In just one week and approximately 1,100 miles, you can experience many of the Southwest’s most famous attractions. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Onward to Moab
145 miles / 2.5 hours
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.
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.
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.
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.
Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Southwest Road Trip.