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Utah National Parks: 5 Day Itinerary From Las Vegas!

Embark on an epic road trip adventure that will leave you breathless, inspired, and craving for more! If you're an adventure traveler, a nature enthusiast, or someone seeking the thrill of the open road, this 5-day itinerary through Utah's stunning national parks starting from Las Vegas is tailor-made for you. We'll guide you through two must-see parks close to Vegas, offering a leisurely pace that lets you truly soak in the beauty. Plus, we'll give you an option to hit all five iconic Utah parks if you're ready to hit the ground running!


Start Your Utah National Parks Tour, a 5-day Itinerary From Las Vegas.

Vegas Sign in between the airport and the strip.
Vegas Sign in between the airport and the strip

If flying into Las Vegas, you will need to rent a car. You can find decent prices on rental cars at the Las Vegas Airport. Thrift was one of my last rental companies I used, and it was great. Also, Fox Rental Car is good, especially if you are fine with having a car that is not brand new.


When leaving the airport, you will have to take a shuttle to the rental car building. Fox rental car is not located in the building, but just wait out front at a shuttle stop in front of the building and Fox's shuttle will take you to their rental car lot and building.


I have several blogs about Las Vegas. If you would like to read a couple the links are below.



Day 1: Las Vegas to Zion National Park

Morning: Departure from Las Vegas


Driving Route 9 to Zion National Park
Driving route 9 to Zion National Park

My morning departure was from the Las Vegas Strip. So, if you are staying anywhere in between the Strat to Mandalay Bay, it will basically be the same drive time.

Your journey begins in the vibrant city of Las Vegas. Pack your bags, fuel up your car, and set your GPS to the first stop, Zion National Park, in southern Utah. The drive is approximately 2.5 hours, but with the scenic views along Interstate 15, time will fly. 


On the route you will notice the land changing before your eyes. The farther away from Vegas you get the landscape changes to these beautiful rock cliffs, and you will notice thousands of Joshua Trees standing in the desert along the drive. The closer you get to Zion, especially after you take the Route 9 exit in Utah that takes you to Zion, you will notice many sights along the way. You will notice more actual trees too, instead of straight desert sights.



Afternoon: Arrival at Zion National Park

The cliffs of Zion
The cliffs of Zion

As you enter Zion, prepare to be awestruck by the towering red cliffs and verdant landscapes. Head straight to the Zion Canyon Visitor Center to grab maps and tips from the rangers. Start your adventure with a leisurely hike on the Riverside Walk, which offers stunning views of the Virgin River. This is one of the best places to be inspired by the beauty of nature.


My visit to Zion was in February, which allowed me to drive into the park, instead of using a shuttle. During the busy season shuttles are allowed because the park cannot accommodate parking for all the cars. Luckily, on my drive back from the Emerald Pools hike, I spotted an Elk. Be on the lookup for mountain goats and so much more along the way. Being able to drive into the park will give you plenty of extra time to explore, instead of having to park down at the entrance or in Springdale and ride a shuttle. Pro Tip, always look up Zion National Park when planning if you want to come when it is not busy, it is a short window of time, but so worth it.


Evening: Sunset at Canyon Overlook Trail

Wrap up your day with a sunset hike on the Canyon Overlook Trail. This short but rewarding trail provides panoramic views of Zion Canyon, making it the perfect way to end your first day.



Day 2: Exploring Zion National Park


Morning: The Narrows or Angels Landing, only choose one!

The Narrows

The Narrows of Zion
The Narrows of Zion

Get an early start and head to one of Zion’s most iconic hikes, The Narrows. Wade through the cool waters of the Virgin River as the towering canyon walls rise above you. It’s an experience that feels otherworldly and invigorating. This can be hard, walking in the water, with shoes slipping on rocks as you walk. Take a walking stick, and if not comfortable, turn around. This trail is beautiful, but can be very crowded in the summer, but closed a lot in winter and Spring, because of flooding of the Virgin River. If the water is too high, you cannot walk the trail.


