Julie United States 18 Comments

Are you planning a trip to the Grand Canyon? There are many different ways to plan your perfect road trip, depending on how much time you have and your interests. The American Southwest is packed with stunning parks and landscapes, and it is easy to add on places like Antelope Canyon, Zion National Park, and Sedona to your Grand Canyon road trip.

Here are five sample itineraries, ranging from 5 to 10 days. All of these itineraries include Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. Depending on the length of time of the itinerary, we also add in places like Zion National Park, Antelope Canyon, Sedona, Death Valley, and Monument Valley. Several of these itineraries can be done as a Las Vegas loop road trip.

For all of these itineraries, you will need to rent a car. Several of these itineraries are done point-to-point (starting in Las Vegas and ending in Phoenix, or vice versa), so you will need to book open jaw flights. If you start and end in two different locations, there is a good chance that your rental car price will include an additional drop fee. However, if you are short on time, or just don’t like the idea of driving hundreds of miles to get back to your starting point, then going point-to-point is your best option.

If you do not plan on renting a car, or prefer to visit the American Southwest on a tour, there are several highly rated tours to choose from. This 3-day tour includes the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, and Zion National Park. On this 3-day tour, visit the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley, Zion and Bryce National Parks. Finally, if you only have one day, this one-day tour from Las Vegas includes the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, and Horseshoe Bend.


5 Day Grand Canyon Road Trip

Las Vegas & the Grand Canyon

This is the shortest itinerary of the bunch. Essentially, you spend a short amount of time in both Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. This itinerary can be done as a loop, starting and ending in Las Vegas, so booking your flights is simple and you will not have to deal with an additional drop fee for your rental car.

Day 1: Arrive in Las Vegas
Day 2: Drive to the Grand Canyon
Day 3: Grand Canyon
Day 4: Drive to Las Vegas (optional, drive to Flagstaff or Phoenix)
Day 5: Fly home

How to Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left hand corner of the map to view the layers (places to go and the driving route). You can click the check marks to hide or show layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each point of interest.
If you click the star next to the title of the map, this map will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.

Day 1: Arrive in Las Vegas

After arriving in Las Vegas, pick up your rental car at the airport and get settled into your hotel. Spend the remainder of the day in Las Vegas. Explore the hotels on the Vegas Strip, see a show, go shopping, hang out at the hotel pool, or go out to dinner.

Our favorite thing to do in Las Vegas is to go out for drinks and dinner. Our favorite place for drinks is the Cosmopolitan (we love the Chandelier Bar and Clique and would love to try the Barbershop Cuts and Cocktails). We recently had a fantastic dinner at Scarpetta, an Italian restaurant that is also located in the Cosmopolitan. Make a reservation for a table with a view of the Vegas Strip and you can watch the Bellagio fountain show while you have dinner.

Las Vegas Strip


Chandelier Bar in the Cosmopolitan

Where to Stay

We stayed at the Marriott Grand Chateau several times and loved it. This is our top pick for families. Located just one block off the strip, it is a quick walk to the nearby casinos of the Cosmopolitan, Paris, Bellagio, and New York New York. They offer 1, 2, and 3-bedroom villas so there is plenty of space (and privacy) for your family to spread out.

The name “Grand Chateau” sounds luxurious, but their prices are very competitive with the hotels right on the Strip.

In the past, Tim and I have also stayed at Mandalay Bay, the Wynn, and the Venetian, and had great experiences at all of them. If you want to stay in a hotel with an epic view of the Strip, check out the Cosmopolitan.

Day 2: Drive to the Grand Canyon

On the Road: 4.5 hours (280 miles)

Get an early start, if you can. This might be hard to do, depending on what you did last night in Vegas. 🙂

It’s a long, somewhat boring drive to the Grand Canyon. Not far outside of Las Vegas you have the option to add on the Hoover Dam or the Grand Canyon Skywalk at the West Rim.

Optional: Hoover Dam

On this Grand Canyon road trip, you have the option to add on the Hoover Dam. You can purchase tickets online in advance for the Powerplant Tour. The Guided Dam Tour extends your visit to behind the scenes sites at Hoover Dam, but these tickets can only be reserved in person the same day as your visit. If you plan to do a Guided Dam Tour, plan on getting here very early to make sure you get a ticket.

If you choose to visit the Hoover Dam, you will sacrifice some of your time at the Grand Canyon later today.

Optional: Grand Canyon Skywalk at the West Rim

Located on the West Rim of the Grand Canyon, the Skywalk is an easily accessible viewpoint from Las Vegas. It looks and sounds thrilling…a glass walkway perched high above the canyon floor, offering spectacular views of the Grand Canyon. But is the Grand Canyon Skywalk worth it?

