezuma Castle National Monument en route, overnight in Sedona
      March 28th: sightseeing in Sedona (the Pink Jeep Broken Arrow Tour is popular), 2nd night in Sedona
      March 29th: drive to Grand Canyon South Rim (~2.5 hours from Sedona), overnight at Grand Canyon
      March 30th: drive to Page, AZ (~5 hours drive due to detour through Flagstaff), visit Horseshoe Bend, overnight in Page, AZ
      March 31st: drive from Page, AZ, to Bryce Canyon National Park (~3 hours), hike Paria Rimrocks/Toadstool Hoodoos en route, overnight in Bryce Canyon
      April 1st: drive from Bryce to Zion National Park (~2 hours), hike Emerald Pools or other trails, overnight in Springdale UT
      April 2nd: drive to Las Vegas, NV (~3 hours), fly home from Las Vegas
      Trip map
      If the rental car drop-off fees associated with flying into Phoenix and out of Las Vegas (or vice versa) are cost-prohibitive, then plan to simply fly into and out of Las Vegas. The drive to Sedona would be longer, ~5 hours, but using Las Vegas as a staging city makes it much easier to do the “classic” Northern Arizona/Southern Utah loop itinerary.
      Hope that helps. Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  4. Hey Alley,

    I have read through a bunch of these comments but would like your feedback on a trip I am planning for May 29th to June 10th. I will be renting a camper van with a friend. I have an makeshift itinerary planned and any feedback or suggestions would be great!
    5/29:
    •Fly into Vegas and rental pick up is at 1pm
    •Drive to Zion (3hrs) do the 1 mile canyon overlook trial
    5/30: Zion
    •hike Angels landing trail (5miles)- Heights issue as I am terrified
    •Kayenta Trail to Emerald Pools trail (2 miles)
    5/31:
    •hike Watchman Trail at sunrise (3.3 miles)
    •Drive from Zion to Bryce Canyon National Park (2 hours)
    •do the Rainbow point Shuttle tour (3.5 hours starts at 1:30pm)
    6/1:
    •Hike to sunrise point during sunrise and then hike Queen’s/Navajo combo loop (3miles) at Bryce Canyon
    •Drive to grand staircase escalante national monument
    oHike lower calf creek falls (6 miles)
    •drive to Capitol Reef National Park via scenic byway (2 hours)
    6/2:
    •Do the capitol reef scenic drive and/or hike a popular hike like the Hickman Bridge Trail, Cassidy Arch Trail, and Capitol Gorge Trail
    •Drive to Arches/canyonlands national parks (2.5 hours)
    6/3:
    •Arches: see North window and double arch (both easy short trails)
    •Canyonlands: Dead Horse Point (sunset spot) and Islands in the Sky- drive to them?
    oGrand view point hike (can pull off on road for a 0.4 hike to view or 1 mile hike) or murphy point hike
    oMesa Arch hike (0.5 miles)
    oGreen river overlook
    6/4:
    •Moab to page, az via Monument Valley (4.5 hours [2.5 hours Moab to MV, 2 hours MV to Page)
    •Horseshoe bend
    •upper or lower antelope canyon-Closed currently for COVID
    •if closed go to Red Canyon/aka Peek-A-Boo Canyon and do a tour
    •WAVE PERMIT?
    6/5: I skipped a day in my itinerary and just now realizing so this is a flex day
    6/6:
    •drive to Kanab, Utah for canyons if not there from day before
    •WAVE PERMIT
    •drive the 2.5 hour drive to Grand canyon south rim
    6/7:Grand canyon
    6/8: Grand canyon
    6/9: Grand canyon
    6/10: drive from grand canyon south rim to vegas (4.5 hours) drop off of van is at 10am.

    1. Hi Courtnee!
      Wow, this is a full itinerary, and you have planned it quite well. Still, it’s almost on the verge of being overplanned, plus there are some areas where your wish list is overly ambitious considering the hours of usable daylight.
      For example, on day 1, you propose to get right on the road and maybe do some hiking in Zion. That may not happen because your flight may not get to LAS on time, plus there’s the logistics of picking up your camper van that will probably take longer than you expect. Then there’s the matter of checking into your campground. After all that, and factoring in possible jetlag (I don’t remember seeing where you’re flying in from), you may not be in the mood to do any hiking at that point, and that’s OK.
      On Day 2, the hike to Angel’s Landing can take anywhere from 4-6 hours. Depending on where you’re staying, you’ll probably have to use the Zion Canyon Shuttle to get to the trailhead (Grotto Picnic Area). If you find that you can’t deal with the heights of the full hike, Scout Landing is a good “turn back” point. Long story short, you may be wiped out by the time you complete this hike. You may not have the energy or gumption to hike to the Emerald Pools at that point, so be prepared to either give it a miss, or scoot it to the following morning when you were planning to do the Watchman Trail.
      Speaking of where you might stay, if you were wanting to have access to an electrical hook-up for air conditioning, you should probably plan on staying at an RV park in Springdale, UT. If you can do without one, note that the campgrounds inside Zion National Park sell out every night during peak season (which is when you’ll be traveling), so advance reservations are a must, everywhere you go.
      On 06/01, you’re proposing to do the Calf Creek Falls hike after you’ve already done some hiking at Bryce? That will put you at Calf Creek during the hottest time of the day, and there will be times when you’re trudging through deep sand. Not sure if you want to do that when it’s scorching hot outside. You might consider just going directly to Lower Calf Creek first thing in the morning. You might even consider adding a 2nd night to your stay at Bryce.
      I think you also should give at least another night to Moab, UT. As it stands, you don’t have enough time to accomplish everything you want to do in the time you have.
      When you get to the part where you want to visit Monument Valley en route to Page, AZ, bear in mind that MV might still be closed due to COVID-19, so you may be limited to seeing it on a “drive-by” basis.

      1. Courtnee,
        OMG, I didn’t realize that my reply to you had gotten cut off so abruptly like that! Rest assured, that’s not something I meant to do, I did have more to day.
        Picking up where I left off, even if you did visit Monument Valley just by driving through and not stopping, you won’t have time to tour both Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon, or Red Canyon/Peek-A-Boo Canyon that same day. You might be able to realistically hit Horseshoe Bend for sunset, but IMO, sunrise the next day would be a better time to visit. Then you can enjoy cooler temperatures (a definite plus at that time of year) and smaller crowds. Sunrise at the time of year you’re visiting is at ~5:00 AM.
        If you are genuinely interested in obtaining a permit to hike The Wave, the online lottery for June is taking place now! I would strongly recommend you apply for that sometime this month as 48 spaces will be given out in that manner. Only 16 spaces will be saved for the daily walk-in lottery held in Kanab, UT, the day PRIOR to when you wish to hike. Even so, your odds of getting a permit are quite slim, statistically, so you might start considering “Plan B” options, such as White Pocket (the most popular Wave alternative destination), Soap Creek, Sidestep Canyon, Alstrom Point, the “New” Wave, etc.
        Last but not least, you have given yourself what is likely to be too many days at the Grand Canyon. For most first-time visitors, 1-2 days is plenty to have a full and memorable experience. The only reason for staying longer would be if you wanted to take labor-intensive day hikes each day of your visit, which is certainly possible, but not essential for a fun and enjoyable experience. Grand Canyon day hikes If you have extra days to allocate, I would recommend giving them to Zion, Capitol Reef, or Moab.
        Again, apologies for this getting cut off in the previous reply, I have no idea why that happened!
        Feel free to write in again if you need to bounce more questions off us.
        Good luck and safe travels,
        Alley 🙂

        1. Alley,

          Thank you so much for your response and help! Would you recommend staying on BLM land or other free camping places to save money. They are on a first come first serve basis and I do not know how fast they will fill during busy season. We do not mind not having electricity and just paying for showers at different locations.

          1. Hey again, Courtnee!
            Don’t know as I’d recommend trying to boondock the whole time you’re here, especially in areas like Page, AZ, and Moab, UT. IIRC, you’re traveling in June, and it will already have been hot for quite awhile in the lower desert areas. Your camper van will be uncomfortably warm at night, and sightseeing is no fun after a night spent sweltering. At least in those areas, I’d try to camp someplace with an electrical hook-up for reliable AC. You may be able to pull off BLM camping in higher elevations, but as you have deduced, these areas could fill fast during peak travel season, which June definitely falls under.
            Hope that helps 🙂
            Alley

      2. Hi Alley – I am so happy I found this site! Not sure I’m posting this the right way but, I couldn’t figure out how to start a new thread? Anyway, We decided to try and put together a trip for my daughters college graduation with our other 2 adult children (ages 22,24,26). We have a limited timeframe due to some other commitments. We are thinking May 14 – 22 with a small flexibility window. We are all in pretty good physical shape and like to hike as well as some adventure sports. We definitely want to do Moab (white water rafting, horseback riding – on the fence about ATV)….We were thinking possibly doing a houseboat at Lake Powell (will it be too cold at night and water temp?) – or maybe just rent a boat for a day?? I would like to see the Grand Canyon but, Zion and Bryce sound interesting too? My oldest son went to school in Colorado and has done most of this already but, we haven’t (he thinks “there are better ways to spend our time than the GC”???). I have been reading a lot about different hiking trails and areas – we can be flexible due to Covid and late planning but, I would like to figure out flights and lodging asap! Anyway, I have nothing booked as of now and the more I read the more confused I get (fly into where? accomodations? Things not to miss?)….We are definitely an active family but, I would like to somewhat limit the car rides, don’t want to feel rushed and I would like a night or two at special accommodation. Any help with putting together an itinerary would be greatly appreciated! Thanks so much! Love this site!

        1. Hi Beth!
          Your inquiry posted perfectly, I am sorry for the delay in reply on my end, I was out of town for a few days!
          The timeframe you describe is definitely limited. Assuming that May 14th and 22nd will be travel/logistical days, that gives you 7 full days to work with. You are going to have to trim down your wish list unless you want to spend the better part of your vacation behind the wheel of your car.
          If the majority of your family members haven’t been to the Grand Canyon, I strongly recommend you give it high priority and try and get there at least for a day. If your son has already been to the GC, I’d almost bet money he went to the South Rim, so I’ll suggest you visit the North Rim instead. More on that in a minute…
          Nights during May are definitely not too cold to enjoy a houseboat trip on Lake Powell, but because your time is so limited, I’d recommend that for a future trip when you can spend 3 days or more enjoying the lake. A smaller boat rental, or perhaps a kayak tour, may be a better use of your time. Again, more on that in a minute 😉
          Factoring the places you wish to go and activities you with to partake of, here’s what I’d suggest:
          May 14th: Fly into Salt Lake City, overnight in SLC
          May 15th: Drive to Moab, UT (~4.5 hour drive), visit Arches/Canyonlands, or Castle Valley Area overnight in Moab
          May 16th: Half-day white water rafting trip, visit Dead Horse Point State Park, 2nd night in Moab
          May 17th: Drive to Bryce Canyon, with optional stopovers in Capitol Reef National Park, Goblin Valley State Park, or Lower Calf Creek Falls. Driving direct, it’s ~a 5-hour drive from Moab to Bryce. Whatever you decide for this leg of the drive, be sure to travel to Bryce Canyon via Scenic Byway 12. This is one of the most stunning drives in the American Southwest, you’ll love it! Overnight in Bryce Canyon
          May 18th: Sunrise at Bryce Canyon, then drive to Page, AZ (~3 hour drive). Optional stops: Paria Rimrocks/Toadstool Hoodoos, sunset at Horseshoe Bend, overnight in Page, AZ
          May 19th: Antelope Canyon Kayak/Hiking Tour (not affected by the Navajo Tribal Park Closure), 2nd night in Page, AZ.
          May 20th: Day trip to Grand Canyon North Rim: 2.5 hour drive from Page, AZ, visit Grand Canyon Lodge complex, Imperial Point, etc. Drive to Kanab, UT, 90 minutes from park, for overnight. Kanab, UT hotels
          May 21st: Sightseeing in Zion National Park (plenty of hikes to enjoy here!), 2nd night in Kanab UT.
          May 22nd: Drive to Las Vegas (~4 hours from Kanab), fly home
          Trip map
          The primary factors in determining whether this plan would be feasible are rental car drop-off fees, and hotel availability. If hotel availability is a problem in certain areas, you might also try doing this itinerary in reverse order.
          Hope that helps, I know it’s a lot to digest! Feel free to write in again, or e-mail me personally at [email protected] if you need to bounce more ideas off us.
          Good luck and safe travels,
          Alley 🙂

  5. Hi Alley – sorry for the double post – I could not see my first post. So, my second post is shorter and as soon as I hit Post, I saw your response! So apologies again for the second/same question (feeling a bit embarrassed too because my second post is so much shorter and almost no details).

    Thank you so much for your detailed answer to my first post.
    You’re right – we chose March due to our kids’ school spring break. I love that you have such vast knowledge and suggestions about good alternatives for almost anything. I am now pretty much sure that an RV around March 15 is asking for trouble. And your description of being cold/tired/cranky gave me the worst vacation day visions…hahahaha!
    I’ll start trying to make some reservations and may come back to ask for help/opinion at the end.

    You’re amazing! Thank you again!

    1. Hey again, Ruxandra,
      Glad you saw your original post! Also glad you’ve decided against the RV this time around. March 15th could bring anything from a teaser of summer weather to a late-season blizzard, so best to play it safe in that regard.
      Do get back to us if there’s anything else you need, or write to our dedicated e-mail address [email protected]
      Take care,
      Alley 🙂

  6. Hi Alley, love all the itineraries, ideas, and helpful suggestions. So, like everyone else, I come to ask for help too. We’re a family of 4, with a 7-year old and a 9-year old. Last summer we rented an RV and traveled down to FL and back to NJ via some of the beautiful sights on the East Coast (Shenandoah, the Smoky Mountains, South Carolina and Georgia coasts). Since it was our first time in an RV, we were a bit shy in terms of what we could accomplish distance-wise before the kids would need to get out and move. It was a great experience, and we’d like to do it again, out West, possibly following your suggested itinerary…but at the end of March. And this is where I have a few questions: can it be done? I saw for example that Zion has a tunnel that has some size restrictions. Can you drive the big ice cream truck through some of these beautiful parks? Or just get some smaller vehicle that fits all of us but gives us a bit more flexibility in terms of access, and just stay in hotels/motels? I also saw you referenced some insurance issues with the RVs if one gets off paved roads…so that is interesting. And as a funny aside, last summer I remember we had to sign that we would not take the RV to the Death Valley!
    Thank you in advance for any help, and advice!

    1. Hi Ruxandra,
      What a beautiful name!
      Can your proposed Southwest U.S. RV trip be done? Yes, with some small caveats.
      So, I’m assuming that you are planning your trip for late March to coincide with Spring Break for your kids, yes? If that’s not the case, you might consider pushing your plans back to early April. Why? Because in late March, you may still be limited to renting a winterized RV. Not that that would ruin your vacation, per se, but you would be limited to just using your electrical hook-up and not your water or sewer to minimize the probability of these lines freezing should the nighttime temperatures dip down below zero. Believe it or not, that sort of thing can and does happen, even in late March, in the higher elevations, particularly Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon. I am not 100% certain that you would be limited in this manner at the time you are traveling, but I would certainly check it out with your preferred RV rental outlet. CruiseAmerica is a popular one in the Southwest U.S.
      Should you get the all-clear to rent an RV in late March, you’ll be happy to know that most RV’s can be driven through the Zion-Mt Carmel Tunnel. Your vehicle would have to be over 13′ tall to be prohibited from passing through this tunnel; in fact the official NPS website for Zion depicts a standard-size RV exiting the tunnel, so that IMO says it all! You would have to pay the normal entrance fee, which, IIRC, is $30/vehicle, and good for one week’s time. You would also have to pay a $15 permit fee to have your vehicle escorted through the tunnel, each time you pass through. If that sounds expensive and a bit inconvenient, I get it, so you might consider leaving your RV parked in Springdale, UT (there are a number of fine RV parks to choose from in this area), and using the shuttle system to get around the park. Note that due to COVID-19, capacity on the Zion Canyon Shuttle was reduced, necessitating the implementation of an advance purchase ticket system.
      RE: the issue with where you can drive a rental RV, unpaved roads are a no-no, up there with driving to Death Valley, so if you’re interested in touring sites that require traveling on dirt roads to get to, such as Red Canyon/Peek-A-Boo Canyon, Wire Pass Canyon & Buckskin Gulch, White Pocket, Soap Creek, etc., you’ll want to arrange for a guide service to take you to these. Even if you were to forego the RV rental and opt for a standard passenger car, the same limitations would apply. That’s not to say that people don’t take rental cars down unpaved roads, but they do so at their own risk!
      Whether you ultimately decide to go the RV rental or rental car/hotel route, be sure you make reservations for all your lodging and guided tours well in advance. Now would not be too soon, people are chomping at the bit to get out and travel after all these lockdowns! If you do go the RV route, be sure you book stays in developed RV parks so you have access to electrical hook-ups and reliable heat. Even best case scenario, overnight lows will still get chilly, and sightseeing is no fun when you’re exhausted from shivering all night.
      I hope that covered all your questions! If not, feel free to write in again if you need to bounce more ideas off us.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  7. Hi Alley! Thank you in advance for your wise guidance! I am soaking up every single post. We are traveling from the east coast in and out of Las Vegas April 3-11th for a trip to Northern Arizona. We are a family of 5, with 13 yr old triplets. My best friend lives in Vegas and will pick us up, help us with supplies and give us a place to stay our first and last nights. We have rented a RV and have this as our tentative itinerary:
    Sat Apr 3 – land in LV @3pm, pick up RV, pick up supplies, stay in LV.
    Sun Apr 4 – drive to Zion, stay there – Canyon Overlook Trail
    Mon Apr 5 – more Zion, do The Narrows if conditions warrant, stay there
    Tues Apr 6 – drive to Bryce, maybe a Canyon trail ride, stay there
    Wed Apr 7 – drive to Page (3-5 hours depending on NN Covid restrictions), see Horseshow Bend/maybe Antelope Canyon if open, stay there
    Thur Apr 8 – drive to Grand Canyon National Park, stay Trailer Village (have reservations)
    Fri Apr 9 – more GCNP, stay at Trailer Village (already reserved)
    Sat Apr 10 – drive back to LV, stop at Hoover Dam, turn in RV by 5pm
    Sun April 11 – fly home out of LV

    Does this sound manageable? What am I missing or not thinking of? Any tips or tricks for these legs of the journey? Must see sights of places to eat along the way? I really want my kids to fall in love with the NPs, as my husband and I have! Would love your insights!! You are a treasure!

    1. Hi Margaret, and thanks for your nice compliments!
      Your itinerary looks pretty fun, and well-paced. One correction I do have to make is re: the leg of the trip from Bryce to Page, AZ, is not affected by the COVID-19 closures on the Navajo Indian Reservation. Therefore, that drive should take you ~3 hours, but I would highly recommend stopping off at the Paria Rimrocks/Toadstool Hoodoos Trail on the way. That’s a fun and relatively easy hike to some cool rock formations! The trailhead is at mile marker 19 on US89, between Page, AZ, and Kanab, UT.
      Where you could possibly be affected by Navajo Nation closures would be between Page, AZ, and the Grand Canyon. Normally, that drive runs ~3 hours, but due to the closure of a critical component of AZ64 from Cameron, AZ, to Desert View Point, it is currently necessary to drive all the way down to Flagstaff, AZ, then bounce back up to Grand Canyon South Rim via US180/AZ64 or I-40/AZ64. That has turned a 3-hour drive into more like 5 hours.
      Should the Antelope Canyons remain closed by the time your vacation rolls around, a good alternative would be Red Canyon/aka Peek-A-Boo Canyon, near Kanab, UT, ~70 minutes from Page. With twists and turns on par with the Antelope Canyons, this is a short but memorable walk offering up classic slot canyon scenery, and some unique geological features. While a guided tour is not required to get to Peek-A-Boo, we strongly recommend that you take one, because while the walk through the canyon itself is not difficult, the drive to get there is. It’s not something I’d recommend attempting in an RV, especially a rental. You would void your insurance the minute your tires part with the pavement, which means you’d be on the hook for a very expensive rescue, should you need one, and have to foot the bill for any damage you’d sustain. There are several reputable companies in Kanab, UT, that can get you to Peek-A-Boo Canyon, including:
      – Dreamland Safari Tours, (435) 412-1790, http://www.dreamlandtours.net
      – TC Tours, (435) 668-5262, http://www.slotcanyontourskanab.com
      – Kanab Tour Company, (435) 644-5525, http://www.kanabtourcompany.com
      – Forever Adventure Tours, 435-644-5700, http://www.foreveradventuretours.com
      – Grand Circle Tours, (928) 691-0166, http://www.vermilioncliffs.net
      If you’d prefer something more rugged, Wire Pass Canyon is a photogenic two-part slot canyon that is short enough for intermediate-level hikers to enjoy, yet offers the option to delve further into Buckskin Gulch for those wanting more of a challenge. The walk to the entrance of the initial slot is via a typically dry streambed, which is usually full of deep sand. An 8-10’ drop a short distance into the slot canyon is one reason why Wire Pass Canyon may not be appropriate for those traveling with young children, the elderly, or individuals afraid of heights, but a makeshift ladder was recently placed there to make this obstacle more manageable. As the canyon walls become higher and closer together, they suddenly open up as the second slot connects with the Buckskin Gulch. If you’ve had enough at this point, you can simply turn around and head back to your vehicle. If you’d like to explore further, you can easily make a half-day hike out of the immediate area around the confluence with the Buckskin. Access to Wire Pass Canyon and the Buckskin Gulch is off US89 between Page, AZ, and Kanab, UT, on the House Rock Valley Road. Hikers are required to pay a self-permitting fee at the kiosk by the trailhead. While the House Rock Valley Road is also unpaved, it is usually accessible to 2WD vehicles. However, if recent weather has brought any moisture whatsoever, the HRVR can turn into a muddy, impassable mess. Here again, a guided tour would get your family to Wire Pass Canyon and back in one piece, and turn you onto features you might have missed trying to find your own way. Companies offering guided tours to Wire Pass Canyon, Buckskin Gulch, and other areas include:
      – Detours American West, 480-633-9013, http://www.detoursamericanwest.com
      – Paria Outpost & Outfitters, 928-691-1047, http://www.paria.com
      – Grand Staircase Discovery Tours, 928-614-4099, http://www.grandstaircasediscoverytours.com
      On your way out of Las Vegas, you might also take the opportunity to make the short detour through the stunning Valley of Fire State Park, just Northeast of town! April is a nice time to be there since it’s not too terribly hot.
      Whatever you decide to do, be sure to reserve all guided tours in advance. Now would not be too soon to start making bookings. Also, be sure that you stay at developed RV parks so you can have access to reliable heat at night. In some of the parks you’ll be visiting, nights can still be chilly, plus early April is notorious for late-season snowstorms, as well.
      Good luck, safe travels, and Happy New Year!
      Alley 🙂

  8. Hi Alley!

    Planning a road trip to visit Zion and Grand Canyon NPs. We are seniors (high 60s; decent shape) and have never visited this part of the country. We’ll be starting in Spring Branch, TX (about 35 mi north of San Antonio). Being retired, we are looking at a trip of 10-14 days in the mid-April to mid May timeframe. Any suggestions? Thanks so much.

    Dan

    1. Hey Dan!
      Having made the drive from Arizona to Texas a few times myself, using several different routes, I know it can be done in 2 days (each way). But, since you’re on vacation, you have the option to take it at a more relaxed pace by breaking it up into 3 days if desired.
      I don’t know how much exploring you may or may not have done in New Mexico, but you could drive as far as Roswell, NM, that first day (~8 hours drive), then head up to visit Chaco Culture National Historic Park (~5 hours from Roswell), then spend the night in Farmington, NM (1 hour and change from Chaco). From there, head to Page, AZ (~4 hours from Farmington), plan on spending 2 nights to visit Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon (if it’s open, we’re hoping and praying!), then head up to Bryce Canyon (~3 hours from Page) for 1 night, then go to Zion National Park for 2-3 nights.
      If AZ64 East from Desert View Point to Cameron, AZ, remains closed to through traffic at the time of your visit, then the drive from Zion to Grand Canyon South Rim could take as long as 6-7 hours. This is due to the current necessity for taking a rather long detour through Flagstaff, AZ, then bouncing back North to Grand Canyon Village via US180/AZ64 or I-40/AZ64. Should that stretch of road reopen, then the drive will be more along the lines of 4-5 hours.
      Spend the night at Grand Canyon South Rim, then I would recommend heading down to Sedona, AZ, for 2-3 nights, as a nice “chill” capper to your trip. From there, you can head down to Tucson, AZ, hop on I-10, which will take you most of the way home (maybe break up the drive in Deming or Las Cruces, NM)! Trip map
      Naturally, this isn’t the only possible route you could take, there’s all kinds of possibilities depending on your interests, how much driving you are willing (or not willing) to do in the course of a day, whether or not you’re remotely interested in visiting Las Vegas, NV, and other factors.
      If you would like to run any ideas by us, feel free to write in again!
      Good luck, safe travels, and Happy New Year,
      Alley 🙂

  9. Yes! Soooooo inspiring. Thinking about doing this with my family of four. My kids (11 and 4) have never been out West at all so we definitely want to remedy that! My brother in law just did basically this same trip with his family so we believe it’s possible, now we just need to get our plan together.

    Do you mind if I ask what rental vehicle you guys chose? I’m looking at renting a camper van like this. They offer unlimited mileage and some amenities that would be really nice to have for such a long road trip. I figure if we can manage to avoid staying in a hotel the majority of the time the trip should cost less than renting a car and staying in a hotel and it should be cheaper than renting an RV. It will be cozy sleeping arrangements for sure but that’s just part of the memories, right?

    What do you think? Is it possible to approach it that way with a family of 4 or am I fooling myself?

    1. Hey Brian!
      First off, we don’t have a preferred RV rental company, but the name we tend to see all the time in this part of the U.S. is Cruise America. They have rental outlets in Phoenix, AZ, and Las Vegas, NV, the two most popular staging cities for Southwest U.S. vacations. By all means, though, shop around, and determine who can offer you the best deal and service.
      As for whether an RV vacation will be cheaper than a rental car/hotel approach, most visitors we talk to tend to report that it’s a “wash,” or “six of one/half-a-dozen of another.” What you might save on hotels will most likely be balanced out by fuel costs, which tend to be higher for larger motorhomes. Also, fees for RV park stays in some areas can, unbelievably, be comparable to staying in a hotel with less elbow room. But you are correct, the cozy sleeping arrangements are definitely part of the memories you’ll make.
      Where you can potentially save a good chunk of change is food costs. By not eating at restaurants 3 meals a day, you can avoid the financial and nutritional pitfalls that most families have to deal with. Another factor affecting the feasibility of your RV vacation is the time of year you plan to do it. If you’re planning on visiting during the late autumn-early spring time frame, you will have to travel in a winterized RV. That means, no hooking up to water or sewer. Also, you may find that many RV parks are closed at that time of year. Yes, there are free/undeveloped campsites all around, mostly on BLM land, but without an electrical hook-up, you may freeze at night. During the summer months, you’ll definitely want to seek out developed RV sites, especially in the low desert areas such as Page, AZ, Moab, UT, etc., where nighttime low temperatures remain quite warm. Reliable air conditioning can make all the difference between a pleasant stay and a sweltering nightmare.
      I hope that helps! If you have further questions, feel free to write in again. We’d be happy to have you bounce more ideas off us!
      Good luck, safe travels, and Happy New Year,
      Alley 🙂

  10. My hubby and I will be doing R2R2R over 3 days in May! We are coming from the Midwest and haven’t been to this area of the country before. If we arrive near Arches NP on the night of Day 1, and need to be at the Grand Canyon North Rim on the afternoon/evening of Day 4… what itinerary do you suggest for Days 2-4?? So much to see, so little time!!

