The Intimate Grand Canyon Experience

In the fable of The Tortoise and the Hare, Aesop cautioned us to temper our “need for speed,” because “slow and steady wins the race.” In the case of the Horseshoe Bend Overlook, slow and steady doesn’t necessarily win any race, but taking a gradual, more mindful approach to this now-iconic symbol of the American Southwest will give the viewer a better appreciation for the true complexity of the area’s geology. And that, in our book, is definitely one for the “win” column!

As you exit your vehicle in the newly-expanded Horseshoe Bend parking area just South of Page, Arizona, your first challenge is to make your way up a mildly steep incline through deep, sometimes unwieldy sand. Though most visitors succumb to the temptation to make quick work out of this small obstacle, you might view it as an opportunity to take a trip through a real-life “Jurassic World.”

About 200 million years ago, a massive sea of sand dunes covered the landscape from Arizona to Wyoming. Known to geologists as “ergs,” they eventually became petrified (turned to stone) by water and minerals, solidifying into a uniform layer of sandstone over 2,000’ thick in some areas. After the bedrock of Navajo Sandstone formed, other sedimentary layers of sandstone, mudstone, calcite and limestone settled on top of it, then began to wear away under the constant scouring of relentless winds, flash floods, and extreme heat and cold. Today, the Navajo sandstone is once again exposed, and its top layer turning to sand. So this hill that makes you go “erg” is what remains of a gigantic sand dune that actually saw dinosaurs walk upon it. Indeed, there is a small, but hard-to-find dinosaur track about 50 yards from the end of the trail. Tell us the GPS coordinates if you happen to find it!

As you crest the hill, the trail begins to undulate and you’ll notice the tone of the landscape has taken on more jagged, sloping characteristics. Whitish gravel and chunks of sand also make an appearance. These are remnants of the calcite, or limestone layer that was once here. The diagonal stripes in the rock formations tell the story of how the sand dunes were petrified, yet retained their former shape as minerals, rain and snow changed their molecular composition over the course of 20 million years.

As you get closer to Horseshoe Bend Overlook, you’ll notice that some of the rock formations sport dark, sandy nodules. These are known as “iron concretions.” Because it was heavier than sandstone, iron tended to cluster up into small spheres during the process of petrification. As the sandstone erodes away, these concretions are becoming exposed to the elements once again. Occasionally, they will break away from the sandstone bedrock. When they do, they become what are known as “Moki Marbles.” If you find one – or more – please don’t pocket them. Remember, take only pictures and leave only footprints!

If all this sounds pretty amazing so far, wait until you see what’s ahead of you: the very thing you came here for – Horseshoe Bend! A geologic masterpiece sculpted by the Colorado River, Horseshoe Bend is an example of what happens when water takes the path of least resistance. Approximately 5 million years ago – or what a geologist might describe as “just the other day” – the Colorado Plateau abruptly uplifted. The rivers that flowed across this ancient landscape were suddenly trapped in their beds. Seeking a new natural level, with the help of gravity, the Colorado River began cutting through rock layers deep and fast. Here at Horseshoe Bend, an unstoppable force met an immovable object, namely, a sandstone escarpment. Since this rock formation wasn’t going to budge anytime soon, the river did the most logical thing it could: it went around it. The result is the 270° bend in the river (called an “incised” or “entrenched meander”) you see before you. Who knows, in a few million years, the stubborn promontory might finally decide to give way to the river’s whims, and future tourists could be viewing an attraction that bears a resemblance to Rainbow Bridge!

At this viewpoint, you can see the waters of the Colorado River in all their sparkling, blue-green glory as they drift along toward the Grand Canyon."

But, that’s in the realm of sheer speculation for now. What’s in the realm of absolute certainty is that this is one of the most intimate views of the Colorado River you’re likely to experience on your Northern Arizona vacation. At this viewpoint, you can see the waters of the Colorado River in all their sparkling, blue-green glory as they drift along toward the Grand Canyon. Where else can you take a selfie with this timeless, majestic waterway in the background? Certainly not at the Grand Canyon – from the South Rim, there is only a handful of viewpoints that the Colorado River can be seen from, and then only a small stretch before it disappears again behind a butte or plateau. So pause for a few minutes to breathe in the fresh air and appreciate this magnificent view for how powerful and miraculous it truly is!

Now, wasn’t it worth the walk? For best results photographing Horseshoe Bend, you’ll need a wide angle lens to get the entire scene in the picture. If heights freak you out a little, try sitting or even lying down to take in the view from a more secure perspective. Seeing little blue dots on the river? Don’t worry, that’s not the altitude messing with your mind, those are rafts rounding Horseshoe Bend on the Half-Day Glen Canyon Float Trip. If you take one look at that first hill and still say “no way,” consider flying over Horseshoe Bend to get an incredible bird’s eye view without breaking a sweat.

699 Responses

  1. Hi, I am planning a surprise 30th anniversary trip to Sedona and sightseeing some of the beautiful surrounding sights. Your input would be greatly appreciated on time allowed, scenic drives, must see, etc!
    We will fly in to Phoenix early on
    Saturday morning and rent a vehicle for the week!. We plan to drive first to the south rim of the Grand Canyon and spend 2 nights at Under Canvas. Do you recommend touring ourselves or getting a guided tour? if so who do you recommend? We would love to experience a sunset at the Grand Canyon! Also, somewhere romantic to have an Anniversary dinner nearby?
    We will then head back to Sedona for the next 3 nights/4 days! I would then like to tour Horseshoe Bend and HOPEFULLY Antelope Canyon!
    Thanks in advance! Andrea

    1. Hi Andrea,
      What a wonderful surprise for your big anniversary! Fortunately, you can manage all of it without taking guided tours, with the exception of the Antelope Canyons. Unfortunately, they are still closed due to COVID-19 and we do not know when/if they will reopen by the time you visit. Should they remain closed in September, there are other slot canyons you can visit on your own in the vicinity of Kanab, UT. More on that in a minute 😉
      One thing I feel the need to point out is that Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon are in a separate area from the Grand Canyon, so hopefully you’ve allotted some time to go to Page, AZ, the nearest gateway community. If you wish to continue the glamping experience, you’ll be glad to know that an Under Canvas Lake Powell property opened up in the nearby town of Big Water, UT, this summer! Page, AZ, is ~a 3-hour drive from Grand Canyon South Rim, but don’t be surprised if it takes you a bit longer. It’s a very scenic drive that takes you out the East Rim/Desert View Drive of the Grand Canyon, past half-a-dozen+ named viewpoints, all with different features and varying perspectives on the canyon.
      To visit the view points on the West Rim/Hermit’s Rest Road, use the free shuttle that goes out to these viewpoints every 10 minutes or so. It’s a hop-on/hop-off shuttle, so you can walk between viewpoints as desired, then hop back on the shuttle when you need a breather.
      As for a nice restaurant for dinner, the El Tovar Hotel is definitely the place to be, but don’t expect a Grand Canyon view. Only a few tables in the restaurant face the Grand Canyon, and even so, the hotel is set a ways back from the canyon rim so you might have trees, shrubs, a fence, and/or other obstacles blocking your view. Forward to the :30 mark on this Grand Canyon dining video to see what I mean (the footage is a little dated, but the core principles remain the same). You can always request a table facing the canyon, but they never guarantee them. Reservations are required, which can be made up to 30 days out by calling 928-638-2631 x6432. Should El Tovar be booked up, the Arizona Room, adjacent to the Bright Angel Lodge, is nice as well, and offers more of a steakhouse style menu. Seating there is on a first-come/first-served basis. There again, some tables have a canyon view, most don’t, but you shouldn’t let that be a “deal breaker” by any means!
      As for the best place to see sunset at the Grand Canyon, that’s anywhere on the rim, honestly. Hopi Point, on the Hermit’s Rest/West Rim Drive is one of the most popular, as is Yavapai Point, ~1 mile East of Grand Canyon Village. I am personally partial to Grandview Point, which is ~12 miles East of GC Village. Seeing as though it’s a bit “off the beaten path,” it typically sees fewer visitors, and has a great view of the Colorado River. Forward to the 1:08 mark on this Grand Canyon Sunset Tour video for a little sneak preview. Note the video promotes a tour, but you don’t need to take one in this case. Grandview Point is open to private vehicles.
      The trip to/from Under Canvas from Grand Canyon Village will take ~30 minutes each way, so be sure to plan for that, and be very careful driving back after sunset. Normally, that’s something we don’t recommend due to local roads being very dimly lit, and the possible presence of deer, elk, and other nocturnal wildlife that like to congregate near the shoulder. Keep a sharp eye out for them at all times.
      Should the Antelope Canyons remain closed in September, a good alternative that’s not too difficult to hike (and also doesn’t require a guided tour) is Wire Pass Canyon. This is located ~1 hour from Page, AZ, and is a beautiful two-part slot canyon that joins with the longer Buckskin Gulch several miles in. While a guided tour is not required to explore Wire Pass Canyon, caution should be exercised since the House Rock Valley Road, the main access road to the trailhead, is unpaved. If weather in the days leading up to your visit has been wet at all, it will turn in to a red clay slip-n-slide where your car will get stuck. That will turn into a very expensive tow bill, and you’ll have a lot of explaining to do with your rental car company since off-road driving is technically prohibited. If you wish, you can visit our companion site http://www.AntelopeCanyon.AZ and be placed on a priority e-mail list to be notified the minute the Antelope Canyons reopen. When/if that happens, make guided tour reservations right away. People are chomping at the bit to get back into these legendary slot canyons!
      As for Sedona, AZ, you’ll find no shortage of fun things to see and do! Hiking the West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon is easy and refreshing since it parallels a river. The Chapel of the Holy Cross and Tlaquepaque are a couple of the area’s more notable man-made features. If you wanted to splurge for something special, a sunrise hot air balloon ride would be unforgettable! Otherwise, there’s hundreds of miles of trails to hike, dozens of art galleries and museums to explore, wine tastings, world-class restaurants, spa services… just to name a few! 100 Things To Do In Sedona
      Hope that helps. Good luck and safe travels!
      Alley 🙂

  2. Hi Alley!

    Thank you so much for all the amazing information! I will be visiting Las Vegas with my mother and my girlfriend May 20-25th, and I thought I could make a 24-29 hour trip to Page, AZ, to enjoy the majestic of the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River. I was wondering if you could give me any advice on what places to visit or prioritize: (Full day on May 24th and up until 11am on May 25th). This will be my first time (as well as my mother and my girlfriend) at the Grand Canyon. We will coming from Las Vegas, NV, and have to go back there on May 25th.
    I thought going to the Horseshoe Bend is must, but after that, I am not sure what other place to prioritize considering any park closures or Covid-19 limitations, or even parks along my way there or back. Any ideas? Also do you think wearing shorts during those hikes is wise or if the sun too strong around the end of May already?

    Thank you for your suggestions and kind attention to this message!

    Rodolfo

    1. Hi Rodolfo!
      If 24-29 hours is all you can spare, I’m afraid it won’t be realistic or comfortable to try and squeeze the Grand Canyon and Horseshoe Bend into that time frame. I get the distinct impression you’re not aware of the distances between these two places. Horseshoe Bend is located near the town of Page, AZ, which is ~a 5-hour drive from Las Vegas, and a 3+ hour drive from Grand Canyon South Rim. Map Trying to visit both in what little time you have will require a lot of time in the car, and that doesn’t sound like my idea of a vacation.
      If you’ve never been to the Grand Canyon, I would recommend prioritizing it over everything else. Due to the long distance from Las Vegas to the South Rim, we recommend spending the night at the Grand Canyon, either inside the park, or in the town of Tusayan, AZ, just outside the park. At Grand Canyon Village, the main commerce area of the park, you can then hike the easy, paved Grand Canyon Rim Trail, and if desired, go a short ways into the Inner Canyon on the Bright Angel Trail. For the latter, remember that 1 hour down = 2 hours up. Food and water must be carried if you plan on spending any more than 1 hour’s time, or going further than 1 mile round-trip below the rim. As for what you wear, that’s entirely your call. Many Grand Canyon hikers wear shorts at the time of year you’re visiting, but others prefer to opt for lightweight long trousers for sun protection. Whatever you decide, a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and plenty of sunscreen are the 3 “must-have” items on the trail.
      As for COVID-19 limitations, some services at restaurants have been curtailed or reduced to carry-out only. For this reason, having a small cooler on hand and packing a picnic lunch might come in handy.
      I am sorry to be the bearer of somewhat bad news here, but in our opinion, vacations are for relaxing. We’d rather see people take a “quality over quantity” approach so they can truly enjoy their vacation and not feel like they’re on a race against the clock to get to their next destination.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  3. Hi!! I am loving reading all of your advice. You are incredibly helpful! My husband and I have a trip coming up, May 22nd – 29th. We are staying the 22nd-23rd in Scottsdale at a resort, 24th-25th in Sedona, 26th at canvas under the stars on the south rim and then heading to Vegas. I don’t know what all is closed and what obstacles we will have due to Covid. We are wanting to see as many things as possible during that time and possibly detour to Horseshoe bend. Do you have any recommendations for us? Also, any specifics about which places require tours would be super helpful! Or places you recommend that don’t require tours is even better! Thanks!

    1. Hi Amanda,
      First off, Horseshoe Bend is not that practical as a “detour” between point A and point B. It takes ~3 hours to drive from Sedona to Page, AZ (the nearest gateway community to Horseshoe Bend), and about the same to drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ. These figures are “wheels turning, no stops,” which rarely happens, since most drives in this part of the U.S. are very scenic, and you will be stopping to take photos more than you realize. Plus there’s the inevitable getting stuck behind a slow-moving RV or semi-truck, variable speed limits, etc. Long story short: you should plan for at least 1 overnight in Page, AZ. If you wish to continue with the glamping theme, you’ll be happy to know that an Under Canvas property just opened in the Lake Powell area! Page, AZ, also has a good selection of traditional hotels and motels.
      A guided tour is not required to visit Horseshoe Bend. You can visit at your convenience, anytime between sunrise and sunset. The only attraction where a guided tour is absolutely required are the Antelope Canyons. Unfortunately, these have been closed for over 1 year’s time due to COVID-19. Popular alternatives are kayaking (by rented kayak or guided tour) into Antelope Canyon’s waterside of the canyon on Lake Powell, then hiking into the pre-slot portion of the lower canyon, which is on Federal and not Tribal land. This activity is best done in the morning for lack of wind and minimal chop from larger boat traffic, so an overnight in Page, AZ, would definitely come in handy if that interests you!
      If you take us up on this suggestion, the best place to squeeze in a stop in Page, AZ, would be after the South Rim. The drive back to Las Vegas, NV, would then be ~4.5 hours from Page, AZ, roughly the same as it would have been from the Grand Canyon.
      Custom Trip Map
      Good luck and safe travels!
      Alley 🙂

  4. Just came across this blog and it it amazing! My husband and I will be flying into Phoenix May 21st (Fri) at 9 am and fly out May 25th (Tues) in the AM. We want to see the Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and Sedona. We have one night booked for stargazing experience in Williams on Sunday. I have also looked into kayaking at Horseshoe Bend, possibly early Sat, if that is highly recommended. Any thoughts are greatly appreciated!

    1. Hi Shea!
      Thank you so much for your kind compliments.
      You shouldn’t have a problem ticking off all the items on your “wish list” in the time frame you have, but I have to warn you: one day in Sedona, AZ, will leave you wanting. Most visitors spend 3-4 days minimum in that area for a first-time visit, and even then report feeling as though they’d only “scratched the surface.” Be ready to start planning a future trip the minute you get a look at the spectacular beauty of Sedona.
      You have correctly assumed that kayaking Horseshoe Bend comes highly recommended and is an activity best enjoyed in the morning. Mornings offer cooler temperatures and less wind, among other plusses. If Saturday is the day you wish to do this, then your best bet is to head to Page, AZ, after collecting your rental car in Phoenix on Friday. The drive is ~4.5 hours. After an overnight stay in Page, AZ (and a possible stop at the Horseshoe Bend Overlook on the way into town), then get an early start on the drive to Lees Ferry the next morning (~45 minutes from Page), where you’d then pick up your rental kayak and get backhauled to the base of the Glen Canyon Dam. From there, you’d paddle freely through the 15 mile stretch of Glen Canyon through Horseshoe Bend back to Lees Ferry. There are several companies offering this service, but the one we’re most familiar with is Kayak Horseshoe Bend.
      From Lees Ferry, the trip to Grand Canyon South Rim is ~3 hours, or you could simply return to Page, AZ, for a 2nd night.
      Time your day in Sedona for just before you return to Phoenix, AZ, so you can relax and chill for a bit, then you’ll just have a 2 hour drive back to the airport.
      Custom Trip Map
      Hope that helps! Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  5. Hi there! This website is amazing and your feedback is so helpful!

    I am planning a weekend trip for my mom’s 50th birthday May 14-17. As of now, nothing is booked–but the plan is to fly into Pheonix on Friday night. I definitely want to stop in Sedona–if I have one day for this, what are some must-see sights you would recommend that is doable also for a 50 yo and 58 yo 🙂
    And I am also planning to take my parents to Horseshoe bend which I think would be better off towards the end, since I will be driving north. Can you please recommend the most feasible way to plan this short trip? I really appreciate it!

    1. Hi Huda!
      Congrats on your mom’s big day 🙂
      First off, I think you’ll regret not giving Sedona, AZ, more than one day’s time. That’s a huge and stunning area with lots to see and do. 3-4 days minimum is typically recommended for a first-time visit, and even then, people report feeling as though they’d only scratched the surface of all the area had to offer! If one day is truly all you have, you can still have a good time, and enjoy some easy hikes while there. The West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon is gorgeous, and involves some water crossings, which is very refreshing! The Baldwin Trail and Bell Rock Trails also offer some beautiful scenery in exchange for minimal exertion. Best Easy Hikes in Sedona
      Sedona, AZ, is ~2 hours North of PHX. From Sedona, Horseshoe Bend and Page, AZ, are ~a 3-hour drive.
      One place that is conspicuously absent from your wish list, however, is the Grand Canyon. If you’ve never been, you should prioritize it over everything else! Flying into Phoenix, the South Rim would be the most convenient area to visit. It is ~4.5 hours’ drive from PHX. For optimal comfort and enjoyment, you should plan an overnight stay at GC South Rim, either inside the park, or in Tusayan, AZ, just outside the park.
      Custom Trip Map
      When you indicate you are “driving North from Page, AZ,” does that mean you’re flying out of SLC, or just taking a one-way flight to PHX? That aspect of your trip is rather vague, so if you need to bounce more ideas off me, feel free to contact me directly at [email protected]
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  6. Hi Alley,
    I am planning a surprise 30th anniversary trip for my husband and need suggestions! We will fly into Phoenix in September, rent a vehicle and drive to Under Canvas and spend 2 nights. We plan on touring the South rim, Horseshoe bend, and hopefully Antelope Canyon. How do you recommend touring the Grand Canyon? On our own or paying for Guided tours? Also, recommendations on somewhere nice to eat dinner with a view? I was hoping you can recommend the best area to see the sunset over the Grand canyon?
    We will head back to Sedona and spend the next 3 nights at Sun Cliff. We will be hiking and touring Sedona. Any information, recommendations, suggestions, is greatly appreciated! Then drive back to Phoenix to fly home.Thanks, Ann

    1. Hi Ann,
      I am so sorry for the delay in response to your inquiry, it must have gotten buried, which is one of the few drawbacks to this format.
      What a wonderful surprise for your big anniversary! Fortunately, you can manage all of it without taking guided tours, with the exception of the Antelope Canyons. Unfortunately, they are still closed due to COVID-19 and we do not know when/if they will reopen by the time you visit. Should they remain closed in September, there are other slot canyons you can visit on your own in the vicinity of Kanab, UT. More on that in a minute 😉
      One thing I feel the need to point out is that Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon are in a separate area from the Grand Canyon, so hopefully you’ve allotted some time to go to Page, AZ, the nearest gateway community. If you wish to continue the glamping experience, you’ll be glad to know that an Under Canvas Lake Powell property opened up in the nearby town of Big Water, UT, this summer! Page, AZ, is ~a 3-hour drive from Grand Canyon South Rim, but don’t be surprised if it takes you a bit longer. It’s a very scenic drive that takes you out the East Rim/Desert View Drive of the Grand Canyon, past half-a-dozen+ named viewpoints, all with different features and varying perspectives on the canyon.
      To visit the view points on the West Rim/Hermit’s Rest Road, use the free shuttle that goes out to these viewpoints every 10 minutes or so. It’s a hop-on/hop-off shuttle, so you can walk between viewpoints as desired, then hop back on the shuttle when you need a breather.
      As for a nice restaurant for dinner, the El Tovar Hotel is definitely the place to be, but don’t expect a Grand Canyon view. Only a few tables in the restaurant face the Grand Canyon, and even so, the hotel is set a ways back from the canyon rim so you might have trees, shrubs, a fence, and/or other obstacles blocking your view. Forward to the :30 mark on this Grand Canyon dining video to see what I mean (the footage is a little dated, but the core principles remain the same). You can always request a table facing the canyon, but they never guarantee them. Reservations are required, which can be made up to 30 days out by calling 928-638-2631 x6432. Should El Tovar be booked up, the Arizona Room, adjacent to the Bright Angel Lodge, is nice as well, and offers more of a steakhouse style menu. Seating there is on a first-come/first-served basis. There again, some tables have a canyon view, most don’t, but you shouldn’t let that be a “deal breaker” by any means!
      As for the best place to see sunset at the Grand Canyon, that’s anywhere on the rim, honestly. Hopi Point, on the Hermit’s Rest/West Rim Drive is one of the most popular, as is Yavapai Point, ~1 mile East of Grand Canyon Village. I am personally partial to Grandview Point, which is ~12 miles East of GC Village. Seeing as though it’s a bit “off the beaten path,” it typically sees fewer visitors, and has a great view of the Colorado River. Forward to the 1:08 mark on this Grand Canyon Sunset Tour video for a little sneak preview. Note the video promotes a tour, but you don’t need to take one in this case. Grandview Point is open to private vehicles.
      The trip to/from Under Canvas from Grand Canyon Village will take ~30 minutes each way, so be sure to plan for that, and be very careful driving back after sunset. Normally, that’s something we don’t recommend due to local roads being very dimly lit, and the possible presence of deer, elk, and other nocturnal wildlife that like to congregate near the shoulder. Keep a sharp eye out for them at all times.
      Should the Antelope Canyons remain closed in September, a good alternative that’s not too difficult to hike (and also doesn’t require a guided tour) is Wire Pass Canyon. This is located ~1 hour from Page, AZ, and is a beautiful two-part slot canyon that joins with the longer Buckskin Gulch several miles in. While a guided tour is not required to explore Wire Pass Canyon, caution should be exercised since the House Rock Valley Road, the main access road to the trailhead, is unpaved. If weather in the days leading up to your visit has been wet at all, it will turn in to a red clay slip-n-slide where your car will get stuck. That will turn into a very expensive tow bill, and you’ll have a lot of explaining to do with your rental car company since off-road driving is technically prohibited. If you wish, you can visit our companion site http://www.AntelopeCanyon.AZ and be placed on a priority e-mail list to be notified the minute the Antelope Canyons reopen. When/if that happens, make guided tour reservations right away. People are chomping at the bit to get back into these legendary slot canyons!
      As for Sedona, AZ, you’ll find no shortage of fun things to see and do! Hiking the West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon is easy and refreshing since it parallels a river. The Chapel of the Holy Cross and Tlaquepaque are a couple of the area’s more notable man-made features. If you wanted to splurge for something special, a sunrise hot air balloon ride would be unforgettable! Otherwise, there’s hundreds of miles of trails to hike, dozens of art galleries and museums to explore, wine tastings, world-class restaurants, spa services… just to name a few! 100 Things To Do In Sedona
      Hope that helps. Again, sorry my reply was late in coming, normally, that’s NOT how I roll. Thanks in advance for understanding.
      Good luck and safe travels!
      Alley 🙂

  7. Hi Alley!

    Thank you so much for all of the great information you provide! My mom and I will be staying in Phoenix at the end of April and I wanted to reach out and ask if you thought a day trip to Kayak Antelope Canyon and to see Horseshoe bend would be doable? If so, would any of the road closures mentioned above affect us?

    Thank you in advance! 🙂

    1. Hey Jaycee,
      I would not recommend attempting to do an Antelope Canyon kayak tour and visit to Horseshoe Bend as a day trip out of Phoenix. It takes ~4-4.5 hours, each way, to drive from PHX to Page, AZ. Antelope Canyon kayak tours take a minimum of 3 hours and are best done first thing in the morning for lack of wind and minimal chop from larger boat traffic since it’s in a wake zone. Visiting Horseshoe Bend takes anywhere from 90 minutes to 2 hours on average. Then you’d be facing a 5-hour drive back to Phoenix? No thanks. Spending the night in Page, AZ, would make for a much better experience!
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

    2. Hello…I’m trying to ask a question to Alley but can’t seem to find how to “post” anything. Can you please let me know how you started your question? Thank you! I’m clearly missing something… 🙂

  8. Hi,

    I’m planning a trip for july17-23/24? . I know the weather is hot then but unfortunately with scheduling that’s the only time I can come. We had to reschedule from last year due to covid. Plan is to land in Phoenix. I was wondering if you could provide some things to do in the following places and let me know if this is even do-able! Your help is greatly appreciated.
    1. Sedona – recommended activities / hotels and duration ? One thing I would to do is the nighttime tour
    2. Day trip to Grand Canyon
    3. Would like to work in a day trip to horsebend. I know antelope canyon is closed as of now ( minus the water access) but that’s not something do-able for my crew. Hotel recommendations
    4. Old Scottsdale- was planning on spending 2 nights staying at the W hotel ( hopefully). Any suggestions for activities?
    5. Go home out if Phoenix
    One thing I would like to surprise someone in my group with is horseback riding ? We are not experienced but definitely something they would love to do.

    1. Hey Jen,
      So sorry that your prior trip plans were derailed due to COVID-19 but glad you were able to reschedule!
      Let’s get to your questions:
      1. Sedona: 3-4 days minimum are recommended to fully enjoy and explore that area, but even if you can manage that, don’t be surprised if you feel like you barely scratched the surface of it! Must-do activities are generally regarded as: Pink Jeep Broken Arrow Tour, Slide Rock State Park, sunrise hot air balloon rides, lots of opportunities for hiking in various degrees of difficulty, such as the Bell Rock Trail, Fay Canyon, West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon. Other highly recommended sites are the Chapel of the Holy Cross and Tlaquepaque. This would probably be a good place to get some horseback riding in, too. As for hotels, you can take your pick from basic motels to over-the-top spa resorts and everything in between. Find a place that looks good to you and book it ASAP!
      2. Day trip to the Grand Canyon: be prepared for the drive to take ~2.5 hours each way if you come and go through the South Entrance. Another option, contingent on AZ64 from Desert View Point to Cameron, is to make a “loop” out of it by entering the park through the East Entrance, stopping at the viewpoints on the Desert View/East Rim Drive, exploring the Grand Canyon Village Historic District, then exiting the park out the Southern gate. Entering through the East gate would add another 60-90 minutes to your drive, but you would avoid potentially long waits at the South entrance. Whatever you decide, be sure to time your return drive to Sedona so that you arrive before nightfall. Nighttime driving should be avoided 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 could hike up your risk of an auto accident. Not something you want to risk 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.
      3. A day trip to Page, AZ, would entail a 3-hour drive, each way. Even if you don’t tour the Antelope Canyons, you should still plan on spending the night in Page, AZ, for a more comfortable experience. Hotel-wise, you have everything from Motel 6 to Marriott and everything in between in terms of price points and amenity classes. Other activities you may enjoy while there include, but aren’t limited to:
      – Page Rim View Trail
      – Glen Canyon Dam/Steel Arch Bridge
      – Hanging Garden Trail & The Chains
      – Glen Canyon Dam/White House Overlook
      – Grand View Overlook Park
      – The “New” Wave and Radio Tower Rock
      – Gunfighter Canyon Indoor Shooting Range
      – Wahweap Overlook
      – Wahweap Swim Beach and/or Lone Rock Beach (located in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, which requires a $30/vehicle entrance fee, good for one week’s time)
      4. I am not all that familiar with Old Scottsdale, so can’t suggest activities based on first-hand experience. For recommendations, visit http://www.ExperienceScottsdale.com/Old-Town
      5. Go home out of Phoenix — if that’s your plan, you might want to save Sedona for the last stop on your tour. Having 3 days to wind down and chill is always nice at the end of a vacation! The drive to PHX would then only be ~2 hours.
      Hope that helps! Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      1. Hi, Alley! (Not sure how to message you directly, so I had to “reply” to one of your posts…hope that’s ok…)
        I’m so glad I stumbled upon your blog, and learned of the road closures. I will be traveling with my son from May 12th-20th.
        Itinerary is:
        Fly into Las Vegas, drive directly to Zion. Two nights in Zion
        Drive to Bryce – one night in Bryce
        Drive to Page – one night in Page.
        Drive to Grand Canyon – South Rim – two nights
        Drive to Phoenix , with stop for lunch/hike in Sedona – two nights in Scottsdale

        My main question is: we did not plan on this detour to Flagstaff resulting in a 5 hour trip to the South Rim, from Page. What’s the best way to alter the trip? Skip Page and drive directly to the Grand Canyon from Bryce? Skip Bryce and head to Grand Canyon from Zion? (not sure that does anything). Or, is there any other route from Page to South Rim that would not take 5 hours? (I’m assuming not, but figured I’d ask!)

        Thanks so much…..we have so much driving involved with the trip that I really didn’t want to have a 5-hour trip in one day, if possible.
        Alison

        1. Hey Alison,
          Apologies for the delay in response to your itinerary — I was on an out-of-town work assignment over the weekend!
          I have good news for you: the road closure that resulted in people having to drive down to Flagstaff, AZ, to get from Page to the South Rim has been lifted! For now anyway… the Navajo Tribe, on whose land this stretch of road sits, is pushing for the closure to be reinstated due to COVID-19 variants making their way to the US. They understandably wish to err on the side of caution for the sake of protecting their most valuable and vulnerable citizens: their elders.
          In the event the closure gets reinstated (and we are praying it doesn’t!), there’s really no single best way to tweak your itinerary so that you’re not driving for 5 hours at some point.
          One flaw in your itinerary that jumps out at me, however, is that you don’t have enough time planned for Sedona. It’s a large and stunning area that really warrants more than just a “stop for lunch and a hike” between Grand Canyon South Rim and Scottsdale. If you were to modify your trip plan so that you hit Sedona for at least one night after leaving Page, AZ, the drive would be ~3 hours. Then you could go to Grand Canyon South Rim from there, which would be ~a 2.5 hour drive from Sedona. Unfortunately, that would leave you having to face a 4-5 hour drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Scottsdale, AZ.
          Another option should that road closure go back into effect is to drive from Page, AZ, down to Flagstaff, AZ (~2.5 hours) and visit Grand Canyon South Rim as a day trip. The drive would be ~90 minutes each way, and you’d want to get an early start on the day to avoid super-long lines at the South entrance. You would also need to time your return trip to Flagstaff, AZ, so that you arrive back to Flag (that’s what we call it around here) before dark. Driving after sunset is strongly discouraged in this part of the U.S. due to local roads being very dimly lit, and populated by deer, elk, and other wildlife that can ratchet up your risk of an auto accident. That’s not something you want to risk 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.
          Another option? Skip driving to the Grand Canyon altogether and fly over it out of Page, AZ. Fixed-wing airplanes depart daily out of the Page Municipal Airport, weather permitting and possibly contingent on a certain number of passengers traveling. While Page-Grand Canyon Air Tours do not land at the South or North Rim, they still show you a ton of amazing scenery in addition to the Grand Canyon in the course of 90 minutes’ airtime!
          Again, hopefully AZ64 from Cameron, AZ, to Desert View Point will remain open in time for your visit, and you won’t need to actually use this information, but keep it in the back of your mind for your convenience.
          Good luck and safe travels,
          Alley 🙂

          1. Thanks so much for this detailed reply! (And thanks for your email 🙂 )
            I was in Sedona 2 years ago for 3 days and absolutely fell in love with it. I would spend 1/2 my trip there, but my 23 year old son isn’t interested in staying overnight there. But I hear you! If the road closes again, then I will re-evaluate and push skipping the Grand Canyon and doing Sedona for a night or two instead.
            Thanks again!

  9. Alley,
    So glad to stumble across your blog! Such great info. I literally just booked a flight before stumbling onto your blog. What we know is this:

    – Family of 4, two teenage boys 18 & 15
    – Flying into Phoenix from Charlotte, NC – Sunday, July 4, 2021 and departing Monday, July 12, 2021
    – Renting a car from airport for the week
    – Booked a small house in Cornville, AZ so my crew can spread out and use as home base. ( my son has food allergies, so this makes bopping around every day extra hard in a place we aren’t familiar with)

    Wants on our list, using Cornville as base:
    -Day trip to Grand Canyon w/ stops along the way, or on the way back to home base.
    -Maybe Shoshone point access south rim, less crowded, nice access?
    ideas on pit stops?

    Day trip to Horseshoe Bend
    -hate the Antelope Canyons are closed but hopeful they might reopen by July
    – pit stops to and fro HS to home base ideas?

    – Day trip to Flagstaff
    Points of interest:
    -Walnut Canyon
    -Sunset Crater
    -What else?

    Day Trip(s) to Sedona:
    – Since this is close, maybe a guided tour of the ruins
    – Shopping, eating one day
    – Rest days in between to hang at pool

    I’ll be the first to say, I have no idea if this is doable. Definitely not trying to “do it all”, so we can cut something out. And we do want to relax as well, so I would rather go with the “pick and choose” smart route.

    Unsure if any of the road closures you mentioned might effect this plan. Would love your input. Feel free to be the “bearer of bad news” on anything else — I would rather know now.
    Thank you!

    1. Hey Caroline,
      Well for a change, I get to be the bearer of some good news: the East Entrance of the Grand Canyon is open now! But, the Antelope Canyons remain closed 🙁 As to whether they’ll reopen by the time you visit, we’re crossing fingers and toes. If you want to be notified the minute when/if that decision comes down hop over to our companion site, http://www.AntelopeCanyon.AZ, and ask to be placed our priority e-mail list.
      Cornville, AZ, is going to be a 3+ hour drive, one way, from pretty much everywhere you want to go, so be prepared to get an early start on your days. In July, sunrise occurs at approximately 5:15 AM and sunset takes place at around 7:45 PM. You want to be especially aware of when sunset occurs so you can time your return drive in order to ensure that you’re back to base by nightfall. Nighttime driving is strongly discouraged in this part of the U.S. due to local roads being very dimly lit, and the possibility of deer, elk, and other wildlife being around. You don’t want to risk a collision with a large animal 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. One advantage to staying in Cornville, however, is that it would be more practical for you to access it from the turn-off on I-17, which is more brightly illuminated than US89A through Oak Creek Canyon through Sedona.
      On your day that you’ve allotted to Flagstaff, AZ, plan on stopping by Wupatki National Monument as well as Sunset Crater. The two are very close together and connected via a nice little loop drive. If your boys are into ziplining, there’s a good one in Flagstaff you might check out, or ride the chairlift at the Snow Bowl.
      At the Grand Canyon, Shoshone Point is really nice, but it’s also a Special Use Permit Area, meaning that it’s popular for wedding parties, family reunions, corporate events, etc. If it is in use at the time of your visit, the party holding the permit has the right to ask you to leave. If that’s the case, don’t sweat it, there are plenty of other good viewpoints on the East Rim Drive of the Grand Canyon. I’m partial to Grandview Point as it has a nice view of the Colorado River. Forward to the 1:09 mark on this video to see what that looks like. Note that the video promotes a jeep tour, which you don’t have to take as this viewpoint is open to private vehicles.
      As to “pit stops” you might make en route to Horseshoe Bend, that pretty much depends on the status of the Navajo Reservation. At the present time, they are discouraging contact between outsiders and tribe members, meaning you should be prepared to drive straight through to Page, AZ. Be sure your vehicle is fully fueled and that you have adequate water and snacks to tide you over until you arrive in Page, AZ. Should the closure be lifted, you should plan on stopping at the Cameron Trading Post for a leg stretch and bathroom break at least. Time/inclination permitting, you might do a little souvenir shopping. There are also trading posts at The Gap and Bitter Springs. Upon turning off the highway at Bitter Springs and heading up “The Cut,” there’s a cool viewpoint you can stop at that overlooks the Colorado Plateau. Horseshoe Bend is just South of Page, AZ. Other sites you might visit while in town are:
      – Page Rim View Trail
      – Glen Canyon Dam/Steel Arch Bridge
      – Hanging Garden Trail & The Chains
      – Glen Canyon Dam/White House Overlook
      – Grand View Overlook Park
      – The “New” Wave and Radio Tower Rock
      – Wahweap Overlook
      – Wahweap Swim Beach and/or Lone Rock Beach (these are located in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, which requires a $30/vehicle entrance fee, good for one week’s time)
      RE: your son’s dietary requirements, I’d recommend picking up an inexpensive cooler to bring along with you on your various day trips. Flagstaff, AZ, will have the best choices of grocery stores. They have a Wal-Mart and a Whole Foods. Page, AZ, also has a Wal-Mart. Grand Canyon Village has a pretty good-sized grocery store, but you will pay “park prices” there.
      Hope that helps, I know it’s a lot to process! If you need further guidance, please contact me directly at [email protected]
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  10. Hello kind souls!
    We are visiting Page from April 20th to 21st (staying for one night)
    FWIW, we are coming in from South Rim and then heading towards Monument valley (I know it’s closed)

    We wanted to visit Antelope Canyon, but sadly that’s out of reach.

    I was dabbling with the idea of a boat charter for at lake Labrynith \ Navajo Canyon. But I am unsure if I want to tie myself to a tour. and i really want to at least see the Horsehoe bend… Is that an easy hike?

    Thoughts?

    1. Hi Rajiv,
      You are partially correct that the Antelope Canyons remain out of reach, but that’s only the land-side, which is on Navajo Tribal Land. It is possible to kayak into the waterside of Antelope Canyon where it joins with Lake Powell, then hike into the pre-slot portion of the Lower canyon, which is on Federal and not Tribal Land. That activity is best done in the earlier morning hours for lack of wind and minimal chop from larger boat traffic. You can either rent a kayak and do a self-guide, or take a guided tour for optimal safety and comfort. There are several companies offering these services, but the one we’re most familiar with is Lake Powell Hidden Canyon Kayak.
      Horseshoe Bend is open (it’s one of a few attractions that never closed through the pandemic) and can be visited anytime during normal operating hours of the parking lot, which are sunrise to sunset. The hike is 1.5 miles round-trip and is relatively flat. Still, since you’re in a desert environment, we advise that you bring plenty of water for yourself and all members of your traveling party.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  11. Hi Alley
    I see all the awesome feed back you are giving and I was hoping you could help me with planning our trip itinerary. Never done an itinerary for myself before or taking a lil road trip like this before and being that this will be our honeymoon I want it to be planned or somewhat organized. 🙂

    We will be flying to Vegas October 10th, 2021. We are thinking about possibly renting a RV through RV share but haven’t decided yet. May just rent a car. We want to stay there that night, catch a show then head out the next morning on the 11th. We currently have off through the 17th but we both can take some more time if needed. My thoughts were head to the Grand Canyon Skywalk, Grand Canyon National Park, Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, Zion Nation Park, and then Bryce Canyon. Then make our way back to Vegas.

    I have a lot written down to do for the Grand Canyon and Zion, so I know those two we’ll spend some time there.
    It’s just hard for me to see how much time is needed at these places or if this is even doable.

    Thanks ahead of time, Emily!

    1. Hey Emily,
      Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials! October is a great time to be here, and the timing of your visit means you can catch Grand Canyon North Rim before it closes for the season (October 15th).
      If you wanted to rent an RV, that’s cool, but be sure that you’re considering it for the right reasons: many commit to an RV rental thinking it will save them a lot of money on hotels, but in reality, any savings on hotels will be made up for in extra gas, plus, if you want to stay in developed RV parks, they can often be comparable cost-wise to hotels. I would advise staying at developed RV parks if you go that route because in some areas, particularly Grand Canyon and Bryce, nights are starting to get cold. You’ll want to have access to reliable heat for optimal comfort while sleeping.
      RE: the Grand Canyon Skywalk, you might want to cross it off the list. If you go to Grand Canyon National Park, it will be something of a let-down. In case you weren’t aware, the Grand Canyon Skywalk is not located anywhere near Grand Canyon National Park, it’s located at Grand Canyon West, which is a Native American Tribal Park about a 2.5 hour drive SouthEast of Las Vegas, NV. It costs quite a bit to get into the park, then you pay for a pretty pricey ticket to go on the Skywalk, where you aren’t allowed to carry your own camera, you have to buy a souvenir photo (another $$$ outlay). For more information on Grand Canyon West, visit http://www.GrandCanyonWest.com or http://www.CanyonSkywalk.com
      RE: Grand Canyon North Rim, I should tell you that lodging is very hard to come by there, so you’ll probably have to visit as a day trip from either Kanab, UT, or Page, AZ, but it is so much prettier than the South Rim. It takes ~90 minutes, each way, to drive to the North Rim from Kanab, UT. Be sure to stop at the Jacob Lake Inn to get a box of their world-famous home-made cookies! The key is to keep an eye on the time and be sure you leave the North Rim so that you’re assured of getting back to Kanab, UT, by nightfall. 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 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, and help will be a long time coming, not to mention VERY expensive. At the time of year you’re visiting, sunrise occurs at ~6:30 AM, and sunset takes place just before 6:00PM, Arizona Time. Utah will be one hour ahead.
      In light of all that, here’s what I’d recommend:
      October 10th: fly to Las Vegas, overnight in Las Vegas
      October 11th: drive to Page, AZ (~5 hours), optional detour through stunning Valley of Fire State Park, overnight in Page, AZ
      October 12th: tour Antelope Canyon (hopefully will be open by then!), visit Horseshoe Bend, 2nd night in Page, AZ
      October 13th: drive to Bryce Canyon (~3 hours), optional stop to hike Paria Rimrocks/Toadstool Hoodoos, overnight in Bryce Canyon area or Kanab, UT
      October 14th: Day trip to Grand Canyon North Rim, overnight in Kanab, UT
      October 15th: Sightseeing in Zion Canyon on Zion Canyon Shuttle (advance ticket purchase required), stay in Kanab, UT, or Springdale, UT
      October 16th: More sightseeing in Zion, overnight in Kanab, UT, or Springdale, UT
      October 17th: Drive back to Las Vegas (3-4 hours, depending on where you stay the night before)
      If the prospect of going to the North Rim doesn’t appeal, then you could reorder the itinerary as follows:
      Grand Canyon South Rim (~5 hours from Las Vegas)
      Page, AZ (~3 hours from GC South Rim)
      Bryce (~3 hours from Page)
      Zion (~2 hours from Bryce)
      Las Vegas (3 hours from Springdale, 4 from Kanab)
      Hope that helps, I know it’s a lot to process. If you need to bounce more ideas off us, feel free to contact me directly at [email protected]
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  12. Hello! My boyfriend and I are taking a trip Arizona from May 11-18th. We are staying in Las Vegas from May 11th-12th and again on May 17th-18th for airport purposes. We are thinking about doing day trips to Zion National Park, Page (Horsebend & the Wave), Grand Canyon, and Sedona (Angel’s Landing & maybe 1 other hike). We are wanting to stay close by to each of these parks from the evening of May 12th to the afternoon of May 17th. What are your suggestions & is this doable? Thanks!

    1. Hey Shelby!
      Well, first piece of bad news out of the way first: The Wave probably isn’t going to happen. That area is closely managed by the Bureau of Land Management, which only allows a certain number of hikers to enter on a daily basis via a highly competitive online permit lottery. A walk-in lottery is also held on a daily basis (the day prior to when you wish to hike) at the Kanab Center Gymnasium, but there again, you’ve got lots of people competing for just a handful of permits. Maybe try and apply for the Wave lottery in the future, in the meantime, think about alternative areas that are just as beautiful, but not as limited in access, such as White Pocket. For White Pocket, a permit is not required, but we strongly recommend taking a guided tour since the access road to this area is very tricky to navigate for those who are not highly experienced at 4WD terrain. There are several companies offering these, but the ones we are most familiar with are Paria Outpost & Outfitters and Dreamland Safari Tours.
      Also need to point out that Angel’s Landing is not in Sedona, AZ, but Zion. To access that trail, you’ll need to use the Zion Canyon Shuttle, which requires advance ticket purchase.
      So here’s what I’d recommend:
      May 12th: drive from Las Vegas to Zion, overnight in Springdale, UT or Hurricane, UT
      May 13th: hike Angel’s Landing and other trails as time permits
      May 14th: drive from Zion to Page, AZ (~2 hours), optional stop to hike the Paria Rimrocks/Toadstool Hoodoos , overnight in Page
      May 15th: visit Horseshoe Bend first thing in AM, drive to Grand Canyon South Rim (~3-4 hours, depending on stops made), overnight at Grand Canyon
      May 16th: drive from GC South Rim to Sedona, AZ (~2.5 hours), overnight in Sedona
      May 17th: sightseeing in Sedona, AZ, until departure for Las Vegas that afternoon (~4.5 hour drive)
      Custom trip map (note this map reflects a closure between Page and GC that necessitates a detour through Flagstaff; this closure has since been lifted, but Google maps doesn’t reflect it yet — the shortest drive actually goes through Cameron, AZ)
      If you are able to free up another day for travel, give that to Sedona. That’s a huge area with lots to see and do, so an extra day would allow you to enjoy more of it!
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  13. Hi Alley,

    My husband and Flying in and out of Las Vegas on June 12-17. The first night we are staying in Vegas, the rest of the night glamping near Fredonia, AZ. We would love to see the Horseshoe Bend, north rim of Grand Canyon, maybe try kayaking the Antelope canyon. Do you have any recommendations on how we should plan our trip and other things to see? Thank you!

    1. Hi Lyuba,
      To visit Horseshoe Bend and kayaking Antelope Canyon, you need to plan one day to visit Page, AZ. The drive from Fredonia, AZ, takes approximately 90 minutes, one way. Kayaking in Antelope Canyon is best done in the earlier morning hours for lack of wind and smoother water. Horseshoe Bend can be visited at your leisure anytime between sunrise and sunset. Time/inclination permitting, you might also stop to hike the Paria Rimrocks/Toadstool Hoodoos Trail; the trailhead is at mile marker 19 between Kanab, UT, and Page, AZ. Another option would be to make it a “loop” drive by returning to Fredonia, AZ, via Lees Ferry and Marble Canyon. There, you can explore the Lonely Dell Ranch Historic District and walk across Navajo Bridge. Cliff Dweller’s Restaurant would make a great stop for dinner, their food is amazing, so is the view.
      You’ll then need to plan a separate day to visit Grand Canyon North Rim. That will also be ~a 90-minute drive from Fredonia, AZ. If desired, you could make a short detour to see Pipe Springs National Monument. Like Lees Ferry, this is a very illuminating glimpse of early pioneer life on the Kaibab Plateau. Be sure to stop at the Jacob Lake Inn to pick up a bag of their delish home-made cookies from their bakery!
      However you decide to do it, be sure that you time your return trip to Fredonia so that you’re “back to base” by sundown. Nighttime driving is strongly discouraged in the more rural areas of Northern Arizona and Southern Utah due to local roads being very dimly lit, and situated in areas populated by deer, elk, and other wildlife that could elevate your risk of an auto accident. A collision with a large animal is not something you want to risk in an unfamiliar area that’s pitch black, where nights are still cold, 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 mid-June, sunrise occurs at 5:05 am and sunset takes place around 7:46 pm, Arizona time. Utah is one hour ahead of AZ.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  14. Hi Alley,
    We are vacationing in AZ from April 27-May 4. We are flying into Phoenix and I was planning to stay in Sedona the whole week and drive to our destinations but am starting to think we should stay a few different places to minimize drive time. Can you give advice on the best way to enjoy the areas we want to see, which are Sedona, the Grand Canyon, and Horseshoe Bend, Lake Powell and Antelope Canyon? Our flight gets in at 8am, so I thought maybe we should go right to Lake Powell that first day and then spend a couple nights there, then go to Sedona, but maybe we should stay a night by the Grand Canyon as well, versus driving there from Sedona? Any advice you have would be great. Thanks!!