Not in our opinion. It’s overpriced, it can be crowded, and the views don’t even come close to what you will see later today on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Save your money, and your time, and skip the Skywalk.

At the Grand Canyon

If you skipped both the Hoover Dam and the Skywalk, you will arrive at the Grand Canyon midday. This gives you the entire afternoon on the South Rim.

Check into your hotel and spend the afternoon visiting the South Rim viewpoints. You can walk the South Rim Trail, take the shuttle, or go by bike to see the views. Watch the sunset over the Grand Canyon and then have dinner.

Grand Canyon Road Trip

Mather Point


Grand Canyon Itinerary Road Trip

Yaki Point

Where to Stay at the Grand Canyon

There are five hotels located in the Grand Canyon Village (El Tovar, Thunderbird Lodge, Bright Angel Lodge, Kachina Lodge, and Maswick Lodge). Staying here gives you the advantage of easy access to the shuttles, short walks to several of the viewpoints, and no hassles driving into and out the park every day. However, the hotels get mediocre reviews and many people say they are expensive for what you get.

Click here to view the lodges and get updated pricing. These hotels fill up very far in advance. Make your reservations at least 6 months in advance.

You also have the option to stay in Tusayan. From Tusayan, it is a 15-minute drive into the park. There are several hotels to choose from as well as some restaurants.

We stayed at The Grand Hotel in Tusayan. It is the highest rated hotel in the area. The hotel looks impressive from the outside and the lobby is very nice but the rooms are nothing special. On Booking.com it is listed as a 5-star hotel but it looks and feels a lot more like a 3 to 4 star hotel. For a nicer room, it’s worth upgrading to the Deluxe Queen Room.

The Best Western and the Holiday Inn Express are two more hotels to try in Tusayan.

Day 3: Grand Canyon

With one day in the Grand Canyon, there are a lot of different ways to fill your time.

If you are a hiker, I recommend hiking the South Kaibab Trail. The views are unbelievable and the trail is less crowded than the more famous (and less scenic…in my opinion) Bright Angel Trail. You can hike out and back to either Cedar Ridge or Skeleton Point.

Best things to do in the Grand Canyon

View from Ooh Aah Point at sunrise (South Kaibab Trail)


Bright Angel Trail

Bright Angel Trail

For an epic experience, you can hike South Rim to South Rim on the South Kaibab and Bright Angel Trails. It is only recommended to do this during the cooler months (November through March) and if you are very fit with a lot of hiking experience.

Even if you are not big into hiking, hiking out to Ooh Aah Point, on the South Kaibab Trail, is an unforgettable experience, especially early in the morning.

Other ideas for how to fill your day include a helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon, a visit to the Yavapai Museum of Geology, a bike ride along Hermit Road, or seeing the Grand Canyon IMAX movie.

For more information, read our article How to Spend One Day in the Grand Canyon

Day 4: Drive to Las Vegas, Phoenix, or Flagstaff

Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Flagstaff are the three closest airports to the Grand Canyon. There is an airport in Tusayan, but flights are extremely limited so it is unlikely to get a flight from here (I found several but they cost thousands of dollars per person).

Driving Distances and Times:

Las Vegas: 280 miles, 4.5 hours
Phoenix: 230 miles, 3.5 hours
Flagstaff: 80 miles, 1.5 hours

Las Vegas: If you want to start and end in Las Vegas, drive back to Las Vegas today. You can either spend the morning in the Grand Canyon and make the drive in the afternoon, or leave the Grand Canyon in the morning to give yourself the afternoon in Las Vegas.

Phoenix: Phoenix is one hour closer to the Grand Canyon than Las Vegas. To fly from here, you save one hour of driving and you can add on a very quick visit to Sedona today. You have enough time to do a short hike in Sedona…Devils Bridge is one of our favorite hikes here.

Tim Rivenbark

Flagstaff: Flagstaff is the closest airport to the Grand Canyon. Flight options are more limited than Las Vegas and Phoenix, so this won’t work for everyone, but it does save a lot of driving time.

Day 5: Fly Home

Fly home or continue your travels

With More Time

It is very easy to extend this itinerary. Add an extra day in the Grand Canyon, in Las Vegas, or in Sedona.

USA Road Trips

7 Day Grand Canyon Road Trip

Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon & Phoenix

This is similar to the five-day itinerary, with more time in Las Vegas and the addition of Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend in Page, Arizona. This itinerary can be done round trip from Las Vegas or point-to-point, ending in either Flagstaff or Phoenix. The downside of this itinerary is the very long drive to Phoenix or Las Vegas, if you do not fly home from Flagstaff.

