An 11-day/1600-mile road trip covering National Parks of Utah and Arizona – including Zion, Bryce, Arches and the Grand Canyon. Travelers included our family with 3 kids ages 6-13. Enjoyed hiking among and above hoodoos, canyons and arches. Stayed in a variety of accommodations. Month of travel: April.
Day 1 – Travel Day
Late flight to Las Vegas / Rent car / Check into hotel (1 night)
Day 2/3 – Zion National Park
Day 4 – Bryce Canyon National Park
Drive to Bryce Canyon National Park (2 hours) / Visit Sunrise Point / Hike Navajo Trail + Peekaboo Trail / Visit Inspiration Point / Dinner at the Lodge at Bryce Canyon / Check into hotel in Bryce (1 night)
Day 5 – Travel Day
Days 6/7 – Arches, Canyonlands and Moab
Day 8/9 – Grand Canyon National Park
Drive to Grand Canyon National Park (6 hours) / Hike the Rim Trail / Check into lodge (1 night)
Day 10 – Sedona
Hike the West Fork Trail / Rest and explore Sedona
Day 11 – Travel Day
Drive to Phoenix (2 hours) / fly home
Perfect Timing. If you hate heat and crowds, April is a perfect time to do this trip. I cannot imagine attempting some of these hikes in the blazing sun and heat. Most of Arches, Canyonlands and Bryce did not have any shade whatsoever. Parking in all of the parks – even in April – fills up early. Plan to be anywhere by 9:30am at the latest in order to get a parking spot. I’m assuming this is even earlier in the summer.
Desert Weather. At this time of year, make sure to bring lots of layers. We wore everything from shorts to vests+hats+gloves. Elevation at Bryce is 8000 feet; there was still snow in some places. Evenings in the desert get really chilly and days can get HOT.
Precarious Heights. There are cliffs and drop-offs EVERYWHERE. If you are even moderately afraid of heights, some of these hikes and activities will be tough for you. If you are a parent, be prepared to be a fun-killer and tell your kids 100+ times to not get so close to the edges or climb so high.
Amazing Drives. I never thought I would say this, but you MUST drive these routes. 1) Leave (or enter) Zion on Highway 9 (via Orderville) on your way to Bryce for sweeping canyon views, multiple switchbacks and a chance to see Checkerboard Mesa. 2) Most of the drive from Escalante to Moab via Highways 12 and 24 are like nothing I’ve ever seen. The landscape changed several times as we drove through birch forest and Capitol Reef National Park.
Other Activities. Our family prefers hiking (and it’s free!), but every area we went had opportunities for other adventures (usually at a price) if you want to vary your activities. We rafted in Moab and biked in the Grand Canyon to break up the time on our feet. Choose from Jeep tours, canyoneering, horseback riding, and more.
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