    1. Hi Jodi,
      You hit the nail on the head: “so much to see, so little time!” Still, you’re going to love the American Southwest, and your R2R2R will be an exciting way to cap off your trip! If your R2R2R involves camping overnight in the Inner Canyon, you must have a backcountry camping permit to do so, or reservations at Phantom Ranch. Hopefully you have those in order if you were planning to get some sleep anywhere below the North or South Rim.
      As for what route you take from Moab, UT, to Grand Canyon North Rim, the most direct route is to proceed South through Monument Valley and the Navajo Indian Reservation. That drive can actually be done in ~8 hours time, but can be extended to a 3-day drive in a number of ways. By swinging East into Colorado, for example, you could visit and stay overnight in Mesa Verde National Park, visit Monument Valley (with a possible detour through Four Corners), then overnight in Page, AZ, on Day 3 so you can visit Horseshoe Bend. The main deciding factor in the feasibility of that route will be whether the Navajo Nation decides to keep attractions on their lands closed to outsiders. They have done this to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 among reservation residents, so while it is possible to drive through the reservation, they ask that non-reservation residents not stop and interact with tribe members. This means your vehicle should be fully fueled, and you should carry adequate water and snacks to tide your group over until you reach your next off-reservation destination. Mesa Verde and Page, AZ, are both off-reservation.
      Should you prefer not to cross the reservation for whatever reason, another route you could take would be visiting and overnighting in Capitol Reef National Park on Day 2 (no lodging is available in the park itself, you’d have to go to Torrey, Fruita, Cainesville, or Hanksville), Bryce Canyon on Day 3 (again, most available lodging is outside the park here), then Grand Canyon North Rim on Day 4. If you take us up on this suggestion, be sure you drive from Capitol Reef to Bryce via Scenic Byway 12. This is one of the most stunning highways in the Southwest, if not the whole USA, and you will have a great time! You can easily make a day of it with a hike to Lower Calf Creek Falls if you wish.
      Hope that helps! Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂
      P.S. By the way, I hope you have your Grand Canyon North Rim lodging or camping reservations in order. I heard that as of yesterday, demand for reservations at Grand Canyon Lodge was so overwhelming, it crashed the server at their central reservations office, so they are taking reservations on a “staggered” basis as follows:
      – Friday January 22nd, 2021, they will book May 15th through June 30th
      – Friday February 12th, 2021, they will book July 1st through July 31st
      – Friday March 12th, 2021, they will book August 1st through August 31st
      – Friday April 2nd, 2021, they will book September 1st through October 15th
      If you don’t already have reservations at the North Rim, you might want to book alternate lodging, such as the Kaibab Lodge, Jacob Lake Inn, or even Kanab, UT, just in case! Hotels at Grand Canyon North Rim & Vicinity

  11. Hi Alley,
    I am reposting this because I finally figured out how to start my own conversation without jumping in on someone else. (YEAH!) My boyfriend and I are heading to Arizona March 27-April 3rd and we would like to make the best use of my time. Can you suggest an itinerary. I have reservations at Sky Ranch lodge for the 27-30 (I’ve stayed there before). That is the only reservation I have so far. Below is the itinerary I’ve created (again, not sure if it’s making the best use of time including travel time) I would sincerely appreciate your suggestions.
    March 27-Arrive in Sedona by 9am Staying at Sky Ranch Lodge. Visit Chappel of Holy Cross, Hike Airport loop, sunset at Airport loop

    March 28-Hike Cathedral Rock (not sure what trail to take, I would like the most scenic) Would there be time to squeeze in another short hike in the area before sunset?

    March 29-More scenic hikes (any suggestions? I’ve already been to devils bridge, soldier pass and sliding rock)

    March 30 check out of Sky Ranch, drive to Flagstaff. We would like to get in one or two hikes here I’ve heard walnut canyon and Arizona snowball are good. We will drive to Page and stay the night (any lodging suggestions would be wonderful)

    March 31 Hike horseshoe bend I believe this is the one that you suggested the photo tour. in the evening drive to peach springs

    April 1 One day Grand Canyon Rafting Trip (Rivers and Oceans) Meeting place is Haulapai Lodge in Peach Springs 7am-7pm)

    April 2. Hike Grand Canyon (preferably without a guide)

    April 3rd Fly back to Michigan out of Phoenix.

    Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Kris!
      Thanks for starting your own conversation on this thread. I took the liberty of deleting your first comment as a result.
      Your itinerary looks pretty fun, but IMO still warrants a couple of minor “reality checks.”
      In light of the fact that you’ve already spent time in Sedona, I would suggest reducing your stay there to just two nights. If you’re looking for another hike or activity to occupy any free time, I’m partial to the West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon. Easy, scenic hike, but may require walking through water, which may be uncomfortably cold at the time of year you’re visiting. While I don’t endorse day drinking per se, you might also consider going to a wine tasting at one of 15 local wineries. Wine Tastings in Sedona
      The one-day white water rafting trip is a blast, I’ve taken it myself and had a ball! One thing you must be aware of, however, is that Peach Springs, AZ, is located on the Western end of the Grand Canyon, which is Hualapai Indian Tribal Land, not the National Park. The Hualapai Tribe doesn’t allow “free-form” unguided hiking on their lands. You will do some good hiking on the raft trip, but if you want to experience “true” Grand Canyon hiking, then it’s necessary to go to Grand Canyon South Rim. That is the National Park, where the iconic, picture-postcard views can be had. The potential problem is that Grand Canyon South Rim is ~a 3-hour drive from Peach Springs, AZ. Depending on how you are pulled off the river, the raft trip can last anywhere from 12-15 hours. The reason for this is because normally, you are airlifted by helicopter off the river, but if it’s too windy, too hot, or other conditions dictate grounding of the helicopters, you’ll be motored all the way down to South Cove on Lake Mead and picked up by van or bus. That will add another 3-4 hours to your trip, pushing your arrival time back to 10:00-11:00 PM. I happened to take that very trip in early April myself, and that’s exactly what happened. Long story short: plan on spending the night before the trip and the night you return from the trip in Peach Springs. Even if the helicopter airlift goes off as planned, you don’t want to be caught driving to the South Rim after dark. Nighttime driving is strongly discouraged in this part of the U.S. due to local roads being very dimly lit, and the possible presence of deer, elk, and other wildlife that elevates your risk of an accident. Trust me, that’s not something you want to risk in an unfamiliar area that’s pitch black, where cell service will be spotty (if you can get any bars at all), and help will be a long time coming, not to mention VERY expensive.
      You’d probably need to carve out another day to give yourself enough time to drive to Grand Canyon South Rim for some hiking. The drive back to Phoenix would be ~5 hours, so plan on spending the night either at Grand Canyon Village or Tusayan.
      For lodging in Page, AZ (for Horseshoe Bend, which doesn’t require a tour to visit), you’ll find hotels in a wide range of amenity classes and price points. The Hyatt Place hotel is one of the area’s newest properties and was recently featured on a YouTube video along with footage of the hike to Horseshoe Bend, the Hanging Gardens, and the Glen Canyon Dam Steel Arch Bridge. Forward to the 7:40 mark to go right to the hotel footage, but I’ll bet you’ll want to watch the whole video mainly because the little guy narrating is SO darn cute! Horseshoe Bend & Top Attractions Travel Guide in Page, Arizona
      Whatever you decide, be sure to reserve ALL hotels and guided tours in advance.
      Good luck, safe travels, and Happy New Year,
      Alley 🙂

  12. Hi,
    I stumbled across this on Google and am thoroughly impressed with all of your expertise on the southwest and the National Parks! I was wondering if you would be kind enough to offer some advice to an “east-coaster” who has never been to the southwest before, but is interested in a family trip out there. We were looking at 7 days around end of June timeframe. Arches, Grand Canyon and Antelope Canyon as must-sees and everything else being a bonus. My first question is do we start in Moab and end up in Vegas? Or start in Vegas and end in Moab. It is ALOT of driving and I don’t know if it was possible to fly from Moab to Sedona or somewhere that would have an airport close to Grand Canyon? Or if that’s even possible. We are very novice hikers to say the least. We only started this year due to Covid and not much else to do. However, we found out we liked it and my kids would be thrilled to see a National Park or two. I don’t know if 7 days is too aggressive and not enough time to do all three. Also Zion looked interesting but I heard the Narrows could be dangerous if you’re not experienced? With an 11 and 13 year old not sure if I want to chance it. They are adventurous, but I’d rather err on the side of safety. Any info. Would help. Thanks!

    1. Hi Rita and thanks for visiting our site, and your compliments!
      7 days is certainly enough time to see a lot of amazing scenery in Northern Arizona and Southern Utah, but you might have to rein in your ambitions a bit if you don’t want to spend the majority of your days behind the wheel of a car.
      Most visitors to the Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and other attractions in the Grand Circle use Las Vegas, NV, as their in and out points. It is possible to fly into Moab, UT, and out of Las Vegas, but might not be that practical: first off, the only scheduled airline service into and out of Moab, UT, is from Denver, CO. This means you’d have to deal with connecting flights and all the potential inconveniences that come with them, such as layovers that are too short or too long, the logistics of transferring bags (not sure of Skywest has a downline bag transfer agreement with other airlines), and the possibility that your flight into Moab, UT, might be cancelled due to inclement weather or not enough passengers traveling to make the flight profitable. Another thing to consider is cost; rental car outlets typically prefer that their vehicles be dropped in the same place they were picked up in. Otherwise, be prepared to pay a rather hefty drop-off fee for picking up a vehicle in location “A” and returning it to location “B.” The drive from Denver, CO, to Moab, UT, is ~ 6 hours. A better airport to fly into (our out of) might be Salt Lake City, which is ~4 hours from Moab.
      Unfortunately, there is no scheduled air service into Sedona, AZ, from anywhere. It’s only ~2 hours from Phoenix/Sky Harbor (PHX), so the town isn’t isolated enough to qualify for Essential Air Service. The closest airport to Grand Canyon South Rim is Flagstaff/Pulliam (FLG), which is ~90 minutes from the Grand Canyon. But here again, it may not be practical to fly into, because you’d have to connect through either Dallas/Ft. Worth (DFW) or Phoenix.
      And honestly, 7 days is not nearly enough time to accomplish all that you have on your wish list. You’re going to have to trim things down if you want this to be a vacation instead of a “death march”. As much as I hate to say it, I suggest taking Arches out of the equation this time around. For one, it’s a big swing out of your way if you want to visit Zion, Horseshoe Bend, the Grand Canyon, and/or Sedona. Plus, the weather in June is really hot, and the park tends to be super-crowded during the summer months. Not that Arches isn’t beautiful — it definitely is — but summer IMO is not a great time to be there. Late autumn/early winter is a different story.
      Using Las Vegas, NV, as your staging city, you could do something like this:
      Day 1 – Early arrival into Las Vegas, drive to Zion National Park (~3-4 hours). Overnight in Springdale, UT or Kanab, UT
      Day 2 – Hike the Narrows — first-timers do this hike from the “bottom-up” approach all the time, including kids, and enjoy it. Before committing, read up on what you need to make it safe and enjoyable. For beginners, a “bottom-up” approach is best; the “top-down” approach requires a permit and is only recommended for fit, experienced hikers. You’ll also need specialized equipment, such as a waterproof backpack and a dry suit. Suggest you read Hiking The Narrows For Beginners before committing. If that looks like too much for your family to take on, don’t worry: there are TONS of beautiful and easy hikes in Zion. Spend 2nd night in Springdale or Kanab
      Day 3 – Drive to Bryce Canyon (~90 minutes from Zion), sightseeing on the scenic loop drive around the canyon rim, overnight in Bryce Canyon Area Bryce Canyon One Day Itinerary
      Day 4 – Drive to Page, AZ, tour Antelope Canyon (if they’re open — they may still be closed due to COVID-19), overnight in Page, AZ
      Day 5 – Visit Horseshoe Bend at sunrise, drive to Grand Canyon South Rim (normally, this is ~a 3-hour drive, but if the Navajo Reservation remains closed, you may have to take a detour through Flagstaff, which extends the drive to 5 hours… oh joy LOL), overnight at Grand Canyon South Rim
      Day 6 – Drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Sedona, AZ (~3 hours), do Pink Jeep Broken Arrow Tour, overnight in Sedona
      Day 7 – Drive to Las Vegas (~5 hours) or Phoenix (~2 hours), fly home
      If taking Arches/Canyonlands off the table is a “non-starter,” then you would probably want to trade it out for Sedona. Either that, or see if you can extend your trip to ~10 days so you can experience some quality time.
      Whatever you decide, be sure to book all lodging and guided tours well in advance. You’ll need to keep a close eye on Antelope Canyon and if they happen to remain closed at the time of year you’re visiting, Red Canyon aka Peek-A-Boo Canyon in Kanab, UT, is your best alternative.
      I know that’s probably a lot to digest, so feel free to write in again if you need to bounce more ideas off us.
      Good luck, safe travels, and Happy New Year!
      Alley 🙂

  13. Hi Alley!

    Please excuse the length of this comment in advance… At 29yo, I have never commented on a forum, but I have to try this one. I hope it is still active since the last post seems to have been in October. I stumbled upon it in probably my 7th hour of planning and in my 17th opened tab, and I got both excited and frustrated. I work in hotels and I would imagine that even the concierge team would be extremely impressed with your planning. The itinerary looks so fun! The frustration came when I realized I may have to scrap all those hours of my planning because yours is so much better than mine!

    My boyfriend and I have been trying to plan a vacation for a while now, only for every plan to be foiled by covid, of course… so we decided international is off the table and are opting for a road trip to finally explore our own backyard! The kicker here though is that we only have 5 days!–a Wed-Sun in early/mid-Jan. Any chance you could help whittle your itinerary down to a very abbreviated version with just the absolute must-sees?

    Here is our [admittedly long] list of considerations:

    1. Just need to get this somewhat embarrassing, but relevant, truth out of the way: We are definitely not your typical road-trippers, but we want to give this adventure a go! … at a leisurely pace. He is even worse than I am and has already told me: No start times before sunrise. I would say our earliest start on any given day would be 8 AM.

    2. We are based in Beverly Hills, so I had been planning on heading to the Grand Canyon by way of Joshua Tree Natl Park and an overnight & maybe a morning hike in Sedona (unless you think we should get moving along). Important–albeit not surprising–note: We are novice hikers.

    3a. Destinations: The other places we know we want to see are Horseshoe Bend & Antelope Canyon and Zion Natl Park & I figure Bryce Canyon, since we will be so close (though feel free to swap out Bryce if you think something else is better).
    3b. One of my drafted itineraries had us going all the way out to Monument Valley and Arches and even Four Corners, but then I read that Four Corners is closed and I think that loop might be too much of a detour for our tight schedule, so then I started looking more towards Grand Staircase Escalante Natl Monument and Capitol Reef… It seems every time I start swapping out a waypoint, two more places of interest pop up in its place and I am losing sight of what is worth it for so little time! I am starting to think perhaps we should bypass it all and just head straight from the slot canyons to Bryce & Zion to allow ourselves enough time to actually enjoy them.
    3c. I am ready to take in the desert landscapes in all their glory, but a good waterfall gets me every time… Are any of the falls a must-see?!

    4. I am 90% sure we will be doing a night in Amangiri. We actually both work in hotels, so we just can’t resist! Check-in time is 2 PM–I would just want to make sure we are there no later than 6/7 PM (though it would be nice to be there for sunset). Checkout time is 12 noon–realistically, would not leave earlier. I kind of wanted our last night to be here, but turns out the resort is located within just a half hour of Horseshoe Bend, so probably smarter to work it into that leg of the trip.

    What do you think?! Sorry–I know this is now a far stretch from the original amazing itinerary you crafted! As you can probably tell though, I am pretty lost here and getting pretty desperate for help. I don’t even know where to begin with all the passes & permits; tours vs solo-exploration; to hike or not to hike &, if to hike, then which trail to hike… Any words of advice at all would be so appreciated!

    Thank you so much! Hope to hear from you soon!

    All my best,
    Michelle

    1. Hey Michelle, how goes it?
      Yes, this thread is alive and kicking! No need to apologize for a lengthy inquiry, as you’ve probably seen, I’m the queen of long-winded responses, and my reply to you will be no different.
      I really appreciate your compliments on my trip planning ability, which comes from years of working in hotels myself. That’s why it pains me to have to tell you that your ambitions for this trip need to be tempered by a hefty dose of reality. Contrary to what you indicate, you are very similar to a lot of road trippers I encounter in my work who try to cram too many sights into too short a timeframe.
      The overarching concern in your case is that you’re traveling during the winter months. Weather will be cold; best case scenario is sunny and brisk, worst case scenario, all-out blizzard conditions, especially in the higher elevations such as the Grand Canyon and Bryce.
      Another top-of-mind factor should be daylength: in January, it’s short, with sunrise in Arizona and Utah occurring at around 7:30 AM, sunset taking place at approximately 5:30 AM. That’s 10-11 hours of daylight, and daylight hours is when 95% of your driving must take place. Nighttime driving is strongly discouraged in this part of the U.S. due to the fact that local roads are very dimly lit, and you might encounter deer, elk, or other wildlife, which can hike up your risk of an accident. That’s not something you want to chance in an unfamiliar area that’s pitch black, freezing cold, where cell service is spotty (if you can get any bars at all), and help will be a long time coming, not to mention VERY expensive.
      In light of these concerns, as well as your very limited time, hopefully you can see why I can’t endorse your plan as it stands. For example, visiting Sedona as a “drive-by” on the way from Joshua Tree to Grand Canyon is not feasible. It takes ~3 hours to drive from BH to Joshua Tree. The drive from Joshua Tree, assuming you were to overnight somewhere nearby, to Sedona is ~6.5-7 hours. Even if you were to overnight somewhere closer to Sedona, it wouldn’t help much, because the drive from Sedona to Grand Canyon South Rim is ~3 hours. Trip map
      Besides, Sedona is the kind of place that really deserves 3-4 days minimum to fully enjoy and explore. People even report that they spend 5-7 days there and still feel as though they’d only “scratched the surface.” Long story short, skip Joshua Tree and Sedona this time around. Save these destinations for another trip when you can give them time to do them justice. As you aptly put, your best strategy is to “get a move on” and go directly from BH to Grand Canyon South Rim on that first night. It will still be about an 8-hour drive, so try to convince your BF that getting an early start on the day is in your best interest. If possible, stay overnight in the park or Tusayan so you can experience sunset at the South Rim! Grand Canyon hotels
      On Day 2, you can do a little sightseeing at the South Rim if you want, but then you need to get a move on to Page, AZ, to visit Horseshoe Bend. Here’s where I’ve got more bad news:
      1. The Antelope Canyons are presently closed by executive order of the Navajo Indian Tribe due to COVID-19. We are crossing fingers and toes that they reopen for 2021, but local rumor has it that the tribe plans to extend the closure into Spring of 2021. Should that happen, you’ll need to go with a “plan B” if you want to see a slot canyon. More on that in a minute…
      2. The drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ, normally takes ~3 hours, but due to COVID-19, an integral component of the shortest travel route, which passes through Navajo Indian Land, has been closed. This necessitates a rather long detour, back down through Flagstaff, AZ, then back up North via US89 to Page, AZ. This has turned a 3-hour drive into a 5-hour drive. If you want to hit Horseshoe Bend by sunset, I would advise leaving Grand Canyon South Rim no later than 11:30 AM-12:00 Noon. If it’s within your budget to stay at Amangiri, go for it, it’s a lovely property with the most beautiful pool I’ve ever seen! Unfortunately, it will be too cold for swimming at the time of year you’re visiting, but at least get some photos of it for your Instagram. Do note that Amangiri is located near the town of Big Water, UT, which is ~a 20-minute drive from Page, AZ. Overnight in Page, AZ If making it to Horseshoe Bend by sunset doesn’t work out on this day, you could also hit it at sunrise the following morning, but that would mean driving back to Page, AZ.
      On Day 3, forget about Monument Valley, Arches/Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, etc. For one, Monument Valley is on Navajo Land, therefore it’s closed and we expect it to remain closed for awhile longer than is advertised. The other parks are just too far out of your way (Arches/Canyonlands, ~6 hours from Page, Capitol Reef is ~5 hours, etc.), and as you can see, you’re on the third day of your trip already! Use this day, weather permitting, to visit Bryce Canyon. Bryce is ~a 3-hour drive from Page, AZ, and a very scenic one at that. A fun little stop along the way for “novice” hikers as you describe yourselves is the Paria RimRocks/Toadstool Hoodoos Trail. The trailhead is near mile marker 19 on US89 between Page, AZ, and Kanab, UT. It’s a relatively easy hike, relatively flat most of the way, but if recent weather has brought any moisture, the trail may be turned to messy clay, so again, this one will be a “weather permitting” affair. If possible, overnight in the Bryce Canyon area, or Kanab, UT, if rooms in the immediate vicinity of the park area full.
      On Day 4, if the Antelope Canyons closure is indeed extended through January and further, a good alternative is Red Canyon, aka Peek-A-Boo Canyon in Kanab, UT, which is on the way from Bryce Canyon to Zion. With twists and turns on par with the Antelope Canyons, this short but memorable walk features classic slot canyon scenery (including the occasional light beams in the summertime), as well as some unique features such as ancient “moqui” steps, and “Shaman’s Needle,” a pencil-thin stone column located in a small sub-drainage near the canyon’s entrance. While a guided tour is not required to get to Peek-A-Boo, we strongly recommend that you consider taking one, because while the walk through the canyon itself is usually not difficult, the drive to get there can be. Reputable tour companies who can help you get to Peek-A-Boo Canyon are:
      – Dreamland Safari Tours, (435) 412-1790, http://www.dreamlandtours.net
      – TC Tours, (435) 668-5262, http://www.slotcanyontourskanab.com
      – Kanab Tour Company, (435) 644-5525, http://www.kanabtourcompany.com
      – Forever Adventure Tours, 435-644-5700, http://www.foreveradventuretours.com
      – Grand Circle Tours, (928) 691-0166, http://www.vermilioncliffs.net
      Tours of Red Canyon take approximately 4 hours. Take the first departure of the day if possible, so you can move on to Zion National Park in relatively short order. Here, I recommend you overnight in the town of Springdale, UT, on the Western border of the park. Zion is where you’re most likely to see some waterfalls, although, at the time of year you’re visiting, don’t be surprised if they’re dry. Another thing to be aware of is that for much of the year, a shuttle is required to access the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, which is the main sightseeing area of the park. During the winter months, private vehicles are usually allowed in this area, but that could change at the drop of a hat due to COVID-19. Should the shuttle be put back in service during the time of your visit, you’ll have to purchase tickets in advance of your arrival. For updates on this rather fluid situation, monitor NPS.gov: Zion Canyon Shuttle Tickets If by this point you’re thinking that sounds like a pain, it is, according to some friends of mind who recently visited. Fortunately, there’s quite a bit you can see just passing through the park on UT9, and frankly, that may be all you have time for.
      On Day 5, you’d be driving back to BH, which takes ~8 hours from Springdale, UT. If you could carve out an extra day to travel, you might break up that section of the trip with a night in Las Vegas.
      Trip map
      Back on the subject of Monument Valley: even though we do discourage people from driving through that area right now, there might still be a way to work it into your trip and that’s to fly over it. Fixed-wing airplanes depart daily (weather permitting, usually contingent on a certain number of people flying) from the Page, AZ, Municipal Airport. Monument Valley Air Tours run about 90 minutes in length and will show you many other sights on the way there, and back! Page-Monument Valley Air Tours
      Hope that helps. I know it’s a lot to digest! Feel free to write in again if you need to bounce more ideas off us.
      Good luck, safe travels, and Happy Holidays!
      Alley 🙂

      1. Wow! Alley, I will be taking this back to review with my BF–we should be able to take it from here, after you have equipped us with everything we need to know, but, on that note–I just want to thank you so much for taking the time to give such a thorough response! While there were definitely stings of bad news and reality checks, I am so grateful for all of your words of warning and advice that we will definitely be heeding. We would have been lost… or worse… without this information!

        You took every word of mine into consideration–as a complete stranger–and I really appreciate that! If ever anyone asks me for guidance on southwestern desert adventures, I will know exactly who to point them to!