Day 1: Arrive in Las Vegas
Day 2: Las Vegas
Day 3: Drive to the Grand Canyon
Day 4: Grand Canyon
Day 5: Drive to Page, see Antelope Canyon
Day 6: Drive to Flagstaff, Phoenix, or Las Vegas
Day 7: Fly home

Day 1: Arrive in Las Vegas

Get settled into your hotel. You can pick up your rental car today, at the airport (more convenient) or on the day you drive to the Grand Canyon (less convenient but it will save money). You do not need a rental car right away if you plan to spend all of day two in the city of Las Vegas.

Spend the afternoon and evening in Las Vegas.

Day 2: Las Vegas

Spend all of today in Las Vegas or consider taking a short day trip.

The Valley of Fire is a small state park just one hour outside of Las Vegas. Go on short hikes, enjoy the panoramic vistas, and visit one of Nevada’s most beautiful destinations.

Valley of Fire

Fire Wave

Just 30 minutes from downtown Las Vegas is Red Rock Canyon, an outdoor playground for hikers and families. This is another place to go for scenic, fun, short hikes.

PRO TRAVEL TIP: You will need a car to get to the Valley of Fire and Red Rock Canyon, so it is best to pick up your rental car at the airport when you arrive in Las Vegas.

Day 3: Drive to the Grand Canyon

Drive to the Grand Canyon, making the optional visit to the Hoover Dam. Get settled into your hotel and spend the afternoon filling your camera’s memory card with photos along the South Rim.

How to visit the Grand Canyon

Day 4: Grand Canyon

Spend the day in the Grand Canyon, either hiking one of the trails, biking, taking a scenic helicopter ride, or visiting more South Rim viewpoints.

PRO TRAVEL TIP: Save the viewpoints along Desert View Drive for tomorrow. You will drive this road to get to Page, Arizona.

Day 5: Drive to Page, Visit Antelope Canyon

On the Road: 2.5 hours (130 miles)

From the South Rim of the Grand Canyon it takes two and a half hours to get to Page, Arizona. The first part of your drive takes you along Desert View Drive, where you have the opportunity to see more views of the Grand Canyon.

Once in Page, get settled into your hotel. Spend midday at Antelope Canyon.

Lower Antelope Canyon

Lower Antelope Canyon


Upper Antelope Canyon

Upper Antelope Canyon

PRO TRAVEL TIP: The best time of day to visit Antelope Canyon is midday, when the sun is high in the sky and the light beams shine down into the canyon.

There are two sections to Antelope Canyon: Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon. If you get here early, by 10 am, you can visit both slot canyons. However, if you only want to visit one, how do you decide?

For more information about visiting Antelope Canyon, we have not one, not two, but three articles to help you out:

Should You Visit Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon?

Upper Antelope Canyon: A Journey in Photographs

Lower Antelope Canyon: A Photographic Tour

PRO TRAVEL TIP: The popularity of Antelope Canyon has skyrocketed in the recent years. To avoid disappointment, make your reservations far in advance (at a bare minimum, four months in advance, but up to six to nine months in advance for May through September).

In the evening, join the crowds at Horseshoe Bend for stunning sunset views.

Where to Stay

We stayed at the unexciting but clean, convenient, and budget friendly Holiday Inn Express. The Wingate by Wyndham Page Lake Powell and Hyatt Place Page Lake Powell are two of the highest rated hotels in Page.

Day 6: Drive to Flagstaff or Phoenix

Optional: Sunrise at Horseshoe Bend

I prefer Horseshoe Bend at sunrise. It is a much quieter experience than sunset and the views are extraordinary. If you don’t mind rolling out of bed before the crack of dawn, this is a wonderful chance to experience Horseshoe Bend without the crazy number of people who flock here later in the day.

PRO TRAVEL TIP: Get sunrise and sunset times at timeanddate.com. 

Horseshoe Bend

Horseshoe Bend at sunrise

Drive to Flagstaff, Phoenix, or Las Vegas

Here are driving times and distances to nearby airports:

Flagstaff: 2.25 hours, 130 miles
Phoenix: 4.25 hours, 275 miles
Las Vegas: 4.5 hours, 275 miles

Flagstaff: Taking into consideration time and mileage, flying home from Flagstaff makes the most sense. However, when choosing your flight home, you also have to consider flight prices and airport transfers. It might be quicker to drive here, but if you have to make multiple transfers to get home, this might not be your best option.

Las Vegas: If you fly home from Las Vegas, booking your flight is easy and you avoid the drop fee for the rental car. You also have the option to visit the Valley of Fire. Or, if you are really feeling ambitious and you don’t mind a long day, you could sneak in a hike in Zion National Park.