The Virgin River, a serpentine marvel that carves its way through the rugged landscape, shaping Zion's very heart. This lively river is not just water under the bridge; it's the lifeline of the park, nurturing the land and sculpting the canyons that tower around it. Trekking alongside or wading within its waters, you'll find yourself on an epic quest, with each turn revealing a new secret, each ripple whispering stories of eons past.


The river's trail, called the Narrows, is a wonderland where the flora and fauna of Zion flourish, offering hikers a front-row seat to nature's symphony, as you walk through basically a slot canyon that the river has carved out. It's here that you can truly connect, footstep by footstep, with the earth underfoot and the sky overhead. Whether you're navigating the river through The Narrows, feeling its current against your skin, or ambling along its banks, absorbing the enchanting vistas, the Virgin River trail is an unforgettable dalliance with nature. It's not merely a path but a joyful pilgrimage through Zion's living, breathing masterpiece. Come, be a part of this eternal flow, and let the Virgin River guide you to the untold adventures that lie hidden in the crevices of Zion National Park.


Hiking this trail can turn into a several days adventure if you let it. It is 16 miles long. So, in my opinion if you can handle this hike which is considered difficult, take a waterproof watch and hike a portion, then turn around and come back out.


Angel’s Landing

Angels Landing in Zion
Angels Landing in Zion

For the thrill-seekers, Angel’s Landing is a must. This challenging hike rewards you with unparalleled views of Zion Canyon. Be sure to bring plenty of water and take your time navigating the narrow ridges. This is the jewel in Zion's crown, a trail that's not just a hike but a rite of passage for the brave at heart. This path is where earth meets sky, challenging you to climb, to reach, to soar. With every step on this vertiginous trek, you're dancing with the clouds, flirting with the abyss, crafting a tale of courage that will echo in your soul. Angels Landing is more than a trail; it's a pilgrimage to the heavens, a test of will and spirit that rewards the intrepid with panoramic views so stunning, they must surely have been the inspiration for the park's celestial moniker. The final ascent leads to a summit that offers a 360-degree view of Zion's majesty. Here, atop Angels Landing, you stand at the crossroads of earth and eternity, whispering into the wind your own tales of adventure, your spirit forever entwined with the legends of those who dared to ascend before you. Come, unfold your wings, and trace the steps of angels in Zion.


Warning: with this trail, there are some scary spots and people have fallen to their deaths. So, if you are not able to do strenuous hiking or can get off balance easily, you might want to skip this trail and head to the Emerald Ponds trail. That final ascent is extremely scary, you can use chains to help you feel more comfortable, but you do not have to, but those few seconds of not wearing the chains will be scary. Please watch the weather and do not attempt this hike in rain, snow or winds. Also, with the crowds that are in Zion, start this trail early, and if you can avoid peak times like, summer, weekends it will be the best time. Try to go in spring or fall for this trail.


The reason I say to pick the Narrows or Angels Landing, you cannot do both in one day easily. You do not want to be worn out from all the hiking to not be able to spend the evening relaxing and gazing up at the stars.


Evening: Relax and Unwind

After a day of hiking, treat yourself to a hearty meal at one of Springdale’s cozy restaurants. Reflect on the day's adventures and recharge for tomorrow's journey.


Extra info on Zion

Here is a list of all hiking trails, that way you can deviate from my itinerary, if something else strikes your fancy in this wonderful National Park. Just remember it's a good idea to pack for whichever trail you are hiking, remember the water.


Zion National Park Trail Guide - A Path for Every Adventurer

Me, from parking lot in Zion
Me, from parking lot in Zion
  • Pa'rus Trail: Length: 3.5 miles - Difficulty: Easy. A scenic, paved path that invites all levels of explorers, from the leisure walker to the fervent biker, offering kaleidoscopic views of the park's lower canyon.

  • Watchman Trail: Length: 2.7 miles - Difficulty: Moderate. A mesmerizing route that climbs to a striking vista of the Watchman spire. Early morning or late afternoon, the colors are a photographer's dream!

  • Emerald Pools Trail: Length: Varies - Difficulty: Easy to Moderate. A trio of trails lead to the Emerald Pools, where waterfalls, clear pools, and lush greenery create an oasis in the desert. The Lower Pool is easy to access, while the Upper and Middle Pools offer a slightly more challenging trek. These are short hikes with walkways that are wide, and in fact wheelchair accessible.

