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Best of the West: an 8-day National Park itinerary

Grand Canyon Village, AZ, United States
6 Kudos
My family and I recently came back from a very successful do-it-ourselves road trip through Nevada, Utah, and Arizona. I had a hard time finding many sample itineraries while planning the trip, so I ended up doing a lot of research and figuring a lot of it out myself. BUT there's no need for others to do all that work as well! Below is the 8-day itinerary we followed, reposted here for your convenience. We flew into/out of Las Vegas (my husband and I are based on the east coast and my parents are in the midwest, so we timed our flights to arrive at roughly the same time) and rented a car from the Vegas airport.

Day 1: Fly into Las Vegas. Rent a car at the airport. Check into Vegas hotel (preferably one with free parking!). Spend the rest of the day sightseeing - walk the strip, take in a show, get some food.

Day 2: Check out of Vegas hotel by mid-morning. Drive south to Hoover Dam and take a Dam tour. Drive northeast to Kanab, Utah (you'll do a little backtracking through Las Vegas here). Check into hotel in Kanab, Utah and find a local restaurant for dinner.

Day 3: Drive to Zion National Park and spend the rest of the day hiking, taking the tram, and soaking up your first National Park. Drive back to Kanab, UT and spend a second night in the hotel.

Day 4: Drive to Bryce Canyon National Park. Marvel at the wonder of the hoodoos and test your lung capacity at the park's highest point (over 9,000 feet!). Drive back to Kanab, UT and spend a third and final night at that hotel.

Day 5: Check out of hotel in Utah and drive to WIlliams, AZ. This will be your longest uninterrupted stretch of driving, so make sure you all agree on what music or podcasts you're listening to in the car ;) To break up the monotony, take a brief stop at Sunset Crater National Park in Arizona to for surprising views of ancient volcanic rocks. Check into hotel in Williams, AZ and find a local restaurant for dinner.

Day 6: Drive to Grand Canyon National Park. Take a helicopter tour, ride a mule, and take approximately eight thousand pictures of the subtle differences in rock colors and formations. Drive back to Williams, AZ and spend a second night at the hotel.

Day 7: Drive to Sedona, AZ. Learn about lay lines, get your tarot read, buy some crystal, and enjoy the beauty of the surrounding red rocks. Drive back to Williams, AZ and spend a final night there.

Day 8: Drive to Las Vegas, NV. Return the car and catch a flight back to your hometown.

- We purchased a National Parks Pass ahead of time which greatly cut down on entrance fees.
- My father and husband both signed as drivers on the rental car, which allowed them to switch driving duties as needed.
- We found hotels in Utah and Arizona that provided a free breakfast, which meant we didn't have to wander around finding something to eat in the morning - we could eat at the hotel and then head straight to our next destination.
- We frequently stopped at grocery stores along the way to purchase healthy (and some not-so-healthy!) snacks to eat during the long park days. I found food at the national parks to be either expensive and fast-food style or really expensive and fancy-sit-down-style. Munching on the trail mix, crackers, and fresh fruit we bought at the grocery meant we never had to waste time or money sitting down to a full meal during the day.
- Don't forget your reusable water bottles! There are ample water stations at all of the parks, no need to throw out another plastic bottle!
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Culture and experiences

Kolb Studio & Park Store
There's a free art museum in the Grand Canyon! A great respite from the heat and crowds and a wonderful opportunity to see giant paintings that put your iPhone pics to shame.


Tropicana @ Las Vegas (E)
Great hotel for one night in Vegas. Affordable, but on the Strip and will still give you that Vegas-vibe. Free parking and decent breakfast buffet.


Kicks On Route 66
There aren't a ton of dining options in Williams, AZ, but this is a great option. Delicious food, never crowded, and decent beer list.

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