    1. Hi Kristal,
      If you’re not locked into those hotel reservations in Sedona, AZ, then you definitely should rethink your approach! One thing that might complicate matters, however, is the closure of a critical component of the shortest travel route from Page, AZ, to Grand Canyon South Rim (AZ64 East from Cameron, AZ, to Desert View Point) due to COVID-19: this necessitates a rather long detour through Flagstaff, AZ, to get from one place to the other, turning what used to be about a 3-hour drive into more along the lines of 5 hours. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news on that front, but I’d hate for you to be unpleasantly surprised by that.
      Another piece of bad news: walking tours of the Antelope Canyons have yet to be reopened by the Navajo Tribe, and it’s not looking good for them to do so by the time you arrive. This means that the only way you’re likely to see Antelope Canyon is by kayaking into the waterside of it from Antelope Point Marina, which includes some hiking into the area where the lower slot meets the shoreline on Federal and not Tribal land. Kayak tours are best done during the earlier morning hours for lack of wind and chop from larger boat traffic.
      In light of those concerns, here’s what I would suggest:
      April 27: Arrive in Phoenix, drive to Page, AZ (~5 hours), hit Horseshoe Bend on way into town, overnight in Page
      April 28: Antelope Canyon Kayak tour, other hiking and sightseeing in the area, 2nd night in Page, AZ
      April 29: Drive to Grand Canyon South Rim (~5 hours), overnight at Grand Canyon
      April 30: 2nd day/night at Grand Canyon
      May 1: Drive to Sedona, AZ (~3 hours), overnight in Sedona
      May 2-4: Sedona
      If you have trouble finding accommodations at the South Rim, you might simply drive down to Sedona, AZ, and make a day trip from there. The drive would be ~2.5 hours each way, so, less than ideal, but doable if you keep an eye on the time and make sure you start the drive back so that you arrive in Sedona, AZ, by nightfall, which occurs at around 7:15 PM at the time of year you’re visiting.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      1. Hello Alley,

        First of all, thank you for the wonderful information you share here! I appreciate you reading my email. I have been reading and checking out the suggestions. I see a lot of people are planning trips this Spring, but not many in the summer. My family of 4 was supposed to visit AZ in March of 2020; Covid cancelled it though. We are now planning on visiting July 30-Aug 7; With 16 & 19 year old daughters this is the only time that both can go due to school, activities and work, so we are going to try and make the best of it (we know it will probably be sooo hot!). We are arriving in PHX around 8:30 am on Friday, July 30 and leave from PHX at 10:30 on Sat, Aug 7. I am trying to figure out how to make the best use of our time. We are wanting to go to Sedona and the Grand Canyon and probably have some pool time at a nice resort before we leave. How many days should we plan each place?

        Would you suggest trying to go to Horse Shoe bend also or Antelope Canyon (if open then)?
        How many days in Sedona?
        Should we plan any time in Scottsdale?
        What are the must do things in these areas?

        Thank you so much!

        1. Hey Kimberly,
          So sorry you had to cancel your trip to the Southwest U.S. last spring. You were by no means alone in that predicament, ditto for being limited to a summer trip because of kids, work, etc. IMO, you’re seeing more springtime travel planning what with all these lockdowns getting on peoples’ nerves, those who are able to travel in spring are taking advantage of the opportunity to do so, and believe me, they’re chomping at the bit big-time.
          IMO Scottsdale, AZ, is just another big city, so I wouldn’t spend a whole lot of time there. If pool time at a nice resort is what you’re craving toward the end of your trip, the place to get that would be Sedona!
          As for Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon, you would need to build 1-2 nights in Page, AZ, for that. While the walking tours of Antelope Canyon are currently on suspension, it is possible to kayak into the waterside of Antelope Canyon from Antelope Point Marina and hike into the pre-slot portion of the canyon on the shoreline of Lake Powell, which is on Federal and not Tribal Land. Kayaking is best done first thing in the morning to take advantage of conditions with less wind and less chop from large boat traffic. Whether the land-side of the canyons will reopen by the time you visit, no one knows. But judging by the number of sold out days for the kayak tours, people enjoyed them thoroughly.
          In light of these issues, here’s what I’d recommend:
          July 30th: arrive in Phoenix, get rental car, overnight in Scottsdale
          July 31st: drive to Page, AZ (~5 hours), overnight in Page
          August 1st: first thing AM, kayak tour of Antelope Canyon, visit Horseshoe Bend, 2nd night at Page, AZ
          August 2nd: drive to Grand Canyon South Rim via Desert View/East Rim Drive of park (~3-4 hours depending on how many stops made), overnight at Grand Canyon
          August 3rd: 2nd day/night at Grand Canyon, more sightseeing on Hermit’s Rest/West Rim drive, possibly hike on Rim View Trail or short distance below the rim on the Bright Angel Trail
          August 4th: drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Sedona, AZ (~2.5 hours), overnight in Sedona
          August 5th: 2nd day/night in Sedona, possible activities Pink Jeep Broken Arrow Tour, hike Cathedral, Bell Rock, of West Fork of Oak Creek Trail, swimming at Slide Rock State Park, art galleries, museums, Tlaquepaque 100 Things To Do In Sedona, AZ
          August 6th: 3rd day/night in Sedona – chill time
          August 7th: return to Phoenix (~2 hours), fly home
          Hope that helps. Good luck and safe travels,
          Alley 🙂

  15. Hi Alley,

    I was wondering if you had any advice on a 2 day trip from Las Vegas with an overnight stay in Page, AZ?

    I was thinking we could hit the South Rim on the way to Page, and if we had time, do the Horseshoe Bend (is it worth it to see this close to the evening?). The next day I was thinking of either heading straight to Angel’s Landing in Zion very early, OR, kayaking in Antelope Canyon, skipping Zion, but seeing a few hikes on the way back to Vegas.

    What do you recommend if we only have 2 days? Does this seem doable?

    Thanks,
    Patrick

    1. Hey Patrick,
      Sorry, man, this won’t work. You just don’t have enough time, plus there’s a COVID-19 road closure that has thrown a major wrench into the works for folks wanting to travel from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ. AZ64 East, a critical component of the shortest travel route from GC South Rim to Page, AZ, is closed to all through traffic at the present time by order of the Navajo Indian Tribe, on whose land it sits. This means that to get from GC South Rim to Page, AZ, you must drive all the way down to Flagstaff, AZ, then proceed North on US89 to Page. This has turned what used to be a 3-hour drive into more like a 5-hour drive. This on top of the already 5-hour drive from Las Vegas, NV? Even under normal circumstances, it’s too long a drive for one day. No thanks.
      You don’t have enough time to do Zion justice either. That’s a huge park, and a beautiful one, that really warrants 4-5 days to fully enjoy and explore. Push comes to shove, you could drive through it on the way from Page, AZ, back to Las Vegas, NV. That will add another couple of hours onto an already long drive, as well.
      Long story short: if you’ve never been to the Grand Canyon, prioritize it over everything else. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site that deserves a place on everyone’s bucket list! If possible, stay overnight at the Grand Canyon, or the community of Tusayan, AZ, just outside the park. Grand Canyon hotels
      Good luck and safe travels!
      Alley 🙂

  16. Hi Alley,

    My family and I are planning a visit to Page the end of June. We are planning on staying 2 nights. We were thinking of renting jet-skis on Lake powell 1 day. With Antelope Canyon being closed, what else should we plan to do or see while there? I am actualy from Arizona, but no longer live there. We have been to Sedona and the Grand Canyon, but all the years I lived in Arizona I have never been to Lake Powell or Antelope Canyon. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

    Thank you

    1. Hi Kim,
      If the Antelope Canyons remain closed by the time your visit rolls around, you can still see it, just from another angle: on the water! Right now, it is still possible to kayak into the waterside of Antelope Canyon on Lake Powell, then hike into the “pre-slot” portion of the Lower Canyon, which is on Federal and not Tribal land. You can rent a kayak and take the DIY approach, or take a guided tour for a more educational experience. There are several companies offering both services, but the one we’re most familiar with is Hidden Canyon Kayak Tours.
      As for other sites you can hit in Page, AZ, even with the Antelope Canyons closed, there’s still no shortage of fun to be had! Areas that remain open include:
      – Horseshoe Bend
      Page Rim View Trail
      Glen Canyon Dam/Steel Arch Bridge
      Hanging Garden Trail & The Chains
      Glen Canyon Dam/White House Overlook
      Grand View Overlook Park
      The “New” Wave and Radio Tower Rock
      Gunfighter Canyon Indoor Shooting Range
      Wahweap Overlook
      Wahweap Swim Beach and/or Lone Rock Beach (located in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, which requires a $30/vehicle entrance fee, good for one week’s time)
      If you have the time and/or inclination to venture a short ways into Utah, you might also visit:
      Big Water Visitors Center & Dinosaur Museum
      Paria Rimrocks/Toadstool Hoodoos Trail
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  17. Hi Alley!

    My sister and I are planning a road trip from Texas at the end of May. We currently have our nights in Zion and Bryce booked, but are wondering if you might help us navigate the bookends of our trip? We will be driving in from Santa Fe on the way there, and are going towards Colorado on our way out. We were thinking of exploring Page, AZ along the way and going into Moab and then to Colorado afterwards. I am concerned that with the Navajo Nation closures, we may be unable to get from Santa Fe into Page. Do you know how the roads are looking at the moment? Additionally, how would suggest navigating all of the sights to see in Arizona along the way? We are wanting to take a few days to drive up, but don’t want to start our camping trip exhausted from the way there. Any and all advice would be so much appreciated!

    1. Hey Julia,
      Your trip sounds pretty fun! Not sure how long you’ve got for it, but hope you have at least 2 weeks, preferably more, to make it all happen.
      The area where you’re most likely to be affected by a road and/or park closures is between Grand Canyon South Rim and Page, AZ, and I don’t see Grand Canyon South Rim at all on your itinerary. If you’ve never been to the Grand Canyon, you should definitely set aside time to see it, but since you’re traveling at the end of May, you can visit the prettier and quieter North Rim instead of the hot, crowded South Rim. More on that in a minute 😉
      The drive from TX (assuming DFW as your starting point) to Santa Fe, NM, will take ~10 hours, so you might want to break up the drive in Amarillo, TX. The drive from Santa Fe, NM, to Page, AZ, is also a bit on the long side, ~8-9 hours. Now, be aware that Google maps would automatically route you through Navajo Indian Land, which Tribal leadership wants outsiders to avoid, so go through Flagstaff, AZ, on I-40, just to be on the safe side. If you’re inclined to break up that leg of the drive, stop by Petrified Forest National Park, and overnight in Winslow, AZ. That way you can claim your bragging rights to taking a selfie whilst “Standin’ On A Corner in Winslow, Arizona.” Maybe grab breakfast at the historic La Posada Hotel before taking off, maybe stopping at Meteor Crater, then hitting Horseshoe Bend on the way into Page, AZ.
      Since the land-side tours of Antelope Canyon are closed until further notice, the best way to see Antelope Canyon at the present time is to kayak into the waterside from Antelope Point Marina, then hike into the pre-slot portion of the Lower Canyon, which is on Federal and not Tribal Land. While the scenery isn’t the “picture postcard” slot canyon scenery folks are expecting to see, it’s still beautiful, and judging by the number of sold out dates for that tour last year, people weren’t complaining. The Antelope Canyon kayak tours take ~4 hours and should be done first thing in the morning for lack of wind and chop from large tour boats.
      Remember where I talked about visiting Grand Canyon North Rim instead of the South Rim? Here is where that would come in: you could visit as a day trip from Kanab, UT, which is ~a 90-minute drive each way, or Page, AZ, which is ~2.5 hours each way. The reason I’m suggesting it as a day trip is because it’s darn near impossible to find lodging at the North Rim just because there’s not much to work with in the first place. The key is to keep an eye on the time and be sure that you’re heading back to your lodging location well before sunset. You don’t want to drive after dark around here as a general rule because roads are very dimly lit, and deer, elk, and other wildlife could be hanging around that love to jump out in front of cars. Not something you want to risk 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. In late May, sunrise occurs just after 5:00 AM, and sunset takes place at around 7:30 PM; that’s ARIZONA time, Utah will be 1 hour ahead.
      If you’re not keen on all that driving and calculations, another option would be to fly over the Grand Canyon. Fixed wing airplanes depart daily out of the Page Municipal Airport, weather permitting, and possibly contingent on a certain number of passengers flying. While airplane tours do not land at the Grand Canyon, they make for an excellent way to see the Grand Canyon, and a ton of other beautiful scenery.
      The trip from Page, AZ, to Zion takes ~2 hours, and here is where you might make a fun little stop to hike the Paria Rimrocks/Toadstool Hoodoos Trail. FYI, you’ll have to use the Zion Canyon Shuttle to access the most popular viewpoints if you’re not staying inside the park. Advance ticket purchase is required as well, which can be a pain. If you’d rather not deal with that, there are plenty of trails you can access via the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway (UT9).
      The drive from Zion to Bryce is also ~2 hours, then the drive from Bryce to Moab, UT, is ~6 hours. Be sure you make the first half of the drive from Bryce to Torrey, UT, on Scenic Byway 12, that’s a stunning drive that you’ll love! If possible, set aside an extra night to stay in the Capitol Reef National Park area, or at least visit as a “pop-by” between Bryce and Moab. In Moab, UT, hope you have at least 3 days to fully explore and enjoy that area!
      If the back half of your trip is taking you through Colorado, try to hit Mesa Verde National Park. You definitely wouldn’t regret it! The Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Trip is fun, too. Sure you can’t spend a month out here? LOL
      Custom trip map
      Hope that helps, I know it’s a lot to digest! If you need to bounce more ideas off us, please contact us directly at [email protected]
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  18. Hi Alley,

    My family and I are planning a visit to Page the end of June. We are planning on staying 2 nights. We were thinking of renting jet-skis on Lake powell 1 day. With Antelope Canyon being closed, what else should we plan to do or see while there?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Kim,
      If the Antelope Canyons remain closed by the time your visit rolls around, you can still see it, just from another angle: on the water! Right now, it is still possible to kayak into the waterside of Antelope Canyon on Lake Powell, then hike into the “pre-slot” portion of the Lower Canyon, which is on Federal and not Tribal land. You can rent a kayak and take the DIY approach, or take a guided tour for a more educational experience. There are several companies offering both services, but the one we’re most familiar with is Hidden Canyon Kayak Tours.
      As for other sites you can hit in Page, AZ, even with the Antelope Canyons closed, there’s still no shortage of fun to be had! Areas that remain open include:
      – Horseshoe Bend
      – Page Rim View Trail
      – Glen Canyon Dam/Steel Arch Bridge
      – Hanging Garden Trail & The Chains
      – Glen Canyon Dam/White House Overlook
      – Grand View Overlook Park
      – The “New” Wave and Radio Tower Rock
      – Gunfighter Canyon Indoor Shooting Range
      – Wahweap Overlook
      – Wahweap Swim Beach and/or Lone Rock Beach (located in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, which requires a $30/vehicle entrance fee, good for one week’s time)
      If you have the time and/or inclination to venture a short ways into Utah, you might also visit:
      – Big Water Visitors Center & Dinosaur Museum
      – Paria Rimrocks/Toadstool Hoodoos Trail
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  19. Hi Alley,

    We are going on a mini trip from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City from May 12 to May 14; I would appreciate your recommendations and comments:

    Day 1 Arrive at LV stay at hotel
    Day 2 Drive to Hoover dam, skywalk, south rim spend the night there
    Day 3 Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, Zion national park spend the night there
    Day 4 Zion national park, drive to SLC

    I know it is tight, let me know what you think

    1. Hi Hussam,
      Sorry, but I cannot endorse this trip plan. It’s too tight, as you seem to already be aware, and I don’t think you fully realize how much driving this is going to entail.
      For one, the trip from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon Skywalk takes ~2.5 hours. The drive from the Grand Canyon Skywalk to Grand Canyon South Rim will then take ~4 hours. The Grand Canyon Skywalk is not located at Grand Canyon National Park, but at Grand Canyon West, a totally separate area.
      The trip from Grand Canyon South Rim to Horseshoe Bend normally takes ~3 hours, then the drive to Zion takes ~2 hours, but these are not normal circumstances. Due to COVID-19 a critical component of the shortest travel route from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ, is closed, necessitating a rather long detour through Flagstaff, AZ, which is ~90 minutes from Grand Canyon South Rim. Page, AZ, and Horseshoe Bend would then be a further 2.5-3 hours from Flagstaff. This means that a 3-hour drive has turned into more along the lines of a 4.5-5 hour drive, then you propose to drive another 2 hours to Zion? Not my idea of a vacation.
      Another piece of bad news: the Antelope Canyons are closed, also due to COVID-19. But it is possible to kayak to the waterside of Antelope Canyon on Lake Powell, then hike as far as the pre-slot portion of the Lower Canyon, which is on Federal and not Tribal land. That activity is best done first thing in the morning for lack of wind and minimal “chop” from large tour boat traffic.
      The drive from Page, AZ, to Zion, again, is ~2 hours, then the drive from Zion to SLC Airport is another 5-hour haul. So unless you want to spend this whole trip driving, you’ll need to leave something out, and IMO it makes the most sense to nix Grand Canyon Skywalk and the South Rim. I know that sounds crazy! That’s not to say you can’t still see the Grand Canyon. You’ll just need to get a little creative (and spend a little $$) to do so.
      A revised plan would look like this:
      Day 1 Arrive at LV stay at hotel
      Day 2 Drive to Page, AZ (~5 hours from Las Vegas), visit Horseshoe Bend
      Day 3 Take Antelope Canyon kayak tour, fly over Grand Canyon in fixed-wing airplane, drive to Zion, overnight in Springdale, UT, or Hurricane, UT
      Day 4 Sightseeing in Zion, drive from Zion to SLC (~5 hours)
      Revised trip map
      If possible, try to change your departure city to Las Vegas. That would make for a shorter drive back, ~3 hours instead of 5.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      1. Thank you so much, you actually made me change my whole plan, the new plan I hope it gets your approval lol,

        Day 1 Land in Salt Lake City travel to Yellowstone
        Day 2 spend the day in Yellowstone
        Day 3 Drive to Rocky mountain
        Day 4 Rocky mountain drive to Denver
        Day 5 Denver
        Day 6 Garden of the gods, great sand dunes, continue driving to Santa Fe
        Day 7 Santa Fe, 4 corners, monument valley, Arches national park
        Day 9 drive to SLC

        1. Hi again, Hussam,
          Sorry, friend, I can’t sign off on this plan either. 🙁
          Again, you’re drastically underestimating how long it takes to get from place to place.
          SLC to Yellowstone, for example, will be ~an 8-hour drive (at least), and one day is nowhere near enough time to do Yellowstone justice. You could spend a week there and still feel as though you’d only scratched the surface of the place. I know, I live in Wyoming! And then there’s the Grand Tetons, which you haven’t even factored in.
          From Yellowstone to Rocky Mountain National Park (Estes Park, CO) is also ~9-10 hours.
          From Denver to Garden of the Gods isn’t too bad a drive, ~3 hours, but you’ll need another 5-6 hours to get to Santa Fe, so there you have another day spent on the road.
          From Santa Fe to Moab, UT, via 4 Corners and Monument Valley, another 8+ hour drive. Plus Monument Valley and 4 Corners, like all Navajo Indian Tribal Parks, are currently closed due to COVID-19. Going direct from Santa Fe, NM, to Moab, UT is ~a 7-hour drive.
          I would advise either taking Yellowstone off the table, or ’86ing Santa Fe, NM. Again, you just don’t have enough time for both.
          Since the drive from SLC to Rocky Mountain NP is on the long side, ~10 hours, you could break up that drive in Grand Junction, CO.
          IMO Denver, CO, is just another big city, so I don’t advise spending any more time there than you absolutely have to. Moab, UT, warrants at least 3-4 days; Arches National Park isn’t the only game in town! You need an extra day for Canyonlands National Park, which is just up the road from Arches NP near Moab, UT, and another day for other attractions in the area, such as Dead Horse Point State Park and the Castle Valley area.
          Day 1 Land in SLC, drive to Grand Junction, CO (~5 hours), overnight in Grand Junction
          Day 2 Drive to Rocky Mountain NP (Estes Park, CO – ~5 hours), overnight in Estes Park or other gateway community
          Day 3 2nd day/night in Rocky Mountain NP
          Day 4 Rocky Mountain NP to Garden of the Gods, overnight in Colorado Springs, CO, or vicinity
          Day 5 Drive from Colorado Springs to Ouray, CO, overnight in Ouray
          Day 6 Drive from Ouray, CO, to Moab, UT (~4-5 hours), overnight in Moab, UT
          Day 7 2nd day/night in Moab
          Day 8 3rd day/night in Moab
          Day 9 Drive from Moab, UT, to SLC (~4 hours), fly home
          Revised trip map
          If you’re coming from overseas, I can understand the temptation to try and cram as much sightseeing into what vacation time you were able to get, but a vacation should also allow for some leisure time to discover and explore. Your current plan to hit Yellowstone, Rocky Mountains, Santa Fe, and Moab, has precious little of that.
          Have a good one,
          Alley 🙂

  20. Hi Alley!
    I’ve booked a trip to AZ May 29-June 5. Will you make sure I’m not overlooking anything in my itinerary as far as closures go? Also, I’d love any suggestions!
    Day 1: Land in PHX, visit Dessert Botanical Garden. Drive from PHX to Scottsdale, explore Old Town Scottsdale. Stay in Scottsdale overnight.
    Day 2: Drive to Sedona. Hike Devil’s Bridge, Cathedral Rock, Birthing Caves, Munds Wagon Trail, and Bell Rock. Drive to Flagstaff.
    Day 3: Hike Humphreys Peak, Drive to Page
    Day 4: Hike Slot Canyons near Antelope Canyon via kayak from Lake Powell Antelope Marina
    Day 5: Explore Glen Canyon (Horseshoe Bend), drive to Kanab, UT
    Day 6: Explore Kanab (any suggestions?), drive to PHX
    Day 7: Hot air balloon ride, explore PHX
    Day 8: Fly out of PHX

    1. Hey Kelsey, thank you for visiting us.
      Here’s what you’re overlooking: the Grand Canyon! Unless you’ve already been there, you should definitely set aside time to see it. The South Rim is where most visitors go, but since your visit is taking place after May 15th, and the drive from the South Rim to Page, AZ, has been complicated by a COID-19 closure, the North Rim is definitely an option for a day trip out of Kanab, UT, or a flyover out of Page, AZ.
      Another observation is that drive times take a lot longer than Google Maps says they will, and you don’t have enough time in Sedona to do all that you want to do. Sedona, AZ, is a huge area, that really warrants 3-4 days to fully explore and enjoy. That said, I would recommend:
      a. taking it off the table and saving it for another trip
      b. resign yourself to the fact that you won’t accomplish everything on your wish list and just be glad you got the chance to see it
      c. taking Kanab, UT, off the itinerary and scooting Sedona, AZ, to the back end of your trip
      Hike Mount Humphreys, then drive to Page, AZ? Again, too ambitious. Although I’ve personally never hiked Mt. Humphreys, reliable sources indicate it’s “not your typical day hike” and it takes you to elevations high enough to cause altitude sickness. Instead, drive the Wupatki/Sunset Crater Scenic Loop Drive just North of Flagstaff, AZ, on your way to Page, AZ, maybe hike around the ruins at Wupatki, then hit Horseshoe Bend on your way into town. Do the kayak trip into the waterside of Antelope Canyon first thing the next morning for lack of wind and minimal “chop” from large tour boat traffic.
      While Kanab, UT, has a lot to offer, and you certainly wouldn’t have any problem filling up a day or two there, I’m going to suggest taking it off the trip plan so you can give the last couple of days of your precious vacation time to Sedona. Besides, if you wanted to take a hot air balloon ride, you should definitely do it out of Sedona instead of Phoenix!
      So in light of all that, here’s what I’d recommend:
      Day 1: Land in PHX, visit Dessert Botanical Garden. Drive from PHX to Scottsdale, explore Old Town Scottsdale. Stay in Scottsdale overnight.
      Day 2: Drive to Flagstaff, AZ (~3 hours from Scottsdale) , visit Walnut Canyon National Monument, Fatman’s Loop Trail, or other fairly easy local hikes. Overnight in Flagstaff.
      Day 3: Drive from Flagstaff, AZ, to Page, AZ (~2.5 hours), optional detour via Wupatki/Sunset Crater Loop (which will add another couple of hours onto your trip time), visit Horseshoe Bend,
      overnight in Page, AZ
      Day 4: Take kayak tour or kayak rental into waterside of Antelope Canyon, hike shoreline portion of Lower canyon on Federal not Tribal land. 2nd day/night in Page, AZ
      Day 5: First thing in AM, take flight over Grand Canyon from Page Municipal Airport, then drive to Sedona, AZ (~3 hours), overnight in Sedona
      Day 6: Hiking in Sedona as time permits 2nd night in Sedona
      Day 7: First thing in AM, hot air balloon ride, hike to areas not covered day prior, 3rd night in Sedona
      Day 8: Drive back to PHX (~2 hours), fly home
      Custom trip map
      Hope that makes more sense! Whatever you decide, be sure to book all hotels and guided tours in advance of your arrival.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  21. Hi Alley,

    I am planning a trip in Mid May from 11th to 19th, can you help me validating this trip and suggesting

    Day 1: Fly to Vegas at midnight
    Day 2 & 3: Need suggestion to visit places at Vegas
    Day 4: Leave from Las Vegas around 10 and reach Grand Canyon (take Hermits Rest route)
    Day 5: Visit other points at Grand Canyon, Desert view, etc and reach Horseshoe bend via Dinosaur Tracks
    Day 6: Antelope canyon tour, Monument Valley and drive to Moab and visit Delicate Arch
    Day 7: Visit other spots at Arches national park
    Day 8: Canyonlands park and drive back to Vegas
    Day 9: Vegas and fly back

    1. Hi Devang,
      Sorry, friend, but I cannot “validate” or endorse this trip plan.
      For one, it appears as though you’re underestimating the drive times from place to place. You pretty much need to pad Google Maps’ estimates by ~20%. Why? Because most of the highways you’ll be traveling are two-lane roads, where you’ll invariably get stuck behind slow-moving RV’s, have to adhere to slower speed limits, and stop to take pictures more often than you realize.
      Another thing: Navajo Tribal Lands remain closed to outsiders, which means the quickest travel route from Grand Canyon South Rim to Horseshoe Bend is not an option. You have to detour through Flagstaff, AZ, which is South of the park, then proceed North on US89 to Horseshoe Bend. You won’t be able to stop at Moenkopi Dinosaur Tracks as they are closed. Using the shortest travel route from GC South to Page (AZ64 East to US89), the drive would take you roughly 3 hours. With the detour through Flagstaff, AZ, you can realistically expect it will take you ~5 hours. Sorry.
      Monument Valley, though technically closed, can be seen as a “drive-through” en route to Moab, UT. Just avoid stopping between Page, AZ, and at least Bluff, UT, as that is all Navajo Indian land, and they are not keen on outsiders interacting with reservation residents at all. Make sure your vehicle is fully fueled when you leave Page, AZ, and that you have enough water and snacks to tide you over for what will be a long drive, ~6 hours total. After that, you’ll probably be in no mood to hike to Delicate Arch, which will take ~2-3 hours, depending on your physical fitness and other factors. Probably better to save that for the following morning, especially at the time of year you’re visiting. Mid-May in Arches National Park is already starting to get hot, so morning is the best time for any labor-intensive activities to avoid the peak afternoon heat. The drive from Moab, UT, back to Las Vegas, NV, will be another long haul, ~7 hours.
      All that said, I would recommend taking Moab, UT, off the table. Not that it isn’t beautiful, but it’s a long swing out of your way, and has you missing a couple of key attractions closer to Las Vegas: Zion and Bryce.
      So, in light of these considerations, I’d suggest modifying your itinerary as follows:
      Day 1: Fly to Vegas at midnight
      Day 2: Visit sights in Las Vegas, concentrating on the Strip , overnight in Las Vegas
      Day 3: Leave Las Vegas for Grand Canyon South Rim (~5 hour drive), optional stop at Hoover Dam, overnight at Grand Canyon South Rim
      Day 4: 2nd day/night at Grand Canyon South Rim, take Hermit’s Rest Shuttle, see viewpoints on Desert View
      Day 5: Drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Horseshoe Bend (~5 hours due to detour through Flag), overnight in Page, AZ
      Day 6: Antelope Canyon Kayak tour first thing in the morning, drive to Bryce Canyon in afternoon (~3 hours), optional stop at Paria Rimrocks/Toadstool Hoodoos, overnight in Bryce Canyon area
      Day 7: Sightseeing in Bryce Canyon, drive to Zion in afternoon (~2 hours), overnight Springdale, UT
      Day 8: Sightseeing in Zion National Park, using Zion Canyon Shuttle or via trailheads accessible on the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway (UT9), 2nd night in Springdale
      Day 9: Drive back to Vegas (~3 hours from Springdale), optional detour through Valley of Fire State Park, fly back
      Custom trip map
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  22. Hi Alley!
    My family of three has already booked our trip to the Southwest. Starting May 25th we planned to visit Petrified Nat’l Forest and Monument Valley and spending the night in Chinle Az.
    Day 2 Horse Shoe Bend, Antelope Point Canyon and Lake Powell spending the night in Page Az.
    Day 3 Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park and possibly Grand Stair Case spending the night in Springdale UT.
    Day 4 Sand Hollow State Park, Coral Pink Sand Dunes and possibly Snow Canyon State Park spending the night in Kanab UT.
    Day 5 Grand Canyon spending the night in Flagstaff AZ.
    Day 6 Sedona and Cottonwood spending the night in Cottonwood.

    Can you please take a look at the itinerary and make suggestions on alternative attractions due to COVID closures and how we can make the best of our time there.

    1. Hey Bernie,
      Sorry to start off with bad news, but you might have to take Monument Valley and Chinle, AZ, off the table. Both of these areas are on Navajo Indian Tribal Land, and their leadership is discouraging visitation by outsiders.
      That consideration notwithstanding, you’re proposing to do way too much driving. If by some miracle the Navajo Tribe decided to reopen attractions on their lands, you’d be looking at a 4-hour drive from Petrified Forest to Monument Valley, then another 2 hours backtracking back to Chinle, AZ. Map Should the reservation reopen, I would maybe visit Canyon de Chelly as a “pop-by” on your way to Monument Valley. At the moment Goulding’s Lodge is the only property that’s open right now, offering limited services due to COVID-19. Should the closure of Navajo Tribal Parks remain in effect, I would recommend respecting their wishes and not visiting this time around. The Navajo Tribe was hit pretty hard by the pandemic, and understandably, wants to protect their most vulnerable and valuable citizens, their elders.
      Should Monument Valley and Navajo lands be open, the drive from MV to Page, AZ, is ~2 hours, so that’s not too bad. Not sure if the Antelope Canyon walking tours will be open, but a popular alternative last year was to kayak into the waterside of Antelope Canyon and hike up the pre-slot portion of the canyon on the shoreline, which is Federal and not Tribal Land.
      On Day 3, again, you’re trying to cram too much sightseeing into one day’s time. It typically takes ~3 hours to drive from Page, AZ, to Bryce Canyon. Along the way, you have the opportunity to take a fun little hike on the Paria Rimrocks/Toadstool Hoodoos Trail (mile marker 19 of US89 between Page, AZ, and Kanab, UT). The drive from Bryce to Zion/Springdale would then take ~2 hours, and if you devote the next day to seeing Snow Canyon, Sand Hollow, and Coral Pink, you’re missing out on the opportunity to spend time in Zion, which really warrants at least 2-3 days of your time.
      When you say “Grand Canyon,” do you mean the North Rim? If so, that’s ~90 minutes from Kanab, UT, which isn’t so bad, but then the drive down to Flagstaff, AZ, would be ~4 hours. That doesn’t give you much time in the park. It’s not much better for the South Rim, especially in light of the current closure of AZ64 East from Cameron, AZ, to Desert View. It forces you to detour all the way down to Flagstaff, AZ, then proceed back North to the park via US180/AZ64N or I40/AZ64N. That stupid detour turns the drive from Kanab, UT, into a 5-6 hour slog. Even if the East entrance to the park were to reopen, you’d still be looking at ~a 4-hour drive from Kanab to the park, then 90 minutes down to Flagstaff.
      Then we come to Sedona, AZ, where again, you haven’t given it enough time. Sedona, AZ, is a huge and breath-taking area where visitors have no trouble filling a 4-5 day vacation and still come away feeling as though they’d only scratched the surface of all the area had to offer.
      Assuming you’re flying into and out of Phoenix, much as I hate to say it, I recommend taking Bryce and Zion off the table this time around, unless you can change your flight reservations to Las Vegas, NV. If not, then I recommend taking a “quality over quantity approach.”
      May 25th: Visit Petrified Forest (~4.5 hour drive from Phoenix, through the Tonto and Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, which is gorgeous), change your hotel reservations to Winslow or Holbrook, AZ
      May 26th: Drive to Page, AZ (~4.5 hours), if desired, stop at Meteor Crater, Standin’ On A Corner in Winslow, AZ, Park, Historic La Posada Hotel (also in Winslow), overnight in Page, AZ
      May 27th: 2nd day/night in Page, AZ — possible activities: Antelope Canyon kayak tour, Glen Canyon Dam Steel Arch Bridge, Hanging Garden Trail, swimming in Lake Powell ($30/vehicle entrance fee required)
      May 28th: Visit Horseshoe Bend first thing in the morning, drive down to Sedona, AZ (~3 hours) — possible activities, Pink Jeep Broken Arrow Tour, Chapel of the Holy Cross, Tlaquepaque, Bell or Cathedral Rock Trails, overnight in Sedona, AZ
      May 29th: 2nd day/night in Sedona — do activities you missed the day before
      May 30th: Drive to Grand Canyon South Rim (~3 hours), walk Rim Trail and/or take Hermit’s Rest shuttle to overlooks West of Grand Canyon Village, overnight in Grand Canyon
      May 31st: Drive back to Phoenix (~4.5 hours), fly home
      Custom trip map
      Not saying you shouldn’t attempt your original plan, but again, it’s going to largely depend on whether the Navajo Tribe resumes welcoming tourists to their lands by then. Thus far, they have erred firmly on the side of caution. But even if they were to reopen, the pace of this itinerary is going to feel more like a death march than a vacation, IMO.
      Hope that helps, I know it’s a lot to process. If you need to bounce more ideas off us, please contact me directly at [email protected]
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  23. Hello!! Ia have been reading some of the information here and it has been VERY useful for my upcoming trip. My boyfriend and I are planning to fly to Phoenix and then drive towards Sedona, Grand Canyon, Horseshoe bend and probably Zion or Bryce. However, we are not sure how much time we will actually need to see as much as we can. We are planning to be there on May 15th until May 20th. Do you have any reccomendation for us? I am not from this country so I would love to do and explore as much as possible. I hope you see this and can reply. Thanks n advance 🙂

    1. Hi Victoria, and thank you for visiting our site!
      I am so sorry to be the bearer of bad news here, especially seeing as though you’re coming from overseas, but 5 days is not enough time to accomplish everything you wish to see and do. I also get the distinct impression that you don’t fully comprehend the distances between them.
      For one thing, Sedona really deserves at least 3 days of your time. It’s a huge and beautiful area with a lot to see and do. Even those who spend a week or more report feeling as though they’d only “scratched the surface” of all the area had to offer. Things to do in Sedona, AZ
      Zion is another area that warrants more time, 2-3 days minimum. Another consideration: using Phoenix, AZ, as a staging city means that you’ll be very far away from Zion and Bryce anyway, so you’d have to choose whether you wanted to get the longer drive out of the way first or save it for last. Preference notwithstanding, if you haven’t booked rooms yet, you might have trouble finding accommodations.
      Considering this trip may be a once in a lifetime opportunity for you, here’s how you could pull it off:
      May 15th: early flight into Phoenix, drive to Bryce Canyon (~7 hours), overnight in Bryce Canyon area
      May 16th: drive from Bryce Canyon to Zion (~2 hours), take short hikes accessible via Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway, overnight in Kanab, UT
      May 17th: drive from Zion to Page, AZ, optional stop at Paria Rimrocks/Toadstool Hoodoos Trail (mile marker 19, US89 between Kanab, UT, and Page, AZ), overnight in Page, AZ
      May 18th: visit Horseshoe Bend, drive to Sedona, AZ (~3 hours), possible activities, Pink Jeep Broken Arrow Tour, Cathedral or Bell Rock Trail, Chapel of the Holy Cross, Tlaquepaque, overnight in Sedona
      May 19th: drive to Grand Canyon South Rim (~2.5 hours from Sedona), hike on Rim Trail or take Hermit’s Rest shuttle to canyon overlooks, overnight in Grand Canyon
      May 20th: drive back to Phoenix (~4.5 hours from GC South Rim), fly home
      Custom trip map
      As you can see, this itinerary pretty much has you packing up and moving every. single. day. If you’re not keen on that, which I wouldn’t blame you for in the least, you might make it a more relaxing visit by spending 2-3 days in Sedona and 2-3 at Grand Canyon South Rim, and save Zion and Bryce for another visit when you can use Las Vegas, NV, as your staging city.
      I hope this helps, I know it’s a lot to process! If you have further questions, please contact me directly at [email protected]
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  24. Hi Alley,

    Hope you are well. I came across this page and found your advice to be super knowledgable and helpful! My friends and I will be arriving early morning in Las Vegas on April 24th and will drive down to Page where we will be staying till check out on May 1st. We’ve just started planning an itinerary and could really use some help please! There seems to be so many things to cover that we’re not sure what are some things we can’t miss and some difficulties we’ll encounter with restrictions and idealistic timing. Any chance you could please help provide some guidance? We definitely want to check out Zion, Lake Powell (will it be warm enough to kayak and swim then?), Sedona, and Horseshoe Bend – might you have additional recommendations? Really appreciate your help in advance! Thank you.

    Sincerely,
    IC

    1. Hi Isabelle,
      I am very well, thanks for asking!
      So, I’m not sure if I’m interpreting your inquiry correctly, but are you proposing to drive from Las Vegas NV, to Page, AZ, spend that entire week and make day trips to the various parks and attractions? If so, I would not recommend doing that since it can be a very long drive from Page, AZ, to a lot of popular parks, so it would make for a more comfortable experience for you to overnight at the places on your “wish list.”
      Speaking of your “wish list,” I notice one place that is conspicuously absent from it: the Grand Canyon. If you’ve never been there before, you should definitely prioritize it over everything else! The South Rim is the side of the park that will be open at the time of year you’re visiting. Depending on room availability, or lack thereof, you might want to hit it first, or last. More on that in a minute.
      Given your time frame, here’s what I’d recommend:
      April 24th: Arrive in Las Vegas, drive to Grand Canyon South Rim (~5 hours), optional stop at Hoover Dam, Seligman or Williams, AZ (the latter two towns are Route 66 mainstays), overnight at the Grand Canyon
      April 25th: Drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Sedona, AZ (~2.5 hours), possible activities: Pink Jeep Broken Arrow Tour, hike Oak Creek Canyon , overnight in Sedona (1st of 2)
      April 26th: 2nd day/night in Sedona, possible activities: Chapel of the Holy Cross, Tlaquepaque, hike Bell Rock or Cathedral Rock Trail, Palatki Heritage Site, art galleries, museums, etc.
      April 27th: Drive to Page, AZ (~3 hours), visit Horseshoe Bend, Glen Canyon Bridge, Hanging Garden Trail, overnight in Page, AZ
      April 28th: Antelope Canyon Kayak Tour first thing in AM, then drive to Bryce (~2.5 hours), overnight in Bryce Canyon area
      April 29th: Drive to Zion National Park ~2 hours from Bryce, overnight in Springdale, UT ***Note: to access the main sightseeing area of the park, Zion Canyon, requires use of a shuttle, which recommends an advance ticket purchase***
      April 30th: 2nd day/night in Zion, possible activities – hike Angel’s Landing, The Narrows, or other trails accessible on the Zion-Mt. Carmel highway , overnight in Springdale, UT
      May 1st: check out of Springdale, UT, drive back to Las Vegas, NV, optional detour through Valley of Fire State Park, fly home (or overnight in Vegas)
      Custom trip map
      At the time of year you’re visiting, Lake Powell should be warming up nicely for swimming and kayaking! For kayaking, best to do this activity first thing in the morning for lack of wind and less chop from large boat traffic.
      As stated before, room availability in the specific locations on this list will be the prime determining factor of feasibility. You might need to be prepared to flip-flop this itinerary if need be. The key is to plan your trip so that you’re NOT having to drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ. The present closure of AZ64 East from Desert View Point to Cameron, AZ, is necessitating a rather long detour through Flagstaff AZ, which has turned what used to be ~a 3-hour drive into a 5-hour drive. Having Sedona, AZ, be an intermediary stop between the Grand Canyon and Page eliminates the need for it, or at least the perception of the need.
      Whatever you decide, be sure to book all hotels and guided tours in advance. Also, plan to do all 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 deer, elk, and other wildlife that could hike up your risk of a car accident. That’s not something you want to chance 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. At the time of your visit, sunrise takes place just after 5:30 AM, and sunset occurs at around 7:15 PM. That’s Arizona time, by the way; Utah will be one hour ahead of Arizona.
      I hope that helps, I know it’s a lot to process! Feel free to contact me directly at [email protected] if you need to bounce other ideas off us.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      1. Hi Alley,

        I had sent you an email but wasn’t sure which would be easier/quicker for you so I’m reiterating my note here:

        Firstly, I would like to start off by thanking you for the detailed information you provided, it was extremely helpful. However, I did not mention in my initial comment that we will be working remotely for some of the time. Due to this combined with all the things you listed, we have decided to stay an extra week. In light of this extension, could you please help provide some additional guidance? At the moment, we have the following as a rough itinerary:

        April 24th: Land in Vegas at 11am and drive down to Page, AZ. We have already booked an Airbnb till the 30th.
        April 25th: Horseshoe bend, Glen Canyon Bridge, Hanging Garden Trail – will we be able to cover all of this in a day?
        April 26th: working remotely
        April 27th: working remotely
        April 28th: working remotely
        April 29th: Antelope Canyon Kayak Tour first thing in AM
        April 30th: Check out of Page, AZ Airbnb

        May 8th: Drive back to Las Vegas

        This is all we have at the moment and could really use your advise please! Our only caveat is that we will be working remotely on May 3rd and May 4th. We were thinking we would stay in Sedona during this time so we may explore the town in the afternoon. Moreover, we would like to visit Zion (toadstool hike) and the Grand Canyon. However, we’re not sure what would make the most logistical sense as you highlighted many road closures.

        Again, your advise has been extremely helpful and I can’t thank you enough. Without it, my friends and I would be completely lost and would not be able to fully experience what the state has to offer. I look forward to your response.

        Sincerely,
        Isabelle

        1. Hi again, Isabelle!
          First off, if you want to visit Zion, the most logical place to schedule that is between Las Vegas and Page, AZ. If you can revise your Air B&B reservations so that you hit that first, then Page, then Sedona, then Grand Canyon South Rim, that would make the most sense. The Paria Rimrocks/Toadstool Hoodoos trail is not in Zion National Park, it is between Page, AZ, and Kanab, UT, on US89 mile marker 19, so you could do that hike on the way from Zion to Page. 
          In light of those concerns, here’s what I’d recommend:
          April 24th: Land in Vegas at 11am and drive to Zion National Park (~3 hours), with optional detour through Valley of Fire State Park, book Air B & B in Springdale, UT, or Hurricane, UT
          April 25th: Explore Zion National Park – possibly hike The Narrows or Angel’s Landing — note that to access Zion Canyon, the main sightseeing area, you’ll need to purchase shuttle tickets in advance, otherwise, you’ll be limited to what you can see on the Mt. Carmel Highway (UT9) that traverses the park from West to East 
          April 26th: working remotely
          April 27th: working remotely
          April 28th: working remotely, drive to Page, AZ (~2 hours from Zion) afterward, overnight in Page, AZ
          April 29th: Antelope Canyon Kayak Tour first thing in AM
          April 30th: Horseshoe bend, Glen Canyon Bridge, Hanging Garden Trail – yes, you will we be able to cover all of this in a day
          May 1st: Check out of Page, AZ Airbnb, drive to Sedona, AZ (~3 hours from Page, AZ), optional detour through Wupatki/Sunset Crater Scenic Loop Drive North of Flagstaff, AZ, overnight in Sedona
          May 2nd: Sightseeing in Sedona, AZ – Chapel of the Holy Cross, Cathedral Rock, West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon, Tlaquepaque, etc.
          May 3rd: working remotely
          May 4th: working remotely
          May 5th: more sightseeing in Sedona
          May 6th: drive from Sedona, AZ, to Grand Canyon South Rim (~2.5 hours), overnight at Grand Canyon
          May 7th: 2nd day/night at Grand CAnyon
          May 8th: Drive back to Las Vegas (~4.5 hours from GC South Rim)
          The only place where a road closure would affect you is if for some reason you wanted to drive from Page, AZ, to Grand Canyon South Rim, then down to Sedona. In that case, you’d have to drive all the way down from Page, AZ, to Flagstaff, AZ, then proceed North via US180/AZ64 North or I-40/AZ64N. The reason for this is the closure of AZ64 East from Cameron, AZ, to Desert View Point by the Navajo Tribe, on whose land that stretch of road is situated. This has turned what used to be ~a 3-hour drive into more like 5 hours. I know Google maps gives the drive time estimate as ~4 hours, but that’s not factoring in variable speed limits, getting stuck behind slow-moving RV’s, bathroom breaks, photo stops, etc. By traveling from Page, AZ, to Sedona, AZ, then from Sedona, AZ, to Grand Canyon South Rim, you would avoid these delays. 
          Good luck and safe travels,
          Alley 🙂

  25. Hi Alley!

    Me and my boyfriend are planning a trip in May across a portion of the South West. I’ve been wanting to do this for years and it his gift to me for my 25th birthday! We will be traveling from Texas to Los Angeles, spending time in Sedona, the south rim of the Grand Canyon, and Las Vegas along the way. We will be staying at the Maswick lodge when at the grand Canyon. We love to hike and be active and would love any suggestions you have for trails, shopping, food, Horseshoe Bend area, or anything else you may recommend to make this trip special.

