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 and to be around the water.

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.

Southern Utah road trip itinerary

  • 3 Days: Zion

  • 1 Day: Bryce Canyon

  • 1 Day : North Rim Grand Canyon

  • 2 Days : Lake Powell/Page, Arizona

Southern Utah Vacation

Day 1: Drive from Las Vegas to Zion Via Valley of Fire

We started our southern Utah vacation in Las Vegas because its close and a nice place to end your trip in luxury for a couple days if you can travel longer than a week.
 

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

 
Temperatures get up in the 100’s in the summer.  We drove through dead of summer and in my rear view mirror it looked like smoke in the distance, hence the name Valley of Fire.

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

Camping 

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.

Watchman Campground

This campground in located inside Zion National Park and provides the ultimate location and ease if you enjoy those sunrise hikes.  You must book in advance and can do so here.

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.  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. 

springhill suites

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! 

Compare prices at Booking.com | Agoda.com | Hotels.com

READ:  For a more detailed post  Where to Stay in Zion 

Spend the evening getting your site situated as you’ll be basing yourself the next 4 nights out of Zion.

Day 2: Zion National Park

Hike Emerald Pools

Wake up and start hiking Emerald Pools by 7 or 8.  If you’re staying inside the park you’ll jump on the free shuttle and get off at stop 5.
There is a free Springdale shuttle that takes you to the entrance of Zion National Park and from there you’ll hop on the free Zion shuttle.
The hike is 3 miles round trip to reach all three emerald pools.  It shouldn’t take you more than  3 hours to hike the trail.  

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

Head to the Temple of Sinawava because you’re going to hike the Narrows today.  This is stop number 9 on the free shuttle which is also the last stop.  

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.
 
The Narrows hike is one of my favorite hikes I’ve ever done.  You can start the hike at any time of the day because the farther you go, the less crowds they’ll be.  This makes is easy to get that people-less picture and it just feels good to romp around freely a river bed deep in a canyon.

Day 3: Bryce Canyon

Explore Bryce Canyon. The scenic drive from Zion to Bryce only takes an hour, so it’s a great day trip from your home base in Zion.
 
Once you arrive at Bryce Canyon, there’s a free shuttle that runs into Bryce Canyon from the visitors center, which is before the entrance.  

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!
Start your tour of Bryce Canyon at Sunrise Point, you’ll be hiking the Queens Garden and Navajo loop trail to get up and close with the mysterious hoodoos.  The connecting trail is only 3 miles round trip and will be a bit challenging on the switchbacks coming back up.  

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.
 
The trail will end at Sunset Point.  Stroll back the half mile on a paved path along the rim of the canyon towards your vehicle at sunrise point.

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.

Day 4: Hike Angel’s Landing

Hope you ate your Wheatie’s because today you’re hiking Angels Landing.  To avoid crowds go early in the morning or late afternoon.  

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!

*I know that this guide is a southern Utah vacation and that the Grand Canyon is in Arizona.  It’s just too close not to visit!

Marble Canyon ↑

Stop at the Marble Canyon and walk the bridge and get insane views of the mighty Colorado River.

Camping at Lake Powell

We stayed at Wahweap RV & Campground complete with showers, laundry and WiFi.
 
You can stay at Resort and Marina if your not camping.

Day 6: Explore Lake Powell by Water

Next stop on your southern Utah vacation is Lake Powell.  Let’s first talk about how beautiful Lake Powell is, the bright blue water surrounded by white sand stone rocks as glossy as the eye can see!  

Lake Powell is a National Park that strattel’s the Utah and Arizona border and at capacity can hold 24,322,000 acre feet.
 
There are several ways to see Lake Powell.  You can take a boat or guided kayak tour.  You can rent a personal watercraft (PWC) for the day like a jet ski or boat, or do something more active like Stand Up Paddle (SUP) or a man propelled paddle boat.
 
Joe and I initially wanted to rent paddle boards but wanted to see as much of the lake as possible.  We choose to rent a jet ski and it was my favorite day of the whole trip!  

We rented the jet ski for 4 hours and it cost about $320, which was a huge expense but worth the splurge as we had so much fun.

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 ↑

Today is the day of your southern Utah road trip that you get to tour iconic Antelope Canyon. You may recognize this canyon from pictures, in fact the most expensive photo in the world was taken in Upper Antelope Canyon, and sold for $6.5 million.
 
You can only explore Antelope Canyon on a guided tour. There are only a handful of tour providers in the town of Page (which is 10-15 minutes from Lake Powell.)
 
You can choose to tour lower Antelope Canyon or upper Antelope Canyon or if your feeling saucy, both.
 
Upper Antelope Canyon is more famous of the two, thus making it more crowded. It is most famous for its “beam of light” phenomenon. These beams slice through the roof of the canyon most reliably around noon on clear days. Upper Antelope Canyon is more accessible and easier to get so its “family friendly”.
 
Lower Antelope Canyon is a little different as you climb a short series ladders and staircases to enter.
 
We chose Antelope Slot Canyon Tours by Chief Tosie. The whole tour took an hour and a half including the 15 minute ride to and from the canyon.  I’m not a huge fan of guided tours. Overall it was beautiful and picture perfect.
If you’re visiting Antelope Canyon for a day trip from somewhere else check out these tours. 

Horseshoe Bend ↑

Catch sunset at horseshoe bend located just outside Page, Arizona. The pictures speak for themselves and this was a personal highlight.

Day 8: Drive Back to Las Vegas 

You’re nature filled southern Utah and northern Arizona road trip has come to an end.  The drive back to Las Vegas takes a little over 4 hours.

How to Prepare for this Southern Utah Road Trip

XX Jess

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