  • The Narrows: Length: Up to 16 miles - Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous. Wade into the Virgin River and marvel at the towering walls of the narrowest section of Zion Canyon. Prepare to get wet and wild on this unique adventure that can be tailored to your stamina and schedule.

  • Angels Landing: Length: 5.4 miles - Difficulty: Strenuous. Not for the faint of heart, this iconic hike scales heights with sheer drop-offs. The reward? Unparalleled views of Zion Canyon. Courage and caution are must-haves.

  • Observation Point: Length: 8 miles - Difficulty: Strenuous. A challenging hike that rewards with arguably the best view in the park, looking down on Angels Landing and across Zion Canyon. The trail is a testament to the park's natural grandeur.

  • Canyon Overlook Trail: Length: 1 mile - Difficulty: Easy to Moderate. A short and sweet jaunt to a breathtaking overlook of Zion Canyon. Perfect for a quick fix of nature's majesty, with minimal effort but maximum reward.

  • The Subway: Length: 9 miles - Difficulty: Strenuous. A backcountry route requiring permits, it offers an unparalleled adventure through slot canyons and riverbeds, culminating in the stunning, subway-tunnel-shaped section of the Left Fork of North Creek.


Note to Adventurers: Each trail in Zion National Park is a doorway to the extraordinary, a chance to step beyond the ordinary into a world of breathtaking landscapes and heart-racing heights. Whether you choose the serene elegance of the Pa'rus Trail or the exhilarating challenge of Angels Landing, Zion calls you to push your limits, explore your spirit, and dance with the natural world in an unforgettable exploration of beauty and exhilaration. Get ready to lace up your boots and venture into the wild, where adventure beckons with every step!


Places to stay while in the Zion area.

B&B’s, Inn’s, Hotels, and a wonderful resort

views of Zion
Views of Zion
  • Novel House Inn at Zion- Located in Springdale, and within walking distance of shops, cafes and restaurants. A great location and has been open for 26 years.

  • Harvest House Bed and Breakfast- Located a half mile front he park and close to all the businesses of Springdale including a shuttle stop into the park.

  • Flanigan's Resort and Spa- This is a good option for those that would like to get a little bit of relaxation and pampering while staying near Zion.

  • Tyler Inn At Zion in Rockville- A bed and Breakfast with only 4 rooms, but each have their own in suite bathroom areas. Only 5 miles from Zion and in the looks of an old Victorian House.

  • Bunk House at Zion Inn in Rockville- Is eco friendly and 10 minutes away from Zion National Park. In the past it was known as Serenity House.

  • The Mulberry Inn-  in St. George- Located a bit aways from Zion, but this place is a mansion built in 1873. The perfect bed and breakfast in the area.

  • Desert Pearl Inn- My favorite! The perfect place, with cliff views and a pool. Just on the edge of Zion National Park.

  • Best Western Plus Zion Canyon Inn & Suites- Located close by, within walking distance to the park. Plus, the bus stop is right out front.

  • Bumbleberry Inn- With a shuttle stop out front, and complimentary breakfast every day, this is a great place to lay your head at night.

  • Hampton Inn- budget friendly option but looks outstanding inside. Book early as they tend to fill up in the high season.



Day 3: Zion to Bryce Canyon National Park


Morning: Scenic Drive to Bryce Canyon

Checkerboard Mesa on Route 9
Checkerboard Mesa on Route 9

Bid farewell to Zion and embark on a picturesque 1.5-hour drive to Bryce Canyon National Park. Along the way, stop at the Red Canyon for a quick photo op. On this drive you will be continuing on Route 9, up the mountain and through the tunnel, heading to Mount Carmel. This is a really interesting drive. While you were spending time in Zion you became familiar with climbing this mountain by car or by shuttle, especially if you hike Angels Landing. There are other neat things to see along this route like the Checkerboard Mesa.


From Mount Carmel, past Orderville and with all the twists and turns along the way, you will be at Bryce pretty quick.  It’s time to check out the Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon National Park, is a realm where nature has sculpted an otherworldly kingdom out of rock. The park’s most iconic residents, the hoodoos, stand as towering testaments to the power of natural forces over millions of years.