    Thank you greatly in advance!
    Megan

    1. Hi Megan,
      Best wishes in advance for your birthday!
      You’ll find ample opportunities for hiking at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and Sedona, but let’s put those on hold for a minute and talk about Horseshoe Bend: Horseshoe Bend is located near the town of Page, AZ. It is not ideal as a day trip from Sedona, and totally unrealistic as a day trip from Grand Canyon South Rim right now.
      It takes approximately 3 hours, one way to drive from Sedona, AZ, to Page, AZ. You should allot approximately 2 hours to visit Horseshoe Bend, including the time it takes to park, pay the entrance fee ($10/standard passenger vehicles), walk to the rim, take photos, then walk back to your vehicle. You might then have time to walk across the Glen Canyon Dam Steel Arch Bridge and visit the Hanging Garden area, stop at the Wahweap Overlook, and grab lunch in town. The important thing is to make sure you’re on the road back to Sedona, AZ, to ensure that you’re back in town by sundown. Nighttime driving is strongly discouraged in the more rural parts of Northern Arizona and Southern Utah because roads in these areas are very dimly lit, plus they are populated by deer, elk, and other wildlife that can elevate your risk of a collision. That’s definitely not something you want to chance in an unfamiliar area that’s pitch black, where cell service is going to be spotty (if you can get any bars at all) and help will be a long time coming, not to mention VERY expensive. In mid-May, sunrise occurs at about 5:15 AM and sunset takes place just before 7:30 PM.
      From Grand Canyon South Rim, it is presently necessary to detour back down through Flagstaff, then proceed North on US89 to get to Page, AZ. This is due to the COVID-19 related closure of a critical component of the shortest travel route (AZ64 East from Desert View to Cameron, AZ), which is on Navajo Indian Tribal Land. This has turned what used to be ~a 3-hour drive into more along the lines of 4.5-5 hours. So, 10 hours behind the wheel just to visit one point of interest doesn’t sound like much fun.
      Long story short, if at all possible, set aside a full day and an overnight in Page, AZ, so you can really enjoy Horseshoe Bend, AZ, and all that Page, AZ, has to offer. Even though the walking tours of Antelope Canyon remain closed (also due to COVID-19 on Navajo Indian land), it is still possible to kayak into the waterside of Antelope Canyon on Lake Powell, then hike into the pre-slot portion of the Lower Canyon, which is on Federal and not Tribal Land. Since this activity is best enjoyed first thing in the morning, you’d definitely need an overnight in Page, AZ.
      For shopping, Sedona offers Tlaquepaque, which will take you on a trip back in time along with your “retail therapy.” Sedona also offers a huge variety of hiking opportunities in various degrees of difficulty. A visit to Slide Rock State Park, a natural waterslide, is a ton of fun during the warmer months of Spring and Summer! Sedona will also offer the best restaurants of any stop on your trip, so plan on indulging your inner foodie in Sedona.
      At the Grand Canyon, the paved Rim Trail, 1/4 mile from Maswik Lodge, extends 10 miles along the canyon rim from Yavapai Point to Hermit’s Rest. You’re by no means obligated to commit to the full 10 miles, though. You can hop on the Hermit’s Rest shuttle when you need a break, then hop off when you’re ready to resume walking. For inner canyon hiking, the Bright Angel Trail will also be easiest to access from Maswik Lodge. You can hike to the 1.5 mile or 3 mile resthouse, or, depending on your physical fitness level, all the way to Indian Gardens (4.5 miles one way) and back. While water is piped into the resthouses on the trail, you must still bring your own with you, along with high-energy, slightly salty snacks to keep your energy and electrolytes up. Grand Canyon day hiking
      For a special dinner treat, consider dining at least once at the El Tovar Hotel. This is generally and rightfully regarded as the best restaurant in the park. Reservations are required for dinner and are taken 30 days in advance for guests of other hotels. Call 928-638-2631 and ask for x6432 to make El Tovar dinner reservations. At the present time, food services inside the park are somewhat limited due to COVID-19, so you might be prepared to pick up an inexpensive cooler somewhere in your travels and maybe stop at a grocery store in Flagstaff, AZ, to pick up sandwich or salad fixings. IIRC, Maswik Lodge has mini-fridges, but no microwaves.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      1. Hi Alley!

        I am planning a road trip from Texas at the end of May. My current plan is to go to Santa Fe, then to Page to explore Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, and Lake Powell before heading up to Zion. But, seeing that the road and park closures are unlikely to change by then, I’m wondering if we should re-route? From Zion we go to Bryce, Moab then into Colorado. Any insight would be greatly appreciated — thank you! All we have booked is the camp sights in Zion and Bryce, and am trying to build the trip around that.

        1. Hey Julia,
          Your trip sounds pretty fun! Not sure how long you’ve got for it, but hope you have at least 2 weeks, preferably more, to make it all happen.
          The area where you’re most likely to be affected by a road and/or park closures is between Grand Canyon South Rim and Page, AZ, and I don’t see Grand Canyon South Rim at all on your itinerary. If you’ve never been to the Grand Canyon, you should definitely set aside time to see it, but since you’re traveling at the end of May, you can visit the prettier and quieter North Rim instead of the hot, crowded South Rim. More on that in a minute 😉
          The drive from TX (assuming DFW as your starting point) to Santa Fe, NM, will take ~10 hours, so you might want to break up the drive in Amarillo, TX. The drive from Santa Fe, NM, to Page, AZ, is also a bit on the long side, ~8-9 hours. Now, be aware that Google maps would automatically route you through Navajo Indian Land, which Tribal leadership wants outsiders to avoid, so go through Flagstaff, AZ, on I-40, just to be on the safe side. If you’re inclined to break up that leg of the drive, stop by Petrified Forest National Park, and overnight in Winslow, AZ. That way you can claim your bragging rights to taking a selfie whilst “Standin’ On A Corner in Winslow, Arizona.” Maybe grab breakfast at the historic La Posada Hotel before taking off, maybe stopping at Meteor Crater, then hitting Horseshoe Bend on the way into Page, AZ. Since the land-side tours of Antelope Canyon are closed until further notice, the best way to see Antelope Canyon at the present time is to kayak into the waterside from Antelope Point Marina, then hike into the pre-slot portion of the Lower Canyon, which is on Federal and not Tribal Land. While the scenery isn’t the “picture postcard” slot canyon scenery folks are expecting to see, it’s still beautiful, and judging by the number of sold out dates for that tour last year, people weren’t complaining. The Antelope Canyon kayak tours take ~4 hours and should be done first thing in the morning for lack of wind and chop from large tour boats.
          Remember where I talked about visiting Grand Canyon North Rim instead of the South Rim? Here is where that would come in: you could visit as a day trip from Kanab, UT, which is ~a 90-minute drive each way, or Page, AZ, which is ~2.5 hours each way. The reason I’m suggesting it as a day trip is because it’s darn near impossible to find lodging at the North Rim just because there’s not much to work with in the first place. The key is to keep an eye on the time and be sure that you’re heading back to your lodging location well before sunset. You don’t want to drive after dark around here as a general rule because roads are very dimly lit, and deer, elk, and other wildlife could be hanging around that love to jump out in front of cars. Not something you want to risk 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. In late May, sunrise occurs just after 5:00 AM, and sunset takes place at around 7:30 PM; that’s ARIZONA time, Utah will be 1 hour ahead.
          If you’re not keen on all that driving and calculations, another option would be to fly over the Grand Canyon. Fixed wing airplanes depart daily out of the Page Municipal Airport, weather permitting, and possibly contingent on a certain number of passengers flying. While airplane tours do not land at the Grand Canyon, they make for an excellent way to see the Grand Canyon, and a ton of other beautiful scenery.
          The trip from Page, AZ, to Zion takes ~2 hours, and here is where you might make a fun little stop to hike the Paria Rimrocks/Toadstool Hoodoos Trail. FYI, you’ll have to use the Zion Canyon Shuttle to access the most popular viewpoints if you’re not staying inside the park. Advance ticket purchase is required as well, which can be a pain. If you’d rather not deal with that, there are plenty of trails you can access via the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway (UT9).
          The drive from Zion to Bryce is also ~2 hours, then the drive from Bryce to Moab, UT, is ~6 hours. Be sure you make the first half of the drive from Bryce to Torrey, UT, on Scenic Byway 12, that’s a stunning drive that you’ll love! If possible, set aside an extra night to stay in the Capitol Reef National Park area, or at least visit as a “pop-by” between Bryce and Moab. In Moab, UT, hope you have at least 3 days to fully explore and enjoy that area!
          If the back half of your trip is taking you through Colorado, try to hit Mesa Verde National Park. You definitely wouldn’t regret it! The Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Trip is fun, too. Sure you can’t spend a month out here? LOL
          Custom trip map
          Hope that helps, I know it’s a lot to digest! If you need to bounce more ideas off us, please contact us directly at [email protected]
          Good luck and safe travels,
          Alley 🙂

  26. Hi Alley!

    Would love to get your thoughts and input on a tentative schedule we have planned. Would also love suggestions for hikes in Sedona and the Grand Canyon. Also anything dog friendly!

    Thursday 4/29 (Santa Fe → Sedona):
    Check out of Santa Fe Airbnb @ 11am
    Drive ~6hrs to Sedona
    Arrive to Sedona Airbnb, check in at 4pm(Stay 4/29-5/2)

    Friday 4/30 (Sedona):
    Hike

    Saturday 5/1 (Sedona)
    Hike

    Sunday 5/2 (Sedona → Page, AZ):
    Check out of Sedona Airbnb
    Possible short hike in Sedona
    Drive ~2hrs 45min hrs to Page
    Check into Page Airbnb (Stay 5/2- 5/4)
    Catch sunset at Horseshoe Bend

    Monday 5/3 (Page, AZ):
    Antelope canyon kayaking

    Tuesday 5/4 (Page → Grand Canyon):
    Drive 3hrs and 40min to Grand Canyon
    Check into Grand Canyon Airbnb (Stay 5/4-5/6)

    Wednesday 5/5 (Grand Canyon):
    Hike

    Thursday 5/6 (Grand Canyon)
    Hike

    Thanks!
    Melissa

    1. Hey Melissa,
      This trip plan looks pretty fun, but still warrants a few reality checks.
      First off, any drive time figure you get off Google Maps? Pad it by 20-30%. Not because Google Maps is wrong, per se, it’s just that the figures they give tend to be direct drives, meaning wheels turning, no stops. That rarely happens in this part of the country, one, because you run the risk of getting stuck behind a slow moving RV anytime, and mainly, most drives are very scenic and you’ll be stopping to take pictures more often than you realize! The trip from Santa Fe, NM, to Sedona, AZ, for example is more likely to take ~8 hours vs. 6. Another consideration is that you’ll be passing by Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert, which are quite nice in late April/early May. Instead of driving all the way to Sedona, AZ, that first day, you might consider going as far as Holbrook, AZ, that first day, which is more along the lines of 5.5 hours from Santa Fe.
      The next day, get an early start so you can have pop into Winslow, AZ, and take a selfie at “Standin’ On A Corner Park.” Maybe stop at Meteor Crater, then do the rest of the drive to Sedona, ~90 minutes from Winslow. I understand that Meteor Crater’s Pet Ramada is currently closed, but if you have a crate or kennel with you, they can accommodate them. Check on this first before you go if interested.
      The drive from Sedona, AZ, to Page, AZ, tends to take more along the lines of 3-3.5 hours. Should the closure of Navajo Indian Tribal Lands remain in effect at the time of your visit, you’ll need to drive from Flagstaff, AZ, to Page, AZ, without stopping or interacting with reservation residents, so make sure your vehicle is fully fueled and that you have enough water and snacks to tide you and your dog over until you arrive.
      Dogs are not allowed on Antelope Canyon kayak tours, so you’ll need to board your pet while partaking in this activity and other guided tours. Pampered Pets of Page is highly rated. Back when I lived in Page, AZ, I used the Page Animal Hospital without a problem. Paws & All Pet Grooming is another facility that offers boarding, though I’m not personally familiar with them. If you utilize any boarding facilities on your vacation, you’ll need to have your dog’s vaccination records with you.
      The drive time to Grand Canyon South Rim will also depend on the status of roads on Navajo Indian Tribal Lands. At the present time, it’s necessary to detour all the way down to Flagstaff, AZ, then proceed North via US180/AZ64 North or I-40/AZ64N to the South Rim. This has turned what is normally a 3-hour drive into more along the lines of 4.5-5 hours. The closure necessitating this detour is very likely to remain in effect at the time of your visit. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news on that front 🙁
      One more thing before closing: in most National Parks, Grand Canyon included, dogs (leashed) are allowed only on paved trails. This means you’ll be limited to hiking the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon. Animals are strictly prohibited on inner canyon trails. At Glen Canyon/Lake Powell, dogs are allowed a bit more freedom, but they must still remain leashed at all times, especially at Horseshoe Bend and on public beaches and around swim areas. For this reason, you might wish to allow more time at Page, AZ, than the Grand Canyon.
      Oops, sorry, one more thing: there are no Air B & B’s inside the park at the Grand Canyon. The closest you’ll find is going to be a 30-minute drive away. If you don’t wish to endure that inconvenience every day, you might consider staying at Yavapai Lodge inside the park, or the Red Feather Lodge in the town of Tusayan, just outside the park. Those are the only pet-friendly properties in the immediate vicinity of the Grand Canyon.
      Hope that helps! Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  27. Hi Alley, first thank you for taking the time to answer questions! I will be in Williams Arizona from April 7 through the 11th and my husband and I are looking for things to do in the area. We have a jeep so we can go pretty much anywhere and are looking for mostly day trips from Williams. On April 10 I have reserved the Grand Canyon Railway so unless we need to go back to the Grand Canyon for something more specific, we will have seen some of the canyon on the rail road trip. We are retired military and have the free access into the national parks, not sure what other must see must-must do items are in the area? We are both physically fit enough to do light hiking of at least a few hours.
    Thank you
    Amy

    1. Hi Amy, and thank you both for your service to our country!
      One thing I must point out straight away is that when you say “we will have seen some of the canyon on the rail road trip,” that’s not entirely true. Williams, AZ, is 60 miles due South of Grand Canyon South Rim. Therefore, you will not actually see the Grand Canyon from the train. You don’t see it until you get to the park and get off the train. Another couple of things to consider: the Grand Canyon Railway is pulled by an antique diesel engine, which doesn’t exactly break any speed records getting to the park. It takes ~2 hours and change — that’s one way — to make a trip that would only take you an hour to make by car. Once the train arrives at the park (~11:15), you only have a little more than 3 hours to sightsee, in which time you can explore the Grand Canyon Village Historic District and maybe take the free shuttles out to a couple of viewpoints on the Hermit’s Rest/West Rim Drive. Certainly not enough time to do any inner canyon hiking. Then you have to reboard the train at around 3:00 PM, and take the 2+ hour trip back to Williams, AZ.
      If this all sounds like I’m trying to convince you to avoid the Grand Canyon Railway like the plague, that’s not the case at all, I’ve actually ridden it several times and enjoyed it. But in the course of my work, I often encounter folks who are under the impression that the Grand Canyon Railway is a “train tour of the Grand Canyon,” when in fact, it’s an alternate means of getting there, with some Old West/Historic aspects thrown in. Here’s a video that explains the “train vs. car to visit the Grand Canyon” issue in more detail. The footage is somewhat dated, but the core principles remain the same. Long story short, The last thing we’d want to see is anyone being disappointed in their vacation, especially in this day and age! If you’re cool with all that, then by all means, enjoy the Train, and if budget is not a concern, consider riding the Observation Dome up and the Luxury Parlor Car down. I did that once with some friends (all adults, kids aren’t allowed on the higher classes of service) and we had a ball!
      As for other things you might do while in the Williams, AZ, area, Bearizona and the Grand Canyon Deer Park are popular attractions in the immediate area. Williams, AZ, itself is a Route 66 mainstay, as is nearby Seligman, AZ, ~45 minutes West of Williams on I-40. The latter was the partial inspiration for the fictional town of Radiator Springs from the “Cars” movies. If you take us up on the suggestion to visit Seligman, be sure to stop at Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-In for a burger and a laugh.
      Other good day trip options from Williams, AZ, would be Sedona, AZ, which is about a 90 minute drive away. There, you might take the opportunity to hike the Cathedral or Bell Rock Trails, or visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross, Tlaquepaque, or the Palatki Heritage Site. One Day Itinerary in Sedona AZ One caveat, though: one day in Sedona, AZ, is likely to leave you wanting. This is a huge and beautiful area with much to see and do. 3-4 days, bare minimum, is needed to fully enjoy and explore this area. Even then, visitors report back that they felt like they’d only scratched the surface of all the area had to offer! I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll be planning a return visit, which isn’t such a bad thing 😉
      Another fun day trip option, which would be great at the time of year you’re visiting seeing as though it’s cooler, would be to the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest. It’s ~2 hours East of Williams, AZ, and along the way you could stop at Meteor Crater, and Winslow AZ (so you can claim your bragging rights to “Standin’ On A Corner in Winslow, Arizona“). In Winslow, you should also take a walk through the lovely and historic La Posada Hotel, maybe have lunch at the Turquoise Room.
      If you do end up with an extra day to return to the Grand Canyon, you might hike to Ooh Aah Point or Cedar Ridge on the South Kaibab Trail. The trailhead is located at Yaki Point, which is inaccessible to private vehicles, but a free shuttle goes out there from the visitors center until sunset. If you prefer not to mess with that, then plan on hiking as far as 1.5 mile or 3 mile resthouse on the Bright Angel Trail. Any of these hikes tend to run between 2-3 hours round-trip. The South Kaibab Shuttle has no water on it. The Bright Angel Trail has water piped in to the resthouses, but still, you should carry your own water, plus some high-energy slightly salty snacks, whichever one you choose to hike on. The 26-mile Desert View/East Rim Drive is open between Grand Canyon Village and Desert View Point, but you’d have to drive back to the Village the same way due to the closure of AZ64 East between Desert View and Cameron, AZ, on the Navajo Indian Reservation (COVID-19 thing).
      Hope that helps! Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  28. Hey Alley,

    I’m planning on visiting horseshoe bend around the third week of May. I will be going to Zion for the first three days and then heading towards Page, AZ and I was wondering if the kayaking in Lake Powell is still open? and are there any tours being given for the antelope canyon? If not what other attractions do you recommend seeing? Also, how busy does horseshoe bend get around sunset time?

    1. Hi Dron,
      You will be happy to know that kayak and SUP tours on Lake Powell kicked off for the season a couple of weeks ago, so barring anything unforeseen, they will be operating in May! A paddle tour into the waterside of Antelope Canyon, which includes hiking into the pre-slot portion of the Lower Canyon on Federal and not Tribal land, was a popular alternative to cancelled land-based Antelope Canyon tours last year, and promises to be popular again with the closure of the Antelope Canyons on Tribal land expected to continue indefinitely.
      As for other activities and sightseeing you might consider partaking of during your time in Page, AZ, locations that are still open include, but are not limited to:
      – Page Rim View Trail
      – Glen Canyon Dam/Steel Arch Bridge
      – Hanging Garden Trail & The Chains
      – Glen Canyon Dam/White House Overlook
      – Grand View Overlook Park
      – The “New” Wave and Radio Tower Rock
      – Gunfighter Canyon Indoor Shooting Range
      Wahweap Swim Beach and/or Lone Rock Beach (located in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, which requires a $30/vehicle entrance fee, good for one week’s time)
      If you have the time and/or inclination to venture a short ways into Utah, you might also visit:
      – Big Water Visitors Center & Dinosaur Museum
      – Paria Rimrocks/Toadstool Hoodoos Trail
      As for how busy Horseshoe Bend gets around sunset, it can be pretty crowded. In May, you might consider visiting just after sunrise to enjoy a view that’s just as scenic, along with cooler temperatures and smaller crowds.
      Hope that helps! Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      1. Hi Alley, hope you see this

        Im coming to AZ on April 8 to the 11th, Ill be staying in Flagstaff

        On the 9th around noon, have an airplane tour from grand canyon, and was thinking to maybe do a hike at the grand canyon after, do you have any hikes you recommend? Also i saw somewhere you can buy your pass for grandcanyon online, however Im military so should i still buy online, does that avoid traffic?

        on the 10th, i wanted to go either see horseshoe bend, I saw you said the roads were close and it would take longer, is this still the case? If it is i was thinking maybe do other things, in sedona etc, any recommendations?

        1. Hi Manar,
          First off, thank you for your service. As a member of the military, you qualify for a complimentary America the Beautiful Federal Lands Access Pass by showing your military ID. Since your visit is coming up relatively soon, you’d probably be best off just picking it up at the first National Park, National Monument, or Federal Fee area you visit on your trip. Having the pass won’t help you avoid the traffic, per se, but once you have the pass, you can go through the pre-paid line, which tends to go past the entrance gate a bit quicker.
          As for hikes you might do at the Grand Canyon, that depends largely on your physical fitness level, but consideration should be given to who you’re traveling with (young kids? seniors? anyone disabled?). The Rim Trail is an easy, paved walk that extends along the rim of the Grand Canyon from Yavapai Geological Museum to Hermit’s Rest, with beautiful canyon views along its distance of ~10-11 miles. Does that mean you have to walk the whole thing? Not at all. You can hop on and off the Hermit’s Rest/West Rim shuttle as often as you wish, then walk from point to point as you desire. If you want to venture a ways below the canyon rim, the Bright Angel Trail is the most readily available. Anytime you do any inner Grand Canyon hiking, remember that 1 hour down = 2 hours back up, and food and water must be carried if you plan on spending any more than one hour’s time or going further than a mile round-trip.
          Traveling from Flagstaff, AZ, to Horseshoe Bend, you won’t encounter any road closures. You simply proceed North on US89 and follow the signs. The road closure I was referring to affects those traveling from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ, as they have to detour down through Flagstaff, AZ, then back North via US89 to Page, AZ. That detour has turned what used to be ~a 3-hour drive into more like a 5-hour drive. In your case, the drive will take ~2.5-3 hours.
          If you wanted to visit Sedona, AZ, at some point, Flagstaff, AZ, is only ~1 hour away. The Pink Jeep Broken Arrow Tour is generally regarded as a “must-do” activity, along with visiting the Chapel of the Holy Cross, Tlaquepaque, the Palatki Heritage site, and hiking to Cathedral Rock, just to name a few. I can pretty much guarantee you, though, that one day in Sedona is going to leave you wanting. Many visitors report having spent 4-5 days in that area and still feeling as though they’d only “scratched the surface.” You will be planning a return visit when you can spend more time, which is not necessarily a bad thing 😉
          If you prefer to do some sightseeing that doesn’t leave you with a tinge of regret, you might take that extra day to visit Petrified Forest National Park and the Painted Desert, as well as Meteor Crater. Meteor Crater is ~1 hour East of Flag (that’s what we call it around here) on I-40; PF/PD is another hour away. If you take me up on that suggestions, you might also include a stop in Winslow, AZ, to claim bragging rights to having been “Standing On A Corner in Winslow Arizona,” and maybe to enjoy a meal at the lovely and historic La Posada Hotel.
          Whatever you decide, make sure you do all your driving during daylight hours. You want to be very careful about driving at night, especially in the more rural areas of Northern Arizona and Southern Utah. Roads in these areas are very dimly lit, plus they are populated by deer, elk, and other wildlife that can elevate your risk of a collision. That’s definitely not something you want to chance in an unfamiliar area that’s pitch black, where cell service is going to be spotty (if you can get any bars at all) and help will be a long time coming, not to mention VERY expensive. The week you’re visiting, sunrise takes place just before 6:00 AM and sunset occurs at around 7:00 PM.
          Good luck and safe travels!
          Alley 🙂

          1. Hi Alley! Thanks so much for answering. Its just two people and were both pretty fit,

            Also I wanted to ask you do arizona near flagstaff have any winerys that are worth going to?

          2. Hey again, Manar,
            Wow, what a great question! Flagstaff, AZ, is actually gaining a reputation as a microbrewery town, meaning, many varieties of beers are hand-crafted and brewed locally. If your taste leans toward wine, however, you’ll be glad to know that you don’t have to go far to sample some locally-made varietals. You’ll find a number of cellars and tasting rooms in Sedona, AZ, ~1 hour’s drive away. For more information on wine tasting by self-touring or guided tour, check out VisitSedona.com: Wineries & Wine Tastings
            If your travels may take you to the Southern part of our state (down around Tucson, AZ), you’ll also find several opportunities there to sample local vintages! For a more complete look at Arizona’s burgeoning wine scene, download this brochure
            Have great trip,
            Alley 🙂

  29. Hi Alley,
    We are planning a trip the third week in April with 3 kids (ages 7-14). We are flying into Phoenix and planned to drive straight up to Page for 2 days, then to the Grand Canyon for 2 days and ending in Sedona for 2 days. Do you think this is manageable? We were going to make sure to go to Horseshoe Bend and thought of hiking the Bright Angel trail at the Grand Canyon. Any other must see attractions or suggestions on how to get the most out of this trip? Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Greg,
      That trip plan looks pretty fun, and well-paced. One thing I need to forewarn you about is that the drive from Page, AZ, to the Grand Canyon will take longer than you may be aware of: due to the closure of a critical component of the shortest travel route, which is on Navajo Indian land, it is necessary to drive all the way down to Flagstaff, AZ, then proceed Northwest to the park via US180/AZ64 or I-40/AZ64. This has turned what is normally ~a 3-hour drive into more like a 5-hour drive. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news on that front.
      In Page, AZ, you might use one of your full days to take the short drive to Paria, UT (~45 minutes) and hike part of Wire Pass Canyon and/or the Toadstool Hoodoos Trail. Here’s a video depicting a young family doing both of these activities: Look Who’s Blogging | Wire Pass Canyon | Paria Toadstool Hoodoos If you prefer to stay closer to Page, AZ, the Glen Canyon Dam Steel Arch Bridge and the Hanging Gardens Trail can easily be dove-tailed onto your visit to Horseshoe Bend. Video of the same family doing just that
      RE: when you say “hike the Bright Angel Trail,” I hope you’re not under the impression that you’ll be going all the way to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, because that’s not a day hike, by any means! You can, however, simply hike as much (or as little) as you fee like, going by your watch, remembering that 1 hour down = 2 hours back up. With a 7YO, you should probably only go as far as 1.5 mile resthouse and back, which is about a 3-hour hike for most people. But again, if you don’t feel like you can or should go down that far, there’s no obligation to. If you’re thinking at this point that Inner Canyon hiking may not be the best way to enjoy the canyon this time around, the Rim Trail is beautiful, easy, and paved. It extends from Hermit’s Rest to Yavapai Museum (~10 miles), and can be enjoyed in small “chunks” by utilizing the Hermit’s Rest/West Rim Shuttle when/where you get tired of walking.
      In Sedona, the Pink Jeep/Broken Arrow Tour is generally regarded as the “quintessential” Sedona tour! Other sights that come highly recommended are Cathedral Rock, Chapel of the Holy Cross, Tlaquepaque, Verde Canyon Railway, Jerome AZ (ghost town turned artist colony), Montezuma Castle, Tuzigoot… just to name a few! 100 Things To Do in Sedona, AZ
      Hope that gives you some ideas of how to make the most of your time! Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  30. Hi there! I am planning a Spring Break trip (April 4-8) to flagstaff with some friends and it seems you have a lot of insight on how much time each attraction in the area takes! I have a few questions if you could answer at your earliest convenience 🙂

    Currently we are planning on arriving in Flagstaff on the night of the 4th. We will visit the Grand Canyon all day on the 5th. On the 6th we are planning on visiting Horseshoe Bend and then having a picnic near lake Powell – either Wahweap or Lone Rock beach – then driving back to flagstaff, and still having time to do something in the evening once we get back. Does that sound reasonable? Also, I am specifically curious about the hike from the horseshoe bend parking lot to the overlook. I use a wheelchair – however I’m very active/strong and do a lot of “off-roading” in it independently + I have special equipment that makes it easier to get through sand. I’m fairly certain I’d be able to do it especially with help from my friends but was wondering if you had any insight. I noticed in another comment you said that there is another parking lot that has a shorter trail to the overlook, but that it’s currently closed. Any thoughts on what the status will be in April? The last day, we are planning on driving down to Sedona and seeing Red Rocks state park.

    Does it sound like we will be able to fit all of this in? I really appreciate any answers you have for me regarding these questions.

    1. Hi Emmi,
      It sounds like you are quite well-prepared to drive your wheelchair through most anything you might encounter on local trails. Seeing as though you’ll have traveling companions, that’s just an added safety net you should be prepared to use.
      According to what we’ve heard in the last few days, it’s now looking like an April re-open of Native American Tribal Parks won’t happen, so you shouldn’t count on being able to use that shorter trail to Horseshoe Bend when you visit.
      Using Flagstaff, AZ, as a base from which to explore Sedona and the Grand Canyon is doable at the time of year you’re visiting, but you might want to modify your plans a bit when it comes to Page, AZ. While Sedona is ~1 hour’s drive, one way, from Flagstaff, and the Grand Canyon is a 90 minute drive, Page, AZ, is more along the lines of ~2.5 hours, each way. That means you’ll basically eat up about half of your available daylight behind the wheel of your car (sunrise occurs at about 6:00 AM and sunset takes place just before 7:00 AM). You might consider spending the night in Page, AZ, so you don’t risk driving back to Flagstaff, AZ, at night. Nighttime driving is not a good idea in this part of the U.S. due to area highways being very dimly lit (a deliberate move in Flagstaff, AZ’s case as they are a certified “Dark Sky” community), and the surrounding area is populated by deer, elk, and other wildlife that can raise your risk of a collision. That can be a major vacay buzzkill in an area that’s pitch black, possibly 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.
      Hope that helps! Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  31. Hi Alley –

    We are coming in from April 3-10th, flying into Vegas. We want to see Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, then head over to Petrified Forest.

    I can’t decide if driving 89A through Vermillion Cliffs would also be worth it, or Lee’s Ferry? We want to make sure to hit Horseshoe Bend at sunrise one of the days.

    We want to avoid crowds, obviously stay out of the Navajo Nation, but what else should we think about seeing?

    Vegas – Grand Canyon – Page Area – Petrified Forest – Vegas

    Thanks in advance

    1. Hi Emma,
      The drive on US89A through Lees Ferry, Marble Canyon, and Vermilion Cliffs is absolutely worth it! At Lees Ferry, you can actually drive down relatively close to the bank of the Colorado River, and dip your feet in it, should you be inclined (it’ll be a short dip – water’s cold). There, you also have the opportunity to explore the historic Lonely Dell Ranch, one of the area’s earliest settlements. Driving past the Vermilion Cliffs, you’ll see all kinds of gravity-defying balanced rock formations, including one that provided the foundation for a house. Cliff Dweller’s Lodge is a great place to stop for lunch, the food there is amazing, and so is the view!
      One place you should consider setting aside time to visit is Zion National Park. Traveling from Page, AZ, to Las Vegas, NV, you’re pretty much passing right by it, and it’s a beautiful area with lots to see and do, so you should plan on spending at least 2 days there. The best place to stay would be Springdale, UT, or Hurricane, UT, just outside the park’s Western border.
      On the way back to Las Vegas, take the short detour through the stunning Valley of Fire State Park, just North of town!
      Also, plan on staying overnight somewhere near the Petrified Forest/Painted Desert. I would recommend Winslow, AZ, so you can take a picture of yourself “Standin’ On A Corner in Winslow, Arizona” (it’s a City Park), and maybe enjoy a meal or a walk-through of the beautiful La Posada hotel.
      Just so you know, the drive between Flagstaff, AZ, and Page, AZ, will take you through the Navajo Indian Reservation. There’s no way around that, and the road is open, but make sure your vehicle is fully fueled and that you are carrying snacks and water to tide you over until you get to Page, AZ. The Navajo Tribe discourages outsiders from stopping on reservation lands or interacting with residents.
      Sorry for bouncing around your itinerary. Here is a map of your trip, more logically arranged.
      Whatever you decide, be sure to reserve all hotels and guided tours in advance of your trip.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  32. Alley! Thanks for the great write-up. So helpful! My girlfriend and I are interested in seeing Antelope Canyon tomorrow, but it’s closed indefinitely as I’m sure you know. I wonder if Horseshoe Bend offers a similar aesthetic? Does part of the hike go through the bottom of a canyon with the tight walls, or is there a place you know of nearby that does? Thanks I’m advance!

    1. Hi Greg,
      Seeing as though you’ve already traveled, I hope you were able to find your way around OK.
      Unfortunately, there is no trail or other area near Horseshoe Bend that offers comparable scenery to the Antelope Canyons. Right now, the best alternatives are to take a kayak tour into the waterside of Antelope Canyon from Antelope Point Marina, which also includes some hiking into the pre-slot portion of the Lower canyon, which is on Federal and not Tribal land. Other popular alternatives (land-based) are Wire Pass Canyon/Buckskin Gulch near Paria, UT (~45 minutes from Page, AZ) or Red Canyon aka Peek-A-Boo Canyon near Kanab, UT (~70 minutes from Page).
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      1. Hey Alley!

        Can’t figure out on here where I can ask a question but figured I’d hit reply and see if I can get an answer that way! My boyfriend and I will be staying in Sedona Arizona from May 22 to May 28, 2021 we will be flying in and out of Phoenix Arizona so I already know that’s about a 2 Hour drive to Sedona but the rest of the days we wanna make the most of our time and see as many sites as we can. I read that you’re hoping antelope Canyon will be open sometime in April hopefully it will! I would love to add that to the list. I was wondering if you had any suggestions as to where else we could see/pricing or planning tips. Obviously planning to see the Grand Canyon an horseshoe bend but anywhere else?

        1. Hi Gabrielle,
          Your inquiry posted perfectly, I’m sorry it took so long to respond on my end. I was on an out of town work assignment over the weekend.
          Unfortunately, have to start things off with potentially bad news, it’s looking like that April reopening date of the Antelope Canyons was a bit of wishful thinking on the part of local tour operators. A popular alternative, however, is to take a kayak tour into the waterside of Antelope Canyon, which includes some hiking into the pre-slot portion of the Lower Canyon, which is on Federal Land and not Tribal Land. The best time for this activity is in the morning, when there is typically no wind. Afternoon tours are often cancelled due to choppy waters caused by wind and large boat traffic. Therefore, it’s better to spend the night in Page, AZ, rather than attempt to visit Horseshoe Bend and local sites as a day trip.
          Otherwise, it’s ~a 3-hour drive, one way, from Sedona, AZ, to Page, AZ. Grand Canyon South Rim is ~2.5 hours from Sedona. Other popular sites to visit from that area include, but are by no means limited to, Montezuma Castle National Monument, Tuzigoot National Monument, the ghost town turned artist colony of Jerome, AZ, the Verde Canyon Railway, Petrified Forest/Painted Desert, Meteor Crater, Standin’ on the Corner in Winslow, AZ, Park, just to name a few. For more suggestions check out VisitSedona.com: Day Trips & Itineraries from Sedona, AZ
          If you do opt to visit surrounding sites as day trips from Sedona, AZ, be sure you plan to do any and all 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 deer, elk, and other wildlife that could hike up your risk of a car accident. That’s not something you want to chance 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. At the time of year you’re visiting, sunrise takes place just after 5:00 AM and sunset occurs at around 7:45 PM.
          Good luck and safe travels,
          Alley 🙂

  33. Hi alley,

    My friend and i are planning to go to antelope and horseshoe bend around 2nd week of MAY. We are going to checked in at arizona hotels around the area and planning to get a rent a car. Is the antelope and horsehoe bend needs a tour or any entrance fee permit? Do we also need a parking fee for those?

    1. Hi Begz,
      First off, there’s a distinct possibility that the Antelope Canyons may not be open to tourism at the time of your visit. These do require a guided tour to visit, and unfortunately they were all suspended last season due to COVID-19. When they may reopen is at the discretion of the Navajo Tribal Council, and they have so far given no indication of when that might be. Should the Antelope Canyons remain closed at the time of your trip, there are alternatives, such as kayak tours into the waterside of Antelope Canyon, which include some hiking into the pre-slot portion of the Lower canyon, which is on Federal land. Land-based alternatives include Wire Pass Canyon/Buckskin Gulch near Paria, UT, and Red Canyon/aka Peek-A-Boo Canyon near Kanab, UT.
      Horseshoe Bend does not require a guided tour. It can be visited at your leisure in your own vehicle during normal operating hours of the parking lot, which are sunrise to sunset. There is a one-time parking fee of $10 for standard passenger vehicles, or $35 for light commercial vehicles.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  34. Hi Alley,

    I’m thinking about visting page,az driving from the grand canyon sometime this summer. I’ll be going with a senior so I’m wanting to do fun activities that doesn’t require alot of hiking or walking.

    I’ve seen few tours of a horsebend by raft (not whitewater) and boat that looks to be inclusive to all ages.

    What would you recommend that? If so boat or raft ?

    How long are the boat and raft trips? What other activists would you recommend ?

    Planning on staying for 1 or 2 nights (about 2 full days).

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Mike,
      You are correct that the Horseshoe Bend Raft Trip is appropriate for most ages (4 and up) and physical fitness levels. It does not traverse any rapids, nor does it require any paddling or other extreme exertion on the part of passengers, so it is a very popular and family-friendly activity. Probably the most difficult aspect of this trip is the walk to a panel of petroglyphs, which is about 1/4 mile on mostly flat ground, though the trail might be sandy if recent conditions have been dry. Another thing to keep in mind is that it was suspended last season and part of this season due to COVID-19. It is expected to resume running this year on May 28th, 2021. The duration of the Horseshoe Bend Raft Trip out of Page, AZ, is ~4 hours.
      If you suspect that the senior member of your party would not be able to handle the walk to Horseshoe Bend Overlook, another less labor-intensive way of seeing it is to fly over it. Fixed-wing airplanes and helicopters depart out of the Page Municipal Airport daily, weather permitting, and contingent on a certain number of passengers traveling. An aerial sightseeing tour may also be a better alternative for seeing Rainbow Bridge, which is only accessible by boat, but requires a 2-3 mile round-trip walk to actually see the bridge due to low water levels. Otherwise, Lake Powell boat tours range in duration from 2-8 hours. These were also suspended last season due to COVID-19, and we’re not sure when they will resume running.
      Ditto for Antelope Canyon tours. In the event they are able to resume running by summertime, Upper Antelope Canyon would be the best segment of the canyon to tour since the walk is relatively short (100 yards, out and back) on flat terrain. Reservations for Antelope Canyon tours will not be taken until the Navajo Tribe gives the green light for tribal parks to reopen.
      Hope that helps. Please feel free to contact me directly at [email protected] if you have further questions.
      Alley 🙂

  35. Hey, Alley!

    My husband and I are traveling to AZ in April and are planning to start our vacation in Page. Currently, we are hoping to visit Horseshoe bend the morning of the 12th, go kayaking on the 13th, and then drive to Sedona afterwards to stay at a resort. Do you have any recommendations to maximize our trip? Any pointers would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance!!

    1. Hi Briana,
      That plan sound pretty fun, and relaxing, which is nice! We are also hoping and praying that land-side tours of Antelope Canyon will reopen by mid-April, too, so that might be a possible add-on to your existing plans.
      Time and desire permitting, other activities you might enjoy include, but aren’t necessarily limited to:
      Page Rim View Trail
      Glen Canyon Dam/Steel Arch Bridge
      Hanging Garden Trail & The Chains
      Glen Canyon Dam/White House Overlook
      Grand View Overlook Park
      The “New” Wave and Radio Tower Rock
      Gunfighter Canyon
      Wahweap Swim Beach and/or Lone Rock Beach (located in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, which requires a $30/vehicle entrance fee, good for one week’s time)
      If you have the time and/or inclination to venture a short distance into Utah, some other good additions to your itinerary might be:
      Big Water, UT, Visitors Center & Dinosaur Museum (~20 minutes from Page, AZ)
      Paria Rimrocks/Toadstool Hoodoos Trail (~1 hour from Page)
      On the drive down to Sedona, AZ, which typically takes ~3 hours, you might take advantage of the opportunity to do the Wupatki/Sunset Crater National Monument Loop Drive. Highlights of this are an Ancestral Puebloan dwelling complex (quite a sophisticated one at that), and a dormant volcano. That will add another couple of hours onto your drive time, but you might find it time well spent!
      Hope that helps. Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      1. Hey Alley,

        You have so much value to add, and I’m wondering if you have any tips to offer on whether it’s worth driving to horse shoe bend from Sedona on a day trip. We will be in Sedona 3-4 days, and it seems so close to horse show bend to miss it. We will be flying into Flagstaff airport, and will rent a car. Any insight is so greatly appreciated!

        Also, if you have any excursion or sight seeing or dining recommendations in Sedona I’d love that too!

        1. Hi Stephanie!
          The feasibility of visiting Horseshoe Bend as a day trip from Sedona largely depends on when you are traveling. Since the drive from Sedona, AZ, to Page, AZ (the nearest town) takes 2.5-3 hours each way, that basically consumes half or more of your available daylight if you were traveling during the winter or early spring months. If you were traveling in June or July, you have a little more leeway since days are 14-15 hours long.
          Why the obsession with daylength? Because 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 increase your risk of a collision. That’s not something you want to chance in an unfamiliar area that pitch black, possibly 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.
          If you can possibly spare one night to spend in Page, AZ, that would make for a better quality experience where you could take things at a more relaxed pace. If you are locked into your room reservations in Sedona, it is possible to visit Horseshoe Bend as a day trip, as long as you know when sunset is, keep an eye on the time, and be sure you start your return trip to Sedona, AZ, so that you are certain to arrive back at your hotel by nightfall.
          As for sightseeing recommendations in Sedona, the Pink Jeep Broken Arrow Tour is generally regarded as the “quintessential” Sedona activity! Other popular highlights include, but are not limited to, the Chapel of the Holy Cross, Tlaquepaque, hot air balloon rides, wine tastings, the Verde Canyon train, Cathedral Rock, Airport Mesa, and much more. 100 Things To Do In Sedona On dining recommendations, that’s where my knowledge is very limited as it’s been a few years since I’ve been to Sedona and restaurants tend to open, close, and change hands quite frequently. For suggestions of good restaurants, visit TripAdvisor, Yelp, or your own preferred consumer review site.
          Good luck and safe travels,
          Alley 🙂

      1. Hi Geny,
        If you’re referring to Horseshoe Bend, a one-time parking fee of $10 for standard passenger vehicles and $35 for light commercial vehicles is required to visit.
        The parking lot is open from sunrise to sunset 7 days a week.
        Good luck and safe travels,
        Alley 🙂

  36. We will be Flying into Phoenix early June 6 and leave on the afternoon do 9. What are your thoughts of going to Hoover dam first driving up through Zion national Park and ending up in page Arizona?

    1. Hey Char,
      My thoughts on your trip plan? It requires too much driving, that you honestly don’t have time for.
      It would take ~5 hours to drive from PHX to Hoover Dam, you would then want to overnight in Las Vegas. The drive to Zion the next day would be ~3-4 hours, depending on where you opt to overnight (Springdale, UT, and Kanab, UT, tend to be the most popular lodging locations for Zion). And I’ll warn you right now that 1 day is nowhere near enough time to explore and enjoy Zion fully! The trip to Page, AZ, would be ~2 hours from Zion, then your drive back to Phoenix would take ~4.5 hours.
      The thing that really jumps out at me, though, is that the Grand Canyon is conspicuously absent from your itinerary. If you’ve never been there before, you should prioritize it over everything else! The drive from Phoenix or Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim would be ~4.5 hours. For best quality experience, it is best to stay either inside the park or in the small community of Tusayan, AZ, ~7 miles from the park entrance. If your flight gets into Phoenix “early,” as you say, you could drive straight to the Grand Canyon, stay that night and the following day/night. The the following morning (6/8), drive to Page, AZ (~3-4 hours if the normal travel route is open; right now Google maps is routing you down a detour through Flagstaff, necessitated by the closure of AZ64 East due to COVID-19, which tacks another 1-2 hours onto your travel time) and tour Antelope Canyon (again, if it’s open; we’re hoping that it is by June). Overnight in Page, then on the morning of June 9th, visit Horseshoe Bend first thing in the morning (~5:15 AM), then head back to Phoenix (~4.5 hour drive). Notice I’ve taken Zion out of the equation. Not because it isn’t beautiful, it definitely is, but you just don’t have the time to do it justice if you’re going to visit the Grand Canyon.
      Another option: switch your arrival and/or departure city to Las Vegas, NV. This will put you closer to Hoover Dam. You can easily stop by there on your way to Grand Canyon South Rim, which is ~a 5-hour drive from LAS. After overnighting in the Grand Canyon, drive to Page, AZ. If you make the trip via the shortest route possible, you’ll do a large chunk of your sightseeing of the Grand Canyon on the drive to Page because you’ll be traveling past half a dozen opportunities to view the Grand Canyon from different viewpoints. Visit Horseshoe Bend on your way into town, overnight in Page, then tour Antelope Canyon first thing the following morning. From Page, AZ, you could stop in Zion on your way back to Las Vegas, but again, that’s nowhere near enough time to really enjoy it. But I understand that a quick stop is better than not seeing it at all.
      So, a revised plan would look like this:
      June 6th: Arrive in Las Vegas, NV in AM, drive to Grand Canyon South Rim with stop at Hoover Dam (~5 hours), overnight at Grand Canyon South Rim
      June 7th: Drive to Page, AZ, along East Rim Drive of Grand Canyon to Cameron, AZ, North on US89, stop at Horseshoe Bend before arriving in town, overnight in Page, AZ
      June 8th: AM Antelope Canyon tour, then drive to Zion National Park, overnight in Springdale, UT
      June 9th: Drive back to Las Vegas (~3 hours from Springdale), afternoon flight home
      Custom trip map
      Again, if you’d prefer not to feel rushed on this trip, and you haven’t yet been to the Grand Canyon, take Zion off the table and save it for a future trip when you can give it 3-5 days. It’s a huge and beautiful park where you’ll have no trouble occupying a longer timeframe!
      Hope that helps. Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  37. Hi Alley!
    I want to go explore the Grand Canyon and the Horseshoe bend in a couple of weeks, and I had a couple of questions.
    I will be staying at Page, AZ where I want to check out the Horseshoe Bend along with some other attractions. I read that Monument Valley is closed, but I was wondering if you could still drive through Highway 163 to see the landscape.
    After that, I will be driving to Grand Canyon South Rim. In your previous reply, I think I understood that you said it takes about 5 hours to get there from Page, AZ, but on Google Maps it’s showing as only about 3 1/2 hours. I was wondering if there is some other road closure I wasn’t aware of.
    Thank you so much! 🙂

    1. Hi Ana!
      Here’s the deal about Google maps figures: the drives time estimates they reflect are “wheels turning, no stops.” That rarely happens in this part of the U.S. due to the fact that the drives are very scenic and people invariably stop to take pictures (although at the present time, the Navajo Reservation is discouraging this to avoid contact between reservation residents and outsiders), plus there’s the possibility of getting stuck behind a slow-moving RV. Most optimistically, and speaking from personal experience, the drive from the Grand Canyon to Page, AZ, with the detour through Flagstaff, AZ, would take you ~4 hours. We advise tacking on extra time just to be on the safe side. Since most the trip from Flagstaff, AZ, to Page, AZ, takes place on Navajo land, it’s a good idea to ensure that your vehicle is fully fueled and that you have enough water and snacks in your vehicle to tide you over until you get to Page.
      As for visiting Monument Valley, you are not prohibited from driving through there on US163, but again, the tribe asks that outsiders avoid stopping due to COVID-19. The notable exception is Goulding’s Lodge, which has remained open, with limited services and reduced capacity in restaurants, on tour vehicles, etc. If you would prefer not to chance driving in this area, a way you can still see Monument Valley would be to fly over it. Fixed-wing airplanes depart out of the Page Municipal Airport, weather permitting, and contingent on a certain number of passengers traveling. Mornings are the best time to fly for best lighting and lack of wind. Monument Valley Air Tours
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      1. Hello Alley! You’re super knowledgeable and I’d appreciate some assistance with plans for a 2 day stay! We’re looking at being there the 14th checking out the 16th. What’s open/closed? Do we dress warm (AZ natives that freeze under 70°s LOL) Any advice is greatly appreciated!

