Hello friends! We recently traveled to Nevada and completed a road trip through Utah, Arizona, and back to Nevada to visit national parks! We visited six parks with a combination of state parks, national parks, and scenic drives. The views were incredible and we hiked a ton of miles. If you have been wanting to take a road trip out west, I have detailed below our full itinerary for you to use as part of your travel planning! I will be writing in more detail about our hiking experiences so stay tuned for that, I just wanted to get the itinerary out as soon as possible!
You can download the PDF National Parks Road Trip Travel Itinerary by clicking the image below:
PARKS WE VISITED:
Red Canyon State Park
Sand Hollow State Park
Bryce Canyon National Park
Vermillion Cliffs Scenic Drive
Grand Canyon National Park
Valley of Fire State Park
Zion National Park
DAY 1 – Valley of Fire Scenic Drive & Cliff Jumping
ARRIVE IN VEGAS -> DRIVE TO LA VERKIN, UTAH
SCENIC DRIVE THROUGH VALLEY OF FIRE
Only a 45 minute detour on the journey from Las Vegas to La Verkin (near Zion National Park) you can take a scenic dive through Valley of Fire State Park. It will take you right back out to the interstate to continue on your journey! There are beautiful lookout points along the drive and a visitor center with ample information. Behind the visitor center there was a group of chipmunks playing with the bird feeder which are the CUTEST LITTLE THINGS EVER!
SAND HOLLOW RESERVOIR CLIFF JUMPING
If you plan to visit Zion National Park, do not miss out on going to Sand Hollow State Park. This seemed to be a popular hangout for locals and we had a great time cliff jumping and just swimming around! The water is refreshing and crystal clear. I made a little video about our afternoon at this park here:
DINNER: LAS LUPI TAS MEXICAN GRILL
Day 2 – Hiking The Narrows at Zion National Park
BREAKFAST: RIVER ROCK ROASTING COMPANY
Besides the hiking views, this restaurant was a highlight on our trip. If you are a coffee aficionado like my husband and I, this place is a must visit! Not only do they have great coffee, they have breakfast sandwiches, burgers, pizza, beer, and amazing sweets! This is the reason we ended up here four times on our stay in La Verkin. If you are in the area visiting Zion National Park, definitely make a trip to River Rock Roasting Company! Just look at that view!
HIKE THE NARROWS
After getting all fueled up at River Rock Roasting, venture to Zion National Park to hike the narrows! Try to get there in the morning to avoid the crowds, but the crowds do trickle off the further you get on the hike as the water gets deeper. I will detail our experience and recommendations in a future article solely dedicated to The Narrows.
We purchased an America the Beautiful pass for this trip since we would be visiting many different parks. You can read more about it here: https://www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/passes.htm If you are an avid outdoorsman or plan to visit multiple parks you will definitely save money by purchasing this pass! It gets you free entry to national parks for a year from the purchase date.
DINNER: RIVER ROCK ROASTING COMPANY
Pizza and beer after a long day of hiking, name a better combo! This restaurant has a wonderful view of a canyon from its back porch and is in a convenient location.
DAY 3 – Hike Angels Landing at Zion National Park
4AM WAKE-UP FOR FIRST SHUTTLE AT 6AM
Our day started before the sun was up and we arrived at Zion National Park around 5am. Since we arrived so early, we were able to park inside of Zion right by the entrance. While we were planning our trip, Zion National Park was still requiring shuttle passes be reserved in advance due to COVID restrictions, however, the week we arrived they lifted the restriction. They were still honoring those that had tickets and thankfully, we had secured tickets for the very first shuttle at 6am shuttle by habitually refreshing the recreation.gov page the minute they were released the month prior. All that to say, we got to skip the line that already had about 20 people and it was barely 5am.
HIKE ANGELS LANDING
That video is just a glimpse of how incredible the view is at the top of angels landing! This hike is not for the faint of heart but I definitely recommend it if you physically and mentally prepare yourself. I plan to do a YouTube video talking about lessons learned and tips for Angels Landing and showing the GoPro footage from our hike so clock the image below to subscribe to my channel to not miss out:
LUNCH: RIVER ROCK ROASTING COMPANY AND THEN AN AFTERNOON NAP
DAY 4 – Drive to Panguitch, Utah
BREAKFAST: RIVER ROCK ROASTING COMPANY
We had a somber breakfast here because we just loved this place dearly and were sad to leave it. Don’t get me wrong, I love trying new places when we travel but with there being limited options in our vicinity of La Verkin this place was an absolute gem!
SCENIC DRIVE THROUGH ZION NATIONAL PARK VIA HIGHWAY 9
Through the entrance of Zion you can continue on Highway 9 to take a scenic drive through the park. The drive takes you to Mount Carmel Junction and this is the town where we stopped to have breakfast.
BREAKFAST AT THUNDERBIRD INN
One thing we learned on this trip is that hours of operations in these small towns are not very accurate, no fault to them they were just vibing on their own time frame! We tried 2 different restaurants until we found one that actually had its doors open, Thunderbird Restaurant! It was great diner breakfast food that kept us full for our short drive to Panguitch!
SCENIC DRIVE THROUGH RED CANYON
We had some time to kill before our check-in so we ventured to Red Canyon and made some stops throughout the drive. If you have more time you could definitely continue on and do the scenic drive through Bryce Canyon because it is on that same route!
DAY 5 – Hike in Bryce Canyon National Park
ACTIVITY: HIKE QUEENS GARDEN AND DRIVE TO LOOKOUT POINTS
We arrived to the park fairly early yet the trail was already busy. This hike is definitely less strenuous than The Narrows and Angels Landing so it was a nice reprieve after two hard days of intense hiking. After hiking Queens Garden, we drove to some of the lookout points throughout the park.
COFFEE AT BRYCE CANYON COFFEE COMPANY
A pit stop at Bryce Canyon Coffee Co made for a perfect mid morning snack while we waited for Bryce Canyon Pines to open for lunch. We all enjoyed our meals at Bryce Canyon Pines, so much so I did not even snap a picture! It is in a great location if you are visiting Bryce Canyon and I believe it is also a hotel!
DINNER: STEAKS FROM JOE’S MARKET FOR A DINNER AT OUR AIRBNB
There are not extensive food options in Panguitch, but the location is great for exploring Bryce Canyon. If you find yourself staying in Panguitch, check out Joe’s Grocery Store and pick out steaks & wine for a nice dinner in.
DAY 6 – Drive to Parks, Arizona
BREAKFAST: THUNDERBIRD RESTAURANT
SCENIC DRIVE THROUGH VERMILLION CLIFFS VIA 89A
Continuing south towards the Grand Canyon, you can opt to take Route 89A which will take you through a scenic drive by Vermillion Cliffs and to the Navajo Bridge.
DINNER: FAT OLIVES
If you are a Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives fan like I am, definitely add Fat Olives to your foodie list in Flagstaff! They make seriously yummy pizza and sangria!
DAY 7 – Hike in Grand Canyon National Park
HIKE SOUTH RIM STARTING FROM MATHERS POINT TO END IN THE VILLAGE FOR LUNCH
Starting at Mathers Point in the morning around 9am and hiking towards the village will put you there right about lunch time. There are lookout points and stops along the way that are absolutely magnificent! It is not a strenuous hike and it is relatively level.
LUNCH: EL TOVAR RESTAURANT
We made it to El Tovar around 11am to wait in line for a table. This restaurant is usually BOOKED OUT weeks in advance so if you want to walk in for a table get there around 11ish for lunch and 430pm for dinner. There is no guarantee, but we lucked out and were seated right by the window overlooking the south rim! A budget tip if you are planning to eat here is try to do lunch if you can, the meals start around $15. We ate beef stroganoff, elk burger, and chicken alfredo, which were all delicious!
DRIVE TO LOOKOUT POINTS
After a meal at El Tovar, you probably wont want to do much more hiking so hop on the shuttle or get in your car and drive around to check out the lookout points! We saw Elk and all sorts of wildlife as we were driving around the Grand Canyon.
Day 8 – Spent the night in Las Vegas
VISITED GOLD & SILVER PAWN SHOP (PAWN STARS)
If you are a history buff, the Pawn Stars store is in Las Vegas! You can walk through and see all of the neat items for sale and you may even see Rick Harrison!
DINNER: MON AMI GABI
Mon Ami Gabi was our ~fancy~ meal of the trip, it was Restaurant Week while we were in Las Vegas so they had a Pri Fixe meal for $50 a person with appetizer, steak, and dessert. The restaurant is inside Paris Las Vegas so if you choose to stay there, you wont have to venture far!
Day 9 – Departure
If you liked this itinerary, check out some of my other articles below and lets connect on social media! If have any questions about this itinerary, I would be happy to answer! Drop a comment below our DM me and we can chat!