Phoenix: It’s the same distance and driving time as Las Vegas. I think it’s only worth flying home from here if there are good flight options from Phoenix or if you want to quickly visit Sedona.

Day 7: Fly Home

Fly home or continue your travels.

10 Day Road Trip

Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Zion & Bryce Canyon

This itinerary is very similar to the 7-day itinerary, with the addition of Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks. If you want a road trip that is done as a loop from Las Vegas and includes the Grand Canyon and several other national parks, this is my top pick.

Day 1: Arrive in Las Vegas
Day 2: Las Vegas
Day 3: Drive to the Grand Canyon
Day 4: Grand Canyon
Day 5: Drive to Page, see Antelope Canyon
Day 6: Drive to Bryce Canyon
Day 7: Bryce Canyon, Drive to Zion
Day 8: Zion
Day 9: Zion, drive to Las Vegas
Day 10: Fly home

Days 1 through 5: Las Vegas to Page

These days are exactly the same as the 7-day itinerary listed above.

Day 6: Drive to Bryce Canyon

In the morning, you have the option to visit Horseshoe Bend at sunrise.

Driving to Bryce Canyon

On the Road: 2.75 hours, 150 miles

It takes roughly 3 hours to drive to Bryce Canyon from Page, if you go through Kanab and Mt. Carmel Junction. You can drive directly to Bryce Canyon, and spend the afternoon in the park, or you can visit one of these places along the way (it’s a surprisingly long list…there is a ton to do in this area).

Cottonwood Canyon Road

Cottonwood Canyon Road is a 46-mile, unpaved road that connects Big Water with Cannonville. It is a scenic short cut through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and it takes roughly 2 hours to drive the entire thing.

Cottonwood Canyon Road

Kodachrome Basin State Park

This small state park is located near Cannonville at the end of Cottonwood Canyon Road. Go hiking on the short trails in this colorful state park.

Kodachrome Basin Grand Canyon road trip

Hike Willis Creek Slot Canyon

Willis Creek is located in Grand Staircase-Escalante, near Cannonville and Kodachrome Basin State Park. This is an easy, short hike through a slot canyon. It’s possible that your feet will get wet, since you are hiking along a creek, but that’s what makes it so fun.

Willis Creek Grand Canyon road trip

Peek-A-Boo and Spooky Gulch

These two slot canyons are located in Grand-Staircase Escalante. It will be a long drive to get here, but if you are looking for a challenging and scenic hike, this is one to consider. This can also be easily combined with a visit to Devils Garden, which is located nearby.

Peek A Boo Gulch Grand Canyon road trip

Peek-A-Boo Gulch


Spooky Slot Grand Canyon road trip

Spooky Gulch


Devils Garden Utah Grand Canyon road trip

Devils Garden

Zebra Slot Canyon

Zebra Slot Canyon is a very short slot canyon, named for its striped canyon walls. It’s a gorgeous spot, maybe not quite as pretty as Antelope Canyon in Arizona, but since you can explore this on your own without a guide or tour group, it’s more fun.

Zebra Slot Canyon Grand Canyon road trip

Like I said, it’s a long list. We also drove from Page to Bryce Canyon. Here is what we did along the way (we did this in May when we had a lot of daylight):

Early morning: Cottonwood Canyon Road
Late Morning: Zebra Slot Canyon
Midday, Early Afternoon: Spooky and Peek-A-Boo Gulches
Late Afternoon: Devils Garden and drive to Bryce Canyon

Where to Stay at Bryce Canyon

We stayed in Tropic at the Bryce Canyon Inn. This place was wonderful. We had our own cabin with queen sized beds, a bathroom, and a kitchenette. It was cozy, quiet, and very clean. From here, it was just a 15-minute drive to Bryce Canyon.

The Best Western Plus is a highly-rated hotel near the park entrance and Bryce Vistas is a one-bedroom apartment that can accommodate four people (located in Tropic) that gets rave reviews.

Day 7: Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon National Park…a fantasyland of hoodoos, bizarre rock formations, and sandstone pillars. This is a crazy beautiful place, and its unique landscape sets it apart from other national parks.

Bryce Canyon Grand Canyon road trip

Visit the viewpoints and go on a short hike (we recommend the Queens Garden and Navajo Loop Trails).

PRO TRAVEL TIP: Start at sunrise. It’s spectacular…and you get to start your hike before the crowds arrive.

Bryce Canyon is a small park. You can see the highlights in the morning and midday and have the afternoon free to do something else. Drive right to Zion National Park (2 hours, 86 miles) or add on Willis Creek or Kodachrome Basin State Park.

Where to Stay in Springdale

When we visit Zion, our go-to hotel is the Holiday Inn Express in Springdale, one of the best Holiday Inn properties we have seen. It is located along the Springdale Shuttle route, so you can get around town and into Zion National Park without a car.

Days 8 & 9: Zion National Park

Zion National Park is one of the best spots in the United States to go hiking. From the awe-inspiring hike up Angels Landing to the family friendly Riverside Walk to multi-day backpacking adventures, there is something here for everyone.

Take your pick from a wide variety of hikes, some just a mile or two in length to longer, full-day adventures. With two days, you can choose several hikes, especially if you get an early start in the morning.

Zion Observation Point Grand Canyon road trip

Observation Point


Zion Narrows Grand Canyon road trip

The Zion Narrows

I recommend starting your day as early as possible. During the months of April through November, when the Zion Shuttle is operating, it’s best to be on one of the first shuttles of the day. By mid-morning, the lines to get on the shuttle can be frustratingly long and take up your valuable time. Being on the first shuttle of the day puts you first on the hiking trail for the day. Yes, it’s not fun to get up at the crack of dawn, but it’s so much better than waiting literally an hour or longer in line for a shuttle.

On the evening of day 9, drive to Las Vegas (2.5 hours, 165 miles).

Day 10: Fly Home

Fly home or continue your travels.

10 Day Road Trip

Las Vegas, Death Valley, Grand Canyon & Zion

This is similar to the 10-day itinerary above, with one major change. Instead of Bryce Canyon you will visit Death Valley on a day trip from Las Vegas. This road trip is done round trip from Las Vegas.

Day 1: Arrive in Las Vegas
Day 2: Las Vegas
Day 3: Death Valley Day Trip
Day 4: Drive to the Grand Canyon
Day 5: Grand Canyon
Day 6: Drive to Page, Visit Antelope Canyon
Day 7: Drive to Zion National Park
Day 8: Zion National Park
Day 9: Drive to Las Vegas, Visit the Valley of Fire
Day 10: Fly Home

Days 1 & 2: Las Vegas

Arrive in Las Vegas. Pick up your rental car and spend your time on the Vegas Strip or hiking in Red Rock Canyon.

Day 3: Death Valley Day Trip

This day trip is perfect if you want a quick taste of Death Valley. This is a big driving day, but you get to visit the most popular viewpoints, see the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, and walk across Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the United States.

Death Valley Dantes View Grand Canyon road trip

Death Valley Day Trip

This road trip has a grand total of 360 miles of driving with 7.5 hours in the car. So, if you have an additional day to add to this itinerary, I recommend adding it to Death Valley. Learn more about how to spend one to two days in Death Valley:

How to Plan Your Death Valley Day Trip from Las Vegas

2 Amazing Days in Death Valley

20 Epic Things to do in Death Valley National Park

Days 4 & 5: Grand Canyon

Drive to the Grand Canyon and spend your time hiking, enjoying the views, taking a helicopter ride, and/or watching the IMAX movie.

Day 6: Drive to Page, Visit Antelope Canyon

Drive to Page, Arizona and visit Antelope Canyon. Watch the sunset over Horseshoe Bend.

Day 7: Drive to Zion National Park

On the Road: 2.5 hours, 120 miles

With limited time in Zion National Park, I recommend driving directly here from Page, without making the detours in Grand Staircase-Escalante. Once in Zion, spend the afternoon on one of the hiking trails.

Day 8: Zion National Park

Get an early start in the morning to hike one of the bigger, more popular hiking trails. On this list are the Zion Narrows, Angels Landing, and Observation Point. It is important to get a very early start, to beat the crowds not only on the hiking trails but also on the Zion shuttle.

Zion Itinerary Grand Canyon road trip

Hidden Canyon

Day 9: Drive to Las Vegas

On the Road: 2.5 hours, 165 miles

Today, drive to Las Vegas. On the way, you have the option to visit the Valley of Fire State Park.

Day 10: Fly Home

Fly home or continue your travels.

10 Day Road Trip

Highlights of Arizona and Utah

This is an itinerary that I wrote after our first trip to the American Southwest (we have been back numerous times since that visit).

On this itinerary, you start in Phoenix and end in Las Vegas. Along the way, visit Sedona, the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Park. It is busy but awesome road trip and one of our favorite 10-day trips of all time.

Monument Valley Grand Canyon road trip

Monument Valley

It is done point-to-point, starting in Phoenix and ending in Las Vegas (but you can also do this in the opposite direction).

Day 1: Arrive in Phoenix, Visit Sedona, Drive to the Grand Canyon
Day 2: Grand Canyon
Day 3: Monument Valley
Day 4: Monument Valley
Day 5: Antelope Canyon & Horseshoe Bend
Day 6: Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Day 7: Bryce Canyon
Day 8: Zion
Day 9: Zion
Day 10: Las Vegas

Best Time for This Grand Canyon Road Trip

This road trip can be done year-round.

The best months are March through May and September through October, when the weather is pleasant and the parks are not too crowded.

During the summer months (June through August) expect sweltering temperatures, the possibility of flash floods, and very high crowds.

During the winter months, snow can impact travel, particularly around the Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon.

We have visited this area in May, June, October, and December. May and October are wonderful months for this Grand Canyon road trip.

Grand Canyon Travel Guide

Zion National Park in Fall

Zion National Park in October

Tours of the Grand Canyon and the American Southwest


If you have any questions about this Grand Canyon road trip, let us know in the comment section below.

More Information about the American Southwest

GRAND CANYON: Check out our guides to the Best Things to Do on the South Rim, how to spend one perfect day in the Grand Canyon, and which South Rim viewpoints are the best ones to visit. For amazing views of the Grand Canyon, check out our guide to the Grand Canyon Helicopter Tours.

MONUMENT VALLEY: Learn what there is to do and how to plan your visit in our Guide to Monument Valley. We also have articles on what to expect on a Monument Valley Sunrise Tour and what it is like to hike to Teardrop Arch.

UTAH’S MIGHTY 5: Utah’s Mighty 5 is a collection of five national parks in Utah. Learn more about the parks and how to plan your visit in our Guide to Utah’s Mighty 5.

VISIT THE US NATIONAL PARKS: Looking for your next big adventure? Read our article about the 15 Best National Parks, where we narrow down the long list into 15 must-see parks. You can also learn more about the national parks (and get the full list) in our Guide to the US National Parks. Finally, if you are traveling as a family, here are the best parks to visit with kids.

USA ROAD TRIPS: Planning your next big adventure in the USA? Check our our USA Road Trip Guide for travel ideas and sample itineraries.


We have more information about things to do in Arizona in our Arizona Travel Guide. If this is part of a bigger road trip through the USA, you can read all of our articles about the United States in our United States Travel Guide.


Grand Canyon Road Trip Ideas


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Comments 18

  1. Avatar for Aamir Qazi
    Aamir Qazi

    Hi! I was hoping you could help me with an itinerary that would include the Hoover dam, Grand Canyon and some other green parks. I am travelling with my 11 years old son and would like something not too strenuous. I have 4 full days (Arrive in LV Wednesday, leave for parks Thursday, return to LV Sunday night – miles are limited to 1000 for the Turo car rental).
    I would love hotel recommends as well. I’ve looked thru posts and reader questions but not finding too many details.

    Thanks for your help!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      I’m happy to help. Your best option is to follow the first itinerary on this list. With limited time and mileage, you won’t be able to include other nearby national parks. On day 2 of this itinerary (Thursday on your itinerary) visit the Hoover Dam, skip the West Rim, and go right to the South Rim and in this guide we have recommendations on where to stay. Spend Friday on the South Rim. Saturday you could drive to Sedona in the morning and spend the day in Sedona and stay in Sedona. On Sunday, return to LV. If you are doing great on time on Sunday, you could try to squeeze in Valley of Fire. Cheers, Julie

  2. Avatar for Brandi

    We are planning a trip similar to the 10 day you describe (tho in reverse). Can you tell me if this is reasonable in January? I know we can encounter snow/ice and limited trails, but hoping there should be enough available. Thanks!!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Brandi. You can do any of these itineraries in January. Yes, there could be some snow and ice, particularly in places at the higher elevations, such as the Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon. And your weather could range anywhere from freezing temps to 55 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on where you are and what the weather decides to do. But I think these are great road trips for the winter, especially if you don’t mind the cold, since you will have far fewer crowds. Just be aware that the days will be short. Cheers, Julie

  3. Avatar for Beth Arkes
    Beth Arkes

    Hello! I was hoping you could help me with an itinerary that would include Bryce, Zion, Antelope with last priority Grand Canyon. Anything I’m missing? I have 3 full days (Arrive in LV Thursday, leave for parks Friday, return to LV Sunday night).
    I would love hotel recommends as well. I’ve looked thru posts and reader questions, just not finding what Im looking for so sorry if this is repetitive. Im currently signed up for a tour where I have learned its up to 100 people. Sounds horrible!
    Thanks for your help!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Beth. On Friday morning, get an early start, drive to Zion, and spend the day in Zion. Spend the night in Springdale (we love the Holiday Inn in Springdale) or, if you don’t mind more driving, Friday evening drive to Bryce Canyon (we have hotel recommendations on our guide to Bryce Canyon). I think staying in Bryce Canyon is better because it gives you an early start the next day and you can see the sunrise, which is awesome. Spend the day in Bryce Canyon and in the evening, drive to Page. Spend Sunday morning to midday at Antelope Canyon and see Horseshoe Bend, and then it is a long drive back to Las Vegas. It’s going to be hard to fit in the Grand Canyon (technically you see a small part of it at Horseshoe Bend), but you can drive past the South Rim for a quick view. But you are looking at a 6.5 hour drive to get back to Vegas via the Grand Canyon or 4.5 hours if you skip the Grand Canyon and drive back to Vegas through Utah. Cheers, Julie

  4. Avatar for Scott

    Is this itinerary too ambitious for a family of four with 2 adults and 2 teens.
    – Day 1 – Arrive Las Vegas
    – Day 2 – Explore Vegas strip in morning; drive to Williams, AZ with short stop at Hoover Dam
    – Day 3 – Visit Grand Canyon (we plan to take the train from Williams for the day)
    – Day 4 – Visit Sedona; short hike and Pink Jeep tour; stay overnight in Flagstaff
    – Day 5 – Drive to Bryce with stop in Page to see Antelope Canyon
    – Day 6 – Explore Bryce and drive to Zion
    – Day 7 – Visit Zion and then drive back to Las Vegas in later afternoon/evening
    – Day 8 – Fly home from Las Vegas

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Scott. I think your itinerary looks fine. It’s fast, and you’ll be tired at the end, but you will have seen a lot! You probably won’t be able to tour Hoover Dam since tickets sell out early in the day, but you can still walk around part of it and see it from the viewpoint on the highway. Get an early start in both Bryce and Zion (especially Zion) and if you can get up for sunrise, it’s amazing at Bryce Canyon. I hope you have a great road trip! Cheers, Julie

  5. Avatar for Gayle

    Hello, I’ve been doing a ton of reading on a 7 day trip from Vegas to Zion, Bryce Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Grand Canyon, Sedona and leave from Phoenix. All of the previous blogs did it in that order, or reverse. Yours is the first one that went from Vegas straight to GC. Any reason for that, given that the others on my list are also on your list? Just trying to make the best of our time there.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      No, it makes no difference as to the order. Since this article was written for itineraries that start in Vegas and go to the Grand Canyon, they slowly expand on the first one on this list. However, we have an itinerary that hits everything on your list, starts in Phoenix, and ends in Vegas: this 10-day American Southwest itinerary. You can follow this itinerary, eliminating Monument Valley, which will save about 2 days. But it could just as easily be followed in the opposite direction. Cheers, Julie

  6. Avatar for Jenn

    You are my go-to resource! Your blog helped immensely with planning our Spring Break Trip to Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef last March. Thank you so much! Now for November, if you had Sat-Tues just before Thanksgiving open, would you do A) Grand Canyon or B) Zion and maybe Bryce or C) another option? We’ll be coming from NC and don’t want to spend the whole time in a plane or car and are open to suggestions. We enjoy moderate day hikes.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Jenn. With that much time, if it were me, I would do Bryce and Zion. I don’t want to jinx anything, but crowds that weekend might not be that bad. We have traveled other places in the US the weekend before Thanksgiving and crowds were very light. Plus, there is a small chance that you could see Bryce with some snow. It can get its first snowfall in November (it did in early November last year). With 4 days, you could do 3 in Zion and 1 in Bryce. Or, you could use one of those Zion days to hike Willis Creek, or drive down Hole in the Rock Road in Grand Staircase Escalante to hike Spooky and PeekABoo slots, Zebra slot, and visit Devils Garden. Cheers, Julie

  7. Avatar for Lisa

    Hi Julie,

    I am taking my son on a trip in May for his college graduation. He wants to go “out west.” I was super excited to try your itineraries – thinking 8 or 9 days – Vegas to Grand Canyon to Page to Bryce to Zion. But, with the issues with Page (i.e. Antelope Canyon closed and also an extra couple of hours travel between the Grand Canyon and Page given the Navajo closures), I’m trying to figure out whether that itinerary makes sense. Is there enough to do in Page without Antelope Canyon to justify the extra drive times ? I f not, is there a way to still hit all of the other places without going through Page? I’d really appreciate any help. Thanks!