        1. Hi Ambar!
          Next weekend in Page, AZ, you can expect mostly sunny days with daytime high temperatures that are pleasantly brisk, ranging from the high 50’s to low ’70’s. Nighttime temperatures are still dipping down around freezing, so bring warmer clothing if you happen to be out and about after sunset (although all driving should be done during daylight hours). Page, AZ, weather
          Although the Antelope Canyons are still closed, there is still plenty to see and do in Page, AZ, right now! Visiting the Horseshoe Bend Overlook is a definite must, allow approximately 2 hours to park your vehicle ($10/vehicle), walk out to the rim, take photos, and walk back to the parking lot. Other activities you might enjoy include, but aren’t necessarily limited to:
          Page Rim View Trail
          Glen Canyon Dam/Steel Arch Bridge
          Hanging Garden Trail & The Chains
          Glen Canyon Dam/White House Overlook
          Grand View Overlook Park
          The “New” Wave and Radio Tower Rock
          Gunfighter Canyon
          Wahweap Swim Beach and/or Lone Rock Beach (located in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, which requires a $30/vehicle entrance fee, good for one week’s time)
          If you have the time and/or inclination to venture a short distance into Utah, some other good additions to your itinerary might be:
          Big Water Visitors Center & Dinosaur Museum
          Paria Rimrocks/Toadstool Hoodoos Trail
          For more suggestions, visit the Page/Lake Powell Tourism Hub upon arrival in Page, AZ. If you see Gordon, tell him Alley said “hi.” 🙂
          Good luck and safe travels,
          Alley 🙂

          1. Hi Alley!
            I’m moving across country and planning on staying in Page for 2 nights. I will have a uhaul attached to the back of my pickup truck though, will that be a problem with entering to park to hike Horseshoe Bend? Thank you so much!

          2. Hi Chrissy,
            Pulling a trailer, you shouldn’t have too much difficulty parking at Horseshoe Bend. However, I will advise that you time your visit for the earlier hours of the morning, so you have fewer people to contend with, and can avoid having to back up your trailer in order to make your way out. I used to work for U-Haul myself and backing up a trailer is no easy feat for the inexperienced!
            Good luck and safe travels,
            Alley 🙂

  38. Hello!

    We plan to drive from PHX Arizona airport on March 27th and heard there was a 1.5 mile hike? Would that be possible to do starting around the afternoon off that day?

    Thank you,

    1. Hi Kay,
      If you’re referring to Horseshoe Bend, the round-trip hike to the overlook is ~1.5 miles. The parking lot is open from sunrise to sunset, which, on your day of travel will be 6:16 AM and 6:44 PM respectively.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  39. Hi Alley! Cool site you guys got here! I am very glad I found this website. My wife and I plus 2 kids (13 and 7) will be in Flagstaff – Sedona on March 31 – where’s the best place to see stars? Also, from April 1 to 4, we booked a stay at Lake Powell Resort. We really intend to go to Horse Shoe bend and many more. Unfortunately, Antelope Canyon is close, some boat tours are close — can you recommend things to do with the kids? We are no expert in trekking, but we would love to start and just enjoy the Spring break of the kids…….. Thanks

    1. Hey Aaron,
      OMG, I’m so sorry it took so long to respond to your inquiry 🙁 This format sometimes results in questions getting buried, and unfortunately, yours was one of them.
      First off, I’d recommend allotting another day to Sedona, AZ. That’s a large, stunning area, with lots to see and do, including family-friendly activities. You’ll also find no shortage of places conducive to stargazing. If you prefer to do your night sky viewing in Flagstaff, AZ, the Lowell Observatory is the ultimate spot for that!
      Plan to hit Horseshoe Bend on your way into Page, AZ, or first thing the following morning. With the Antelope Canyons and many Lake Powell Boat Tours are closed, you might be thinking that your visit to Page, AZ, will be a bust, but that’s hardly the case. Other options include, but aren’t limited to, kayaking into the waterside of Antelope Canyon from Antelope Point Marina, then hiking into the “pre-slot” section of Antelope Canyon on the shoreline of Lake Powell, which is on Federal land. While the scenery in this part of the canyon is not the “classic” slot canyon scenery depicted in the hiking tours, judging from the number of sold out dates, for these tours, people didn’t seem to mind a bit!
      If you determine that activity might not be appropriate for your family (both air and water temperatures could still be on the cold side this time of year), another fun and family-friendly slot canyon that remains open for exploration is Wire Pass Canyon, which is located ~1 hour from the Lake Powell Resort. Time/desire permitting, you could also take the opportunity to do the Paria Rimrocks/Toadstool Hoodoos Trail nearby. Take a look at this video depicting a young family exploring both of these areas using Page, AZ, as a base: Wire Pass Canyon to Buckskin Gulch | Toadstool Hoodoos Trail, Utah
      Whatever you decide, just be sure you’re back to the hotel by nightfall. 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 could jack up your risk of a car accident. That’s not something you want to chance in an unfamiliar area that’s pitch black, cold, where cell service is spotty, and help will be a long time coming, not to mention VERY expensive. Sunrise on March 31st occurs at 6:10 AM, and sunset takes place just after 6:45 PM (Arizona time).
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  40. Hi Ally!
    I’m going Page area this weekend. I’d like to see the new wave , radio tower rock and honeycomb ridge.
    Is it possible to get there by car ? Or do I have to park a car nearby and hike ?
    If I have to hike, how long takes time?

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Mana,
      To visit the New Wave and Radio Tower Rock, you’d need to park your vehicle near the Beehive Campground and hike in.
      Regarding “Honeycomb” Ridge, I don’t know of any place by that name in the Page, AZ, area! Could you perhaps be referring to the “Cockscomb?” If so, that formation can be found on the Cottonwood Canyon Road, which is a beautiful drive, but the road is unpaved. If you’re driving a rental car, recent weather has been rainy or snowy, or signage indicates the road is closed, you should not attempt it. Instead, consider going with a licensed guide service, such as Big Orange Jeep Tours.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  41. Hi Alley!

    We are a group of three traveling to Arizona the 16th-20th of this month. We are flying into flagstaff & planning to stay at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel. (unless you suggest a better spot location wise to stay. It’s about 38 minutes from the airport and about an hour to the canyon)

    We want to go to the Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend & Sedona. We really wanted to go to antelope canyon but I just saw that it is closed.

    What do you think would be the best order/best way to do things in? Do you suggest staying in a different spot? Any other great spots we should go see? We would like to have decently full days!

    Thank you!

    1. Hi, Carly!
      Looking at your dates, I’m seeing three full days that you have to visit three separate destinations.
      While the Grand Canyon Railway hotel would be an OK place from which to visit Sedona (~1.5 hour drive, one way from Williams) and Grand Canyon South Rim (~1 hour one way from Williams), I would not recommend staying there to visit Horseshoe Bend as a day trip.
      It takes approximately 3 hours, one way, to drive from Williams, AZ, to Page, AZ (the town nearest Horseshoe Bend). In mid/late March, sunrise takes place at around 6:30 AM, and sunset occurs at roughly 6:30 PM, so that gives you 12 hours of daylight to work with, and you’re already proposing to use up 6 hours of it behind the wheel. We recommend allotting at least 2 hours to visit Horseshoe Bend, including parking your vehicle, walking out to the rim, taking photos, then walking back to your vehicle. That gives you another 4 hours, during which, you’ll probably want to grab lunch somewhere. With the time you have left, you could probably visit the Glen Canyon Dam (Visitor Center closed) and walk across the Steel Arch Bridge, maybe hike to the Hanging Gardens . Whatever you decided to do, you would have to be back on the road no later than 3:30-3:45 PM, so you’re back in Williams, AZ, by nightfall. 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 can ratchet up your risk of an auto accident. You don’t want to risk a collision with a large animal 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.
      A better idea would be to spend the night in Page, AZ, so you can see and do more without feeling rushed. If you do this, you might be able to take a kayak tour of the waterside of Antelope Canyon, which includes some hiking into the transitional area between the Lake Powell shoreline and the slot canyon, which is on Federal land. Unlike the slot canyons, this area is still legally accessible.
      At this point in time, the order in which you visit the sites on your “wish list” doesn’t really matter, but I would recommend putting Page, AZ, either first or last. The drive from Flagstaff, AZ, to Page, AZ, is ~2.5 hours.
      RE: Sedona, I have to be honest and tell you that one day is going to leave you wanting. People often spend 4-5 days there and report back that they’d still felt as though they’d only “scratched the surface” of all that area had to offer. So, you could spend all three days in Sedona this time around and plan a return trip to Page, AZ, and the Grand Canyon when the weather is warmer, all the COVID-19 closures have been lifted, and you can give the area the time it deserves.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  42. Alley

    Stumbled across this site and all the wonderful advice you are providing. Thought I would get you to chime in with a possible itinerary for a family of 5 (kids 8-14). We are arriving into Phoenix on Friday, March 12 and will head straight to Sedona that night. Then we will have (5.5) full days to spend as we please before we drive back to Phoenix on the night of the March 18. Spending the 19th in Phoenix before flying out the morning of the 20th. Other than Hot Air Balloon Ride in Sedona, nothing else is solid yet. Grand Canyon is a must and I hope to squeeze Page in too, though I’m not sure I can make that fit. We are flexible with number of nights we stay in Sedona vs at Grand Canyon.

    Thanks in advance
    Eric

    1. Hi Eric, we’re glad you found us!
      I would suggest repositioning Sedona as the last stop on your trip, for a couple of reasons:
      1. Sedona makes for a nice place to enjoy some chill time before heading home from your vacation
      2. It’s only ~2-2.5 hours from Phoenix, and most visitors prefer to get the longer drives of their tour out of the way first.
      In light of that, here’s what I’d recommend:
      March 12th: Arrive in Phoenix, overnight in Phoenix
      March 13th: Drive to Page, AZ (~5 hours), visit Horseshoe Bend, overnight in Page
      March 14th: Take kayak tour into the waterside of Antelope Canyon, with hiking into the transitory zone between the Lake Powell shoreline and Lower Antelope Canyon, which is on Federal land (the Antelope Slot Canyon tours will still be closed at the time of your arrival), 2nd night in Page, AZ OR drive to Grand Canyon South Rim (see info below re: drive time)
      March 15th: Drive to Grand Canyon South Rim – unfortunately, this is also going to be ~a 5-hour drive due to the closure of a critical component of the shortest travel route, AZ64 East, which is on Navajo Indian Land, between Cameron, AZ, and Desert View Point. This means you have to drive all the way down to Flagstaff, AZ, then back up North via US180/AZ64N or I-40/AZ64N, overnight at the Grand Canyon South Rim
      March 16th: Sightseeing on South Rim in AM, drive to Sedona (~3 hours from Grand Canyon South Rim), overnight in Sedona
      March 17th: Hot air balloon ride, more sightseeing or just relaxing, 2nd night in Sedona
      March 18th: 3rd day in Sedona, OR drive back to Phoenix (~2-2.5 hours)
      March 19th: Spend day in Phoenix
      March 20th: Fly home in the morning
      Trip map
      If scooting Sedona to the back half of your vacation is not possible, I understand completely, and believe you could still make the above itinerary work with a few adjustments. If you decide to skip Page, AZ, this time around due to the road closures and other COVID-19 complications, just give the extra night to the Grand Canyon, but definitely plan a return trip to Page, AZ, when you can really enjoy it, preferably for 2-3 days!
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  43. Hi Alley-
    My wife and I are flying into Phoenix the afternoon of Wednesday, May 19 and flying out the morning of Sunday, May 23. We are in our late 30’s and from the East Coast. Have never been to Arizona. We were planning on staying in Sedona the whole time but now are thinking about going to Page/horse shoe bend or the Grand Canyon as well. We really only have 3 full days so son’t want to over extend… What would you recommend for first time visitors? Thank you in advance for your help!

    1. Hi John!
      With 3 days to work with, your time is indeed limited. If you have never been to the Grand Canyon, you should prioritize that over anything else. It takes approximately 3 hours, one way, to drive to Grand Canyon South Rim from Sedona. Normally, we don’t recommend attempting to visit the Grand Canyon from Sedona as a day trip, but late May is one of the few times of year you can pull it off, with an early start and an eye on the time. Sunrise occurs just before 5:15 AM and sunset takes place at around 7:30 PM.
      Assuming you’re “wheels up” at 6:00 AM, and carry some snacks in the car to tide you over until lunchtime, that would put you at the park at about 9:00 AM. Park your vehicle wherever you can find a spot at the South Rim, preferably in the Grand Canyon Village Historic District area, so you can walk around and explore the old hotels, gift shops, and museums in the main commerce area. Plan on grabbing lunch right at 11:00 AM if you wish to dine in any of the rimside restaurants. The Grand Canyon Railway pulls in at around 11:15 AM and once those passengers disembark, they’ll make a beeline to the El Tovar Dining Room, Arizona Room, or the Harvey House Cafe (assuming all are open; some South Rim restaurants are closed or on reduced operations due to COVID-19). Once that happens, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a table. If you don’t have your heart set on having lunch on the rim, then the Maswik Cafeteria, 1/4 mile South of the Bright Angel Lodge, would be a good alternative, or you can bring your own sandwich fixins and beverages and dine “al fresco” wherever you choose! You could then utilize the free shuttles to ride out to some of the viewpoints on the Hermit’s Rest/West Rim Drive, or hike a short way down the Bright Angel Trail into the Inner Canyon. If you do that, just remember that 1 hour down = 2 hours back up. Food and water must be carried if you plan on spending any more than 1 hour’s time, or hiking more than a mile round-trip.
      The main priority is to be back on the road by 4:30 PM at the very latest. 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 can ratchet up your risk of an auto accident. The section of US89A from Flagstaff, AZ, down through Oak Creek Canyon in particular is very narrow and windy. I’ve personally driven it at night, and let’s just say I’ll never do it again!
      Should you find that you have time to spare after sightseeing at the South Rim, you might head back to Tusayan, the small community just outside the park gates, and see the short but exciting IMAX movie presentation “Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets.”
      If at all possible, try to carve out enough time to stay overnight at Grand Canyon South Rim. This will make for a much more relaxed experience for you, and enable you to see sunset and/or sunrise from the best vantage point possible: right on the canyon rim!
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      1. Alley- Thank you so much for the information! You have talked us in to staying a night at the Grand Canyon. Our May itinerary as of now: Get into Phoenix Wednesday afternoon and drive to Sedona. Spend Wednesday and Thursday night in Sedona. Get up Friday morning and go to the Grand Canyon South Rim and spend Friday night. We have a 10 am flight out of Phoenix on Sunday morning. Any thought for Saturday? Would you go back to Sedona for Saturday afternoon and night and then get up early on Sunday morning to drive to the airport? Any other towns you recommend to stop at on Saturday night on the way back toward Phoenix? Drive to Phoenix Saturday night? Thank you so much for your help!

      2. Alley- Thank you so much for the information! You have talked us in to staying a night at the Grand Canyon. Our May itinerary as of now: Get into Phoenix Wednesday afternoon and drive to Sedona. Spend Wednesday and Thursday night in Sedona. Get up Friday morning and go to the Grand Canyon South Rim and spend Friday night. We have a 10 am flight out of Phoenix on Sunday morning. Any thought for Saturday? Would you go back to Sedona for Saturday afternoon and night and then get up early on Sunday morning to drive to the airport? Any other towns you recommend to stop at on Saturday night on the way back toward Phoenix? Drive to Phoenix Saturday night? Thank you so much for your help!

        1. Hi again, John,
          In light of the fact that your flight departs at 10:00 AM on Sunday, that means you’d have to check in ~8-9 AM, correct? If so, I would recommend going down to Phoenix on Saturday, but taking the scenic route through Happy Jack, Pine, and Payson, AZ. That’s a beautiful drive through the mountains, and last I was there, was still relatively uncrowded. Things to do in Payson, AZ Wheels turning, no stops, the drive would take ~5-5.5 hours.
          Another option: leave Grand Canyon South Rim via AZ64 East if it’s open again by the time you visit (they’re hoping to reopen it by May 21st), stop at the Cameron Trading Post for brunch, then head South on US89 and take the Wupatki/Sunset Crater Loop Drive just North of Flagstaff. Driving direct, the trip would also be ~5-5.5 hours, but this is also a drive you’d want to take time to really enjoy!
          Have a great trip, and if you get a minute when you return home, write in again to let us know how it went!
          Alley 🙂

  44. Hello Alley,
    I’m heading to the Grand Cayon today. I know I want to hike the Horseshoe Bend Sat morning. Any sugestions of what else to hike?
    What are the hours of operation?
    Do I need to make reservations?
    I’ll be heading he Sunday.

    1. Hi Jessie,
      Hope you’re aware that it will take you ~5 hours to drive from the Grand Canyon to Horseshoe Bend. Normally, the trip from the South Rim to Page, AZ, is 2.5 hours minimum, but due to a critical component of the quickest travel route being closed due to COVID-19, it is now necessary to detour all the way down to Flagstaff, AZ, then back up North via US89. Trip map
      The Horseshoe Bend parking lot is open from sunrise to sunset. Reservations are not required.
      If you’re prepared for all that, then other areas you might enjoy hiking at include, but are not limited to:
      Page Rim View Trail
      Glen Canyon Dam/Steel Arch Bridge
      Hanging Garden Trail & The Chains
      Glen Canyon Dam/White House Overlook
      Grand View Overlook Park
      The “New” Wave and Radio Tower Rock
      Wahweap Swim Beach and/or Lone Rock Beach (located in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, which requires a $30/vehicle entrance fee, good for one week’s time)
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  45. Good morning Alley,
    Question regarding access to ADA individuals to Horsehoe Bend. Due to severe hip osteoarthritis I wouldn’t be able to navigate the trail. The video in one articles I’ve seen shows a person being transported in a wheel chair. In one of your recent replies to
    this issue you said you would not recommend it. Do you have any information as when the Navajos will pave the trail (Bring up to ADA Codes)? I’m 85 and have been an Arizona resident since 1980. Horseshoe has been on my bucket list for years. Hope to see it someday.

    Thank you,
    Jan in Happy Jack AZ

    1. Hi Jan!
      Boy, this is a toughie. First-hand accounts of navigating the trail to Horseshoe Bend in a wheelchair have differed widely. One thing’s for certain, if you do need to use a wheelchair to get out to the rim, you will need to have someone push you. The unpaved section in particular still has some rocky areas that are kind of dicey.
      As to when the paving will be completed, we don’t know. The Horseshoe Bend Overlook is actually managed by the City of Page, in cooperation with the National Park Service. The Navajo Tribe manages a separate entrance — which also has a shorter walk — on the Southern flank of the Bend, but access via that entrance has been off-limits since COVID-19 struck.
      The solution that might be best for you at this point in time would be to fly over it. Fixed-wing airplanes and helicopters fly out of the Page Municipal Airport daily, weather permitting, and contingent on a certain number of passengers traveling. For more information on Horseshoe Bend flights, contact Grand Canyon Airlines at 928-638-2436 or Papillon Helicopters at 702-736-7243.
      Sorry I couldn’t give you a more definitive answer! I wish you good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  46. Hello Alley,

    Looks like you are the expert for Horseshoe Bend. First of all I am a newbie to this sort of travel. My family plans usually involve the beach with me parked in a beach chair all day! We are an athletic family so I want to change things up and visit Horsehoe bend and possibly some other “attractions” I was thinking a four-day visit to the area. I have a family of 5. My kids are 6, 12, and 17. My oldest has some mobility challenges but nothing that will stop her from hiking (with breaks) and having fun. Do you have a suggestion on the time of year to visit Horseshoe Bend and the best places to stay?

    1. Hey Brian!
      So if you have the freedom to pick and choose when to visit Horseshoe Bend and the adjacent attractions, I would recommend late September or early October. That time of year boasts nearly picture perfect, relatively stable weather.
      As for where to stay, you can take your pick from several dozen hotels and motels in varying price points and amenity classes from Motel 6 to Marriott and everything in between. Page, AZ, Hotels & Motels
      Since you mention that one of your kids has some mobility challenges, I should let you know that the trail to Horseshoe Bend from the parking lot is .7 miles each way. Although it has been partially paved and graded, making it much easier to navigate than in years past, that still might be a lot for her to take on. If that’s the case, you might consider flying over it in a fixed-wing airplane or helicopter. Horseshoe Bend Flights
      If the Antelope Canyons reopen by the time you visit, you should plan on touring Upper Antelope Canyon. It’s an easy walk on a mostly flat trail, although it can be rendered very sandy if recent weather has been dry. Other popular activities you would probably enjoy, which again, are contingent on reopening after the COVID-19 closure, are the Horseshoe Bend Raft Trip, a jeep tour to someplace like Alstrom Point or Skylight Arch, or renting a powerboat for a day on Lake Powell.
      If you do have a few days to spend in the area, you should also take advantage of the opportunity to visit the other beautiful National Parks within easy driving distance of Page, AZ, such as Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Monument Valley, and the Grand Canyon. Let us know if we can help you plan your itinerary in more detail, or visit our companion site, http://www.AntelopeCanyon.AZ for the Ultimate 7-Day Itinerary in Northern Arizona and Southern Utah!
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      1. Dear Alley,
        I was hoping you could help me with planning our trip itinerary to Southwest. We fly to and from Las Vegas April 14 – April 24. We would love to visit Grand Canyon, Bryce, Zion, Horse shoe bend , maybe Sedona and other places if possible to fit in 9.
        I have never been to Southwest and am not sure in which order and how much time to allocate to each destination. Could you help me with the itinerary and places to visit/hike please I have two kids with me 15 and 16.

        1. Hi Lilit!
          Using Las Vegas, NV, as your staging city, with 9 full days to work with, you should be able to get all the items on your wish list crossed off, with a couple of surprises thrown in for good measure. 😉
          Here’s what I’d recommend:
          April 14th: Travel day to Las Vegas, overnight in Las Vegas
          April 15th: Drive to Sedona, AZ (~5 hours), optional stop in Seligman, AZ (Route 66 mainstay, inspiration for “Cars” movies), overnight in Sedona
          April 16th: 2nd day/night in Sedona; possible activities: Pink Jeep Broken Arrow Tour, hike Cathedral Rock or other local trails, visit Chapel of the Holy Cross, Airport Mesa, etc. One Day In Sedona
          April 17th: Drive to Grand Canyon South Rim (~3 hours) via US180/AZ64, optional stops – Chapel of the Holy Dove, Planes of Fame Museum Valle, AZ , overnight at Grand Canyon South Rim
          April 18th: 2nd day/night at Grand Canyon South Rim – possible hikes: Ooh Aah Point or Cedar Ridge on South Kaibab Trail, 1.5 mile or 3 mile Resthouse on Bright Angel Trail, paved Rim Trail and the Trail Through Time
          April 19th: Drive to Page, AZ ***normally, this drive takes ~3 hours, but due to the continued closure of a critical component of the quickest travel route due to COVID-19, you’ll have to detour all the way back to Flagstaff, AZ, then back up North; this means your drive time will be more along the lines of 5 hours** Optional stop: Wupatki/Sunset Crater National Monument Loop Drive just North of Flagstaff (will add another 2 hours onto your drive time), stop at Horseshoe Bend on the way into town, overnight in Page, AZ
          April 20th: Tour Antelope Canyon if it’s open and spend 2nd day/night in Page, AZ; if Antelope Canyon remains closed, possible alternatives are kayaking to the waterside of Antelope Canyon then hiking in the transitional section between the shoreline and the slot canyon, which is on Federal land. Another option: drive up to Paria, UT, and hike Wire Pass Canyon/Buckskin Gulch, and/or the Paria Rimrocks/Toadstool Hoodoos Trail, overnight in Kanab, UT, or drive the rest of the way to Bryce Canyon for overnight
          April 21st: Drive to Bryce Canyon (~90 minutes from Kanab, UT), hike the Fairyland Loop or Peek-A-Boo Loop Trails, overnight in Bryce Canyon area Best Hikes in Bryce Canyon
          April 22nd: Drive to Zion National Park (~2 hours from Bryce Canyon), ride Zion Canyon Shuttle to main sightseeing area (advance ticket purchase might be required), hike to Upper Emerald Pools, or any number of beautiful trails in the area; overnight in Springdale, UT
          April 23rd: 2nd day/night in Zion, you can take the shuttle from Springdale back to the Zion Canyon area (you’d probably have to purchase a 2nd batch of tickets), or skip all that craziness and visit the Kolob Canyon area of the park (~45 minutes from Springdale, UT)
          April 24th: Drive back to Las Vegas (~3 hours from Springdale), optional detour through the stunning Valley of Fire State Park, fly back home
          Trip map
          If necessary, you can also reverse this itinerary if room availability (or lack thereof) dictates doing so. The main priority right now is to get your lodging booked, then any guided tours you might be interested in. April is usually one of the nicer times of year to travel here, but you might encounter a stray rain or snowstorm, so keep an eye on local weather about 2 weeks before you get set to travel.
          Also, plan on doing all driving during daylight hours to avoid hazards posed by deer, elk, and other nocturnal wildlife.
          Good luck and safe travels,
          Alley 🙂

  47. Hi Alley, you are so insightful. I have a tentative plan and was hoping for some insight from you.

    Date: June 2021
    Duration: 7-8 days
    Travel: flying into PHX or Flagstaff. Flying out from PHX or flagstaff.
    Traveling size: between 6-10 people
    Age ranges: 30-35
    Mode of transportation around AZ: car or Van depending on confirmed final count
    Lodging: Airbnb (phx city, Sedona, Williams)
    Interested Activities: hiking(all moderate-experienced hiker). We are hoping to go hiking on our own without having to sign up for any tour guide (with the exception of antelope) and explore the city life.

    Tentative plan:
    Day 1-3: fly into flagstaff, drive to Williams, explore the lower rims.

    Day 3-6: explore Sedona and possible drive up to antelope if it open. Hopefully it’s opened by then!!

    Day 6-8. Explode phx City and fly home.

    The itinerary is quite lacking right now.. if you have any recommendations to fill in the gap. We’re hoping to pack as much hiking and exploration to our trip with as much as possible given the timeline. We are also all first timer visiting AZ. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!!

    1. Hey Van!
      First of all, you’re more likely to get a better deal flying into Phoenix than Flagstaff. Do check both options, but the majority of visitors to this area end up “biting the bullet” and making the longer drive.
      One thing that’s thrown a huge wrench in the works this season is COVID-19, which has resulted in the closure of a critical component of the most logical travel route between Page, AZ, and Grand Canyon South Rim (or vice versa). At this writing, it’s now necessary to detour all the way down to Flagstaff, AZ, then bounce back up North, which has turned what’s normally about a 3-hour drive into more like a 5-hour drive. Oh joy. National Park Service is crossing fingers and toes that this closure will be lifted by late May, which would be just in time for your visit!
      Assuming that occurs, here’s what I’d recommend:
      Day 1: Fly to Phoenix, maybe visit the Desert Botanical Garden, overnight in Phoenix
      Day 2: Drive to Page, AZ (~4.5 hours), take Wupatki/Sunset Crater loop drive North of Flagstaff (add another 2 hours), overnight in Page
      Day 3: Visit Horseshoe Bend right at sunrise, then tour Antelope Canyon (if it’s open), 2nd night in Page
      Day 4: Drive to Grand Canyon South Rim (3-5 hours depending on status of AZ64 from Desert View Point to Cameron), overnight in Williams, AZ (1 hour South of GC)
      Day 5: Sightseeing at Grand Canyon, possibly hike to Ooh Aah Point or Cedar Ridge on South Kaibab Trail, drive to Sedona (~3 hours from GC), overnight in Sedona
      Day 6: Sightseeing in Sedona: no shortage of great hikes in varying lengths and degrees of difficulty! Soldier’s Pass and Devil’s Bridge are a couple of the more popular, long-ish hikes (3+ miles round-trip), but whatever you do, you are highly unlikely to be disappointed. Since it’s going to be hot in June, you may enjoy something that entails crossing a creek a few times, such as the West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon or Slide Rock State Park.
      Day 7: More hiking in Sedona
      Day 8: Drive back to Phoenix (~2.5 hours from Sedona), fly home
      A couple of notes: in June, it’s going to be hot, so any labor-intensive activities should be done during the cooler morning hours. Adequate food and water for all members of your party (including pets) must be carried at all times.
      Also, you need to make sure that your drives are timed for 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 deer, elk, and other wildlife that can jack up your risk of a car accident. That’s not something you want to risk 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. Fortunately, days in June are the longest of the year with sunrise occurring at about 5:00 AM and sunset taking place just before 8:00 PM.
      Hope that helps. Good luck and safe travels!
      Alley 🙂

  48. Hello we are planning on flying in from Houston on the 13 th and driving to Flagstaff on the 13 th . Staying in flagstaff on the 13th -14th then driving up to page 15-16-17th th and coming back to Sedona on the 18th -19th staying in Sedona
    What should be our options
    So thinking of something like this
    13th sunset crater
    Petrified Nation Forest

    14th -GrandCanyon
    -GrandCanyon Village

    15th HorseShoeBay
    16th Momument Valley

    17th Wupatki National momument
    18th Saguro Nationl park

    19th dessert Botanical gardens
    20th fly back

    Thank you in advance for all your help 🙂

    1. Hi Bhakti,
      So, assuming that you are flying into and out of Phoenix, AZ, from Houston, TX, and your trip is occurring in March, your plan looks pretty fun.
      One thing you should probably take off the list, though, is Monument Valley. Not that it isn’t beautiful (it is), but Monument Valley is situated on Navajo Indian Tribal Lands. Due to COVID-19, and the fact that Navajo Reservation residents have been affected in disproportionately high numbers, they are discouraging outsiders from traveling on their lands. IMO we should respect that, but — there might still be a way you can see it. More on that in a minute… 😉
      Another small piece of bad news, and here again, it’s because of COVID-19 and how it’s affected the Navajo Tribe. Your trip from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ, to see Horseshoe Bend is going to take longer than you expected. Because a critical component of the normal travel route from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ, is closed, it is now necessary to detour all the way down to Flagstaff, then bounce back up to Page, AZ, on US89 North. Since Wupatki and Sunset Crater are both located North of Flagstaff, AZ, on US89, and connected by a convenient loop drive, I would save these two attractions for your travel day between GCSR and Page.
      So a revised itinerary would look something like this:
      March 13th: Arrive in Phoenix, drive to Flagstaff, overnight in Flagstaff.
      March 14th: Visit Petrified Forest/Painted Desert (~2 hours one way from Flagstaff), stop at Winslow, AZ, on the way back, 2nd night in Flagstaff
      March 15th: Visit Grand Canyon South Rim (~90 minute drive from Flagstaff one way), overnight at Grand Canyon OR drive back to Flagstaff, spend 3rd night
      March 16th: Drive to Page, AZ (~5 hours one way from GC Village due to detour, or 2.5-3 hours one way from Flagstaff), visit Wupatki/Sunset Crater, Horseshoe Bend, overnight in Page, AZ
      March 17th: Take scenic fixed-wing airplane flight over Monument Valley from Page Municipal Airport, 2nd night in Page, AZ
      March 18th: You might want to skip going all the way to Tucson, AZ, for Saguaro National Park. Again, not that it isn’t beautiful, it’s just an awfully long drive (~6-7 hours from Page, AZ). If seeing large stands of saguaro cactus was your reason for wanting to go there, you’ll find plenty of those in and around Phoenix, which is ~4.5 hours from Page. The Desert Botanical Gardens is one of many beautiful places you might visit. For more suggestions, check out http://www.VisitPhoenix.com: Where To See Saguaro Cactus, overnight in Phoenix
      March 19th: 2nd day/night in Phoenix area
      March 20th: Fly home
      Trip map
      Hope that helps! Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  49. Hi Alley! I have read tons of your comments and noted several tips already. I’m from Memphis, TN and am planning to take my family there for the first time this next Easter. We only have 5d and will be arriving in Flagstaff and the next day will rent a motorhome for 4d. We are a family of 5 (my wife, myself and 3 daughters of 7, 6 & 5)This is our itinerary:
    – D1: drive from Flagstaff to South Rim GC. We’re planning to catch the views at Mather and then do dispersed camping near the Park.
    – D2: spend the morning in South Rim (perhaps a couple of hours doing the easy rim walk or catching the shuttles). Then going to Page. Visit Horseshoe Bend and camp at an rv park in Lake Powell.
    – D3: drive over to Sedona early morning. Do the Red Rock scenic byway, hike the Chimney Rock trail, visit downtown Sedona & Tlaquepaque crafts, and visit the Chapel of the holy cross. Staying in Verde Ranch rv park
    – D4: visit Red Rock State Park in the morning. In the afternoon drive over Jerome, Cottonwood & Cornville and perhaps visit 1 or 2 wineries
    D5: return the RV in Flagstaff and flying back home

    Is this too ambitious? Are we missing something? We don’t have too much time, but wanted to show the girls as much as we could… biggest decision, we feel, is whether or not to go all the way to horseshoe bend…

    Thanks so much in advance for your input!

    1. Hi Ignacio,
      Your plan is OK, there are a couple of areas where you’re trying to cram too much activity into a limited window of time, but more on that in a minute…
      First off, you might want to rethink the dispersed camping idea at Grand Canyon South Rim. The main reason for that is weather: at 7,000′ Above Sea Level, nighttime lows at the South Rim can still dip down around or below freezing. I would recommend staying in a developed RV park with electrical hook-ups so you can have access to reliable heat. The only developed RV campground inside the park is Trailer Village. If that area is full, your next best option will be Grand Canyon Camper Village in Tusayan, AZ, 7 miles outside the park.
      If you wanted to go to Horseshoe Bend, one piece of potentially bad news I have to relay is that the drive is going to be longer than you might expect: due to the closure of a critical component of the shortest travel route between the South Rim and Page, AZ, due to COVID-19, this means you have to backtrack all the way down to Flagstaff, then head back up North via US89 to Horseshoe Bend. This rather long detour has turned what would normally be ~a 3-hour drive into a 5-hour drive. Horseshoe Bend is open from sunrise to sunset.
      The drive down the Sedona from Page, AZ, would then be ~3 hours, one way. When you get to Sedona is where IMO you’re kind of overplanning your days. If you don’t get to do everything on your wish list, don’t fret too much about it. Also, be open to exploring those opportunities that aren’t on the schedule. One of the most fun parts of vacation is those special moments that develop from pursuing an unexpected opportunity, or something that piques your curiosity out of the blue.
      I would recommend trying to plan a return visit to Sedona when you can spend more time, though. A lot of people report staying there for 4-5 days and still feeling as though they’d only scratched the surface. Ditto for Page, AZ, you could spend 3-4 days there and have a wonderful time, but Easter week is still in that transitional zone between winter and spring where your days could be sunny and brisk, or a late season snowstorm could decide to blow through. Best time of year to visit the American Southwest is late September/early October. The weather is more stable, and nearly perfect then!
      Hope that helps. Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  50. Hello,

    We are going to be in Florence, Arizona on April 9th for Spring Break. We need a recommendation on where it is best to stop (around halfway) on our way back to Salt Lake City, Utah. Do you recommend that we stop in Page, Arizona, Escalante or Antelope Canyon? We need to find a hotel for Friday, April 9th and stay the night in order to leave the next day. I would really appreciate your advice. Also, if it’s best to stop in Page, Arizona, do you know any national parks or monuments that we can stop by to hike at (we are looking for hikes around 5-7 miles round-trip)?

    Thanks!!

    1. Hey Marcus!
      Page, AZ, makes for a good stopover between Phoenix and Salt Lake City. The drive from Phoenix to Page, AZ, takes ~5 hours. The trip from Page to SLC would then take ~6 hours. While in the area, you should definitely take advantage of the opportunities we have to offer. Horseshoe Bend can be visited on the way into town between sunrise and sunset. The status of the Antelope Canyons is kind up up in the air due to the closure of Navajo Tribal Parks due to COVID-19. The tribe is optimistically hoping for a reopening date of April 9th, but it remains to be seen what will actually materialize. Kayak tours into the waterside of Antelope Canyon and the portion of the canyon that joins with the shoreline are not affected by the Tribal Park closure, and April is a nice time to be on the lake! The only downside, if you can call it that, is that these tours take approximately 4 hours. Not sure if you have that kind of time to spare.
      Should the hiking tours into Antelope Canyon not be reopened at the time of your visit, you might consider making Kanab, UT, your stopover point. Should you do this, you might stop to enjoy the hike to Wire Pass Canyon/Buckskin Gulch midway between Page, AZ, and Kanab, UT. Another fun hike that’s right on your way is the Paria Rimrocks/Toadstool Hoodoos Trail. Trip map
      As you can hopefully see, there is no shortage of fun activities to enjoy in the vicinity of Page, AZ, and Kanab, UT! Maybe you can stay with us for 2 days? 😉
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  51. Hi Alley,

    Is Antelope Canyon closed? Is there anywhere in the canyon we can go to? Are horseshoe bend, cathedral rock, Rainbow Bridge, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Valley of Fire State Park, Village of Oak Creek all free?

    1. Hi Daniel,
      Sorry to report that the Antelope Canyons remain closed until further notice. Optimistically, the Navajo Indian Tribe is hoping for a reopening date in mid-April, but it remains to be seen whether that will happen.
      Horseshoe Bend remains open, as does Cathedral Rock in Sedona, Village of Oak Creek, Rainbow Bridge National Monument, Zion & Bryce Canyon in Utah, and Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada. As to whether they are “free,” they are not. An admission ticket is required to enter the majority of these areas. Horseshoe Bend requires a $10 one-time parking fee for standard passenger vehicles or $35 for light commercial vehicles. To hike the Cathedral Rock Trail, you must purchase a Red Rock Trail Pass. Valley of Fire State Park also requires a $10 entry fee. Zion and Bryce each require a $30/vehicle entrance fee. BTW, if you plan on visiting at least 3 National Parks within a year’s time, you should look into purchasing an America The Beautiful Federal Lands Access Pass. For just $80, this card grants you access to all National Parks, Monuments, and Federal Fee Areas in the U.S. for one year’s time.
      The entrance fee to Rainbow Bridge is included in your Glen Canyon National Recreation Area entrance fee (also $30 IIRC), but it’s awfully hard to get to: you would either have to rent a boat to get there, or take a boat tour (on temporary suspension due to COVID-19), either of which would be a rather costly all-day endeavor. If you don’t have that kind of time to spare, an efficient and exciting way to see Rainbow Bridge would be to fly over it. Fixed-wing airplanes depart daily out of the Page Municipal Airport, weather permitting. While the flights do not land at the Bridge, they do cover a lot of amazing scenery in addition to it, and will give you a truer sense of Lake Powell’s size and majesty than a land-based perspective ever could!
      I hope that helps. Please feel free to write in again, or e-mail me personally at [email protected] if I can answer any other questions for you.
      Alley 🙂

  52. Hi Alley,
    It seems like you are very knowledgeable and would love to jump in on receiving some advice. Me and my sister are planning a much needed breather vacation and her birthday to AZ. We plan on visiting April 6-11. My idea was since we land late night on the 6th we would be to drive to Sedona and spend 2 days there (7 &8). We planned on doing a day trip to horseshoe bend and possibly Antelope Canyon. IS there guided hiking tours for horseshoe bend? I know that Antelope Canyon is still not open due COVID but hoping come April they will lift the restrictions. However, do you recommend the kayak tour more then the hiking? I know you had mentioned to watch the time and be on the road by sundown. Would daylight saving time change affect this? Do you recommend staying a night in Page? Do you have any recommendations in Sedona? Would love some feedback and/or itinerary.

    1. Hi Tanisha,
      Best wishes in advance for a Happy Birthday to your sister!
      I assume that you are planning on flying in and out of Phoenix for this trip? If so, your plan to overnight there on the 6th is sound, especially if your flight arrives late at night. It takes approximately 2 hours to drive to Sedona from PHX.
      You are correct in that the Antelope Canyons remain closed due to COVID-19, however, they are optimistically hoping for an April 9th reopening. Whether that will be the case or not remains to be seen, so I would start thinking of “plan B” options, one of which would be the Antelope Canyon Kayak/Hiking Tour. This has not been affected by the Tribal Park closure, and was a popular alternative for Page, AZ, visitors last year.
      Horseshoe Bend does not require a guided tour to visit, you can simply go to the overlook at your convenience during normal operating hours of the parking lot, which are sunrise to sunset. At the time of year you’re visiting, I would not recommend trying to visit Page, AZ, as a day trip. First off, it’s a 3-hour drive, one way, from Sedona, AZ. Sunrise occurs at ~6:00 AM, and sunset takes place just before 7:00 PM. That gives you roughly 13 hours of daylight, and you’d already have eaten up half of that time driving. You would have enough time to hit Horseshoe Bend and maybe a couple other places, but not enough to do the kayak trip. Daylight Savings Time will be in effect at the time of year you’re visiting, but the majority of Arizona will remain on Mountain Standard Time. You have also correctly deduced that we do not recommend nighttime driving in this part of the U.S. Long story short, for optimal safety and enjoyment, you should plan to spend the night in Page, AZ.
      One place that is conspicuously absent from your “wish list” is the Grand Canyon. If you have not been there, I would strongly recommend prioritizing it over everything else! As a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the “Big Three” National Parks, it’s a must-see for anyone and everyone. The only drawback is that to travel from Page, AZ, to Grand Canyon South Rim (the only side of the park that’s open) requires a rather long detour down to Flagstaff, AZ, and back North via US180/AZ64 or I-40/AZ64. The reason for this is the COVID-19 related closure of AZ64 from Cameron, AZ, to Desert View Point. Not being able to access this critical component of the shortest travel route between Page and the Grand Canyon has turned what is normally a 3-hour drive into more like 5-hours. It is more desirable to stay inside the park, or in Tusayan, AZ, the small town 7 miles outside the park gates. As for places to stay in Sedona, you’ll find everything from basic bare-bones lodging to upscale boutique hotels. Simply take your pick of whatever fits your desires, and your budget!
      A proposed itinerary:
      April 6th: fly into Phoenix, overnight in Phoenix
      April 7th: drive to Sedona (~2 hours), overnight in Sedona
      April 8th: 2nd day/night in Sedona
      April 9th: drive to Page, AZ (~3 hours), visit Horseshoe Bend
      April 10th: take morning Antelope Canyon kayak/hiking tour, drive to Grand Canyon (~5 hours), overnight in Grand Canyon
      April 11th: drive back to Phoenix (~5 hours), fly home
      Hope that helps! Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  53. Hello, I am currently planning a Bachelorette trip from March 18th – March 21st, and we are staying in Sedona, Arizona. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, do you recommend still planning a trip to see the grand canyons? We also wanted to inquire about the price for general admission. Please reach back out once you have a moment.

    1. Hey Chelsea,
      At the time of year you’re visiting, I don’t recommend trying to visit the Grand Canyon as a day trip out of Sedona. For one, it’s ~a 3-hour drive, each way, from Sedona to Grand Canyon South Rim. Secondly, you’re visiting at a time of year when days are short: sunrise occurs at ~6:30 AM, sunset takes place at around 6:30 PM. That’s only 12 hours of daylight, and you’re already proposing to eat up half of it driving. That’s not to say that a Sedona-based day trip can’t be done, but you can pretty much count on not experiencing sunset at the canyon. Why? You need to get on the road with enough time to spare to get back to Sedona, AZ, before nightfall. Nighttime driving is strongly discouraged in this part of the U.S. due to local roads being very dimly lit. The section of US89A through Oak Creek Canyon is also very narrow and windy, which makes it even more disconcerting to drive in the dark — believe me, I’ve done it before, and I’ll never do it again! Plus the possible presence of deer, elk, and other wildlife ratchets up your risk of an auto accident. Trust me, 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.
      If possible, try to arrange to spend one night at Grand Canyon South Rim. If you’re locked into your hotel reservations in Sedona, just keep an eye on the time so that you’re “back to base” by sundown!
      Hope that helps. Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      1. Hi! Do you know if Horseshoe Bend and Lower Antelope Canyon are open for hiking? I thought I saw a website say no visitors allowed due to covid. Thanks!

        1. Hi Jessica,
          Horseshoe Bend is open, but the Antelope Canyon slot canyon tours are still closed by order of the Navajo Tribe.
          If your visit is scheduled for anytime after March 1st, an alternative you may consider is the Antelope Canyon Kayak/Hiking Tour. These depart from Antelope Point Marina and last approximately 5 hours. The hiking portion occurs on the shoreline between the slot canyon and Lake Powell, which is Federal and not Tribal Land. Air and water temperatures are cold at that time of year, so dress accordingly if you take me up on that suggestion! There are several companies offering this tour package, but the one we’re the most familiar with is Hidden Canyon Kayak Antelope Canyon Tour
          Good luck and safe travels,
          Alley 🙂

  54. Hello!
    I came across this thread trying to plan a honeymoon to Vegas/Arizona area in May 2021.

    I was wondering what your thoughts/advice are on this itinerary:
    1. Fly into Las Vegas & stay 1 night
    2. Drive from Vegas to Page and stay at Under Canvas Lake Powell for 2 nights (any recommendations for what to do and when since antelope canyon is closed?)
    3. Drive from Lake Powell Area to Grand Canyon and stay either in Flagstaff or Under Canvas Grand Canyon 1 night
    4. Drive from Grand Canyon area to Castle Hot Springs Resort, which is about an hour north of Phoenix (staying 2 nights)… hopefully stop in Sedona for lunch?
    5. Finish up our trip by staying in Phoenix with a friend for 2 nights

    1. Hi Celia,
      Your trip plan looks pretty fun and well-paced. Even if the Antelope Canyons remain closed at the time of your visit to Page, AZ, there are still plenty of attractions that are open and accessible. A popular alternative last summer was kayaking to the waterside of Antelope Canyon from Antelope Point Marina, then hiking into the landside portion of the canyon that is on Federal and not Tribal land. Although the scenery is not quite as dramatic as Lower or Upper Antelope Canyon, it is still beautiful, and judging from the number of sold out dates last year, people didn’t have any problem with that! Lake Powell Hidden Canyon Kayak Tour
      Horseshoe Bend, of course, is a must-do, which you can visit at your leisure from sunrise to sunset. Other highlights you might partake of include, but are certainly not limited to:
      – Page Rim View Trail
      – Glen Canyon Dam/Steel Arch Bridge
      – Hanging Garden Trail & The Chains
      – Glen Canyon Dam/White House Overlook
      – Grand View Overlook Park
      – The “New” Wave and Radio Tower Rock
      – Gunfighter Canyon
      – Wahweap Swim Beach and/or Lone Rock Beach (located in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, which requires a $30/vehicle entrance fee, good for one week’s time)
      – Big Water Visitors Center & Dinosaur Museum
      – Paria Rimrocks/Toadstool Hoodoos Trail
      Regarding your reservations for the Under Canvas properties, bear in mind that Lake Powell Under Canvas is actually located in Big Water, UT, ~20 minutes drive from Page, AZ. Grand Canyon Under Canvas is in Valle, AZ, ~30 minutes from the South Rim. So in both areas, you’ll have a bit of driving to do to get to the main sightseeing areas.
      The only kinda-sorta major change I’d recommend is where you get to Sedona: that’s a beautiful area that really deserves at least 3-4 days to fully enjoy and explore, instead of just a quickie drive-by for lunch. Maybe you could drop a night in Phoenix, and push your Castle Hot Springs Reservation back a day, and have your friend come up and meet you in Sedona for an overnight visit? Sedona is only ~2 hours from Phoenix. Even if you were able to do that, I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll be planning a return trip to Sedona, AZ, when you can spend more time. People tell me all the time that they spent 4-7 days there and still felt as though they’d only scratched the surface of all the area had to offer!
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  55. Good Afternoon,

    My husband and I and our 3 children ( sons 18, 16 and daughter 15) are planning a 7 days trip to Grand Canyon between 3/6/2021 – 3/14/2021. Would you reccomend flying in to Las Vegas or Phoenix? We will rent a car and drive to places. Las Vegas, Red Rocks Canyon, Food Tour, Scottdale, Sedona, Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Entelope Canyon… are all on our list to visit. We would like to take a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon (from Las Vegas or drive to Grand Canyon’s Airport from Sedona) to save driving time. Which helicopter tour company would you reccommend and their best tours? Also, would you please reccomend how many days should we allocate to spend at each place.

