Nothing screams summer like a road trip. This year my partner and I did a southern Utah vacation or should I say southern Utah road trip. Our intentions were to do lots of hiking, be around the water and experience as much of the things to do in southern Utah.
This southern Utah, northern Arizona road trip route takes you through multiple National Parks including, Zion National Park, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon National Park and Lake Powell. So grab your boots, fill up your tank and let’s hit the road to explore southern Utah. Also be sure to check out this podcast if you are looking for more of Southern Utah’s hidden gems.
Southern Utah road trip itinerary
Southern Utah Vacation
Day 1: Drive from Las Vegas to Zion Via Valley of Fire
The drive from Las Vegas to Zion National Park takes about 2-3 hours to drive depending on how often you stop. Detouring through the Valley of Fire State Park isn’t too far out of the way and makes for a scenic drive
It costs $10 per vehicle to enter the park. When we drove through around sunset, payment was on the honor system, we snapped a few classic shots and were on our way.
Where to Stay near Zion National Park
In order to keep costs down we camp. There are are a handful of campgrounds in Zion or Springdale (the closest town to Zion) that will give you great proximity and all the amenities that you need.
Zion Canyon Campground
I really enjoyed our stay at Zion Canyon Campground. It was located right off stop 3 on the free shuttle, Springdale line.
It was a bit pricey at $45 a night for campground standards but had hot showers, grills and even WiFi in some areas.
*Pro Tip: Book a tent site down by the river, we were bummed that we didn’t.
Lodging Near Zion National Park
If you want to stay inside the National Park but not camp then check out Zion Lodge. It’s the only place that offers accommodations and food inside the park.
Springdale is the closest town to Zion. It’s at most a 10 minute shuttle ride to the enterance of Zion depending on where you stay. If you’re more for the hotels than for camping, staying in anywhere in Springdale will provide you with a great location.
St. George, Utah is about an hour drive to Zion NP. St. George has warm, sunny weather year round, hiking trails and golf courses. If you want to stay in a bigger city and be closer to Las Vegas, St. George is a great option. Check out these top Airbnbs in St. George.
These are a few of the best places to stay in Zion.
Glamping Near Zion & Bryce Canyon
The stay is located up on the East side of Zion National Park.
On this side of the park there are more off the beaten path hikes that are not as popular as other hikes in Zion.
Located on the Zion Ponderosa Resort property these accommodations have access to many of the resort amenities including breakfast, swimming pools and hot tubs.
under the eaves inn
This stay is all about location. The park entrance is walkable (within one mile) and there’s a full grocery store directly across the street. Since this hotel is in Springdale there are several restaurants and rental shops.
Top Pick ⭐️
The SpringHill Suites by Marriott Springdale Zion National Park comes with amazing views. I love the red rocks that tower all around Zion.
There’s also a fitness center, pool and billards table!
Spend the evening getting your site situated as you’ll be basing yourself the next 4 nights out of Zion. I mean you can’t visit southern Utah without spending at least a couple days exploring Zion National Park.
Day 2: Zion National Park
Hike Emerald Pools
When we was here last, Middle and Upper Pools were closed due to a land slide. Even if you just hike to Lower Emerald Falls, it’s an easy walk and a nice introduction to Zion.
Lunch. We always pack ample snacks and find the perfect spot to hang out, relax and eat. If you’re more into eating out, Zion Canyon inside the park has decent food and is the only place inside that sells beer.
Temple of Sinawava & Narrows Hike
This Narrows hike is what Zion is renown for. The hike takes you along and through the Virgin River. The canyon walls can get as tall as 2,000 feet and you’ll be wet from the river so its a refreshing and cool, a pleasant break from the hot, desert.
Day 3: Bryce Canyon
It is possible to drive into the park first to find a parking spot as most people take the free shuttle. I always get a parking spot!
The orange trail winds down into the canyon bobbing and weaving hoodoos and pine trees. You’ll be in awe of mother earths delicate beauty.
Drive towards Rainbow Point making no stops along the way as you’ll hit those on the way back when they are on the right side of the road. There’s plenty of places to stop, take pictures and see different parts of the canyon.
A few of my favorites are Natural Bridge and Inspiration Point.
READ NEXT: Where to Stay in Bryce Canyon
Day 4: Hike Angel’s Landing
We started hiking around 2:30 pm and there was virtually nobody hiking with us which was especially important when you are on the chains.
Angels Landing is a strenuous hike that takes you up the side of a mountain through a series of switchbacks. The last half mile is up a narrow ridge with steep drop offs on either side.
There are chains bolted in place for assistant up the ridge to Angels Landing. You go down the same way you go up so on a really busy day, it’s more stressful maneuvering around people going the opposite way, thus hiking hiking early or late will be an important factor.
MORE HIKING SUGGESTIONS: Hiking Zion
Day 5: Drive to Lake Powell
Canyon Overlook Trail ↑
Leave Zion early around 7 through the east entrance, the same way you drove to Bryce. Stop and hike Canyon OverLook Trail.
The trail is located directly outside the tunnel on the left hand side. Parking is limited but the trail is worth it. It’s a easy 1 mike hike on sandstone and sand mixed. It gives great overlooks of Zion Canyon.
North Rim of the Grand Canyon ↑
Continue on the road towards the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. It’s about a 2 and a half hour drive to get to the North Rim Visitors Center.
Stretch your legs and walk the half mile paved path of Bright Angel Point for a 280 view of the lesser visited North Rim. It’s something you have to see to believe and boy is she grand!
Marble Canyon ↑
Stop at the Marble Canyon and walk the bridge and get insane views of the mighty Colorado River.
Camping at Lake Powell
Day 6: Explore Lake Powell by Water
There are endless waterways to explore, rocks to jump off of, and small ‘beaches’ on little peninsulas to park and go for a swim. There was compartment on the jet ski that fit my small pack that was filled with water, snacks and camera gear. 4 hours of pure bliss playing on the water = AWESOMENESS.
Make sure you wear and bring sunscreen. You’ll roast out on that water and nothing is more uncomfortable then camping with a major sunburn.
Day 7: Antelope Canyon ↑
Horseshoe Bend ↑
Catch sunset at horseshoe bend located just outside Page, Arizona. The pictures speak for themselves and this was a personal highlight.