Afternoon: Hoodoos and Hikes

Bryce Canyon National Park, look at the Hoodoos
Bryce Canyon National Park, look at the Hoodoos

Upon arrival at Bryce Canyon, head straight to the Bryce Amphitheater. The unique hoodoo formations here are a sight to behold and one of the best things to see in Bryce Canyon. These whimsical rock formations, resembling castles and spires in a fairy tale, were formed by frost-wedging and the relentless forces of erosion. The Paiute Indians, the area's original inhabitants, believed these striking figures were ancient people turned to stone for their misdeeds. Today, this enchanting history adds an extra layer of mystery and fascination as you explore the amphitheater of dreams, walking among the hoodoos under a canopy of blue sky. The history of Bryce Canyon is not just a tale of geological processes; it's a saga of time, elements, and the imaginative whispers of the land, invoking a sense of wonder and endless curiosity in the hearts of those who wander through its majestic terrain.


Next up on your wildly imaginative odyssey through Bryce Canyon is the legendary Navajo Trail Loop, a path where every step tells a story, every turn unveils a new adventure. Picture this: a 1.3-mile loop that plunges you into the heart of the canyon, weaving through narrow slots and broadening into the grandeur of amphitheaters rimmed with towering hoodoos. It's like stepping into another world, one sculpted by the artistry of natural forces through the ages.


Expect to be mesmerized, expect to gasp in awe, and oh, expect your legs to feel the burn! The trail takes about 1 to 2 hours to conquer, but each second is a heartbeat in the rhythm of this ancient land. You'll descend a series of switchbacks before leveling out among the silent witnesses of time—those spunky spires. Here, in the amphitheater's embrace, you're an explorer, a wanderer, a dreamer.


Marked as ‘moderate’ in difficulty, the Navajo Trail Loop is a thrilling challenge that rewards the brave with its unparalleled beauty and a profound sense of connection to the Earth. This trail is not just a hike; it's a passage through time, a dance with the elements, and a flirtation with the extraordinary. Lace-up your most daring boots, pack a spirit of adventure, and plunge into the heart of Bryce Canyon. Who knows what wonders await around the next bend?


Evening: Stargazing at Bryce Point

Bryce Canyon is renowned for its dark skies, making it an ideal spot for stargazing. Head to Bryce Point after sunset and marvel at the celestial display above.


Another view of Bryce Canyon National Park
Another view of Bryce Canyon National Park

There's something utterly magical about gazing up into the velvet blanket of night, sprinkled with diamond-like stars, at Bryce Point. This vantage offers not just a panoramic view of the amphitheater's spunky spires, but also an unobstructed seat to the greatest show above the earth. As the sun dips below the horizon, the sky transforms into a stage for the Milky Way's swirling dance, with planets and constellations playing their parts in this cosmic ballet. With each twinkling star telling a story that spans millennia, stargazing here feels like flipping through the pages of a universal tale, written in light. It's not just about witnessing the beauty of the night sky but feeling a profound connection to the universe and its boundless wonders. Pack a blanket, a warm drink, and let your imagination roam free among the stars; at Bryce Point, you're not just observing the heavens, your part of the celestial family.


Day 4: Bryce Canyon Explore Some More!


Here’s a quick guide to some of the most enchanting paths you can tread, each with its own tale to tell:

  • Fairyland Loop: 8 miles of wandering through a wonderland that lives up to its name. Difficulty: Strenuous. Time: 4-5 hours of fairy-tale adventure awaits.

  • Peek-a-Boo Loop: Peek-a-boo! This 5.5-mile loop gives you a playful yet challenging experience. Difficulty: Strenuous. Time: 3-4 hours of peeking into Bryce’s hidden corners.

  • Rim Trail: Stroll or stride along the edge of the amphitheater for up to 11 miles. Difficulty: Easy to moderate, choose your own adventure! Time: 5-7 hours, but any chunk you choose is a burst of beauty.

  • Queen’s Garden Trail: The shortest route into the amphitheater at just 1.8 miles. Difficulty: Easy. Time: 1-2 hours to visit the Queen and her court.