    Thank you so much,
    Cecilia Wynn

    1. Hi Cecilia,
      With the items on your “wish list,” it would make the most sense to fly into Phoenix and out of Las Vegas or vice versa. The key factor as to whether that’s feasible will be rental car drop-off fees. Rental car outlets typically don’t encourage picking up vehicles in one place and dropping them off in another due to the mileage between cities, and relative remoteness of the area. Do check into it, though. Otherwise, you might have to take Las Vegas off the table, or Scottsdale.
      One little piece of bad news I have to give you, unfortunately, is that the Antelope Canyons in Page, AZ, are still closed due to COVID-19. Horseshoe Bend, however, does remain open. If seeing a slot canyon remains high on your priority list, the nearest alternatives not subject to the closure are Wire Pass Canyon/Buckskin Gulch near Paria, UT, or Red Canyon/aka Peek-A-Boo Canyon near Kanab, UT. For more information on these, visit our companion site, AntelopeCanyon.AZ: Help! My Antelope Canyon Tour Got Cancelled
      As for which Grand Canyon helicopter tour is best, those that depart from the South Rim will cover more of the National Park, which is were the best views of the canyon can be seen. Flights depart daily from the Grand Canyon National Park Airport in Tusayan, AZ, 7 miles South of the park gates. Morning is the best time to fly for lack of wind and best lighting. Since Sedona is ~a 2.5 hour drive from Grand Canyon airport, I would recommend you spend at least 1 night at the South Rim. As for how to allocate the remainder of your time:
      March 6th – fly into Phoenix, hopefully arriving before noon, rent a car and drive to Page, AZ (~5 hours from PHX), overnight in Page, AZ
      March 7th – Visit Horseshoe Bend first thing in AM, then drive to Paria UT (~45 minutes from Page) or Kanab UT (~70 minutes from Page) to tour afore-mentioned slot canyons, drive back to Page for overnight
      March 8th – Drive to Grand Canyon South Rim (you can also visit Horseshoe Bend on this morning if you wish). More bad news here (sorry) — normally, this drive would take you 3-3.5 hours, but due to COVID-19, it is now necessary to drive all the way down to Flagstaff, then back up North via I-40/AZ64 or US180/AZ64. This rather long detour has turned a 3 hour drive into more like a 5-hour drive. Overnight at Grand Canyon South Rim.
      March 9th – take Grand Canyon helicopter flight first thing in AM (if possible, take the longer tour on the Eco-Star EC-130 with Papillon Helicopters, drive to Sedona (~2.5 hours from GC South Rim), overnight in Sedona, AZ
      March 10th – 2nd day/night in Sedona, visit Red Rock State Park
      March 11th – 3rd day/night in Sedona, take food/wine tour or Pink Jeep Broken Arrow Tour
      March 12th – drive to Scottsdale, AZ (~2.5 hours from Sedona) or Las Vegas (~4.5 hours from Sedona), overnight in whichever city you choose
      March 13th – free day for sightseeing in Phoenix/Scottsdale or Las Vegas
      March 14th – fly home
      Again, check flight and rental car rates for both cities, they can vary quite drastically. Whatever you decide, though, be sure to book all hotels and guided tours in advance of your trip. Even with COVID-19 hanging over our heads, hotels and tours will fill fast due to reduced capacities to facilitate social distancing and sanitizing.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      1. Good Evening,
        I’m helping to plan a trip for my adult son and his girlfriend. They would like to see the Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Zion, Bryce, and the Arches. They are planning on using 2 weeks in June for this trip. They would like to hike and do some fun adventure tours. They will be flying in from Chicago and renting a car. What would you recommend for number of days at each place, adventures, etc… What airports do you recommend? Appreciate any help you can give me.
        Thank you,
        Cheryl

        1. Hi Cheryl and thanks for visiting!
          It just so happens we have a sample 2-week itinerary that includes everything they want to see, plus a few extras! 14 Day Grand Circle Itinerary
          To best accommodate what your son and his girlfriend are wanting to see and do, they should look into using Las Vegas (LAS) or Salt Lake City (SLC) as their origin and ending points, or, flying into one and out of the other. The key factor as to whether the latter option is doable will be rental car drop-off fees. Rental car outlets typically don’t encourage picking up vehicles in one place and dropping them off in another due to the mileage between cities, and relative remoteness of the area. It’s worth check into, though.
          As for number of days they should spend at each spot, I recommend:
          Grand Canyon South Rim – 2 days
          Page, AZ (for Horseshoe Bend and the Antelope Canyons) – 2 days
          Zion – 3-4 days
          Bryce – 1-2 days
          Capitol Reef – 1-2 days
          Moab, UT (for Arches/Canyonlands) – 3-5 days
          Regarding “adventures,” there’s no shortage of fun to be had, especially if they like to hike, but one thing to keep in mind is that they’re planning on visiting at the hottest time of the year. Any labor-intensive activities should be planned for the early morning hours for optimal comfort. Also, remember that they’re in varying degrees of desert environments, so water must be carried at all times. Some trails, such as the Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon, have drinking water piped in at various spots, but you should still plan on bringing your own, as well as some high-protein/moderate salt content snacks to help keep your energy up.
          June would be a good time to hike The Narrows in Zion as you’re walking in water pretty much the whole time, which is a cool relief. Specialized gear, such as water shoes, trekking poles, and dry suits, is required/recommended for this hike, which can be rented from local guide services and/or retail shops.
          In Page, AZ, Horseshoe Bend will only take a couple of hours time to explore, and again, this should be done first thing in the morning. Another popular attraction there is the Antelope Canyons, which unfortunately have been closed for the past year due to COVID-19. Should the closure remain in place at the time of their visit, other slot canyons they can still get to are Wire Pass Canyon/Buckskin Gulch in Paria, UT, or Red Canyon/aka Peek-A-Boo Canyon in Kanab, UT. Another option would be to kayak into the waterside of Antelope Canyon on Lake Powell and hike into the transitional area between the shoreline and the slot canyon. This was a very popular excursion last summer. Another alternative tour that has gotten a lot of traction due to the suspension of the Horseshoe Bend Raft Trip was renting a kayak at Lees Ferry, getting backhauled to the base of the Glen Canyon Dam, then paddling the 15-mile stretch of the Colorado River back to Lees Ferry. The paddle portion of the trip is unguided, but many first-time kayakers have done it and had a great time!
          You might have noticed that I snuck another destination in there, Capitol Reef National Park. This is a stunning area, that you pretty much have to pass by between Bryce and Moab, and it’s definitely worth a stop. A good hike they could do en route would be the Lower Calf Creek Falls. At 6 miles round-trip, it’s a bit on the long side, and being partially exposed, they’d want to get an early start on it, but it’s a beautiful sight.
          In Moab, UT, they’ll want to devote one day each to Arches and Canyonlands, then they might take advantage of the opportunity to do some white water rafting in this area. Trip lengths of half a day to 2 days are more are offered. For more information on these and other Moab area adventures, I recommend working with Moab Adventure Center. I’ve worked with them personally, and know they’ll do right by you.
          Whatever they decide, it’s important that they make all arrangements for hotels and guided tours in advance of their arrival. They should probably start by checking availability at the Grand Canyon hotels, then Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Page, and Moab. Hotel availability will likely be the lynchpin around which the rest of their trip planning revolves, and evolves.
          If they were to fly in and out of Las Vegas, a good trip order would be Las Vegas-Grand Canyon-Page-Moab-Capitol Reef-Bryce-Zion-Las Vegas. Time/desire/Navajo Nation Tribal order permitting, they might break up the drive between Page and Moab with a stop in Monument Valley. Between Capitol Reef and Bryce, they also have the opportunity to visit the outer edge of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument via Scenic Byway 12, one of the most stunning drives in the Southwest! Trip map
          Using Salt Lake City as their origin/end point, you’d need to change things up a bit for optimal use of the time and driving distance, probably hitting Moab first, then Monument Valley, Horseshoe Bend, the Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, and Capitol Reef. On this itinerary, one little switch I’ve made is that I’ve got them visiting Grand Canyon’s North Rim instead of the South Rim. The North Rim is quite different from the South Rim, in both good and bad ways, the latter being lodging, or lack thereof. There is only one hotel inside the park, the Grand Canyon Lodge, which tends to book up very quickly. This year, they’re doing a staggered roll-out of reservations for the season, which, quite frankly has already proven to be a pain, so they’ll most likely have to look to staying outside the park, someplace like Kanab, UT, or Marble Canyon/Lees Ferry, and making a day trip to the park. In June, this can be pulled off most easily since your days are quite long. Wherever they end up staying, the priority will be ensuring that they are “back to base” by sundown. 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 could hike up your risk of an auto accident. Trust me, that’s not something you want to chance 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. Trip map SLC/SLC
          Last but not least, there is option of coming into Las Vegas and going out of SLC. Should they find this feasible financially, I would switch their Grand Canyon stop back to the South Rim, followed by Horseshoe Bend, Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Moab, then up to SLC. Trip map
          One last thing: at the present time, a critical component of the drive between Grand Canyon South Rim and Horseshoe Bend (AZ64 from Desert View Point to Cameron, AZ) is closed by order of the Navajo Tribe. This means that people traveling between these two destinations must detour all the way down to Flagstaff, AZ, then bounce back up North. This has turned what is normally ~a 3-hour drive into more like a 5-hour drive. As to whether this closure will remain in effect in June remains to be seen, I know local influencers are working hard on getting this changed, but it’s something they should be prepared for.
          Hope that helps, I know it’s a lot to digest! Feel free to write in again, or contact me at my dedicated e-mail address [email protected] if you need to bounce more ideas off us.
          Good luck and safe travels,
          Alley 🙂

        2. Hi Alley,
          We appreciate your time & your wealth of knowledge and reccomendations.
          I talked to my husband and we both want to cut down driving time as much as possible. Also, from reading your comments to others, we are thinking about flying in and out of Phoenix and stay 5 nights in Sedona & 2 nights in near Grand Caynon. Would you please recommend must dos ( once in a life time kind of activities 🙂 and restaurants in both places with 3 active/outdoor/food enthusiastic teenagers.
          Thank you,
          Cecilia

          1. Hey again, Cecilia!
            Good call on concentrating on Sedona and the Grand Canyon this time around. Definitely plan on visiting Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, Bryce, and Zion another time when some semblance of normalcy has returned.
            As for “must-do’s” in Grand Canyon National Park, I’d recommend hiking down the South Kaibab Trail to either Ooh-Aah Point (2 miles round-trip) or Cedar Ridge (3 miles round-trip). That trail offers great views of the Grand Canyon. The only disadvantage is that private vehicles may not park at the trailhead (Yaki Point), so you’d need to use a shuttle to get there (it’s free). Hiker’s Express Shuttle If you’d prefer not to mess with that, the Bright Angel Trail also offers some good hiking opportunities. The views are not as expansive as BA Trail is situated in a box canyon, but still a lot of fun. There are rest-houses at the 1.5 mile and 3 mile marks. Whichever trail you choose, just remember that 1 hour down = 2 hours back up. Also, neither trail will have water available, so bring your own, along with some high protein/moderately salty snacks to keep your energy and electrolytes up. In March, also, you might find that the top halves of both trails are iced up, so you should look into renting some instep crampons at the Grand Canyon Marketplace, across from Yavapai Lodge.
            Other activities at Grand Canyon South Rim that are highly recommended are walking the easy, paved Rim Trail through the Village Historic District, airplane or helicopter flights, and the IMAX Movie “Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets.”
            As for restaurants, the El Tovar Dining Room is generally regarded as the best in the park. Reservations are strongly recommended for dinner, and can be made up to 6 months out for guests of that hotel, or 30 days out for those staying at other hotels. Breakfast and lunch are first-come/first-served. If you do wish to have lunch there (or anywhere on the rim), be sure to get there right at 11:00 AM. The Grand Canyon Railway train arrives shortly afterward, and once that happens, the rimside restaurants get mobbed and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a table. Another favorite, among present company included, is the Arizona Room, a steakhouse style restaurant adjacent to Bright Angel Lodge. Unfortunately, the AZ Room is closed right now due to COVID-19 🙁 Should that remain the case by the time you get here, the only food and beverage outlets open in the park are: the El Tovar Dining Room, Hermit’s Rest Snack Bar, and The Fountain at Bright Angel Lodge (to-go only). In Tusayan, the small community just outside the park, the Coronado Room at the Best Western Grand Canyon Squire Inn is really nice, there’s also Plaza Bonita (Mexican restaurant), and We Cook Pizza & Pasta. Tusayan Dining
            In Sedona, you’ll have no shortage of opportunities for fun and exploration! The “quintessential” Sedona activity is generally regarded to be the Pink Jeep Broken Arrow Tour. While there, you should also take the opportunity to do some walking around the downtown area and leisurely exploring into the myriad art galleries, curio shops, and other architectural gems such as the Chapel of the Holy Cross and Tlaquepaque. Hot air balloon rides are also popular, weather permitting. If you dig trains, you might take one of your days to enjoy the Verde Canyon Railway trip. Other options would be visiting Montezuma Castle & Well, Tuzigoot, and the ghost-town-turned-art-colony, Jerome, AZ. That’s just a small sampling of things to see and do in Sedona. You’ll surely discover other opportunities for yourself once you get there! As for dining, there is no shortage of exceptional restaurants in this town. But not having personally been there in a few years, offerings are bound to have changed, which is typical of the industry. Take a look at VegasEater.com: The Essential Restaurants in Sedona AZ or visit TripAdvisor.com: Best Restaurants in Sedona AZ Be aware that some facilities may be temporarily closed, or operating with reduced capacity due to COVID-19.
            Also, be aware that the time of year you’re traveling is in that transitional zone between winter and spring, so be prepared for anything weather-wise, from sunny and brisk to all-out blizzard, and everything in between!
            Good luck and safe travels,
            Alley 🙂

      2. Good Morning Alley! We appreciate your wealth of knowledge and reccommendations. Definitely made planning a lot easier!
        Thank you,
        Cecilia Wynn

      3. Hi Alley,
        Thank you so much for all the info you’ve provided here. We’ll be staying in Flagstaff and plan to go South Rim on March 7th. I saw that you mentioned road closures due to Covid? How long will it take to drive from Flagstaff to Grand Canyon and back?
        Thank you!

        1. Hi Sima,
          It takes approximately 90 minutes, one way, to drive from Flagstaff, AZ, to Grand Canyon South Rim via US180 to AZ64N or I-40 to AZ64 N. Trip map
          The road closures I have mentioned do not affect this travel route. If you were planning to go from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ, at any time, then you’d need to be aware of the closure of AZ64 East from Desert View Point to Cameron, AZ.
          Hope that clears things up.
          Good luck and safe travels,
          Alley 🙂

  56. We will be staying at the Grand Canyon (Yavapai Lodge) March 12th thru 16th and had originally planned to do the float trip at Horseshoe Bend. It’s canceled because of COVID-19, along with tons of other stuff. I literally have no idea what to do for three full days, other than hike and bike ride, but we really wanted more. Someone suggested we head to Lake Powell and rent a boat. That would be fine, but can we get to Horseshoe Bend by ourselves, are we allowed? I don’t want to head towards the Las Vegas area because we will be doing that anyway the morning of the 16th. I don’t wanna head towards Phoenix because that’s where we’ll be arriving from. Do you know if anyone is doing float trips, or guided fishing that isn’t $2000, etc.? Four, active party members ages 16, 46, 59, 68. Thanks for any suggestions.

    1. Hey Bridget,
      So sorry that COVID-19 has thrown a wrench into the vacation plans of your family, along with so many others!
      You are correct that the Horseshoe Bend Raft Trip has been suspended until summertime, optimistically. However, there may be a way you can salvage that item on your “wish list.” In order to accomplish that, I would strongly recommend reducing the number of nights you spend at the Grand Canyon.
      The drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ, normally would take ~3 hours. However, due to COVID-19, a critical component of that travel route — AZ64 from Desert View Point to Cameron, AZ — has been closed by order of the Navajo Indian Tribe. This means you have to drive all the way down to Flagstaff, AZ, then bounce back up North on US89 to Page, AZ. This detour has turned what used to be a 3-hour drive into more like a 5-hour drive. For this reason alone, we discourage trying to make a day trip out of it from the Grand Canyon due to lack of daylength at the time of year you’re visiting. 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 could hike up your risk of an auto accident. Trust me, 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.
      Upon arrival in Page, AZ, you can visit the Horseshoe Bend Overlook in your own vehicle. The parking lot is open from sunrise to sunset. I would recommend spending at least 1 night in Page, AZ, so you can drive down to Lees Ferry the following morning, rent a kayak, get backhauled up to the Glen Canyon Dam, then paddle 15 miles down the Colorado River back to Lees Ferry. Although this is an unguided excursion, many first-time kayakers do this and enjoy it thoroughly. Several companies offer this service, but the one we are most familiar with is Kayak Horseshoe Bend. Other companies you might contact are:
      – Wilderness River Adventures (928) 645-3296 https://www.riveradventures.com/
      – Kelly Outfitters/Lees Ferry Backhaul (928) 510-5511 http://www.kellyoutfitters.com/ http://leesferrybackhaul.com/
      – Kayak The Colorado 928-856-0012 https://www.kayakthecolorado.com/
      – Lees Ferry On The Fly (928) 326-1162 https://leesferryonthefly.com/
      – Marble Canyon Outfitters 800-533-7339 https://www.leesferryflyfishing.com
      Renting a boat on Lake Powell would certainly be an option, but not sure where that $2,000 figure comes from, that sounds more like a houseboat. To my understanding, Lake Powell Resorts is offering private boat tours for up to 6 people, with a licensed captain, for $265/hour. For more information on that, call the Page/Lake Powell Tourism Hub at 928-608-5749. Ask for Gordon, and if he’s there, tell him that Alley from Grand Circle Media referred you.
      Hope that helps! Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  57. Hello there!
    We’ll be driving from Yosemite to the Grand Canyon area with our 7&6 years old. We’ll set out on March 8, the drive is about 10-14 hours. It would be night time upon arriving the Grand Canyon area. We plan to spend 3/9-3/10 exploring/hiking. We will then descend our drive to Texas (on 3/11). Which area of the Grand Canyon should we drive to from Yosemite (since our final destination is Texas)? And which kids friendly areas would you recommend? We don’t have a preference; we just want to make the most of our time there. Thank you in advance!

    1. Hey Phoebe,
      First of all, I strongly recommend that you rethink your plan to arrive at the Grand Canyon after nightfall. 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 could hike up your risk of an auto accident. Trust me, 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. A safer plan would be to break up the drive somewhere like Laughlin, NV, or Bullhead City, AZ. The drive to Grand Canyon South Rim (the area you should visit) would then be ~4 hours.
      For kid-friendly activities at Grand Canyon National Park, the Junior Ranger program is rated #1 , and rightfully so. In Tusayan, AZ, just outside the park, the IMAX movie presentation “Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets” is really fun! The scenic Rim Trail is an easy, paved walk with beautiful views of the Grand Canyon. It extends from Grand Canyon Village to Hermit’s Rest, ~9 miles West of the Village, but you don’t have to commit to walking that far! You can utilize the free Hermit’s Rest shuttle to get from Bright Angel Lodge to the end of the trail, then hop on and off as you desire as you eventually make your way back to your vehicle. Be aware that capacity on the shuttles and other areas will probably be reduced or limited due to COVID-19. Then of course, you should try to make sunset and/or sunrise somewhere on the canyon rim. I recommend you stay overnight at the Grand Canyon or Tusayan hotels for optimal enjoyment of your stay.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  58. Alley – You are such a great travel resource and love reading all your responses. We are planning a visit in June and are finalizing our itinerary. Let me know if there is anything we should consider or be aware of as we make our plans (recognizing things can change with COVID). We are a family of 5 with three children 12,14,16 – all are good hikers and adventurous. Thanks in advance.

    Arrive by air in Phoenix on June 18th. Rented a house in Valle, AZ for 3 nights. Planning to visit the South Rim and do some day hikes. We have two full days of activities but have not planned much other than “visit the Grand Canyon”. I want to make sure I have enough to keep the kids occupied and do not know if we should plan any time in Williams, Flagstaff, or nearby attractions.

    Staying for 2 nights in Page, AZ. Will visit Horseshoe Bend of course and if it opens tour Antelope Canyon. We rented a boat for one day on Lake Powell.

    Staying for 4 nights in Springdale, UT. I have not planned much other than “hiking in Zion” and “spending a day at Bryce”. May need to come up with some things to mix in with the hiking to keep the kids engaged over the 3-4 days. Aware we need to make bus reservations in Zion.

    Staying for 4 nights in Moab, UT. Assuming we will have a travel day, and one day hiking at Arches, one day hiking at Canyonlands, and then one day to do something fun that is not hiking (possible ATV tour or biking). We then fly home from Salt Lake.

    Thanks,

    Phil

    1. Hey Phil!
      Your itinerary looks pretty fun, and well-paced, but one place that’s conspicuously missing from your plans is Sedona, AZ. If it’s still possible to make some changes, you might see if you can squeeze at least 2 days in to enjoy this stunning area with lots to see and do for active families just 2.5 hours from Phoenix, AZ. In June, the kids would probably enjoy Slide Rock State Park. This natural waterslide is a ton of fun, and the cool water is a welcome relief from the hot Arizona sun! Another exciting activity is the Pink Jeep Broken Arrow Tour. Fair warning though: Sedona is so beautiful that you’ll probably find yourself planning a return visit when you can spend more time. People frequently report spending 4-5 days there and still feeling as though they’d only scratched the surface of all the area has to offer!
      Staying in Valle, AZ, will put you ~30 miles from Grand Canyon South Rim, which is OK, but it’s always better if you can be either inside the park or Tusayan, AZ, just 7 miles outside the park. The reason for this is because 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, and other wildlife that could hike up your risk of a collision. Not something you want to chance 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. By staying at a Grand Canyon Village or Tusayan hotel, you can see sunset and/or sunrise on the rim more easily.
      As for Grand Canyon day hikes you can take, again, no shortage of options in varying degrees of difficulty! Start with a hike on one of the “corridor” trails (frequently used trails maintained by the Naitonal Park Service), such as the South Kaibab Trail to Cedar Ridge and back. This is a 6-mile round-trip hike, with beautiful scenery, but, the trail is very steep and there is no water available on it. You’d need to bring your own. Plus, Yaki Point, where the trailhead is at, is not accessible to private vehicles. You’d have to take a shuttle from either the Visitors Center or Bright Angel Lodge. Hiker’s Express shuttle Kaibab Rim Route Shuttle If you’d rather not mess with all of that, you might instead hike the Bright Angel Trail as far as 3-mile resthouse and back up. Drinking water is piped in to 1.5 mile resthouse and 3-mile resthouse, but it is still advisable to bring your own, as well as some high-protein/moderately salty snacks to keep your energy and electrolytes up!
      The next day, you might do a hike on what are known as “wilderness” or “backcountry” trails, meaning, they are not regularly maintained by the National Park Service, and there’s no water or other amenities on them. Taking the Grandview Trail as far as Horseshoe Mesa is a 6.5-mile round-trip hike that also offers the opportunity to explore an abandoned copper mine. You can drive your personal vehicle to Grandview Point and the trailhead. Another option would be to take the Hermit Trail as far as the Santa Maria Springs, ~5 miles round-trip. Here again, it’s a steep, unmaintained trail, and while water may or may not be available at the afore-mentioned springs, you’d need to treat it before drinking it, so bringing your own H2O is the best way to go! Also, private vehicles may not drive to the trailhead, you’d have to take the Hermit’s Rest Shuttle to get there. Before you commit to any Inner Canyon hikes, though, be sure you know what you’re getting into, especially in June. You’d want to do any labor-intensive activities in the early morning hours for optimal comfort. If you decide this is not the thing for you and your family to do, the easy, paved Rim Trail offers beautiful views, and since it extends from Yavapai Point to Hermit’s Rest, you can make it as long or as short as you want!
      Moving on to Page, AZ, should AZ64 from Desert View Point to Cameron, AZ, remain closed due to COVID-19, you’d have to drive all the way down to Flagstaff, AZ, then back North vis US89 to Page. This rather long detour has turned what is usually a 3-hour drive into a 5-hour drive. One possible “silver lining” is the opportunity to explore the loop drive that connects Wupatki and Sunset Crater National Monuments just North of Flagstaff. An expansive Pueblo dwelling site and a dormant volcano, respectively, are the highlights of this detour that would add ~2 hours onto your trip time. Your boat rental should take up a full day of your visit. The next day, visit Horseshoe Bend and hopefully Antelope Canyon. Should the Antelope Canyons reopen by the time you visit, advance reservations for tours are a must. How To Book A Tour For Antelope Canyon If the Navajo Tribe decides to keep the Antelope Canyons closed through the summer — which we’re praying doesn’t happen — good “plan B” options are Wire Pass Canyon/Buckskin Gulch near Paria, UT, or Red Canyon/aka Peek-A-Boo Canyon near Kanab, UT. While guided tours are not required to visit these, they are strongly recommended due to the difficult terrain posed by the access roads. Parties in rental cars should not attempt them, or risk voiding their insurance the minute their tires leave the pavement! TheWaveAZ.com: Hire A Guide
      In Zion, the Narrows and Angel’s Landing tie for the ranking of “the Grand-Daddy of all Zion National Park Hikes.” It sounds like your family would be able to do these, no problem. For the Narrows, you’d want to bring or rent equipment such as dry suits, water shoes, trekking poles, etc. As far as non-hiking activities at Zion, you can take your pick of horseback riding, rock climbing, bike rentals/tours, river tubing (when conditions are right), even aerial tours.
      A day trip to Bryce can be done at the time of year you’re visiting, since daylength is quite long, but always keep in mind that nighttime driving is best avoided if you possibly can. It takes ~2 hours, each way, to drive to Bryce from Springdale, UT. In late June, sunrise occurs just after 6:00 AM (Utah time) and sunset takes place at around 9:00 PM.
      The drive from Springdale, UT, to Moab, UT, will be on the long side, anywhere from 6-8 hours. If you don’t mind taking the longer way, I highly recommend driving through the Northern fringe of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument via Scenic Byway 12. It’s a spectacular drive that will give you the opportunity to hike to Lower Calf Creek Falls (but only with an early start out of Springdale — this hike can get super-hot later in the afternoon), or to swing through Capitol Reef National Park.
      In Moab, UT, you have your stay well-structured giving one day to Arches and another to Canyonlands. An extra day might be spend doing some white water rafting in Cataract Canyon, or taking an ATV-ride on the spine-tingling Devil’s Backbone! For more ideas, visit the Moab Adventure Center. I’ve worked with them personally and they can help you arrange any and all outdoor-related activities around the Moab, UT area!
      Don’t know what time your flight home from SLC is, but if you have time (or inclination) on the trip back from Moab, UT, you might take the slight detour to explore the Sego Canyon petroglyphs of “Ancient Aliens” fame.
      Hope that helps. Again, if you can possibly get Sedona in there, I think you’d love it, plus it’s right on the way from PHX to the Grand Canyon. But, even if you leave your itinerary entirely alone, chances are excellent that you’ll have a wonderful time!
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  59. Good Afternoon, I am planning a trip for March 11-14. My boyfriend and I are coming from LA. The first two days I would would us to explore horseshoe bend, Grand Canyon, Utah…… I haven’t been able to narrow down what would be the best thing to do because the last two days we are going to stay in Las Vegas. Do you have any recommendations on what we could do for the first two days?

    Thank You for your time!

    1. Hi Fabiola,
      Good morning to you 😉
      With 2 days to work with, and driving in and out of LA, you can pretty much take Utah off the table because all you’ll have time for is a tiny sliver of the state seen as a “drive-by” on your way to Las Vegas. More on that in a minute…
      The drive from LA to Grand Canyon South Rim (the only side that’s open in March) is going to be ~9 hours, factoring in restroom breaks, meal and fuel stops, etc. You should stay overnight at the Grand Canyon if at all possible so you can be on the rim for sunrise and/or sunset.
      The drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Horseshoe Bend, near the town of Page, AZ, normally runs ~3-3.5 hours. Unfortunately, a closure of a critical component of the shortest travel route on Navajo Indian Lands now requires that you drive all the way to Flagstaff, AZ, then bounce back up North on US89 to Page, AZ. This rather inconvenient detour has turned a 3-hour drive into more along the lines of a 5-hour drive. Stay overnight in Page, AZ, then the drive to Las Vegas, NV, going the most direct way, will take ~5 hours as well. If you’re OK with taking the “scenic route” (meaning more time) to get to Las Vegas, one possibility would be to swing through Zion National Park on the way there, which would add another 1.5-2 hours of your time. Another option — kind of an “and/or” proposition — would be to take the short detour through the stunning Valley of Fire State Park a short distance Northeast of Las Vegas. March is a nice time to visit VOF because it’s not so terribly hot. Trip map
      Whatever you decide, be sure to book all your hotels in advance. Your trip coincides with Spring Break.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      1. Hi Alley!
        I absolutely love your suggestions. We are staying in Sedona Feb. 21-27 and planned to visit Antelope Canyon (learned it is closed) so we are now looking at other areas. I will be doing a retreat during the week and only have time to venture out of the area of Sedona on Friday, 26. My niece is interested in hitting Utah but I also want to make sure I do the Grand Canyon. Would visiting Horseshoe Bend and Grand Staircase region in Utah work in one day? We are traveling back home on the 27 from Sedona back into Phoenix. What do you suggest? Any ideas of what to see in Sedona as well? My Monday after arrival will be fairly open. It is my first time to the area. Thank you!

        1. Hey Alisha,
          I really appreciate your compliments, which makes it all that much harder to be the bearer of bad news: with one day to work with, you don’t have enough time to visit the Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and Southern Utah. My initial impression is that you’re not aware of how long it takes to get to these areas, plus may not have heard about a crucial road closure that pretty much puts the kibosh on your plans.
          If you’ve never been to the Grand Canyon, you should prioritize this landmark above everything else. Assuming you’re planning on doing this as a day trip, you should know that the drive from Sedona to Grand Canyon South Rim will take you ~2.5 hours, each way. Another factor working against you at the time of year you’re visiting is daylength. In February, it’s short, with sunrise occurring just before 7:00 AM, and sunset taking place at around 6:15 PM. That’s less than 12 hours of daylight to work with, and you’re already proposing to eat up 5 hours of it behind the wheel. If you’re thinking you’d just head back to Sedona at night, think again: 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 could hike up your risk of an auto accident. Trust me, 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. The section of US89A through Oak Creek Canyon is especially risky because it’s twisty, narrow, and windy. Therefore, you’ll need to either a. stay overnight at the Grand Canyon (the drive to Phoenix the next day would be ~5 hours) or b. be sure you’re on your way out of the Grand Canyon by 4:00-4:15 PM at the latest.
          Just so you know, the drive from Sedona, AZ, to Page, AZ, to visit Horseshoe Bend is also ~a 3-hour trip, one way. To get to Utah from Page, AZ, you’d need another 30 minutes on the road to get to Big Water, UT, the first settlement you’d encounter upon crossing the UT/AZ border, or ~1.5-2 hours to get to Kanab, UT, the nearest town to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. If you were to attempt to access this area from Grand Canyon South Rim, you’d unfortunately need to take a rather long detour back through Flagstaff, AZ, then back North via US89, due to COVID-19 closing a critical section of AZ64 from Desert View Point to Cameron, AZ. This has turned the drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ, which is normally a 3-hour trip, into a 5-hour drive. Again, these figures are one-way. Trip map
          As a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the top National Parks in the U.S., the Grand Canyon deserves to take 1st priority in your plans. Hopefully you can schedule a return trip to Arizona for the future when COVID-19 isn’t throwing a wrench in the works, and you have enough time to give Northern Arizona and Southern Utah the time they deserve. AntelopeCanyon.AZ: The Ultimate 7-Day American Southwest Itinerary
          Good luck and safe travels,
          Alley 🙂

          1. Thank you! I love your detailed explanations. Just what we needed. Is there any part of the Grand Canyon we can see with just a couple of hours and drive back to Sedona the same day?

          2. Hi Alisha!
            If you’re using Sedona, AZ, as a “base camp,” the South Rim will be the closest and most convenient area of the Grand Canyon you can visit. In a couple of hours’ time, you can explore the Grand Canyon Village Historic District and maybe ride the free shuttles out to some of the overlooks on the Hermit’s Rest/West Rim Drive. Just outside of the park, in the town of Tusayan, you’ll find the Grand Canyon National Park Airport, where airplane and helicopter tours depart from. The National Geographic IMAX Theatre is also worth a stop for the 40-minute movie presentation, “Grand Canyon: The Hidden Secrets.”
            One piece of information I do wish you’d provided is the time of year you’re visiting. If your trip to Sedona, AZ, is coming up within the next few weeks, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend trying to visit the Grand Canyon as a day trip out of Sedona. For one, it’s ~a 3-hour drive, each way, from Sedona to Grand Canyon South Rim. If your trip is occurring in mid-March, for example, days are very short at that time of year: sunrise occurs at ~6:30 AM, sunset takes place at around 6:30 PM. That’s only 12 hours of daylight, and you’re already proposing to eat up half of it behind the wheel. That’s not to say that a Sedona-based day trip can’t be done, but you can pretty much count on not experiencing sunset at the canyon. Why? You need to get back on the road with enough time to spare to get back to Sedona, AZ, before nightfall. Nighttime driving is strongly discouraged in this part of the U.S. due to local roads being very dimly lit. The section of US89A through Oak Creek Canyon is also very narrow and windy, which makes it even more disconcerting to drive in the dark — I’ve done it before, and I’ll never do it again! Plus the possible presence of deer, elk, and other wildlife ratchets up your risk of an auto accident. Trust me, 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.
            If possible, try to arrange to spend one night at Grand Canyon South Rim. If you’re locked into your hotel reservations in Sedona, just keep an eye on the time so that you’re “back to base” by sundown!
            Hope that helps. Good luck and safe travels,
            Alley 🙂

          3. We will be arriving this Sunday, Feb 21st-27. We are locked into our stay but will proceed with early morning travel and early evening return before sunset. I will plan in the future to come back and spend more time. You were extremely helpful!

          4. Hi Alisha,
            Yes, you’ll definitely need to keep a close eye on the time as you visit. Days are still on the short side, with sunrise occurring around 7:00 AM and sunset taking place at approximately 6:15 PM. You should plan on leaving the South Rim no later than 3:45-4:00 PM, at the absolute latest.
            Hope you can visit us again soon when you are in a position to spend a night or two and really enjoy it!
            Good luck and safe travels,
            Alley 🙂

  60. Hello Alley! I would love to hear your advice about our first trip with my family to AZ on Feb 14-19, and flying to Phoenix. Place I would love to see if possible are; The Grand Canyon, Horshoe Bend (maybe Vermillion Cliffs) & Sedona. Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Hiromi,
      Using Phoenix as your staging city, you certainly could tick off all the items on your wish list in the timeframe you have.
      Assuming February 14th and 19th would be travel days, I would recommend:
      February 15th: Drive from Phoenix to Page, AZ (~5 hours), visit Horseshoe Bend, overnight in Page, AZ.
      February 16th: Day trip to Vermillion Cliffs area (~1.5 hours from Page, AZ). Visit Lees Ferry Lonely Dell Ranch Historic District, Navajo Bridge, Marble Canyon, have lunch at Cliff Dweller’s Lodge (amazing food!), head to Grand Canyon South Rim by sunset (unfortunately, you have to drive all the way down to Flagstaff, AZ, then bounce back North due to the closure of AZ64 from Cameron, AZ, to Desert View Point, that will take ~4 hours), overnight at Grand Canyon. Or, simply return to Page, AZ, then head to GC the following morning (~5 hour drive due to the detour).
      February 17th: Sightseeing at Grand Canyon South Rim, head to Sedona (~3 hour drive) by sunset. Overnight in Sedona.
      February 18th: 2nd day/night at Sedona. Pink Jeep Broken Arrow Tour highly recommended!
      February 19th: Drive back to Phoenix (~2.5 hours from Sedona), fly home.
      Trip map
      If you have any wiggle room in your schedule so that you can give an extra night somewhere, I’d recommend giving it to Sedona, AZ. Believe me, Sedona is the kind of place you could spend a week and feel as though you’d only scratched the surface!
      Whatever you decide, be sure to book all hotels and guided tours in advance, if you haven’t done so already.
      Also, keep an eye on the time, especially around sunset. At the time of year you’re visiting, the sun goes down at around 6:00 PM, and you want to be sure you do all your driving during daylight hours. That’s because roads in Northern Arizona and Southern Utah are very dimly lit, and tend to attract deer, elk, and other wildlife after dusk. A collision with a large animal is 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.
      Hope that helps — good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      1. Hi Alley my boyfriend and I want to do a mini 3 day trip to see Horseshoe bend and Sedona. We’ll be coming from Douglas, Arizona. About 4 hours from Phoenix. Do you have any advice on places to see or stay at when being around those areas?

        1. Hi Amanda,
          I hope you guys like to drive, because you’ll be doing a lot of it on this vacation. You’re essentially going to have to drive from the far Southern end of the state to the far North in order to get to Horseshoe Bend, which is near the town of Page, AZ. It will take ~9-10 hours to make the drive from Douglas to Page, AZ. If your trip is coming up in the next few weeks’ time, you need to bear in mind that between Flagstaff, AZ, and Page, AZ, is Navajo Reservation Lands, and the tribe is discouraging outsiders from stopping and/or interacting with reservation residents. Make sure your vehicle is fully fueled in Flagstaff, and that you have water and snacks to tide you over on that 2.5 hour stretch of US89.
          The drive from Page, AZ, to Sedona, AZ, will take approximately 3 hours, again taking you through the same stretch of the Navajo Reservation. The drive from Sedona, AZ, to Douglas, AZ, will then take ~6-7 hours. That’s a lot of time behind the wheel for a 3-day trip. Trip map
          If you can, free up some more time to pull this off, especially for Sedona, AZ. Sedona, AZ, is a huge area with a lot to see and do. People often report staying there 4-5 days and still feeling as though they’d only scratched the surface of all the area had to offer.
          As for where to stay, both Page, AZ, and Sedona, AZ have a generous selection of hotels in a variety of amenity classes and price points. Page, AZ, hotels Sedona, AZ, hotels
          Whatever you decide, be sure to book your lodging and any guided tours you might like to take in advance of your trip.
          Good luck and safe travels,
          Alley 🙂

      2. Alley – happy Tuesday! Question for you, is it possible to park off of the 89 and hike to horseshoe bend? We are staying in Sedona and want to hit the bend next Monday the 8th. Is this parking lot closed? I saw on the national parks website the lark is closed or is this parking lot Something different? Much appreciated! Cheers, chris

        1. Hey Chris,
          Happy Wednesday 😉
          Not sure where you saw that the Horseshoe Bend parking lot is closed, because that’s not the case, it is open, from sunrise to sunset! A one-time $10 parking fee is assessed for standard passenger vehicle.
          BTW, it is illegal to park anywhere on US89, so please don’t risk getting a ticket. I assure you, it will be much higher than that $10 parking fee.
          Good luck and safe travels,
          Alley 🙂

  61. Alley, I am working on our family vacation this summer..probably in mid July. We will be flying in and out of Vegas. Our To Do list is: Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and Zion. Any suggestions on how many days to plan for each location and what to see in route would be helpful.
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Katrina,
      If you can possibly set aside a full week for your Southwest vacation, you can accomplish all the items on your wish list, and maybe a few more!
      A “classic” Northern Arizona/Southern Utah vacation itinerary is as follows:
      Day 1: Drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim (~5 hours), optional stop at Hoover Dam, if it’s open. Overnight at Grand Canyon South Rim
      Day 2: Drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ. Depending on the status of the Navajo Nation’s COVID-19 closures, this drive could take you anywhere from 3 hours to 5 hours. The longer timeframe would be the case if AZ64 from Desert View Point to Cameron, AZ, remained closed, meaning you’d have to detour all the way down to Flagstaff, AZ, then bounce back North to Page, AZ, on US89. Overnight in Page, AZ.
      Day 3: Visit Horseshoe Bend just after sunrise to take advantage of cooler temperatures and smaller crowds. If the Antelope Canyons reopen by this time, plan on touring Upper, Lower, or one of several alternate slot canyons, and spending a 2nd night in Page, AZ. If they remain closed through the summer, then consider driving towards Kanab, UT, and visiting Wire Pass Canyon/Buckskin Gulch or Red Canyon/aka Peek-A-Boo Canyon. Guided tours are not required to visit these, but they are strongly recommended due to the rugged terrain of the access road not being recommended for rental cars. AntelopeCanyon.AZ: “Help! My Antelope Canyon Tour Got Cancelled” If you do Wire Pass/Buckskin or Peek-A-Boo, Kanab, UT, would be a good place to spend the night.
      Day 4: Drive from Kanab, UT, to Bryce Canyon (~90 minutes), drive the Scenic Rim Drive, overnight in the Bryce Canyon area, or simply drive back to Kanab, UT, to spend the night.
      Day 5: Drive from Kanab, UT, to Springdale, UT (~1 hour), take the Zion Canyon Shuttle into the park, and take one of several easy but scenic hikes in this area. Overnight in Springdale, UT, or Kanab, UT.
      Day 6: 2nd day in Zion, if you’re up for a more challenging hike, consider hiking The Narrows or Angel’s Landing
      Day 7: Drive back to Las Vegas (~4 hours from Kanab, 3 from Springdale
      Trip map
      You can also reverse the order of this itinerary if you find that room availability in the various parks is more conducive to doing so. Whatever you decide, be sure to reserve all hotels and guided tours in advance of your arrival.
      Take care and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  62. Hi Alley,

    Thank you so much for all the incredible tips! My boyfriend and I are planning to do a short road trip to Arizona from LA (Starting our drive Wednesday evening, returning Monday). We have never been to Arizona so we wanted to get the most of this experience! There are so many tips and things to do that I don’t know where to begin! HA. I really wanted to see and experience Havasu Falls, Lake Powell, Antelope Canyon, and Horseshoe Bend.

    Considering we won’t have much time to stay in all of them, what do you suggest? We are renting a camper van!!

    Thank you for your time and for kindly responding all of our messages!

    1. Hi Marina,
      Well, one piece of bad news I should get out of the way first is that Havasu Falls isn’t going to happen. The Native American tribe on whose lands the waterfalls are located have closed off their reservation to tourists until further notice. Besides, that is a trip unto itself requiring 3-6 days factoring in logistics such as where to fly in and out of, ancillary hotel reservations, camping or lodging reservations, etc. To plan a future trip to this area, visit http://www.HavasupaiReservations.com
      Not knowing when you’re traveling, another piece of bad news that could affect your plans is that Antelope Canyon is also closed at the present time. BTW, all these closures are due to COVID-19, in case you were wondering. They are expected to remain closed through Spring 2021, optimistically. However, there may be a way to salvage that component of your trip. More on that in a minute.
      So, assuming that Wednesday and Monday are travel days, that gives you four days to work with. Also, assuming that you’ve already been to the Grand Canyon, or are planning to visit in the future, I will leave it off the list for the sake of planning.
      Since it takes anywhere from 8-10 hours to get to Arizona from the LA area, I’d recommend getting the longer drive out of the way first, so head for Page, AZ. Visit Horseshoe Bend, which will take anywhere from 90 minutes to 2 hours of your time to park, hike to the rim, take photos and look around, and walk back to your vehicle. Bear in mind there’s a parking fee, which IIRC is $35 for camper vans as these are considered light commercial vehicles. Depending on the time of year you’re visiting, you might be limited to just walking around the shoreline of Lake Powell, which is easiest to access at either the Wahweap Swim Beach or Lone Rock Beach. The water usually doesn’t warm up enough for swimming until late April or early May. These areas are located in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, which requires a $30/vehicle entrance fee, good for one week’s time. If you prefer not to pay that fee, another area of Lake Powell that’s accessible without entering the NRA is the Chains. If desired, you could also piggy-back a visit there with a hike to the Hanging Gardens.
      If you didn’t make it to Horseshoe Bend that first day in Page, AZ, you can hit it right at sunrise the following morning if you want. If seeing a slot canyon remains high on your priority list, head toward Kanab, UT, the next morning and hike either the Wire Pass Canyon/Buckskin Gulch (near Paria, UT), or tour Red Canyon/aka Peek-A-Boo Canyon (near Kanab, UT). Guided tours are not required to visit these slot canyons, but they come strongly recommended due to the access roads being unpaved, and not recommended for parties in rental cars. For more information on these slot canyons, and the companies that offer tours to them, visit our companion site, http://www.AntelopeCanyon.AZ: “Help! My Antelope Canyon Tour Got Cancelled
      After touring Wire Pass or Peek-A-Boo, you might spend that night in Springdale, UT, so you can make a quick visit to Zion National Park before heading home. If doing the long haul from Zion to LA doesn’t appeal for some reason, you might consider breaking up the drive in Las Vegas. Trip map
      RE: traveling by camper van, depending on the time of year you’re visiting, you should probably plan on staying in developed RV parks so you have access to electrical hook-ups, at least. If your trip is coming up in the near future, nighttime lows are still dipping down around (or below) freezing, so you’ll want to have reliable heat at night. Should your travels be planned for the summer months, then air conditioning will make a huge difference in your comfort level during the daytime hours, where temperatures can (and do) rise above 100 degrees (Fahrenheit).
      Hope that helps! Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  63. Good Evening,
    Thank you so much for being a wealth of knowledge for all of us unknowledgable travelers.
    This is an awesome help.

    We are coming on a girls trip in early May. We are staying in big water. Here is what we have planned so far, please tell us if you think something won’t work or other better options.

    1st day canyoning tour in kanab in the morning then try a little sand boarding at coral Pink San dunes.
    2nd day boat on lake Powell back to hike to rainbow bridge
    3rd day kayak from antelope point to antelope canyon
    4th day hiking in ? Area with goal of being at horse bend overlook at sunset.

    What are your thoughts on this itinerary? Thank you.

    1. Hi Cendey,
      This itinerary sounds pretty fun, as long as COVID-19 doesn’t throw a wrench into the plan.
      As of right now, Rainbow Bridge Boat Tours are suspended until spring. Boat rentals are available, but honestly, I wouldn’t recommend going to Rainbow Bridge that way if you don’t have any prior boating experience. For one, it’s 50+ miles, one way, uplake to Rainbow Bridge. Then you’re looking at a 1.5-2 mile hike, one way, from the dock to Rainbow Bridge. Then a 50-mile boat trip back to the marina in the hot sun isn’t too much fun. You’d also need to stop to refuel at Dangling Rope Marina. Should seeing Rainbow Bridge by boat prove to be unfeasible, another option would be to fly over it. Fixed-wing airplanes and helicopters depart out of the Page Municipal Airport daily, with mornings being the optimal time to fly for best light and less wind. Rainbow Bridge Air Tours would not land at the bridge, but make an expeditious and exciting way to get a truer sense of how big Lake Powell really is.
      Kayaking to Antelope Canyon is a great way to spend that 3rd day. On your 4th day, plan to hit Horseshoe Bend first thing in the morning to take advantage of cooler temperatures and smaller crowds. If you’re looking for some fun hikes to do afterward, there is no shortage of options!
      – walk the Page Rim View Trail
      – walk across the Glen Canyon Dam/Steel Arch Bridge
      – hike the Hanging Garden Trail & The Chains
      – visit the Glen Canyon Dam/White House Overlook
      – visit Grand View Overlook Park
      – take the short hike to The “New” Wave and Radio Tower Rock
      – Visit Wahweap Swim Beach and/or Lone Rock Beach (located in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, which requires a $30/vehicle entrance fee, good for one week’s time)
      – Visit Big Water Visitors Center & Dinosaur Museum
      – Do the Paria Rimrocks/Toadstool Hoodoos Hike (also in Utah, trailhead at mile marker 19 of US89)
      Hope that helps. Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  64. Hello!

    My husband and I are planning a trip the beginning of April. We are flying into Vegas and plan on visiting Zion, Bryce, Antelope/Horseshoe Bend, Sedona and the Grand Canyon. I skimmed some of the messages on here and was curious what is the best route to take seeing that certain roads are closed if i read that right? We were planning to go from Zion to Antelope/Horseshoe then down to Sedona then to the Grand Canyon and back to Vegas. Will that work? Also, is Antelope canyon closed? Can we tour there? Assuming Horseshoe Bend overlook is still open? Any recommendations and advice is welcomed this is our first time traveling out West 🙂 Thank you!!

