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11 Day Utah and Arizona Road Trip To The Best National Parks

Imagine yourself on a Utah and Arizona road trip let’s get started

Dreaming of a trip across the desert? If you’re looking for an excellent way to get acquainted with the Southwest, there’s no better way than checking out some of the area’s most beautiful landmarks.

If you’re currently in the planning stages of your trip, you’re probably overwhelmed by all the options; so we narrowed things down for you and created a fantastic Utah and Arizona itinerary for first-timers.

From Bryce Canyon’s distinctive hoodoos to Canyonlands National Park’s sweeping vistas, here’s how to make the most of a Utah and Arizona road trip even if you’re on a tight schedule!

The Ultimate Arizona To Utah Road Trip Itinerary for National Park Lovers

Experience the ultimate Arizona and Utah road trip itinerary for national park enthusiasts, exploring iconic sites such as the Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Monument Valley, and Arches National Park, immersing yourself in breathtaking natural beauty.

Who’s This Utah and Arizona National Park Road Trip For?

This Utah and Arizona National Park road trip is for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers who have 12 days to fully immerse themselves in the awe-inspiring landscapes these states offer.

It’s an ideal choice for those who desire a blend of invigorating outdoor activities and the tranquil beauty of America’s iconic natural settings.

💡Good To Know: If you’re looking for the ultimate Utah road trip you could easily exclude the road trip to Arizona and spend more time at each of the Utah National Parks. Check out our Utah road trip guide.

Where To Start Your Arizona and Utah Road Trip?

There are a number of great RV vacations that can be taken in Arizona and Utah. However, travelers coming into the area and expecting to do this trip via a rental car should consider flying into Salt Lake City or Las Vegas if they want to make the most of their time.

These airports offer a variety of flights and rental car options, making it easy to get started on your road trip.

Salt Lake City Starting Point

Salt Lake City is a beautiful city located in the heart of Utah. It’s a great place to start your road trip through both Utah and Arizona, as it has plenty to see and do. 

We only had a half-day here in SLC, but we tried to make the most of it by visiting some of the main attractions.

We were able to cruise by the State Capitol Building, walk around downtown, see the Mormon Temple from afar, and grab a quick bite to eat at our favorite restaurant Red Iguana before we began our 4-hour drive to Zion National Park.

If you have more time in this city, I recommend going to Antelope Island State Park or visiting the Natural History Museum of Utah.

Las Vegas: Alternate Starting Point for Your Utah Arizona Road Trip

If you’re looking for an alternative starting point for your Utah, Arizona road trip, consider Las Vegas.

It’s only a little over 2 hours to Zion and If you’re renting a car, you may find that rentals are cheaper in Las Vegas than in Salt Lake City.

There are plenty of things to do in Las Vegas, and it’s a great city to start your road trip from.

You can visit the Hoover Dam, 7 Magic Mountains, Lake Mead, and other amazing locations on your road trip.

Want to take a road trip in a campervan? Click HERE to learn everything you need to know about campervan road trips

Map Of Utah To Arizona Road Trip

Day 1: Zion National Park

zion national park

Start your day as early as possible by beginning the epic journey through Zion National Park.

Get an introduction to the National Park at the Zion Human History Museum, where you’ll learn about the Paiute indigenous people who formerly lived there.

The museum sits right next to some of Zion’s most famous rock formations (including the Towers of the Virgin and Watchman), so you’ll get to see two birds with one stone by visiting both!

After that, put on your hiking boots and go for a hike in the park. Many of the routes here are short, sweet, and incredibly appealing, so you can finish several hikes in just a few hours.

Here are some of our favorite hikes in Zion National Park:

zion national park
  • Angels Landing (permit now required as of April 2022 click here to learn more)
  • The Narrows (very cold so you’ll need to be prepared with the right gear)
  • Emerald Pools
  • Observation Point (Main route from inside the park still closed as of June 2022 read more on alternative routes below)
  • Weeping Rock
  • Kayenta Trail

If you still have energy after hiking, go for a drive to Kolob Canyon, which is the less-visited section of the park and just happens to be the ideal location to watch the sunset.

Hike Timber Creek Overlook at Kolob View Point for spectacular 360-degree views of the nearby rock formations and even glimpses of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon!

💡Good To Know: Zion National Park has entrance fees of $35 for private vehicles up to seven days and $20 per person for seven days, if you enter by foot or on bike. The American the Beautiful pass is a good idea if you want to save money and time at the gate. It’s a yearly pass that allows you to enter all of America’s National Parks for a $80

RELATED: Need help with Must have Road Trip Essentials? Click HERE to learn what items are must haves

Days 2 and 3: Bryce Canyon National Park

Because it is one of the nation’s smallest national parks, a full day and a half is more than enough time to see the main highlights of Bryce Canyon National Park. Start as early as possible to get the most out of your first day here.

The main attraction of Bryce Canyon is the red sandstone hoodoos, so we’ll start the day by packing a lunch and taking the scenic route through the park (Highway 12).

Stop by some of the park’s most beautiful overlooks on your drive to get an incredibly picturesque introduction to some of Bryce Canyon’s finest views.

If you want to get to know the park better during the afternoon, pick from one of the numerous short hiking trails available.

Head to Sunset Point for an unforgettable sunset, where you’ll be able to watch the sunset from a bird’s eye perspective over the amphitheater of hoodoos.

Day three is all about getting more close and personal with Bryce Canyon. As mentioned before, hoodoos are what makes Bryce Canyon’s landscape so unique, and there’s no better way to see them than by braving the Queen’s Garden to Navajo Loop and Wall Street trail.

As you make your way through otherwordly-looking rock tunnels and pine forests, you’ll get access to the best views of the park’s iconic sandstone hoodoos that will have you feeling as though you’re walking on an entirely different planet!

In the evening, drive to Capitol Reef for a good night’s sleep and preparation for another day of desert adventure.

👀 Looking for a more more things to do in Bryce Canyon? Check out some of the best things to do in Bryce Canyon.

Day 4: Capitol Reef National Park

Once you’ve arrived in Capitol Reef, make the most of your visit by going to Hickman Bridge, which is a popular 2-mile round trip hike that will take you past some of the park’s most famous sights.

After you’re finished hiking, return to your vehicle and head down Highway 24 to see the park’s renowned petroglyph panels and tick off some of Utah’s most well-known sights, which will provide an insight into its indigenous history.

In Capitol Reef, If you have more time and energy left after driving, head over to Cassidy Arch, which is one of the park’s most thrilling hikes and likely the most iconic photo spot!

Day 5: Arches National Park

arches national park in winter

Arches National Park is small, but it isn’t lacking in breathtaking activities to do, so prepare for another day of desert excursions!

Start the day by visiting Delicate Arch, perhaps the most recognized sight in Utah

💡Good To Know: The delicate arch is the arch you see on the license plates of Utah residents

After that, prepare for some off-roading with a side of desert exploration by hiking along the Landscape Arch, which is America’s biggest natural arch and also a must-see.

After you’ve explored the delicate arch and enjoyed some fresh air, continue driving along the Arches Scenic route which is 22 miles (one way) on a paved road where you can take in some of the best views of Arches Natl Park.

Up for more hiking? Consider hiking the Double Arch trail to see another arch before finishing at The Windows to bid goodbye to yet another fantastic day in your Utah road trip for a stunning sunset!

The great thing about hiking in the Arches is that there are several trails of varied difficulties so you’re sure to find a trail that fits your ability

🥾 Don’t miss our 7 favorite Arches National Park hikes

While you’re in the area be sure to check out the rad little town of Moab and for the ultimate experience get yourself on a Moab UTV tour where you get to drive!

💡 Good To Know: If you are visiting Arches National Park between April 1- Oct 31 they now require a timed entry reservation to enter the park. Learn more about securing your spot here.

Days 6 and 7: Canyonlands National Park (Island in the Sky and The Needles)

canyonlands national park

The beauty of the scenery in Canyonlands National Park is so stunning that you can easily return here and never see it all.

However, for first-timers, seeing what’s available in the less-explored Island in the Sky section of the park is probably the wisest option.

Take in one of the most spectacular sunrises of your life by getting an early start to your day and going up to the iconic Mesa Arch.

You can then get sweaty and go on a few hikes (the suggested ones are Grand View Point Trail, Upheaval Dome, and Gooseberry Canyon).

At the end of the day, watch a magnificent sunset from Green River Viewpoint, where the sun illuminates the canyon walls and causes the red rocks to come alive.

The next day, you can go back and explore more of Island in the Sky or venture deeper into Canyonlands by visiting The Needles, which has sweeping views of the canyons as well as less-popular, more difficult hikes.

Day 8: Monument Valley

monument valley

Monument Valley is a stunning area located on the border of Arizona and Utah.

The landscape is made up of sandstone buttes and mesas that tower over the desert floor, making it one of the most iconic landscapes in the USA.

It is a must-see destination for road trips and should be on everyone’s list of places to visit.

The infamous “Forest Gump Point” is where many people stop for a photo opportunity. This insta-worthy stop is only about 20 minutes from the visitor center.

There are also several overlooks in this area that provide stunning views of the valley floor and distant buttes.

Visitors can take the scenic 17-mile Tribal Park Loop AKA as Valley drive to see all that the valley has to offer, including buttes, spires, and mesas. While driving this road, keep an eye out for wildlife such as deer and coyotes.

The road ends at a parking area surrounded by the many buttes in the valley. This is a great place.

Day 9: Antelope Canyon Near Page Arizona

antelope canyon

If you’re driving through Arizona and Utah, be sure to make a stop at Antelope Canyon. This beautiful natural attraction is a great place to stretch your legs and take in the stunning scenery.

The canyon is known for its light beams, which can be seen during certain times of the day.

Antelope Canyon is one of the most photographed slot canyons in the world. It is practically on every traveler’s photographic bucket list because of its stunning and unique beauty.

Lower Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon known for its beautiful and intricate rock formations. The canyon stays lit up for longer than Upper Antelope Canyon, making it better for photos.

Tours of Antelope Canyon are relatively cheap and can be a great way to see this natural wonder.

If you’re taking a 🚗 road trip through Arizona don’t miss our favorite places to visit :

📍 Cottonwood Arizona
📍 Scottsdale Arizona
📍 Phoenix Arizona
📍 Sedona Arizona
📍 Jerome Arizona

Day 9 Alternative Option Horseshoe Bend- Page Arizona

Horseshoe Bend

Horseshoe Bend doesn’t require too much of your time and is just an 8-minute drive from Antelope Canyon, making another great stopping point on your drive from Monument Valley to the Grand Canyon.

Horseshoe Bend is a horseshoe-shaped meander of the Colorado River located in Page, Arizona. It is part of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and is a popular tourist destination, attracting over 1 million visitors per year.

The area is popular for its stunning sunsets and views of the surrounding landscape. It can be seen from a helicopter tour or as a quick walk from the parking lot. The sight is breathtaking and definitely worth the visit!

🚙 Looking for some roadtrips in Arizona? Check out some of our favorite day trips from Phoenix!

Day 10 and 11 Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States.

It’s a huge park with thousands of acres of land and four different rims to visit. You can also hike below the rim, which offers some amazing views of the canyon.

The North Rim is less crowded than the South Rim, so this is a great place to visit if you’re looking to get away from the crowds.

The South Rim offers attractions like Mather Point, Duck On A Rock Viewpoint, and Desert View Point drawing in tourists from all over the world.

If you’re up for a longer hike, try the Bright Angel Trail. It’s a 10-mile round trip to Indian Gardens, and it’s a great way to see the canyon.

If you’re up for a longer hike, try the North Kaibab Trail. It’s a 14-mile round trip to Skeleton Point, and you’re sure to get your sweat on while taking in the beautiful scenery.

Have More Time? Consider These Stops On Your Utah To Arizona Road Trip

  • Escalante
  • Marble Canyon
  • Kanab
  • Vermillion Cliffs National Monument

What Are The Best Canyons In Utah and Arizona?

Utah and Arizona boast some of the most iconic canyons in the world:

  1. The Grand Canyon (Arizona): This is one of the most famous and breathtaking canyons globally, known for its size, depth, and striking red and orange landscapes.
  2. Antelope Canyon (Arizona): A beautiful slot canyon known for its smooth, wave-like sandstone walls illuminated with shafts of direct sunlight.
  3. Bryce Canyon (Utah): Famous for its unique red rock spires known as “hoodoos” that create a visually stunning, otherworldly landscape.
  4. Zion Canyon (Utah): At the heart of Zion National Park, this deep, narrow canyon offers gorgeous vistas, striking rock formations, and a diverse range of wildlife.
  5. Canyonlands National Park (Utah): This area comprises numerous canyons carved by the Colorado River and its tributaries, offering incredible vistas and unique geological formations.

Get Out and Explore Utah and Arizona On a Fabulous Road Trip

I hope this National Park and popular attractions road trip through Utah and Arizona will help you to plan the perfect vacation. We absolutely love Utah and Arizona and could spend months exploring all the popular places.

Here’s More Of Our Favorite Things To Do In Arizona

What To Do In the Wickedest Ghost Town, Jerome Arizona
Don’t Miss Our Favorite Things To Do Near Flagstaff
How To Visit The Grand Canyon In Winter
15 Arizona Bucket List Ideas (Must Visit Places in AZ)
14 Day Trips From Phoenix: The Best Things To Do In Phoenix
Weekend In Scottsdale: Things To Do In Scottsdale This Weekend
32 Fun Things To Do In Scottsdale At Night (Absolute Best Things To Do In Scottsdale)
4 BEST Phoenix & Scottsdale Hot Air Balloon Rides

⏰ When Is The Best Time To Visit Arizona And Utah

The best time to visit Arizona and Utah is during the spring (March to May) and fall (September to November). These seasons offer mild weather and fewer crowds, providing an ideal setting to explore the states’ stunning natural attractions like the Grand Canyon, Sedona, Zion National Park, and Bryce Canyon.

→ How Far is Arizona from Utah

Arizona and Utah are bordering states however the distance from Arizona to Utah can greatly vary depending on your start and end points. It’s approximately 660 miles from Phoenix to Salt Lake City. But if you’re traveling between popular tourist sites like the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park, it’s roughly 262 miles with a drive time of about 5 hours.

⏰ Utah To Arizona Trip Time

The driving time from Utah to Arizona can vary depending on the start and end points, as well as the chosen route. The road trip from Utah to Arizona typically takes around 7 to 10 hours to reach the popular places to see in Utah and Arizona.

outside nomad jill wheeler author bio
Written by Jill Wheeler

Hi there! I’m Jill, a full-time travel blogger and passionate adventurer. I left the 9-to-5 grind to embrace the nomadic travel lifestyle and have never looked back. I love immersing myself in diverse cultures, and through my stories, photos, and tips, I hope to inspire others to embark on their own adventures. When I’m not exploring the world, you’ll find me skiing, mountain biking, or tasting the culture of breathtaking locations.

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