Grand Canyon + 5 Utah Nationwide Parks & Nice Basin Highway Journey

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Incredible outdoor adventures, seven national parks, and ancient ruins combine to make this your Utah national park road trip of a lifetime. Hit every Utah national park—Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches, and Canyonlands—plus Nevada’s Great Basin and Grand Canyon, on this 1,453-mile trip that starts in Salt Lake City.

Begin in Salt Lake City, where you may be surprised by the vibrant craft brewing scene and how easy it is to get around this city framed by the Great Salt Lake and Wasatch Mountains. Head south to Moab, home to Canyonlands and Arches National Parks. From there, stop at Monument Valley, one of the West’s most iconic landscapes. Continue to the Hopi Reservation for a tour of Old Oraibi, one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in North America.

Then point your wheels toward Grand Canyon National Park to explore the less visited North Rim or the more popular South Rim. Afterward, head north to the historic town of Kanab, Utah, home to hundreds of film shoots and great restaurants. Zion National Park’s East Entrance is a short 20-minute drive away. Then make your way north to Cedar City to visit the uncrowded Cedar Breaks National Monument. Explore Panguitch and Bryce Canyon National Park before heading to Escalante, Utah, for a deep dive into spectacular slot canyons. What follows are some of the best things to see.

Tip: Utah, California, and the Navajo Nation observe daylight saving time, while Arizona does not.

Download the Utah Road Trip PDF (14.3MB)

Map

Before You Go

Download the Gypsy Guide App
Enjoy the freedom of driving your own car while traveling with an entertaining guide that doesn’t take up space. The Gypsy Guide app includes driving tours for Arches, Canyonlands, Zion, Bryce Canyon, and the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. Learn more at gypsyguide.com.

Route

  1. Start: Salt Lake City
  2. Arches and Canyonlands National Parks
  3. Monument Valley, Navajo Nation, and Hopi Nation
  4. Grand Canyon National Park: North Rim or South Rim
  5. Kanab, Utah
  6. Zion National Park
  7. Cedar Breaks National Monument
  8. Bryce Canyon National Park
  9. Capitol Reef National Park
  10. Great Basin National Park
  11. End: Salt Lake City

Take the Under Canvas Glamping Version of This Trip
Want to take a similar road trip but go glamping at every stop? Do the Best Southwest Glamping Road Trip.

Start: Salt Lake City

The New Salt Lake
Discover an eclectic ecosystem that involves unique coffeehouses, artisan cocktails, and a short hike that gives you fantastic views of the city.

Arches and Canyonlands National Parks

We’ll start off this Utah national parks road trip with two parks in the southeastern part of the state. Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Dead Horse Point State Park are neighbors. Situated next to the cool waters of the Colorado River is the nearest town of Moab, which offers a wide choice of hotels and campgrounds.

Moab’s Top 7 Things to Do with Family
With so many activities available in Moab, choose among our seven favorite things to do with family, including a taking boat tour with Canyonlands by night and day, seeing life-sized dinosaurs at Moab Giants, and five more.

Push Your Limits
Check out these three heart-pounding adventures in Arches and Canyonlands.

Raft the Desert West’s Best River Stretches with OARS
Read these tips to incredible rafting trips for families, thrill seekers, and those just looking for relaxation amid some of the country’s best scenery in Utah and Colorado.

Go Retro in Moab at the Expedition Lodge
The retro vibes of this lodge will immediately take you back to a time before the kids could block out rounds of “99 Bottles” with earbuds and Spotify—when the journey was the destination, not the Instagram-worthy view.

Home Comforts at the Homewood Suites by Hilton Moab
Kitchenettes, an indoor pool, and a convenient downtown location make Homewood Suites your perfect Moab adventure base camp.

Top 4 Campgrounds in Moab
These campgrounds by Sun RV Resorts offer extraordinary amenities, including pools, dog parks, cabins, and more, near two of Utah’s national parks, Arches and Canyonlands.

Monument Valley, Navajo Nation, and Hopi Nation

An iconic stretch of land, Monument Valley is part of the Navajo Nation and home to Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. This drive has been called the most scenic in America by many, and it’s no wonder why.

Explore the Navajo Interactive Museum
Discover the rich history and culture of the Navajo Nation and its people in Tuba City and Monument Valley. The Explore Navajo Interactive Museum will give you a glimpse of Navajo history and modern life.

Take an Experience Hopi Day Tour
People have been living in Old Oraibi for nearly 1,000 years. Tour this ancient village, as well as other significant Hopi sites, and stay at the conveniently located Moenkopi Legacy Inn.

Grand Canyon National Park

North Rim vs. South Rim

From Tuba City, Arizona, choose to visit the Grand Canyon’s North or South Rim. What’s the difference? A 277-mile-long (446 kilometer) canyon separates the national park. The South Rim is far more popular than the quiet North Rim. It’s more developed, with multiple hotels, restaurants, and campgrounds. It’s just 60 miles from Tuba City to the Desert View East Entrance near Cameron, Arizona. The North Rim gets far fewer visitors each year, is home to just one hotel, and is closed from November to May every year because of snow. The North Rim is 150 miles from Tuba City but brings you closer to your next stop on this road trip.