    1. Hi Lyndsay,
      The good news? Horseshoe Bend is open, never closed during the COVID-19 pandemic (so far, anyway).
      The bad news? We’re not sure if the Antelope Canyons will reopen by the time you get set to travel. I would recommend monitoring the Navajo Nation Parks & Recreation site for further updates, and also, to have a “Plan B” in mind just in case. More on that in a minute…
      So if you stick with your plan to visit Zion, Bryce, Page, AZ (for Horseshoe Bend), Sedona, and Grand Canyon South Rim in that specific order, you would not be affected by the closure of AZ64 from Cameron, AZ to Desert View Point. Trip map
      If for some reason you had to go in the order of Zion-Bryce-Page-Grand Canyon South Rim-Sedona, then you would possibly have to deal with a detour through Flagstaff should the closure still be in effect. Revised trip map
      If the Antelope Canyons remain closed at the time of your visit, the alternates we recommend are Red Canyon/aka Peek-A-Boo Canyon near Kanab, UT, or Wire Pass Canyon/Buckskin Gulch near Paria, UT. For more information on these, visit our companion site, http://www.AntelopeCanyon.AZ: Help! My Tour Got Cancelled
      Lastly, I hope you have allotted enough time to visit the parks and really enjoy them. The recommended time to spend in each park is as follows:
      Zion: 2-3 days
      Bryce: 1-2 days
      Page: 1-2 days
      Sedona: 3-4 days
      Grand Canyon: 1-2 days
      Good luck, safe travels, and Happy New Year!
      Alley 🙂

  65. Hello, my family and I are planning a trip to the Horseshoe Bend. We are coming from Southern California and plan to stay in Page. Is the drive to Page an issue right now due to Covid or weather concerns? Also, other than Horseshoe Bend, are there any other trails or parks you would recommend? We have already been to the south rim, so we are good skipping the Grand Canyon on this trip. Looking for any suggestions. By the way, we are staying three days in mid-February.

    1. Hi Julio,
      Assuming that by “Southern California,” you mean the LA area, you can drive to Page, AZ, without impedance by COVID-19 road restrictions. The best way to go is to hop on I-15 through Las Vegas, and St. George, then on to Page, AZ. The estimated drive time is ~9-10 hours, factoring in restroom breaks, meal and gas stops, etc. Map If that’s too much driving for one day for you, Las Vegas would be a good place to break up the drive. The trip from LAS to Page, AZ, would then be ~4.5 hours.
      It’s good that you’ve already been to the South Rim, because if you did want to go there, then you would be affected by a COVID-related road closure driving from Page, AZ, to the South Rim. You’d have to drive all the way down to Flagstaff, AZ, then bounce back North on US160/AZ64 (or I40/AZ64) to the Grand Canyon. This detour has turned what used to be ~a 3-3.5 hour drive into more like a 5-hour drive, so you’re definitely better off skipping it!
      As for other things to do besides Horseshoe Bend, the Antelope Canyons are unfortunately closed, but I think you’ll still be pleasantly surprised by what is still available to visit:
      – walk the Page Rim View Trail
      – walk across the Glen Canyon Dam/Steel Arch Bridge
      – hike the Hanging Garden Trail & The Chains
      – visit the Glen Canyon Dam/White House Overlook
      – visit Grand View Overlook Park
      – take the short hike to The “New” Wave and Radio Tower Rock
      – Visit Wahweap Swim Beach and/or Lone Rock Beach (located in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, which requires a $30/vehicle entrance fee, good for one week’s time)
      – Shoot off a few rounds at Gunfighter Canyon Indoor Shooting Range
      – Visit Big Water Visitors Center & Dinosaur Museum (13 miles West of Page, AZ, over the Utah border)
      – Do the Paria Rimrocks/Toadstool Hoodoos Hike (also in Utah, trailhead at mile marker 19 of US89)
      Hope that helps! Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  66. Hi Alley,

    I am looking into a weekend trip from San Diego to visit a few national parks for a birthday request from my daughter. It would be a Friday- Sunday road trip. I wanted to ask you if you could suggest an itinerary to visit a few parks within this timeframe. We’ve never been to any national parks in AZ or Utah. She had mentioned Havasupai at one time but I saw they are closed. If you have any tips on where to stay or a route to follow, any information is much appreciated. If flying is better, we are open to that as well. Thanks!

    1. Hey B Anne!
      In light of the fact that it takes ~9-10 hours to drive to the Grand Canyon from San Diego, I would definitely advise flying into a nearby airport in order to get the most out of your time. Phoenix and Las Vegas tend to be the most popular airports for Southwest US visitors to fly into. Either of these would be ~5 hours drive from the Grand Canyon. There’s also Flagstaff, AZ, and Page, AZ, but these are commuter airports, so you’d have to connect through PHX or LAS anyway.
      With such a limited timeframe, visiting “a few” National Parks won’t be feasible. You are correct that Havasupai is closed until further notice, plus that’s a whole other trip unto itself, requiring a lot of advance planning. You should familiarize yourself with the realities and logistics of a visit to that area before even considering it. Havasupai Reservations
      My advice: think “quality over quantity.” Give yourself at least 1 night at Grand Canyon South Rim, then another night in either Sedona, AZ, or Page, AZ. If your visit is coming up within the next few weeks’ time, I would lean more toward Sedona, AZ. It’s ~a 3-hour drive from Grand Canyon South Rim, and offers much in the way of sightseeing and relaxation opportunities! Normally, Page, AZ, would be about the same distance away from the Grand Canyon, but due to the closure of a critical component of the shortest travel route between the two areas by order of the Navajo Indian Tribe due to COVID-19, it is now necessary to drive all the way down to Flagstaff, AZ, then bounce back North on US89 to Page, AZ. This detour has turned what used to be ~a 3-3.5 hour drive into more like a 5-hour drive. You would then be facing about that long of a drive to go back to Phoenix or Las Vegas.
      If you take me up on the suggestion to use your weekend to visit Grand Canyon South Rim and Sedona, it would probably be best to fly into Phoenix since the drive from Sedona, AZ, to the airport would be ~2.5 hours.
      Whatever you decide, be sure to book all hotels and any guided tours you might be interested in in advance of your arrival.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  67. Hi Alley –
    Thanks for helping so many of us plan awesome trips! If you have time for one more, my wife and I would love your help! We’re looking to spend about 7-8 days at the end of February and enjoy some moderate hiking, a good beer and a great roadtrip! We’ve never been to the area so I’m sure that’s way too little time to explore everything there is to offer but things that piqued our interest are Grand Canyon, Sedona, Zion and Bryce Canyon.

    Quick note of caution though… we are Floridians so we may not have the “gear” required to hike in sub-freezing weather/ice/snow (other than we do each have a great Northface coat). I hear that could be an issue in Bryce Canyon and perhaps even the Grand Canyon. Is it possible to rent anything necessary for shoes and whatnot and how likely is it the weather will be an issue for us? I’m guessing the “colder” hikes might be better to do in the afternoon when its 50ish instead of at dawn when its 20ish?

    We haven’t booked a single flight or room yet so we’re pretty flexible (and perhaps it’s a good idea to stay that way until an extended forecast is available in case we need to avoid winter weather). But we’re probably looking at arriving on 2/19 or 2/20 and departing 2/28. Phoenix or even Flagstaff appear to have the best flight options for us. Vegas is a little harder to swing by the looks of the flight availability.

    Any suggestions you have for places to see, additions to our itinerary, specific off-the-beaten path hikes or roadtrip stops, we’re all ears! Thanks again 🙂

    1. Hi Brett!
      I always have time for one more 😉
      February is definitely considered winter in the higher elevations and your likelihood of encountering snow is pretty good, especially in areas like the Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon. Appropriate footwear, such as snow boots or shoes, are best purchased before you travel at your preferred stores or on Amazon. Cold weather hiking gear, such as instep crampons and trekking poles, can be rented inside the Grand Canyon Marketplace at the South Rim, or the Winter Activity Center at Ruby’s Inn in Bryce Canyon. However, these would only be necessary if you were planning on day hiking on Inner Canyon trails such as the Bright Angel or Kaibab Trail, where the top halves of the trail are already iced over. If you were to stick to rimside trails, which are mostly paved, just a sturdy pair of shoes with good tread on them should suffice.
      If you are fairly well set on using Phoenix or Flagstaff as your staging city, and you preferred to get the longer drive(s) out of the way first, Bryce Canyon would probably be the first place to hit since it’s the “Northernmost” park on your wish list. From Phoenix, AZ, you’re looking at ~an 8-hour drive, factoring in bathroom breaks, meal and fuel stops. Bear in mind that between Flagstaff, AZ, and Page, AZ, is Navajo Indian Tribal Land, and they wish to minimize or eliminate contact with outsiders due to COVID-19. So while that section of the road is open, you should plan on fueling your vehicle in Flagstaff, AZ, and maybe grabbing some drinks and snacks to tide you over so you don’t have to stop. Since that’s such a long trip, you’ll probably want to spend 2 nights at Bryce, then head over to Zion (~2 hours from Bryce) for another 2 nights. The drive from Zion to Grand Canyon South Rim is also going to be a long haul because an integral component of the shortest travel route — AZ64 from Cameron, AZ, to Desert View Point — is closed to through traffic by order of the Navajo Indian Tribe. This means that you have to drive all the way down to Flagstaff, AZ, then bounce back up North via US180/AZ64 or I-40/AZ64 to Grand Canyon South Rim. Expect this leg of the trip to take anywhere from 2-7 hours. Maybe break up the drive by stopping at Horseshoe Bend in Page, AZ. After spending 1-2 nights at the Grand Canyon, Sedona, AZ, would then be ~a 3-hour drive, then 2-2.5 hours to get back to Phoenix, AZ. Trip map
      If that’s sounding like too much driving, you might consider taking Bryce and Zion off the table this time around. Not that they aren’t beautiful, but Las Vegas, NV, is in a better location for visiting these parks. If you do that, I’d recommend using the time to visit Page, AZ, for Horseshoe Bend, Kanab, UT, for Peek-A-Boo Slot Canyon and maybe a quick “look-see” at Zion, then Grand Canyon South Rim, then capping off the trip with 2-3 nights in Sedona. Revised trip map
      While flying into and out of Flagstaff, AZ, would certainly cut down on your drive times, it wouldn’t save you much money. Some visitors have even reported to me that the flight leg from DFW or PHX to Flag (that’s what we call it around here) cost just as much as the flight leg from home to the connecting airport. Of course, that’s not the case 100% of the time, but definitely something to consider. On the other hand, though, Flagstaff, AZ, is home to a burgeoning craft beer/microbrewery scene, so if you enjoy a good beer, you’ll find no shortage of choices in this combination college town/nature lover’s paradise. You should at least plan for a stop here, even if you don’t use it as your staging city!
      I know it’s a hard choice, so feel free to write in again if you need to bounce more ideas off us.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      1. Thank you so much for all of your suggestions! We really don’t want to skip Zion because it’s the part of the trip we’re most excited for but good news – we found a set of flights to Vegas that seem to work for us so hopefully that makes this a lot easier! We do like “quick travel” so I always sigh when people on TripAdvisor say “slow down and enjoy it” because we enjoy our travel of style very much, but please let me know if this truly sounds too ambitious or if you have any suggested changes. In particular, I don’t know the “real drive time” for some of these places and how easy it is to drive once the sun sets in February: Friday PM – Arrive in Vegas; Saturday AM – Drive to Grand Canyon South Rim; Saturday PM – Explore South Rim Trail for sunset and sleep in GCV or Tusayan; Sunday AM – Hike some of S. Kaibab Trail; Sunday PM – Drive to/sleep in Kanab but stop at Horseshoe Bend on way; Monday AM – Enter “The Wave” lottery and drive to Bryce Canyon; Monday PM – Explore Bryce Canyon, sleep TBD; Tuesday AM – Hike The Wave if win the lottery otherwise find a slot canyon or two (Peek a Boo or Willis Creek or any other suggestions?); Tuesday PM – drive to/sleep in Springdale; Wednesday AM – hike Angels Landing; Wednesday PM – sleep in Springdale; Thursday AM – hike The Narrows; Thursday PM – drive to/sleep somewhere west of Vegas; Friday all day – Death Valley National Park; Saturday – return to Vegas and fly home on red eye.

        1. Hey again, Brett!
          I had to chuckle when you said “people on TripAdvisor tell you to ‘slow down and enjoy'” because I’m a Destination Expert on TripAdvisor, and am guilty of dispensing this same advice LOL I’m glad to hear that you’ve found flights into Vegas, though, that makes your itinerary a lot more feasible than flying into Phoenix.
          One thing that does jump out at me is your question about “how easy it is to drive after the sun sets.” This is strongly discouraged in this part of the U.S. due to local roads being very dimly lit (a deliberate move in some areas to preserve the natural darkness of the night sky) and the possible presence of deer, elk, and other animals that could hike up your risk of an accident. Trust me, 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. Be sure to plan all driving during daylight hours. In late February, sunrise takes place at around 7:00 AM and sunset occurs at approximately 6:15 PM.
          So seeing as though you are prepared for long drives and have an ambitious to-do list, here are my observations on your itinerary, which I’ll put in {{ }}:
          February: Friday PM – Arrive in Vegas {{so far so good!}}
          Saturday AM – Drive to Grand Canyon South Rim {{that will take ~5 hours}} Explore South Rim Trail for sunset and sleep in GCV or Tusayan {{be sure to make advance reservations, even at this time of year and with COVID-19 going on}}
          Sunday AM – Hike some of S. Kaibab Trail {{Ooh Aah Point and back will take ~2 hours, Cedar Ridge ~3; be prepared to rent instep crampons}} Sunday PM – Drive to/sleep in Kanab but stop at Horseshoe Bend on way — {{be prepared for this drive to take 6-6.5 hours due to having to detour down through Flagstaff, AZ; also make sure your vehicle is fully fueled and that you have adequate water and snacks to tide you over until you get to Page, AZ, so you don’t have to stop on the Navajo Reservation}}
          Monday AM – Enter “The Wave” lottery {{good luck with that, you’ll need it!}} and drive to Bryce Canyon {{~90 minutes from Kanab, UT}}; Monday PM – Explore Bryce Canyon, sleep TBD {{make a reservation somewhere, maybe just stay a 2nd night in Kanab and visit Bryce as a day trip}}
          Tuesday AM – Hike The Wave if win the lottery {{be sure to verify conditions on the House Rock Valley Road, if recent weather has been wet, the road will be a muddy, impassable mess!}}, otherwise find a slot canyon or two (Peek a Boo or Willis Creek or any other suggestions?) {{Willis Creek would be cool, but typically involves a few creek crossings through some very COLD water; you guys would probably enjoy Wire Pass and the Buckskin Gulch, a bit more rugged than Peek-A-Boo, but typically doesn’t have any water in it at this time of year; also requires a drive down HRVR, so be sure to verify road conditions}}; Tuesday PM – drive to/sleep in Springdale {{nice town}}
          Wednesday AM – hike Angels Landing {{be sure to find out if that trail is iced over and accessible or not; if it isn’t, don’t worry, there are plenty of other good hikes to take}}; Wednesday PM – sleep in Springdale;
          Thursday AM – hike The Narrows {{at the end of February? Not my idea of fun, but if you’re prepared to rent a dry suit, trekking pole, special shoes and other equipment, it can be done}}; Thursday PM – drive to/sleep somewhere west of Vegas {{doubt you’re gonna be in the mood for a long drive after hiking the Narrows. Not much in the way of towns between Las Vegas and Death Valley except maybe Pahrump, ~4 hours from Springdale, ~90 minutes from Death Valley. Whatever you do, don’t go to Baker, CA, that town’s hinky}}
          Friday all day – Death Valley National Park {{in-park lodging is pretty pricey, you might just go back to Pahrump to overnight}};
          Saturday – return to Vegas {{~2.5-3 hour drive from DV}} and fly home on red eye
          Trip map
          Sounds like a fun time! In light of all the parks you’re going to end up visiting, be sure to pick up an America The Beautiful Lands Federal Lands Access Pass. For just $80, this card will grant you access to all National Parks, Monuments, and other Federal Fee Areas in the U.S. for one year’s time. It won’t work at Horseshoe Bend since that is now considered a Page, AZ, city park, but it will more than pay for itself on this trip.
          Good luck on that Wave lottery, have a wonderful time, and if you get a minute when you return home, write in and tell us us things went!
          Alley 🙂

          1. Thanks so much! I should clarify, I use TripAdvisor for a lot of things and it’s mostly great! There’s just always a few bad apples that don’t try to answer questions but just try to tell you how to live your life… like don’t travel to Arizona now because it’s a COVID hotspot (yes, I am aware haha). But you’re so helpful and friendly so thank you! Great suggestions for us and we will start locking up our hotel rooms now. Just a few more questions and then I promise I’ll hopefully leave you alone soon! 1- can we get away with an economy car for this trip or will we need to be in an SUV or a 4WD? 2- is GC the only place we’ll need the crampons? Trying to figure out if we should rent or buy so please let us know if you have know where we can get those once we arrive if we’re ok renting. 3- we also thought about reversing this itinerary and doing DV first then may have opportunity to stop at Valley of Fire on way back thru Vegas to Zion but figured DV and Zion on a weekend would be more chaotic than GC on a weekend, would you agree or non-issue this time of year? 4- are most restaurants in these areas offering any sort of outdoor seating (with heat lamps/fire pits I hope!) or will everything be indoor or takeout only? 5- best place to check road and trail conditions in case weather is an issue the week before or week of our arrival? Thank you once again so much – you rock!

          2. Hey again, Bret!
            LOL betcha I know those bad apples by name 😉
            In answer to your specific questions:
            1. I would recommend getting something with 4WD just in case you run into some snow while you’re out here, but don’t take that to mean plow through a blizzard. If a severe storm should happen to occur during your travels, stay put until it passes. Also, just because you have 4WD doesn’t mean you can take the vehicle off-road. Most rental car outlets forbid that. Kind of a “Catch22,” I know…
            2. The Grand Canyon may not be the only place where crampons would come in handy. Bryce Canyon trails are also known to ice over in winter, as are some trails in Zion, such as Angel’s Landing. If you do decide to buy them, they won’t take up that much room in your luggage, and I understand crampons are not a forbidden item according to TSA, but they reserve the right to disallow them on a case to case basis.
            3. If you find it easier to reverse the itinerary, go ahead and do so, you’ll probably find that traffic increases a moderate amount on weekends, but not enough IMO to make it a deal-breaker since late February is still off-season. The kicker is whether you are able to find rooms.
            4. Whether restaurants will offer outdoor dining, with or without accommodations for the weather, is something of a crapshoot. Just the other day, a lot of the parks got 1′ of snow, so that wouldn’t be conducive to outdoor dining, heat lamps or no heat lamps. Those with indoor dining have reduced capacity, rearranged tables to facilitate social distancing, etc. Push comes to shove, choose accommodations with mini-fridges and microwaves so you can do your own thing for meals if need be.
            5. For checking trail conditions in the parks, check the official NPS websites for each park:
            Grand Canyon https://www.nps.gov/grca/index.htm
            Zion https://www.nps.gov/zion/index.htm
            Bryce Canyon https://www.nps.gov/brca/index.htm
            Death Valley https://www.nps.gov/deva/index.htm
            For road conditions:
            Arizona: http://www.az511.com
            Utah https://www.udot.utah.gov/connect/current-conditions/road-conditions/
            Nevada http://nvroads.com/
            California https://roads.dot.ca.gov/
            Or just call 511.
            Have a great time and be safe!
            Alley 🙂

  68. Hi! We are planning a trip in 2 – 3 day trip from Vegas. We would like to see the Antelope, Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and Zion.

    Initial plan is drive 4 hours early from Vegas to arrive 8 am to Grand Canyon. Leave at 1pm and arrive Antelope at 3pm. Stay overnight at a nearby hotel. Next day, wake up early and drive 3 hours to Zion.

    Is this itinerary feasible? Where would it make sense to add Horsehoe Ben?
    We like to take sunrise and sunset shots. If parks are not open until 8 am, are there good spots to do this?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Dory,
      So sorry to break this to you, but your plan is not feasible. You will have to make some adjustments, namely give it more time, or eliminate a destination from the “wish list.”
      Not knowing when you are planning to travel kind of puts me at a disadvantage, but assuming your trip is coming up within the next few weeks time, I’ve got some more bad news: the Antelope Canyons are closed by order of the Navajo Indian Tribe due to COVID-19. If seeing a slot canyon remains high on the list, which I wouldn’t blame you one bit for, there are alternatives. More on that in a minute…
      For one, you’ve underestimated your drive times, one of which was unintentional. The drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim tends to take more along the lines of 5 hours if you factor in bathroom breaks, meal and fuel stops, etc. Still, your plan to drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim, then on to Page, AZ, the same day won’t work. Under normal circumstances, I advise against this anyway, but due to COVID-19, a critical component of the shortest travel route between Grand Canyon and Page, AZ, is closed to through traffic. This means that you’ll have to drive all the way down to Flagstaff, AZ, then head back North to Page, AZ on US89 (Page, AZ, is where Horseshoe Bend is located). This very long detour has turned what is normally ~a 3-hour drive (not a 2 hour drive) into a 5-hour drive. This on a day where you’re already proposing to spend 5 hours behind the wheel. Depending on the time of year you’re traveling, you might be fighting daylength (or lack thereof) as well. In the month of February, for example, sunrise in Arizona occurs at ~7:15 AM, and sunset takes place just after 6:00 PM. That’s not even 11 hours of daylight and you’re already proposing to eat up 10 hours of it driving from place to place. Not my idea of a vacation. A better plan would be for you to spend that first night at the Grand Canyon, then move onto Page, AZ, the next day.
      Hit Horseshoe Bend either on your way into town, or just after sunrise the following morning. Either way, plan on spending the night in Page, AZ. If you still wanted to tour a slot canyon at this point in time, I recommend going to Kanab, UT (~70 minutes from Page, AZ) and touring Red Canyon/aka Peek-A-Boo Canyon. 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. Red/Peek-A-Boo is the also one of the most family-friendly slot canyons open to visitation right now. 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. Even experienced 4×4 drivers get stuck out there on a daily basis, and if you’re in a rental car, forget it, you will void your insurance the minute your tires part with the pavement. That would leave you on the hook for a very expensive rescue, should you need one, and having to foot the bill for any damage you’d sustain. Tour companies in Kanab, UT, that can get you 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
      Tour of Peek-A-Boo Canyon last approximately 4 hours, so you would want to get an early start on the day if you still wanted to see Zion. After some very rudimentary sightseeing in Zion, the drive to Las Vegas would then be ~4 hours. Better yet, spend the night in Springdale, UT, so you can use part of the next day to hit areas you might have missed the day prior. Trip map
      As you’ve hopefully deduced by now, you really need 4 days/3 nights to pull all this off. If that’s not possible, then take Zion off the list this time around. This is a huge park that really warrants a stay of 2-3 days to fully enjoy and explore it. Save it for another trip when you can give it enough time to do it justice!
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  69. Im planning a group trip 3/25-3/29 for my birthday to see grand canyons, horseshoe bend, and Sedona slide rock. We will be staying in Scottsdale, AZ. I was planning on going to the canyons that Friday then come back to Scottsdale the same day. What activities are there to do while at the canyons, horseshoe bend, or Sedona. Also, how early would we need to leave to be able to see everything?

    1. Hi Vanessa,
      I’m sorry, but your plan to visit all of the locations you name in one day won’t work.
      First off, it takes ~5 hours to drive from Scottsdale, AZ, to Grand Canyon South Rim. You need at least 2-4 hours to at least “scratch the surface” of all there is to see. Then, it will probably take you approximately 5 hours to drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ to visit Horseshoe Bend. Normally, the drive, from Grand Canyon to Page, AZ, takes ~3 hours, but a critical component of the shortest travel route between the two locations (AZ64 from Desert View Point to Cameron, AZ) has been closed for nearly a year by order of the Navajo Indian Tribe due to COVID-19. The closure is expected to remain in effect through spring, and if it does, it means you’d have to drive all the way back down to Flagstaff, AZ, then proceed North via US89 to Page, AZ. Even if AZ64 East were to open back up, you’re still looking at a lot of driving just to get to 2 out of 3 destinations on your list. After visiting Horseshoe Bend, which takes ~90 minutes-2 hours to park, walk out to the overlook, take a few photos, then walk back, you’d be facing another 3-hour drive to Sedona, where you won’t have time to do much of anything, then ~2.5 hours to get back to Scottsdale. Trip map
      When you add that all up, 5+(3)5+3+2, that’s 13-15 hours of driving on a day where you don’t even have 11 hours of daylight (sunrise occurs ~6:15 AM, sunset takes place at around 6:45 PM). It would be best if you could set aside at least 2 nights to accomplish all that, 3 would be even better. For optimal safety and enjoyment, spend the night at the Grand Canyon, then another night in Page, AZ. You could then do some sightseeing in Sedona as a “drive-by” on the way back to Scottsdale, but Slide Rock wouldn’t be the best place to go at that time of year. It will probably still be too cold to enjoy the water. But there are still other sights to see and things to do, so I wouldn’t fret about that.
      If one day is all you can spare, then pick one location, and make the most of your day there. If you’ve never been to the Grand Canyon, you should prioritize it over Sedona and Page, and save these destinations for another trip when you can give them the time they deserve.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      1. Thank you so much. We will just visit the Grand Canyons. If we stayed the night at the grand canyons, where is a good place to stay or a close city near by?
        On the drive by Sedona on the way back to Scottsdale. What are some places to go to sight see?

        1. Hi again, Vanessa!
          I think that’s a good call to just hit the Grand Canyon this time around and save the other parks for another time, preferably when COVID-19 is somewhat in the rear view mirror.
          As for where to stay, it’s always most desirable to stay inside the park if you can. If this is not possible, then Tusayan, 7 miles outside the park is your next best option. Should that area be sold out, then Williams, AZ, 60 miles due South of the park would be your “Plan C.” Grand Canyon hotels
          Visiting Sedona, AZ, as a “drive by,” you can see quite a bit without setting foot outside your car, but time/desire permitting, you could visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross, Red Rock Crossing, maybe take a short hike, such as Little Horse or Cathedral Rock, and have a nice lunch/dinner somewhere. TripAdvisor: Half Day In Sedona – What To Do? Whatever you do, definitely plan a return trip to Sedona when you can spend more time. I can pretty much guarantee you’ll be doing this the very second you see how beautiful this area is!
          Good luck and safe travels,
          Alley 🙂

      2. Dear Alley,

        Hello 🙂 Alley
        How are you doing today?

        I have question regarding tours to horseshoe bend
        Could you please send me an email?
        Thank you very much 🙂

  70. Hi,
    I am travelling to Page AZ, on 23rd Jan and plan to spend 24th, 25th and a bit of 26th visiting the canyons. Do you have any recommendations as to where all I can visit in this short window? Initially I wanted to visit Zion national park but there seems to be some snow during this period so I decided to visit horse shoe bend but not sure what else I can visit under these circumstances. Any suggestions are greately appreciated! 🙂

    1. Hi Nandini,
      Snow shouldn’t necessarily deter you from visiting Zion National Park. It’s unlikely that the park will be closed if they do receive snow, and even if they do, the roads are usually plowed, and your photographs would be beautiful!
      But I digress… the first thing jumping out at me is wondering whether you’ve been to the Grand Canyon? If not, that should be the area you prioritize over all others. Only the South Rim is open at this time of year, and due to the closure of a section of AZ64 from Desert View Point to Cameron, AZ, the drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ (or vice versa), is extended from a normal time of ~3 hours to ~5 hours. This is due to having to take a rather long detour South through Flagstaff, AZ, then back up North to Page, AZ (or the Grand Canyon). Because of this, it is best to stay overnight at the Grand Canyon rather than trying to make a day trip out of it from Page, AZ.
      Horseshoe Bend in Page, AZ, remains open to visitors (it’s one of the few places that never closed). Unfortunately, the Antelope Canyons, another very popular attraction, remain closed by order of the Navajo Indian Tribe, along with all Tribal Parks. A good alternate slot canyon to visit, though, is Red Canyon/aka Peek-A-Boo Canyon, near Kanab, UT, ~70 minutes from Page. With twists and turns on par with the Antelope Canyons in a short but memorable walk offering up classic slot canyon scenery, and some unique geological features, Red/Peek-A-Boo is the most family-friendly of the two afore-mentioned slot canyons. 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. 4WD vehicles with adequate clearance are a definite must, with tire pressure lowered to accommodate potentially deep sand. Even then, experienced drivers get stuck out there on a daily basis. If you’re in 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. 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
      Whether you stay overnight in Kanab, UT, or make a day trip out from Page, AZ, another hike you might enjoy in this area is the Paria Rimrocks/Toadstool Hoodoos. The trailhead is between Page, AZ, and Kanab, UT, at mile marker 19 of US89.
      Getting back to the subject of Zion National Park, again, snow shouldn’t scare you off completely. It may limit some of the hikes you can take, due to the presence of ice or snow on higher altitude trails (such as Angel’s Landing), but there would still be plenty to enjoy, especially along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. Another advantage to traveling at this time of year is that you don’t have to use the Zion Canyon shuttle, which is a pain in the hind quarters. Winter is one of the few times of year you can drive your own vehicle in the best areas for sightseeing.
      Should you still decide to skip Zion National Park this time around (or even if you don’t!), another nice drive you might take would be to make the loop down from Page, AZ, through Marble Canyon and Lees Ferry, through Jacob Lake, AZ, and then back. At Lees Ferry, this is one of the few places you can actually drive your vehicle fairly close to the banks of the Colorado River and actually dip your feet in (the water will be cold). You could also walk around the Lonely Dell Ranch Area for a fascinating glimpse into the history of transport and commerce in this area. After walking across Navajo Bridge and maybe spotting a California Condor, a great place to stop for lunch is Cliff Dweller’s Restaurant. The view is amazing, and the food is surprisingly good for such a remote location. It’s one of Northern Arizona’s best-kept culinary secrets! If you decide to proceed as far as Jacob Lake, stop at the Inn to grab a bag of their delicious home-made cookies.
      Time/desire permitting, you could also stop by Pipe Springs National Monument, another history-oriented site that illustrates the hardships of life for the areas early occupants and settlers. Another “bonus” stop you might make is the Big Water Visitors Center and Dinosaur Museum. Trip map
      No matter what you decide, be sure to book all hotels and guided tours in advance of your arrival, and to time any and all driving to occur during daylight hours. Nighttime driving is strongly discouraged in this part of the U.S. due to local roads being very dimly lit (a deliberate move to preserve the natural darkness of the night sky), and the possible presence of deer, elk, and other large wildlife that could elevate your risk of an auto accident. Trust me, 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.
      Hope that helps. Good luck and safe travels!
      Alley 🙂

  71. Alley, I really appreciate your positivity even when sharing bad news. We too are planning a trip in March arriving 3/21 in Phoenix with our lodging set as a base camp in Flagstaff. We’re currently working on itinerary and wonder what input you might have. Key areas include Flagstaff, Sedona, grand canyon and page. We’ve got 5 full days, plus the the trip from Phoenix because we’ll arrive early morning.

    We’d like to go rafting somewhere, on the Colorado River.

    Any suggestions and/or recommendations?

    1. Hi Robyn,
      Assuming you only have one day to give to a Colorado River Rafting Trip, you have two options:
      1. Drive to Page, AZ (~2.5 hours from Flagstaff, AZ), and do the Wilderness River Adventures’ 1/2-Day Horseshoe Bend Rafting Trip. This tour covers 15 miles of the Colorado River from the base of the Glen Canyon Dam to Lees Ferry, and occurs entirely on smooth water. Kids must be at least 5 to take part.
      2. Drive to Peach Springs, AZ (~2 hours from Flagstaff, AZ) for Hualapai River Runners’ 1-Day White Water Raft Trip. Open to children 8 and up, this is a full day trip that starts at around 7:00 AM and could last anywhere from 12-14 hours, so it will mean a very early morning and a late night using Flagstaff, AZ, as a “base camp.”
      Now, there is a possibility that option #1 might not be available at the time of your visit. The Horseshoe Bend Raft Trip was unable to operate last year due to COVID-19, and there is a possibility that it might not yet be up and running until later this year. Should that be the case, your best alternative would be to drive down to Lees Ferry, rent a kayak, get backhauled to the base of the Glen Canyon Dam, and paddle the 15 miles down the river back to Lees Ferry. This is a relatively easy activity that first-time kayakers can do, but may not be suitable for families with very young children or seniors in tow. Local companies that offer this service are:
      – Kayak Horseshoe Bend 928-355-2211 https://kayakhorseshoebend.com/
      – Wilderness River Adventures (928) 645-3296 https://www.riveradventures.com/
      – Kelly Outfitters/Lees Ferry Backhaul (928) 510-5511 http://www.kellyoutfitters.com/ http://leesferrybackhaul.com/
      – Kayak The Colorado 928-856-0012 https://www.kayakthecolorado.com/
      – Lees Ferry On The Fly (928) 326-1162 https://leesferryonthefly.com/
      – Marble Canyon Outfitters 800-533-7339 https://www.leesferryflyfishing.com/
      Good luck, safe travels, and Happy New Year!
      Alley 🙂

  72. Hi Alley, We are planning a trip in March 3/18/21 – 3/27/21. We will arrive in Flagg Staff on the 18th. The flight arrives late so we plan on staying there for the night. The 3 places we would like to visit Sedona, Grand Canyon & Lake Powell. We do leave early on Saturday so I am thinking for the last leg to stay in Sedona. What is the best route to take, number of days needed in each area, Good places to stay, and things to do while we are there. These are a few things we have on our wish list. Unfortunately it looks like Antelope Canyon will most likely still be closed.
    Hike Horse Shoe Bend
    Rafting or Boat Tour Lake Powell
    Hiking at the Grand Canyon
    Hiking in Sedona
    Air Balloon
    Train Ride ??

    Any guidance and suggestions would greatly be appreciated. Thank you!!

    1. Hi Nicole,
      A few days in Sedona, AZ, would definitely be a great way to end your trip. A minimum stay of 3 days is recommended to fully explore and enjoy the area, it has a lot to see and do! This would be where you’d want to look at doing a hot air balloon ride. Most depart first thing in the morning.
      As for the rest of your time, I would recommend spending a couple of days in Page, AZ, if you wanted to hike Horseshoe Bend and do a water-based activity. Hopefully they will resume as planned in March.
      If you wanted to do any hiking at the Grand Canyon, I would not necessarily recommend the Grand Canyon Railway. Not that it isn’t fun (it is, I’ve ridden it several times!), but there are some definite points in the minus column that make it inconducive to Grand Canyon hiking. For one, it is pulled by an antique diesel engine, which takes 2 hours and 15 minutes to make a trip that would only take you 1 hour to make by car. You arrive at the South Rim at approximately 11:45 AM, then depart at around 3:30 PM. That gives you less than 4 hours to explore the immediate area around Grand Canyon Village. You could certainly walk part of the easy, paved Rim Trail, or even venture a short way down Bright Angel Trail (remember you have to double how long it took to hike down to calculate your estimated time to hike back up), and maybe grab lunch at some point, but not much else. If you wanted to spend the better part of your day hiking, your best option would be to drive yourself and stay inside the park. Here’s a video that explains the Train Vs. Drive to the Grand Canyon question in more detail.
      The only potential complication to self-driving is is the closure of the section of AZ64 from Desert View Point at Grand Canyon South Rim to Cameron, AZ. This critical component of the shortest travel route between Grand Canyon South Rim and Page, AZ, is situated on Navajo Indian Tribal Land and has been closed to minimize Navajo Reservation residents’ potential exposure to COVID-19. All other roads in the area are open, but if you’re planning to travel between Grand Canyon South Rim and Page, AZ (or vice versa), you will have to drive all the way down to Flagstaff, AZ, then proceed North via US89 to Page, AZ, or US180/AZ64 or I40/AZ64 to Grand Canyon South Rim. This has turned what is normally ~a 3-hour drive into a 5-hour drive.
      You are correct in that the Antelope Canyons are closed, and probably will remain closed at the time of your visit. The best alternatives at the moment are located near Kanab, UT, which is ~70-90 minutes from Page, AZ, so you might earmark a day to spend in that area. Tours of Red Canyon/aka Peek-A-Boo Canyon last ~4 hours. Afterward (or before, depending on the time of your tour), you could enjoy the hike to the Paria Rimrocks and the Toadstool Hoodoos.
      Sorry to jump around a bit with your itinerary, I hope it all makes sense! If not, feel free to write in again and bounce more ideas off us 🙂
      Good luck, safe travels, and Happy New Year!
      Alley

      1. Hi Alley,

        I’m planning a trip next week to Zion and further to Page (Buckskin Gulch, Horseshoe Bend, etc). The plan is to go through St. George and Kanab, from Las Vegas, but i’m not sure what the situation is with the closure of the parks in this time. Is that route open all the way to Page from Las Vegas?
        Also, is Horseshoe Bend available to visit?
        Thank you !

        1. Hi Mircea,
          All the roads you plan to take from Las Vegas to Page, AZ, through Zion National Park are open and passable. Horseshoe Bend may be visited at your convenience during normal operating hours of the parking lot, which are sunrise to sunset.
          Some hotels and food service operations may be limited or reduced due to COVID-19, but this will vary from place to place. Whatever you do, be sure to book all hotels and guided tours in advance of your arrival.
          Good luck and safe travels,
          Alley 🙂

  73. Hello, My family and I plan on going to visit horseshoe bend this weekend 1/16. Does anyone have any issues getting through the indian reservation in page? I was told they are on Lockdown every weekend until the end of the month?

    1. Hi Anissa,
      You are correct that the Navajo Indian Reservation has implemented some very strict protocols in order to mitigate transmission of COVID-19, and one of them includes limiting contact with outsiders via the weekend lockdown.
      One measure they have also taken is to close a section of AZ64 from Desert View Point at Grand Canyon South Rim to Cameron, AZ. This is a critical component of the shortest travel route between Grand Canyon South Rim and Page, AZ (where Horseshoe Bend is located). All other roads in the area are open, but if you’re planning to travel between Grand Canyon South Rim and Page, AZ, you will have to drive all the way down to Flagstaff, AZ, then proceed North via US89 to Page, AZ. This has turned what is normally ~a 3-hour drive into a 5-hour drive.
      Whatever you do, if your travels must take you through the Navajo Reservation, be sure that your vehicle is fully fueled and that you carry sufficient water and snacks to tide you over until you reach your off-Reservation destination. Avoid stopping on Reservation lands and interacting with tribe members.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  74. Hi Alley,

    Wondering what you would recommend for my fiancé and I as we would be flying into Tucson on March 4th and flying out March 10th. I am bummed to hear that Antelope Canyon is closed as this was #1 on my list to see in Arizona. I don’t have an itinerary planned, but I was thinking to visit the Grand Canyon, Horseshoe bend, and the Wave. I was also recommended Fountain Hills. What can we do that has the most wonderful views, activities, and hiking trails?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Shannon!
      Well, you’ve gotten the bad news about the closure of the Antelope Canyons, but there is a way to salvage that item on your wish list. More on that in a minute.
      Unfortunately, there’s more potentially bad news: there’s a 99.9% probability that The Wave is not going to happen. This world-famous geological formation is located in a specially managed area called Coyote Buttes North. Due to the uniqueness and fragility of the rock formations, only 20 people per day are allowed by advance permit to enter this area. 10 permits are given out by online lottery; another 10 by walk-in lottery in Kanab, UT, the day prior to when you wish to hike. Since March weather is typically mild, it is considered one of the prime months to hike The Wave, therefore, the permit process is particularly competitive. Best to cross The Wave off this time around, and maybe plan a visit to one of its popular, and so far permit-free, alternatives, such as White Pocket.
      Because you’re starting your trip off in Tucson, AZ, I recommend that you get the longer drive out of the way first, driving up to Page, AZ (~6.5-7 hours), and book a hotel for 2 nights. Visit Horseshoe Bend on your way into town, then the next day, drive up to Kanab, UT (~75 minutes from Page), to tour Red Canyon/aka Peek-A-Boo Canyon. This is a beautiful slot canyon that offers twists and turns on par with the Antelope Canyons in a short but memorable walk featuring 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. 4WD vehicles with adequate clearance are a definite must, with tire pressure lowered to accommodate potentially deep sand. Even then, experienced drivers get stuck out there on a daily basis. If you’re in 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. 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
      Tours of Peek-A-Boo Canyon typically last ~4 hours. Time/desire permitting, you might stop and hike the Paria Rimrocks/Toadstool Hoodoos Trail on the way back to Page, AZ. I recommend you spend a 2nd night there to give yourself a head start on the drive to Grand Canyon South Rim the following morning. What do I mean by that? Since COVID-19 began, the Navajo Indian Tribe decided to close and integral component of the shortest travel route from Page, AZ, to Grand Canyon South Rim, namely, AZ64 from Cameron, AZ, to Desert View Point. This means that to drive from Page, AZ, to Grand Canyon South Rim requires that you drive all the way down to Flagstaff, AZ, then slingshot back up North to GC South Rim via US180/AZ64 or I40/AZ64. This has turned what is normally ~a 3-hour drive into more like a 5-hour drive.
      Stay 1 night at Grand Canyon South Rim, then begin the return trip South. Fountain Hills is a nice area that has a lot to offer, but an area that IMO offers more in the way of scenic beauty and fun activities is Sedona. This is a stunning area ~3 hours drive from Grand Canyon South Rim that really deserves 2-3 days of your time to do it justice, so if you can’t give it that this time around, then by all means, head down to Fountain Hills for your last day and visit Taliesin West (architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s Southwest retreat and school), the River of Time Museum, the Desert Botanical Garden, or hike Sunrise Peak.
      Should you take me up on the suggestion to conclude your trip in Sedona, AZ, the drive back to Tucson, AZ, will be ~4.5 hours. Fountain Hills, AZ, would put you ~3 hours away from Tucson. BTW, if you’re not locked into your flights into/out of Tucson, AZ, you might look at changing your staging city to Phoenix, AZ. That way, you avoid having to switch plans (possibly) for a 30-minute flight, and slice 90 minutes off your drive times at the beginning and end of your trip.
      Whatever you decide, be sure to book all hotels and guided tours in advance of your arrival.
      Good luck, safe travels, and Happy New Year!
      Alley 🙂

  75. Hi Alley –
    Sorry to bother you, but I see you’ve made some amazing recommendations for other people in these comments so I was wondering if you might have some advice for me too. I thought I had a good plan for our trip, but I just saw Antelope Canyon is still closed, so I’m looking for something else to do either around Page or maybe in Kanab? We are car camping and hikers so definitely looking for anything that gets our feet moving. We will be out that way from January 13-23 and here is what I had planned so far:
    13 – arrive in Las Vegas, sleep in Vegas.
    14 – drive through Zion to get to Big Water or Page (maybe Kanab might be better for the first stop?). I know we need 2-3 days to really see Zion, but we are coming back later this year for that. This time we’ll just take our time driving through and stopping at scenic overlooks.
    15 – Finding a hike to do in Kanab and/or the Grand Staircase-Escalante. Sleeping in Page.
    16 – Visiting Horseshoe Bend (and anything else in the area?) Sleeping in Page or heading on to Sedona
    17 – 18 – Visit Sedona and spend time in the area (any recommendations welcome!)
    19 – drive up to the Grand Canyon South Rim. Sleep in Kaibab National Forest
    20- Grand Canyon, Sleep in Park.
    21 – Drive to Hoover Dam/Lake Mead
    22- Hike Liberty Bell Arch Trail and drive back to Las Vegas
    23 – Go home.
    Would love to know your thoughts and suggestions! Thanks so much for taking the time to help us all plan these amazing trips 🙂

    1. Hi Blaire,
      First off, you’re not bothering me a bit, helping people like yourself plan trips out here is my passion!
      To coin a phrase, there’s good news and bad news: the good news is that your itinerary looks pretty fun and very well-paced.
      The bad news is that there’s a rather large flaw in it that I cannot ignore: the car camping. Although the area you’re proposing to visit is considered “the desert,” nights are very cold at this time of year. For examples, the nighttime low at Grand Canyon South Rim tonight is forecasted to dip down to ~20 degrees (Fahrenheit). Page, AZ, is expecting similarly cold temperatures. Kanab, UT, is slightly warmer, but low temperatures are expected to remain below freezing for the better part of the month. Unless you have a sleeping bag that’s specifically rated for cold weather, and/or a reliable heat source in your vehicle, you’re going to be very uncomfortable, and hiking is no fun if you haven’t had a good night’s sleep the night before! I would strongly recommend that you spring for motel rooms along your itinerary. While in-park lodging can be expensive, gateway city hotels tend to be more reasonably priced.
      On that first day out (01/14), make Kanab, UT, your stopping point. The drive over from Las Vegas takes ~3-3.5 hours. If you can, get an early start on the trip so you can make the short detour through the stunning Valley of Fire State Park. It’s not far out of your way, and winter is a great time to visit. Summer is way too hot! Time permitting, you might also stop by Pipe Springs National Monument near Fredonia, UT. It’s something of a “hidden gem,” but a very educational glimpse into the hardships and triumphs experienced by the area’s early settlers.
      On 01/15, the Paria Rimrocks/Toadstool Hoodoos is a good and fairly easy hike you can make en route from Kanab, UT, to Page, AZ. If you want something a little more rugged, try the Wire Pass Canyon/Buckskin Gulch. Overnight in Page, then hit Horseshoe Bend the next morning. Other areas you can visit whilst in Page, AZ, include, but are not limited to:
      Page Rim View Trail
      Glen Canyon Dam/Steel Arch Bridge
      Hanging Garden Trail & The Chains
      Glen Canyon Dam/White House Overlook
      Grand View Overlook Park
      The “New” Wave and Radio Tower Rock
      Wahweap Swim Beach and/or Lone Rock Beach (located in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, which requires a $30/vehicle entrance fee, good for one week’s time)
      Now, if you wanted to drive to Sedona, AZ, to spend the night after sightseeing in Page, AZ, note that the drive takes ~3 hours, and you want to be sure you do ALL your driving out here during daylight hours. Local roads are very dimly lit (a deliberate move to preserve the natural darkness of the night sky), and the possible presence of deer, elk, and other wildlife which could elevate your risk of a collision. That’s not something you want to risk 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. Sunset at the time of year you’re visiting takes place at around 5:45 PM, so if you wanted to make it to Sedona, AZ, safely, plan on leaving Page, AZ, no later than 3:00 PM, or spend the night in Page, AZ and hit the road when you’re fresh the next morning.
      In Sedona, AZ, you’ll find no shortage of things to see and do, including hiking! Top 12 Hikes in Sedona AZ The town itself is also home to some beautiful buildings, including the Chapel of the Holy Cross, Tlaquepaque, Amithaba Peace Park, and a ton of art galleries, if that’s your thing.
      The drive to Grand Canyon South Rim from Sedona, AZ, will also take ~3 hours. Here again, try to get a motel room in the park if you can. If budget is a primary concern, inquire about a European-style lodge room at Bright Angel Lodge. These are economical units with no TV, shared bath down the hall, but the bare basics taken care of, namely, a comfortable bed!
      The drive to Las Vegas will take ~5 hours. If you’re into Route 66 nostalgia, consider stopping at Seligman, AZ, which was partially the real-life inspiration for the town of Radiator Springs from the “Cars” movies. The Hoover Dam Visitors Center is closed due to COVID-19, but its outside areas have recently reopened to the public, which is good.
      For optimal convenience for hiking the Liberty Bell Arch Trail, you might want to stay in Boulder City or Henderson, NV, then drive on to Vegas after completing eLiberty Bell Arch Trail
      Good luck, safe travels and Happy New Year!
      Alley 🙂

      1. Hi Alley,

        I see you’ve made some amazing recommendations for other people in the comments so I was wondering if you might have some advice for my group as well. We have been staying in Scottsdale, AZ for the past 2 weeks and are looking to do a little road trip this weekend and explore (Friday, 1/15 – Monday, 1/18). We have no set itinerary and are very much open to any of your suggestions. Please see below for some of our thoughts and must-do items we have heard about:

        Horseshoe Bend / Lake Powell area
        Antelope Canyon alternatives since it is closed
        Glen Canyon Dam Bridge
        Toadstool Hoodoos
        Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
        Whitepocket
        Grand Canyon

        We are planning on leaving Friday, Jan 15th mid-afternoon to drive to Page, AZ so we are ready to go first thing Saturday AM. We were thinking of doing Horseshoe Bend / Lake Powell area, Antelope Canyon alternatives since it is closed, Glen Canyon Dam Bridge, Toadstool Hoodoos, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument and Whitepocket spread out between Saturday and Sunday (open to other suggestions). I also saw you recommended the Sunset Safari Tour in Kanab, Utah which looked great. I see it is ~ an hour drive from Page, AZ so perhaps we can squeeze it in on Saturday afternoon if you think it is worth seeing? We then were going to drive to Grand Canyon area Sunday PM so we are ready to enter the South Rim first thing Monday AM. We were going to spend the entire day at Grand Canyon on Monday and then drive back to Scottsdale Monday PM.