  • Tower Bridge Trail: Not in London, but just as iconic, this 3-mile hike offers a royal view. Difficulty: Moderate. Time: 2-3 hours to cross the Atlantic and back.

  • Mossy Cave Trail: A cool, moist oasis in the desert landscape. Just a tad over 1 mile. Difficulty: Easy. Time: Less than an hour—perfect for a quick jaunt!


Each trail in Bryce Canyon is a story, a pulse, a song. The length of your adventure can vary, but the magic. That’s infinite. Just remember that peak season is late spring and summer. Choose your path, lace those boots a little tighter, and remember, in Bryce Canyon, every trail leads to wonder!


Accommodations at Bryce Canyon National Park

  • Bryce Canyon Lodge: Immerse yourself in the rustic charm of this historic lodge nestled right in the heart of the park. Experience cozy accommodations and convenient access to the park's wonders.

  • Best Western Plus Ruby's Inn: A welcoming retreat just outside the park, offering comfortable rooms, delicious dining options, and a range of amenities to make your stay memorable.

  • Stone Canyon Inn: Escape to this tranquil oasis near Bryce Canyon, where luxury meets nature. Enjoy stunning views, cozy cabins, and personalized service for a truly relaxing getaway. Located in Tropic Utah.

  • Bryce View Lodge: Embrace the beauty of the surrounding red rock landscape from this well-appointed lodge. Unwind in comfortable rooms and take in the awe-inspiring scenery.

  • Bryce Canyon Villas: For a more private and secluded stay, these villas offer a home away from home experience with modern amenities and easy access to the park's wonders.


Day 5: Bryce Canyon to Las Vegas via Zion


Morning: Sunrise at Bryce Canyon

Neat formations at Bryce
Neat formations at Bryce

Catch the sunrise at Sunrise Point in Bryce Canyon for an unforgettable start to your final day. The golden hues illuminating the hoodoos create a magical scene. Plus, it is a short walk, perfect for that early morning wake up.  Pro Tip: A great option is Sunset point. It is a great place to walk and see spectacular views. Especially if you can't wake up early enough for Sunrise point. Just remember that Sunset Point is obviously best at sunset.


Afternoon: Return to Las Vegas

Make your way back to Las Vegas, with Zion National Park offering a perfect midway stopping point if you wish to revisit any favorite spots or missed trails. If you would like to drive the quicker route, it will be interstate all the way. This is a great way to go since you have already driven Route 89 and Route 9 and will let you get back early to Vegas.

 

Evening: Back in Las Vegas

Arrive in Las Vegas with a heart full of memories and a camera full of stunning photos. Celebrate your incredible journey with a night out in the city or a relaxing evening reminiscing about your adventure.


Day 3 Alternative: Zion to Grand Canyon North Rim 

This alternative will take you to a lesser seen area of the Grand Canyon, given you an interesting view.  You cannot drive to the North Rim in the winter months, as it is closed due to snow. If you are interested in taking a little side trip to the Arizona side, it is best to do it from Zion instead of Bryce, and only a 3-hour drive. If you come back to Kanab or Mount Carmel it will be a quick drive to Bryce for Day 4.


Fun fact, on Route 89, driving past Kanab you could eventually take a left of Johnson Canyon Road and find what's left of the old Gunsmoke Filming location. It is a beautiful country, and just the short sidetrack of Johnson Road, while on the way to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Fans of the show Gunsmoke might appreciate it.


Here is a list of trails and sights for you to decide on if you go to the North Rim as an alternative on Day 3.




Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon

  • Bright Angel Point Trail: A short and sweet jaunt that packs a punch with jaw-dropping views. Perfect for those who want the majesty without a marathon. This is one of the best short hikes I have ever been on. Unique Feature: Sunset views here are like watching the world being painted in dreamy hues.

  • North Kaibab Trail: For the spirited souls craving a deep dive into the canyon's heart. It's a challenging path that rewards with serenity and stunning vistas. Unique Feature: The Supai Tunnel and roaring springs along the way are nature's wonders not to be missed.

