Southern Utah/Northern Arizona

Southern Utah/Northern Arizona

Home to three of the top National Parks, Southern Utah/Northern Arizona is one of the most beautiful regions in the country. Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Grand Canyon National Park are located within close range of not just each other, but some other amazing scenery such as Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Horseshoe Bend.

When to Go

With ideal weather and fewer crowds, fall is the best time of year to go. Spring has high precipitation and summer can get really hot, but a trip is still manageable. Temperatures are low during winter and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is closed from winter until late spring.

Zion National Park has seen a dramatic increase in attendance over the last decade so it is best to get an early start when visiting, even in the off season.

What to Pack

Pack appropriate Hiking clothing, shoes, sunglasses, and a hat. Bring multiple layers as the temperature may vary from park to park. For The Narrows hike, you will want clothing that you do not mind getting wet. This hike also requires waterproof shoes and a walking stick, but you can rent that equipment outside the park. Take a backpack or small bag that you can put water and snacks in. Either bring sunscreen or plan on buying some once you arrive. Also have regular clothes for before and after the parks. There will be plenty of photo worthy sights so pack a good camera (or you can take pictures with your phone). If you are planning to stay in Las Vegas then pack your swimsuit and or nice clothing depending on what activities you will be partaking in.

How to Get There

Fly to McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas and rent a car. The drive to Zion National Park is about two and a half hours. Limited commercial service is also available to St George and Cedar City, which are each about an hour away.

Where to stay

Kanab, Utah, appropriately nicknamed the Greatest Earth on Show, offers a number of hotels and is centrally located to the main attractions in the area. It is a 30 minute drive to Zion National Park, a one and a half hour drive to Bryce Canyon National Park and just under two hours to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Getting Around

As public transportation is not available, you will need a car to get around. When inside Zion National Park, it is necessary to park at the visitors center and take the free park shuttle from point to point. Bryce Canyon National Park also offers a shuttle. While not required, it can be more convenient than looking for parking at each point of interest.

Admission

A vehicle permit to Zion and Bryce Canyon is $30 and $35 for Grand Canyon (effective May 31 2018) and is good for seven days. I recommend getting an America the Beautiful permit which costs $80 (as of May 2018) and allows entry into any National Park. These can be bought in person at a park entrance or online and are valid for one year from the month of purchase. Click here for more information and or to purchase online.

Must See

Zion National Park

Zion is defined by beautiful sandstone cliffs and some of the best trails in the country. Hikes to the top of Angels Landing and through The Narrows are musts. Weeping Rock, Court of the Patriarchs, and the Emerald Pools are among other notable points of interest.

View from Weeping Rock
The Narrows
Angels Landing

Bryce Canyon National Park

Not actually a canyon, but a series of natural amphitheaters containing the largest number of geological pillars, known as hoodoos, in the world. While you can enjoy a jaw dropping view from a number of points along the rim, it is worthwhile to hike into Bryce Amphitheater to see the colorful rock formations up close.

Bryce Ampitheater
Wall Street
Wall of Windows

North Rim, Grand Canyon National Park

The North Rim offers a less crowded place to see perhaps the most famous, and one of the most visited National Parks. At over 18 miles wide and 277 miles long the canyon is an incredible site that, while slightly anticlimactic, should still be seen at least once.

Bonus

If time allows consider adding one or more of the following stops to your trip

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

One of the last areas of the country to be explored and mapped, the 1.8 million acre monument is still very remote in most places. While you can see the edge of it from Kanab or Bryce Canyon, the drive along Highway 12 deeper inside provides a better view.

Glen Canyon National Recreational Area/Page, Arizona

Page, Arizona is an hour and 10 minute drive from Kanab, offering additional recreational and sightseeing activities. Take a short hike to the edge of Glen Canyon for a stunning view of Horseshoe Bend.

Horseshoe Bend
Glen Canyon Dam
Lake Powell

Las Vegas

Consider staying a night in Las Vegas at the beginning and or end of your trip to break up an otherwise long travel day. If you are a big fan of Sin City then you can always extend your stay.

Bellagio Fountains
Paris Hotel & Eiffel Tower
Fremont Street Experience

Sample Itineraries

3 Day Trip 

Day 1

  • Fly into McCarran Internation Airport in the morning
  • Drive four hours from Las Vegas to Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Explore Bryce Canyon
  • Drive one and a half hours to hotel in Kanab, Utah

Day 2

  • Drive 30 Minutes to Zion National Park
  • Hike to the top of Angels Landing
  • Visit some of the other sights in the park
  • Drive 30 Minutes back to hotel in Kanab, Utah

Day 3

  • Drive an hour and 50 minutes to Grand Canyon National Park
  • Take in the view from the North Rim
  • Drive four hours and 45 minutes to Las Vegas
  • Take an evening flight from McCarran International Airport

5 Day Trip

Day 1

  • Fly into McCarran Internation Airport in the morning
  • Spend a few hours in Las Vegas
  • Drive three hours and 15 minutes to hotel in Kanab, Utah

Day 2

  • Drive 30 Minutes to Zion National Park
  • Hike through The Narrows
  • Visit some of the other sights in the park
  • Drive 30 Minutes back to hotel in Kanab, Utah

Day 3

  • Drive an hour and 50 minutes to Grand Canyon National Park
  • Take in the view from the North Rim and hike some of the surrounding trails
  • Drive an hour and 50 minutes back to hotel in Kanab, Utah

Day 4

  • Drive one and a half hours to Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Explore Bryce Canyon
  • Drive one and a half hours to hotel in Kanab, Utah

Day 5

  • Drive 30 minutes to Zion National Park
  • Hike to the top of Angels Landing
  • Visit any other sights in Zion you might have missed on Day 2
  • Drive two and half hours to Las Vegas
  • Take an evening flight out of McCarran International Airport

7 Day Trip

Day 1

  • Fly into McCarran Internation Airport
  • check into hotel in Las Vegas
  • Enjoy your activity of choice (gambling, pool, clubs, etc)

Day 2

  • Check out of hotel in Las Vegas
  • Drive just over four hours to Page, Arizona
  • Visit Horseshoe Bend, tour Glen Canyon Dam, and or explore Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
  • Drive one hour and 10 minutes back to hotel in Kanab, Utah

Day 3

  • Drive 30 Minutes to Zion National Park
  • Hike through The Narrows
  • Visit some of the other sights in the park
  • Drive 30 Minutes back to hotel in Kanab, Utah

Day 4

  • Drive an hour and 50 minutes to Grand Canyon National Park
  • Take in the view from the North Rim and hike some of the surrounding trails
  • Drive an hour and 50 minutes back to hotel in Kanab, Utah

Day 5

  • Drive one and a half hours to Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Explore Bryce Canyon
  • Drive one and a half hours to Hotel in Kanab, Utah

Day 6

  • Drive two and a half hours to Escalante, Utah (in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument) stopping at scenic turnouts along the way
  • Drive two and a half hours back to hotel in Kanab, Utah

Day 7

  • Drive 30 minutes to Zion National Park
  • Hike to the top of Angels Landing
  • Visit any other sights in Zion you might have missed on Day 3
  • Drive two and half hours to Las Vegas
  • Take an evening flight out of McCarran Airport

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