# of days:
I did it in ten days, but I would add two more to make the driving distances a little more relaxed.
Two nights Zion, one night Moab, three nights Glen Canyon, and three nights Grand Canyon (with long distance driving in between).
Things to do:
Hiking is top notch in Zion, Arches, and Grand Canyon national parks, whereas kayaking is king in Glen Canyon. Biking is the way to go for Canyonlands but just watch out for those canyons! And of course, photographers will relish in every spot mentioned as the scenery is out of control.
My favorite part:
Watching the sunset from Plateau Point, half way down in the Grand Canyon, just above the mighty Colorado River.
My road trip essential:
Snacks! The whole drive has plenty of open roads with hardly any food stops, so stock up before you go. Also, get a tent with a large mesh 'skylight' to star gaze at night.
With cheap and regular flights into Las Vegas from nearly every North American city, America’s southwest is an easy and accessible destination. But why stay put in the glitz and glamour of a manmade city full of flashing lights and guilty pleasures that empty wallets?
Instead, use that destination as a starting point to take one of the most scenic road trips in the world. This circle route is full of adventure and some of America’s best national parks.
Zion National Park
Three hours from Las Vegas is this national park in Utah’s southwest corner. Towering red canyons and deep river gorges make up this prehistoric-looking national park. Climb to the top of the canyon on Angel’s Landing, or go up river in the gorge of The Narrows.
As one of America’s favorite national parks, camping and access is easy and plentiful—just remember to pack your sense of adventure.
Bryce Canyon and Highway 89
Bryce Canyon proves to be a fan favorite for those who simply want to look out onto something beautiful. From the dusty summers to the snowy winters, the orange hoodoo—a spire-filled amphitheater surrounded by towering pines—is a photographers dream.
Highway 89, which leaves from Zion through Bryce Canyon and heads north until the Highway 50 turnoff towards Moab, passes nothing but national forests and alpine lakes. The scenery changes every few miles but don’t expect many services stations. Stock up on fuel and food before you set off and be sure the camera is charged for great road trip photos.
Truly an adventure town, Moab is the gateway to two phenomenal national parks: Arches and Canyonlands. Trek the easy but overly rewarding trail to Delicate Arch (pictured above) or find your backcountry trails on bike rides through Canyonlands. Base yourself here to recharge with a cold beer and a comfortable bed if you are tired of camping.
Highway 191 and Monument Valley
Typically southwest, highway 191 passes nothing but wilderness but offers miles of stunning views.
Driving south into Arizona you’ll pass countless filming locations of the American Wild West, making the entire drive feel like you’ve landed in frontier lands with Billy the Kid. Views of the flat plains are sprawling, the grand size of this area is best experienced with the windows down and country tunes up.
America’s bathtub playground is one for the record books. The damming of the Colorado River lead to the creation of Lake Powell, a boater’s paradise with hundreds of flooded canyons waiting to be explored. Either by houseboat or kayak, this is one amazing place to get onto the water.
For pre- or post-trip detours, head to the Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend near Page for two of America’s top photography locations.
The Grand Canyon
Watching the sun rise or set in the Grand Canyon is an experience that cannot be duplicated.
For adventurous types, try hiking to the Colorado River on a rim-to-rim hike that takes trekkers over 4,000 feet down into the base of the canyon as they complete at least an 8-mile descent along the mule path. Just ensure to bring plenty of water as temperatures scorch well over 100 degrees.
This adventure is one to try sooner rather than later, with talks in 2014 of building a cable car gondola for those not wanting to hike or hire a mule to get to the river below.
An engineering marvel, the Hoover Dam is an easily accessible stop for those looping back to Vegas from the Grand Canyon. Over four million cubic yards of concrete dams the Colorado River, a number matched only by the amount of annual visitors who come to stare at this man-made feat.
Bonus: Route 66
If you have extra time, tack this iconic stretch of Americana onto your road trip. Most road trip bucket lists include driving across country on Route 66, only the entire length of the highway is now broken up into sections that cling on to the history and areas that are decommissioned.
Sections that are still in used are wrapped up in the tacky diners and "world’s largest ball of yarn"-style attractions. Find your stretch of Route 66 easily on the circle route between Seligman and Kingman in Arizona.
View this map on Google maps.