  • Cape Royal and Angel's Window: A scenic drive plus an easy stroll brings you to panoramic bliss and a natural arch that frames the canyon like no other. A spectacular view unlike anything you have seen before. Unique Feature: A selfie spot that'll make your social media glow with envy.

  • Point Imperial: Stand at the highest point on the North Rim and gaze out over layers of geological history, with the Painted Desert shimmering in the distance. Unique Feature: A sunrise spot where the first light of day touches your soul.


The North Rim doesn't just offer hikes; it offers experiences that tiptoe into your memories, promising never to leave. Whether it's the thrill of the trails or the peace of panoramic vistas, this side of the Grand Canyon dares you to live out loud, tread softly on its sacred grounds, and leave with stories that sound like legends.


Accommodations in Kanab or Mount Carmel.

And after a day of chasing wonders and threading through the tapestry of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park, where do you rest your head? Where do you dream of tomorrow's adventures? Here's a sprinkle of the coziest, quirkiest, and absolutely inviting places to stay the night in Kanab or Mount Carmel, Utah:


  • Starlight Camping: Immerse yourself in a night under the stars with the comfort of a luxury tent. Feel the magic of the desert sky without giving up your cozy bed. Location: Kanab. Unique Feature: Outdoor cinema screenings under the stars.

  • The Arrowhead Cabins: Rustic charm meets modern comfort in these delightful cabins. Each one tells a story, with decor inspired by local legends and landscapes. Location: Mount Carmel. Unique Feature: Personal fire pits for marshmallow evenings.

  • Canyon Boutique Hotel: A boutique hotel that blooms in the heart of the desert, offering a blend of elegance and earthiness. Location: Kanab. Unique Feature: soak in the sunrise and sunset hues.

  • La Quinta Hotel: Common hotel chain offers the basics, but a name you know and trust. Usually, the best prices for a hotel too, thinking for those who are being budget friendly.


In Kanab or Mount Carmel, the places you choose to stay are more than just a bed for the night. They're a part of your adventure, a story to tell, and a piece of the heart of Utah. Dream away!


Bonus Itinerary: The Grand Circle Tour

Arches National Park at Night
Arches National Park at Night

For those eager to conquer all five Utah national parks, here’s a rapid-fire itinerary that covers them all in five days. Be prepared for a whirlwind adventure with less downtime but extraordinary experiences.


  1. Day 1: Las Vegas to Zion National Park: 2.35-hour drive.

  2. Day 2: Zion to Bryce Canyon National Park: 2-hour drive.

  3. Day 3: Bryce Canyon to Capitol Reef National Park: 2.19-hour drive.

  4. Day 4: Capitol Reef to Canyonlands National Park: 2.5-hour drive.

  5. Day 5: Canyonlands to Arches National Park, then back to Las Vegas: Warning this is a 6.5-hour drive back to Vegas, but luckily Canyonlands to Arches is only 30 minutes.


This route allows you to experience the diversity of Utah’s landscapes, from Zion’s majestic cliffs to Arches’ iconic rock formations. This will require lots of driving, and just seeing basic sights like walking only the 1-mile hike to see the hoodoos in Bryce Canyon or walking the quicker emerald pool trails in Zion National Park.  Early mornings and late evenings will make you get a good night's sleep.


If you can take extra time to add an extra day or 2 in for this route, you will get to explore and hike more, but mostly you will not feel as rushed. Doing this will not allow you to do much hiking and exploring in each National Park. Plus doing this in winter months will be hard, and summer months will take extra time because of the extra traffic in the parks, and parking lots will be full. So, if you attempt, do this in the Spring or Fall and avoid the weekends.


Conclusion

This 5-day itinerary from Las Vegas to Utah’s national parks offers the perfect blend of adventure, relaxation, and awe-inspiring natural beauty. Whether you opt for the leisurely pace of two parks or the ambitious five-park tour, you’re guaranteed a great time and an unforgettable experience.


Ready to start planning your epic road trip? Save this itinerary, share it with fellow adventurers, and let the journey begin! Don’t forget to use keywords like "Las Vegas to Utah," "Utah National Parks," and "Road Trip Itinerary" when searching for additional tips and resources. Safe travels and happy exploring!





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