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Las Vegas and Grand Canyon to Zion National Park

Updated: Mar 8

The American Southwest is a treasure trove of breathtaking natural wonders and national parks, each offering unique charm and beauty. From the iconic Grand Canyon to the striking red rocks of Zion National Park, this region is a must-visit for any nature enthusiast or adventurer. Going straight from point A to point B will take you 242 miles in driving distance which is approximately 4 hours and 15 minutes. However, that is too easy!

In this travel blog, we will take you on a road trip from Las Vegas through the Grand Canyon to Zion National Park, exploring the best places and the best time to visit these remarkable destinations. We will begin by highlighting the three National Parks you must visit on this road trip and then dive into the detailed itinerary covering the best stops to make along the journey. Buckle up!

Part 1: Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon South Rim with the Colorado River in the back

Our journey begins at the Grand Canyon, one of the most famous national parks in the United States. The Grand Canyon's South Rim is a great place to start your adventure. From Las Vegas, it is roughly a 4-and-a-half-hour drive to the Grand Canyon Village. The drive time provides a perfect opportunity to soak in the awe-inspiring landscape and anticipate the adventure ahead, but be sure to depart early to arrive during the daytime.

Upon arriving at the Grand Canyon, you will witness the majestic beauty of this natural wonder. Stop by the Grand Canyon Visitor Center for more details about the Grand Canyon and to hop on the free shuttles around the park. Riding on the shuttle bus reduces the stress of finding a parking lot near the popular hiking trails and allows you to hop on and off as you desire. If you take the orange route, one of the stops to take advantage of is Mather Point, a spectacular viewpoint with panoramic vistas of the canyon. Another great stop along the orange route is Yaki Point, which is only accessible by hiking or shuttle bus and offers stunning sunset views! The Grand Canyon offers various great hikes throughout the rim that allow you to fully appreciate the grandeur of this place.

Angel’s Window in Grand Canyon North Rim

The Grand Canyon South Rim is open year-round, but the North Rim is closed from December 1st to May 15th each year due to heavy snow and icy conditions. The fall season is an excellent time to visit the Grand Canyon, as the weather is cooler and there are fewer crowds. For more details about the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, check out my blog post, Visiting the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.

If you have enough time, venture to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, accessible via a scenic route that crosses the Colorado River at the historic Navajo Bridge. The North Rim provides a quieter and higher elevation perspective of the canyon, offering a unique experience compared to the bustling South Rim. The North Rim is about a 4-hour drive from the South Rim.

Part 2: Bryce Canyon National Park

View of Bryce Canyon National Park, United States

After exploring the Grand Canyon, your next major destination is Bryce Canyon National Park, located in northern Arizona and is open year-round. The drive from the Grand Canyon's North Rim to Bryce Canyon is approximately 3 hours. Along the way, consider stopping at the Jacob Lake Inn for some homemade cookies and shakes.

Bryce Canyon is known for its otherworldly landscapes and distinctive rock formations. The Bryce Amphitheater is a must-visit, offering breathtaking views of the famous hoodoos, which are irregular rock spires. This spot is also popular for photography, stargazing, and hiking. Another great spot to visit within Bryce Canyon is Inspiration Point, as it is one of the most popular vantage points along the western rim of Bryce Canyon.

Hoodoos in Bryce Canyon National Park, United States

Moreover, if you want a short hike, go on the Sunset Point to Sunrise Point section of the Rim Trail - this trail meanders along the rim of the iconic Bryce Canyon Amphitheater. For longer hikes, check out Fairyland Loop, Peek-A-Boo Loop, and Riggs Spring Loop. These range from 5.5 miles to 8.5 miles, so make sure you bring plenty of water and begin early in the day. Bryce Canyon sits at a higher elevation than the other Utah parks at 8,000 to 9,100 feet. This higher altitude creates cooler temperatures, making it a pleasant visit, even during the summer.