Grand Canyon North Rim

Offering fantastic views with less congestion, the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park offers those who are willing to drive five hours and 212 miles from the South Rim a chance to see the canyon without the crowds. There are places like Point Imperial where you can watch the distant rising sun gradually spread a blanket of warm red and gold light across the giant walls of rock and the singular spire of Mount Hayden. You might even hear the evocative song of a canyon wren rising and falling in crescendo, just eight or ten clear notes. It is perhaps the most memorable bird song of the West.

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is an experience wholly separate from the South Rim. It offers a more remote, rugged, and individual opportunity to see what John Wesley Powell described as “ledges and cliffs where the soaring eagle is lost to view before it reaches a summit.”

Top 4 North Rim Viewpoints: One is only a half-mile on a paved trail from the lodge.

Top 5 North Rim Day Hikes

Grand Canyon South Rim

Stop at Grand Canyon Visitor Center
Hidden secrets await in Tusayan.

Bring the Gypsy Guide App
Enjoy the freedom of driving your own car while traveling with an entertaining guide that doesn’t take up space. Learn more at gypsyguide.com/tour/grand-canyon-south-rim/.

48 Hours in the South Rim of the Grand Canyon
Get ready for adventure. Here are some of our favorite things to do at the South Rim, from biking in solitude to exploring some of the rim’s most historic treasures.

Fly Above the Grand Canyon with Maverick Helicopters
Take a helicopter tour of some of the Grand Canyon South Rim’s most popular sights. View Marble Canyon and Point Imperial as you fly through the canyon and climb above the North Rim. Learn more at maverickhelicopter.com.

A Grander Stay at Yavapai Lodge
Sleep well and sustainably about a mile from the rim. The Yavapai Lodge’s restaurant, tavern, and nearby market and shuttle stop make navigating the rim easy.

Into the Deep
Read one family’s story about hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and discovering there’s more than meets the eye.

Kanab is Utah’s Best-Kept Secret

Kanab’s Fab 4 Things to Do
Avoid the crowds, enjoy fantastic food, and discover the hidden gems along the way to the Southwest’s most popular national parks, including Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

White Pocket vs. The Wave
Most travelers have heard of the Wave but are unaware of surrounding canyons, such as White Pocket, that are just as jaw-dropping. Find out which one to visit.

Zion National Park

Head to the most popular Utah park on this road trip: Zion National Park. As visitors drive through the park, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the size and vertical orientation of the canyon walls that are all around you.

Top 7 Things to Do in Zion National Park
This gorgeous national park offers breathtaking views, lodging, and great educational stops. Here are our top seven.

Adrenaline-Fueled Zion Adventures
Looking to physically challenge yourself and find world-class adventure in Utah’s most popular park? Here are four of our favorite ways to spend an active day in Zion.

Cedar Breaks National Monument

Not only is this national park site considerably less crowded than its nearby sister national parks, but it’s also filled with an incredible array of vibrant wildflowers.

Elevate Your Experience in Cedar City and Brian Head
While southwest Utah is known for its amazing red-rock landscapes, there’s a pocket of mountains topped by aspen trees, wildflowers, and pine trees. Here are four reasons to stop and stay in the Cedar City area.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Compared to Utah’s other national parks, Bryce Canyon feels like a totally different world. For one, its mesmerizing hoodoos, ranging from white to pink to red, feel like you might just be on Mars. For another, the canyon’s rim sits between 8,000 and 9,000 feet in elevation, making it cooler and allowing pine and spruce forests to flourish. And lastly? It sees a fraction of the crowds.

Maximize your experience at Bryce Canyon National Park by driving to Sunrise, Sunset, Inspiration, and Bryce Viewpoints. All offer spectacular overlooks of the park’s red hoodoos shooting up against evergreen forests in the background.

3 New Ways to Experience Bryce Canyon Country
See the stars, squeeze through a slot canyon, or visit in the winter near these little towns along Highway 12.

The Closest Hotel to Bryce Canyon Is Ruby’s Inn
Ruby’s Inn and Adventures is at the entrance to Bryce Canyon National Park. Stay at two hotels, an RV park, tipis, cabins, or the campground. Go on a Bryce Canyon adventure via bike, ATV, or horse.

Capitol Reef National Park

A diversity of landscape like no other in Utah, Capitol Reef National Park and the surrounding area has red-rock formations, arches, plateaus, meadows, forests, lush green valleys, and astounding deserts.

Remote Beauty in Utah’s Capitol Reef Country
Take in Utah’s stunning color palette in and around Capitol Reef National Park—but the national park is just the beginning of what this scenic part of Utah has to offer.

Great Basin National Park

Just over the Utah border, visit Nevada’s Great Basin National Park, where you can explore the inside of the earth and the top of a 13,000-foot peak on the same day.

Silver State Stopover at Great Basin National Park
In the Great Basin National Heritage Area, you’ll find Nevada’s only national park and surprising history.

End: Salt Lake City



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