If you are visiting Las Vegas and Grand Canyon consider adding 4 days to your trip to visit the amazing National Parks nearby.
For the sake of a few extra nights, these parks are well worth adding on to a visit to the Grand Canyon.
Most people seem to go to the Grand Canyon and that’s it, but believe me they are missing a fabulous area of desert. We decided to add 3 days/2 nights (we really needed 4/3 nights) on to our itinerary and do a few nearby National Parks and National Monuments. This included Antelope Canyon, Marble Canyon, Vermillion Cliffs, Bryce Canon and Zion National Park.
With all my research I hadn’t come across Zion National Park and we stumbled on it accidentally on our way back and were so disappointed we didn’t have enough time to have a good look. This is where we needed the extra day.
Here is our itinerary for a 6 day Canyons and National Parks itinerary from Las Vegas.
We really only visited Las Vegas as it was a necessary stop to get to the Grand Canyon. Surprisingly we really enjoyed it. The architecture of the buildings was great, loved the atmosphere – though not the hawkers pushing girly brochures at us every 5 steps – the lights, and even the shopping wasn’t too expensive in the outlet stores.
If you don’t like hoards of people we stayed just off the strip at Staybridge Suites. Much cheaper and more modern than many of the Vegas hotels, and we had the pool to ourselves – really at one time we were the only ones in the pool area – a very nice room and there were plenty of free shuttle buses to the strip.
Apart from all the Casinos don’t miss going to Fremont Street at night which is the old strip. The light show is well worth seeing along with artists selling their wares. We came across a live band playing on a stage set up in the street and who should be part of the band but Lindsay Buckingham from Fleetwood Mac playing on the guitar. Didn’t cost us a cent.
Off to the Grand Canyon, Arizona – spectacular to say the least. We chose to do the South Rim (the most popular) and gave it 2 nights in our itinerary arriving just before sunset on the first night. The best place to see the sunset over the Canyon is Hopi Point lookout so get there early enough to grab a good spot.
There is plenty to do and see in the village and we used up a whole day going to the lookouts to the west of the village, watching a native American performance (free but they take donations), visiting galleries and taking a helicopter flight. Though not cheap, the flight was worth the money as it really gave a good overall perspective of this mighty canyon and how it is carved so deep into a flat plane. We hadn’t booked ahead but were able to get a flight within a few hours of our request but this of course is risky, if you can, book ahead.
The next morning as we were leaving, we stopped at all the lookouts to the east of the village. You would think that after a while you might get sick of seeing the canyon but no, every lookout has a different view equally as stunning as the last.
ANTELOPE CANYON & page
First stop is Antelope Canyon just outside of Page, Arizona.
This canyon is not easy to find as the signage is quite small and you can’t see the canyon from the road. Head east on highway 98 until you get to Indian Rte 222. There is a canyon to the north and a canyon to the south. Both are managed by the Navajo Indians and you need to take a tour with them to go into the Canyon.
We did the North Canyon but one day I will go back and do the South. I can’t describe how awesome these canyons are. They are slot canyons so quite narrow and deep with a sand bottom. You have to climb down some stairs to get in but once there it is flat all the way.
I’m not a spiritual person but I felt a real spiritual aura there. Try and go about midday as this is when the sun streams in from the top and you can get fantastic colours in your photos.
We stayed the night at Page and then off to Marble Canyon and Vermillion Cliffs on our way to Bryce Canyon in Utah. The drive took a good half a day with heaps of sight-seeing stops leading us to another stunning natural wonderland with the Bryce Canyon hoodoos of beautiful pink, cream and orange. If you have the time do the walk into the valley floor just to be amongst all those lovely colours.
We hadn’t booked our accommodation here and that was a mistake. The first 2 hotels nearby were fully booked and we had to drive in the dark to find an available hotel. A deep fried meal and beer (I was sternly told no liquor is served in Utah when I asked for a wine) but it did the job.
Zion National Park
Next day we had the choice of going back via the 14 or 9 highways to Vegas and luckily we took the 9. This led us to the beautiful Zion National Park with its wildlife and stunning rocks. We now know that there is so much more to this park that we didn’t see and could easily have spent another day here to explore deeper into the park but our flight was calling.
Days 1 & 2 – Depart Las Vegas and see the Grand Canyon.
Day 3 – Start the trip to Page by stopping at all the lookouts along the Grand Canyon between the village and highway 89. Overnight in Page.
Day 4 – Do Antelope Canyon late morning, then travel to Bryce Canyon arriving early evening. You can take a sneak look at the hoodoos at sunset. Overnight near Bryce Canyon.
Day 5 – Bryce Canyon during the morning, then on to Zion National Park to explore a bit along the main road. Overnight near Zion.
Day 6 – Explore deeper into Zion and then travel back to Vegas.
This post was submitted by Karin Wheeler.
Do you have any suggestions for things to see or do along the way? Please share with us in the comments!