Part 3: Zion National Park (Utah’s First National Park)

View towards the sky within Zion National Park, UT, Springdale, UT, USA

Your road trip continues as you head to Zion National Park, a short drive away from Bryce Canyon. The driving distance between Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park is approximately 1 and a half hours, making it a great day trip. En route, you can visit the unique and striking formations of red rocks and explore the stunning scenery of Southern Utah. Zion National Park is known for its stunning canyons, emerald pools, and the challenging and dangerous hike to Angels Landing. The park is open year-round, but the best time to visit is during the spring and fall seasons when temperatures are more moderate.

The Narrows of the Virgin River and Mountains in Zion National Park, Utah

If you have extra time, traveling the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is a must for anyone seeking the beauty of Southern Utah. With a manageable travel time of about 1 and a half hours round trip, this route is easily accessible from the west, starting at the junction of Hwy 9 and Interstate 15, or from the east, ending at Hwy 89 in Mt. Carmel Junction. Hwy 9, the main route to Zion National Park, guides you past iconic park landmarks, the visitor center, and the captivating Zion Canyon. Along the way, you will enjoy views of the Virgin River.

Something to keep in mind is that the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is closed to private vehicles during the peak season (typically March-November). Visitors must take a shuttle bus to access the canyon and scenic drive during this time. However, several viewpoints along the road can be accessed by car outside of the peak season.

Part 4: The Best Stops for the Ultimate Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, and Utah National Parks Itinerary

Van driving through red rock formations

As you make your way from Las Vegas through the Grand Canyon and ending in Utah, make sure to include these amazing places:

Valley of Fire State Park near Las Vegas

1. Valley of Fire State Park: Located near Las Vegas, this state park boasts vibrant red sandstone formations. Valley of Fire State Park is Nevada's oldest and largest state park, known for its panoramic vistas, hiking trails, scenic drives, petroglyphs, and petrified wood.

Hoover Dam in Nevada

2. Hoover Dam: The Hoover Dam is a marvel of engineering. Immerse yourself in the dam's story, walk through the Original Exhibit Building with a 3D model of the region's power systems, and head to the Observation Deck for a breathtaking 360-degree view of the Dam, Colorado River, Lake Mead, and the Hoover Bypass Bridge. This historic site is a must-see destination on your road trip experience.

< Head over to the Grand Canyon South Rim and Grand Canyon North Rim in Arizona - details found in Part 1 >

Horseshoe Bend, Arizona

3. Horseshoe Bend: Located near Page, Arizona, this iconic bend in the Colorado River is a sight to behold. This immaculate work of nature is created by a 270-degree bend in the Colorado River. You will witness this natural beauty and get pictures from a 1,000-foot cliff overlooking the river.

Antelope Canyon, Arizona

4. Antelope Canyon: Explore the mesmerizing slot canyons and capture incredible photographs. Photographers from all over seek out Antelope Canyon for its magnificent and surreal effect when the sun shines through illuminating the narrow orange and gold sandstone walls.

Glen Canyon Dam, Arizona

5. Glen Canyon Dam: Approximately 20 minutes from Antelope Canyon is Glen Canyon Dam. This dam was constructed to generate electrical power, store water, and provide recreation opportunities with the creation of Lake Powell. On your visit, check out the overlook for a great view of the river splitting the red sandstone to create Glen Canyon. Also, visit the bridge to get a beautiful view of the dam itself.
< Entering Utah >

Lake Powell, Utah

6. Lake Powell: Right along the Utah/Arizona border, you will find Lake Powell, a 185-mile-long lake with over 2,000 miles of shoreline. Enjoy water-based activities and take in the stunning scenery of this reservoir. At the edge of Lake Powell is Rainbow Bridge National Monument. It is one of the world's largest natural bridges at 290 feet tall, and it spans 275 feet across the river.

Hiking through Cathedral Valley in Capitol Reef National Park.

7. Capitol Reef National Park: If you have the time, venture north to visit this less-visited gem. This National Park contains cliffs, bridges, domes, and canyons in the Waterpocket Fold, a geologic monocline (a wrinkle on the earth / a warp in the Earth's crust) extending almost 100 miles.

< Visit Bryce Canyon National Park - details found in Part 2 >

8. Cedar City: A charming small town that serves as a gateway to several national parks. This town is also known to host events like the Utah Shakespeare Festival, the Utah Summer Games, and the Simon Fest Theatre Co. Some popular attractions within Cedar City are the Southern Utah Museum of Art, I/G Winery and Tasting Room, and Park Discovery.