        Michelle

        1. Hey again, Michelle!
          Thank you so much for writing in and letting us know that our advice helped. I know that *ahem* youngsters like yourself may think that folks like us are being overly cautious fuddy-duddies but we’d rather see a vacation be a time for relaxation and discovery rather than a race against the clock to get to your next destination. I think you’ll find that once you get out here, virtually all the drives you’ll take are very scenic and you’ll find yourself stopping to take pictures more often than you realize!
          Hey speaking of which, if you take us up on the suggestion to break up the drive home in Las Vegas, you might take the opportunity to take the short detour to the stunning Valley of Fire State Park just Northeast of town. This area is amazingly beautiful and winter is the perfect time to visit since it’s not ghastly hot.
          If you haven’t done so already, make hotel and guided tour reservations ASAP. Even though January is considered off or shoulder season, it can still be busy, and room and seat inventory may remain reduced due to COVID-19.
          Have a great time, and if you get a minute when you return home, write in again and let us know how things went!
          Take care, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,
          Alley 🙂

  14. Hi Alley,
    Thanks so much for sharing your travel experiences! I am planning a 17 day trip (Sep 4-20, 2021) and have followed your itinerary but added couple more stops. Would like to hear your feedback before booking for accommodation and also would like to know if i should squeeze in another stop at GC West Rim. Thanks

    Day 1 – fly into Las Vegas – overnight at Springdale for 3 nights, do Canyon overlook trail
    Day 2 – Zion (hike Angel Landing, and Kenara Falls if time permitted)
    Day 3 – Zion (The Narrow)
    Day 4 – Observation Point, drive to Bryce (overnight at Bryce for 2 nights)
    Day 5 – Bryce (hike The Figure 8)
    Day 6 – Bryce to Escalante Staircase, hike Peek-a-boo Gulch and Spooky Gulch or Lower Calf Creek Falls. Overnight at Capital Reef
    Day 7 – Capital Reef (hike Cassidy Arch, Grand Wash Trail), drive to Moab, 3 nights at Moab
    Day 8 – Arches (hike Landscape Arch, Devil Garden and Delicate Arch)
    Day 9 – Canyonlands, visit Island in the Sky district (if time permitted, will visit Dead Horse Point)
    Day 10 – Monument Valley (Forrest Gum run), Goosenecks SP – overnight at Page (4 nights)
    Day 11 – The Lower Antelope Canyon, Horseshoes Bend, Lake Powell, boat tour (is it possible to do all of this in one day?)
    Day 12 – White Pocket and South Coyote Buttes with Dreamland Safari Tours
    Day 13 – GC North Rim
    Day 14 – GC South Rim, overnight at GC village (2 nights)
    Day 15 – GC South Rim
    Day 16 – Drive to Las Vegas, overnight
    Day 17 – fly home

    1. Hey Fran!
      Your itinerary looks really fun, I wouldn’t necessarily advise changing anything, but would suggest tempering your ambitions just a hair based on a few “reality checks.”
      You’re off to a great start spending 3 nights in Springdale, UT. However, when you say you intend to hike Angel’s Landing and then Kanarra Falls in the same day, that’s unlikely to happen. Angel’s Landing is considered the “Grand-Daddy” of all hikes in Zion (well, technically, it shares that title with The Narrows). It is quite difficult, even for those in good shape, so even though it may take you only half the day to complete, you’re bound to be pretty wiped out afterwards. Dimes to donuts say you’ll be in no mood to get in the car and make a ~2 hour round-trip drive to make yet another hike, no matter how beautiful it is. Best to set aside another day for this activity if you truly have your heart set on it. The most obvious candidate for swapping out a day would be Day 5 at Bryce Canyon. If you do the Kanarra Falls hike in the morning, you could still make it to Bryce that night since it’s only ~a 2 hour drive from there. Remember that the hike to Kanarra Falls does require a permit, which must be applied for in advance.
      On the trip to Capitol Reef, Calf Creek Falls would probably be a more practical stop-off than Spooky and Peek-A-Boo since it’s right off UT12 (a beautiful drive); access to Spooky and Peek-A-Boo is via the unpaved Hole in the Rock Road, which parties in rental cars are discouraged from traveling on.
      3 nights in Moab, UT– another good call there, you’ll be glad for the time, and probably wish you had more LOL You’ll probably want to try and do Delicate Arch first thing in the morning to take advantage of cooler temperatures and smaller crowds.
      When you get to Page, AZ, here again, you might be proposing to do too much in one day on Day 11. Lower Antelope and Horseshoe Bend are doable in a single day since they are relatively close to one another. As for a Lake Powell Boat Tour, you’ll only be able to manage something shorter if you do it the same day as Horseshoe Bend and Lower Antelope, such as a boat tour into the waterside of Antelope Canyon or maybe the Canyon Princess Dinner Cruise (one of my favorites!). If you were wanting to do a boat tour that gets you further uplake, namely to Rainbow Bridge, you’ll need a full day for that. If you’re interested in that, then you might do Lower Antelope Canyon on the way into Page, AZ, from Moab, UT. At the time of year you’re visiting — contingent on the Antelope Canyons reopening, of course — Antelope Canyon tours are offered fairly late in the afternoon. Then the following day, hit Horseshoe Bend right after sunrise, then head over to Lake Powell Resort to check in for the Rainbow Bridge Boat Tour. If you still wish to see Rainbow Bridge but don’t fancy spending all that time on a boat, it is possible to fly over it in a fixed-wing airplane or helicopter.
      White Pocket & South Coyote Buttes will be amazing, so keep that as it is! Ditto for the North Rim, at the time you’re proposing to visit, that’s typically when the autumn foliage is peaking, it’s amazing — I know, I’ve seen it many times 😉 I take it you’re proposing to visit Grand Canyon North Rim as a day trip from Page, AZ, which is doable at that time of year (I know, I’ve done it), but make sure that you’re timing the trip so that you’re doing all the driving during daylight hours. Nighttime driving is strongly discouraged in this part of the U.S. due to local roads being very dimly lit, and the possible presence of large wildlife such as deer and elk, as well as free range livestock such as cattle and even wild horses. You don’t want to risk a collision with a large animal in an unfamiliar area that’s pitch black, possibly cold (nighttime temps can already dip down below freezing at the North Rim that time of year), where cell service is spotty, and help will be a long time coming, not to mention VERY expensive. In late September, sunrise occurs just before 6:30 AM and sunset takes place just after 6:00 PM. The drive from Page, AZ, to the North Rim is ~2.5 hours each way. Another option: after touring White Pocket and CBS, instead of going all the way back to Page, AZ, stay in Kanab, UT, for the next two nights. That will put you closer to the North Rim (~1.5 hours each way). The downside, it will tack more time onto the drive to the South Rim.
      Here is a very rough map of the trip from Springdale, UT, to Grand Canyon South Rim. Note that the drive to Grand Canyon South Rim is depicted as going down through Flagstaff, AZ, then back North via I-40/AZ64. This is necessary right now due to the closure of certain Navajo Indian Tribal Lands due to COVID-19. If the closure is lifted by the time you visit, you would drive South on US89 from Page, AZ (or Kanab, UT) to Cameron, AZ, then West on AZ64 to Grand Canyon Village. The normal drive time from Page, AZ to GC South Rim is ~3 hours. With the present detour in place, that has extended the trip time to 5 hours.
      RE: the Grand Canyon Skywalk , it’s a neat attraction, but IMO, the big drawing card to Grand Canyon West is the ability to helicopter down to the canyon floor to the Colorado River then back in a relatively short time. However, in light of all you’ll have seen and done by the time you’re ready to go back to Las Vegas, you might find it to be a bit of a let-down. If you do decide to include it, remember it’s in a relatively remote area. It takes ~4.5 hours to drive from GC South Rim to GC West, then another 2 hours and change to drive to Las Vegas (map of that section of the trip). There are no hotels in the immediate vicinity of Grand Canyon West save for a small guest ranch.
      I hope that helps — I know I’ve jumped around a bit with your itinerary and hope it all makes sense! Please don’t hesitate to write in again if you need to bounce more ideas off us. In the meantime, pray that the danger from COVID-19 passes by the time you get set to travel so you can experience everything on your wish list and then some!
      Take care and Happy Holidays,
      Alley 🙂

      1. Hi Alley,
        Thanks so much for providing such detailed feedback!!! It helps a lot.

        I will definitely skip GC West Rim, and perhaps will add one extra day if i still want to hike Kenarra Falls as I don’t see how i can do both Kenarra Falls and The Figure 8 at Bryce. As for Spooky and Peek-A-Boo, do you think a rental vehicles with 4 wheels and high clearance will do?

        1. Hey again, Fran!
          Good call on skipping GC West, and adding an extra day for Kanarra Falls.
          As for driving on HITRR in a rental vehicle, technically, as a member of the travel profession, I can’t in good conscience recommend that you do so. Only you can decide whether it’s worth the risk.
          In theory, you should be able to manage it in a 4WD vehicle with high clearance since the road is regularly graded. In reality, road conditions can change at the drop of a hat, plus you would void your insurance the moment your tires parted with the pavement. That would leave you personally on the hook for any damage you might incur. That isn’t to say that folks in rental cars don’t travel down that road and come back in one piece. Plenty of people chance it, with both good and bad outcomes. You can see get a detailed account and see some pictures of it on this blog post, TakeMyTrip.com: Hole In The Rock Road If for some reason you decide against it, there are guided excursions to this area offered by local tour companies. I myself have not taken any in this area, but one company that seems to be well-rated on TripAdvisor is Escape Goats Tours. For more information on what they offer, visit http://www.EscalanteCanyonGuides.com
          Hope that makes sense. Again, let’s keep talking if you feel the need to, you have a distinct advantage by planning your Grand Circle trip well in advance!
          Alley 🙂

  15. Hi Alley,

    I was planning a family trip mid-late December this year, and was hoping to get your insight. We will be with our dog and two kids, ages 6 and 2. Our plan is to see Zion/Bryce/Horseshoe Bend/Sedona/GC South Rim.

    We will be coming from LA, and was thinking of heading straight to Springdale unless you thought it was a bad idea with the shorter daylight hours. Otherwise, planning to overnight in LV, then Springdale where we would stay M-F to tour Zion, and hopefully do a day trip to Bryce if you thought it was doable? Also do you have any recommendations for any hot springs?

    Then stay in Page overnight to see Horseshoe Bend, and also break up the drive to Sedona. In Sedona, we were planning on visiting GC for a day trip from Sedona unless you thought it better to try to do on our way back to LA, and doing it as a day trip in our way to Vegas as a stop over, or overnight.

    Please let me know your thoughts or best routes to take. Appreciate your time and advice!

    Kindly
    Carleen

    1. Hi Carleen!
      In mid- to late-December, you are indeed dealing with shorter days, and you want to be sure any and all driving is done during daylight hours once you arrive here. Also, it is best to keep your drives short, especially with two little ones in tow.
      The drive from LA to Springdale, factoring in traffic, bathroom breaks, meal stops, etc., would probably take you ~8 hours if you attempted to make it in one trip. That doesn’t sound like fun! Therefore, I would agree with breaking up the drive in Las Vegas (~4.5-5 hours from LA). Springdale, UT, would then be a further 3 hour drive or thereabouts.
      As for visiting Bryce Canyon as a day trip out of Springdale, it’s doable in theory. The drive from Springdale, UT, to Bryce is ~2 hours, one way. Sunrise occurs just after 7:30 AM and sunset takes place at around 5:15 AM at that time of year, so that’s less than 10 hours of daylight that you have to work with. 4 hours of your day is eaten up by driving, so that leaves you less than 6 hours of sightseeing time at Bryce. Since Bryce is a small park square mileage-wise, that should be enough time to have a fulfilling visit and get back to Springdale, UT, by nightfall. The factor most likely to throw a kink into your plans is weather: at 8,000′ ASL, Bryce can get a lot of snow, which will necessitate exercising more care while driving in the area. On rare occasions, snowfall can close roads in the area. Should that happen during your visit, you might want to save Bryce for another trip during warmer weather.
      As for hot springs in the area, you won’t find any super-close by Zion. Unfortunately, the lovely Pah Tempeh hot springs were taken out of commission by the Washington County Water District about 10 years ago. But you might enjoy the trip to the Veyo Pool & Climbing Resort near St. George, Utah. That’s an hour and change drive from Springdale, and is a family-friendly facility (I’ve never been there, so am going off what other sites describe it as). For other suggestions, visit SUU.edu: “10 Hot Springs Near Cedar City”
      Visiting Grand Canyon South Rim as a day trip from Sedona, AZ, again, not that great an idea at the time of year you’re visiting, not only because of the potential for inclement weather, but the fact that the drive is ~3 hours, one way. Ditto for a “pop-by” between Sedona and Las Vegas, it’s a 3 hour drive from Sedona, then ~4.5-5 hours from Grand Canyon South Rim to Las Vegas. So that’s at least 8 hours of driving when you have less than 10 hours of daylight to work with. Doing the back end of the drive to Las Vegas after sunset isn’t that bad, that section of the highway is fairly well-lit, but still, with a 6 YO and 2 YO, I wouldn’t want to spend that much time on the road! Better to schedule at least one overnight at Grand Canyon South Rim, then make the drive to LAS when everyone’s rested.
      Hope that helps – good luck and safe travels!
      Alley 🙂

  16. Hi Alley ~
    Your article is so informative. The Covid situation resulted in my husband and I retiring last week (from the same company – airline). We need a “regroup” time and decided a two week (we’re flexible on the time frame bcuz we’re retired) tour of the Southwest Grand Circle area would be an amazing setting. We will be flying into Vegas on Monday (10/12). Is your original Itinerary still a good framework for travel right now? We definitely want to do some hiking (5-8 miles, mild to moderate, daily max) but we don’t want to wear ourselves out. We don’t want to need a vacation when we get home.haha We love wine tours, immersing in local communties, good conversations over good food, unique experiences. We aren’t huge “main attraction” people but want to experience the area hi lights. We don’t need the fanciest of hotels but appreciate unique accommodations. We’re both pretty exhausted and planning the trip is feeling a bit overwhelming so we were super excited when we saw your article. Any input you may have would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hi Kathy and thank you for your compliments.
      So sorry to hear that you and your husband were forced to cut your airline careers shorter than you might have wanted due to this mess. Also apologize for the delay in response to your inquiry, it sounds like you’re already here, so hope you’re able to read this!
      A couple of components of this itinerary that will require some modification are Monument Valley and the Antelope Canyons. These attractions, along with the Four Corners, Canyon de Chelly, and the Little Colorado River Overlook, are on Navajo Indian Reservation Lands, which, by order of the Navajo Tribe are closed to the public until the end of 2020. Since you kinda-sorta have to pass through Monument Valley on the way from Moab, Utah, to Page, AZ, you can at least say that you saw it, and maybe even pose for a very quick selfie at Forrest Gump Point. Otherwise, plan on making it as direct a drive as you can, fuel up your car, pack a few snacks with you so you don’t have to stop for meals on reservation lands, etc. The trip from Moab, UT, to Page, AZ, typically takes ~6 hours. Plan on stopping at the Goosenecks of the San Juan State Park — it’s like two Horseshoe Bends rolled into one!
      Although the Antelope Canyons out of the equation, touring a slot canyon needn’t be dropped from your wish list. There are several slot canyons not restricted by the closures of Navajo Indian Tribal Lands that you can still visit. You guys sound like you’re relatively fit and enjoy hiking, so I’ll begin by recommending Wire Pass Canyon and Buckskin Gulch. Wire Pass Canyon is a photogenic two-part slot canyon that is short enough for intermediate-level hikers to enjoy, yet offers the option to delve further into Buckskin Gulch for those wanting more of a challenge. The walk to the entrance of the initial slot is via a typically dry streambed, which is usually composed of deep sand. An 8-10’ drop a short distance into the slot canyon is one reason why Wire Pass Canyon may not be appropriate for those traveling with young children, the elderly, or individuals afraid of heights. As the canyon walls become higher and closer together, they suddenly open up as the second slot connects with the Buckskin Gulch. If you’ve had enough at this point, you can simply turn around and head back to your vehicle. If you’d like to explore further, you can easily make a half-day hike out of the immediate area around the confluence with the Buckskin. Look for some bighorn sheep petroglyphs dating back hundreds, maybe thousands of years! Access to Wire Pass Canyon and the Buckskin Gulch is off US89 between Page, AZ, and Kanab, UT, on the House Rock Valley Road. Hikers are required to pay a self-permitting fee at the kiosk by the trailhead. Fair warning: the House Rock Valley Road is unpaved! While it is accessible to 2WD vehicles much of the time, if recent weather has brought any moisture whatsoever, the HRVR can turn into a muddy, impassable mess. Parties in rented vehicles, even those equipped with 4WD, should think twice about attempting this road since off-road driving is strictly prohibited by most rental car companies. A guided tour will get your family to Wire Pass Canyon and back in one piece, and turn you onto features you might have missed trying to find your own way. Local companies offering guided tours to Wire Pass Canyon and the Buckskin Gulch include:
      – Detours American West, 480-633-9013, http://www.detoursamericanwest.com
      – Paria Outpost & Outfitters, 928-691-1047, http://www.paria.com
      – Grand Staircase Discovery Tours, 928-614-4099, http://www.grandstaircasediscoverytours.com
      If for some reason that canyon doesn’t appeal, you’d probably enjoy Red Canyon, aka Peek-A-Boo Canyon. Located between Kanab and Mt. Carmel Junction, Utah, approximately 90 minutes from Page, AZ, Red Canyon offers twists and turns on par with the Antelope Canyons in a short but memorable walk featuring classic slot canyon scenery (including the occasional light beams in the summertime), as well as some unique features such as ancient “moqui” steps, and “Shaman’s Needle,” a pencil-thin stone column located in a small sub-drainage near the canyon’s entrance. While a guided tour is not required to get to Peek-A-Boo, we strongly recommend that you consider taking one, because while the hike through the canyon itself is usually not difficult, the drive to get there can be. 4WD vehicles with adequate clearance are a definite must, with tire pressure lowered to accommodate potentially deep sand. Even then, people still get stuck out there. Again, if you’re driving a rental car, forget it! You will void your insurance the minute your tires part with the pavement, which means you’d be on the hook for a very expensive rescue, should you need one, and have to foot the bill for any damage you’d sustain. Explore Peek-A-Boo in the safety and comfort of a guided tour with one of several reputable companies in Kanab, UT, including:
      – Dreamland Safari Tours, (435) 412-1790, http://www.dreamlandtours.net
      – TC Tours, (435) 668-5262, http://www.slotcanyontourskanab.com
      – Kanab Tour Company, (435) 644-5525, http://www.kanabtourcompany.com
      – Forever Adventure Tours, 435-644-5700, http://www.foreveradventuretours.com
      – Grand Circle Tours, (928) 691-0166, http://www.vermilioncliffs.net
      If you like wine tasting, you can enjoy this activity in Moab, UT (believe it or not!), but you’ll find more of these types of opportunities in Sedona, AZ. I don’t know if that’s on your itinerary, but it definitely warrants a few days of your time, not only for wine tasting, but its amazing scenery and ample selection of fun activities. Sedona Winery Tours
      One last thing: I hope your hotels are already booked and that you’re not planning to just “wing it.” Even with COVID-19 putting a damper on peoples’ enthusiasm for travel, the Grand Circle Area has still been busy. With some hotels reducing their room inventory to facilitate extra sanitation measures, that means fewer units will be available to the traveling public. With most cities and towns being 2-3 hours drive from the next one, that’s not a situation you want to run up against when you’re tired from hiking and weary from the road!
      Good luck and safe travels, and if you get a minute when you get home, let us know how things went!
      Take care,
      Alley 🙂

  17. Alley, this article is amazing! And just seeing some of your replies to folks is making me even more excited for my trip.

    I am planning a solo trip flying into Vegas October 31st and out on November 15th giving me ~15 nights total. I was originally thinking about renting a campervan but with some of what I’ve read on potential weather / conditions in higher elevations such as bryce, I don’t know how practical that would be. If not, I plan to rent a car from Vegas to make a loop of the mighty 5, monument valley, and the grand canyon (potentially the hoover dam as well).

    Any recommendations on shifting the above itenerary for this time of year and/or covid closings?

    And am I correct in thinking the campervan might not be practical? I really appreciate any advice you can give me!

    1. Hi Garrett, and thanks for your compliments!
      The time of year you’re visiting is a nice time, but it’s in that transitional zone between fall and winter. Therefore, I would advise against renting an RV, especially for the parks in higher elevations, such as the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Capitol Reef. It’s not uncommon for those parks to see their first snowfall around mid-November, and at 8,000′ ASL, Bryce can really get hammered. What this winter will shake out to be like is too soon to call, but knowing 2020, it will probably be hellacious just because it’s 2020! LOL
      If for some reason you really really really want to go the camper van or RV route, plan on staying at developed RV parks. Even if the weather is just sunny but brisk, you’ll want to have access to reliable heat at night when temperatures dip down around or below freezing. But then again, a lot of parks close at that time of year, so you would probably be better off renting a car and going the traditional hotel/motel route. You might be able to score some good deals seeing though the time period you’re traveling is considered shoulder season.
      RE: Monument Valley, technically, the Tribal Park is closed right now. Should that remain the case at the time of year you’re visiting, you can still get good views, including world-famous Forrest Gump Point, just driving through the area on US163. Or, if you’d like to experience an off-road tour of the area, Goulding’s Lodge has managed to remain open and are still offering tours, albeit on modified routes.
      As for Hoover Dam, you can easily see it on the way from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim. Unfortunately, the Visitors Center is closed right now and they’re not doing any tours. If that remains the case at the time you arrive, you can get a good bird’s eye view of it via the Pat Tillman/Mike O’Callaghan Bridge.
      Hope that helps! Don’t hesitate to write in again if you need to bounce more ideas off us.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      1. Hi Alley!

        I am planning a trip to the Grand Canyon area for September/October 2021. My husband and I will be driving out from Virginia in Suburban or 4×4 Pickup. We have as much time as needed to see and do everything, 3-4 + weeks. The only work around is October 6-7. We won the lottery for the Phantom Ghost Ranch in the bottom of GC. Please help! I love staying at historic NP lodges or anywhere that’s different not just plane motel. I want to see everything there is to see and do all the fun activities; hiking, whitewater rafting, ATVs/Side by Sides, boat tours, etc. would love to whitewater raft and camp on river. If there are hard to get reservations that I can start booking or have a heads up on when can start booking or lotteries I need to enter. Thank you

        1. Hi Amie,
          Please please please don’t take this the wrong way, but you’re teetering on the brink of overthinking this trip. Don’t get me wrong, we LOVE to see folks plan their Grand Canyon vacations well in advance like you are, but here’s the thing: you’ve already scored the “Holy Grail” of American Southwest vacation experiences, which is the trip to Phantom Ranch. What’s more, you’re visiting the area at the best time of the year. That by itself is worth doing the happy dance over!
          I don’t recall reading how you’re going to get to Phantom Ranch, by the way — by mule or hiking? In either case, that activity is going to take a lot out of you. Trust me, I’ve hiked the Grand Canyon, and gone to the bottom by mule, and don’t ask me why, but the mule trip always left me more worn out than hiking! Even if you’re in good physical condition, you’ll be grateful for a few days to recover. I doubt you’d be ready to head right off for another labor-intensive trip such as a white water raft trip. The thing I’d want to do right after a trip to Phantom Ranch is chill, maybe get a massage, relax in a jacuzzi, enjoy a nice dinner, you get the picture… and the perfect place for that type of activity is Sedona, AZ. Therefore, I’d recommend planning for 3-4 days in Sedona after your Phantom Ranch trip to wind down in style. You’ll find a wide variety of hotels in Sedona, AZ, to suit your needs, some of them vintage, but oddly enough, none of them (that I could find anyway) are listed on the National Historic Places register.
          I wouldn’t sweat that too much in Sedona, AZ, since there are other historic hotels to be enjoyed in the Southwest, and your first priority at this point should be to book accommodations at the El Tovar Hotel at Grand Canyon South Rim. You’ll want to have lodging booked for the night before your trip to Phantom Ranch, and for the night you get back to the rim.
          Other historic/vintage hotels along this itinerary are:
          Goulding’s Lodge, Monument Valley, AZ
          Apache Motel, Moab, UT
          Bryce Canyon Lodge, Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
          Zion Lodge, Zion National Park, UT
          Should you find these hotels booked up, you can still find historic/vintage lodging in the gateway communities nearby, such as Kanab, UT, Springdale, UT, Torrey, UT, etc.
          For boat tours and ATV/4×4 tours, the area around Page, AZ, and Kanab, UT, is chock-a-block with these kinds of opportunities! The best boat tour to take IMO is the Rainbow Bridge Boat Tour on Lake Powell. This is an all-day commitment due to the distance involved, and may require up to a 3-mile round-trip hike depending on the water level of Lake Powell. Right now, these tours are suspended due to COVID-19. Crossing fingers and toes that that won’t be the case when you get set to travel. At any rate, the Rainbow Bridge Boat Tour is offered exclusively by ARAMARK/Lake Powell Resorts. For ATV/4×4 tours, check out Epic Adventure Rides, Alstrom Point Tours, or Kanab Tour Company.
          So let’s get back to the subject of Grand Canyon white water rafting: motorized commercial trips in Grand Canyon National Park “proper” wrap up in early September. After that, you are limited to non-motorized trips by dory, oar boat, kayak, etc., which means, you need to commit to more time, along the lines of 7-10 days. What’s more, these trip offerings are few and far between. If you’re still interested, Rivers & Oceans in Flagstaff, AZ, can help you narrow down a trip that fits your schedule. If you don’t have that kind of time, yet still want to experience a white water raft trip with camping, I’d suggest doing this activity in Moab, UT. You’d still be on the Colorado River in Cataract Canyon, or the Green River in Westwater Canyon. Here again, Rivers & Oceans can steer you in the right direction. The Moab Adventure Center can hook you up as well.
          Hope that helps! Feel free to write in again if you need to bounce more ideas off us.
          Good luck and safe travels,
          Alley 🙂

          1. Hey Alley!

            Thank you for the great response! You really know this area well and are a wealth of information. Looking at a map of the Grand Circle, I think driving out from Virginia, we would start at Arches and go clockwise, on to Moab, Canyonlands, Mesa Verde, Four Corners, Monument Valley. After that I am not sure where to go next in order to not backtrack too much( South Rim, Paige, North Rim and on to Zion, Bryce, and Capital Reef) ??? Oh no, I forgot Sedona! Need help with the order This is all I have so far: Bright Angel Lodge, 10/6 Phantom Ranch on Mules, 10/7 El Tovar Hotel 10/8). I would like to stay at the Grand Canyon Lodge-North Rim one night before it closes in mid-October.

            Also, if time is not an issue, how many days/nights would you comfortably allow for each area?

            Thank you for any and all help! Amie

          2. Hi again, Amie!
            Glad my input has helped so far.
            Here’s an update: The Navajo Tribe recently arrived at the decision to close all attractions situated on reservation lands, including the Antelope Canyons, until the end of 2020 🙁 We’re crossing fingers and toes that this situation will have been resolved by the time you visit, but in the event it isn’t, be prepared to take Four Corners off the table, and reduce Monument Valley to just a “drive through.”
            Should COVID-19 continue to be a problem, lodging at the North Rim may be difficult to impossible to come by. This year, the in-park hotel reduced room inventory by 50%, and other properties in the area don’t have much to work with in the first place. Even if you don’t physically stay there, however, you might still be able to work it in. More on that in a minute…
            In light of the fact that you guys are driving out here from Virginia (and I assume driving back?), I’d recommend modifying your itinerary thus to avoid backtracking (numbers indicate order of stops, not number of days):
            1 – Make Mesa Verde your first stop, overnight in Durango, or Cortez, CO (2 days)
            2 – Go to Monument Valley: if you cannot overnight there (1 day), you can visit as a “pop-by” en route to Moab, UT
            3 – Moab, Utah — hopefully you can spend at least 3 days in that area?
            4 – Go to Capitol Reef, overnight in Torrey, Fruita, Caineville, or Hanksville, UT (1 night), or here again, you can visit on the way from Moab, UT, to Bryce Canyon (1 night)
            5 – Go to Bryce Canyon, overnight in that area (1 night)
            6 – Go to Zion, spend at least 2-3 nights in Springdale, UT, or Kanab, UT
            7 – Go to Grand Canyon North Rim, spend the night, or visit as a day trip from Kanab or Page, AZ
            8 – Drive to Page, AZ for 2 nights — if Antelope Canyons are closed, tour Red Canyon/Peek-A-Boo in Kanab, UT, on the way
            9 – Drive from Page, AZ, to Grand Canyon South Rim — again, this is normally a 3-hour drive, but if problems with COVID-19 persist, that will turn into a 5-hour trek due to the detour through Flagstaff, spend 1-2 nights
            10 – Drive to Sedona, spend 2-3 nights
            Map of the trip
            If going to Grand Canyon North Rim doesn’t work out as an overnight stop, or a day trip from Kanab, UT, or Page, AZ, you can fly over it from Grand Canyon South Rim in a fixed-wing airplane or helicopter. Flights will not land at the North Rim, but will spend enough time above it to give you a sense of how different it is from the South Rim. Grand Canyon helicopter tours and airplane tours
            Driving out from Virginia, plan on coming West via I-70 through Louisville, KY, St. Louis, MO, and Kansas City, KS, to Mesa Verde. From Sedona, you can then hop on I-40 through New Mexico and Oklahoma, and Nashville, TN. That way, you don’t do any backtracking whatsoever!
            Take care and Happy Halloween 😉
            Alley

          3. Thank you Alley!

            This is great help. I really hope COVID is a thing of the past a year from now. I will start booking what I can.

            Happy Halloween to you too!

            Amie

          4. Hi Amie,
            Crossing fingers and toes that by next year, we’ll be saying COVID-who?
            Take care and safe travels,
            Alley 🙂

  18. Hi! I am planning a 14 day trip and am following your itinerary (but out of LA) starting this weekend, Sept 19. I am on the East Coast and trying to keep an eye on the west coast fires/smoke. Are you physically located in Utah? I have an air quality app that shows all the areas of the itinerary as “green” at the moment, but I’m wondering if over the next week it will worsen. Do you have any insight or local knowledge as to the expectations there? Thank you for any input.

    1. Hi Danyel,
      This is an excellent question. Unfortunately, I don’t have any insight into what the future holds for the Page, AZ, with regard to smoke/haze accumulation. As you can see from this recent article on LakePowellLife.com, local visibility and air quality can and does get affected by smoke from distant fires. What the future holds will depend on prevailing winds, and what progress is made in fighting the fires.
      My advice would be to continue monitoring your air quality app. I’ve also found http://www.FireWeatherAvalanche.org to be useful for updates on active wildfires.
      Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful. I hope your trip goes well!
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  19. Hi,
    You provide such a wealth of travel information on your website, thanks so much for sharing. I’m looking for recommendations for an up-coming trip I’m planning for the first of November. I like your Grand Circle tour, but we will only have 9 nights/10 days. I’d like to hit all 5 National Parks in Utah, Horseshoe Bend, and possibly some Area of the Grand Canyon. We are active vacationers so we don’t mind being on the go when on vacation. We visited the South Rim last year, but may have travelers with us that haven’t been so I thought we could Either hit the North or West to at least give them a glimpse of the GC. Although I read, the North Rim closes mid October, so not sure that’s an option and the West is technically not part of the National Park So our Annual Pass would not be valid. Thoughts on which GC area to add or should we just leave out for time constraints?

    I know it may cost more to fly in one city and out another regarding rental car fees, but would this be an option to minimize travel time to maximize sight-seeing time? I’d like to cram in as much as I can to maximize our time while there. Or can the circle still be done in the timeframe that we have? Thanks in advance for your recommendations or insight you may have.