        We are open to any and all recommendations and “must-see” things while here. Looking forward to hearing from you and so appreciate your help.

        Thank you!
        Alix

        1. Hey Alix,
          Thanks so much for your kind compliments! It makes it harder to be the bearer of bad news, but you’re trying to cram too many sites into a very short weekend. The one item that is least realistic is White Pocket. Not that this area isn’t beautiful — it is, incredibly so — but according to the tour companies that are authorized to go there, 7-9 hours is the typical timeframe for excursions to White Pocket. That essentially eats up an entire day of your already limited time. Save this for another trip when you can spend a week or more out here and really take your time!
          Another thing that’s potentially working against you this time of year is daylength. It’s very short, with sunrise taking place at ~7:45 AM, and sunset occurring around 5:30 PM. You need to make sure that you do all your driving out here during daylight hours. Nighttime driving is strongly discouraged in Northern Arizona and Southern Utah, due to local roads being very dimly lit (a deliberate move to preserve the natural darkness of the night sky), and the possible presence of deer, elk, and other wildlife which could elevate your risk of a collision. 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 some of these considerations, here’s what I’d recommend:
          01/15 – Drive to Page, AZ. Since the drive from Scottsdale, AZ, to Page, AZ, takes ~5 hours, you need to hit the road no later than 12:30 PM-1:00 PM. Overnight in Page, AZ
          01/16 – Visit Horseshoe Bend first thing in the morning, brief stop at the Glen Canyon Dam Bridge, then drive to Kanab, UT (~75 minutes from Page, AZ), to tour Red Canyon/aka Peek-A-Boo Canyon (this is the #1 Antelope Canyon alternative tour). On the way back to Page, AZ, time and desire permitting, hike the Paria Rimrocks/Toadstool Hoodoos Trail, then return to Page, AZ. OR you could return to Page, AZ, via the “long way around” which would take you past the Vermilion Cliffs, Marble Canyon, and Lees Ferry. Time permitting, you could have a late lunch or early dinner at Cliff Dweller’s Restaurant, one of the best-kept culinary secrets in Northern Arizona! The latter route will add another hour onto your drive time, so you should carefully consider whether you’d have enough daylight left before committing to it. Spend a 2nd night in Page, AZ. The reason I suggest driving back to Page instead of spending the night in Kanab, UT, is to give you a head start on the drive to the Grand Canyon.
          01/17 – Drive from Page, AZ, to Grand Canyon South Rim. Now, normally, this would be ~a 3-hour drive, but since AZ64 is closed between Cameron, AZ, and Desert View Point, that means you have to drive all the way down to Flagstaff, AZ, then “slingshot” back up North to GC via US180/AZ64 or I40/AZ64. This has turned a 3-hour drive into more like a 5-hour drive. Overnight at Grand Canyon South Rim.
          01/18 – Head back to Phoenix. Via most direct route, drive time is ~5-hours, or if you want, make a detour through Sedona, which would extend the trip another 90 minutes-2 hours.
          Trip map
          Whatever you decide, be sure to book all hotels and guided tours before you set out this weekend.
          Good luck, safe travels, and Happy New Year!
          Alley 🙂

          1. Hi Alley,

            You are a wealth of knowledge! Thank you so much for sharing and for all your recommendations to people! I am still putting my trip together, and was wondering if you would have any kayaking recommendations for horseshoe?

            I am flying into Phoenix 1/21 and planned on heading straight to Sedona. I am from MN and have winter gear for both hiking and backpacking- but planned on car camping with my -20 rated sleeping bag and insulated pad. I should be to Sedona by 3p and looking for a short (8miles tops) sunset hike.

            On 1/22 I was hoping to rent a kayak and kayak Antelope Canyon- I was recommend https://lakepowellpaddleboards.com/paddling-horseshoe-bend/ – but they are closed for the season. Do you have any other recommendations?

            1/23 is unplanned

            1/24 I fly out in the afternoon- but debating the following hikes: Cathedral Rock, Bear Mountain or Solider Pass – also open to other suggestions for a quick morning hike.

          2. Hi Johnnashae,
            Thanks for your compliments, they are definitely nice to hear!
            Unfortunately, I have to be the bearer of a bit of bad news: kayak, SUP, and boat tours are on hiatus for the winter. Honestly, this time of year is not great for water-based activities anyway. Both the water temperature are way too cold to be comfortable. About the only option out there for doing anything on the water — and this too is something of a crapshoot — would be a private boat tour through Lake Powell Resorts. The boats seat up to six guest and can be chartered for $265 an hour, which includes the boat, captain, gas and taxes. To book or inquire about that, you must call Lake Powell Resorts directly at 928-645-1111.
            Other activities available in Page, AZ, are:
            – Horseshoe Bend
            Page Rim View Trail
            Glen Canyon Dam/Steel Arch Bridge
            Hanging Garden Trail & The Chains
            Glen Canyon Dam/White House Overlook
            Grand View Overlook Park
            The “New” Wave and Radio Tower Rock
            Wahweap Swim Beach and/or Lone Rock Beach (located in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, which requires a $30/vehicle entrance fee, good for one week’s time)
            One potential omission which is kind of jumping out at me is the Grand Canyon. If you’ve never been there before, you should definitely make time for it! The only complication is the closure of the section of AZ64 from Desert View Point at Grand Canyon South Rim to Cameron, AZ. This critical component of the shortest travel route between Grand Canyon South Rim and Page, AZ, is situated on Navajo Indian Tribal Land and has been closed to minimize Navajo Reservation residents’ potential exposure to COVID-19. All other roads in the area are open, but if you’re planning to travel between Grand Canyon South Rim and Page, AZ (or vice versa), you will have to drive all the way down to Flagstaff, AZ, then proceed North via US89 to Page, AZ, or US180/AZ64 or I40/AZ64 to Grand Canyon South Rim. This has turned what is normally ~a 3-hour drive into a 5-hour drive. If you were wanting to camp in that area, you’ll definitely need that cold weather sleeping bag and insulated pad. You’ll also be required to camp in a designated camping spot, which you’d have to pay for, or utilize “camping at large” areas outside the park, which would require you to be at least 1/4 mile from the main highway, and pack out all trash.
            As for hikes in Sedona, AZ, all the ones you’ve named are great, but are certainly not the only options. There are literally hundreds of miles of hiking trails in Sedona, AZ, so you’ll have no trouble finding a great way to spend your morning!
            Good luck and safe travels,
            Alley 🙂

      2. This is amazing! Thank you so much! Also thank you for warning us about the weather, but I may have over-simplified with my “car camping” reference – we will be in a converted camper van with all-weather sleeping bags, extra blankets, and a portable heater so I think we should be warm enough. If it still turns out to be too cold, we will definitely find some motels!
        Again I really appreciate all the recommendations and think we have more than enough options now to keep ourselves entertained. Now comes the hard part of choosing which ones to do 🙂 Please take care and Happy New Year to you as well!

        1. Hi again, Blaire!
          Thanks for the clarification about having a camper van, all-weather sleeping bags, and a heat source. You seem adequately prepared for colder weather, and in light of that, and willingness to spring for a motel if need be, you should have a great time. If the purpose of car/van camping is to save money, visit FreeCampsites.net or download the app to find free or nearly free spots to camp along your route.
          If you get a minute when you return home, feel free to write in again and let us know how things went!
          Take care,
          Alley 🙂

  76. Hi,
    We will be having a quick getaway to sedona, az on January 26. Planning to leave on the night of the 25 from san gabriel valley,ca. Is it possible to do horseshoe bend before reaching sedona since our check in is until 3pm. We will be leaving sedona on the 28th; it os super tight but I really wanna maximize. Since antelope is closed do you have any suggestions on the itinerary…thanks mucho!

    1. Hi Regale,
      I get the distinct impression you are not aware of where Horseshoe Bend actually is. It is located ~5 miles South of the town of Page, AZ, ~a 3-hour North of Sedona.
      As it stands, you’re facing ~7-8 hours drive from San Gabriel, CA, to Sedona, AZ. Trying to cram Horseshoe Bend in will turn that into a 11-12 hour drive. Not my idea of a vacation, unless you can somehow rearrange your schedule so you can spend the night in Page, AZ.
      My advice? Enjoy your two days in Sedona, AZ. Plan a return visit to Page, AZ, when you have the time to do it justice, and the Antelope Canyons are open once again. From what we’ve heard, that won’t occur until spring of this year, and that’s being optimistic.
      Good luck, safe travels, and Happy New Year,
      Alley 🙂

  77. We are travelling into Las Vegas on 1/13. My daughter (27) and I (46) are trying to plan our trip to include Bryce Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Escalante, and The Narrows/Zion. We really have three days to do all of this 1/15-1/17. Is there an itinerary that you would suggest to accomplish all of this within that given timeframe? Is Escalante worth trying to include, or is there something else you would suggest. We are totally open to suggestions in order to maximize our time in the area. We have not booked lodging in the area, so could base ourselves out of whatever is easier, and even stay each night in a different place. Do we need to hire a guide or take a tour to visit any of these, or can we do them on our own? We will have a rental car and can try to get a 4×4, although I am not experienced in driving off road.

    1. Hi Jill,
      One little “reality check” I need to throw in right off the bat is that I wouldn’t count on hiking the Narrows at this time of year. You have to realize that this hike requires walking through water most of the time, and it’s awfully cold on the river right now. Not that it hasn’t been done, but frankly, if you’re not experienced with this kind of hiking, I’d skip it this time around. The good news is that there are lots of wonderful hikes you can enjoy in Zion National Park. I think the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is open to private vehicles at this time of year, but if it’s not, you’ll need to utilize the shuttle system, which requires advance purchase of tickets via Recreation.gov. But again, I’m relatively certain that at this time of year you can drive your own vehicle into the park.
      RE: Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, that is a huge area, and most of it is located East of US89 in Southern Utah and Northern Arizona. You will, however, be able to pass by the Western “fringes” of the Monument driving from Kanab, UT, to Page, AZ. If you are able to plan a future trip out here, definitely set aside a few days to visit the area, as well as Capitol Reef and Moab.
      So in light of your timeframe and desires that can be realistically accomplished, here’s what I’d recommend:
      January 15th: Drive from Las Vegas to Page, AZ (~5 hours), visit Horseshoe Bend (or do it the next morning), overnight in Page
      January 16th: Drive from Page, AZ, to Bryce Canyon (~3 hours), maybe hike the Paria Rimrocks/Toadstool Hoodoos Trail on the way, overnight in the Bryce Canyon area, or Kanab, UT (~90 minutes from Bryce)
      January 17th: Day trip from Kanab, UT, to Zion National Park (~30 minute drive from Kanab), 2nd night in Kanab, UT
      January 18th: Drive back to Las Vegas (~3.5 hours from Kanab, UT), if desired, take short detour through Valley of Fire State Park, just Northeast of LAS
      Trip map
      Another alternative would be to simply book all 3 nights in Kanab, UT, and visit Horseshoe Bend as a day trip from there. Page, AZ, is about one hour and change, one way, from Kanab, UT.
      None of the activities/areas I’ve recommended require a guide to visit, and all are located on paved, well-traveled roads. The thing you’ll really need to keep an eye on is the time, namely, to be aware of when sunset occurs. This time of year, it takes place around 5:30 PM. You need to plan on doing all driving during daylight hours out here since local roads are very dimly lit, and the possible presence of deer, elk, and other wildlife elevate your risk of a collision. That’s not something you want to risk 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.
      Whatever you decide, I strongly recommend that you book some hotel reservations before you fly out here. Some motels and lodges have reduced capacity to facilitate cleaning and sanitizing between guest occupancies due to COVID-19. I’d hate to see you come all this way and not be able to find a place to stay!
      Good luck, safe travels, and Happy New Year,
      Alley 🙂

  78. Okay so we are a family of 4 (2 teens) that are visiting AZ for the first time. We will be at a meeting in Prescott that ends on Jan 16. We fly out of Phoenix the afternoon of the 19th. So what should we do with those 3 nights, 3 days? What would make the most sense? We were thinking about driving from Prescott to Grand Canyon the night of the 16th so we can do the Grand Canyon on the 17th. Should we try Page or Flagstaff on the 18th? We have never really seen much snow since we are from New Orleans:) Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Christine!
      You could do a number of things with your free time after your meeting in Prescott, AZ, but if you’ve never seen the Grand Canyon, you should definitely prioritize it over everything else. Going via the most direct route through Chino Valley, Ash Fork, etc., the drive would take you approximately 2.5 hours. If you wanted to take a more scenic route through Sedona, AZ, the drive would take ~4 hours. Due to the driving distance, plan on staying overnight at the Grand Canyon for optimal comfort and safety.
      Whatever you choose, hopefully your meeting in Prescott, AZ, would end early enough for you to make it to your destination by sundown. All your driving should be done during daylight hours since local roads are very dimly lit, and the possible presence of deer, elk, and other wildlife elevate your risk of a collision. That’s not something you want to risk 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 mid-January, sunset occurs at approximately 5:45 PM, so plan accordingly. If your meeting ends later in the afternoon, I would recommend just staying put in Prescott, then head to your next destination the following morning.
      RE: visiting Page, AZ, or Flagstaff, AZ, Page may not be so practical this time around due to the closure of an integral component of the shortest travel route from Grand Canyon South Rim. The Navajo Indian Tribe, in order to mitigate exposure to COVID-19, has opted to close AZ64 from Desert View Point to Cameron, AZ. This means that to drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, you must drive all the way down to Flagstaff, AZ, then slingshot back North via US89. This has turned what is normally a 3-hour drive into a 5-hour drive. Since the Antelope Canyons are also closed, and water-based activities are on seasonal hiatus, as much as I hate to say it, I’d recommend skipping Page, AZ, this time around and maybe taking that extra day to concentrate on Flagstaff, AZ, and/or Sedona, AZ. Either town would put you just 2-2.5 hours from Phoenix, so you wouldn’t have far to drive for your return flight.
      As for snow, Northern Arizona has gotten a fair amount of it, but nowhere near what’s typical. It fluctuates from year to year. You might take the scenic gondola ride at Arizona Snow Bowl in Flagstaff, AZ, or visit one of several local sledding or snow play areas. Naturally, actual snow amounts can’t be guaranteed, so if you do get some during your visit, consider it, as you would say New Orleans, “lagniappe.”
      Good luck, safe travels, and Happy New Year!
      Alley 🙂

  79. Hello,
    We reserved a cabin in Glendale, UT in the spring 2021 and will have full 4 days plus a 5th day that we are leaving from LV at night. Just realized Antelope is closed:( What would be your recommendation for each day? Anything we must see/do. Traveling with a 7 years old. Thank you!

    1. Hi Olga!
      Sorry to hear that the closure of the Antelope Canyons has thrown something of a wrench into your plans, but there may be a way to salvage that. More on that in a minute…
      Using Glendale, UT, as your “home base,” you can have a great time exploring Northern Arizona and Southern Utah! You should take one full day to visit Zion National Park (~30 minutes from Glendale, UT [one way]), another to do Bryce Canyon (~45 minutes from Glendale), a third to visit Horseshoe Bend and Page, AZ (~2 hours from Glendale), then your 4th day to visit Red Canyon/aka Peek-A-Boo Canyon in Kanab, UT (~30 minutes from Glendale, that’s the best alternative to the Antelope Canyons for those traveling with young children). Note that the order in which you do these doesn’t matter all that much, with one possible exception.
      As you can see, all the destinations I’ve listed are a fairly short drive from Glendale, UT, except one: Horseshoe Bend. Since the drive from Glendale, UT, to Page, AZ, is almost 2 hours one-way, you may want to drop a night at Glendale, UT, and stay in Page, AZ, instead. If you’re locked into those reservations, you can visit Page, AZ, as a day trip from Glendale, UT, as long as you keep a close eye on the time, particularly, sunset. 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 could hike up your risk of a car accident. That’s not something you want to chance in an unfamiliar area that’s pitch black, freezing cold (spring nights can still dip down around freezing), where help will be a long time coming, not to mention VERY expensive. When you refer to your trip taking place in spring 2021, assuming that you mean March or April, sunset in Page, AZ, occurs sometime before ~7:00 PM, 8:00 PM in Utah. You must bear in mind also that Utah is on Mountain Daylight Time, but Arizona will be on Mountain Standard Time, meaning that Utah is one hour “ahead” of Arizona. You would need to leave Page, AZ, no later than 5:15-5:30 PM, local time, in order to make it back by Glendale by sundown.
      One question that does pop up for me is have you been to the Grand Canyon? If not, you should definitely work it in somehow, but staying in Glendale, UT, situates you best to visit the North Rim, which doesn’t open until May 15th. If your visit is occurring before then, you wouldn’t be able to go to the North Rim on the ground, but it would be possible to fly over it. Fixed wing airplanes can be chartered out of Kanab, UT, or Page, AZ. Should your visit occur sometime after May 15th, the park would be open then, but the drive from Glendale, UT, would be 3 hours 1 way. Here again, best to stay in the immediate area of the North Rim rather than try to cram it in as a day trip.
      On the drive back to Las Vegas, you might take the short detour through Valley of Fire State Park. That’s a stunning area that’s really nice to visit in the springtime if it’s not too hot!
      For Red Canyon/Peek-A-Boo Canyon, a guided tour is not required, but they are strongly recommended due to the access road not being suitable for rental cars or those inexperienced with off-road driving. Tour companies offering trips 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
      Good luck, safe travels, and Happy New Year!
      Alley 🙂

  80. Hi Alley! I am visiting Phoenix January 20 – 25th and would love to visit Page and Sedona. As we are landing before 1 p.m., I was thinking of driving straight to Sedona from the airport and spending one night there. The next day driving to Page and spending one night there. Visiting Horseshoe Bend first thing in the morning and driving back to Phoenix/Scottsdale to spend the remaining 3 nights there. Does this itinerary make sense to you, or do you think it’s too exhausting? Any recommendations on must see things in Page and Sedona that are open at the time? Thank you in advance!

    1. Hey Jennie,
      Your proposed itinerary doesn’t sound exhausting at all, totally feasible. Still… I can’t help but add my .02 😉
      When you propose to spend the remaining 3 nights of your vacation in Phoenix/Scottsdale, I can’t get too enthusiastic about that because to me, that area is just another big city. I can think of better places to spend that kind of time, namely, Sedona, AZ. That’s a stunning area with lots to see and do, and is a great place to just chill for a few days before heading back to reality. One day is nowhere near enough time to do that area justice!
      If it were me, here’s what I’d do:
      January 20th: Fly to Phoenix, overnight in Phoenix
      January 21st: Drive to Page, AZ (~4.5-5 hours), overnight in Page
      January 22nd: Visit Horseshoe Bend, drive to Sedona (~3 hours), overnight in Sedona
      January 23rd: 2nd day/night in Sedona (Pink Jeep Broken Arrow Tour, hot air balloon ride)
      January 24th: 3rd day/night in Sedona (hiking, wine tasting, city tour of Sedona)
      January 25th: Drive to Phoenix (~2.5 hours), fly home
      One night should be sufficient in Page, AZ, what with the Antelope Canyons being closed. One thing that did raise a red flag is that the Grand Canyon is conspicuously absent from your itinerary. If you’ve never been there, you should definitely try and work it in somehow, and between Page, AZ, and Sedona, AZ is the most logical place to put it. The only potential problem right now is that due to COVID-19, an integral component of the shortest route between the two destinations is closed, specifically AZ64 from Cameron, AZ, to Desert View Point. That means you’d have to go all the way down to Flagstaff, AZ, then proceed North to the park via US180/AZ64 or I-40/AZ64; this has turned what used to be a 3-hour drive into a 5-hour drive. Sorry to be the bearer of potentially bad news on that front.
      Hope that helps. Good luck, safe travels, and Happy New Year!
      Alley 🙂

  81. Hello! I’ll be landing in Phoenix, AZ with my 3 year old daughter on the 6th of January and I’ll be leaving AZ on the 11th in the evening. I was wanting to visit Phoenix, Sedona, Page, Grand Canyon and UT. Could you give me some suggestions on any kid friendly hikes and whatever else we could do? I’ll most probably have her stroller on some of the hikes just in case she gets tired but she has hiked 2 hour trails before.

    1. Hi Haneen,
      First off, I’d recommend taking Utah off the table. With only 5 days to work with, you simply don’t have enough time to do it justice. Zion National Park in particular warrants at least a 3-4 day stay. Ditto for Sedona, AZ, but you can still have a fulfilling visit in just 2 days time. Hopefully you’ve allowed for that seeing as though you’re leaving tomorrow.
      In light of your time constraints and the fact that you’re traveling with a toddler, I’d recommend:
      January 6th: Land in Phoenix, overnight in Phoenix
      January 7th: Drive from Phoenix to Page, AZ (~5 hours), overnight in Page
      January 8th: Visit Horseshoe Bend first thing in the morning (trail is partially paved, so should be navigable with a stroller), drive to Grand Canyon South Rim ***due to the closure of AZ64 from Cameron, AZ, to Desert View Point, you’ll have to go all the way down to Flagstaff, AZ, then proceed North to the park via US180/AZ64; this has turned what used to be a 3-hour drive into a 5-hour drive*** The paved Rim Trail would be the best hike to take with a toddler in a stroller, overnight at the Grand Canyon
      January 9th: Drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Sedona, AZ (~3 hours), overnight in Sedona. Sedona has many stroller-friendly trails in various lengths, so you’ll find no shortage of beautiful hikes you can take!
      January 10th: 2nd day/night in Sedona
      January 11th: Drive from Sedona, AZ, to Phoenix (~2.5 hours), fly home
      Whatever you decide, be sure that you reserve all your hotels and any guided tours you might want to take ASAP.
      Good luck, safe travels, and Happy New Year!
      Alley 🙂

      1. Thank you so much! Would white pocket be a great place to visit with my daughter? I understand I would need a 4×4 high clearance vehicle, anything else I should know or how I could get clear directions on getting there?

        1. Hi again, Haneen,
          White Pocket would probably be a bit too labor-intensive with a 3YO in tow. Not only the walking involved, but the drive to get out there. If you’re not experienced at driving in deep sand, you’re very likely to get stuck.
          A better hike for you guys would be The “New” Wave and Radio Tower Rock, which is just a few minutes away from Page, AZ, easy to find, and the trail is very easy to follow. You may not be able to manage a stroller out there, but it’s short enough so that if you end up carrying your daughter for a ways, it won’t be that far.
          You might also enjoy walking across the Glen Canyon Dam and Steel Arch Bridge, and the Hanging Gardens Trail nearby. For more information, check out this recent YouTube video featuring a young family hiking out to Horseshoe Bend and the Hanging Garden area, plus the little guy narrating is just SO cute 😉
          Have a wonderful time!
          Alley 🙂

          1. Thank you so much for taking the time to give me some insight and recommendations! I will definitely be looking into all that you have suggested and plan accordingly! Happy New Year!

  82. Hello! I am a little confused about which roads are closed due to COVID restrictions. As of right now, our plan is the following:
    -Hike around Sedona
    -Drive from Sedona to Page
    -Hike Horseshoe Bend
    -Stay the night in Page
    -Drive from Page to Springdale/Zion
    -Hike around Zion (Zion National Park, Bryce, Grand Canyon)

    Would this itinerary make sense? I remember seeing a post about restrictions between Page and Zion! Also, should we plan to see Grand Canyon based out of Zion or white in Page? If you have any other suggestions, we would appreciate it so much! Thank you so much!!!

    1. Hi Annie,
      Your itinerary looks pretty fun, and logically organized. However, I don’t recall seeing when you were planning to travel, and that piece of information is a crucial component of the advice I would give.
      If your trip is taking place between May 15th and October 15th, you could certainly make a day trip to Grand Canyon North Rim based out of Zion, Kanab, UT, or Page, AZ.
      If you are planning on traveling between October 15th and May 15th, Grand Canyon North Rim is closed during that time, so you would be limited to visiting Grand Canyon South Rim or Grand Canyon West (where the Grand Canyon Skywalk is located). Grand Canyon South Rim can be visited as a day trip out of Flagstaff, AZ, or Sedona, AZ, with careful planning and an eye on the time, but honestly, it can be better enjoyed if you stay the night either in the park or Tusayan, AZ.
      At the moment, driving from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ, Zion NP, and points North requires taking a rather long detour through Flagstaff, AZ. This is due to a critical component of AZ64 on Navajo Indian Land, from Desert View Point to Cameron, AZ, being closed. Should that remain the case, and you are limited to visiting Grand Canyon South Rim, the drive from GCSR to Page, AZ, will be 5 hours one way instead of its normal ~3 hours.
      As of right now, there are no travel restrictions between Page, AZ, and Zion National Park, however, private vehicles are not allowed on the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive during peak tourist season. You are required to ride a shuttle to the viewpoints in that area, and advance purchase of tickets is required. Zion Canyon Shuttle Tickets
      Good luck, safe travels, and Happy New Year!
      Alley 🙂

  83. Hi Ally! I have a 4 year old golden retriever, and we are fairly strong hikers I would say, though I always worry about his safety in new places and I was reading that Horseshoe Bend has some steep and rocky terrain. What are your thoughts on hiking Horseshoe Bend with a dog? Thank you!!

    1. Hi Maggie,
      Dogs visit Horseshoe Bend all the time. They are perfectly welcome as long as they are leashed at all times and their owners pick up after them. Also, be sure to bring enough water for yourself and your pet as this is a desert environment and as such, it’s very dry, even in wintertime.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

    1. Hi Stephanie,
      I wouldn’t count on it. According to the official website of Navajo Nation Parks & Recreation, all Navajo Tribal Parks are still closed until further notice. These include:
      – The Antelope Canyons
      – Monument Valley
      – Four Corners
      – Tseyi Heritage Center at Canyon de Chelly
      – Some areas around Marble Canyon
      – Window Rock Veterans’ Memorial
      Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. If seeing Monument Valley remains high on your priority list, the safest way to go about it would be to take a fixed-wing airplane flight over it from the Page Municipal Airport. For more information on these, visit Westwind Air Service: Page To Monument Valley Air Tour
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

    1. Hey Sandra,
      Yes, 4.5 hours is a fairly accurate figure, wheels turning, no stops. However, you can easily extend the drive as it’s very scenic and you will find many sights that warrant a photo stop! Have fun,
      Alley 🙂

  84. Hi,
    Is it possible to do a day trip to horseshoe band from Phonix? What time should we leave? And do you think we can do other things beside see the horseshoe band before we head back to Phonix? When would be the best time to leave the area to avoid driving in darkness? I see some comments that it could be dangerous. We are doing this on New years day. And antelope canynon is closed now, right?

    1. Hey June,
      So sorry I didn’t see your inquiry in time. You’ve probably already come and gone, and hopefully were able to find your way around without much difficulty.
      For anyone else considering a similar plan, it is possible to visit Horseshoe Bend as a day trip from Phoenix, but at this time of year, it’s not ideal. For one, days are short. Driving at night 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.
      The drive from Phoenix to Page, AZ, takes approximately 4.5 hours, each way. Sunrise occurs at approximately 7:45 AM and sunset takes place at ~5:15 PM. So that’s less than 10 hours of daylight to work with, and you’re already proposing to use all of it up driving up from Phoenix and driving back. You should allot at least 90 minutes-2 hours to park at Horseshoe Bend, walk out to the rim, take photos, and walk back to your vehicle. Since the Antelope Canyons are closed, that doesn’t leave much else to do during the time you have to work with. The section of US89 from Page, AZ, to Flagstaff, AZ, is the most dangerous part of the drive back to Phoenix. I-17 from Flagstaff, AZ, to Phoenix, AZ, does have more ambient light, although not much until you get to the suburbs around Phoenix. If visiting as a day trip is your only option, 2:00-2:30 PM would be the latest I’d advise leaving so you’re not caught on the darkest part of the drive after sundown.
      Better option? Stay overnight in Page, AZ.
      Good luck, safe travels, and Happy New Year to all!
      Alley 🙂

  85. Hi I’m really looking forward to spend New Year’s Day at horseshoe bend coming from Santa Fe, we will travel on the 30th spend the night at some hotel and go hike on the 1st but wonder if there is another place to go the following day.

    1. Hey Jessica,
      You’ll be happy to know there are plenty of beautiful sights near Horseshoe Bend and Page, AZ, that are open for exploration!
      Some you might visit include, but are certainly not limited to:
      Page Rim View Trail
      Glen Canyon Dam/Steel Arch Bridge
      Hanging Garden Trail & The Chains
      Glen Canyon Dam/White House Overlook
      Grand View Overlook Park
      – The “New” Wave and Radio Tower Rock
      Wahweap Swim Beach and/or Lone Rock Beach (located in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, which requires a $30/vehicle entrance fee, good for one week’s time)
      Big Water Visitors Center & Dinosaur Museum **scroll down to the bottom of the linked page for this specific information** (in Big Water, Utah, ~20 minutes West of Page, AZ, on US89)
      Hope that helps! Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

    1. Hi Abbi,
      Barring super-bad weather (which is not expected) or some completely bizarre occurrence, Horseshoe Bend will be open on Christmas and New Year’s Day 🙂
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley

          1. Hi Douglas,
            The trail from the Horseshoe Bend parking lot to the overlook itself is ~.7 miles one-way, 1.4 miles round-trip. It is partially paved, the rest is graded, and relatively flat, so if everyone in your party is relatively healthy and fit, you should be able to manage it no problem.
            Good luck and safe travels,
            Alley 🙂

  86. Hello do I need reservations for the horseshoe bend hike ? I plan to travel from Las Vegas on Saturday the 26th!

    1. Hey Monique,
      No reservations required to visit Horseshoe Bend — simply arrive at your convenience between sunrise and sunset and pay the $10/vehicle one-time parking fee.
      BTW, it’s ~a 5-hour drive, each way, from Las Vegas to Page, AZ, so plan accordingly.
      Good luck, safe travels, and Happy Holidays,
      Alley 🙂

  87. hi, I am planning to spend couple of hours in horseshoe bend on my way to Zion on Christmas day? Is Horseshoe bend open on christmas day?

    Thanks
    Mahender

    1. Hi Mahender,
      Barring super-bad weather (which is not expected) or some completely bizarre occurrence, Horseshoe Bend will be open on Christmas and New Year’s Day 🙂
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley

  88. Hello! I will be in Arizona Dec. 28 – Jan. 1 and I was wondering if you have any suggestions for my trip including horseshoe bend… here is what we currently have in mind but I would love to hear any thoughts or ideas of stops or adjustments that we should make. Thank you in advance!
    – Monday Dec 28 – fly into Phoenix (stay the night)
    – Tuesday Dec 29 – drive to sedona, red rock state park, broken arrow trail, drive to flagstaff (stay the night in flagstaff)
    – Wednesday Dec 30 – drive to tusayan, hike grand canyon (stay the night in tusayan)
    – Thursday Dec 31 – sunrise at grand canyon south rim, drive to page, hike horseshoe bend at sunset (stay the night in page)
    – Friday Jan 1 – drive to phenix, fly home

    1. Hey Lily,
      Your itinerary as it stands looks pretty fun, and if it’s too late to change it (locked into hotel reservations, etc) I think you’ll have a perfectly wonderful time just leaving things the way they are!
      If you do have some flexibility to make some alterations, however, here’s what I’d recommend: flip-flop the order of the places you visit. Right now, you’re looking at doing the longer drives on the back end of your trip. Most people I talk to prefer to get them out of the way at the beginning.
      Another thing you may not be aware of is that due to COVID-19, an integral component of the shortest travel route between Grand Canyon South Rim and Page, AZ (AZ64 from Cameron, AZ, to Desert View Point on the South Rim) on Navajo Indian Tribal Lands is closed. This means that to get from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ, now requires that you drive all the way back to Flagstaff, AZ, then back up North to Page, AZ via US89. This rather long but unavoidable detour has turned what used to be a 3-hour drive into more like a 5-hour drive, whether you go from GC-Page or the other way around. Be sure you plan accordingly.
      So here’s what I’d recommend:
      December 28th – fly to Phoenix, stay overnight (no change)
      December 29th – Drive to Page, AZ (~5 hours), hike to Horseshoe Bend at sunset (5:18 PM), overnight in Page, AZ
      December 30th – Drive to Tusayan (~5 hours), sunset at Grand Canyon, overnight in Tusayan (so, no change in hotel reservations here)
      December 31st – Drive to Sedona (~2.5 hours from Grand Canyon South Rim), overnight in Sedona (or Flagstaff)
      January 1st – Drive to Phoenix (~2.5 hours from Flagstaff, 2 hours from Sedona)
      One more observation: one day and/or night in Sedona is going to leave you wanting! Sedona, AZ, is a stunning area with lots to see and do, enough for at least 3-4 days. Even then, people report that they feel as though they’d only “scratched the surface” of all the area had to offer. I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll be planning a return trip! Boo-hoo, huh? 😉
      Good luck, safe travels, and Happy Holidays,
      Alley 🙂

  89. Hi, we were planning to go Horseshoe Bend on Dec 26 but the weather shows it would snow that day. So, we preponed to Dec 24 and how will the weather be? Is it safe to travel from Las Vegas? Also, do we need to hike to the spot as we are visiting this place for the first time ?

    1. Hi Rahul,
      Actually, Page, AZ, is showing no indications of precipitation expected for your timeframe. Page, AZ, weather You might be looking at Grand Canyon South Rim weather, which does show a slight chance of precipitation early next week, but the Grand Canyon and Horseshoe Bend are two separate areas.
      Horseshoe Bend is approximately a 5-hour drive, one way, from Las Vegas, NV, all on paved roads that are very well-traveled. When you get to Horseshoe Bend, you should allot 90 minutes to two hours to park your vehicle, hike out to the rim (it’s ~.7 miles one way, partially paved and fairly flat). You’d then be facing a 5-hour drive back to Las Vegas, which doesn’t sound like my idea of fun on a vacation, plus your day is going to be quite short: sunrise occurs at around 7:30 AM and sunset takes place at approximately 5:15 PM. You might consider spending the night in Page, AZ, so you can have a nice relaxing visit to Horseshoe Bend.
      While snow is not expected in the Page, AZ, area, it is expected to be on the cool side with daytime temperatures in the ’40’s and overnight lows in the teens and ’20’s. Bring a jacket and maybe some gloves if you’re out and about in the morning or evening.
      Good luck, safe travels, and Happy Holidays!
      Alley 🙂

  90. Hi! Thank you for all your helpful information – I have a trip scheduled from 12/16 landing at night through 12/27 flying out of phoenix. Right now, my plan is to first start south in tuscon and saguaro park (1 day) then the next day in the petrified forest, then north to Grand Canyon and horse shoe bend for two nights. Then to Sedona for 3 nights (?). Does this route sound like a good plan? I have some free time in there, so have flexibility. Thank you!!

  91. What a plethora of information here in your comment section!!!! I have all the information I need for our trip in a week! The detour from the Grand Canyon to Page,AZ was super helpful. Thank you so much for the time in answering others questions!

    1. Hi Teresa,
      Yes, having a 3-hour drive turn into a 5-hour drive is the kind of surprise we’d rather have people avoid!
      Have a wonderful trip, and a Happy Holiday season,
      Alley 🙂

  92. Hi,

    We are planning for a trip to AZ/UT. Arriving from San Jose to Vegas on Dec 23 evening, considering the road conditions are not very safe to travel in night, we plan to reach St George by 10 pm and stay overnight. Considering we have 1 and half day (Dec 24th and half of 25th) what all can we visit in and around Horseshoe. I was so looking to cover Antelopes but heard it is closed :-(.
    I will be with my spouse and daughter (8). We can do moderate hiking.

    Thereafter, we plan to start to Moab post lunch on Dec 26th to cover Arches. Google map shows it is 4:30 hours drive, (1) are there any destination we can cover enroute, (2) it the route to Moab safe to reach late night (10 PMish) just in case we plan to cover some scenic points on the route.

    1. Hi Gaurav,
      So sorry that the closure of the Antelope Canyons has dealt you an unpleasant surprise in your trip planning, but there may be a way to salvage that part of your trip. More on that in a minute…
      Driving into St. George at night isn’t as risky as other areas because it’s a well-populated community with a good-sized light dome. Everywhere else, we strongly recommend doing your driving during daylight hours, including Moab.
      Page, AZ, where Horseshoe Bend is located, is approximately a 2.5 hour drive from St. George, UT. However, if seeing a slot canyon remains high on your priority list — which we wouldn’t blame you one bit for! — you should make Kanab, UT, your first stop so you can tour Red Canyon/aka Peek-A-Boo Canyon. With twists and turns on par with the Antelope Canyons, this short but memorable walk features classic slot canyon scenery, as well as some geological features unique to it. Technically, a guided tour is not required to get to Peek-A-Boo, however, we strongly recommend that you take one, because while the walk through the canyon itself is not difficult, the drive to get there can be. People get stuck on this route on a daily basis. 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
      Kanab, UT, is approximately 90 minutes from St. George, UT. Tours of Peek-A-Boo Canyon last approximately 4 hours. Then, Page, AZ, would be a further ~75 minute drive from Kanab, UT. I recommend staying overnight in Page, AZ. Time permitting, you could visit Horseshoe Bend that afternoon or evening before retiring for the night, or hit it the following morning en route to Moab, UT.
      The drive from Page, AZ, to Moab, UT, typically takes ~5 hours, but that’s wheels turning, no stops. That’s unlikely to happen since it’s a very scenic drive and you will be stopping more often than you realize to take pictures. ***Word of caution: be sure that your vehicle is fully fueled, and that you eat breakfast in Page, AZ, or at least have some snacks and water to tide you over until you get to Moab, UT. The reason for this is because the first 2-2.5 hours of the drive will be through Navajo Indian Tribal Lands. Due to being hit disproportionately hard by COVID-19, they have made the decision to close most businesses on their lands to outsiders in order to minimize their exposure. So while you can drive through the reservation in order to get from Page, AZ, to Moab, UT, you are strongly discouraged from stopping at anytime. That means that you’ll have to enjoy Monument Valley as a “drive-by,” but you can get out of the car at other off-reservation sites such as the Goosenecks of the San Juan State Park, and the quaint towns of Bluff, UT, and Blanding, UT. Don’t be surprised if the drive ends up taking 6-7 hours! However long it takes, I recommend timing your arrival in to Moab, UT, before sunset, which takes place at 5:00 PM at the time of year you’re visiting. Sunrise occurs just after 7:30 AM.
      Trip map
      Hope that helps! Good luck, safe travels, and Happy Holidays,
      Alley 🙂

  93. Hi there! We are flying into Phoenix on 1/7. Depart on 1/11. We want to see Sedona (hikes and places recommended are welcome), Horeshoe Bend, Bryce and Antelope Canyon. I know it’s closed, but are there any other slot canyon hikes we can do? Is this itinerary doable? We’re renting a car. Thanks so much for your feedback. We aren’t opposed to kayaking Horseshoe as well.

    1. Hey Christine,
      Assuming that 1/7 and 1/11 will be devoted to flying out and flying home, that gives you 3 full travel days to work with. Unfortunately, that’s not a lot of time. Plus, you’re visiting at a time of year when snow is a very real possibility in the higher elevations, such as Bryce Canyon, plus, if you’re going to visit Bryce Canyon, you should really visit Zion National Park since it’s practically right next door, but there’s that pesky time consideration, or, lack thereof as the case may be. In light of these issues, I recommend taking Bryce off the table and saving it for another trip, preferably when it’s warmer, and when you can fly in and out of Las Vegas and spend a week or more exploring and enjoying the sights at a more leisurely pace.
      Technically, you don’t really have enough time to do Sedona, AZ, justice either. Even eliminating Bryce from your wish list, you have at most one day to spend there, and I guarantee that will leave you wanting. Sedona is a huge and stunning area, with lots to see and do, even in wintertime. You really need at least 3-4 days there, and even then, people report that in that amount of time, they still felt that they only “scratched the surface” of all the area had to offer. As much as I hate to say it, you might consider just using the 3 days you have and giving it all to Sedona. Should the weather turn horrible and put a kabosh on your sightseeing plans, it’s a great place just to relax and chill. Sedona is ~a 2-hour drive (one way) from Phoenix.
      If you decide against that, here’s what I’d recommend:
      January 7th: fly to Phoenix, overnight in Phoenix
      January 8th: drive to Page, AZ (~5 hours from Phoenix), visit Horseshoe Bend (sorry, the kayaking doesn’t run at the time of year you’re visiting), overnight in Page, AZ (book 2 nights)
      January 9th: day trip to Kanab, UT (~70 minute drive, 1 way) to tour Red Canyon/aka Peek-A-Boo Canyon. With the Antelope Canyons closed, this is the most easily accessible alternative. With twists and turns on par with the Antelope Canyons, this short but memorable walk features classic slot canyon scenery, as well as some geological features unique to it. 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. People get stuck on this route on a daily basis. 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 Peek-A-Boo Canyon last approximately 4 hours. Time permitting, you might also use this day to enjoy the hike to the Paria Rimrocks and Toadstool Hoodoos, between Page, AZ, and Kanab, UT. The trailhead is on US89 near mile marker 19. If you have time to spare, you might pop into the Big Water Visitors Center and Dinosaur Museum, ~20 minutes from Page, AZ, over the Utah border. Overnight in Page, AZ, again.
      January 10th: drive to Sedona (~3 hours from Page, AZ), overnight in Sedona
      January 11th: drive to Phoenix (~2 hours from Sedona), fly home
      Trip map
      Whatever you decide, be sure to book all hotels and guided tours in advance. Also, be sure plan to do all your driving during daylight hours. 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. At the time of year you’re traveling, days are short: sunrise occurs at around 7:30 AM and sunset takes place just before 5:30 PM.
      Hope that helps! Good luck, safe travels, and Happy Holidays,
      Alley 🙂

      1. Thank you so much! We extended our trip another day, and have now opted to fly out of Vegas instead of circling back to PHX. I’ve done Zion before, but I’m not opposed to do it again. The Narrows was amazing!!

        I appreciate your feedback!

        1. Hey Christine!
          Good call on adding another day. More time is always a good thing in the American Southwest 😉
          Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s, and if you get a minute when you return home, let us know how things went!
          Take care,
          Alley

    1. Hi North Lee,
      Yes, Horseshoe Bend is open! It’s one of a few attractions that never closed during COVID-19.
      As for other sights in the Page, AZ, area that are still open for visiting, there is:
      Page Rim View Trail
      Glen Can Dam/Steel Arch Bridge
      Hanging Garden Trail & The Chains
      Glen Canyon Dam/White House Overlook
      Grand View Overlook Park
      The “New” Wave and Radio Tower Rock
      Wahweap Swim Beach and/or Lone Rock Beach (located in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, which requires a $30/vehicle entrance fee, good for one week’s time)
      Big Water Visitors Center & Dinosaur Museum
      Hope that helps! Good luck, safe travels, and Happy Holidays,
      Alley 🙂

  94. Hi Alley! Thanks for all of the great information and being so helpful for all of us out-of-towners. I’m sorry if this is a repeat question. I read through quite a few, but still have some questions.

    We are landing in PHX the morning of Saturday, December 26th. We plan on stopping at the Old Town Scottsdale Farmers Market. From there I am undecided between spending the next few days in Sedona or Page. We fly out at 1 PM on Tuesday, December 29th so we really only have two full days. I thought about doing Sedona one day and then Page the other day, but I feel like that may be too much. We were looking at going to Horseshoe Bend for sunrise and then looking for hiking or biking tours. If you have any recommendations on tours and any opinions on what you would do with that amount of time they would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!!

    1. Hey Kylee and thank you for your compliments!
      Good call on choosing “quality over quantity” for your upcoming trip. As to which destination you choose, that depends on a few factors, such as your preference or aversion to long drives and cold weather, but most importantly, it will probably come down to hotel availability and pricing. You’re traveling during the week leading up to New Year’s Day, so it is most likely to be busy, COVID-19 notwithstanding.
      It takes ~5 hours to drive from Phoenix to Page, AZ. You could hit Horseshoe Bend either on your way into town or on your way back to Phoenix; the parking lot is open from sunrise to sunset. As for the rest of the time, you could certainly enjoy hiking and maybe even some biking. For biking, you might enjoy an electric mountain bike tour around the Page Rim View Trail with Lake Powell Adventures. Hiking is easy enough to do on your own. Popular trails and sights include, but are certainly not limited to:
      Page Rim View Trail
      Glen Canyon Dam/Steel Arch Bridge
      Hanging Garden Trail & The Chains
      Glen Canyon Dam/White House Overlook
      Grand View Overlook Park
      The “New” Wave and Radio Tower Rock
      Wahweap Swim Beach and/or Lone Rock Beach (these are located in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, which requires a $30/vehicle entrance fee, good for one week’s time)
      Big Water Visitors Center & Dinosaur Museum (in Big Water, UT, ~15 miles from Page, AZ)
      Sedona is ~2-2.5 hours drive (one way) from Phoenix, and offers plenty to see and do in 2-3 days time! If you opt to visit Page, AZ, on this trip, definitely plan a future trip to Sedona, AZ, when you can spend 4-5 days. You won’t regret it!
      Hope that helps. Good luck, safe travels, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!
      Alley 🙂

      1. Thanks Alley!!! As much as we wanted to go to Page we decided to do Sedona since it was a shorter drive and we will have my parents with us. Do you have favorite hikes in the Sedona area? We are also looking at the jeep tours. Do you have a favorite company? Thanks for all your recommendations! We are saving them for a future trip to Page 🙂

        1. Hi again, Kylee,
          At the time of year you’re traveling, and in light of the road closures in effect in Northern AZ, I think this is a good decision.
          As far as hikes in Sedona, AZ, go, you’ll find no shortage of good ones. I like the West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon, but that trail crosses a river several times and may not be practical when outside temps are at or below freezing. You might look at the Fay Canyon Trail, Deadman’s Pass Trail, or the Honanki/Palatki Heritage sites. For more information, visit HikeSedona.com or Sedona.net
          For jeep tours, again, several possibilities here, but the Pink Jeep Broken Arrow Tour continues to be the “quintessential” Sedona backcountry tour. Naturally, this will occur weather permitting and possibly contingent on a certain number of passengers traveling. IIRC, you’re traveling around the Xmas holiday, so advance reservations for hotels and guided tours are an absolute must!
          We hope you’ll get a chance to plan a trip to Page, AZ, for another time. The best time of year to visit the Grand Canyon, Page, AZ, and the surrounding area is late September-early October. Weather is nearly perfect for sightseeing and hiking at that time of year <3
          Have a great time and if you get a minute when you return home, let us know how things went!
          Take care,
          Alley 🙂

  95. Hi there – great page and resources! My friend and I are traveling to Arizona from Dec 16-20th (flight lands at around noon on the 16th, and we depart at around 3 pm on the 20th, all to/from PHX airport).