< End at Zion National Park - details found in Part 3 >

Delta airplane flying in the sky

You can also begin this itinerary backward if you fly into the International Airport in Salt Lake City, Utah. Either way, one of the best things about this itinerary is that you will ride along the historic route of Route 66, especially when you travel from the Grand Canyon South Rim to Las Vegas or vice versa. For more information about where to stop on that part of the route, check out our blog post: 11 Great Road Trip Stops on Route 66 in Arizona.

Moreover, by no means is this itinerary a short trip. If you were to visit each of these locations nonstop, it would take more than a full day, approximately 26 hours, with no traffic to complete. However, each one of these locations is a great spot to visit and worth visiting!

Overlooking Salt Lake City and some canyons in the back

As such, if want to break up this itinerary into two different trips, I suggest breaking it up between Stops 1 - 5 for one trip, which consists of approximately 12 hours of travel time, not including any additional stops made based on the 11 Great Road Trip Stops on Route 66 in Arizona blog post. This leaves Stops 6 - 8 for the other trip, which consists of approximately 10 hours of travel time. For this particular trip, it would be a good idea to fly into and out of Salt Lake City, UT, rather than flying into Las Vegas, NV, or Phoenix, AZ.

Part 5: Travel Tips

Zion National Park canyon overlook

- Plan your trip during the fall or spring season to enjoy cooler temperatures and avoid extreme heat in the summer or closures and harsh conditions in the winter.

- Be aware of flash floods, especially if you plan to hike in narrow canyons or washes.

- Check the road conditions and park hours in advance to make the most of your time.

- Consider taking a shuttle bus, if available, when in the National Parks, as it can be more convenient than driving and finding parking.

- If you are interested in longer hikes or backpacking trips, make sure you are well-prepared with the right gear and permits. For some ideas on what to pack, check out our blog, What You Need to Pack for Your Trip to Arizona.

Part 6: Entrance Fees

Zion National Park, Utah, USA with the Virgin River in the center

Each of these National Parks sells weekly passes as their park admission. As such, each pass is valid for 7-consecutive days. The price breakdown is as follows:

- Vehicle: $35 (admits one single, private, non-commercial vehicle and all its passengers, up to a 15-person passenger van. Organized groups are not eligible for the vehicle permit.)
- Motorcycle: $30 (admits one single, private, non-commercial motorcycle and its passenger(s).)
- Individual: $20 (this pass is typically for bicyclists, hikers, and pedestrians. Individuals 15 years of age and younger are admitted free of charge.)
If you plan to visit all three National Parks, consider purchasing the Interagency Annual Pass (America the Beautiful Pass) for $80. It allows you, the pass owner, and passengers in a non-commercial vehicle at per-vehicle fee areas, and pass owner + 3 adults, not to exceed 4 adults, where per-person fees are charged to enter over 2,000 Federal recreation sites, including the three listed above.


Red convertible Mustang driving through Bryce Canyon City, UT, USA

A road trip from the Grand Canyon to Zion National Park is an incredible journey through the heart of the American Southwest. These national parks and the scenic routes in between are a testament to the natural beauty and wonder of this region. Whether you have just a few days or several weeks to explore, there are endless opportunities for adventure and inspiration. From the depths of the Grand Canyon to the towering heights of Zion's red rock formations, this road trip offers a true taste of the United States' most spectacular landscapes. So, pack your bags, hit the road, and get ready to be amazed by the grandeur of these national treasures. It is going to be a great time!

Have you been to any of these beautiful locations? If so, let us know in the comments below - we want to know which ones you visited! If you have not gone, is it on your bucket list of places to visit now? Let us know in the comments below, and share this article with the person or people you want to go with! Either way, SUBSCRIBE below to learn about other places to add to your "To Visit" List! Ready? Okay, vamos. Time to have fun!

Related Article:

Best Time to Visit Congaree National Park and What to Do - Explore the beauty of Congaree National Park, one of the best in the Southeastern US. Hiking, canoeing, camping, and more adventures await!

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