The highlights of this road trip include a visit to four of America's National Parks and one National Monument (however you could easily add side trips to Mesa Verde and Capital Reed National Parks if you have the time). Allow at least a minimum of two or three nights at each place as you will need time to explore all of the parks. It is recommended that you buy a national park pass as this will provide value for money. As it is a loop drive the trip can also be undertaken in reverse. This part of the United States is nothing short of spectacular so make sure you have your camera charged.
Las Vegas to Williams
216 miles / 3.5 hours
Williams is a charming, western-themed town located on historic Route 66 near one of the largest Ponderosa Pine Forests in the world. This is the best preserved stretch of route 66 and the perfect place to find kitschy souvenirs along with some great local art and crafts. It is also a great stop if you have kids in tow because local attractions include a drive-thru wildlife park and a scenic railway tour. Because Williams is only an hour from the Grand Canyon, it is a great place to stop for breakfast or lunch on the way, or even drive back to and spend the night. There are plenty of reasonably priced motels and great places to grab western style food and home made milkshakes. If you visit during the summer months they have some great live music at some of the establishments.
Williams to Grand Canyon
60 miles / 1 hour
This colorful gorge carved out by the Colorado river is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and on everyone's bucket list of things to see. Today you will tick it off your bucket list. There are plenty of adventures to be had here; you can take on the grueling hike to the valley floor, go white water rafting, organize a mule/camping package tour or just take in the vista from above. If you are not afraid of heights and don't mind splurging a little you can have a once in a lifetime experience flying over the canyon in a helicopter complete with picnic on the valley floor. It can be really hot here in the summer or extremely cold in the winter so come prepared. There are lodging options inside the park including campsites however advanced bookings are recommended they fill up fast. Don't worry though as there are quite a few hotels/motels located just outside the park that are reasonably priced.
Grand Canyon to Monument Valley
174 miles / 3 hours
You will arrive at Monument Valley via the 160/163 and once here you will marvel at the valley below that boasts sandstone masterpieces that tower 100 feet above. Clouds cast shadows and the sun at different angles accent the monolithic structures providing spellbinding visuals. You can take narrated jeep tours through the valley if you want to get a little more up close or even by horseback. Keen photographers may want to time their visit around sunset for some truly magical pictures. There is an interesting Visitors Center with some great native American arts and crafts. There aren't many accommodation options directly outside of the park and it is recommended you drive about 30 minutes north to the town of Mexican Hat which has a range of options to suit everyone's budget.
DETOUR TO GLEN CANYON DAM ON THE WAY TO MONUMENT VALLEY
To get to Glen Canyon Dam you need to take US-89N which is a two hour detour but absolutely worth the effort if you have the time. There is a great Visitors Center to learn about the construction of the dam and history of the area and also where you can organize boat tours on the river. The dam is a spectacular sight to behold with the colorful gorge surrounding it. While you are in the area you may as well stop to see Antelope Canyon, the most photographed slot canyon situated nearby. Ask for information/directions at the Glen Canyon Visitor Center.
Monument Valley to Arches National Park
150 miles / 3.5 hours
Arches National Park contains the world's largest concentration of natural sandstone arches including massive balanced rocks, soaring pinnacles and colossal sandstone fins which tower over the hiking trails below. Visitors may drive along a scenic road to many of the major viewpoints however it is worth getting out of your vehicle to get a close up perspective and check out the local flora. Your best bet on finding accommodation is in the town of Moab located just 5 miles away which offers hotels, motels, B&B's and holiday houses and the Colorado River snakes its way nearby which offers some great campsites and awesome views. There are many natural roadside attractions worthy of stopping at along US-191N on your drive to Arches N.P. or that are a slight detour. Some of these include Wilsons Arch, Needles Overlook, Corona Arch and Hole N' The Rock, a unique home carved out of a huge rock.
Arches N.P. to Bryce Canyon
360 miles / 4 hours
It is a long drive via the I-70 and SR-89 from Arches N.P. to Bryce Canyon N.P. but well worth it. Bryce Canyon is most notably known for its crimson colored hoodoos (limestone, spire-shaped rock formations) that tower above you from the desert floor. The hoodoo's are striking seen from above but are something else when seen from below. Don't worry if you don't think your legs will make it to the bottom of the amphitheater as you can organize a tour to the bottom on horseback. Try to get in a sunrise or sunset on your visit to the park as it is truly a magical sight over these stunning rock formations that change color in the differing light. The park does have a free shuttle to make life easier for you. This place is even prettier in the winter when the hoodoo's are covered in snow.
Bryce Canyon to Zion National Park
72 miles / 1.2 hours
Be prepared to be amazed. Narrow slot canyons, red and white sandstone formations, 3000 foot vertical walls and the crystal clear Virgin River is what makes this place a natural wonderland. In our opinion this is one of the best national park's in America so try to devote as many days as you can to exploring this spectacular place! Whether you are approaching from the north or south you will need to get onto SR9 to access the main region of the park (the south entrance). Once you reach the park you won't be needing your vehicle as there is a free park shuttle that departs the Visitors' Center every 15 minutes that you may hop on and off as you please. Zion has some of the most incredible hikes in America such as Angels Landing and Observation Point but be warned, the hikes are not recommend for those with a fear of heights. For those who do make it to the top you will be rewarded with a birds eye view of the gorge below. Be sure to pack lunch to keep your energy levels up and bring swimming attire if you plan to hike the Narrows.
Zion N.P. to Las Vegas
160 miles / 2.5 hours
End the road trip in Viva Las Vegas where dazzling lights and elaborate themed casinos capture the imagination of the world like no other city. If you like us spent the majority of your time hiking, feel free to lounge poolside for the next couple of days. If you are still feeling energetic then Vegas has attractions that cater to everyone's taste. Hit the casino's, take in a show, shop til you drop, check out the art galleries, ride some rollercoasters or head out to Red Rock Canyon or Hoover Dam. See the top 5 attractions in Nevada if you would like to spend more time exploring this state.
Start Planning Your Trip!
Have you booked accommodation yet? If not then take a look at bookings.com who have a huge selection of hotels, bed & breakfasts, lodges, hostels and even campgrounds. They have daily deals and discounts so its a good idea to keep an eye on rates. The best thing about this website is there is no booking fee and no charge for cancellations.
Book Car Hire
We recommend car hire through Avis. We have always been happy with how hassle free renting is through them and even better are their super cheap rates when you book online. Believe me you will be blown away by how cheap! Click here to see their rates.
organize a guided tour or day trip to Utah's national parks or the grand canyon
If you are limited with time on your U.S. travels then you can organize a day trip to any of Utah's national parks from Las Vegas. Almost everybody fly's into Vegas so its a pretty convenient place to start! No need to worry about getting lost. Just click on the images below to see tour itineraries.
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By Arial Evans
Exploring America from the road. Discovering unimaginable natural beauty and fun vibrant cities. Read more