    1. Dear Lissa,
      First thing’s first: thank you for the compliments 🙂
      Second thing’s second: the 4-1-1 on Grand Canyon North Rim. Although visitor facilities such as restaurants, hotels, visitors centers, etc., close on October 18th this year, there is a possibility that you could still visit the park as a day trip from someplace else, such as Kanab, UT (~90 minutes away, 1 way), Marble Canyon/Lees Ferry (also ~90 minutes away, 1 way), or Page, AZ (~2.5 hours away, 1 way). As long as the weather holds out, meaning, no significant snowfall, the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) will keep the road from Jacob Lake into the park (AZ67) open. Once a big snowstorm hits, however, the gates will slam shut and that’s all she wrote. When exactly that will occur in 2020 is anybody’s guess; living in Northern Arizona for ~25 years, I’ve seen the park gates close pretty much in tandem with the concessions, other times, I’ve seen it close as late as mid-December. If the road should happen to be open when you visit, again, a day trip is possible. Fill up the gas tank, pack a picnic lunch and plenty of water, bring a jacket (it will be cooler), and keep an eye on the time. You won’t have much daylight to work with at that time of year: sunrise occurs at around 7:00 AM and sunset takes place just after 5:00 PM. You want to be sure to do any and all driving during daylight hours in this part of the U.S., especially around the North Rim. Not only are the roads narrow and dimly lit, but they are populated by large animals such as deer, elk, free range cattle, and the occasional wild horse. You don’t want to risk a collision with one in an area that’s pitch black, freezing cold (nighttime lows at the North Rim can dip into the 20’s in November), where cell service is spotty, and help will be a long time coming, not to mention VERY expensive.
      Regarding the West Rim, formally known as Grand Canyon West, it’s neat, within easy access of Las Vegas (~2.5 hour drive, one-way) and definitely has its own unique drawing cards, namely the Grand Canyon Skywalk and the ability to helicopter to the bottom of the canyon. Still, you won’t experience those quintessential, picture-postcard views that the National Park offers, and no, your National Park Pass would not work since it’s a Native American Tribal Park.
      Long story short, I’d recommend planning to hit the South Rim, especially if you have first-timers with you. If you have the option (and the budget) to fly into and/or out of a secondary airport, this could help you squeeze out a bit more sightseeing time and shave a few hours off your drive times. In light of that, here’s what I’d recommend:
      Day 1: Fly into Flagstaff, AZ (FLG), drive to Grand Canyon South Rim (~90 minutes), overnight at the Grand Canyon
      Day 2: Drive to Page, AZ (~3.5-5.5 hours) **drive time dependendent on the status of AZ64 from Desert View Point to Cameron — due to COVID-19, it is currently closed, necessitating that you detour back through Flagstaff, then continue North on US89**, visit Horseshoe Bend either that afternoon or first thing the next morning, overnight in Page, AZ.
      Day 3: Drive to Zion National Park (~2 hours), do some hiking, overnight in Springdale, UT, or Kanab, UT
      Day 4: 2nd day/night in Zion National Park area
      Day 5: Drive to Bryce Canyon (~2 hours from Kanab, 3 from Springdale), take Scenic Rim Drive overnight in Bryce Canyon area
      Day 6: Drive to Capitol Reef National Park (~3.5 hours) via Scenic Byway 12, overnight in Torrey, Fruita, Cainesville, or Hanksville Capitol Reef Lodging
      Day 7: Drive to Moab, UT (~3.5 hours), explore Arches National Park, overnight in Moab
      Day 8: Explore Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point, 2nd night in Moab
      Day 9: Drive to Grand Junction, CO (~2 hours), maybe pop in and visit Colorado National Monument, overnight in Grand Junction
      Day 10: Fly home from Grand Junction, CO (GJT)
      Map of proposed route
      Now, I can’t vouch for the feasibility of all that cost-wise, or whether you’ll be able to pick up a rental car in Flag (that’s what we call Flagstaff, AZ, around here) and dropping it off in Grand Junction. If for some reason doing that proves cost-prohibitive (and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it did), you could modify this itinerary using Salt Lake City (SLC) as your staging city, perhaps stay an additional day in Kanab, UT, or Page, AZ, so you could make that day trip to the North Rim. In the event the road into the park was closed by the time you arrived, you might think about chartering a plane or helicopter out of Page or Kanab and flying over it. Yes, that’d be pricey, but you’d see a ton of amazing scenery in addition to the Grand Canyon in the process!
      Naturally, you’ll need to verify the feasibility of all this should COVID-19 still be in play at the time of your visit.
      Hope that helps. Feel free to write in again if you need to bounce other ideas off us!
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      1. Alley,
        This is a great plan you have mapped out for me, thanks so much for all the details and suggestions. In checking out flight options it looks like Flagstaff would not be an option for us to fly into, but I figured we could fly into Phoenix instead (this was our best option last time) and Grand Junction isn’t a good option to fly out of either. Could you give me some recommendations on the pros and cons of the following arrival/departure options with the itinerary that you have mapped out? Looking to minimize driving time, while maximizing sight-seeing time.

        1) Fly Into Phoenix, hitting the Grand Canyon, then head to Page, then on to Moab to start the Utah NP tour going North to South, flying out of Las Vegas. (OR this could be in reverse, flying into Vegas out of Phoenix).
        2) Flying roundtrip to Vegas…kind of your original circle tour, but cutting out the Eastern part of Utah.
        3. Or other roundtrip options into Phoenix or Salt Lake City, like the circle from Vegas?
        4) Flying into Phoenix out of Salt Lake City (or Reverse), however, with this route the car rental is terribly expensive as I’ve already checked it.

        Also, I’ve seen that through the end of October is a good time to visit Utah’s National Parks. We will be traveling Nov 6-15th. Should this still be a good time to visit or are we getting too close to the winter season to be able to enjoy the sites?

        Melissa

        1. Hi again, Melissa!
          Frankly, I’m not surprised to hear that the FLG-GJT (Flag to Grand Junction) route won’t be practical. As a general rule, it’s best to fly out of the same airport you fly into, especially where rental cars are concerned. Due to the long distances between major cities in the American Southwest, rental car outlets tend to impose a hefty surcharge for dropping vehicles off anywhere other than where you picked them up from.
          In our experience, Las Vegas tends to be the best airport to use as your staging city. Not only do folks tend to find the most competitive airfares in and out of LAS, but it’s well-situated to do a “circle” tour of the Southwest, whether you include the Eastern Utah parks or not.
          As for the long drives, they’re pretty much unavoidable out here, but don’t worry too much about that: most drives out here are very scenic and will definitely present a myriad of sightseeing opportunities, both planned and unexpected!
          Early November can be kind of a crapshoot weatherwise, but I wouldn’t let that stop you from traveling. Most of the time, you’ll encounter days that are sunny but cool. At higher elevations, however, such as Bryce Canyon (8,000′ ASL) and the Grand Canyon (7,000′ ASL), you might encounter snow. Of course it’s too soon to call, but start monitoring the weather about 2 weeks before you get set to travel. That will give you the best indication of what to expect, and how to pack. Regardless, plan on bringing at least a jacket and some gloves just in case.
          Good luck and safe travels,
          Alley 🙂

      2. Alley,

        Your recommendations look priceless. Planning a trip with my elder mother whose quit the adventurous type. What are your thoughts on the following:
        Day 1 – Fly into Salt Lake City and Spend Night
        Day 2 – Drive to Moab (4-hours)
        Day 2 – 3 – 4 in Moab (spend night in Under Canvas)
        (day trip one day to Arches National Park)
        Day 5 – Drive to Monument Valley (6 hours)
        Day 6 – Drive to Lake Powell (5.5 hour drive)
        Day 6 – 7- 8 in Lake Powell (spend night in Under Canvas)
        (day trip to Horsehoe Bend + Antelope Canyon)
        Day 8 – Drive to Amangiri Hotel
        Day 9 – Drive to Vegas or Phoenix (4.5 – 5 hours)
        Day 10 – Fly Home

        Thank you!

        1. Hi Katya,
          Thank you for your nice compliments!
          Assuming your trip plan is quite far into the future — as in next year — your itinerary looks really fun, and perfectly paced. I just wish I knew what season you were planning this for. If you’re thinking about the summer months, I’d say forget Under Canvas, especially in Page, AZ. Summer nights are still hot, making camping very uncomfortable. If you’re traveling during the spring or fall months, then nighttime temperatures dip down low enough to make it pleasant.
          In the event the Navajo Nation Parks such as Antelope Canyon and Monument Valley do not reopen, you’ll need to think of some “Plan B” options. Monument Valley can still be toured, albeit on a limited basis, because Goulding’s Lodge has managed to remain open. Although tours do not go into the backcountry at the present time, you can still have an enjoyable experience with what is accessible. As for the Antelope Canyons, the best alternative for a family like yourselves would be Red Canyon aka Peek-A-Boo Canyon near Kanab, Utah. With twists and turns on par with the Antelope Canyons, this short but memorable walk features classic slot canyon scenery (including the occasional light beams in the summertime), as well as some unique features such as ancient “moqui” steps, and “Shaman’s Needle,” a pencil-thin stone column located in a small sub-drainage near the canyon’s entrance. While a guided tour is not required to get to Peek-A-Boo, we recommend that you take one anyway. While the hike through the canyon itself is usually not difficult, the drive to get there can be. 4WD vehicles with adequate clearance are a definite must, with tire pressure lowered to accommodate potentially deep sand. Even then, people still get stuck. If you’re driving a rental car, forget it! You will void your insurance the minute your tires part with the pavement, which means you’d be on the hook for a very expensive rescue, should you need one, and have to foot the bill for any damage you’d sustain. To explore Peek-A-Boo in safety and comfort, contact any one of these reputable tour companies to choose from in Kanab, UT:
          – Dreamland Safari Tours, (435) 412-1790, http://www.dreamlandtours.net
          – TC Tours, (435) 668-5262, http://www.slotcanyontourskanab.com
          – Kanab Tour Company, (435) 644-5525, http://www.kanabtourcompany.com
          – Forever Adventure Tours, 435-644-5700, http://www.foreveradventuretours.com
          – Grand Circle Tours, (928) 691-0166, http://www.vermilioncliffs.net
          One thing that’s really jumping out at me, though, is that the Grand Canyon is conspicuously absent from your itinerary. If you’ve never been there, this would be the perfect opportunity to cross it off the bucket list! The South Rim is most recommended for first-time visitors as it is more “user-friendly” than the North or West Rims. It has more hotels, restaurants, visitor services, etc. You could easily hit it on the way to Las Vegas by dropping a night in Page, AZ.
          Hope that helps. Feel free to write in again if you need to bounce more ideas off us!
          Good luck and safe travels,
          Alley 🙂

  20. Hi Ally,

    A friend and I were looking at making a week trip to visit the following in September (7 days sat – sat):
    -Grand Canyon ( don’t really know which part to check out)
    -Zion ( Angle’s landing, The narrows , the subway)
    -Horse shoe bend ( half day hike just for the view)
    -Antelope canyon ( if it’s open by September, can we just go for half a day right after the horse shoe bend? do we need a tour or can we hike ourselves?)
    -Bryce

    we are looking to camp in the national parks ( where can we book the sites and any specific sites recommended for the hikes)

    Feel free to suggest any other places to visit, we are open to recommendations.

    It would be amazing if you can help us out.

    1. Hi Karl,
      Assuming you are using Las Vegas as your staging city, I would recommend checking out Grand Canyon North Rim. Although lodging in that area is scant, you could still pull it off as a day trip from Kanab, UT (~90 minutes 1 way) or Page, AZ (2.5 hours one way). You just need to keep a close eye on the time at the end of the day. Nighttime driving is discouraged in this part of the U.S. due to local roads being very dimly lit, and the possible presence of deer, elk, free range cattle, feral horses and other wildlife. These factors ratchet up your chance of an auto accident in an unfamiliar area that’s pitch black, where cell service is spotty (if you can get any bars at all), and help will be a long time coming not to mention VERY expensive. Sunset at the time of year you’re visiting takes place at ~6:45 PM. Another issue potentially complicating things is that Arizona is on Mountain STANDARD Time, but Utah is on Mountain DAYLIGHT Time. Therefore, Utah will be one hour “ahead” of Arizona. Be sure you factor that into when you start driving back to base. So, if you’re staying somewhere in the Kanab, UT, area, and have your phone or car clock set by Utah time, you’ll need to start the drive back by 6:15 PM. If your watch/clocks/phone are on AZ time, 5:15 PM at the latest is when you need to start the drive back to Kanab.
      Speaking of Kanab, UT, I recommend you base yourself there for a few days to visit Bryce and Zion since it’s centrally located to Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon. It is also conveniently located for visiting Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon if need be. In Zion, you may not be able to hike the Narrows because of a toxic algae bloom that has occurred there recently. If hiking is permitted, you’ll need to ensure that you don’t submerge your head in the water. If for some reason the Narrows (which includes the Subway) is ruled out, there are many good hikes you can still take part in, including Angel’s Landing.
      Regarding Antelope Canyon, it is a short distance away from Horseshoe Bend, but you cannot simply ‘hike there by yourself.’ These attractions are situated on Navajo Indian Tribal Lands, so if they are reopened by the time you visit, you absolutely will be required to go with a guided tour. How To Book A Tour For Antelope Canyon In the likely event the Antelope Canyon remain closed at the time of your visit, good alternates in the area are Red Canyon, aka Peek-A-Boo Canyon, near Kanab, UT, and Wire Pass Canyon/Buckskin Gulch, near Paria, UT. Although guided tours are not required to visit these slot canyons, they are strongly recommended due to the access roads being unpaved, and the possibility of getting your vehicle stuck if you’re not used to driving in such conditions. For more information on tour operators that cover these areas, check out Help! My Antelope Canyon Tour Got Cancelled
      As for camping within the National Parks, it doesn’t matter what I recommend at this point, it matters what’s available. The majority of in-park campgrounds are managed by http://www.Recreation.gov Since your visit is occurring close to the Labor Day weekend holiday, and sites may be reduced in number due to COVID-19, don’t be surprised if you find many campgrounds are already full. If that’s the case, look to commercial campgrounds in Kanab, UT, or camping and RV options Page, AZ (many RV parks offer tent sites).
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  21. I’d like to do a horseback trail ride in either Zion, Bryce or Moab, which place would you recommend?

    1. Hey Kristen!
      OMG, a horseback ride in any one of the three places would be awesome.
      I know that Canyon Trail Rides offers excursions in both Zion and Bryce, as well as the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. In Moab, there are several companies offering different trips, including a nighttime ride, which sounds incredibly cool. To narrow down your search there, I’d recommend visiting the website of Moab Adventure Center.
      Long story short, do a little research, pick one that fits your timeframe and budget and be prepared to be blown away. It’s kinda hard to go wrong here 😉
      As with everything, be sure to verify that all attractions on your itinerary are open and operating, whether full-scale or on a limited basis, due to COVID-19.
      Have fun!
      Alley 🙂

  22. This is so amazing! I would love some insight on planning an itinerary if you’d be willing to help. We will be coming from Mesa and staying in Page from 8/15-8/18 and again from 8/21-8/30. We will be working a lot of the days, but will have 3 weekends and some days for day trips and don’t mind driving back and forth. Also, we are trying to decide on a place to stay from 8/18-8/21. What’s the best path or thoughts for our time? We’d love to hit as many big spots as possible, we do not need to hit the Grand Canyon, and I am having a hard time understanding what is completely closed down or what we can still hike/tour/see due to COVID19. I think it’s amazing all the information you put together. I have got seen some really good ideas already, but would love any additional insight. That you for all you do on this site!

    1. Hi Laura,
      As you’ve probably discovered, Page, AZ, makes for a good “base camp” from which to explore the numerous attractions in Northern Arizona and Southern Utah! As you’ve also seen, however, a lot of stuff is closed down due to COVID-19, namely, popular attractions situated on Navajo Indian Tribal Lands. These include, but aren’t limited to, the Antelope Canyons, Monument Valley, Four Corners National Monument, and the Little Colorado River Overlook. Fortunately, there are several beautiful slot canyons near Page, AZ, that are still open for business, and you should definitely plan on visiting. We are partial to Red Canyon aka Peek-A-Boo Canyon near Kanab, UT, for its visual comparability to Upper Antelope, and family-friendly terrain. For more suggestions, check out this piece on our companion site, http://www.AntelopeCanyon.AZ: “Help! My Antelope Canyon Tour Got Cancelled” While in Kanab, UT, you might also take the time to visit Moqui Caves, Coral Pink Sand Dunes, or Pipe Springs National Monument. Things To Do Kanab, Utah
      Another popular activity that has been placed on hiatus due to COVID-19 is the Horseshoe Bend Rafting Trip. However, a good alternative to that would be to drive down to Lees Ferry (~1 hour from Page, AZ), rent a kayak, then take a backhaul boat to the base of the Glen Canyon Dam. You could then paddle the 15 miles down the Colorado River back to Lees Ferry, where you would return your kayak and end your day, perhaps with a hike to the Lonely Dell Ranch Historic District and dinner at Cliff Dweller’s Lodge? Their restaurant is one of the best-kept culinary secrets in the American Southwest! For more information on the kayak/backhaul trip through Horseshoe Bend, visit http://www.KayakHorseshoeBend.com
      While Monument Valley is “technically” closed due to COVID-19, there’s still a way you might get to see part of it, which leads me to where I would suggest you spend 08/18-08/21: Moab, Utah. If you’ve never been before, it’s a stunning area, within easy access of Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point, the Goosenecks of the San Juan, just to name a few. The drive from Page, AZ, to Moab, UT, takes ~5-6 hours and take you right past Monument Valley, including world-famous Forrest Gump Point. While you’re in Moab, UT, you could take a white water rafting trip on the Colorado River, a 4×4 tour up the Devil’s Backbone, or a wine tasting in Castle Valley… Moab has no shortage of fun things to do! Another possibility is you could stay 2 nights in Moab, then drive back to Page, AZ, taking the “long way around” via Capitol Reef, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and Bryce Canyon. That would extend the drive time to 8-9 hours, but it would be an unforgettable day, especially if you go via Scenic Byway 12, one of the most incredible drives in the American Southwest.
      Hope that gives you some good ideas! Feel free to write again if you’d like to bounce other possibilities off us.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  23. You are a wealth of knowledge and I would love and appreciate your advice if you don’t mind. I’ve never been to these NP’s. I’m flying into Vegas next Tuesday, 8/4 at 9:45am. Then thinking about driving out of the way to Red Rock Canyon (do you think it’s worth it to go out of the way?) Then driving to Hoover Dam and then to Grand Canyon where we’ll stay for 2 nights: 8/4-6. I have a bike tour booked for the morning of 8/5. We’ll leave Grand Canyon sometime 8/6 (curious what you recommend) and drive to Lake Powell and stay 1 night 8/6. I know Antelope Canyon is closed but I figured we could still see Horseshoe Bend and Lake Powell. We’ll then drive to Zion and stay 2 nights, 8/7-9. Or do you recommend we see Horseshoe Bend and Lake Powell on the way from Grand Canyon to Zion and don’t spend the night there but spend 3 nights in Zion? There are a lot of lakes where we live, do we skip Lake Powell altogether and just see Horseshoe Bend? After Zion, we’ll drive to Bryce and stay 1 night, 8/9. After this, is where I’d especially like your input. From Bryce I’d like to go to Capitol Reef NP and then Arches. I currently have accommodation booked for 1 night in Moab 8/10 but I’m thinking I should extend it to at least 2 nights. I want to whitewater raft one day in Moab. After Arches, we’d like to see Canyonlands. We will then drive to CO. We have a place to stay in Georgetown, CO as long as we want. We want to visit Rocky Mtn NP and we’ll fly out of Denver. I’d love to know if you think this sounds like a good plan. If we should add nights anywhere, take night away from Lake Powell, etc. Thank you so, so much!!!

    1. Hi Kristen,
      Your itinerary looks pretty fun as is, nevertheless, I’d recommend making a few modifications.
      On your arrival day into Las Vegas, your plane may indeed land at 9:45 AM, but there’s still the issue of collecting checked bags and getting your rental car. Depending on how things go, you’re potentially looking at another 60-90 minutes at the airport before you even get out of town. For this and other reasons, I would discourage making the drive to Red Rock Canyon. Although it’s a relatively short trip, and is a beautiful area, it pales in comparison to Grand Canyon South Rim. Besides, it’s super hot there this time of year; it is the desert after all! If your plane lands on time, and you’re not delayed too much by logistics at the airport, swing by Hoover Dam, then be on your way to the Grand Canyon. Maybe catch a later showing of the IMAX movie, “Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets,” then be on the rim for sunsest. That way you’ll be nice and rested for your bike tour the next day.
      On 08/06, leave Grand Canyon South Rim as early as possible. You’re going to have to take a bit of a detour due to the partial closure of the main route to Page, AZ. The section of AZ64 from Desert View Point to Cameron, which is along the shortest and most logical route to Page, AZ, has been closed by order of the Navajo Tribe due to COVID-19, so you’ll have to go all the way back to Flagstaff, AZ, then take US89 North to Lake Powell. That turns what would normally be a 2.5-3 hour drive into a 4-5.5 hour drive. Spend the afternoon at Lake Powell, maybe at the Wahweap Swim Beach or Antelope Point Marina (Glen Canyon NRA entrance fee required). Even though you are from an area with numerous lakes, IMO, there’s nothing quite like Lake Powell! Stay in Page, AZ, then hit Horseshoe Bend right after sunrise the next day to take advantage of cooler temperatures and smaller crowds. Although the Antelope Canyons are indeed closed, on the way to Zion, you might make a stop in Kanab, UT, and tour Red Canyon aka Peek-A-Boo Canyon. It’s a beautiful slot canyon, comparable to Upper Antelope in terms of its visual complexity and ease of walking.
      Two nights in Zion is a good duration for an introductory visit. The drive to Moab, UT, via Capitol Reef will take you the better part of a day, at least 7 hours. If at all possible, try to go to Capitol Reef via Scenic Byway 12, that’s one of the most stunning drives in the Southwest US! If that long of a drive doesn’t appeal, you might consider staying overnight in Torrey or Hanksville, UT on 08/10. Whatever you decide regarding Capitol Reef, Moab, UT, definitely warrants more time, especially if you want to do a Cataract Canyon white water trip! Trip lengths range from half-days and up. Even if you were to take a shorter trip, though, you should still set aside time to explore Arches, Canyonlands, and maybe Castle Valley. Try to rearrange your trip so that you give yourself 2-3 nights in Moab. Lots of folks report staying 5-7 days out there and steel feeling as though they’d only touched the tip of the iceberg!
      At the conclusion of your trip, the drive to Georgetown, CO, will take about 5 hours according to Google Maps. The route takes you through Grand Junction, CO, which is also a pretty area with lots to see and do, so you might want to get an early start out of Moab to take advantage of whatever opportunities might appeal to you there.
      A couple of things before I move on to the next commentor: I hope all your hotels are booked. Your trip, after all, is right around the corner, and due to COVID-19, many hotels are limiting occupancy to promote social distancing and more thorough sanitizing. Don’t go anywhere without reservations! Make sure any activities such as guided tours that you are interested in are also up and running for this reason, and make advance reservations for these as well. Some states have mask mandates, others don’t, so at least bring a mask or face covering in case you are asked to wear it at any point on your trip. Plan to buy an America the Beautiful Federal Lands Access Pass. For $80, this card grants you access to all National Parks, Monuments, and Federal Fee Areas in the US. It will pay for itself on this trip alone. Just pick it up at the Grand Canyon, since that is the first National Park you’ll hit on your tour.
      So I hope that helps. I wish you good luck and safe travels, and if you have a minute when you get home, write in again and let me know how things went!
      Take care,
      Alley 🙂

      1. Alley, you are an Angel. Thank you so much for taking your time to provide me so much helpful feedback. I’ll take your advice and skip Red Rock Canyon. I really appreciate the advance notice that the drive from Grand Canyon to Page will be almost double what I was expecting due to the partial closure of the main route to Page, AZ. After Zion, we are going to stay the night at Bryce Canyon and then 2 nights in Moab. (I do have all of our accommodations booked already: 2 nights Grand Canyon, 1 night Page, 2 nights Zion, 1 night Bryce and 2 nights Moab). After Bryce I definitely want to see Capitol Reef and do the 8 mile scenic drive. Is that best to do after Bryce on our way to Moab? We definitely want to see Arches and Canyonlands. Do you recommend we see Canyonlands while we’re staying in Moab? Or see Canyonlands on our way out of Moab on our way to Colorado? Thank you again, so much!

        1. Hi again, Kristen!
          Yes, Capitol Reef is ideally situated between Bryce and Moab. Map
          You should definitely plan on visiting Arches and Canyonlands while in Moab, UT, they’re both beautiful. Both parks are within fairly easy access of Moab, but Arches would probably be the most convenient to visit on your way out of town to Colorado. Map
          Have a great trip!
          Alley 🙂

  24. Love your passion and information on these itineraries!
    I’m looking for another shorter time frame recommendation though, taking in coronavirus closings and also hoping to travel shortly, next month? Do you have suggestions for an active family of 5, (young adult kids), who try to push time limits, and only have a maximum of 10 days including flights in and out? We’re leaning towards LAS, from your suggestions. We did South Rim, Bryce and Zion when kids were too little to remember (they can’t even remember The Narrows in Zion, which we all thought was awesome!). The other parks, only I have done when I was a kid. Antelope Canyon is on my bucket list, but doesn’t look obtainable during Coronavirus. Angel’s Landing at Zion shows “closed” currently also. Trying to maximize number of parks visited and strenuous trails hiked, maybe squeeze in a white water rafting somewhere, and have drive time be most efficient route? I tend to over plan time, so I’m looking for your recommendations. You seem to have a great grasp of canyon reality! (We’ll have to try for the Wave some future time!) Thank you in advance!

    1. Hi Leslie!
      In light of the fact that your trip is just around the corner, and that some closures due to COVID-19 will have an impact on what’s open and what isn’t, you will no doubt have to be make some adjustments to your expectations on this trip. Normally, I’d just refer you to this piece on our companion site, http://www.AntelopeCanyon.AZ: The Ultimate 7-Day in Northern AZ & Southern UT, but some of that information is no longer valid or realistic due to current conditions.
      So seeing as though you’ll have 10 days, and that 2 of them might be dedicated to travel, that leaves you with 8 days to work with. If a white water rafting trip is on the wish list, obviously a 1-day trip is going to eat up the least amount of time in an already tight schedule, and the place I’d suggest you do this is Moab, UT. White water rafting on the Colorado River through Cataract Canyon is a ton of fun, and trip lengths from 1/2-day to full-day and 2-days are available. For more information on these and other adventures in the Moab, UT, area, visit http://www.MoabAdventureCenter.com
      Depending on hotel availability, and most peoples’ preference for doing the longer drives at the beginning of their tour, I’d plan on hitting Moab, UT, first since it’s ~a 7.5 hour drive from Las Vegas. If you want to shorten that, you might consider flying into and/or out of Salt Lake City, UT. That would whittle the drive time down to ~4.5 hours, and open up the option to put Moab, UT, last on the itinerary. Map of proposed itinerary using SLC as staging city
      Assuming you keep Las Vegas as your fly in/out point, here’s what I’d suggest:
      Day 1 – Fly to Las Vegas, overnight in Las Vegas
      Day 2 – Drive from Las Vegas to Moab, UT (~7-7.5 hours), overnight in Moab, UT
      Day 3 – White water rafting in Moab, 2nd night in Moab, UT
      Day 4 – Drive to Bryce Canyon with stopover at Capitol Reef National Park (~6-7 hour drive), overnight in Bryce Canyon, UT, area
      Day 5 – Explore Bryce Canyon area, drive to Kanab, UT, to stay the night (~90 minute drive)
      Day 6 – Tour Peek-A-Boo Slot Canyon (~3 hours, or do it the day before), drive to Zion National Park (~1 hour from Kanab, UT), return to Kanab, UT, for the night ***according to NPS.gov, Angel’s Landing is open, but the shuttle to the trailhead requires advance reservations and there’s an algae bloom in the Virgin River which doesn’t make The Narrows particularly appealing either; I’d recommend considering other hikes that are just as beautiful with easier access Zion Canyon Trail Descriptions, besides, I have a suggestion for another cool hike, more on that in a minute*** back to Kanab, UT for the night
      Day 7 – Day trip to Grand Canyon North Rim (~90 minutes each way from Kanab, UT) — be sure you time this trip so that you’re not doing any of the driving at night! Deer, elk, and other wildlife like to congregate on the roads at night, which hikes up your risk of an accident in an area with very little cell service and a very expensive towing fee. Sunrise (Kanab, UT, time) occurs shortly after 7:00 AM, sunset occurs around 7:30 PM. At the time of year you’re visiting, Arizona is 1 hour behind Utah, so keep that in mind at all times! Back to Kanab, UT for the night
      Day 8 – Hike Kanarra Falls, 1.5 hours from Kanab, UT — advance permits required! To reserve, visit http://www.KanarraFalls.com/tickets, overnight in Cedar City, UT (~30 minutes from Kanarraville)
      Day 9 – Drive back to Las Vegas (~3 hours from Cedar City), or SLC (~4 hours from Cedar City)
      Day 10 – Fly home
      Map LAS – Moab – Bryce – Kanab – Zion – GC North – Kanarra Falls
      You are correct in that The Wave is highly unlikely to happen this time around, but then again, you might use one of your mornings in Kanab, UT, to try your luck at the walk-in lottery the day before you potentially wish to hike! Right now, it’s taking place at the local gym, but could revert to its usual location by the time you get ready to travel. Wave Walk-In Lottery Resumes
      Hope that helps. Be sure you book all your hotels ASAP as many properties have reduced available inventory to promote social distancing and more in-depth hygiene measures.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      1. Thank you, so much!
        Never heard of Kanarra Falls, (I’d never heard of the Wave previously either, and it looks awesome!) and you have some other ideas for us to consider too! So you’d skip Canyonlands and Arches, given our time frame?
        Thanks!

        1. Hey Leslie,
          Arches and Canyonlands are amazing, but in light of your limited timeframe, you’d have to sacrifice a day and/or activity somewhere to fit it in. The white water rafting would be the first and most obvious choice, but understand not the most desirable. I know it’s a hard decision! Good luck choosing,
          Alley 🙂

  25. Thank you for providing so many alternate itineraries. Can you help me with another variation. We are planning a trip in mid September. We will fly into Grand Junction on a Saturday and leave from Grand Junction three Sundays later, giving us fourteen days (in addition to our travel days) to see the sights. We have visited the South Rim so would instead like to see the North Rim. Any suggestions will be much appreciated. Jim

    1. Hi Jim!
      Using Grand Junction, CO, as your staging city, you can have a great 2-week vacation! Since it’s right around the corner, you need to get started on booking hotels ASAP since many are limiting capacity due to COVID-19. The one place you are most likely to have trouble is Grand Canyon North Rim: they have taken 60-70% of rooms out of inventory at the Grand Canyon Lodge, and alternatives are few and far between in that area. You may have to visit as a day trip, but, with careful planning and an eye on the time, it can be done. More on that in a minute.
      Here’s what I’d suggest:
      Day 1 – Drive from Grand Junction, CO to Durango, CO (~4 hour drive), 1st of 3 nights in Durango
      Day 2 – Take Durango/Silverton Narrow Guage Railroad tour
      Day 3 – Day trip to Mesa Verde National Park (~90 minute drive each way from Durango), 3rd night in Durango
      Day 4 – Drive to Page, AZ, ~5 hour drive; if you wish, you can drive through Monument Valley. Although tours of the park are closed, you can get good views just driving through the area. Visit Horseshoe Bend, then overnight in Page, AZ
      Day 5 – If you weren’t able to hit Horseshoe Bend the day before, visit the overlook at sunrise, which occurs just after 6:00 AM in September (allow 90 minutes to 2 hours), then drive to Grand Canyon North Rim (~2.5 hour drive). Book 2-3 nights lodging in Kanab, UT, ~90 minute drive from Grand Canyon North Rim. Be sure to leave Grand Canyon North Rim no later than 5:00 PM local time! You must be certain that you do any and all driving in this area during daylight hours due to deer, elk, and other wildlife that tend to congregate near the roads at night. Also, Utah will be one hour ahead of Arizona at the time you’re traveling, so you have to factor that in as well.
      Day 6 – Tour Red Canyon/aka Peek-A-Boo Slot Canyon, Moqui Cave, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Coral Pink Sand Dunes and other attractions near Kanab, UT; 2nd night in Kanab.
      Day 7 – Day Trip to Zion National Park (~1 hour drive from Kanab) — to access Zion Canyon, you must ride the shuttle, which is free, but requires advance reservations. If you don’t want to mess with that, there are still good hikes and activities you can do. Again, time your drive back to Kanab, UT (~1 hour) so that you’re doing it before sunset. 3rd night in Kanab.
      Day 8 – Drive to Bryce Canyon National Park (~2 hours), overnight in Bryce Canyon area
      Day 9 – Drive to Capitol Reef National Park (~2.5 hour drive), overnight in Torrey, Fruita, or Hanksville, UT.
      Day 10 – Drive to Moab, UT (~3 hour drive), book 3 nights in Moab, UT
      Day 11 – Explore Arches National Park
      Day 12 – Explore Canyonlands National Park
      Day 13 – Drive back to Grand Junction, CO (~2.5 hour drive)
      Map of above itinerary
      For each park, be sure to verify whether some areas and/or facilities are closed before assuming you’ll be able to access them. Book all hotels, guided tours, dinner reservations (where required or suggested) in advance. You might also invest in an America The Beautiful Federal Lands Access Pass. For $80, this card grants you access to all National Parks, Monuments, and Federal Fee Areas for one year’s time. It will more than pay for itself on this trip alone! Just pick it up at the first National Park Fee Station you hit on your itinerary.
      Hope that helps. Feel free to write in again if you need further feedback!
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  26. Hi. Love your advice for visitors to Utah’s parks and the Grand Canyon area.
    Is a 14 day Grand Loop itinerary beginning and ending in Salt Lake City out of the question? Does it make sense in terms of time and best scenery? Relatives in Salt Lake wanting us to begin and end there but we’re not convinced.
    Thanks for any help you can give.

    1. Hey Rebecca,
      Pardon my French, but hell yeah, you absolutely can do a fabulous 14-day loop itinerary using Salt Lake City as your start and end point!
      If you wanted to hit the attractions on this list, you could. Or, you could do something totally different and tour the many amazing National Parks, Monuments, and State Parks in Wyoming and Idaho. The choice literally is yours!
      If you wanted to stick to the itinerary prescribed in this article, or something close to it, here’s what I would recommend:
      Day 1 – Drive from Salt Lake City to Moab, UT, ~4.5 hours driving direct, or, get an early start and visit Goblin Valley State Park along the way, 1st night in Moab, UT Moab, UT, hotels
      Day 2 – Explore Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park, 2nd night in Moab, UT
      Day 3 – Explore Arches National Park and Castle Valley area, 3rd night in Moab, UT
      Day 4 – Drive from Moab, UT, to Page, AZ (~5.5 hours going direct); possible stops include but aren’t limited to Goosenecks State Park and Monument Valley**, overnight in Page, AZ hotel
      Day 5 – Visit Horseshoe Bend at sunrise, tour Antelope Canyon**, 2nd night in Page, AZ
      Day 6 – Drive to Grand Canyon South Rim (~3.5-4.5 hours depending on routing**), overnight at Grand Canyon South Rim hotel
      Day 8 – 2nd day/night at Grand Canyon South Rim
      Day 9 – Drive to Zion National Park via Marble Canyon/Lees Ferry (~5 hours driving direct), possible stopover: Lees Ferry/Lonely Dell Ranch , Pipe Spring National Monument , overnight in Springdale, UT, or Kanab, UT
      Day 10 – Explore Zion National Park — lots of hikes you can do in this area, appropriate for virtually all fitness levels, take your pick of cool stuff to see and do! 2nd night in Springdale, UT, or Kanab, UT
      Day 11 – 2nd day/night in Zion — it’s a huge park, so you’ll be glad for the extra time!
      Day 12 – Drive to Bryce Canyon (~2.5 hours via most direct route), possible stopover in Duck Creek Village, overnight in Bryce Canyon area
      Day 13 – Spend 2nd day/night in Bryce Canyon, or drive back to SLC (~4 hours)
      You’ll note that some attractions and routing are marked with a “**.” This is because the Navajo Indian Reservation has closed off many attractions and popular tour routes due to the situation with COVID-19. Monument Valley and the Antelope Canyons are examples of this. If these have not reopened by the time you get set to travel, you might substitute Valley of the Gods for Monument Valley, but only if you have a 4WD vehicle with adequate clearance to navigate the unpaved roads in this area! If the Antelope Canyons have not reopened by the time you visit, a good substitution for it would be Red Canyon aka Peek-A-Boo Canyon near Kanab, UT. For optimal convenience, you would probably want to move that to your travel day between Zion and Bryce. While a guided tour is not required to visit Red/Peek-A-Boo, they are strongly recommended as the road out there is very tricky. Reputable companies that can get you out to Peek-A-Boo in safety and comfort are:
      – Dreamland Safari Tours, (435) 412-1790, http://www.dreamlandtours.net
      – TC Tours, (435) 668-5262, http://www.slotcanyontourskanab.com
      – Kanab Tour Company, (435) 644-5525, http://www.kanabtourcompany.com
      – Forever Adventure Tours, 435-644-5700, http://www.foreveradventuretours.com
      – Grand Circle Tours, (928) 691-0166, http://www.vermilioncliffs.net
      Hope that helps. Click here for a map of the proposed route Feel free to write in again if you need to bounce more ideas off us, or to let us know how your trip ultimately went!
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  27. Hi! Your itineraries are so good! I wanted to see if you had any feedback on someone coming from Austin. We want to include Big Bend in our trip but I’m struggling to find a good trip route that makes sense. We know we have more driving and we only have a week and a half so want to make the absolute most of it. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Hi Danielle, and thank you for your compliments!
      Having family in Austin, TX, I’ve made the drive from Page, AZ, a few times myself, but have yet had the pleasure of visiting Big Bend National Park. If you were to make the trip via the most straightforward route, via Lubbock, TX, and Albuquerque, NM, you can break up the drive into 2 days. We typically stop in Clovis, NM, as we also have family there.
      If you were to add a stop in Big Bend, that would add at least another day of driving onto the trip. It would take you ~8-9 hours to drive from Austin, TX, to Big Bend. Since there is only one hotel inside the park, which is probably booked in advance, you’d have to stay somewhere outside the park. What with the drive time, and the proximity of lodging to the park, that first day is basically spent traveling, which means no time for exploring or sightseeing. If you were to spend the next morning (~4-5 hours) looking around the park, you could then make it as far as Las Cruces, NM, in ~7 hours and overnight there. The drive to Page, AZ, the next day would then take ~9-10 hours; or you could stop at Albuquerque, NM, to break up the drive. All told, that’s 3-4 days spent driving out, and at least 2 days driving back, so there you have 5-6 days already “spoken for.” That doesn’t leave you much time to enjoy Northern Arizona at all!
      Another consideration is when are you planning on making this trip? If it’s during the summer months, Big Bend gets SUPER hot. The park has already been under high heat warnings for several days time. Personally, if your trip is coming up within the next few weeks’ time, I’d say save Big Bend for another trip, and this time around, visit Carlsbad Caverns. It wouldn’t be that far out of your way, and with careful planning (and a tolerance for long drives) you could still make it to Page, AZ, in 2 days, although breaking the drive up into 3 days with a stopover in Albququerque, NM, would definitely make it easier on you! Map
      Once in Page, AZ, you should plan on spending at least 2 days to visit Horseshoe Bend and Lake Powell (unfortunately the Antelope Canyons are closed until further notice due to COVID-19). If the Grand Canyon isn’t on your list, it definitely should be! The South Rim is the only side that’s open right now due to a wildfire on the North Rim 🙁 Another thing to keep in mind is that the Navajo Indian Tribe, whose lands you’ll be crossing on your trip, is discouraging outsiders from visiting the reservation or interracting with tribal residents. To that end, they’ve closed the Eastern section of AZ64 from Grand Canyon South Rim to Cameron, AZ, requiring Grand Canyon visitors to take the “long way around” through Flagstaff, AZ, which will add even more time behind the wheel to an already car-centric trip (oh joy). Map
      Whatever you decide, be sure to book all hotels and guided tours, well in advance of your visit. Despite COVID-19 throwing a wrench into peoples’ travel plans, the parks are still busy. Also, be sure to verify what facilities, trails, overlooks, etc., may be closed and how that might affect your plans.
      Feel free to write in again if you need to bounce any more ideas off me 🙂
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  28. Can you give us advice on a 10 day trip flying into Phoenix and out of SLC. Want to spend a few days in Zion and Moab. Trying to determine if we will have enough time to see the GC South rim, would also need a hotel recommendation for the GC.

    1. Hi LaShelle,
      With 10 days to work with, you could do something like this:
      Day 1 – Fly to Phoenix, drive to Grand Canyon South Rim (~5 hour drive), overnight at the South Rim Grand Canyon hotels
      Day 2 – Drive to Page, AZ (~3.5-4 hour drive factoring in stops), tour Antelope Canyon (provided it’s open), overnight in Page, AZ
      Day 3 – Visit Horseshoe Bend just after sunrise, head to Moab, UT via Monument Valley (~6 hour drive), optional stop at the Goosenecks of San Juan State Park, overnight in Moab
      Day 4 – Explore Arches National Park, 2nd night in Moab
      Day 5 – Explore Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point, 3rd night in Moab
      Day 6 – Drive from Moab, UT, to Bryce Canyon via Capitol Reef National Park and Escalante, UT, overnight at Bryce Canyon
      Day 7 – Short hike at Bryce Canyon, then drive on to Zion National Park, base in Kanab, UT
      Day 8 – Hiking and exploring in Zion, 2nd night in Kanab
      Day 9 – More hiking in Zion if desired, or begin drive to SLC (~5 hours), overnight in SLC
      Day 10 – fly home
      Of course, all this is contingent on the parks being open for regular operations. I don’t recall seeing when you were wanting to visit; hopefully you’re planning this for a future date when things get somewhat back to normal.
      Feel free to write in again if you need to bounce more ideas off us.
      Take care and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  29. Hi,

    We are trying to plan an RV trip of the SW, do you have an itinerary with RV parks included?

    1. Hi Priti,
      We don’t have an itinerary of RV parks, per se, but fortunately, this information is relatively easy to find. Some areas will have more options than others, but whatever you do, make advance reservations for every stop on your tour.
      For the Grand Canyon, the only RV parks with hook-ups are Trailer Village (inside the park) and Tusayan Camper Village, 1 mile outside the park. If you are OK doing without hook-ups, Mather Campground and Desert View Campground are both good options inside the park, plus there is dry camping and dispersed camping a short distance outside the park. Grand Canyon Camping
      At Page, AZ/Lake Powell, you can find RV parking with full hook-ups both inside the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and in the town of Page itself. For suggestions of other sites, visit our companion site, AntelopeCanyon.AZ: RV and Camping Options near Antelope Canyon
      For other suggestions of RV Parks and campgrounds in the Southwestern U.S., check out this piece from Sunset Magazine or this blog post from Forever Resorts, a respected National Park concessionaire.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  30. Hey Alley! I’m planning an 11 day trip out west for my family of three this June 14 – 25. This itinerary seems PERFECT but I’m not sure it’s realistic for 11 days. I wanna see and do as much as possible since this will be a once in a lifetime trip for us. Do you have any suggestions on what to cut from this itinerary? We want to hit the Grand Canyon, of course, and as many of the breathtaking sights as possible, and my husband would really enjoy the Route 66 stuff. My son (15) and I are avid hikers, but my husband is not. And I’d like to spend a day/night taking in Vegas. Thanks so much for your help!

    1. Hi Kami,
      This is a great question!
      Since this particular itinerary has 2 full days built in to apply for a Wave permit and (assuming you get the permit) hike it, you can reduce this trip to 12 days right off the bat.
      Shave a day off Moab, and that would bring it down to 11 days.
      As for taking in Route 66, the best opportunity for doing that will be between Kingman, AZ, and Seligman, AZ. If you want, you can drive one of the last remaining intact sections of the old road by taking the detour through Peach Springs, AZ. Maybe take time to tour the Grand Canyon Caverns, then stop in Seligman, AZ (one of the real-life inspiration for the “Cars” movies) and enjoy a burger and a laugh at Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-In.
      That will extend the drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim to 6-7 hours, but Route 66 buffs usually find it time well spent!
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      1. Thank you so so much for your help! I am so excited to finally make it out West! Your website and advice have been a lifesaver 🙂

  31. Hello , I was looking at your suggestions , you seem very knowledgeable , do you think this would possibly be a good trip during July my daughter is my normal travel companion and She is a principal so we only have the month of July for traveling? what are your thoughts?
    thanks for your help

    1. Hi Beth,
      If July is the only timeframe you have available for a vacation to the American Southwest, go for it!
      Just bear in mind that you’ll be traveling during the hottest time of the year. Any hiking or other “labor-intensive” activities should be done during the morning if at all possible to take advantage of cooler temperatures, and possibly fewer people around. Be sure that you stay well-hydrated at all times — you’re in the desert, after all!
      Make sure also that all lodging and guided tours are booked well in advance of your trip. Now is not too soon to get things lined up!
      Feel free to write in again if you need to bounce more ideas off our experts.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  32. Hi Alley, I have been researching for South West trip for a long time as my options are limited and then I found this link. I think you are the best out there as far as honest advise goes. So thank you for your valuable advice and hoping you can give some to us – My wife and I are planning a partial Grand Circle trip in mid March 2020. We plan on touching Vegas, Zion Valley and Grand Canyon in 7 days. Can you please let us know if this possible and some must do point of interest would help. Thank you !!

    1. Hi Arry,
      Thank you so much for your compliments!
      You absolutely can have an unforgettable 7-day trip in the Grand Circle that covers the attractions you list, plus a few more you might not have considered.
      A “classic” Southwest itinerary using Las Vegas as a start/end point goes something like this:
      Day 1: Fly to Las Vegas, drive to Sedona, AZ (~4.5-5 hours) with optional stop at Hoover Dam, overnight in Sedona
      Day 2: Sightseeing in SedonaPink Jeep Broken Arrow Tour, Chapel of the Holy Cross, Tlaquepaque, Airport Mesa… no shortage of things to see and do! 2nd night in Sedona
      Day 3: Drive to Grand Canyon South Rim (~3 hours), use free shuttles to visit viewpoints on Hermit’s Rest/West Rim Drive and GC Village, overnight at Grand Canyon
      Day 4: Drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ, ~3.5-4 hour drive factoring in stops at viewpoints between GC Village and Desert View, Cameron Trading Post for breakfast/brunch. Tour Antelope Canyon, overnight in Page
      Day 5: Visit Horseshoe Bend just after sunrise, drive to Zion National Park (~2.5 hours), optional stops at Big Water Visitor Center, Paria Rimrock/Toadstool Hoodoos Trail, overnight in Springdale, UT, or Hurricane, UT
      Day 6: 2nd day/night in Zion National Park — plenty of hiking to do for all physical fitness levels!
      Day 7: Drive back to Las Vegas (3.5-5 hour drive due to road construction on I-15), optional stop at Valley of Fire State Park, fly home
      If you’re wondering why I’ve left Bryce Canyon off this itinerary, it’s not because it isn’t beautiful; it is, amazingly so! However, in March, you could still encounter snow at this park seeing as though it’s 8,000′ above sea level. If you would still like to include it in your trip plans, you could do so by dropping a day from Zion and hitting Bryce after Page, AZ.
      Also, the feasibility of this itinerary is contingent on two key factors: Antelope Canyon tour availability and Grand Canyon hotel availability. You may need to flip-flop this suggested itinerary (do Las Vegas-Zion-Page-GC-Sedona-LAS) if hotel and tour availability dictate doing so. Your trip is just around the corner so do not delay making reservations!
      For more suggestions, read this piece on our companion site, http://www.AntelopeCanyon.AZ: The Grand Canyon and Beyond – the Ultimate 7-Day Itinerary in Northern Arizona and Southern Utah
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  33. Hi Alley,
    I’m so happy to have found this sight!!we are from the Bahamas and are planning a trip to the Grand Canyon area in July for two weeks. With so much to do and see we are overwhelmed ! I love your itinerary. How can we tweak it to include 2 or 3 days in Sedona? We want to take a day hike in the Canyon and also thought we would do some white water rafting in Moab, maybe for two or three days. is this even possible? Please let me know your thoughts. Thanks so much for your help!!

    1. Hi Margo,
      Sedona is definitely a beautiful area with a lot to see and do. In order to include it in a two-week itinerary similar to this one, however, will require sacrificing one or more destinations, and unfortunately, the most logical contender for elimination are Capitol Reef and Moab. Not that they aren’t beautiful, they definitely are, but these two destinations are on the far outer-edge of this suggested loop itinerary, which needs to be reined in a bit if you’re going to give Sedona the time it deserves. However, there may still be a way to include some white-water rafting in your trip! More on that in a minute…
      Using Las Vegas, NV, as your starting/ending point, you could do something like this:
      Day 1: Fly to Las Vegas, drive to Zion National Park (~3-4 hours), overnight in Springdale, UT
      Day 2: Sightseeing in Zion, 2nd night in Springdale, UT
      Day 3: Drive to Bryce Canyon (~2 hours from Springdale), overnight in Bryce Canyon area
      Day 4: Drive to Page, AZ (~3 hours), tour Antelope Canyon, overnight in Page
      Day 5: Visit Horseshoe Bend just after sunrise, take Horseshoe Bend Rafting Trip or Rainbow Bridge Boat Tour, 2nd night in Page
      Day 6: Drive from Page, AZ, to Monument Valley (~2 hours), overnight in Monument Valley –OR– take day trip from Page, AZ, to Monument Valley, spend 3rd night in Page
      Day 7: Drive from Page, AZ, to Grand Canyon South Rim (~3.5 hours), overnight in Grand Canyon
      Day 8: Day hiking in Grand Canyon, 2nd night at Grand Canyon
      Day 9: Drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Sedona, overnight in Sedona
      Day 10: 2nd day/night in Sedona
      Day 11: 3rd day/night in Sedona
      Day 12: Drive from Sedona to Peach Springs (~2.5 hour drive), stop in Seligman, overnight in Peach Springs
      Day 13: Take one-day Grand Canyon white water raft trip, 2nd night in Peach Springs
      Day 14: Drive from Peach Springs to Las Vegas (~2.5 hours), fly home
      Push comes to shove, if you still wanted to hit Moab, UT, on your trip (which I wouldn’t blame you one bit for!), the best place to fit it in would be between Bryce Canyon and Page.
      Hope that helps. Feel free to write in again if you need to bounce any more ideas off us!
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  34. Hi Alley,

    What a fantastic write up, thank you so much, it’s really inspiring! So much so that it has motivated myself and my better half to come over from Germany and do ‘some stuff’.

    It’ll be in April or May, so hopefully we’ll be lucky with the weather (I presume everything would be open then)?

    I’m planning on it being a 12 day trip, flying into either LV or Phoenix – not fussed which one. We’d hire a car for the trip and stay in hotels.

    We’ve done the Grand Canyon and the Valley of Fire before during a visit to Vegas.

    Things we’d like to see would be; Sedona, Horseshoe Bend, Bryce, Zion, and Monument Valley. Is that do-able during a 12 day trip?

    Could you maybe suggest a route for us and where we should plan our overnight stops? We’re both pretty active and don’t mind long(ish) drives if we get to spend more time at the sights when we’re there.

    Thanks for your help.

    Karl & Claire.

    1. Hi Karl and Claire, and thank you for your compliments!
      Early spring is a nice time to visit the American Southwest, and you should be able to visit the attractions on your wish list, plus a few more that may not have “pinged” on your radar, without a problem.
      Weather-wise, you should encounter mostly sunny and pleasant days, but you might encounter a stray snowstorm in the higher elevations, such as Bryce Canyon or Zion. For this reason, pack at least a light jacket and maybe a pair of gloves, just in case. As a general rule, you’ll want to dress in layers that you can easily remove and stash in a backpack as the day gets warmer.
      As to what order you visit the attractions on your itinerary — and by the way, thank you for pointing out that you’ve already hit the Grand Canyon and Valley of Fire — that depends on whether you prefer to get the longer drives out of the way first (which most people do). The primary determing factor, though, will be lodging availability, or maybe lack thereof, and availability of guided tours, which you’ll need if you want to see Antelope Canyon (you do, trust me!).
      Assuming that all hotels and tours remain available for your timeframe, I’d suggest doing something along the lines of this:
      Day 1: Fly into Phoenix, AZ, overnight in Phoenix
      Day 2: Drive to Petrified Forest/Painted Desert National Park (~4 hours), optional stop at Meteor Crater, overnight in Holbrook or Winslow, AZ
      Day 3: Drive from Holbrook/Winslow to Canyon de Chelly National Monument (~2 hour drive), overnight in Chinle or Kayenta, AZ
      Day 4: Take AM backcountry tour of Canyon de Chelly (if desired), drive to Monument Valley (~2 hour drive), overnight in Monument Valley or Kayenta
      Day 5: Backcountry tour of Monument Valley (if desired), drive to Page, AZ (~2.5 hour drive), overnight in Page
      Day 6: Visit Horseshoe Bend at sunrise, tour Antelope Canyon, 2nd night in Page
      Day 7: Drive to Bryce Canyon (~3 hour drive), optional stops at Big Water Visitor Center, hike Paria Rimrocks/Toadstool Trails, overnight in Bryce Canyon area
      Day 8: Drive Bryce Canyon Scenic Loop Drive or do some hiking (weather permitting), then drive to Zion National Park (~2 hour drive), overnight in Springdale, UT, or Kanab, UT
      Day 9: Hiking/exploring in Zion Canyon Scenic Drive area using free park shuttles from Springdale, 2nd night in Zion area
      Day 10: Drive from Zion to Sedona, AZ via Marble Canyon/Lees Ferry (~5 hour drive), optional hike to Lonely Dell Ranch site, stop for lunch at Cliff Dweller’s Lodge or Cameron Trading Post, overnight in Sedona
      Day 11: Sightseeing in Sedona – possible activities: sunrise hot air balloon rides, Pink Jeep Broken Arrow Tour, hike Bell Rock or West Fork Trail(s), visit Chapel of the Holy Cross, wine tastings Things to Do In Sedona 2nd night in Sedona
      Day 12: 3rd day in Sedona or return to Phoenix (~2 hour drive), fly home

      If you find that lodging in the Monument Valley area is booked up, you might add another night onto your stay in Page, AZ, and visit as a day trip from there. It’s ~a 2-hour drive each way, but with some careful planning and an eye on the clock, it’s doable.
      Similar situation in Bryce and Zion: if you find lodging in the immediate area of the parks to be full already, you can simply stay in Kanab, UT, for 2-3 nights and use it as a “base camp” from which to explore both parks.
      Hope that helps! Feel free to correspond again if you need further guidance on anything.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  35. Hi Alley,
    Thank you so much for your wonderful site! I’ve been clicking on a million links, and when I stumbled across yours, it was exactly what I was looking for! My kids (who will be 8 and 10 at the time of travel) have their hearts set on a National Parks tour this summer, and we’ve narrowed in on southern Utah and Northern AZ, so that we can cover a bunch in one trip. The downside of course is that we will be there in the heat of summer, but obviously with school, we don’t have another option. We have two windows that work for us – June 6-20, or July 18-August 1. I’m assuming they’re both ridiculously hot, but is one preferable to the other?

    Also, I’d love your opinion on the itinerary I’ve sketched out… there’s so many wonderful places, it’s hard to get them all in! We want to see as much as possible, but don’t want to short change ourselves, or spend too much just checking in and out of hotels.

    Day 1 – fly to Las Vegas (arrive 10am) Drive to Zion (arrive 2-3pm) (Canyon overlook trail?) (Stay in Zion)
    Day 2 – Explore Zion (The Narrows?) (Stay in Zion)
    Day 3 – Drive to Bryce Canyon (possibly stop at Cedar Breaks along the way?) – 2 hours(Stay in Bryce)
    Day 4- Explore Bryce Canyon (Stay in Bryce)
    Day 5 – Drive to Capitol Reef – 2 hours (Stay in Capitol Reef)
    Day 6 – Explore Capitol Reef (Stay in Capitol Reef)
    Day 7 – Drive to Moab – 2 hours (Stay in Moab)
    Day 8 – Explore Arches (Stay in Moab)
    Day 9 – Explore Canyonlands (Stay in Moab)
    Day 10 – Drive to and explore Antelope Canyon/Horseshoe Bend – 4 hours (Stay in Page)
    Day 11 – Explore Antelope Canyon, Drive to Grand Canyon South Rim – 2 hours (Stay in Grand Canyon)
    Day 12 – Explore Grand Canyon (Stay in Grand Canyon)
    Day 13 – Explore Grand Canyon (Stay in Grand Canyon)
    Day 14 – Drive to Las Vegas (Depart LAS 6pm)

    Thank you for your help!

    1. Hi Katey!
      Wow, your itinerary looks amazingly fun, and very well-researched. Your kids have very good instincts! Can I come with you? LOL 😉
      One thing that I’m noticing right off the bat are that your estimated drive times are on the short side. I know these figures are what Google and Mapquest give, but it’s a good idea to pad those estimates by 20-30%. All these drives are very scenic, and you’ll find yourself stopping a lot for photos.
      You are correct in that June vs. July are a “six of one/half a dozen of another” proposition where heat is concerned. However, in June, the weather tends to be drier and more stable. Late July/early August can coincide with what is known as “monsoon season” in Northern Arizona and Southern Utah. That’s a phenomenon where thunderstorms, sometimes severe, roll in in the later afternoon hours. These storms can result in the cancellation of activities in locations where flash flooding can occur, such as slot canyons. The Narrows can also be affected by this phenomenon, so June might be the better time to travel in light of these concerns.
      Regardless of when you choose to travel during the summer months, activites requiring heavy exertion or sun exposure should be done during the earlier morning hours. Visiting Horseshoe Bend, for example, is best done just after sunrise to take advantage of cooler temperatures and thinner crowds.
      It’s good that you’ve planned for 3 days in Moab, but the drive from Moab to Page, AZ, tends to be more along the lines of 5 hours. Be aware also that the drive from Moab, UT, to Page, AZ, will take you through Monument Valley. Get an early start out of Moab so you can at least stop to snap a few photos in the area, especially at Forrest Gump Point!
      Where you indicate you’ll “explore Antelope Canyon,” that isn’t possible to do on your own. A guided tour is required; no exceptions. How To Book A Tour For Antelope Canyon While in Page, AZ, you should definitely plan on taking the Glen Canyon Half Day Float Trip! As the name implies, this rafting trip does not traverse any rapids, but is nonetheless a wonderful family-oriented activity with lots of beautiful scenery and compelling history. At the time of year you’re visiting, the morning departure (6:00 AM check-in, 7:00 AM departure) is best for safety and comfort. To accommodate this tour in your schedule, it would also be better if you had a 2nd night in Page, and you can easily do that by dropping a night at the Grand Canyon.
      The majority of Grand Canyon visitors tend to stay 1-2 nights tops. Not that the canyon isn’t beautiful (it definitely is!), but there’s only so much most families can realistically see and do there. Another consideration is that a good chunk of your sightseeing of the Grand Canyon is going to occur on the drive down from Page, AZ. The most logical route naturally takes you along the Eastern Rim of the Grand Canyon. Between Desert View Point and Grand Canyon Village, there are over half a dozen named viewpoints you can stop at, all with differing features and perspectives on the canyon. Don’t be surprised if what’s given as a 2.5 hour drive on Google Maps ends up taking 3.5-4 hours or so! The following day, you can use the free shuttles to explore the viewpoints on the Hermit’s Rest/West Rim Drive.
      On your way back to Las Vegas, you might take in some Route 66 kitsch with a stop in Seligman, AZ. If you take us up on that, be sure to stop at Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-In for a burger and a laugh. Hoover Dam might be a worthwhile stop as well, and it’s right on your way.
      Hope that helps! Feel free to write again if you want to bounce more ideas off us.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  36. I want to join this 14days course through Dec 22th ~ Jan 4th,2020(Only me, female). And I want to visit monument valley is it concluded? And I dont know how to get reservation. I’m look forward to traveling so quick answer pls.

    1. Hello Sue,
      The itinerary described in this article is not an escorted tour, it is a self-drive itinerary.
      If you were wanting to do an escorted tour, excursions such as this one offered by Cosmos are out there, but unfortunately they don’t operate at the time of year you’re visiting.
      As for getting reservations for tours and hotels, since this is a self-drive trip, you would simply need to do a few Google searches and go from there. For Grand Canyon accommodations, tours, and planning, visit http://www.GrandCanyon.com. For Antelope Canyon tours, visit our companion site, AntelopeCanyon.AZ: How To Book A Tour For Antelope Canyon
      Good luck, safe travels, and Happy Holidays,
      Alley 🙂

  37. Hi Alley,

    Thank you for your article. It is very helpful. My wife and I are going to visit grand circle this December. We will arrive on Dec 15th and spend a night in Vegas, and leave on Dec 23rd from Vegas. We are thinking of visiting Zion, Arches, Monument Valley, Page and Grand Canyon. We would like to do some hiking if weather permits. Do you recommend any parks that are good for hiking in December? Is it possible to hike in Arches at this time of the year? If not, we might skip Arches on this trip and visit it next July when we go to Yellow Stone.

    1. Hey Michael,
      I agree that Arches might be too far a swing out of your way, plus Moab, UT, is one of those areas that really deserves 3-4 days to do it justice. Then again, one distinct downside to going to Moab, UT, in the summer months is that it’s crazy hot and all hiking and/or strenuous activity should be done during the early morning hours to avoid the risk of heat exhaustion.
      Given your time constraints, and Grand Canyon lodging and Antelope Canyon tour availability, you could do something like this:
      December 15th – arrive in Las Vegas, overnight in Las Vegas
      December 16th – drive to Grand Canyon South Rim (~5 hours), optional stop at Hoover Dam, overnight at Grand Canyon South Rim
      December 17th – drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Monument Valley (~4-5 hours, factoring in stops), overnight at Monument Valley
      December 18th – drive from Monument Valley to Page, AZ (~2.5 hour drive), tour Antelope Canyon, overnight in Page, AZ
      December 19th – visit Horseshoe Bend, tour Glen Canyon, 2nd night in Page, AZ
      December 20th – drive from Page, AZ, to Bryce Canyon (3-4 hour drive), overnight in Bryce Canyon area
      December 21st – drive from Bryce Canyon to Zion National Park, overnight in Springdale
      December 22nd – hiking and sightseeing in Zion, 2nd night in Springdale
      December 23rd – drive back to Las Vegas (~4 hours from Springdale), fly home
      As for the feasibility of hiking, that all depends on the whims of Mother Nature and what the weather has in store. At the Grand Canyon, the top ends of the inner canyon corridor trails are already iced over, which warrants the rental or purchase of crampons for safety. If this is not practical, the paved Rim Trail offers excellent views from a safer vantage point. In Page, AZ, significant snowfalls are rare, but may result in the cancellation of Antelope Canyon tours if weather poses a risk to visitor safety. Bryce Canyon, which is 8,000′ above sea level, often sees significant snowfall, so you may be restricted to more low-key hiking in that area. Ditto for Zion.
      If all that sounds kind of like a buzzkill, it’s not meant to. There are many advantages to visiting the American Southwest during the winter months! In addition to amazing views complimented by a blanket of white, you typically have fewer people to contend with. Just dress warmly, keep an eye on local weather and road conditions at all times, and be flexible with your travel plans in the event you are delayed or detoured by weather.
      Hope that helps! Good luck, safe travels, and Happy Holidays,
      Alley 🙂

  38. Thank you. What time are the light beams? The reason I said strenuous is because my wife has RA Is the lower part to much?

    1. Hey again, guys!
      The light beams in Upper Antelope Canyon occur between 10:30 AM and 1:30 PM in May. In Lower Antelope Canyon, the light beams do occur, but they aren’t as dramatic as they are in Upper. As to whether the Lower section would be too much for your wife to handle, the best way to judge for yourself would be to watch this Full Video Walk-Through of Lower Antelope Canyon on our companion site, http://www.AntelopeCanyon.AZ. Do note that the people in that video are wearing backpacks, but that’s no longer allowed.
      Take care,
      Alley 🙂

  39. Planning a trip for May with my wife. We are 63 and don’t do strenuous hiking. We want to see it all and can spend up to 17 days on the trip as we are retired. Definitely want to see all of Antelope Canyon. How soon should we get reservations? This will be our last trip to this area.

    1. Hi Mark and Nancy and thank you for visiting our site!
      Antelope Canyon tour reservations for 2020 are expected to be available online soon, probably the first half of December. If you have your heart set on seeing Antelope Canyon during the peak hours, when the light beams occur, you should make reservations ASAP. Ditto for all hotels and any other guided tours you might want to take.
      Regarding “wanting to see all of Antelope Canyon,” that’s kind of a loaded question as the Antelope Canyons are actually a very complex system of tributaries that drain into Lake Powell. Furthermore, if you prefer not to take on any strenuous hiking, you’ll be limited to touring Upper Antelope Canyon, or perhaps Secret Antelope Canyon (aka Horseshoe Bend Slot Canyon). However, you could still get a sense of the true complexity of Antelope Canyon and its connection to the Glen Canyon ecosystem by taking the Upper Antelope Canyon tour with the Waterside Boat Tour from Antelope Point Marina.
      Hope that helps. Please feel free to write in again if you need to bounce any other ideas off our local experts!
      Until then, good luck, safe travels, and Happy Holidays,
      Alley 🙂

  40. G’day from Australia, we used your original itinerary but took more like 21 days. Your advice and the comments from others are all anyone needs to plot this journey, so thank you! We wanted to specifically suggest people take in Gooseneck State Park (day 9 of your itinerary, on the road to Monument Valley, and only five minutes off the route). Check out the photos online: $5 entry gives you access to what amounts to a carpark, BUT the views are awesome. Similar to Horseshoe Bend but more extensive and very few people there. You could do this quickly or take your time – either way it’s a small cost well spent. Also, for a slightly higher fee you can camp or RV overnight and there are toilets there but nothing else. I imagine the star gazing would be incredible. Highly recommended. Tom and Catherine

    1. Hi Tom and Catherine,
      Wow, that’s awesome that you had 3 weeks to do this itinerary! We also appreciate the tip re: including Goosenecks of the San Juan State Park. You are correct in that it’s an easy stop on the way from Monument Valley to Moab, and vice versa, and that the views are amazing.
      Thank you again for visiting our site, and offering your personal observations.
      Take care and Happy Holidays!
      Alley 🙂

  41. This post is amazing, and so are all of the thorough responses to comments. I have a work conference scheduled for February in Phoenix. My husband and I are planning on piggybacking off that trip to hit Zion, Bryce, Arches, Monumental Valley, Antelope, Grand Canyon, and the Hoover Dam. I have a truck camper reserved and all of our RV park stays, but now I’m concerned about the weather. What can we expect in February in these areas? I’m okay with the cold temperatures. I’m more worried about snow.

    1. Hi Lindsey and thanks for visiting us!
      Honestly? I’d ditch the truck camper idea and spring for hotels or motels. The time of year you’re visiting is winter, and you are very likely to encounter snow in areas like the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Arches, and Zion. Page, AZ (where Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend are) even got hammered a few times last year, which is unusual.
      Of course, it’s too soon to call at this point. Typically 2 weeks out is when you can get a clearer picture of what’s actually expected, but if you do proceed with camping, make sure your RV’s heater is in good working order and that you have access to showers on-site if using a water hook-up won’t be an option. Whatever you decide, make sure you have some “wiggle room” in your schedule in case you are delayed or detoured by inclement weather. During an active snowstorm, your best bet is to stay put and not try to power through it.
      I don’t mean to make winter travel in the Grand Circle sound horrible. Winter is one of our favorite times of year up here, and the landscape is even more beautiful under a fresh snowfall! One advantage to traveling in the off-season, too, is that you can sometimes find some discounts on hotels in the area, which is virtually impossible in the summer.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      1. Thank you for the response. I have looked into hotels, and you are correct – they are pretty discounted at this time. What do you think about this itinerary?

        Day 1 – Las Vegas to Zion – Stay at Zion National Park Lodge
        Day 2 – Explore Zion – Zion to Bryce – Stay at Stone Canyon Inn
        Day 3 – Explore Bryce – Bryce to Moab – Stay at Moab Springs Ranch
        Day 4 – Explore Arches – Moab to Monument Valley – Stay at The View Hotel
        Day 5 – Explore Monument Valley and Horseshoe – Monument Valley to Grand Canyon – Stay at Kachina Lodge
        Day 6 – Explore Grand Canyon and then the Hoover Dam – Stay in Vegas

        We love to drive and to road trip. We are okay not spending a whole lot of time at each location. Ultimately, we would like to plan a trip in October 2020 with our kids and spend more time hiking at each location. Does this seem feasible? Or just too much?

        1. Hi again Lindsey,
          I can’t fully endorse this plan. It’s, as you aptly put, “just too much.”
          For example, on day 5, where you propose to “explore Monument Valley and Horseshoe Bend,” then drive to the Grand Canyon, you’re looking at 2 hours to drive from Monument Valley to Page, AZ, visiting Horseshoe Bend, skipping Antelope Canyon, then driving another 3-4 hours to the Grand Canyon. Doesn’t sound like fun, plus you’re traveling at a time of year when he daylength is still relatively short: sunrise occurs just after 7:00 AM, and sunset takes place at around 6:00 PM. That’s not even 12 hours of daylight to work with, and you want to make sure that you get all your driving done when it’s light out. Nighttime driving is a dangerous proposition in this part of the U.S. due to roads that are very dimly lit, and the fact that deer, elk, and other wildlife can be present. Trust me, you don’t want to hit a deer in an unfamiliar area that’s pitch black, where cell service in spotty (if you can get any bars at all), and a tow truck will be a long time coming, not to mention VERY expensive.
          Long story short, I’d recommend taking Moab off the table this time around. You need at least 3 days in that area to do it justice anyway, plus October is a much better time to be there! Concentrate on Zion, Bryce, Page, and the Grand Canyon. So on day 4, where you propose to drive from Bryce to Moab, instead, drive from Bryce to Page, AZ (~3 hour drive), tour Antelope Canyon that afternoon, stay overnight in Page, then hit Horseshoe Bend on your way to Monument Valley the next morning.
          Have a great time, and let us know how you get on,
          Alley 🙂

          1. Thank you, Alley. I actually did not translate the itinerary the best in the previous post. Here is what I came up with. I am totally good leaving Moab out, if necessary. Here is our actual itinerary at the moment:

            Day 1 – Wed, Feb 12, 2019
            Arrive in Las Vegas
            Pick up rental car
            Drive to Zion Lodge – 3 hours

            Day 2 – Thu, Feb 13, 2019 – Zion National Park
            Zion Jeep Tour (10AM – 1PM)
            Drive to Stone Canyon Inn – 2 hours

            Day 3 – Fri, Feb 14, 2019 – Bryce Canyon
            Hike Rim Trail – Sunset Point to Sunrise Point
            Drive to Moab Springs Ranch – 4.5 hrs

            Day 4 – Sat, Feb 15, 2019 – Arches National Park
            Moab Adventure Tour (9:15AM – 1:15PM)
            The View Hotel – $283.86 – 3 hours

            Day 5 – Sun, Feb 16, 2019 – Monument Valley and Horseshoe Bend
            Tribal Tours (9:30AM – 11AM)
            Drive to Horseshoe Bend Slot Canyon Tours – 2 hours
            Horseshoe Bend Overlook Tour (2:30PM – 3:30PM)
            Hyatt Place Page

            Day 6 – Mon, Feb 17, 2019 – Antelope Canyon & Grand Canyon
            Dixie Ellis’ Lower Antelope Canyon Tours (9:45AM – 10:45AM)
            Drive to Buck Wild Hummer Tours – 2.5 hours
            Buck Wild Grand Canyon Sunset Hummer Tour (4:30PM – 6:30PM)
            Kachina Lodge

            Day 7 – Tue, Feb 18, 2019
            Drive to the Hoover Dam – 3 hours
            Tour the Hoover Dam
            Drive to Las Vegas Strip
            Stay in Vegas

            Any better? Or do you still think leaving Moab out would be best?

          2. Hi Lindsey,
            That itinerary looks pretty fun, and if you’ve actually scored rooms at Zion Lodge, The View in Monument Valley, and Kachina at the Grand Canyon, that’s awesome. I’d advise hanging onto all of it. As to whether you drop Moab, UT, it looks as though you’ve managed to make it work fairly well. Just be advised that once you see what the area has to offer, I can pretty much guarantee you will be planning a return visit when you can spend more time and do more stuff!
            The one thing that might put a kabosh on any plans at the time of year you’re visiting is weather. February is winter, and snow is a very real possibility in areas such as Moab, Bryce, Zion, and the Grand Canyon. Page, AZ, even got hammered pretty good last year, but that’s unusual. Still, you’ll want to start monitoring weather about 2 weeks before you get set to travel. That will give you the best idea of how/what to pack.
            The most important advice I can give you at this point is that your drive times are in need of a bit of a “reality check.” For example, Las Vegas to Zion is apt to take more along the lines of 4 hours due to a long-term construction project taking place on a stretch of I-15 through the Virgin River Gorge. The estimate of 3 hours to drive from Kachina Lodge to Hoover Dam is just flat out wrong, even if you were to drive direct, with wheels turning, no stops, it’s more likely to take you ~4 hours. Everywhere else, it’s a good idea to pad your drive time estimates by 10-20%, especially the drive from Page, AZ, to Grand Canyon South Rim. This is a very scenic drive and it would be a shame for you to miss the many photo ops that trip has to offer because you’re racing against the clock to get to a tour. For that reason, I’d recommend dropping the Buck Wild Sunset Tour. Not that it isn’t a fun trip – it is, I’ve actually taken it – but because you’re driving down from Page, AZ, you’ll be able to cover areas that the tour goes to in your own vehicle. Plus, because you’re staying inside the park at Kachina Lodge, you’ll already be perfectly situated to view sunset from the best vantage point possible without a tour: right on the rim.
            Lastly, in February, it’s very important that you keep an eye on the time and get any and all driving done during daylight hours. Roads in Northern Arizona and Southern Utah are very dimly lit, a deliberate move to preserve the natural darkness of the night sky, plus deer, elk, and other wildlife are usually moving about after dark. Hitting a deer is not something you want to experience in an unfamiliar area that’s pitch black, where cell phone service is spotty to non-existent, and help will be a long time coming, not to mention VERY expensive. Sunrise occurs at ~7:15 AM, sunset takes place around 6:00 PM.
            Hope that helps. Let us know how you get on!
            Alley 🙂

  42. Thanks Alley that sounds great! We are arriving in Denver on Oct. 14 and decided to travel north to Estes Park that night. The next day do the loop thru
    Rocky Mountain Park. Then head south and do as many parks as we can.

    1. Hey again Robert,
      You’ve picked a great time to be here! Have a fun trip, and pack a jacket and some gloves just in case – it’s getting cold out there 🙂
      Also, Grand Canyon North Rim will be closed by the time you make it down that way, so the South Rim would be where you’d want to visit.
      Alley

  43. This sounds fabulous. Husband and I just talking about a 2 week free style without long drives in between. We want to get out of Ne Ohio snow . We want warmer weather not necessarily hot. Can we do this trip in Jan, Feb OR March and still enjoy nice weather? Thanks for some great insight.

    1. Hi Sue!
      Sorry to be the bearer of potentially bad news, but the timeframe between January and March isn’t typically known for nice weather in the American Southwest. The locations on this 14-day itinerary can and do get snow, or best case scenario, days that are sunny and brisk. If you clamor for warmer weather, but not summertime-hot, you’d be better off traveling in either April or October. October in particular is our favorite time of year because temperatures are cooling down and crowds are thinning out. Hotels and tours still require advance reservations, but it’s usually just us “grown-ups” out there since most kids are back in school.
      Hope that helps. Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  44. If flying into Denver and out of Las Vegas with 15 days, what would be the best route to take to see the most? I’m 68 and my son is 39

    1. Hey Robert!
      I wish I knew when you were planning to travel as that definitely has a bearing on how I advise you. Assuming that you’re traveling during the summer – specifically between May 15th and October 15th – here’s what I would suggest:
      Day 1 – Drive from Denver, CO, to Moab, UT (~6 hour drive), overnight in Moab
      Day 2 – Hiking/exploring in Canyonlands National Park, 2nd night in Moab
      Day 3 – Touring in Arches National Park, 3rd night in Moab
      Day 4 – Drive from Moab, UT, to Mesa Verde National Park, CO, (~3 hour drive) overnight in Durango or Cortez
      Day 5 – Drive from Mesa Verde to Monument Valley (~3.5 hour drive), overnight in Monument Valley area
      Day 6 – (Optional) Take backcountry tour of Monument Valley, drive to Page, AZ (~2.5 hours), overnight in Page
      Day 7 – Visit Horseshoe Bend, tour Antelope Canyon, 2nd night in Page
      Day 8 – Take Glen Canyon Float Trip or Rainbow Bridge Boat Tour, 3rd night in Page
      Day 9 – Drive from Page, AZ, to Bryce Canyon National Park (~3 hour drive), overnight in Bryce Canyon area
      Day 10 – Drive from Bryce Canyon to Zion National Park (~2 hour drive), overnight in Springdale, UT, or Kanab, UT
      Day 11 – Hike and explore in Zion National Park, 2nd night in Springdale or Kanab
      Day 12 – Hit sights you missed in Zion, 3rd night in Springdale or Kanab
      Day 13 – Drive from Zion to Grand Canyon North Rim (~3 hour drive), overnight at the North Rim
      Day 14 – Drive from Grand Canyon North Rim to Las Vegas (~4.5-5 hour drive depending on construction on I-15 [there’s always something]) w/optional detour to Valley of Fire State Park, overnight in Vegas
      Day 15 – Fly home

      If your visit is occurring between October 15th and May 15th, Grand Canyon North Rim is closed during this time, but the South Rim is open, so you could simply head to the South Rim from Zion, then on to Vegas. The drive from Zion to the South Rim is longer (~5-6 hours), but is doable with an early enough start out of Springdale or Kanab.

      Hope that helps. Feel free to hit us up again if you need further guidance.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  45. Hi! Hoping you can give some advice – My husband and I – both in our 60’s – are planning a Grand Circle trip in mid May 2020. We plan on taking at least two weeks. We want to fly to Salt Lake City and then fly home from Las Vegas. Can you give us any suggestions? We are not sure if the North Rim of the Grand Canyon will be open but hope so! We do want to see the south rim as well. Any advice is welcome!
    Thanks so much.

    1. Hi Sherry!
      The North Rim of the Grand Canyon typically opens on May 15th. On rare occasions, such as a heavy snow season, that may be delayed by a few days, but if you time your trip right, you should be golden.
      Flying into SLC and out of Las Vegas, here’s what I’d suggest:
      Day 1: Fly into SLC, overnight in SLC
      Day 2: Drive from SLC to Moab, UT (~5 hour drive, factoring in stops for meals, restroom breaks, photo ops — all drive times will reflect more “realistic” estimates for first-time visitors instead of a “wheels turning/no stops” figure), overnight in Moab, UT
      Day 3: Explore Arches National Park, 2nd night in Moab
      Day 4: Explore Canyonlands National Park, 3rd night in Moab
      Day 5: Drive from Moab, UT, to Capitol Reef National Park (~3.5 hour drive), overnight in Torrey, Boulder, Caineville, or Antimony area Capitol Reef Lodging
      Day 6: Drive from Capitol Reef to Bryce Canyon National Park via Utah Scenic Byway 12 (~3.5 hour drive), overnight in Bryce Canyon City, Hatch, Panguitch area
      Day 7: Drive to Zion National Park (~2.5 hours), overnight in Springdale, UT
      Day 8: Hiking and exploring in Zion, 2nd night in Springdale
      Day 9: Drive from Zion/Springdale, UT, to Grand Canyon North Rim (~3 hour drive), overnight in Grand Canyon North Rim area
      Day 10: Drive from Grand Canyon North Rim to Page, AZ (~3 hour drive), overnight in Page, AZ
      Day 11: Visit Horseshoe Bend at sunrise, tour Antelope Canyon, 2nd night in Page, AZ
      Day 12: Drive from Page, AZ to Grand Canyon South Rim (~3.5-4 hour drive), overnight at Grand Canyon Village or Tusayan
      Day 13: 2nd day at Grand Canyon South Rim , overnight at South Rim
      Day 14: Drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Las Vegas, with optional stop at Hoover Dam (~5.5 hour drive), enjoy a few days in Las Vegas, or fly home!

      IMO the hardest component of this itinerary to pull off will be Grand Canyon North Rim. There’s not much lodging in that area to work with in the first place, and just doing a cursory check of hotels in the immediate vicinity of the park shows that they’re already sold out, which isn’t surprising at all. If that remains the case, you could still work a visit to the North Rim in in one of several ways:
      1. add another day onto Springdale, UT (Zion) and visit as a day trip from there (it’s ~a 2.5 hour drive each way)
      2. add another day onto Page, AZ and visit as a day trip (again, ~2.5 hours each way)
      3. stay somewhere like Kanab, UT, and visit as a day trip, which is only ~a 90 minute drive, one way or
      4. take a scenic flight over the North Rim from Grand Canyon National Park Airport at the South Rim; granted, neither of these will land at the North Rim, but will still give you enough time over it to see how different it is from the South Rim; mornings are generally the best time to fly for optimal light and lack of wind. Grand Canyon Airplane Tours Grand Canyon Helicopter Tours
      Hope that helps! Feel free to write again if we can be of further assistance in your trip planning.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      1. Alley-
        Thank you so much for your quick response and information.
        Our original plan was to see Bryce, Zion and the Grand Canyon. the five hour drive to Moab seems overwhelming! What is your opinion?
        -Sherry

        1. Hi again, Sherry!
          If the prospect of a 5-hour drive to Moab, UT, from SLC doesn’t appeal doesn’t appeal, the communities of either Price, Utah or Helper, Utah, would make for a nice mid-way point to break up the drive.
          Have fun!
          Alley 🙂

  46. Wow! Love this site! Hoping you can help my husband and me on our trip itinerary. We arrive Las Vegas 8:20 am October 23 and leave 7:00 am November 5 to celebrate our 25 year anniversary. My husband hasn’t been to Las Vegas so thinking we should spend one night at the end of our trip. Maybe see Hoover Dam and Death Valley that day?
    Neither of us has been to Utah or Arizona and of course, want to see it all. Zion (hike Angel’s Landing and The Narrows so couple days here-worried about these long hikes and doing so close together!), Bryce, Arches, Grand Canyon and so many other sites to see! What are your recommendations? Thank you in advance for your time!