    We’d like to visit the Grand Canyon, as well as Horseshoe Bend and Lower Antelope Canyon via the kayak options. Do you have any recommendations on the best route between these three? We were thinking to spend Thurs Dec 17 kayaking to the Lower Antelope Canyon to hike and then spend the afternoon visiting Horseshoe Bend – we don’t know if many have taken the kayaks to the Antelope hike so want to know if this is recommended? We also don’t know if it would be feasible to visit Horseshoe Bend in the afternoon close to closing as we read it gets busy / parking lot gets full…. We then wanted to drive toward the Grand Canyon area and spend Fri Dec 18 at the Grand Canyon. We aren’t able to visit these sites on Saturday because we observe Sabbath and Sunday we fly out…so we appreciate any advice on these plans.

    1. Hi Shaked,
      Thank you so much for your compliments. They are much appreciated!
      If you are interested in kayaking in Lower Antelope Canyon, you would have to rent a kayak and go there on your own, which is relatively simple, especially if you rent from Antelope Point Marina. They would advise you as to how far into the land-side of the canyon you could hike so as not to trespass on Navajo Indian Tribal Lands which are closed to outsiders. To reserve or get more information, phone 800-255-5561.
      Time permitting, you could visit Horseshoe Bend that afternoon, or evening for sunset. If that doesn’t work out, simply stop by on your way to Grand Canyon South Rim. One word of warning about the drive to Grand Canyon South Rim: normally it’s ~3 hours, but due to an integral component of the drive (AZ64 from Cameron to Desert View Point) being closed since it’s on Navajo Tribal Land, you are now required to drive all the way down to Flagstaff, AZ, then back up North via US180/AZ64 (or I-40/AZ64 if you prefer). This has turned a 3-hour drive into more along the lines of 5 hours, so be sure to get an early start on that day! Trip map
      Good luck, safe travels, and good Shabbat,
      Alley 🙂

  96. Hi Alley,

    This is an incredible feed and thank you for your service to everyone here. I have tried to read as much as I can, but it’s a lot to piece together so I am just going to ask about my particular situation anyway. Sorry for the likely duplicative questions.

    My wife and I are flying in and out of PHX on Dec 11-16. We would like to cover the Grand Canyon (not the whole thing obviously!), Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon (or similar given the closure), Sonoma, and Phoenix (time permitting). We will rent a car to drive location to location. We are in our mid-twenties and good shape so hiking is fine/good! Any tips on what is best to cover with this limited time? What is the best path to take based on timing and geography? Any other tips/recs? Perhaps most importantly… where should we eat? 🙂

    Thank you so much for your advice! Wishing you good health!

    1. Hi Blake and thank you so much for your compliments.
      No problem asking questions that have already been asked, it comes with the territory when helping folks like you plan trips to unfamiliar areas.
      Normally, I don’t like to make assumptions, but in this case I’m going to assume that your auto correct kicked in and that instead of “Sonoma” you mean “Sedona?” Sonoma, CA, would be too far a swing out of the way and California’s wine country deserves its own trip!
      So, assuming (again!) that December 11th and 16th will be travel days, that leaves you with 4 full days to work with. Unfortunately, that’s not enough time to do Sedona, AZ, justice. Sedona is a stunning area, with lots to see and do. You really need 3-4 days minimum to enjoy and explore it fully; people even report spending a week there and still feeling as though they’d only “scratched the surface.” Long story short, you can still get there, but your visit will be short; I can pretty much guarantee that you will be planning a return trip there someday!
      Secondly, a road closure that could potentially throw a kink into your plans is AZ64 from Desert View Point to Cameron, AZ. Normally, this is an integral component of the shortest travel route from Grand Canyon South Rim to Horseshoe Bend (or vice versa), but since it lies on Navajo Indian Tribal Lands, which are closed to outsiders due to COVID-19, it is now necessary to drive all the way back from GC South Rim to Flagstaff, then back up North to Page, AZ, via US89. This detour has turned what used to be ~a 3-hour drive into a 5-hour drive.
      With the Antelope Canyons being closed, since they are also on Navajo Indian property, you might want to instead hike Wire Pass Canyon/Buckskin Gulch near Paria, UT. This photogenic two-part slot canyon is located between Page, AZ, and Kanab, UT, on US89, about a 45 minute drive from Page, AZ. The nice thing about Wire Pass 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 may be full of deep sand if recent weather has been dry. 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 rental cars 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. Page, AZ, and Kanab, UT based 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
      So, here’s what I’d recommend:
      December 11th: fly to Phoenix, if flight arrives early, drive to Sedona, AZ (~2 hour drive) and overnight
      December 12th: drive to Grand Canyon South Rim (~3 hours), overnight at Grand Canyon, maybe hike a short distance down the Bright Angel Trail
      December 13th: drive to Page, AZ via Flagstaff, AZ (~5 hours), visit Horseshoe Bend, overnight in Page, AZ
      December 14th: Hike Wire Pass Canyon/Buckskin Gulch **be sure to verify that the House Rock Valley Road is passable before attempting to drive it yourself, or book a guided tour** spend 2nd night in Page, AZ
      December 15th: Drive from Page, AZ, to Phoenix (~5 hour drive), explore around Phoenix area that afternoon or part of following morning, overnight in Phoenix
      December 16th: fly home
      Trip map
      If the idea of shorting Sedona, AZ, doesn’t appeal, as much as I hate to say it, you might skip Page, AZ, this time around and schedule a visit there at another time, namely the Navajo Nation feels safe enough to welcome tourists to the Antelope Canyons once again. If you take me up on that suggestion, plan a trip in the spring or fall months that has you fly into Las Vegas and do a 7-day loop through Zion, Bryce, Grand Canyon North Rim, Lake Powell, and Monument Valley! Ultimate 7-Day Itinerary in Northern Arizona and Southern Utah
      As for where you should eat, again, COVID-19 will have a definite influence on where you can go, seating capacity, mask requirements (maybe lack thereof in some cases). If you’re looking for quality and variety, Phoenix and Sedona will offer more of both. Dining options at the Grand Canyon have been significantly reduced. Some places in Page, AZ, have also closed, either temporarily or permanently, due to COVID-19. My best advice would be to consult TripAdvisor, Yelp, FourSquare or whatever restaurant review sites you prefer to use and look for recent reviews in the areas you plan to visit. Also, be prepared to take a DIY approach, maybe pick up a cheap cooler after arriving in Phoenix, hit a grocery store, and pick up food supplies you can easily take with you sightseeing, or prepare in your hotel room. Since most hotel rooms these days have microwaves and mini-fridges (with the exception of the Grand Canyon), that makes things easier.
      Whatever you decide, book your hotels ASAP if you haven’t done so already. Ditto for guided tours.
      Hope that helps and that you have a wonderful trip! If you get a minute when you return home, write back in and let us know how things went.
      Take care and Happy Holidays,
      Alley 🙂

      1. Hi Alley,
        I am glad to see this website with your responses to people’s queries for trip planning. I was initially planning to go to San Diego for a week with my sister’s family as a group of 4 adults and 4 children (aged 16, 12, 11, and 8). My trip was from 24th Dec to 1st Jan. Since there are travel restrictions in San Diego we are canceling our trip to San Diego.
        I am thinking about planning a trip to the canyons (Horseshoe, Zion, Sedona, Antelope, Bryce, Arches) instead. I will avoid Las Vegas. I am planning to fly into Pheonix and depart from Pheonix. Can you help me plan my trip itinerary for 7 seven nights from 24th Dec to 1st Jan from Pheonix.
        Thanks
        Gokul

        1. Hi Gokul,
          So sorry your trip plans for California have been impacted by COVID-19 🙁 But, hopefully California’s loss will be Arizona and Utah’s gain.
          Unfortunately, I have to begin by giving you couple of small ‘reality checks:’
          1. Take Arches out of the equation. It’s too far a swing out of your way flying into Phoenix (~8 hours, one way – yikes!), and Moab, UT, deserves at least 4-5 days to do it justice, preferably when it’s warmer. That way you can explore and enjoy Arches, Canyonlands, Dead Horse Point, Castle Valley, maybe do some rafting in Cataract Canyon. Lots of possibilities! For that area, Salt Lake City is a better airport to fly into.
          2. You’re traveling during the Christmas/New Year’s holidays, which means that many hotels near the parks are likely to be sold out. If you haven’t made reservations already, you might have a rough time finding accommodations. We’ll keep our fingers crossed for that not to be the case, but that’s why I’m suggesting you use Kanab, UT, as a “base” from which to sightsee in Bryce and Zion.
          With those small modifications, here’s what I’d recommend:
          December 24th: Fly into Phoenix, overnight there
          December 25th: Drive from Phoenix, AZ, to Kanab, UT (~6 hours), stay 3 nights
          December 26th: Day trip to Bryce Canyon National Park (~90 minutes each way from Kanab, UT), back to Kanab, UT, for overnight
          December 27th: Day trip to Zion National Park (~45 minutes each way from Kanab, UT); you will have to use the shuttle to access Zion Canyon, the main sightseeing area. Tickets must be purchased in advance for the Zion Canyon Shuttle, and may already be sold out. Should this be the case, there are still areas you can visit by driving UT9 throug the park to Springdale, UT, including the visitors center, watchman trail, parus trail, the long tunnel, canyon overlook trail, Checkerboard mesa, the chance to see the mountain sheep, and many pullouts along the way where you can stop for the view, or hike down into the washes. Return to Kanab, UT, for overnight
          December 28th: Drive from Kanab, UT, to Horseshoe Bend/Page, AZ (~1 hour), then to Flagstaff, AZ (~3 hours), spend 2 nights **the reason I don’t suggest going directly from Kanab, UT, to Grand Canyon South Rim is because an integral component of the shortest drive is on Navajo Reservation land, which is closed due to COVID-19 along with the East gate of the park; you have to detour through Flagstaff, AZ, then proceed North to the park, so in light of the detour, you may as well spend the night in Flagstaff***
          December 29th: Day trip to Grand Canyon South Rim (1.5 hour drive, each way), visit Grand Canyon Village Historic District, Canyon View Information Plaza, overlooks on Hermit’s Rest Road What’s open in Grand Canyon, return to Flagstaff, AZ, to overnight
          December 30th: Drive to Sedona, AZ (~1 hour from Flagstaff, AZ), visit Chapel of the Holy Cross, Tlaquepaque, perhaps take the Pink Jeep Broken Arrow Tour, overnight in Sedona, or return to Flagstaff, AZ, to overnight if Sedona is sold out One Day In Sedona
          December 31st: Drive back to Phoenix (~2 hours from Sedona) to fly home
          Trip map
          One last thing: your visit is taking place during a timeframe when you might encounter snow. “White Christmases” are especially common in Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon South Rim. Should you run up against a snowstorm, your best bet is to wait it out until it clears, then move on to your next destination when it’s safe to do so. Start monitoring local weather and road conditions ~2 weeks before you get ready to travel. That will give you the best idea of what to expect.
          Oh, another last thing 😉 — be sure do all your driving during daylight hours. 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. At the time of year you’re traveling, days are short: sunrise occurs at around 7:30 AM and sunset takes place just before 5:15 PM.
          Good luck, safe travels, and Happy Holidays,
          Alley 🙂

  97. HI,

    We are planning to visit Grand Canyon, Horse Shore bend, Zion and Arches National Park. As of now our trip is planned from 24-29th Dec. Is it possible to cover all these ?.
    As of now we have planned to travel early mrng on 24th Dec from Vegas to Grand Canyon. Spend daytime in Grand Canyon and head for Page by 3 or 4 PM. Stay in Page 24th Night and watch sunrise (25th Dec) at horse shoe bend. After watching sunrise leave for Zion/Arches, this is where we are confused. Should we go to Zion or Arches from Page. Thinking to spend 1 day in Arches (see Delicate arch and few easy hikes) and spend rest 2 days in Zion. And return back to Vegas on 29th to catch our 6PM flight.
    Can you suggest us good itinerary for our above tentative plan ?.
    Thanks for your help in advance :).

    1. Hi Rajat,
      Sorry, but I can’t endorse your itinerary as it stands.
      Your plan pretty much goes wrong on day 1: it takes ~5 hours to drive from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon South Rim. It then takes roughly the same amount of time to drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ. You might have heard that the drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ, takes ~2.5-3 hours, but that’s not the case right now. Due to COVID-19, an integral component of the normal travel route that traverses Navajo Indian Tribal Land (Desert View Point to Cameron, AZ, on AZ64) is closed. That means, to get from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ, requires that you drive all the way back down to Flagstaff, AZ, then back up North to Page, AZ, via US89. This rather long and mandatory detour has turned a 3-hour drive into a 5-hour drive, which you’re proposing to do on a day when you’ve already driven 5 hours, and your day is already going to be very short: sunrise in Las Vegas occurs shortly before 7:00 AM and sunset in Arizona takes place at around 5:15 PM. Nighttime driving is something you should avoid 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.
      A better plan on your first day of travel would be to overnight at Grand Canyon South Rim , then drive to Page, AZ, the next morning, spend the night in Page, AZ, then move on to your next destination.
      As to where your next destination should be, as much as I hate to say it, I recommend taking Arches off the table this time around. It is simply too far out of your way (~5 hours from Page, AZ, roughly the same from Zion [see map]), and you don’t have enough time to enjoy and explore it fully. The Moab, UT area — where Arches and Canyonlands National Parks are situated — really needs 3-5 days to do it justice. So instead of driving all that way just to “scratch the surface” of all Moab, UT, has to offer, I’d recommend instead going to Bryce Canyon. It’s a beautiful area, and would probably be a better option for you this time around. For one, it’s closer to Page, AZ (~3 hour drive). Second, it comprises a relatively small area, square mileage-wise, so one day there is usually sufficient for most visitors. Secondly, it puts you closer to Zion, ~90 minute drive. Zion definitely needs at least 2 days time as it is a very large park with a lot to see and do. The drive back to Las Vegas from Zion will take anywhere from 3-4.5 hours depending on where you stay the night before. Springdale, UT, and Hurricane, UT, are popular gateway communities for Zion as they are both situated on the Western border of the park, which gives you a substantial head start on the drive back to Las Vegas.
      A couple more things: you’re traveling during the Christmas holiday, which is a very popular time of year for tourism in this area, COVID-19 notwithstanding. All hotels and guided tours must be booked in advance. On the subject of the Christmas holiday, “white Christmases” are common in Northern Arizona and Southern Utah, especially Grand Canyon South Rim and Bryce Canyon. Be sure to keep an eye on local weather conditions, starting about 2 weeks before you get set to travel. Should you encounter a snowstorm during your travels, be prepared to wait it out, don’t try to power through it, especially if you’re not used to driving in such conditions. Lastly, and probably most importantly, you will be required to utilize the Zion Canyon Shuttle System in order to access the main scenic drive of that park. Due to COVID-19, capacities on these vehicles have been substantially reduced, necessitating the advance purchase of tickets for all riders. For more information on this arrangement, visit NPS.gov: Zion Canyon Shuttle Tickets
      Oh, one more thing 😉 — if possible, get an early start on the drive back to Las Vegas so you can make the short detour (road and weather conditions permitting) through the Valley of Fire State Park. This is a stunning area with exquisite rock formations, that can be enjoyed via an easy loop drive that won’t take you too far off course. Full trip map
      I hope that helps! Good luck, safe travels, and Happy Holidays,
      Alley 🙂

  98. Hi Alley! Your insight is so great I am so glad I found this page. I have a few questions. I am staying in SLC with a friend in an apartment from December 2-10 and planning on traveling the Thursday night-Sunday (December 3-6). Zion and Bryce are definitely things we wanted to see in that time but now I am wondering if it would be a fun idea to see Horseshoe Bend at sunrise one morning. Do you think it is doable and worthwhile? This is my thought process:
    1. Drive to hotel/airbnb Thursday afternoon near Zion National Park (we were thinking of staying in Hurricane, UT because we heard it was cheaper)
    2. Spend all day Friday at Zion and hike angel’s landing then drive back to Hurricane for the night.
    3. Leave hotel around 5am to make it to Horseshoe Bend for sunrise and then head to Bryce Canyon for the day. And drive back to SLC on Saturday night? I know it is a 4 hour drive. We could wait until Sunday to drive back- I just didn’t know if it would be worth it to find another hotel near Bryce for the night.

    I am not glued to this plan, we just want to make sure we at least see Zion and Bryce in the one weekend! I am open to any and all suggestions and would love to hear any recommendations you have. Thanks so much in advance!!

    1. Hi Julia, we’re glad you found us, too!
      Your plan looks pretty fun, I’d still recommend some small modifications for optimal safety and comfort.
      You are correct in that hotels in Hurricane, UT, are significantly less expensive than those in Springdale, UT, a popular gateway community for Zion National Park. You would also find that to be the case in Kanab, UT.
      The reason(s) I would tend to steer you toward Kanab, UT, over Hurricane, UT, is because it’s more centrally situated between the 3 attractions on your wish list, and would substantially reduce your drive time to Page, AZ, for Horseshoe Bend on that 3rd day: Hurricane, UT, is ~2 hours from Page, AZ, whereas Kanab, UT, is more like 1 hour. You want to avoid driving before sunrise or after sunset as much as possible 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.
      Similarly, instead of driving all the way back to SLC after sightseeing at Bryce, you could just drive back to Kanab, UT, which is ~90 minutes from Bryce. The trip back to SLC the next morning would be slightly longer, but only by ~30-45 minutes.
      On the trip back to SLC, you could make a slight detour through Brian Head and Cedar Breaks National Monument, weather and road conditions permitting, of course. Map of trip
      Hope that helps! Good luck, safe travels, and Happy Holidays,
      Alley 🙂

    1. Hi Janet,
      Horseshoe Bend will be open from sunrise to sunset. You pay a one-time $10 parking fee to visit. As you might imagine, Horseshoe Bend is very popular for sunset viewing, but I personally think that sunrise is the best time to be there because crowds are usually smaller.
      Good luck, safe travels, and Happy Holidays!
      Alley 🙂

      1. So you can hike the Horeshoe Bend? I was just told by my hotel that you can’t have your view of it but can’t really do anything else.

        1. Hi Kiki,
          Yes, you can hike to Horseshoe Bend. It is one of a few attractions in the area that never closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The parking lot is open from sunrise to sunset, and you pay a one-time $10 parking fee to visit. As you might imagine, Horseshoe Bend is very popular for sunset viewing, but I personally think that sunrise is the best time to be there because crowds are usually smaller.
          Other places in the Page, AZ, you might go include, but are not limited to:
          The Page Rim View Trail
          Glen Can Dam/Steel Arch Bridge
          Hanging Garden Trail & The Chains
          Glen Canyon Dam/White House Overlook
          Grand View Overlook Park
          The “New” Wave and Radio Tower Rock
          Wahweap Swim Beach and/or Lone Rock Beach (these are located in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, which requires a $30/vehicle entrance fee, good for one week’s time)
          Big Water, UT, Visitors Center and Dinosaur Museum
          Hopefully as you can see, there’s still no shortage of things to see and do in the Page, AZ, area, even with some attractions closed due to COVID-19.
          Good luck, safe travels, and Happy Holidays!
          Alley 🙂

  99. hi there,
    planning on going tuesday at Horseshoe Bend please i need some advice it’s our 1st time 🙂 do u think bringing kids is a good idea? (age 8,12,14) also how far is the Horseshoe Bend from Vegas strip? and last what time is the best time to arrive at Horseshoe Bend ? thank u so much.

    1. Hi Trisha,
      It takes approximately 5 hours to drive from Las Vegas, NV, to Page, AZ, where Horseshoe Bend is located. It’s fine to bring kids with you as long as you are aware that the majority of the rim of Glen Canyon is unfenced and it’s a 700′ drop to the Colorado River. Also, since it’s a desert environment, be sure to bring enough water for all members of your party.
      As for the best time to visit Horseshoe Bend, there’s no such thing as a bad time. As you might imagine, Horseshoe Bend is very popular for sunset viewing, but I personally think that sunrise is the best time to be there because crowds are usually smaller.
      One last thing: since the drive from Las Vegas to Page, AZ, is so long, I’d recommend making it an overnight visit instead of a day trip. You’ll find many hotels in Page, AZ, in a variety of amenity classes and price points. Page, AZ, hotels
      Good luck, safe travels, and Happy Holidays!
      Alley 🙂

    1. Hi Lucy,
      If your visit is coming up in the near future, you should be aware that the main campground at Great Sand Dunes National Park has closed for the season. There is no lodging inside the park, so you’d need to look at hotels and motels in the nearby towns for accommodations. For more information on exploring and enjoying Great Sand Dunes, CO, visit http://www.NPS.gov/grsa/planyourvisit/index.htm
      For Arches, you’d need to stay in Moab, UT, and give that area about 3 days of your time so you can also explore Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park, Castle Valley, and other sights. Since that area is still quite busy, it is advised to arrive before 9:00 AM if at all possible so as not to experience delays getting into the park. For more information on Arches National Park, visit https://www.nps.gov/arch/planyourvisit/conditions.htm
      Please note that services in both areas may be limited or curtailed due to COVID-19. Be prepared to abide by any mask mandates or social distancing guidelines in place at each park.
      If you were planning to visit both parks in one trip, know that it takes ~6-7 hours to drive from one park to the other. If driving that long a distance in one go is not desirable, you might consider breaking up the drive in Mesa Verde National Park. Trip map
      Good luck, safe travels, and Happy Holidays,
      Alley 🙂

  100. Hello!
    We just did Horseshoe bend today. So beautiful! Since Antelope Canyon is closed, we found this blog about Peek-a-boo Slot Canyon. However, Google says there is a Peek-a-Boo Canyon in Kanab but also one that is a four-hour drive away from Page. Is the one in Kanab the one that looks similar to Antelope? And if so, are you able to provide detailed instructions with how to get there. Any other suggestions for the area? Thanks so much for all this info! This blog really helped us plan our trip.

    1. Hi Maria,
      So sorry I didn’t see this until today, hopefully, you were able to get the answers you needed to this very good question!
      There are indeed two “Peek-A-Boo” Canyons in Southwest Utah, but they are very different from one another. Red Canyon/aka Peek-A-Boo Canyon in Kanab, UT, is presently the most popular alternative to the currently closed Antelope Canyons in Page, AZ. 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. 4WD vehicles with adequate clearance are a definite must, with tire pressure lowered to accommodate potentially deep sand. 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. If you want to try your hand at self-driving, go 7.5 miles past the Kanab, UT, city limit sign on US 89; turn onto BLM road #102 and follow it 4 miles in until you find the parking area. For those who would prefer to explore Peek-A-Boo in the safety and comfort of a guided tour, there are several reputable companies to choose from 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
      The other “Peek-A-Boo” Canyon is located in the Dry Fork Area of the unpaved “Hole In The Rock” road in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, approximately a 4-5 hour drive from Page, AZ. A hike of this slot canyon can easily be piggy-backed onto exploration of another, called “Spooky” Gulch, for a nice afternoon of adventure! A little climbing and boulder scrambling is required to explore this memorable slot canyon “two-fer,” also, Spooky has some tight spaces that claustrophobes and folks with larger BMI’s may find difficult to manage. The hardest part about accessing this area is the road. Like the House Rock Valley Road, the Hole in the Rock Road (or HITRR as we call it around here) is unpaved. Though regularly graded and passable for 4×4 vehicles most of the time, when wet, it can be rendered a clay bog that’s easy to get stuck in, and that (along with a very high tow bill) can be a major buzzkill. Before embarking on this particular trip, area road conditions should be verified through the local visitors center, who can be reached at 435-826-5499 Peek-A-Boo/Spooky Gulch Loop Hike
      Good luck, safe travels, and Happy Holidays!
      Alley 🙂

  101. Hello!
    My friends and I are going to the grand canyon from Nov 22-24. We wanted to see if we could separate one day for the grand canyon and on the other days go to horse shoe bend, but we do not know if it is going to take all day long. Also, what other natural parks do you recommend and where is a good place to stay?

    1. Hi Ashley,
      With 2-3 days to work with, you don’t have much time to begin with. If you’re wanting to use one of those days to visit Horseshoe Bend, you need to think in terms of spending the night in Page, AZ. Normally, it takes ~3 hours to drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ. Unfortunately, a critical component of the normal travel route (AZ64 from Desert View Point to Cameron, AZ) passes through the Navajo Indian Reservation, and has been closed by executive order of the Navajo Tribe. This means that to get from GC South Rim to Page, AZ, you must drive all the way South to Flagstaff, AZ, then up North via US89 to Page, AZ. This has turned a 3-hour drive into a 5-hour drive. That’s one-way. You don’t want to try and make a day trip out of Horseshoe Bend at the time of year you’re visiting because of daylength, or, lack thereof. Sunrise occurs at ~7:15 AM, and sunset takes place at around 5:00 PM. That’s roughly 10 hours of daylight, and the drive time has essentially taken all of it. You need ~90 minutes to 2 hours to visit Horseshoe Bend, then there’s the matter of having lunch at some point, so, as you can hopefully see, you’re already well into a “daylight deficit.” Nighttime driving is strongly discouraged in this part of the U.S. due to local roads being very dimly lit, plus the possible presence of large wildlife such as deer and elk, as well as free range livestock such as cattle and even wild horses, ratchets up your risk of an accident. You don’t want to chance a collision with a large animal in an unfamiliar area that’s pitch black, extremely cold (nighttime temps are dipping down below freezing in the higher elevations), where cell service is spotty, and help will be a long time coming, not to mention VERY expensive.
      If your plans can be altered at this point, you should plan on overnighting in Page, AZ, to visit Horseshoe Bend. If you haven’t booked a Grand Canyon hotel yet, you must do so ASAP. I wouldn’t be surprised if lodging in the immediate vicinity of the park is already full since that’s Thanksgiving week, which is a popular time of year to travel, even in the age of COVID-19.
      As for other National Parks, again, you don’t have that kind of time. I’d recommend getting the most out of your visit to the Grand Canyon and/or Horseshoe Bend, and think about other places you might visit on a future trip. For a sample 1-week trip itinerary, visit our companion site, http://www.AntelopeCanyon.AZ: The Ultimate 7-Day Itinerary
      Good luck, safe travels, and Happy Holidays!
      Alley 🙂

      1. Dear Alley,

        we are planning a trip to visit the Grand Canyon on the week of Nov 23. I will be coming from Flagstaff. We would like to see the Canyon and the Horseshoe Bend. What would you recommend?

        1. Hi Marcus,
          Using Flagstaff, AZ, as a base, you should take two separate days to visit Grand Canyon South Rim and Horseshoe Bend. It is not practical at this time to combine the two into a single-day trip. More on that in a minute.
          It takes ~1.5 hours, each way, to drive from Flagstaff, AZ, to Grand Canyon South Rim. Upon arrival at the park, you should park as close as possible to Grand Canyon Village and use the Hermit’s Rest Shuttles to get to the viewpoints West of the Village. You can self-drive to the viewpoints East of Grand Canyon Village, as far as Navajo Point. AZ64 from Desert View Point to Cameron, AZ, is closed by the Navajo Tribe due to COVID-19. At the time of year you’re visiting, you should be sure that you’re heading back to Flagstaff, AZ, no later than 3:30 PM from Grand Canyon Village so that you’re not doing any of the drive in the dark. All driving in this part of the U.S. must be done during daylight hours if at all possible due to local roads being very dimly lit, plus the possible presence of large wildlife such as deer and elk, as well as free range livestock such as cattle and even wild horses, ratchets up your risk of an accident. You don’t want to chance a collision with a large animal in an unfamiliar area that’s pitch black, extremely cold (nighttime temps are dipping down below freezing in the higher elevations), where cell service is spotty, and help will be a long time coming, not to mention VERY expensive.
          The following day, plan on making the trip to Horseshoe Bend. It takes ~2.5 hours, again, that’s one way, to drive from Flagstaff, AZ, to Page, AZ, where Horseshoe Bend is located. Allow at least 90 minutes to park ($10 one-time fee), walk to the rim, take photos, then walk back to your vehicle. Other activities in the Page, AZ, area you can explore, time permitting, are the Glen Canyon Dam Steel Arch Bridge, Hanging Garden Trail, the “New” Wave, and Grandview Overlook Park. Again, if you’re overnighting in Flagstaff, AZ, make sure you’re back on the road by 2:30 PM so you arrive back in Flagstaff, AZ, before sundown.
          BTW, if you were thinking you’d visit both Grand Canyon South Rim and Horseshoe Bend in one day, here’s why it won’t work: normally, the drive from Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ, takes ~3 hours. Due to the closure of a critical component of the normal travel route (AZ64 from Desert View Point to Cameron, AZ), it is now necessary to detour all the way back to Flagstaff, then proceed North on US89 to get to Page, AZ. This has turned what used to be a 3-hour drive into a 5-hour drive. 1.5 (Flagstaff to GC) + 5 (GC to Page) + 2.5 (Page to Flagstaff) = 9 hours of driving on a day where you only have about 10 hours of daylight to work with in the first place.
          Long story short: you need to take two separate days to explore Grand Canyon South Rim and Horseshoe Bend. If one full day is all you’ll have, then prioritize the Grand Canyon and save Horseshoe Bend for another visit.
          Good luck, safe travels, and Happy Holidays,
          Alley 🙂

  102. Hi,
    My partner and I are staying a few days in Page AZ, 12/4-12/7. We wanting to see horseshoe bend and Antelope canyon ( We know do to Covid-19 the Navajo tribe and certain activities will not be available). We are looking for recommendations for Trails to hike or things to see, also we would love to do some kayaking if available.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Courtney,
      Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the Antelope Canyons won’t be open at the time of year you’re visiting by Executive Order of the Navajo Indian Tribe. Other slot canyons in the area you might consider visiting are Red Canyon/aka Peek-A-Boo Canyon near Kanab, UT, and Wire Pass Canyon and Buckskin Gulch, near Paria, UT. For more information, visit our companion site, http://www.AntelopeCanyon.AZ: Help! My Tour Got Cancelled
      You’re also visiting at the wrong time of year to enjoy kayaking on Lake Powell. December is wintertime, and even though the Page, AZ, area rarely sees snow, days in December are typically cold and windy. Not ideal kayaking weather, but there are other activities you can still take part in, such as walking across the Glen Canyon Dam Steel Arch Bridge, hiking to the Hanging Garden Area or the “New” Wave, taking a walk down by Lake Powell (which is inside the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, so you’d have to pay the park entrance fee), visiting the John Wesley Powell/Glen Canyon Conservancy Museum. And don’t forget Horseshoe Bend, which is open from sunrise to sunset.
      Hope that helps. Good luck, safe travels, and Happy Holidays!
      Alley 🙂

  103. Hi Alley,

    We are planning a trip to Arizona December 20th-December 25th. Where do you recommend we stay if we potentially want to visit the Grand Canyon and Horseshoe Bend? Do you recommend a helicopter tour? What else would you recommend to do in Arizona?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Sara!
      First of all, the Grand Canyon and Horseshoe Bend are two separate areas, so you should allot one day each to these places. This is especially true in light of the fact that the Navajo Tribe has closed an integral component of the most logical travel route between the two due to COVID-19 (AZ64 from Desert View Point to Cameron, AZ). This means that, to travel from the Grand Canyon South Rim to Page, AZ (or the other way around), you must detour all the way down to Flagstaff, AZ, then loop back North. This has turned what is normally a 3-hour drive into a 5-hour drive.
      For Grand Canyon South Rim, it is best to stay inside the park, or Tusayan, AZ, a small town ~7 miles outside the park. Grand Canyon hotels For Horseshoe Bend, the best place to stay is Page, AZ, ~5 miles North of Horseshoe Bend.
      As for a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon, we absolutely can recommend it whole-heartedly! An air tour of any sort will get you up above areas of the Grand Canyon that are inaccessible to both vehicular and foot traffic, and give you a truer sense of how big the Grand Canyon is. The best time to fly is first thing in the morning for best light and lack of wind. Airplane tours of the Grand Canyon are also available and tend to be a more budget-friendly option, FYI.
      As for other places you might go, you should give strong consideration to Sedona, AZ. This is a stunning area with lots of things to see and do. You can easily spend 3-4 days there and feel as though you’ve only scratched the surface. It might also make for a nice stop last on your tour so you can chill and enjoy some spa services or other low-key activities.
      The one thing you need to be aware of at all times is weather. “White Christmases” are common at the Grand Canyon, and occasionally occur in Sedona and Page. While complete closures of local roads doesn’t occur often, you should still be prepared to change plans on the fly should the need arise. Start monitoring the weather about 2 weeks before you get set to travel. That will give you the best idea of what to expect.
      Hope that helps! Good luck, safe travels, and Happy Holidays,
      Alley 🙂

  104. Hi I am going on a weekend trip to the horseshoe bend arriving on Saturday November 14th between 4-5pm. Is that an ideal time to get to the bend? Or should get there sooner? Before horseshoe bend I’m arriving at Bryce Canyon NP at 8am then making my way to horseshoe bend.
    I also wanted to see if you have any recommendations on if there’s any picnic areas near horseshoe bend? I carry my Coleman mini grill and like to cook my lunch. If you have suggestions that’d be great! Thank you.

    1. Hi Gaby,
      Between 4:00-5:00 PM is a perfectly fine time to arrive at Horseshoe Bend. Opinions differ on when the best time to get to Horseshoe Bend is; I personally am fond of the hours just after sunrise because early morning typically has smaller crowds.
      It will take you at least 3 hours to drive from Bryce Canyon to Page, AZ, possibly longer if weather is inclement. You might also take advantage of the opportunity to hike the Paria Rimrocks/Toadstool Hoodoos, which is right on your way, near mile marker 19 on US89 between Kanab, UT, and Page, AZ.
      Cooking/campfires are not allowed at Horseshoe Bend, but you might enjoy cooking your lunch at the Page City Park or Golliard Park near the Page Municipal Airport. For a nice view of the lake (but no lake access), you might check out the newly opened Grandview Overlook Park. I’m not sure if they allow grilling there, but you might pack a cold lunch there and just enjoy the view. If you don’t mind paying the park entrance fee to Glen Canyon, you could go down by the Wahweap Swim Beach near the Lake Powell Resort. There are picnic tables and ramadas there, as well as a paved walking path. It does cost $30 per vehicle to access that area; the National Park Pass works, too.
      Hope that helps. Good luck, safe travels, and Happy Holidays!
      Alley 🙂

  105. Hi there,

    My family will be in Sedona the week of Thanksgiving! We are going to do some things around the Sedona area but were interested in making a trip to Grand Canyon for Horshoebend and Antelope Canyon. Seeing Antelope Canyon is closed, what is your recommendation on travel tips to Horshoe Bend? Could we knock out Horshoebend and Peek a boo/red canyon in one day?

    We are in Sedona from Monday-Saturday on Thanksgiving week. Any and all recommendations of must-see sights of Grand Canyon and if you know if any great gems in Sedona that would be awesome! We have some things on our list.

    Very active family and we move fast!

    1. Hi Gabby,
      If you’re staying in Sedona, AZ, the entire week and making day trips to various attractions, it won’t be realistic to visit Horseshoe Bend and Red/Peek-A-Boo Canyon in one day.
      It takes ~3 hours, one way, to drive from Sedona, AZ, to Page, AZ, where Horseshoe Bend is located. You then need to allot at least 90 minutes to 2 hours to visit Horseshoe Bend, including parking ($10 one-time fee), walking out to the rim (.7 miles 1 way), taking photos, and walking back to your vehicle. The drive to Kanab, UT, where Red Canyon/Peek-A-Boo is located, takes ~70 minutes. A guided tour of Peek-A-Boo Canyon would take ~4 hours. You would then be facing another 4-hour drive back to Sedona, AZ.
      The main thing working against you at the time of year you’re visiting is daylength, or more specifically, lack thereof: during Thanksgiving week, sunrise occurs at ~7:15 AM, and sunset takes place just after 5:00 PM. That gives you barely 10 hours of daylight to work with, which you’re already proposing to eat up 6 hours of driving in and out from Sedona. With 2 hours required for the Horseshoe Bend visit, 2 hours round-trip to drive to Kanab, then 4 hours to tour Red Canyon, hopefully you can already see that this puts you in a “daylight deficit.” If you’re wondering why I’m obsessing so much about daylength, it’s because nighttime driving is strongly discouraged in this part of the U.S. The main reasons are that local roads being very dimly lit, plus the possible presence of large wildlife such as deer and elk, as well as free range livestock such as cattle and even wild horses ratchets up your risk of an accident. You don’t want to risk a collision with a large animal in an unfamiliar area that’s pitch black, possibly cold (nighttime temps are dipping down below freezing at that time of year), where cell service is spotty, and help will be a long time coming, not to mention VERY expensive. The section of US89A from Flagstaff to Sedona through Oak Creek Canyon is very narrow and twisty, I’ve driven it at night before, and won’t do it again! In light (pardon the pun) of those considerations, if you have your heart set on visiting Red Canyon/Peek-A-Boo, your best bet is to spend the night in Page, AZ or Kanab, UT.
      As for “must-see” sights at the Grand Canyon, there’s no shortage of great views, some of which are open to private vehicles, others that require the use of a shuttle to get to. Again, you’re looking at ~2.5-3 hours one way to drive up from Sedona, so that by itself is going to limit your time if you want to make it back to base by sundown. My advice would be to park somewhere in Grand Canyon Village, walk the rim trail through the Historic District, maybe grab lunch at one of the rimside restaurants (be sure you get to your chosen place by 11:00 AM, before the Grand Canyon Railway arrives), then take the Hermit’s Rest Shuttle to some of the overlooks West of the Village. For more guidance on how to plan your visit, go to http://www.NPS.gov: Grand Canyon – Plan Your Visit
      Regarding Sedona, there’s no shortage of beauty to be found in that area, both natural and man-made! Weather will be the key factor in determining what you can/should do, as well as the physical fitness levels of your traveling party. I suggest setting aside one full day to stay around town and explore some of the beautiful buildings such as the Chapel of the Holy Cross, Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village, and the numerous art galleries and museums within easy access of the downtown area. For more suggestions of things to see and so in Sedona, AZ, check out http://www.VisitSedona.com
      Good luck, safe travels, and Happy Holidays!
      Alley 🙂

  106. Hello! My boyfriend & I will be traveling to Sedona Nov. 10-17! I am having a mildly difficult time doing research about the top things to do & see during our time there – we for sure want to make it up to the Grand Canyon & Horseshoe Bend. Unsure of which “rim” or hikes in the Grand Canyon to do? Are you aware of any waterfall hikes that we could do that we wouldn’t have to camp? Super interested in scenic hikes because we are from Florida & not use to all the Red Rocks! For sure plan on Devils Bridge but also open to any must sees in Sedona & surrounding areas! Thinking about Vermillion Cliff if open? I know Antelope Canyon isn’t. Really just looking for a solid “must see” list & some advice on the best ways to go about it all so we don’t waste our time (: Thank you so much in advance, truly appreciate you taking all the time to reply to everyone on here.

    1. Hi Carly,
      Using Sedona, AZ, as a “base” camp puts you in closest proximity to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It takes about 3 hours, one way, to drive from Sedona, AZ, to Grand Canyon Village. Once there, park as close as possible to Bright Angel Lodge and catch the shuttles out to the Hermit’s Rest overlooks, or you can self-drive on the Desert View Drive as fas as Navajo Point.
      The main priority on all of your sightseeing days is to make sure you do any and all driving during daylight hours. Nighttime driving is strongly discouraged in this part of the U.S. due to the roads being very dimly lit, plus 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 in some areas can already dip down below freezing at that time of year), where cell service is spotty, and help will be a long time coming, not to mention VERY expensive. In November, you’ll be up against days that are rapidly shortening. During he first week of November, sunrise occurs at 7:00 AM, and sunset takes place shortly after 5:00 PM. You’ll need to be sure you’re heading back to Sedona from Grand Canyon South Rim no later than 2:30 PM to ensure that you’re not driving US89A through Oak Creek Canyon in the dark. That section of the drive is very twisty and narrow and definitely not recommended to take on at night!
      For Horseshoe Bend, you’ll need to set aside a separate day to drive to Page, AZ. There again, you’re looking at ~ a 3-hour one way drive. You’ll then need to allot approximately 2 hours to park, walk to the rim (~1.5 miles round-trip), take photos, then walk back. There is a construction project taking place near Horseshoe Bend that may delay your arrival slightly. As for including the Vermilion Cliffs area into your day, it’s possible, but you’ll need to keep a close eye on the time so that you’re heading back to Sedona, again, no later than 2:30 PM. What you might do is get an early start on the day, drive directly up to Page, AZ, visit Horseshoe Bend, then pop down to Cliff Dweller’s Lodge (one of Northern AZ’s best kept “secret” restaurants!) for a late lunch/early dinner, then head back to Sedona. Map of trip
      As for “waterfall hikes,” November isn’t the best time of year for that type of activity, mainly because it’s too cold to swim (usually, anyway). Many waterfalls in Arizona are seasonal, so you may not find any water flowing at all at that time of year. The one that would probably be most easily accessible is Slide Rock State Park. That’s a natural waterslide that’s very popular in the summer months. Note that there is an entrance fee required here.
      For more suggestions on things to see and do during your stay in Sedona, go to http://www.VisitSedona.com or the Sedona, AZ, Forum of TripAdvisor
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

      1. Thank you Alley – that is extremely helpful. I will defintely take into account not driving in the dark, very happy you mentioned that!! You’re the best (:

        1. Hi again Carly,
          Glad our advice helped. Hope you have a wonderful time. If you get a minute when you return home, write in again and let us know how it went!
          Happy Holidays,
          Alley 🙂

          1. Hello! I have a few follow up questions after doing some more research! (I will definitely write in after the trip and let everyone know how it went)

            After looking into the Hermits Rest overlooks as well as that shuttle from the Grand Canyon Village, I was wondering if you had any recommended hikes with scenic picture spots within this proximity (or other close access points from the South Rim)? Definitely want to get some hiking in but also do not want to overdo it and not be able to leave at 2:30!

            I was also wondering about any recommendations on clothing? I have seen how the temperatures are starting to drop in Arizona recently but do not want to pack things I will not need or forget something I will need! Specifically in regard to these two day trips to the South Rim and Horshoe Bend.

            Thank you so much in advance again, you’re so extremely helpful!

          2. Hi again, Carly!
            The easiest hike you can take from Grand Canyon Village would be the paved Rim Trail, which extends along the canyon rim for 13 miles between Hermit’s Rest and the South Kaibab Trail. From Grand Canyon Village Historic District, a popular acvitity is to start walking West on the Rim Trail, then catch the Hermit’s Rest Shuttle back to the Village when you’ve had enough of walking.
            If you want to get below the canyon rim without going too far down, the Bright Angel Trail can be accessed just behind Bright Angel Lodge. The first tunnel along the trail makes for a good “taste” of the inner canyon. If you want to venture further, just remember that you have to double your time hiking up that you took to hike down, therefore, 1 hour down = 2 hours out, etc. Food and water should be carried if you plan on spending longer than 1 hour or going further than 1 mile on either the rim trail or Bright Angel Trail.
            As for what clothing to pack, you are correct in that winter temperatures are beginning to establish dominance in the area, so at the very least, a jacket, gloves, hat or earmuffs, and warm socks should be carried. Remember that elevations between the Grand Canyon and Horseshoe Bend differ by ~3,000′ ASL, so Horseshoe Bend is usually warmer than Grand Canyon South Rim by 15-30 degrees. Dress in light layers that you can easily remove and tie around your waist and/or stash in a day pack as you acclimate to the temperature and the day gets warmer.
            Have a great trip and a Happy Holiday season!
            Alley 🙂

          3. Hello again! Our trip to the Grand Canyon South Rim and Horseshoe Bend was amazing!! The Hermits Rest Shuttle was the perfect way for us to view the Grand Canyon while also remaining warm in the weather. Horseshoe Bend is beyond gorgeous as well. The driving advice was extremely helpful, we left Sedona around 7am for each day trip and had no problem getting back before sunset – even had time to squeeze in a hike before the sunset one of the days! Thank you so so much for all of your advice, it made our trip so much easier and worthwhile (:

          4. Carly,
            Thank you so much for the follow-up! Glad you had a good trip.
            Have a Happy Holiday Season and may 2021 be a better year for us all,
            Alley 🙂

  107. Hello, my family wanted to visit arizona around thanksgiving time and it will be our first time. We were looking forward to the antelope canyons but heard it is closed. But horseshoe bend also looks nice and grand canyon. Does this trip seem reasonable if we go for a few days? Also, what other hikes are similar to the caves of antelope canyons because we really wanted to see that! Would appreciate your feedback!

    1. Hi Susan,
      Sorry to hear that the closure of the Antelope Canyons has thrown a kink into your vacation plans, but all is not lost when it comes to slot canyons! More on that in a minute…
      If by “a few days” you mean at least 3-4, that’s workable, but better if you could set aside 4-5. Also, not knowing if you’re flying in or driving in, I’m going off the possibly incorrect assumption that you’ll be starting your trip off in Phoenix, AZ.
      The drive from Phoenix to Grand Canyon South Rim is approximately 5 hours, one way. Due to the distance, and the fact that days are relatively short during the Thanksgiving Holiday, you should plan on staying overnight in the immediate vicinity of Grand Canyon National Park, either in the park, or Tusayan, AZ, 7 miles outside the park.
      Horseshoe Bend is located just outside the town of Page, AZ. Normally, it is about a 3-hour drive from Grand Canyon South Rim. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, a critical component of this drive on Navajo Indian Tribal Land is closed. This necessitates a detour back down to Flagstaff, AZ, then back up North on US89 to Page, AZ. This has turned a 3-hour drive into more like a 5-hour drive. If you book 2-3 nights in Page, AZ, this will enable you to devote one full day to making the short drive to Kanab, UT (~70 minutes) to visit Red Canyon/aka Peek-A-Boo Canyon. This short but memorable walk features scenery on par with the Antelope Canyons (which are closed), and a few that are unique to it. Although the slot canyon portion isn’t that difficult, the drive to get there is, which is why we recommend again taking a guided tour to this area. Tour companies that can get you 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
      – Grand Circle Tours, (928) 691-0166, http://www.vermilioncliffs.net
      Whatever you decide, be sure to book all hotels and guided tours ASAP; now would not be too soon to start making reservations!
      Also, be sure to time all drives so that they are done 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 dip down below freezing that time of year), where cell service is spotty, and help will be a long time coming, not to mention VERY expensive.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂

  108. Hi Alley,

    I know this is a bit late to ask, but I was wondering if you had any suggestions for me. My friend and I came for a spontaneous 2 day trip to visit horseshoe bend and antelope canyon (without much planning). We arrived today and were able to go and see the beauty of horseshoe bend, but are a bit lost as to what to do tomorrow. We really want to see a few of the best bits of the Grand Canyon tomorrow before we have to head back. We loved the idea of rafting down with one of the tour companies but I want to have a plan B since their website doesn’t show if they have availabilties. Would appreciate any input you might have! We are fine hiking short distances from parking spots, however our car isn’t really made for long distances on gravel so unfortunately anything like that would be difficult for us.

    1. Hi Henrik,
      Unfortunately, you are too late in the season for rafting.
      The drive from Page, AZ, to Grand Canyon South Rim is normally ~3 hours, but due to the closure of an integral component of the normal travel route due to COVID-19, you’ll have to detour down through Flagstaff, then head back North via US180/AZ64 or I40/AZ64. This has turned what is usually a 3-hour drive into a 5-hour drive. This is all via paved roads, by the way. Upon arrival at the South Rim, there are ample hiking opportunities both on the rim and in the inner canyon. For the best quality experience, it is best if you spend the night at Grand Canyon South Rim.
      Good luck and safe travels,
      Alley 🙂