You could spend years in the American Southwest exploring different National and State Parks. We have condensed this post to five adventure-packed days however if you have more time to spend in this region you can also check out our post 17-Day Grand Canyon and Utah’s Mighty 5 Road Trip Itinerary.
We started and finished this road trip in Las Vegas. Driving close to 1000 miles with stops in Zion – 2 days, Bryce Canyon – 1.5 days, and Grand Canyon – 1.5 days. This Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce itinerary covers all the highlights and details making this an unforgettable experience.
These three National Parks may be physically close but could not look and feel more different. Each of them offers a unique and everlasting experience.
For this trip, we recommend purchasing the Annual National Park Pass at USGS.GOV. It is a better deal than paying individual park entrance fees.
5-Day Road Trip Itinerary – Zion, Bryce & Grand Canyon
Day 1&2 – Zion National Park
To do any of the Zion Canyon Trails, you have to take the shuttle into the canyon. Below is the shuttle schedule.
The only other way to enter the Zion Canyon is by private shuttle or e-bikes/bikes.
Hikes we recommend are The Narrows, Emerald Pools, Angel’s Landing, and Observation Point. The Observation Point Trail from the Canyon has been closed for some time now due to the rockfall, but there is a different way to get to it. A lot less strenuous and you can read more about it in our post Alternative Ways to Hike to The Observation Point in Zion. The Observation Point hike can be done on the way to Bryce Canyon since getting to the trailhead is in the same direction as heading to Bryce Canyon.
The Angel’s Landing hike is a strenuous hike to do, so be sure to do your research before you commit to something like that and that the weather is favorable for the hike, especially while walking on the ledge.
Other things to do in Springdale: Helicopter Ride, Jeep Tour, Drive through Kolob Canyons and hike their trails – Timber Creek Overlook Trail is a short and sweet one, Drive Kolob Terrace Road with the endpoint at the Kolob Reservoir. We have detailed some of these adventures in our post 3 Epic Days in Zion National Park.
WHERE DID WE STAY: Cable Mountain Lodge – we really enjoyed this accommodation. We had our own private balcony where we could enjoy coffee in the morning and an adult beverage in the evening with the Watchman watching over us. It was extremely clean, which is always important to us. The accommodation also has laundry facilities, which were very helpful.
WHERE DID WE EAT: Oscar’s Café – casual dining with a Mexican influence, there is always a wait here but it goes quickly. King’s Landing Bistro – more of the fine dining experiences in town, great outdoor seating and wine selection. Expect a long wait during the busy season and they only take reservations for parties of 6 and more.
Day 3 – Bryce Canyon National Park
The drive from Zion to Bryce Canyon is only about two hours with a scenic drive through the Red Canyon.
Bryce Canyon National Park is a series of natural amphitheaters sunk into pink cliffs and filled with delicate red rock hoodoos.
The ultimate hike to do in Bryce is the Figure Eight Loop. It is a loop that starts at Sunset Point, combines Navajo Trail, Peekaboo Loop and Queen’s Garden Trail, and ends at Sunrise Point. It is a 6.3-mile trail that lets you walk through the Wall Street section of the Navajo Loop, hike the Hoodoos and Wall of Windows in the Peekaboo Loop, visit Queen Victoria in the Queen’s Garden, and it finishes with the splendid view of the Bryce Amphitheater.
While at the Bryce Canyon, it is a must to stop at the iconic Bryce Lodge for lunch.
The scenic drive through the national park, stopping at different viewing points and walking the rim trail will give you a taste of the park if hiking is not something that you would like to do.
Another popular hike in Bryce is the Fairylands Loop where you can see, the Chinese Wall, Tower Bridge and Hoodoos on a less crowded trail.
WHERE DID WE STAY: Stone Canyon Inn in Tropic.
WHERE DID WE EAT: Stone Hearth Grill and Pizza Place are both decent places to eat.
Day 4 – Driving to the Grand Canyon
Driving from Bryce to Grand Canyon through Kanab and Page is a long driving day, over 6 hours. But if you start early enough, you can still squeeze in a couple of great hikes. Don’t forget that UT and AZ are in a different time zone and you will most likely gain an hour.
From Kanab, you can venture on a Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch hike, through a slot canyon approximately 6.0- mile moderately trafficked but absolutely beautiful hike.
From Page, you can stop and enjoy Horseshoe Bend for a few minutes. It is only about a 20-minute leisurely walk to the view that will leave you speechless.
After arriving at the Grand Canyon if you have time check out the park for some time before the sunset, just to get a feel for where to be the next morning. Tomorrow’s hike is the hardest hike of this trip and is only recommended if you have adequately prepared.
WHERE DID WE STAY: Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon in Tusayan, AZ – we didn’t stay at the park, since the lodging options were limited at the time of our bookings. However, this hotel is run by the same company as the park hotels and we would not recommend staying here. It is overpriced and not worth it. If you can find something better or the same but for less money, it would be a better choice.
WHERE DID WE EAT: Canyon Star Steakhouse – Hotel Restaurant – also wouldn’t recommend it. Overpriced for the OK quality. There are not many options in town and since we were starting an early day the next morning, we just wanted something convenient.
Day 5 – Grand Canyon – South Rim
Our Grand Hike in the Grand Canyon was a 14-mile hike from South Kaibab to Tonto Trail to Bright Angel.
For the hike we recommend, you will need to park by the Backcountry Information Center and take a Kaibab Rim (ORANGE) Route. Service starts at 4 am and until 20 minutes after sunset.
This hike is every bit as challenging as we expected it. We had a few things going against us, an altitude that we were not used to and extremely hot weather. It just seemed like we couldn’t drink enough water.
We are extremely glad we did this hike since the canyon is simply stunning, but if you decide to do this hike make sure you are fully prepared and give your body enough rest afterward. We were sore for 3 days after the hike.
Some other less challenging day hikes you can take are down South Kaibab Trail no further than Skeleton Point and back or go down Bright Angel Trail no further than Plateau Point for the view of the river and back.
The next day, prepare for a drive back to Las Vegas and fly home.
WHERE DID WE EAT: Plaza Bonita – a Mexican Restaurant
This is the driving map of the road trip.
Other helpful posts…
Grand Hike in The Grand Canyon – South Kaibab to Tonto to Bright Angel Loop
Alternative Ways to Hike to the Observation Point in Zion
3 Epic Days in Zion National Park
Must Do Hikes in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (Peek-a-boo and Spooky Loop and Lower Calf Creek)
Four Adventure Filled Days in Moab
Easy Must Do Hikes in Capitol Reef
17-Day Grand Canyon and Utah’s Mighty 5 Road Trip Itinerary
The Best Hike in the Canyonlands Needles District