    1. Hi Lori and thank you for visiting our site. Congratulations as well on your upcoming wedding anniversary! You’ve chosen a great place and time in which to spend it 😉
      At this point, how you plan your itinerary will largely depend on lodging availability — or maybe lack thereof — at the various locations you want to visit. Availability of Antelope Canyon tours is also an important factor to consider when making plans.
      That said, a “classic” Grand Circle vacation itinerary goes something like this:
      Day 1 – Drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim (~5 hour drive), overnight at the Grand Canyon
      Day 2 – Drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ (~3.5-4 hours factoring in stops), stop at Horseshoe Bend on the way into town, overnight in Page
      Day 3 – Tour Antelope Canyon, spend 2nd night in Page, AZ
      Day 4 – Drive from Page, AZ to Moab, UT via Monument Valley (~6 hour drive), overnight in Moab, UT
      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 (~3-4 hours), overnight in Torrey, Hanksville, Loa, or other gateway community Capitol Reef lodging
      Day 8 – Drive from Capitol Reef to Bryce Canyon National Park (~3-4 hours), overnight in Tropic, Panguitch, Hatch, Kanab, or other Bryce Canyon gateway community Bryce Canyon lodging
      Day 9 – Drive from Bryce Canyon to Zion National Park (~2.5-3 hour drive), overnight in Springdale, UT
      Day 10 – Hike Angel’s Landing, 2nd night in Springdale, Utah
      Day 11 – Other hiking in Zion (the Narrows may not be realistic at the time of year you’re visiting because it’s starting to get too cold; for more suggestions, check out “A November Weekend in Zion“), 3rd night in Zion
      Day 12 – Drive from Springdale, UT to Las Vegas, NV (~3.5-4 hours), overnight in Las Vegas
      Day 13 – fly home

      Of course, the above itinerary can be reversed if you find that lodging availability at the Grand Canyon or Zion is more conducive to doing so. Simply schedule that overnight in Las Vegas on the front end of your trip instead of on the back end.
      As I’d mentioned at the part where you get to Zion, your visit is taking place during the transitional period between winter and spring. Days are typically sunny and brisk, best case scenario; worst case scenario, you could run into an early-season snowstorm in any of the parks on your itinerary, but especially Bryce, since it’s 8,000′ above sea level. Of course, it’s too soon to tell what will shake out at this point in time, but I would strongly advise starting to monitor area weather about 2 weeks before you get ready to travel, and plan on at least packing a jacket, gloves, etc., regardless.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  47. We are traveling in an Rv from the East in September. From Missouri to Colorado and Utah then heading to Apache Junction AZ. We want to see the Arches and Canyonland in
    Utah and not sure what to see in Colorado. We have been to North and South rim of Grand Canyon already. We heard the roads in Colorado can be bad in September. Any knowledge of this?
    Suggested route?

    1. Hey Kathy!
      In general, the further North you go in Colorado, the higher your risk of encountering snow early in the season. Therefore, you may want to save Rocky Mountain National Park for a summertime visit, but you should be fine visiting attractions in the Soutwestern part of the state, such as the Great Sand Dunes National Preserve, Pagosa Springs, Ouray, the Durango/Silverton Narrow Guage, Mesa Verde National Park, and Canyons of the Ancients.

      I recommend you start monitoring the weather about 2 weeks before you get set to travel. Also, it’s a good idea to check whether any roads you intend to travel are problematic for RV’s. Interstate and most State highways shouldn’t be a problem in that regard, but narrow mountain roads that are extra windy, or have steep grades may not be the best choice in a large rig. There are many RV’ing groups on Facebook that you can bounce your ideas off.
      Whatever you decide, be sure to reserve spaces at RV parks well in advance. It would be best to plan on staying at developed RV parks at the time of year you’re visiting. Nights are starting to cool off and you’ll definitely appreciate having access to reliable heat!
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  48. Hi. I have been looking at reviews of southern utah itinerary and you seem to know a lot about the best routes to take! Curious if you could help us out a bit.

    Sept 25-Oct 4th we have available. We get into las vegas around 4pm and leave Vegas around 2pm on the 4th. We are renting a RV for the trip. We are looking to do Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, and Moab area. I really would like to add Antelope Canyon, do you think we have time to add that in? And what would be the best routes to take. Thanks in advance for any help!

    1. Hey Danielle,
      I think with the time you have allotted, you should be able to work Antelope Canyon into your trip. Many travelers have toured Utah’s Mighty 5 by RV and had a wonderful time. I’m confident that you will, too! This piece on Campendium details all the best places to camp in the UM5, and dispenses a wise piece of advice: be sure to make reservations for all developed RV parks in advance. You will most likely want to stay in developed RV parks since nights are getting cold at that time of year, and reliable heat is a convenience you’re bound to appreciate. If you’re wanting to “boondock” (take advantage of free camping), remember that there will be lots of other people with the same thoughts as you, so campsites should be snagged as early as possible.
      One question I have for you: the Grand Canyon is conspicuously absent from your itinerary. Have you already been there? If not, you should definitely take advantage of the opportunity to work it in, and visit the beautiful, less crowded North Rim! Since RV park spaces are bound to already be booked there, I’d recommend doing that as a day trip from Springdale, UT, where you’ll most likely end up staying to explore Zion. The catch: it’s about a 2.5-hour drive each way (you’ll want to go the “long-ish” way around so you avoid paying the $15 escort fee through the Zion-Mt Carmel Tunnel), and the North Rim is a different animal from the South Rim, and roads there are more narrow, so navigating some of the viewpoints would be a challenge in an RV. Recommend reading this forum thread on TripAdvisor re: visiting Grand Canyon North Rim in an RV.
      So, given your trip’s start and end dates, you could do something like this:
      September 26th: Drive from Las Vegas to Zion (~4.5 hour drive, factoring in possible delays due to construction on I-15 through the Virgin River Gorge), overnight at Springdale, UT Sprindale RV Parks ***if you can’t find accommodations in Springdale, UT, look to Kanab, UT RV parks
      September 27th: Take Zion Park Shuttle into park, hike the Narrows or Angel’s Landing, or do one of any of the area’s beautiful hikes that pique your interest, return to Springdale, 2nd night in Springdale (or Kanab)
      September 28th: Day trip to North Rim; if you’ve already been to the North Rim, do a 2nd day in Zion (you won’t have a problem filling the time), 3rd night in Springdale or Kanab
      September 29th: Drive to Bryce Canyon (~2-2.5 hour drive) ***On this part of the drive, you’ll need to pay a $15 escort fee to drive through the Zion-Mt Carmel Tunnel, or take the “long” way around again, which would add another hour onto the drive time. Overnight in Bryce Canyon area – RV parks in the park do not have hook-ups, so you’ll probably want to overnight somewhere outside the park, or Kanab, UT, if Bryce Canyon area is full. Bryce Canyon RV Parks
      September 30th – Drive from Bryce Canyon to Capitol Reef (~3 hour drive), overnight in Torrey, UT or nearby Capitol Reef RV Parks
      October 1st – Drive from Capitol Reef to Moab, UT (~3 hour drive), overnight in Moab, UT
      October 2nd – Explore Arches/Canyonlands area, 2nd night in Moab
      October 3rd – Get early start out of Moab, UT, drive to Page, AZ via Monument Valley (~6 hour drive), tour Antelope Canyon in the afternoon overnight in Page, AZ
      October 4th – Hit Horseshoe Bend just after sunrise (~6:30 AM), then drive back to Las Vegas (~6 hour drive, again, due to construction), fly home

      As you can probably see, the above itinerary is kind of tight, so if you’ve already been to the Grand Canyon, simply take that day out of the equation and move everything else up by a day accordingly.
      Hope that helps! Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  49. Hi Alley!

    My partner and I are flying from Australia on our first USA trip – we’re so excited!! We’ve got flights in and out of San Francisco. September 17th – November 3rd – 7 weeks.

    During our trip we want to see as much of this amazing landscape featured on your website as we can – your site is going to be so handy!!! We also want to see Yosemite, Death Valley, Yellowstone, Mt Rushmore, visit friends near Detroit, then Washington DC, NYC, and Houston. We think we’ll start with Yosemite, Yellowstone, Rushmore (maybe driving? Are we mad????), then fly Detroit > DC > NYC > Houston…
    We think we’ll finish the trip by hiring a campervan or other vehicle, and roadtripping back to San Francisco through this area. Do you think driving from Houston is too far, or should we get a flight into Salt Lake City or Las Vegas or another location?

    Any advise would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks,
    Elizabeth

    1. Hey Elizabeth, and congratulations on your first visit to the USA!
      With 7 weeks to work with, you can certainly accomplish a lot, and as you have correctly deduced, doing a combination of flying and driving will grant you more freedom and flexibility than doing just a straight drive.
      Another factor that will play an important role on what you do when will be weather. Detroit, MI, for example, gets a lot of snow, which typically starts in November. Yellowstone, however, can see snow as early as September, after which visitor facilities begin closing for the season in pretty rapid succession. Winter weather typically waits until October/November to show up at Mt. Rushmore, but the park remains open all year.
      In order to make the most of your time, and to hit Yellowstone NP and the Grand Tetons before it’s too late, I’d recommend starting your trip by flying into Salt Lake City. Allow 10-14 days to explore Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, and other attractions nearby, as well as Mt. Rushmore and Devil’s Tower, maybe spend a day or two at Lava Hot Springs in Idaho, circle back to SLC, then fly to Detroit, hit NYC, DC, and Houston.
      Sometime in early October, fly from from Houston, TX, to Las Vegas, NV. Make a loop through the parks of Northern Arizona and Southern Utah using this article as a guideline for a 14-day trip, or pare it down according to your personal goals and desires. Afterward, circle back to Las Vegas and start making your way into California. You probably should try and hit Yosemite first as that area can also get snowed on early, then down to Sequoia National Park, then Death Valley, then back up to San Francisco to fly home. Time permitting, you might spend a few days in LA before heading up to SF for your return flight. As you’ve no doubt already seen, there are all kinds of possibilities for having an amazing time in the U.S.!
      I hope that helps get your thought processes more organized. Feel free to visit and post again if you require further guidance!
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  50. Loving your itineraries! We will be traveling in our motorhome next year from Central IL for the GC and the Grand Circle Tour. We are planning on 6 weeks. I’ve been pouring over all the comments and ideas on both this page and the 7 Day Itinerary. We felt that with 6 weeks, that would give us ample time at locations between here and there as well…Albuquerque, Amarillo, OKC, etc. We had considered trying to tie in Yellowstone and Grand Tetons with this trip but after reading all your info I think we would be better off doing those as a separate trip. Any additional suggestions for us? We were considering September and October 2020 – wanting to enjoy the smaller adult crowds after Labor Day. Also, would you suggest starting a one location over another? Thanks for all your hard work and expertise you are sharing with all of us!!

    1. Hi Christina!
      Good on you for planning your vacation well in advance. Starting out from Chicago, IL, you have an amazing opportunity you may not have been aware of: to drive a good chunk of the Mother Road, aka Route 66! Driving a motor home, you’ll need to be more conscious of the roads you travel than someone in say a Ford Taurus, but lots of people do 66 in motorhomes and have a wonderful time. But I digress…
      With 6 weeks to work with, you could theoretically work Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons into your trip plans, and if you are really serious about doing so, you’ll want to hit these parks first. I actually live in Wyoming now, and have seen Yellowstone especially get snowed in in the latter part of September, then get closed off completely as early as October. If this happens, West Yellowstone will be the only gateway community with access into the park, and sometimes, that’s limited to snowmobile or snowcat. In that situation, you might also want to spring for a hotel since you’ll want to have reliable heat, and most RV parks in the area will be closed for the season. So… all that said, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Glacier, and the National Parks of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho may indeed be something to save for a summer trip.
      With that in mind, I suggest going back to the “Route 66” idea, and with your extra time, you could visit some of the parks in Southern Colorado like Mesa Verde, and Canyons of the Ancients, or you could swing over into California and hit Death Valley, Sequoia, Yosemite, and over to San Francisco for a few days. The drive from Chicago, IL, to Grand Canyon South Rim takes 26 hours, so you will probably want to break up the drive into 4-5 days for everyone’s comfort and sanity. I’m not as familiar with the attractions East of Albuquerque as I am with those West of ABQ, but you’ll find lots of websites and Facebook groups to give you guidance on the Eastern section of the route. In Albuquerque, you might stop for a couple of days to explore Petroglyph National Monument, take the Sandia Park Tramway, make a day trip to Santa Fe, or take a stroll through the historic downtown area. Things To Do In Albuquerque
      Traveling from Albuquerque to Grand Canyon South Rim, you might stop over at the Petrified Forest/Painted Desert National Park, Meteor Crater, and don’t forget to do some “Standin’ On The Corner in Winslow, Arizona!” While in Winslow, enjoy a meal at the Turquoise Room at the beautiful La Posada Hotel.
      Once you get to Arizona, take a couple of weeks to tour Grand Canyon South Rim, Page, Monument Valley, Arches/Canyonlands (Moab, UT), Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, Zion, and Las Vegas.

      From Las Vegas, hit Death Valley, Sequoia, Yosemite, San Francisco, Mt. Lassen, Reno, Lake Tahoe, then head back to Chicago through Nevada, Wyoming, Nebraska and Iowa via I-80.

      That route does pass through Wyoming, but it traverses the Southern part of the state, which usually doesn’t start getting snowed on until around Thanksgiving. Note — usually 😉
      As you can see, there are lots of possibilities! Just be sure to make advance reservations for RV parks in the National Parks and Monuments, especially in the higher altitude areas as nights will start getting cold and reliable heat will be a definite necessity and not just a “nicety.”
      Hope that helps! Feel free to hit us up again if you need further guidance.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  51. Hi Alley,
    Thanks so much for the valuable information you have shared. I am looking to take up to 16 days to do the grand circle with Las Vegas as the jumping off point. I will be taking my parents, who are a bit mobile challenged but can still do some easy hikes. We have not decided yet what month(s) but are flexible to April through September next year. The desire would be to be to avoid the hotter months and where there will be less visitors so I assume that would be April/May and August/September? Any additional recommendations for things to do when traveling with older folks that have some mobility issues? Thanks in advanced!

    1. Hi Ian and thank you for writing in!
      Is there any chance you could scoot your visit to late September/early October? If so, you will experience much better weather than you would in late August/early September, which is still hot in areas such as Page, AZ, and Moab, UT. April/May is OK, but is within the transitional period between winter and spring. Late-season snowstorms are notorious for occurring at that time of year, which can put a kink in travel plans. However, since you have 16 days to work with, you’re much better situated than many travelers to alter your plans should the need arise, without severely impacting your overall experience.
      With mobility-challenged individuals in your party, you will be somewhat limited in the activities you pursue, as you’ve rightfully deduced. However, that should not lessen your enjoyment of the various parks on your tour in the least. In Page, AZ, you’ll want to stick to Upper Antelope Canyon since this slot canyon is relative short and does not have any stairs or ladders to navigate. It does, however, require an off-road ride that can get a bit bumpy. People with back problems should request to sit up front in the truck with the guide to soften the impact. You might consider pairing an Upper Antelope Canyon walking tour with a boat tour of its waterside on Lake Powell.
      In Zion, easy but scenic hiking opportunities are plentiful, such as the Riverside Walk or Weeping Rock Trail. Ditto for Arches National Park and just about every other stop on this tour.
      Just about every National Park in the country offers what’s called an “Accessibility Guide.” Although tailored to families traveling with people who have wheelchairs, these guides are helpful for anyone dealing with mobility limitations. Simply Google the National Park you’re interested in and add “accessibility guide” to your search. Grand Canyon National Park Accessibility Guide
      If your folks have a handicapped placard for their vehicle at home, they might wish to bring it with them, as this will enable you to drive your personal vehicle on the Hermit’s Rest/West Rim Drive of the Grand Canyon, which is normally closed to private vehicles.
      Hope that helps – good luck and safe travels!
      Alley 🙂

  52. Hi there!
    Thanks for this awesome post. I’m planning to do this trip late August/ early September. We’d be flying out on a Monday and then returning on Sunday (so about 12 days, 8/26 – 9/8) — do you have a recommendation for a modified version of this itinerary that would cut a few days? Thanks so much!

    1. Hey Mallorie!
      One characteristic of this itinerary that most will not have the time, luck, or inclination to include is a couple of days to try their hand at the walk-in lottery for The Wave, then hiking The Wave. Cut that out of the picture, and you can safely include pretty much everything else.
      Assuming you’re flying into/out of Las Vegas, a 12-day itinerary could look something like this:
      Day 1 – drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim, with optional stop at Hoover Dam, ~5.5 hour drive, overnight at the Grand Canyon
      Day 2 – drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ (~4 hour drive factoring in stops), tour Antelope Canyon, overnight in Page, AZ
      Day 3 – 2nd day/night in Page, AZ; visit Horseshoe Bend just after sunrise, take Glen Canyon Float Trip or Rainbow Bridge Boat Tour
      Day 4 – Drive from Page, AZ to Moab, UT via Monument Valley (~5-6 hour drive), optional stop at Goosenecks of the San Juan State Park, overnight in Moab, UT
      Day 5 – 2nd day/night in Moab, UT, explore Arches National Park
      Day 6 – 3rd day/night in Moab, UT, explore Canyonlands National Park
      Day 7 – Drive from Moab, UT, to Capitol Reef National Park, overnight in Torrey, Hanksville, or Fruita, UT.
      Day 8 – Drive from Capitol Reef to Bryce Canyon via Scenic Byway #12 (through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument), overnight in Bryce Canyon or nearby
      Day 9 – Drive from Bryce to Zion National Park (~2.5 hours), overnight in Springdale, UT
      Day 10 – 2nd day/night in Zion, hike The Narrows (if desired), or do other hikes in Zion,
      Day 11 – 3rd day/night in Zion, hike Angel’s Landing (if desired)
      Day 12 – Drive to Las Vegas, fly home

      The first thing to check is availability of lodging at Grand Canyon, then Antelope Canyon tours. Depending on availability of these key components, or lack thereof, you may need to be prepared to flip-flop this itinerary.
      Hope that helps! Feel free to hit us up again if we can be of further assistance.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  53. Hi Alley,
    Thank you so much for all the valuable information you so generously share! We plan on following your Grand Circle itinerary on our trip out west the last two weeks of September. We are renting a car in Las Vegas and returning the car to Las Vegas. The only addition we would like to make is a 2 or 3 night stay in Sedona. Would it be better to do that at the beginning of the trip or the end? Or, if we wanted to add 2 or 3 more days to the 14 day itinerary, is there anyplace else we should consider visiting instead of Sedona? We have been to Yosemite which we loved!
    Thanks for all your help!

    1. Hi Judy, and thank you for your excellent inquiry. Late September is a great time to be here, and people know that, so you can still expect the area to be busy, but it’s usually just us grown-ups out there touring since most kids are back in school.
      As to whether you place Sedona at the beginning or end of your trip, that largely depends on you and whether you prefer to get the more labor-intensive destinations out of the way first and conclude your vacation with some quality chill time (in which case you’d want to visit Sedona last), or if you prefer to ease into travel mode with a spa day (or two) and some retail therapy (in which case, you’d want to hit Sedona first).
      Using Las Vegas as your staging city, if you’re more inclined to wrap up your vacation with some relaxation, I’d suggest doing this:
      Las Vegas to Zion, 2-3 days in Zion (stay in Springdale, UT, or Kanab, UT)
      Zion to Bryce, 1 days in Bryce
      Bryce to Capitol Reef, 1-2 days in Torrey
      Capitol Reef to Moab, 3 days in Moab
      Moab to Page via Monument Valley, 2 days in Page (tour Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend)
      Page to Grand Canyon South Rim, 1-2 days in Grand Canyon
      Grand Canyon to Sedona, 3-4 days in Sedona, before driving back to Las Vegas
      If for some reason lodging or tour availability doesn’t cooperate with the above trip plan, you can always flip-flop it.
      If you decide against visiting Sedona on this particular trip for some reason, another destination you might consider instead is the San Rafael Swell area of Utah. You could slide this stop between Capitol Reef and Moab and use Green River, Hanksville, or Caineville as your lodging base. Another possibility would be to hit Mesa Verde National Park in Southwestern Colorado in between Monument Valley and Moab. Good lodging bases for this area would be Durango or Cortez.
      Hope that helps! Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

    1. Hi Laura!
      If you’re looking to do a 2-week trip using Phoenix as your staging city, you’ll want to narrow your sightseeing radius a bit. Substitute 3-4 days in Sedona, AZ, for Moab. It’s a beautiful area with lots to see and do. It’s ~2 hours from Phoenix, so depending on lodging availability, and your preference for getting the longer drives out of the way at the beginning of your tour, or ramping up slowly and doing them toward the end of your tour.
      Assuming you’d like to have 3-4 days of downtime at the end of your vacation, a 2-week itinerary in and out of Phoenix would look something like this:
      Day 1 – Drive from Phoenix to Petrified Forest/Painted Desert (~4 hours drive), overnight in Holbrook, AZ
      Day 2 – Drive from Holbrook, AZ, to Canyon de Chelly National Monument (~2 hours drive), take guided tour of rim drives and/or White House ruins, overnight in Chinle, AZ, or Kayenta, AZ
      Day 3 – Drive from Chinle, AZ, to Monument Valley, take guided backcountry tour, overnight in Monument Valley, or Kayenta, AZ
      Day 4 – Drive from Monument Valley to Page, AZ (~2.5 hours), tour Antelope Canyon, overnight in Page, AZ
      Day 5 – 2nd day/night in Page, AZ, possible activities: Glen Canyon Half Day Float Trip or Rainbow Bridge Boat Tour
      Day 6 – Visit Horseshoe Bend, drive to Bryce Canyon (~3 hours), drive or take free shuttles around scenic loop drive, overnight in Bryce or nearby
      Day 7 – Drive from Bryce to Zion (~2 hour drive), overnight in Mt. Carmel, Orderville, or Kanab, UT
      Day 8 – 2nd day/night in Zion, possible activities: hike The Narrows, Angel’s Landing, Emerald Pools, Watchman Trail Good hikes in Zion
      Day 9 – Drive from Zion to Grand Canyon South Rim (~4.5-5 hours), overnight in Grand Canyon
      Day 10 – 2nd day/night in Grand Canyon
      Day 11 – Drive from Grand Canyon to Sedona (~3 hours), overnight in Sedona
      Day 12 – 2nd day/night in Sedona, possible activities: hot air balloon ride, Pink Jeep Broken Arrow Tour, hike Oak Creek Canyon Things To Do in Sedona
      Day 13 – 3rd day/night in Sedona day trip to Montezuma’s Castle or Jerome
      Day 14 – drive to Phoenix ~2 hours, fly home

      Whatever you decide to do, be sure to book all lodging and guided tours in advance. Also, plan to purchase an America The Beautiful Federal Lands Access Pass. 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. The only areas it doesn’t work are Native American Tribal Parks (such as Antelope Canyon and Monument Valley), and State Parks (Sedona has a lot of these), but it will still pay for itself on this trip.
      Hope that helps. Good luck and safe travels!
      Alley 🙂

  54. Thanks for the quick responses. I’ve actually added an extra day and have decided to do round trip out of SLC. We would stay one night in Bryce then drive to SLC. This makes most sense to us with car rentals and flights. I will look at your suggestion of Durango and see how that plays into our plans. Thanks again . . . We are so excited for this adventure!!

  55. Hi Alley, Planning on flying in to SLC this October. We will rent a car and drive to our base hotel in Moab for 3 nights allowing us to visit/hike Canyonlands/Dead Horse 1 day, Arches 2 days. Next, we will be driving down to Monument Valley stopping at some points of interests (Wilson Arch, Newspaperrock, Goosenecks, Forest Gump, Mexican Hat) along the way staying 1 night. Next day take a tour of Monument Valley then drive to Page for one night. In the morning do Lower Antelope Canyon then drive to Carmel Junction as our base for 4 nights to do Bryce Canyon 1 day and 2 days in Zion and 1 really hopeful day for the Wave. Drive next day to Vegas via Valley of Fire to fly home. Do you think my itinerary is too busy? Should I add a day or two and where would you add it?

    1. Hi Tanya,
      I don’t think your itinerary sounds too busy at all, and October is a great time to be here!
      I’m assuming that your accommodations are already booked? If so, you might have a hard time changing or shifting your reservations to accommodate a couple more days of travel.
      Lodging availability permitting, a couple of possibilities would be:
      1. Swinging through Durango, Colorado, which is ~3.5 hours from Moab, and spend a couple days exploring Mesa Verde National Park, and/or taking the Durango/Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad tour before heading to Monument Valley.

      2. Instead of going directly to Moab, UT, from SLC, head over to Vernal, UT (~3 hours drive from SLC), and explore Dinosaur National Monument, Fantasy Canyon, and other “off the normal tourist radar” attractions. Moab, UT, would then be ~a 4-hour drive away, longer with a stopover in Grand Junction, CO.

