9 days road trip to southern Utah National Parks.
Links to several blogs dedicate to specific National park, i have many more blogs from this section of Utah:
- Utah Southwest - For The Advance Travelers
- Zion National Park
- Bryce National Park
- Valley of the Gods
- Arches National Park
- Canyonlands NP - Island in the Sky
- Capitol Reef National Park
This specific trip was at Christmas of 2019 but I visit the parks in Utah many times.
our family road trip and I'm sure that with some modification it can fit everyone (i.e. not extreme 😊), you may decide
to do it faster or slower, modify it or combine it with other places (like northern
part of Arizona).
day by day itinerary is below.
points from the trip:
is far from San Francisco, it is always advisable to make early start day
before, 4-5 hours drive at the afternoon, usually we are stopping at
Bakersfield. On the way back, Mogas usually go straight back home.
used to live in Phoenix AZ, so we have been multiple times in all the places.
This time we chose to dedicate one day to each park and complete the trip
in a relatively short time. Each large national park visit can be for two to
three days of activity and there is plenty more to see.
Valley of Fire Park is highly recommended, few hours detour on the way to Zion
(located an hour north of Vegas).
Christmas there are a lot of tourists, mostly in the main parks but also in
less touristy places. Today with the Kovid it can be an even more difficult to do
restaurants reservation and they are getting full at night (not just on Christmas night
when most restorant are closed but also other nights).
Weather and snow:
2-3 snow blizzards, on our way to Bryce at night and when arriving Moab UT, + heavy
snow in Page AZ. Usually the storm itself passes relatively quickly after one
night and the day after weather is better and we travel normally (including hikes)
It is winter
so the day is short and get dark early. Usually at the end of every park visit it was already completely dark so you are driving your next destination at night.
It is possible to hike even at snow if you have proper clothe, the hikes are not so long and you returning back to the car, bring umbrellas for the rain.
Must arrive early for parking near the visitor center, try to order tickets for
the shuttle, from November the park goes into winter format so find out about
arrangements (the 3 weeks of Christmas are considered busy and has special arrangements)
is highly recommended to do check on each park website before the visit, check what is open and what is not, and the effects of corona
most parks there is no good option to eat, come with food for the day.
This area is not less than Amazing !!!
it many times in the past, there is a lot to see from the car or hike over there, you can set the difficult level for kids, just need to know what you want to do.
the fact that you simply can’t do/see it all in one trip.
(follow the link to each blog-post for a lot more information)
4 hr drive
at the afternoon from our bay home to sleep at Bakersfield.
we went to see the first show of the movie: Star Wars - The Rise of Skywalker
from Bakersfield to Valley of Fire (SP NV)
Short stop on the way at Seven Magic Mountains
Sleep at the town of Springdale just before Zion entrance
Zion: We did Angels Landing and Canyon Overlook hikes (many other viewpoint stops), a winter snow start at the afternoon, we drove to sleep at Bryce park entrance
Bryce: After the night snowstorm, we hike the rim trail and went down to the valley for
3-4 hr hike (highly recommended)
Kodachrome State Park: We went to the park to see the interesting rock formation; we were
the only one there
sleep at Kanab UT
Toadstool Hoodoos: Short stop on the road and hike to the hoodoos
LoneRock Beach NRA: Nice place to stop at Lake Powell
Antelope canyon: it was closed because of snow, they cancel the trip (to visit Antelope canyon you must make a reservation many weeks in advance)
Horseshoe Bend: A must stop viewing point above the Colorado river
at Page, snow at night
Monument Valley NP: This is the best “westerns movies” view in the west (+Forrest Gump picture)
Mexican Hat and Goosenecks SP: Nice places on the way north, viewpoint at Goosenecks park
Valley of the Gods: Driving through a nice desert, we just drove by without any stop
Natural Bridges NM: It was already late, so we just did the drive loop and stopped at viewpoints.
at snowstorm to our sleeping location at Moab UT (2 nights at the same place)
Arches NP – One full day at the Arches park doing many hiking trails and staying at Delicate
Arch for sunset
at Moab UT
Canyonlands NP: Island in the Sky section: Early morning trip to catch sunrise from the famous Mesa Arch + visiting some viewpoints that are near the road on the desert below.
Goblin Valley SP: We stopped on the way at this very recommended small park with
interesting standing rock formation, short hike.
Capitol Reef NP: Nice remote park, many hiking options, it was raining and dark,
so we just drive through the park.
after long drive at Vegas
9 hr, Vegas to San Francisco
Few more pictures: