Ever wanted to see what the West of America has to offer in the state of Utah? Explore the incredible National Parks of Zion and Arches? Take part in some extreme outdoor activities like white water rafting or bouldering in a UTV while in Moab? Welcome to TrekPrep's road trip itinerary for traveling around the states of Nevada, Utah and Arizona for 9 days and 8 nights! With all of these options and a limited time to do it, we have created an itinerary which we think can help with having a memorable trip while hitting all the main towns and parks on the way.
What you can expect from this itinerary: As many memorable trips do, you'll begin this one in Las Vegas. This is is where you will fly in and out, rent a car, and embark on your journey over to Zion. From Zion National Park, you'll take Utah's most scenic highway, Highway 12, which leads you straight to Moab. Utah's outdoor playground offers the best of both words with all kinds of outdoor activities and the likes of Arches and Canyonlands National Park.
The next leg is the drive down to Page where you can tour either the Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon (or both!) and then head over to Horseshoe Bend and hang out on Lake Powell. If you have time, you can make your way down to the Grand Canyon (which we'll go over) or head over to Kanab for The Wave and some Wild West action (which we'll go over as well.) Finally, you'll make your way back to Vegas to hit the slots or make one more stop to see the colorful rock formations at 7 Magic Mountains.
Overall, there are a lot of variables in this trip that you can tinker with, so this road trip itinerary is more to show you what's available and how to customize the trip to your liking. We're here to show you the major stops and activities in the Southwest United States.
Road Trip Around Utah Without Grand Canyon (From Vegas)
Getting Around Las Vegas, Utah and Arizona
When it comes to getting around Vegas and Utah you really have two options.
The first is renting a car from Las Vegas International Airport from a car rental agency. The best way to compare prices and see different options/availability is through Carrentals.com. Set your dates and it will show you the best deals. Budget, Avis, and other rental agencies have online codes that can bring the price down a decent percentage. Be sure to also take a look at booking online vs paying on the day of as you can save some money here too. Depending on your options, you can expect to pay between $170-425 for the 8 day rental.
The second is renting an RV and lodging up at one of the many RV parks that are available in Utah's towns. This is a great way to avoid having to pay the high costs of hotels/airbnb's that you could encounter on your trip, and is also a solid camping experience. Motorhomerepublic.com has a great side by side comparison of different options and pricing for hitch campers, as well as different RV's. Depending on your criteria, you can expect to pay between $650-1300 for the 8 day rental.
What to Know Before You Go Information
Something that has begun because of the recent popularity of places like Zion and Moab is a required permit. A permit is necessary to do most of the camping, hikes, canyoneering routes, and white water rafting in the region. Most permits require you to apply 3-4 months in advance online and have a lottery system, but there is another way to test your luck. Several of the National Park Service offices in many of the towns allow a walk-up permit system, but it still may be a day or two before you get approval. If you choose to go this route, allow yourself a few days before your activities to obtain the correct permits.
Below is a list of places you will go along this trip, as well as the hikes and above activities that require permits in advance. Links to the permit application page are attached to the names of the hikes, as well as more information about them.
Zion: The Narrows (Top Down) including overnight, The Subway (Mystery Canyon), Canyoneering Permit, Backpacking Permit
Moab: Arches National Park (Fiery Furnace and Campgrounds), Canyonlands Day Use Backpacking Permit, Canyonlands Overnight Use Backpacking Permit, Backcountry River Permits, Horse/Stock Permits
Kanab: Coyote Buttes North (The Wave), Coyote Buttes South
America the Beautiful National Park Pass
Something that we highly suggest you purchase is the America the Beautiful National Park Pass. An $80 investment up front will save you lots of money, not only over the course of this trip, but if you plan to visit any National or Federal Recreational parks. Typically, you would expect to pay around $35-$45 per park entrance fee and during the course of your trip you will go to 3 (Zion, Arches and Canyonlands) so it already pays for itself. Don’t sweat if you didn’t purchase before the trip; you can buy one at the entrance of any of those parks for the same price. Click here if you want to learn more about the different pricing options and to purchase a pass.
Renting Camping Gear
If you're interested in renting camping gear it's really easy to do. Las Vegas has an REI where you can rent all the gear you need for your trip. Make sure that you call in advance. Furthermore, if you're wanting to try camping out for a couple nights, both Zion and Moab have companies where you can rent gear from too.
Las Vegas: REI offers a great selection of highly reliable camping gear and everything you need for the road. If you plan on camping the entire time and don't have your own gear, rent from them. Their location is right outside of town on the way to Zion and can be found here.
Zion: Zion Adventure Company rents camping gear including tents, sleeping bags/pads, cooking and other needs. Click here to see the prices and make sure to call and reserve in advance.
Moab: Canyon Voyages Adventure Co. rents camping gear including tents, sleeping bags/pads, cooking and other needs, as well as paddle boards, kayaks, and other activity related gear. Click here to see the prices and make sure to call and reserve in advance.
Day 0-1: Las Vegas and Rent Car
Starting your trip in Vegas is great for two reasons: 1- It makes for a night to remember with the options of hitting the table or seeing a show or a mouth-watering dinner and 2- a myriad of cheap flights into the area rather than beginning in Salt Lake City.
Once you get settled into your hotel, check out some of the activities below for your night in Vegas.
Accommodations in Las Vegas
This first night in Las Vegas is up to you and your budget. We recommend that when choosing , remember that your hotel room in Vegas is really just a place to sleep since you're going to be up most of the night gambling or checking out one one of the many shows.
Staying on the strip or near by allows you to hop from hotel to hotel checking out the Caesars Palace or the Bellagio fountains. Staying off the strip offers cheaper accommodation options but may require a short cab ride to the strip. Check out Booking.com for more options! Below is a map of the numerous accommodations along and around the strip.
Activities to do in Las Vegas
Making the most of your night in Vegas depends on what you are looking for. For those that want to gamble, you don't have to go any farther then the lobby of your hotel to find slots, blackjack, or any other game you want to play. On the other hand, walking around the strip offers all kinds of entertainment. Below are some suggestions on what to see around town:
Bellagio Fountains: A fun (and free) activity is to go watch the Bellagio Fountains shoot off to the beat of songs ranging from Celine Dion to Bruno Mars. Monday through Friday, fountains go off every 30 minutes from 3pm-8pm, and then every 15 minutes from 8pm-Midnight. On Saturday's/Holidays, every 30 minutes from noon-8pm and 15 minutes from 8-Midnight, and Sunday's every 30 minutes from 11am-7pm and every 15 minutes from 7pm-Midnight.
7 Magic Mountains
Go See a DJ or Show: Las Vegas is known for their incredible clubs with famous DJ's from Calvin Harris to Diplo coming into town and performing every week. Places like MGM and Aria are great venues to experience along with plenty of other hotels. Click here for the current DJ schedule and options to buy tickets. If you're interested in seeing a production show like Cirque Du Soleil or Magic Mike, click here for the entire schedule list.
Food in Las Vegas
There are all kinds of food options that you can find in Vegas that will fit your budget. For white table cloth dinner, we suggest Joe's Stone Crab; an incredible sea food restaurant which offers fresh sea food and meat options (we highly recommend 2 pounds of the cold King Crab with mustard sauce!) It's definitely worth it to check out the 3-story "club" Taco Bell on the Strip; here you can buy alcoholic slushy drinks and dance the night away. If it's your first time out west and want to grab something quick on the way out, In-N-Out Burger is another great fast food option.
For budget food options of all kinds, click here. For other Yelp options, click here.
In addition to food, recreational marijuana is legal in the state of Nevada so you can find dispensaries on and off the strip. If you're interested in buying some gummies or other edibles for your trip, Reef Dispensaries is a great store that have plenty of "Budtenders" to help guide you through your purchase.
Day 1-3: Drive to and Explore Zion National Park
After a night of fun in the Sin City (and hopefully with not too bad of a hangover to really "start" your trip) hop into your car and head up Highway 15. Along the way you will pass through St. George and then arrive in Springdale where you will find a plenty of accommodations and restaurants right outside of Zion National Park.
In the below section, we will go over suggested accommodations, activities and food options that you will find in the area. While we couldn't include all of them on the list, we have added links to other great websites to help with finding the activities, accommodations and (most importantly) food options that fit your budget and itinerary.
Parking and Getting Around Zion National Park
Getting To and From the Park (Parking Information): Access into and around Zion is by a shuttle bus that leaves every 5-10 minutes from the Zion Visitor Center right inside the entrance into the Park. You can park your car at the visitor's center and spend the day riding the shuttles to different drop off locations. Parking is LIMITED at the visitor center so getting there early (between 7-8am) would probably be in your best interest. If you're coming in during the afternoon, parking spots open up right around 2pm through the rest of the day since all the morning hikers are on their way out.
Additional Parking: If Zion's Visitor Center parking is full, don't fret. Along the town road coming from Springdale there are plenty of parking lots and meters. Fair warning that in most cases the price to park is $20 for the day. However, you can park at the Springdale Visitor Center and take a shuttle from there to the Zion Visitor Center for free. Below is a map to give you an idea of the shuttle ride:
Activities to do in Zion
When going to Zion, whether it's with friends, family, or yourself, there is something to do. No matter if you're traveling in a big group or by yourself, there is plenty to. do in Zion. The hiking is incredible and there are endless trails to explore. We have a compiled the below list which covers a variety of skill levels:
The Narrows (Bottom to Top) (Temple of Sinawava Stop)
Note: If you want to complete The Narrows hike from the top down, click here to apply for the permit!
Angels Landing (The Grotto Stop)
Emerald Pools (Zion Lodge Stop)
While these are our top 3 personal favorite hikes in Zion, there are countless others like The Subway, Observation Point Via East Rim and Watchman that are great choices. To learn more, click here for more information about the shuttle system and other hikes!
Accommodations in Zion
Campgrounds: There are 3 campgrounds in Zion National Park: South, Watchman's, and Lava Point. Both South and Watchman's Campground are found very close to the Visitor Center while Lava Point is about an hour drive.
During the high season, South and Watchman's are fully booked by mid-morning so make sure to reserve 2 weeks in advance (reservation links found in the names above). Additionally, these campgrounds have spots for RV's/rental cars along with shower and water facilities (Lava Point doesn't have water). Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort is a scenic 45 minute drive away from the Zion Visitor Center, though it offers great campgrounds with facilities ($14 per night) as well as all other kinds of accommodation options:
Note: You can risk same day walk-ups to campgrounds because typically people wont show up on their scheduled day; if there's a group site available that no one books they'll split it up for individual campers so it's always worth a shot to check.
Hotels: While camping is a great option, there are several hotels in the area that are available and offer plenty of comfort. While it may cost you more per night, after a long day of hiking a nice bed and AC helps. If you are interested in "glamping" options, click the link for hotels/campgrounds that have this option!
Below is a list of options that are available along the Zion "Strip":
Note: Check out Booking.com for more options if you want to see the best deals and availability.
Food Options in Zion
Trust us, we know the importance of food especially after a long day of hiking. Springdale has tons of options that can fit your budget and cravings. If you're looking for some great Tex-Mex, we suggest stopping by Bit & Spur Restaurant Saloon and getting their short ribs and shrimp tacos! If you're looking for some food that's good for the heart ((or if you're looking for something that sticks-to-your-ribs)), Blondie's Diner offers a great American comfort grub option. Furthermore, if you want to research the restaurants in the area, click the link here for Yelp reviews. For other options, check out the map below!
Day 3-6: Drive Scenic Highway 12 and Moab
After finishing up in Zion, it's time to hit the road again via Utah's most scenic route: Highway 12. Turning off of Highway 89 onto Highway 12, you will take the 2 hour drive through the winding roads exploring the country side of Utah. There are plenty of observation look-outs along the way so take some time to enjoy the natural beauty around you. Once off the highway, the drive to Moab is another 3 hours.
If you wish to skip out on Highway 12, the route up Highway 89 will take you onto Highway 70 which still offers great sites and is slightly quicker (around 5 hours from Zion). If you're interested in doing this drive, check out some of the pictures below.
Activities to do in Moab
Welcome to Moab, Utah's outdoor playground where you can do nearly anything and everything outdoor related, along with visiting some of the best national parks the West has to offer. Below is a list of suggested activities you can look into during your time here; and while it might not have everything, it will at least give you an idea of the options available in this awesome town!
White Water Rafting Day Trip Through "West Water" Canyon
Moab Adventure Center runs a great shop when it come to this adventure and we highly suggest booking a trip through them (and checking out any other activity that might catch your eye).
Renting a UVT or ATV
We recommend using Ultimate UTV Adventures in Moab for rentals and guided tours!
Arches National Park
Some of the arches we recommend to see are Delicate Arch, Corona, and Bowtie Arch. Delicate Arch is a 2 hour hike that is a little less than 3 miles and is great to visit at sunset if you have the time. As Corona and Bowtie Arch, they both are on the same hiking trail which takes about 2 and a half hour hike. Both are relatively easy and suitable for all ages, and you can bring your dog along too.
Other Recommended Activities: If you have the time, Canyonlands National Park is a beautiful, right outside of Moab, and offers all kinds of backcountry hiking and adventures such as 4 wheel driving, biking, hiking and camping. 'Outdoor Biking' is another popular activity in the area, and if that sounds up your alley, Moab is the place to do it. Furthermore, Moab offers everything from sunrise hot air ballon rides to skydiving so the world is your oyster for outdoor (and extreme) activities.
Accommodations in Moab
Similar to Zion, Moab is a small town with a plethora of options whether it be camping, hotels, or any specialty lodging such as BnB's or glamping. Below is a breakout of each, where they're located in town, and include links on how to book them.
Campgrounds: In Moab there are plenty of campgrounds near town that have good facilities, as you can see on the map below. Similar to Zion, remember to book in advance or you can try to walk up day of to catch anyone who gave up their spot. For a complete list and more campsite booking information, visit the Bureaus of Land Management site here. If you would like to camp in Arches National Park, click the link here for more information and reservations.
Hotels: If you are looking to stay in a hotel, there are countless options in town. What's nice about the hotels is that you can walk to and from town with ease, giving you the freedom to be in the middle of the action or relax away from the crowds. Remember to check Booking.com for great deals in advance!
Specialty Lodging: If you're looking to really step up your accommodations and want a unique experience, Castle Valley Inn (about 30 minutes outside of Moab down highway 128) is a bed and breakfast that offers all kinds of privacy, scenery, amenities, and a breakfast to die for. If you're interested in booking, click the link here and if you want to look into other BnB options in Moab click here!
Food in Moab
In downtown Moab, you will be able to find a lot of good bites. If you're looking for an upscale bite, we suggest Desert Bistro has some delicious food that will not disappoint. On the other hand, if you're looking to fill up after a long day of activities, Canter 98 is an asian fusion restaurant right off main street that offers large portions at a good price.
For more options in Moab, check out Yelp or look at the map below.
Day 6-7: Drive to Page and Explore Lake Powell
After your time in Moab, the next leg of your road trip takes you down highway 191 towards Page, Arizona. Typically this drive takes about 4 and a half hours, but given the amount of stops you make and if there’s any traffic, expect 5-6 hours. While another 5 hour drive might sound daunting, it is actually very enjoyable with plenty of winding roads through canyon valleys mixed with some desolate desert stretches.
Remember that if you are staying at Lake Powell there is a time zone difference of an hour! So plan accordingly if you are hiking The Wave/Wire Pass in Kanab or making your way to the Grand Canyon.
Activities to do in Page and Lake Powell
Lower Antelope Canyon: One of the most iconic slots in not only Arizona, but any hike you will ever walk, Lower Antelope Canyon is a phenomenon that you must experience. A little over an hour long, you will wind, weave, and climb up through naturally produced rock figures and sandstone painted walls. There are only two tour companies that are available, Ken’s tours and Dixie Ellis tours.
Upper Antelope Canyon is another once in a lifetime hike that you can take, though there is less availability (6 tours per day) and the price is slightly higher (between $58-78 USD depending on the time of day you go, with mid-day being the most expensive). If you want the full Antelope Canyon experience, we recommend both, but if you’re okay with picking one, we suggest Lower Antelope Canyon because it’s slightly cheaper and equally as beautiful.
Lake Powell Activities: Named after John Wesley Powell, the explorer who lead expeditions in the late 1860’s and '70’s down the Colorado and Green River, Lake Powell provides ample amount of activities to take part in. The Lake Powell Resort that sits right on the lake offers all kinds of water activities from wakeboarding, lake sightseeing tour, sunset boat cruise dinners, and more. You can also rent a houseboat on the lake! To learn more, click the link here to see what other lake activities are offered.
Accommodations in Page and Lake Powell
Hotels: The town of Page is relatively small but does have plenty of accomodation options. If you drive another 30 minutes out of the town, you can stay at Lake Powell Resort which is right on the water and has multiple restaurants and amenities. Personally, we recommend Lake Powell Resort since it is perfect for any traveler, whether it be for a family or couple. Remember to check out Booking.com for great deals on accommodations. Below is a map of the hotels in Page:
Campgrounds: Page and Lake Powell have several camping/RV grounds where you can park it. Below are links to some of the top ones, as well as a map to see where they are located. Prices and entrance fees may vary, so be sure to do some research before choosing one. Below is a map of the campgrounds in the area:
Specialty Lodging: There are a few specialty lodging and BnB’s that are around the Page area. The Bear’s Den B&B is one of the best ones around and has received incredible reviews from everyone that has stayed there. If you are interested in staying there, click the link here. Below is a map of its location:
Food in Page and Lake Powell
When looking into food options, Page offers a lot of cheap eats options (including a Wal-Mart if you need to stock up on supplies) as well as local cuisines such as Into the Grand and Big John’s Texas BBQ. Below is a map of all the restaurants in Page and a link to its Yelp page for more information:
If you are staying out near Lake Powell, the resort has some great options including a Sunset Dinner Cruise (which you would need to book ahead of time) and Rainbow Room if you’re looking for a nicer sit down meal. Click the link here for a list of Yelp reviews of restaurants in the area if you want to research more.
Day 7-9: Drive to Kanab or Drive to the Grand Canyon
Once you’ve enjoyed the sites of the Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon and cooled off in Lake Powell, it’s time to head off in one of two directions: Kanab or the Grand Canyon. Of course, both are incredible places that have their own activities, but our focus is with Kanab and the activities there. We included the drive distance to the Grand Canyon and suggest that you can do an overnight trip there if you would rather go there.
Drive to Kanab
Drive to the Grand Canyon
The drive to Kanab is a little over an hour long. Be advised that if you are leaving from Lake Powell, Kanab is an hour ahead. Once you get into Kanab, you will recognize that it has kept its charm as an old “western” town. Between the 1930’s-1970’s, countless number of Wild West TV shows and movies were filmed in the area and actors/directors are remembered with metal podium along the sidewalks.
Activities to do in Kanab
The Wave (Coyote Buttes North)
If you have obtained a permit, congratulations and get ready to prepare for your hike! There are a number of things to consider:
- The first is that it is a 3.5 mile hike which typically will take the entire day to get to and from (since you’ll be spending so much time there).
- Secondly, there are only 3 trail markers that show you the way, so if you are an experienced hiker and comfortable navigating the environment you'll be able to find the wave for yourself. If not, and you’re worried about getting lost, you can hire a guide to help get you to and from The Wave. A great company that is reasonably priced is Kanab Tour Company; they will drive you to and from Kanab as well as The Wave.
- You will need to be well packed with 2 liters of water, lunch, and snacks, as the hike is a bit grueling in some parts.
- If you go during the summer it can get up to 100 degrees (there is little shade on the trail so we advise bringing sunscreen, a hat, long sleeves, and pants to protect yourself from the sun).
Another great blog that shows the path to the Wave, as well as more information regarding the entire permit process is Barefoot Theory.
Alternative Hike: We understand that getting a permit to hike The Wave may take months, even years to obtain; but don’t fret! Coyote Buttes South is another hike that you can obtain permits for and it is far easier to be selected. The views are just as incredible, and you get to see very similar rock formations and sandstone. We highly suggest applying for both since they are amazing hikes that you should go after and are worth the wait.
Wire Pass Trail (Buckskin Gulch) is along the way to both Coyote Buttes North and South, but is a hike that most people do if they haven’t obtain a permit since this trail doesn’t require one. Just like Coyote Buttes, Wire Pass is a narrow slot canyon (similar to Antelope Canyon) which leads to Buckskin Gulch and has petroglyphs along the walls of the canyon.
This is a must do if you’re in the area and you won’t be disappointed. It costs $12 to hike the trail. Be advised that you must take an 8 mile drive through a sandy/bumpy road to get there, so if it rains we highly recommend you take a 4 wheel drive to make it through safely. Below is a map showing how to get to the trail head for all the above hikes from Kanab:
Paria Canyon (Painted Hills)
About a five mile drive down a slightly bumpy/sandy road (4 Wheel Drive may be necessary at times), you will see the ridge of canyon walls which have been striated in bands of red, pink gold, copper, and ocher that have been smoothed out over time by the Paria River creating waves along the mountain sides. In any case its worth the time to stop by and check it out (may even run into a movie set while you're there!)
Other Activities: In Kanab, the Heritage House is another gem that is worth stopping by to learn more about the history of the area. If interested, click the link here to reserve a tour.
Accommodations in Kanab
Campgrounds: There are limited RV/camping options to be found in Kanab, with two campgrounds that are located in Fredonia about 30 minutes down the road. Given that Kanab not a populated area and you should be able to find a spot pretty easily, it’s always good to book early if you can. Below is a map of the campgrounds in Kanab:
Hotels: Within Kanab there are several hotel options in town that are walking distance to a number of great restaurants and shops. To find great deals, go to Booking.com for more. Below is a map of hotels in the area to give you an idea of where to look:
Specialty Lodging: If you want to finish (or start your trip) in style, Base Camp 37 offers an unbelievable glamping set up that we highly suggest. With only 5 tents and each with their own unique interior design, Base Camp 37 provides that "home away from home" feel. There are great facilities on site from bathrooms and a kitchen to an outdoor fire pit and hang out area. Ann, who runs the B&B, is a fantastic host who does a great job in fulfilling any needs! Check out the website here and be sure to book a reservation in advance as space is limited.
Food in Kanab
There are a lot of restaurants in Kanab and most are walking distance from one another, and naturally we have suggestions. Peekaboo Canyon Wood Fire Kitchen is a vegetarian restaurant, but they have some delicious pizzas that you can’t pass up. If you’re looking for some good American food, the Rocking V Café and Sego Restaurant have some great bites. Below is a map of those, other restaurants to check out in town, and Yelp links for more information:
Day 9: Drive Back to Las Vegas
From Kanab, you'll drive from Highway 89A to Highway 389 and then will finally take Highway 15 all the way back to Las Vegas. Usually this trip will take around 3 hours depending on traffic so keep this in mind when returning your car.
From the Las Vegas Strip, the airport car rental return route is clearly marked by highway signs and takes about 20 minutes to get there due to multiple traffic lights. We recommend allotting at least an hour and a half to return the car, go through the final inspection, and shuttle back over to the airport.
Thank you for Visiting and Follow Us!
We hope that you have enjoyed this itinerary and that you were able to use it for your trip out west! If you have any comments, suggestions or would like to know anymore information, please feel free to contact us when possible. We are always growing and any feedback is always a huge help. Remember to follow us on Instagram @TrekPrep_ and stay tuned for our next itinerary!