      3. Instead of flying directly out of Las Vegas, take an extra day to explore Red Rock Canyon, Mt. Charleston, Death Valley, maybe take the Black Canyon Adventure smooth water raft trip from Hoover Dam to Willow Beach Marina, or a riverboat ride on Lake Mead. Day trips from Las Vegas
      As you can see, there are lots of possibilities, but don’t fret if lodging availability, or lack thereof, doesn’t permit making alterations to your trip plan. It’s already great as it is!
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  56. Hi Alley, I want to thank you in advance. Just looking at your comments and the amount of time and energy you put into people request is quite impressive. My wife and I are looking to travel 14 days in the grand circle. We’re planning to travel either June or October of this year. My wife is a cancer survivor and has some limitations. She can get around okay, she does not need any kind of special assistance, but she is limited with how much walking she can do on any given day. We want do as many activities, tours and excursions as possible and just limit the hiking. We’d like to try to do this with no more than four lodging changes. We are looking for quality lodging, the more unique and different the better, we just need good accomdations. What itinerary would you suggest to meet these needs? Also, is it going to be very hot in June? We are concerned about the heat as well. Thank you again for your kindness and consideration to our unique needs. Marty

    1. Hi Marty and thank you for your compliments.
      If you are able to pick and choose when to visit, I would strongly recommend October. June is very hot and crowded in Northern Arizona. October is marked by cooler temperatures and thinning crowds. Though it is still busy, it tends to be mostly adults out traveling since most kids are back in school.
      For the Grand Canyon, try to stay inside the park if at all possible, and preferably at one of the historic hotels such as El Tovar or Bright Angel. Grand Canyon lodging
      If you are interested in going to Monument Valley, The View Lodge is generally considered to be the best hotel in that area, but it may be sold out already. If that’s the case, then you might consider skipping it, or maybe do it as a day trip from Page, AZ. It’s ~a 2-hour drive each way, and you have to remember that Monument Valley will be on Daylight Saving Time, but Page, AZ, won’t be. You’ll “lose” an hour going from Page to MV, but “gain” it back upon returning to Page.
      Lodging in Page, AZ, runs the gamut from Motel 6 to Marriott and everything in between in terms of price points and amenities. If you’re up for splurging for something a little more special, you might consider the Lake Powell Resort, which, as the name suggests, is right on the water. That will situate you well to take part in a Lake Powell boat tour, if you want, since they depart right from the local marina. For Antelope Canyon tours and other activities, you’ll need to make the 20-minute drive into town.
      For Bryce Canyon, in-park lodging is always most desirable, but with only one lodge inside the park, it’s most likely to be booked up. There is a good selection of hotels just outside the park and in nearby gateway communities.
      For Zion, the town of Springdale, UT, on the Western border of the park is a good location if the in-park Zion Lodge is booked. The Desert Pearl Inn receives good reviews, but if you find it booked, there are numerous fine properties that should fill your needs nicely.
      BTW, thus far, I’ve assumed that you’re flying into/out of Las Vegas. If you happen to be using Phoenix, AZ, as your staging city, then be sure to add Sedona to your itinerary. Plan to spend at least 3-4 days there. It has a wonderful selection of hotels and activities, so you should find no shortage of things to see and do, and factor in some “downtime” as well.
      Hope that helps. Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  57. Hi Alley,
    thank you so much for your tripdetails!
    We’ll be doing about exactly this tour, but until now, I couldn’t find any information about possible dangers for our childreen, age 1 and 4.
    Are there really non other than sun, heat and Dehydration?
    Since we’ll be sleeping in our RV, we’ll be outside a lot.
    I’d love to read your answer!
    Best wishes
    Dorothea

    1. Hi Dorothea,
      Heat-related illnesses are the most commonly reported maladies in this part of the country. Water, hats, and sunscreen should always be carried when spending time outdoors, even if you’re not exerting yourself. Another potential hazard, that statistically doesn’t come into play that often, is possible encounters with snakes, tarantulas, and scorpions. Again, statistically, snake, spider, and scorpion bites are rare, but when out hiking, you should definitely be aware of where you’re stepping, and the kids should resist the temptation to overturn rocks or logs. These are prime hiding places for the creepy-crawlies.
      Be sure to verify any driving directions you’ve pulled up online with a human being. GPS can sometimes inadvertently route you down unpaved roads, which you should definitely avoid. Stories abound of people who have gotten hopelessly lost out in the backcountry, necessitating costly search and rescue operations.
      Hope that helps. Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  58. Hello thank you for your wonderful site, it has given me many ideas. My husband and I are hoping to spend approx 21 days travelling around the area but are not sure what national parks are a must, as they all look majestic . As we live in Australia, it is not like we can pop back for a quick holiday.We will be starting off in Las Vegas and wish to spend one night in Death Valley but the rest is not planned. We will be heading there early September. We were looking at hiring a RV but for 21 days it would cost over $6000 Aus to hire one, then you have camping fees -still trying to work out best way to get around. Thank you
    Kind regards Kim ( Queensland Australia)

    1. Hello Kim and thank you for visiting our site!
      With 21 days to work with, and using Las Vegas as a “staging city,” you could expand your trip radius any number of ways. If Death Valley is a stop that you definitely want to make, then adding Sequoia and Yosemite to your itinerary would be the most logical, and fairly easy to do. The order in which you visit the parks depends on you and how much driving you are OK with doing in a single day. If you hit Yosemite last on your itinerary, and if the Tioga Pass is open, which it usually is that time of year, you can go back to Las Vegas through Lee Vining, Mammoth Lakes and Bishop instead of backtracking down I-5 through Fresno and Bakersfield. However, if you do opt to travel by RV, you might want to go the more straightforward route. The Tioga Pass is not recommended for first-time RV drivers due to some rather steep grades.
      If you do take us up on this suggestion, I’d recommend allotting your time as follows:
      1 – Death Valley
      2 nights – Sequoia
      3 nights – Yosemite
      Regarding the RV vs. car debate, it would certainly be worth it to weigh the pros and cons of both. If memory serves, if you book a rental car from overseas, you can sometimes get around the hefty one-way drop-off fees and maybe consider starting your trip in Las Vegas or Phoenix and ending it in someplace like San Francisco or Reno. From what I’ve heard though, it tends to be a “six of one/half a dozen of another” proposition in terms of costs. Any money you save on hotels by booking an RV, for example, will be eaten up in gas, but then again, you have the option of preparing your own meals instead of eating out all the time. Speaking of gas, your prices will vary widely from place to place. California is especially expensive, so downloading an app like Gas Buddy on your phone can help you find the best deals along your touring route. As far as hotels are concerned, you won’t find any deals there either since you’ll be visiting during peak travel season. In Page, AZ, look to the properties in an area known as the “Little Street of Motels.” These independently owned lodging facilities are actually refurbished apartments. For about the same price as a traditional hotel or motel room, you get a place with separate living and sleeping quarters, and a full kitchen.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  59. Hi! We are doing the Vegas to Moab to Vegas road trip from April 4-11. I was able to make a reservation for a tour for upper antelope for the 7th. Can you give me a good itinerary and cheap options for lodging like camping sites. We want to do as much hike as possible. We have been to Hoover Dam and west and south rim of the grand canton so we are not planning to go there. Thanks

    1. Hi Jan,
      The drive from Las Vegas to Moab takes ~7 hours going via the most direct route, but you should definitely take advantage of the opportunity to see Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef National Monument. It’s a relatively short detour (adds ~1-2 hours to your drive time), but you might consider overnighting in Torrey, UT, before continuing on to Moab.
      The drive from Moab, UT to Page, AZ, takes ~4.5 hours going direct, but here again, the chance to see Monument Valley shouldn’t be missed since it’s right on your way. The Goosenecks of the San Juan State Park would make for a worthwhile stop as well.
      In light of all this, you might consider pushing your Antelope Canyon tour to April 8th or 9th so you don’t have to rush things. On the trip back to Las Vegas, you can also “detour” through Zion National Park, but if you’ve never been there before, you’ll surely want to give it more time than just a “drive-by” touring. There are lots of beautiful hikes to enjoy there.

      Regarding camping, there are many options for both tent and RV camping within the National Parks, and in their gateway communities. Costs and amenities can vary widely, so recommend doing your research and making reservations in advance of your trip. Mid-April is Spring Break holiday for many schools, so things will be busy. Capitol Reef Campgrounds Moab, UT, Camping Page, AZ, Camping
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  60. Firstly i’d like to start off with a (friendly) complaint. I was meant to be helping the boy paint our internal doors, but instead i’ve spent the past few hours pouring over EVERY last word and link within this post.

    We have flights to booked to Vegas for 15 days in late Sept. We wanted to do a Grand Circle road trip and this itinerary is AMAZING. You have included every last details including plan B options which I love. Thank you so much for this!! Filled with all this info, I am even more excited for this trip 😀

    One thing we were hoping to do was hike down to the base of the Grand Canyon. Is there a trail you could recommend? I’ve seen the Bright Angel Trail which looks to take around 5hrs. If you have any other recommendations, I’d love to hear from you!

    Thank you so much for sharing this! Best post I’ve read in months!! Nat & Adam x

    1. Hi Natalie, and your “complaint” LOL has been duly noted. Hope “the boy” forgave you for being distracted from your chores.
      Regarding your desire to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, you should know that “official” National Park Service policy — and ours, for that matter — is to strongly discourage anyone from attempting to do this in one day’s time. The Grand Canyon has its own law of gravity, namely, “what goes down, must come back up.” For every hour you hike down into the Inner Canyon, you can reasonably expect to take 2 hours to hike back up. That means a 5 hour hike to the bottom can very well take 8-10 hours going back to the rim! What’s more, this is one of the most grueling and challenging hikes you’re likely to encounter, and those who are unprepared for its rigors can pay a high price, up to and including their lives. For optimal safety and enjoyment, a trip to the bottom is best done as an overnight. Accommodations at the bottom include dorms and cabins at Phantom Ranch, or the Bright Angel Campground. As you might imagine, these are very hard to come by and often book out a year or more in advance. Cancellations do occur, and you can inquire about these upon your arrival in the park at the Backcountry Rangers’ Office (for camping) or the Bright Angel Transportation Desk (for Phantom Ranch).
      If you are unable to secure overnight accommodations on the canyon floor, I recommend doing a day hike, which will be just as fulfilling, and fun! Depending on your degree of physical conditioning, you might consider hiking on the Bright Angel Trail to Indian Gardens or Plateau Point. Either of these would take up the better part of a day. Or you can simply hike by your watch and go down as far as you desire, then turn back around when you’ve had your fill. The Bright Angel Trail has drinking water pumped to resthouses situated every 1.5 miles along the top half of the trail. Another option would be to hike the South Kaibab Trail, which, by virtue of its exposure, offers better views, but is steeper and has no water on it. The hike to Cedar Ridge and back typically takes ~3 hours. Skeleton Point, a 6-mile round-trip hike, will allow you to see the Colorado River from the trail, but day hikers are discouraged from going past this point. South Kaibab Day Hikes Yaki Point, where the South Kaibab Trailhead is located, is also off-limits to private vehicles. You would have to take a free shuttle there if you wish to hike it.
      The Hermit Trail might be another option worth considering, but this is considered a “wilderness” trail. It is unmaintained, has no water on it save for a couple of underground springs. Water from these sources must be treated or filtered. Access to this trailhead is also via shuttle bus. Hermit Trail Hikes
      Hope that helps. Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      1. Hi Ally,
        Thanks for all this super helpful info. I feel like you are the world’s most knowledgeable person right about now 🙂
        I’ll definitely take your steer on the Grand Canyon hikes and take a little more time to research the routes you have suggested before we head out.
        Stay amazing and fingers crossed for when we enter The Wave lotto!! Eeeeeek!
        Natalie x
        P.S. The doors did get painted in the end. A week later after I had booked all our accommodation thanks to your million links and suggestions 🙂

        1. Hey Natalie!
          Best of luck on The Wave lottery, and for the rest of your trip. Let us know how it went 🙂
          Alley

      2. Please advise on itinerary for 14 days including Sedona, Grand Canyon, and Utah’s Mighty 5.
        I am flexible on starting and finishing location, but was thinking Phoenix as a starting point and Las Vegas as a finishing point.
        Thanks!

        1. Hi Darcie,
          Before you commit to flying into one airport and out of another, be sure the rental car drop-off fees will not be too cost-prohibitive. It’s usually cheaper to return a rental car to the same place where you picked it up from in this part of the U.S. due to the remoteness of the area and long distances between cities. If this is the case, just plan to fly into and out of Las Vegas. The drive from LV to Sedona will be longer – about 4.5-5 hours vs 2-2.5 from Phoenix – but Las Vegas makes for a good staging point for the rest of this itinerary. Assuming you have to do that, a 14-day itinerary including Sedona would go as follows:
          Day 1: Drive from Las Vegas to Sedona, with stop at Hoover Dam if you wish (~5 hour drive), overnight in Sedona
          Day 2: Things to do in Sedona, 2nd night in Sedona
          Day 3: 3rd day/night in Sedona
          Day 4: Drive from Sedona to Grand Canyon South Rim (~3 hours), overnight in Grand Canyon
          Day 5: Drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ (~3.5 hours factoring in Grand Canyon viewpoints and other stops), overnight in Page
          Day 6: Visit Horseshoe Bend, tour Antelope Canyon, 2nd night in Page
          Day 7: Drive to Moab, UT, via Monument Valley (~5 hours), stop at Goosenecks State Park if you wish, overnight in Moab
          Day 8: Explore Arches or Canyonlands, 2nd night in Moab —Things To Do In Moab
          Day 9: Explore Canyonlands or Arches, 3rd night in Moab
          Day 10: Drive from Moab to Capitol Reef (~3 hours), overnight in Torrey, UT
          Day 11: Drive from Capitol Reef to Bryce Canyon via UT-12 World Famous Scenic Byway (~3.5 hours), overnight in Bryce or nearby
          Day 12: Drive from Bryce to Zion (~2 hours), overnight in Springdale, UT
          Day 13: 2nd day/night in Zion —Things to do in Zion
          Day 14: 3rd day/night in Zion OR drive back to Las Vegas (~4-4.5 hour drive, which is longer than usual due to construction occurring on I-15 through Virgin River Gorge)
          You can also flip-flop this itinerary depending on lodging availability, or lack thereof as the case may be. Whatever you decide, be sure to book ALL lodging and guided tours (especially Antelope Canyon) in advance.
          Good luck and safe travels,
          Alley 🙂

  61. Hi Alley-thank you for answering me so quickly! A place that I forgot about is Canyon De Chelly. I have seen it but I would love for my husband to see it also. I would be willing to forego Sedona and the South Rim of the GC in favor of seeing that. Do you think that is doable with Page, North Rim and the 5 National parks in Utah? We COULD take a day or 2 extra over the 2 weeks, if it would be needed! Thanks! (still thinking of leaving from PHX-it IS cost prohibitive to return the rental car in a different location!) Thanks! Beth

    1. Hi again, Beth!
      You certainly could substitute Canyon de Chelly easily enough by sacrificing Grand Canyon and/or Sedona. However, having been to Canyon de Chelly myself in September, I can tell you it’s still really hot there that time of year because that park tends to be quite exposed (not much shade). Just something to keep in mind. Also, there’s only one hotel in the park and it’s probably booked at this point. The only other lodging option would be in the town of Chinle, which is on the Navajo Indian Reservation. It’s not uncommon to see horses walking down the street (I know, because I have!). I’d recommend hitting CdC after Page, maybe making a zip up to Monument Valley. You might then go to Flagstaff or Winslow, AZ (stay at the La Posada if you can) to break up the drive before heading to Phoenix.

      Thanks again and have fun!
      Alley 🙂

  62. Hi Alley! I was very happy to see this 14 day itinerary! We were thinking of flying into PHX tho and taking in Sedona. We have been to the South Rim of the GC so we were thinking of checking out the North Rim. Your plan has everything else we were wanting to see! We could change to LAS if you think that would be better. Would love to try for the Wave lottery-how difficult is that hike? We are late 60s-70’s but fairly active. Our plan is to leave in late Sept. thanks for your suggestions! Beth

    1. Hi Beth and thank you for visiting our site today!
      If you wish to take in Sedona on your itinerary, it would be more practical to fly into Phoenix for that, but, as you’ve deduced, Las Vegas is the more practical airport from which to visit Grand Canyon North Rim.
      One way you might go about fulfilling both items on the “wish list” would be to fly into (or out of) Phoenix, then fly out of (or into) Las Vegas. The biggest obstacle to this plan will be rental car drop-off fees. Many outlets charge pretty hefty surcharges for dropping a vehicle off anywhere other than where you picked it up due to the remoteness of the area and distances between major cities, but still, it wouldn’t hurt to investigate the possibility.
      As to The Wave hike, it is considered “moderate.” The distance is 6 miles, maybe a little more if you take in some of the other attractions in the surrounding terrain. The most difficult aspect of the hike most people report is actually finding The Wave. If you are successful in the online or walk-in lottery, though, you’ll be given a detailed map of the area, which is the best source of accurate information on how to successfully hike to The Wave.
      For more information on The Wave, including applying for a permit, and alternate activities to do in the likely event you don’t get a permit, visit our sister site, TheWaveAZ.com
      Good luck and safe travels!
      Alley 🙂

  63. Hi there Alley,
    Great trip planning tool, thanks so much. A question please, we are party of 4 adults from NZ flying in and out of Las Vegas. Arrive evening 04 September and depart evening of 18 September. Will do two nights in Vegas on arrival (long flight etc), maybe 3 as never been before. Your itinerary is almost a prefect fit but we will have to lose 1 or 2 nights to make this work, would love your advice please. We are late 40’s early 50’s active types. As we are 4 months out, thinking it’s worth appling for the online Lottery for hiking the Wave if this is considered a MUST do? Another option of interest is kayaking the Glen Canyon (understand this can be overnight trip). Would greatly appreciate your assistance with fine tuning our itinerary. Thanks Mandy

    1. Hi Mandy and thank you for visiting our site!
      Since you’re flying in from NZ, you’ll no doubt be affected by jet lag when you get into Las Vegas, so spending at least 2 nights there is probably best so you can “acclimate” not only to the time zone, but the heat. That said, though, keeping your stay there down to 2 nights will give you one more night to work with on your vacation.
      If you have the time/inclination/patience to apply for the online lottery for The Wave, go ahead and do it. As they say for the “real” lottery, “you can’t win if you don’t play!” But know that your chances of winning are statistically slim, so start considering alternatives for that day, such as Alstrom Point, Lake Powell Boat Tours, White Pocket, or maybe a Glen Canyon Float Trip. As for overnight kayaking, here again, paring that down to a day or less activity will free up another day to spend on your vacation. Kayaking into the waterside of Antelope Canyon is a popular activity, but be sure you plan to tour the landside, which is the iconic “slot canyon” section.
      Hope that helps in your planning!
      Alley 🙂
      P.S. Be sure to pick up an America The Beautiful Federal Lands Access Pass at the first National Park on your itinerary. For $80, this card grants access to all National Parks and Monuments in the US for 1 year’s time (except Native American Tribal Parks like Monument Valley or Antelope Canyon). If you do the trip suggested in this post, or at least something close to it, the card would pay for itself.

  64. Hello Alley-
    My husband and I have been waiting for this trip for 19 years. We keep putting off, but we are determined to go this year. We have a Utah map and have been trying to plan our trip of the Grand Circle and Grand Canyon. Your iteniary makes it sound so easy. Thank you so much. We were planning on 2 weeks so this is perfect. So much info including where to stay. We were planning on SLC. But you make Vegas sound like the better starting place. We would like to include Grand Staircase if possible. Is it worth it? Also, my husband wants to see Hoover Dam. Could we fit those 2 things in and not add too much more time. We are not firm on 2 weeks, but cost could get expensive. My husband is 80 and I’m 72 but we are healthy and active. What would you suggest for hikes at our age? Also, would you definitely suggest Las Vegas if we have a choice? Thank you so much. You have done my home work for me.

    1. Hi Elizabeth and thanks for your compliments!
      You are a bit late in your planning if you want to accomplish this trip this year, but it can be done.
      Starting with your arrival/departure city: most people to this area do indeed choose Las Vegas as they’re able usually able to find better flight deals into that airport. But, if rental car costs aren’t too outrageous, you might consider flying into Las Vegas and out of Salt Lake (or vice versa). That would enable you to see some other areas not listed on this itinerary, such as Dinosaur National Monument (near Vernal, UT) and Park City, UT. But again, look at rental car drop-off fees first.
      To see Hoover Dam, you would at least want to fly into our out of Las Vegas since Hoover is just half an hour South of there.
      As for including Grand Staircase-Escalante, most would assert (present company included) that it’s worth it, but keep in mind it’s some of the most rugged terrain in the U.S. Its best sights tend to require a high clearance vehicle for off-road, and rental car contracts expressly forbid that type of driving. If you do want to work that area into your itinerary, I would strongly recommend going with a licensed tour outfitter equipped with the appropriate vehicles and a wealth of knowledge to help you get the most out of your visit. Dreamland Tours in Kanab is a good company, as is Paria Outpost & Outfitters (between Page, AZ & Kanab, UT on US89).
      Hope that helps you get started. Let lodging availability at Grand Canyon South Rim be the lynchpin around which your trip planning evolves. That will be your toughest obstacle right now.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂
      P.S. And May is definitely the better month, weather wise, to do all this!

  65. This is marvelous! Thanks for putting this together, now I don’t have as much work to do! My husband and I are going to do this in May (13-27) for our 10 year anniversary. We were thinking we would like to car-camp every other night between hotels/lodges or B&B’s. Any tips or pointers in regards to which parks offer better campgrounds? And are there any bugs/wildlife that we should be aware of?

    1. Hi Rachel,
      Glad to hear our post has saved you some work!
      As for good places to camp, Mather Campground in Grand Canyon National Park offers nice shaded sites tucked between the Ponderosa Pine trees of the Kaibab National Forest.
      In Page, AZ, Wahweap Campground & RV Park is located just minutes from the shores of Lake Powell.
      Zion National Park’s Watchman Campground is popular for its convenient location and fairly nice amenities, but didn’t offer much in the way of shade last I was there.
      As for wildlife and/or bugs, they’re around, but do not pose a danger to campers unless you tempt them by leaving your food out. Mosquito repellent comes in handy in areas near water, such as Lake Powell.
      Hope that helps! Have a fun trip.
      Alley 🙂

  66. Awesome site! Thanks so much for sharing. My husband and I are planning our retirement trip. We are active 60 year olds from the Detroit area ready to take on lots of activity. We have 2-3 weeks, and want to see as much as possible. Our plan would be to leave the last week of September and return mid-October. Could we start in Phoenix, and work in Sedona and the North Rim into the trip, whilst also including all of the other spots you have shared? We could fly home from Las Vegas.

    1. Hi Cheryl and congratulations on your retirement!
      With 3 weeks to work with, you could certainly work Sedona into your itinerary, and it deserves at least 3-4 days of your time to do it justice, there’s a lot to see and do there! Popular Sedona activities Other places to visit while in the area include, but certainly aren’t limited to:
      Montezuma Castle and Well
      Tuzigoot National Monument
      Meteor Crater
      Petrified Forest/Painted Desert
      Wupatki/Sunset Crater
      The only problematic element I see in your plan is the North Rim. While it’s beautiful, you’ll probably find that lodging is already sold out there since there are fewer hotels to choose from. You could visit the South Rim, which has more hotels and visitor facilities, and take a helicopter flight over the North Rim so you could still say you saw it.
      Another thing: before you commit to this plan, make sure your rental car drop-off fees aren’t going to be too cost-prohibitive. Many rental care outlets impose rather hefty surcharges to drop a vehicle off anywhere other than where you picked it up due to the remoteness of the area and long distances between cities.
      Good luck and have fun!
      Alley 🙂

  67. Hello,

    My girlfriend and I are thinking of doing the 14-day Grand Circle as outlined above, but our starting-off point would be Salt Lake City. Could you kindly suggest how the above itinerary should be tweaked to take into account the different starting point?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Yvonne,
      Great question!
      So if you fly into and out of SLC, I’d recommend doing Moab as your first stop, maybe make a detour to Dinosaur National Monument if it’s not too hot at the time of your visit. Spend 3-4 days in Moab, then head to Monument Valley for a night. Next, Page, AZ, site of Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. Depending on he time of year you’re visiting, you could add a second day in Page to take the Lake Powell Boat Tour or Glen Canyon Half Day Float Trip.
      Next, head to Kanab, UT and try for the Wave lottery, if desired. If not, head to the Grand Canyon and spend a couple nights there. If your visit is scheduled for the timeframe between May 15th and October 15th, choose to stay at the North Rim instead of the more commercial South Rim. Make Zion National Park your penultimate stop and plan on spending 2-3 days in that park – trust us, there’s lots to do! Upon leaving Zion, you might swing through Brian Head. Although it’s a ski resort in name, it’s a pretty cool place in all seasons. If that doesn’t appeal, proceed straight to Bryce Canyon and spend 1 night there. From Bryce Canyon, it’s approximately a 4-hour drive to SLC. Or, you might add a stop in Torrey, UT to see Capitol Reef.
      Hope that helps! Map of your trip
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley K 🙂

  68. Hi– love this post!
    We are planning a trip this summer. We are a family of 4, 2 girls, age 8 & 12. Kids are good travelers. We live outside of Philadelphia, PA and are planning a trip out west for this summer to the Grand circle. We have 30-31 days total to do it.
    We are thinking of taking 6-7 days to get to Moab (via I70) to start our tour and taking about 7 days to return from Lake Powell/Page area. Probably via I40..
    While we’re there, we plan on 5-6 nights in Moab, 2 nights Capitol reef, 2 nights Bryce, 3-4 nights near Zion in Kanab and, 4-5 nights Page AZ. In that direction. Using this itinerary we will be in Kanab on july 4th.
    Do you think that this is 1) enough time? 2) the right mix of places? 3) ok to go in that direction? seems like all the itineraries we have read move basically clockwise and we are going the other direction.
    We were considering extra time in either Moab or Page but we can’t really decide. We are trying to maximize our time in the area while making the trips there and back mostly enjoyable. I think we can end up with 14-15 days there.
    Thank you for any suggestions!
    Kate 🙂

    1. Dear Kate & Anthony,
      Wow, can I come with you guys? LOL 😉
      This sounds like a really fun trip! That said, I would make a few changes, namely, I notice the Grand Canyon is conspicuously absent from your itinerary. Have you been there before and don’t feel the need to revisit it, or was it an accidental omission? If the latter is the case, we definitely recommend working it into your itinerary. Fortunately, that won’t be so hard to do.
      What I would do is take a couple of days that you were planning to spend in Page, AZ and use it to visit Grand Canyon South Rim. 3 days is really the most time people tend to spend in that area, unless they intend to rent a houseboat to tour Lake Powell. 3 days is the minimum rental requirement, so if you did want to do that, then there are other areas of your trip where you can get away with shaving off a day or two to allocate to the Grand Canyon. Bryce, for example, is a relatively small park, so you could get away with just spending 1 night there. For Zion, you could easily occupy 3-4 days, but, if need be, a day can be traded out from there to Grand Canyon. Most families find that 2 nights is ample time to experience the Grand Canyon fully.
      Another suggestion: since you’re planning to travel back East via I-40, you might consider spending 2-3 days in Sedona, AZ. The scenery is absolutely spectacular and there is plenty to do there, as well.
      Since you’re going to be visiting several National Parks on your trip, definitely plan on getting the 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 US for 1 year’s time. It will more than pay for itself on this trip alone. You can pre-order it online or simply purchase it at the first National Park entrance station you hit.
      Have a wonderful time! But then again, we know you will 🙂
      Alley

  69. Thanks so much for sharing this itinerary. I am planning a family trip for the end of December. As we only have a week, how about from LAS – Zion – Page – Grand Canyon National Park village – LAS? Would the weather in December permit the activities you suggested in the itinerary? Could you advise for the nights and location to stay? Thanks!

    1. Hi Cathy and thank you for stopping by!
      With 7 days, you could indeed accomplish all the things on your “wish list,” and maybe a bit more – weather permitting, that is.
      As you have correctly assumed, December is wintertime, and that could mean days that are sunny and brisk or full-on blizzard conditions. Fortunately, it usually falls somewhere in between, but it definitely has an impact on some of the activities offered, such as the Colorado River Float Trip, and Lake Powell Boat Tours. Airplane and helicopter tours continue running at Grand Canyon South Rim, but may be on seasonal hiatus in places like Page or Bryce Canyon.
      We also have a sample 7-Day Itinerary on our sister site, http://www.AntelopeCanyon.az that you might check out to help you decide how long to stay and where.
      Whatever you decide to do, be ready to dress warmly and be sure to check weather and road conditions before setting out to your next destination. Arizona Road Conditions Utah Road Conditions
      Good luck and happy traveling,
      Alley 🙂

    2. Planning on see best canyons mid August. Starting from Albuquerque ending in Durango. Have 14 days to travel. Need suggestions for how much time to spend in each location. Want to see Grand canyon South rim, lake Powell, Zion Bryce, salt lake City Utah Moab canyonlands and anything in between.

      1. Hi Geri and thank you for your inquiry.
        That’s great that you have two full weeks to travel! With 14 days to work with, you should be able to fit all the attractions on your “wish list” in, plus a few surprises, quite nicely, with one exception: Salt Lake City. IMO, it’s a little too far afield to be practical, and really warrants its own trip, preferably in the wintertime, when you can enjoy skiing at Park City, and maybe a side trip or two to places like Goblin Valley, and/or Dinosaur National Monument. With that in mind, a tentative itinerary for you would look something like this:
        Day 1: Drive from Albuquerque to Grand Canyon South Rim, ~7 hours, overnight at Grand Canyon
        Day 2: Sightseeing at the South Rim (Grand Canyon Historic Village, Hermit’s Rest/West Rim Road, maybe a short hike on Bright Angel Trail), 2nd night at Grand Canyon.
        Day 3: Drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ, via Desert View/East Rim Drive, stop at Cameron Trading Post for breakfast/brunch (~3.5-4 hours drive), overnight in Page, AZ.
        Day 4: Visit Horseshoe Bend just after sunrise, tour Antelope Canyon and maybe a short boat tour on Lake Powell, 2nd night in Page.
        Day 5: Drive from Page, AZ, to Zion National Park (~2 hours drive), overnight in Springdale, UT.
        Day 6: Hiking in Zion National Park, 2nd night in Springdale, UT.
        Day 7: Drive from Zion to Bryce Canyon (~2 hours drive), take scenic rim drive, overnight in Bryce or nearby.
        Day 8: Drive from Bryce Canyon to Capitol Reef National Park (~2.5 hours), overnight in Torrey, UT.
        Day 9: Drive from Capitol Reef to Moab, UT (~3 hours drive), spend 3 nights in Moab.
        Day 10: Explore Arches National Park, 2nd night in Moab.
        Day 11: Explore Canyonlands National Park, 3rd night in Moab.
        Day 12: Drive from Moab to Monument Valley (~3 hour drive), overnight in Monument Valley, OR drive on to Durango, CO (+2.5 hours drive), overnight in Durango.
        Day 13: Visit Mesa Verde National Park, 2nd night in Durango.
        Day 14: Take Durango/Silverton Narrow Guage Railroad trip, 3rd night in Durango.

        If you haven’t made reservations already, start doing so ASAP, and check the Grand Canyon lodging first. That will be the “lynchpin” around which your trip planning will revolve, and evolve. Try to get lodging inside the park if at all possible, or Tusayan, 7 miles outside the park. If those areas area already booked up, which is entirely possible at this point, then Williams, AZ, would be your next best option. Next item to nail down would be Antelope Canyon tours. For more information on Antelope Canyon, visit our companion site, http://www.AntelopeCanyon.AZ
        Hope that helps! Feel free to pop back again if you have further questions.
        Good luck and safe travels,
        Alley 🙂

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