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6 Best Road Trips to the Grand Canyon

5 Utah National Parks Plus Grand Canyon Road Trip

Hit every Utah national park, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches, and Canyonlands, plus Nevada's Great Basin and the Grand Canyon, on this 1,453 mile trip that starts in Salt Lake City.

Incredible outdoor adventures, seven national parks and ancient ruins combine to make this a trip of a lifetime. Start in Salt Lake City where you may be surprised by the vibrant craft brewing scene and how easy it is to get around this city framed by the Great Salt Lake and Wasatch mountains. Head south to Moab, home to Canyonlands and Arches national parks. From there stop at Bear Ears National Monument and then to Monument Valley, one of the West’s most iconic landscapes. Then point your wheels toward the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. It’s just as beautiful but draws fewer crowds than the South Rim.

Afterwards, head north to the historic town of Kanab, Utah, home to hundreds of film shoots and great restaurants. Zion National Park is a short drive away. Then make your way north to Cedar City to visit the uncrowded Cedar Breaks National Monument. Explore Panguitch and Bryce Canyon National Park before heading to Escalante for a deep dive into spectacular slot canyons.

Next is Capitol Reef and the towns that surround it, including a few that are home to nationally recognized chefs. From there, head to the striking but uncrowded Great Basin National Park.


TIP: Utah, California and the Navajo nation observe daylight saving time, while Arizona does not.


Before You Go

Download the Gypsy Guide App
Enjoy the freedom of driving your own car while traveling with an entertaining guide that doesn’t take up space. There are driving tours for Arches, Canyonlands, Zion, Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. Learn more at

Take the Under Canvas Glamping Version of this Trip
Want to do a similar road trip but go glamping at every stop? Do the Best Southwest Glamping Road Trip.

Start: Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City's best summer beers
Salt Lake City’s best summer beersPhoto by Austen Diamond Photography courtesy of Visit Salt Lake

Salt Lake City Mythbusting
So you think you know Salt Lake City? We bet you don’t know about it’s thriving beer scene and five more surprises.

Arches and Canyonlands National Parks

Sunset at Delicate Arch in Arches National Park
Sunset at Delicate Arch in Arches National ParkBryan Anderson

Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park are neighbors in the Southeast corner of Utah. Sitting next to the cool waters of the Colorado River, is the nearest town of Moab with a wide choice of hotels and campgrounds.

Moab’s Top 7 Things to Do
With so many things to do in Moab, choose among our favorite seven things to do with family including a boat tour with Canyonlands by Night & Day, seeing life-sized dinosaurs at Moab Giants, and five more.

Go Retro in Moab at the Expedition Lodge
The retro vibes of this lodge will immediately take you back to a time before the kids could block out rounds of “99 Bottles” with earbuds and Spotify, when the journey was the destination, not the Instagram-worthy view. Learn more.

Home Comforts at the Homewood Suites by Hilton Moab
Kitchenettes, an indoor pool and convenient downtown location make Homewood Suites your perfect Moab adventure basecamp. Learn more.

Top 4 Campgrounds in Moab
These campgrounds by Sun RV Resorts offer extraordinary amenities, including pools, dog parks, cabins and more near two of Utah’s national parks, Arches and Canyonlands. Learn more on our Utah Parks website.

Bears Ears National Monument
Uranium mining in the West, from Bears Ears to the Grand Canyon, threatens Indigenous and public lands.

Monument Valley

Monument Valley
Monument ValleyDepositphotos

An iconic stretch of land, the Monument Valley is part of the Navajo Indian Nation and home to the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. This drive has been called the most scenic in America by many and it’s no wonder why.

Exhibit at the Explore Navajo Interactive Museum in Tuba City, Ariz.
Exhibit at the Explore Navajo Interactive Museum in Tuba CityPhoto by Donovan Hanley courtesy of Explore Navajo Interactive Museum

Explore Navajo Country
Discover the rich history and culture of the Navajo Nation and its people in Tuba City and Monument Valley. The Explore Navajo Interactive Museum will give you a glimpse of Navajo history and modern life.

