Rough Draft: Southwest National Parks
Due to the COVID quarantine, I am creating rough draft, “off the shelf” travel itineraries for when travel resumes normal operations so we do not waste any time getting out and exploring!
One of the biggest request from you guys was itineraries for visiting the National Parks which happened to be one of my 2020 goals. This may have to be a 2021 goal as I think everyone (EVERYONE) will be flocking to National Parks as a post-COVID escape plan. Many of the photographers we traveled with on our storm chasing trip frequent the country’s National Parks capturing unbelievable pictures and they could not speak more highly about visiting these areas. I have not hit many of the iconic National Parks so I will be taking the next couple itineraries to discovery them.
The southwest region of the country is blessed with a number of parks within a close proximity of each other so why not string them together for a week long adventure! This itinerary will link together Zion, Bryce Canyon, Lake Powell, and Grand Canyon. You can even include a few extra days exploring Las Vegas!
COVID Note: Many National Parks are requiring reservations in order to enter. This is separate from a park entrance fee. Be sure to check the requirements at the National Park official website and if needed, free reservations are made at recreation.gov often for a $1 or $2 service fee. These reservations are limited and are often gone within minutes of release so make sure you plan around this when it is in place.
How to get there
You will definitely need a car for this itinerary! We would fly into the Las Vegas airport and rent a car for the loop journey. This would definitely be a fun one for an RV!
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Where to stay
There are a few options here depending on how you are traveling. From campsites to lodging and many Airbnbs in between there are plenty of options. As mentioned previously, RV’ing would be a great choice. One that I am so excited to try is Under Canvas. My cousin (thank you!) introduced me to this kind of glamping style camping that looks just amazing! There are tons of camp grounds with varying amenities at various parts of the park.
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How much does it cost
This will depend on what you include on your trip. For locations like Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Grand Canyon, there is a $35 fee per vehicle or a $20 fee per person without a vehicle, both are valid for 7 days. If you make National Park hopping a priority, make sure to check out the American the Beautiful Pass – $80 for the year and included entrance to over 2000 sites! Locations like Antelope Canyon and the Hoover Dam require extra fees.
Based on the duration of the hikes and the proximity to each other, here is how I would structure a week itinerary. The closest major airport is in Las Vegas and from there is about a two hour drive to Zion or four hours to get to the grand Canyon. You can also start and end in either direction – up to you!
|Day 0||Evening||Arrive to Zion|
|Day 1||Morning||Angel’s Landing to Scotts Landing (Stop 8)|
West Rim –> Kayenta Trail –> Emerald Pools
|Afternoon||Stop 5 Back to visitor Center for Watchman and Pa-rus to Canyon overlook|
|Day 2||Morning||The Narrows (bottom-up hike starting at the Temple of Sinawava Stop 9)|
|Evening||Early bed – early rise on Day 3|
|Day 3||Morning||Drive to Bryce Canyon (1.5 hrs)|
– Drive to the end of the Scenic Road to Yovimpa or Rainbow Point
– Drive back the scenic road and stop off at these points as as they will all be on the right side of the road: Agua and Ponderosa Canyons, Natural Bridge, Farview Point, Paria View, Bryce Point, and Inspiration Point
|Afternoon||Hike Bryce Point to Sunrise Point|
Route: Bryce Point, Wall of Windows, Inspiration Point, Sunset Point, Thors Hammer/Wall Street (Navajo Loop Trail), Sunrise Point, Queens Garden Trail, Peekaboo Canyon, Bryce Point
|Evening||Drive to Page (3 hours)|
|Day 4||Morning||Horseshoe Bend|
Lake Powell – kayak/paddle board
|Afternoon||Antelope Canyon Tour|
|Day 5||Morning||Drive to Grand Canyon (45 min)|
Hike: Grandview Point, South Kaibab Trail, Yavapai Point
|Afternoon||Hike: Bright Angel Trail, Maricopa Point, Powell Point, Mohave Point|
|Day 6||Morning||Drive to Las Vegas via route 66|
Town stops: Williams, Seligman, Kingman
|Afternoon||Grand Canyon Skywalk|
|Evening||Overnight in Las Vegas|
Do not forget to check the National Park website frequently as the trail status can change – trails (even before COVID) can close for maintenance.
I did not include a food section in the itinerary because most of the food here is trail snacks and lots of water! Stop by a grocery store to stock up for hiking.
If you have been to any of these areas before or have completed as imilar road trip, let me know what I missed and what your favorites are!