    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      There is not a whole lot to do in Page if you can’t see Antelope Canyon. Horseshoe Bend is great but it only takes an hour to see it. To get from the Grand Canyon to Bryce, the quickest way is through Page but if you do it all in one day, it will be a big driving day. You can still do it, just be prepared for a lot of driving. A better option for you might be Utah’s Mighty 5. Go point to point, from Salt Lake City to Vegas (or vice versa) and visit the 5 national parks in Utah. It’s an awesome trip. Then, in the future, do an Arizona road trip with the Grand Canyon, Page and MV. Cheers, Julie

  8. Avatar for Julie Klein
    Julie Klein

    Hi Julie, thank you for this wealth of information- it is by far the best info I have found related to road trips. My family of 6 is planning a first-time trip to see the the SW National parks in mid-June. I know it’s not the ideal time to go in terms of heat and crowds, but it’s the only opportunity for us. We have 11 days. I am trying to decide between your “10 day road trip: LV, GC, Zion, Bryce” or else the “Mighty 5 Road Trip”. Antelope Canyon is high on the kids’ list, but I don’t know if I should hold out for it to open by June? In your opinion, is it worth it to sacrifice Arches for Antelope Canyon? Any advice would be appreciated. We will be coming from Los Angeles.

    Thanks from Hawaii, Julie

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Julie from Hawaii! We are contemplating a visit to Hawaii this summer. Tim and I were last there in June 1999 for our wedding anniversary. We would LOVE to go this summer, we just don’t know about COVID regulations. But anyway…

      My vote would be for a Mighty 5 road trip. I think it is great for kids. Without knowing the status of Antelope Canyon, it would be a shame to plan a trip around it and still not have it work out. I am in the midst of publishing a big post on road trips in Utah but it will be at least 2 weeks until I get it published (I have a TON on my to-do list). But here is a sneak preview of an itinerary that might be perfect for you:

      Day 1: Arrive in Salt Lake City, drive to Moab
      Day 2: Arches National Park
      Day 3: Canyonlands National Park
      Day 4: Little Wild Horse and Goblin Valley State Park
      Day 5: Capitol Reef National Park
      Day 6: Grand Staircase-Escalante or more time in Capitol Reef
      Day 7: Bryce Canyon National Park
      Day 8: Zion National Park
      Day 9: Zion National Park
      Day 10: Fly home from Las Vegas or Salt Lake City

      If you can’t go point to point, use your 11th day to get back to Salt Lake City (or use it to get from Vegas to Moab). If you can to point to point, on day 10, visit the Valley of Fire on the drive to Vegas. You can also refer to our Arches Canyonlands Capitol Reef itinerary for more info on how to road trip between these national parks. If you have any other questions please don’t hesitate to write in again. I love this part of the country and I love to help people plan the best itinerary here for their interests.

      Cheers, Julie (from Maryland)

  9. Avatar for Carlyn

    Hello Again! My husband and I took a fabulous trip to the Tetons in September and you blog was so very helpful! I’m already starting to plan our next adventure and I thought I would seek your advice again.

    We are traveling from NC….. and I’m hoping to visit the Grand Canyon and Big Water, UT (near Lake Powell) in April. I wanted to know , from your perspective, if flying into Phoenix, (or Vegas) to Grand Canyon, then up to Big Water is too much driving within a 6-7 day period….? From what I can tell it’s a 4 hour drive to each destination. Vegas-Canyon-Lake Powell- Vegas….. Phoenix seems the same……

    The Big Water, UT location is also close to Antelope Park and Horshoe Bend, but we are pretty “stuck” on staying in Under Canvas Camp Ground which is near the grand staircase….. closer to Big Water, UT.

    Any advice on how to map out visiting Big Water and Grand Canyon and which airport to fly in-and-out?

    Thanks so much!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      I’m glad to help! 6 to 7 days should be enough time and no, I don’t think it is too much driving. It looks like your driving time is going to be relatively the same for Las Vegas vs. Phoenix. So, one question would be, would you want to add anything else onto this trip. If you fly in and out of Phoenix, you could add a day in Sedona. If you flew in and out of Vegas, you could add on a little time in the Valley of Fire. Looking at how things work out (below), I think that Phoenix works better. It will be a longer drive to get back to Vegas, although you are always seeing something new.

      Here is a sample itinerary with Phoenix: (1) early flight to Phoenix, drive through + short hike in Sedona, arrive in Grand Canyon (2&3) Grand Canyon (4) drive to Big Water, maybe Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend on the way (5) Big Water/Lake Powell or Grand Staircase (Cottonwood Canyon Road to Willis Creek) or Buckskin Gulch or White Pocket (6) Big Water/Lake Powell (7) Drive to Phoenix, late flight home.

      Here is a sample itinerary with Vegas: (1) early flight to Vegas, drive to Grand Canyon (2&3) Grand Canyon (4) drive to Big Water, maybe Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend on the way (5) Big Water/Lake Powell (6) drive to Vegas, maybe visit the Valley of Fire on the way? (7) fly home.

      We have recently had trips where we had a 4 to 5 hour drive in the morning to get to the airport and then a flight home. It’s a long day but it maximizes your time. that you spend traveling. If you have any other questions, let us know!

      Cheers, Julie

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