Hopi pottery making
Hopi pottery makingExperience Hopi

Experience Hopi in Tuba City
People have been living in Old Oraibi for nearly 1,000 years. Tour this ancient village as well as other significant Hopi sites, and conveniently stay at the Moenkopi Legacy Inn.

Grand Canyon National Park – North Rim

Point Imperial from the Grand Canyon's North Rim
Point Imperial from the Grand Canyon’s North RimDepositphotos

Offering fantastic views with less congestion, the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park offers those willing to drive five hours and 212 miles from the South Rim a chance to see the canyon without the crowds.

There are places like Point Imperial where you can watch the distant rising sun gradually spread a blanket of warm red and gold light across the giant walls of rock and the singular spire of Mount Hayden. You might even hear the evocative song of a canyon wren rising and falling in crescendo, just eight or 10 clear notes. It is, perhaps, the most memorable bird song of the West.

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is an experience wholly separate from the South Rim. A more remote, rugged and individual opportunity to see what John Wesley Powell described as, “ledges and cliffs where the soaring eagle is lost to view before it reaches a summit.”

Top 4 North Rim Viewpoints – One is only a half-mile on a paved trail from the lodge.

Top 5 North Rim Day Hikes

Fab Kanab

White Pocket in Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
White Pocket in Vermilion Cliffs National MonumentCourtesy Kane County Office of Tourism

Kanab offers easy access to Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Kanab’s Fab Four Things to Do
Avoid the crowds, enjoy fantastic food and discover the hidden gems along the way to the Southwest’s most popular national parks.

More: Most travelers have heard of “The Wave” but are unaware of the surrounding canyons that are just as jaw-dropping such as White PocketRead more on our Utah Parks website

Zion National Park

Hiking Angels Landing in Zion National Park
Hiking Angels Landing in Zion National ParkTandem Stock

Inside this national park, massive canyon walls reach toward the sky. As visitors drive through Zion National Park, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the size and vertical orientation of the canyon walls that are all around you. Read more.

Cedar City and Brian Head

Kanarra Falls in southwest Utah
Kanarra Falls in southwest UtahDepositphotos

Elevate Your Experience
While southwest Utah is known for its amazing red-rock landscapes, there’s a pocket of mountains topped by aspen trees, wildflowers and pine trees. Here are four reasons to stop and stay here.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Hiking Navajo Loop in Bryce Canyon National Park
Hiking Navajo Loop in Bryce Canyon National ParkBryce Canyon Country

Maximize your experience at Bryce Canyon National Park by driving to Sunrise, Sunset, Inspiration and Bryce viewpoints. These are all spectacular overlooks of the park’s red hoodoos shooting up against evergreen forests in the background.

3 New Ways to Experience Bryce Canyon Country
See the stars, squeeze through a slot canyon or visit in the winter near these little towns along Hwy. 12.

The Closest Hotel to Bryce Canyon is Ruby’s Inn
Ruby’s Inn and Adventures is at the entrance to Bryce Canyon National Park. Stay at two hotels, an RV park, tipis, cabins, or the campground. Go on a Bryce Canyon adventure on a bike, ATV, or horse.

Capitol Reef National Park

Hikers on the Capitol Gorge Trail in Capitol Reef National Park
Hikers on the Capitol Gorge TrailGloria Wadzinski

One of Utah’s best-kept secrets, Capitol Reef National Park preserves unique geology (including the 100-mile-long Waterpocket Fold, a “wrinkle” in the earth’s crust), a preserved Mormon frontier settlement, and vast wilderness ideal for multiday backpacking trips.

Hiker in Goblin Valley State Park in Utah
Hiker in Goblin Valley State ParkDepositphotos

Remote Beauty in Utah’s Capitol Reef Country
Take in Utah’s stunning color palette in and around Capitol Reef National Park. But the national park is just the beginning of what this scenic part of Utah has to offer.

Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park
Great Basin National ParkDepositphotos

Silver State Stopover at Great Basin National Park
In the Great Basin National Heritage Area, you’ll find Nevada’s only national park and surprising history.

End: Salt Lake City, Utah