One-Week Road Trip: Vegas, Utah’s Parks & the Grand Canyon

In just one week and approximately 1,100 miles, you can experience many of the Southwest’s most famous attractions on a road trip. If you have more time, it’s well worth adding another day to each of the main stops. Mileage and driving times in this itinerary are approximate.

Day 1

Las Vegas

After you fly in, check in and leave your bags at Aria or Mandalay Bay, then head out to explore the Strip. Go for steak at N9NE at The Palms or gastropub fare at Culinary Dropout at the Hard Rock Casino, then catch a showing of Cirque du Soleil’s O at the Bellagio. Don’t stay out too late—you’ll be rising early and hitting the road.

Day 2

Zion and Bryce

165 miles / 3 hours

Get an early start for the 165-mile, three-hour drive to Zion National Park. Leave by 8am to arrive by 10:30am. Explore Zion for about three hours, having lunch at Zion Lodge and hiking the Riverside Walk.

After lunch, drive 70 miles (1.5 hours), to Bryce Canyon National Park. Explore the rim at spots like Inspiration Point, take a short hike below the rim on the Queen’s Garden Trail, and watch the sunset over the canyon. Stay and eat in the park’s Lodge at Bryce Canyon or in nearby Tropic.

Day 3

Capitol Reef

120 miles / 2.5 hours

Get up early and head out for the 120-mile, 2.5-hour drive to Capitol Reef National Park. Leave by 8am to arrive by 10:30am. Bring a picnic lunch with you and take the 21-mile scenic drive (1.5 hours), then hike the 2.5-mile Fremont River Trail to Miners Mountain viewpoint.

Notom-Bullfrog Road. Photo © Judy Jewell.
Notom-Bullfrog Road in Capitol Reef. Photo © Judy Jewell.

Onward to Moab

145 miles / 2.5 hours

Drive 145 miles (2.5 hours) to Moab. Stay at the Best Western Canyonlands Inn or the Gonzo Inn and have dinner at the Desert Bistro or Eddie McStiff’s.

Day 4

Arches and Canyonlands

Drive five miles (10 minutes) to Arches National Park. Stop and see The Windows and hike three miles round-trip to Delicate Arch.

Drive 25 miles (40 minutes) to the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park and explore viewpoints like Shafer Canyon Overlook. Hike the short Grand View Trail, then head back to Moab for a relaxing night.

Southern Utah

Day 5

Moab to South Rim Grand Canyon

330 miles / 6 hours

It’s a 330-mile, six-hour drive on US 191, US 163, then US 160 from Moab to Grand Canyon National Park’s South Rim. The route crosses much of the western Navajo Nation and passes right through Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. Take a few hours to explore the park. Time your trip to have lunch at the Blue Coffee Pot Café in Kayenta, about 30 miles south of Monument Valley.

From Kayenta, take US 160 West to US 89 South, then AZ-64 West to the Desert View entrance of the Grand Canyon. Spend the night at El Tovar or the Bright Angel Lodge.

View from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
View from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Photo © shmerbeck/123rf.

Day 6

South Rim Grand Canyon

Walk along the park’s Rim Trail for outstanding, accessible views of the canyon. In Grand Canyon Village, stop into the Hopi House to see Native American art and the Lookout Studio, where you can use telescopes set up on the outdoor terrace to get better views of canyon features. Get a meal at the El Tovar Dining Room or The Arizona Room.

South Rim

Day 7

Grand Canyon to Las Vegas

280 miles / 4.5 hours

The 280-mile, 4.5-hour drive from Grand Canyon back to Vegas moves along I-40 between Williams and Kingman.

To follow Historic Route 66, exit the interstate at Ash Fork, about 15 miles (20 minutes) west of Williams. (This will add 20 miles and 30 minutes to the drive.)

In Kingman, stop at Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner for lunch. Afterward, jump back on the road for the 110-mile, two-hour drive back to Las Vegas.

southwest road trip map
Southwest road trip mileage map.

Tim Hull

About the Author

A resident of Arizona for more than 40 years, Tim Hull has hiked its trails and driven its backroads from the deserts to the mountains to the wondrous depths of the Grand Canyon. As a news reporter and freelance writer for the past 20 years, Hull has written about the history, politics, environment and culture of Arizona and the Southwest for newspapers, magazines and websites. His family's roots in the state run deep, beginning in the 1870s when his maternal great-great-grandfather opened a doctor's office in Prescott, a mountain town in the state's central pinelands. In his spare time Hull travels the world with his wife and writes fiction. He is also the author of Moon Grand CanyonMoon Tucson, and Moon Southwest Road Trip.

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