Horse shoe bend in Page Arizona

Looking for vacation getaway ideas in Arizona and/or Utah?

This road trip is full of fabulous photograph opportunities, fresh air, nature, and as an added bonus you’ll burn a ton of calories on these magnificent world class hiking trails!

If that sounds like a great time, check out this

4-day road trip itinerary

from Phoenix Arizona to the National Parks in Utah

including stops at:

(click any selection to skip ahead to that section)

  • Sedona, Arizona
  • Flagstaff, Arizona
  • Horseshoe Bend, Arizona
  • Zion National Park, Utah
  • Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
  • Toadstool Hoodoos Trail, Utah
  • Upper Antelope Canyon, Arizona

Here is the route that we took.

****** Day 1 ******

Brief stop overs in Sedona and Flagstaff Arizona

We headed out from Phoenix early in the morning, making stops in Sedona and Flagstaff to take in some of the beautiful scenery and snap a few photos.

First stop Sedona, known for its Red Rock formations.

Flagstaff, with its abundant pine trees and babbling brooks, is a cool oasis in the midst of the Arizona desert. I’d love to go back and do some camping and hiking here!

Horseshoe Bend

Next stop, Horseshoe Bend Arizona, a horseshoe shaped bend in the Colorado River, which from this vantage point appears a shade of bright emerald green. From the parking lot, it’s a .75 mile walk through the sand to get to the scenic observation area that overlooks the bend. Note that the 1.5-mile round trip walk through the sand can be taxing, and it will likely be very hot and crowed, bring water. See their website for flyover and rafting tour information.

Zion National Park

Next stop, Zion National Park.

The drive into the park is beautiful. The road winds around through towering mountains and rock formations.

Zion National Park-Emerald Pools Trail

Immediately upon arrival, we then caught the free park shuttle to the Emerald Pools hike, an easy paved 3-mile loop with a waterfall.

Here’s what the waterfall looks like in full flow:

Accommodations just outside the park

On the first night, stayed at the La Quinta in Springdale, a beautiful setting surrounded by mountains!

Total Miles Hiked for the day: 3.8

(add on for the horse trail I’ll discuss further in my Zion NP post)

Total Drive time for the day:

7 hours

****** Day 2 ******

Zion National Park-Canyoning in The Narrows

The Narrows hike goes right straight through the Virgin River. You’ll trudge your way through water in a narrow river gorge, at the base of a deep canyon. This is a once in a lifetime bucket list hiking opportunity!

Zion National Park-Pa ‘Rus Hiking trail

Pa ‘Rus trail is a 1.7 mile one way paved trail, the perfect way to end your day!

Other Popular Hikes in the Park:

The National Parks service has a full listing of hikes in Zion National Park.

Camping in Zion National Park

We spent our second night camping in the park, surrounded by mountains.

Grub

The Zion Canon Brew Pub….jalapeno bacon jam, Swiss, and garlic Aioli burger…need I say more? If you’re doing all this hiking, you can afford the calories!

total miles hiked for the day: 6.7

The Narrows: 5 miles, Pa’ Rus 1.7

total drive time for the day:

none!

the full article on Zion can be found at

Zion National Park hiking and camping trip

****** Day 3 ******

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park is about a two-hour drive from Zion.

Bryce was my favorite of the two parks. I’m not a fan of the heat, and it was much cooler here. BUT the biggest thing that was so alluring about Bryce is that I felt like I’d landed on another planet! a definite out of this world destination!

Bryce Canyon National Park-Combo hike: Tower Bridge Hike/ Queens Garden Hike/Navajo Loop Trail

Here is the route we took:

From the North campground we entered the Rim Trail and headed to Fairyland Loop Trail. We did the Tower Bridge Hike on the Fairyland Loop trail (out to Tower Bridge, doubling back to the Rim Trail.) Then we headed south to Sunrise Point, then on to Queen’s Garden, Navajo Loop and then Wall Street, a serious of switchback that will take you straight up and out of the canyon, ending at Sunset Point. From there we took the park shuttle back to our campsite.

This map might explain things a bit better: See our route highlighted in yellow.

Here are a few pictures of sights along the way

total miles hiked for the day:

approximately 8.5

Total drive time for the day:

2 hours

Other hikes in the area:

The National Parks website has a full listing of hikes in Bryce National Park.

Camping in Bryce National Park

This time we snagged a cozy little campsite under the pine trees.

Want to know more about Bryce Canyon National Park?

check out my full Bryce Canyon article here

German pastries? YES PLEASE!

Forscher German Restaurant and Bakery in Oderville can be found between Zion and Bryce. Stop in for some delicious German pastries!

****** Day 4 ******

Toadstool Hoodoos Hiking Trail

It was time to head back down south and we had Antelope Canyon on our radar. Because we had plenty of time before our canyon tour, we decided to stop off at Toadstool Hoodoos Hiking trail, if for no other reason than its cool name! A hoodoo is a column shaped rock with a larger rock on top that produces something of a capped look, like a mushroom or a toadstool! It was a neat trail, but it was REALLY hot, and not really any shade. I would recommend avoiding this trail in the heat of the day. 1.5 miles round trip. The trailhead is located off Highway 89, 45 miles east of Kanab Utah.

Before you leave Utah you may want to check out some of the other amazing national parks. Here’s a list of the 6 must see National Parks in Utah.

Upper Antelope Canyon

We toured Upper Antelope Canyon, a sandstone slot canyon with gorgeous wave-like rock formations, located on Navajo land outside of Page Arizona. You can also tour Lower Antelope Canyon. If you tour both on the same day you only have pay the reservation entry fee once.

There are other tour operators, but we took our tour with Antelope Slot Canyon Tours. The tour is a bit pricey, somewhere around $85 per person inclusive, but worth the money. Our guide offered to take everyone’s photos throughout the tour, made sure we all got all of the pictures we wanted, and advised on where to get the best shots inside the canyon. This is a really popular tourist destination, so don’t expect to have it all to yourself. They squeeze tour groups going both ways through the canyon all day. See their website for information on other tours in the area, including Lower Antelope Canyon, fly-over and boat tours.

They drive you, in the back of a truck, about 15-miles out into the desert.

Word is that Upper Antelope canyon is best at 10:30 am or 1:30 pm.

total miles hiked for the day: approximately 3

(we didn’t make it to the end of the Toadstools hike because it was HOT)

total drive time for the day:

7 hours 15 minutes

Trip totals:

hiking: approximately 22

driving: 15.5 hours

Packing list suggestions:

  • Synthetic jacket for the narrows hike (keeps you warmer when wet),
  • headlamp if you want to do some night-time exploring
  • waterproof backpack. You’ll need it in the narrows. I fell into the water at least once.
  • band-aids (although I didn’t need them! No blisters! Merrell hiking sandals are my secret!)
  • hiking poles!
  • water bottle
  • baby wipes (bathed with these both camping nights-works like a charm!)
  • blow up mattress if your camping (I slept like a baby! Get the pool mattress floats, they are cheap, easily fit in your luggage, and are perfect for one person!)
  • ear plugs

Other things of interest in the area:

Grand Canyon???

If you find yourself on highway 89 between the Utah border and Flagstaff, you’ll only be about an hour’s drive from the Grand Canyon.

The Wave

Seen in the photo below, read all about The Wave here.

Lake Powell Arizona

Lake Powell is a beautiful man-made reservoir on the Colorado River, outside of Page Arizona.

Giving credit where credit is due….

I can’t take any credit for planning this fabulous trip. My sister-in-law did all the planning, and her efforts were greatly appreciated. I got to skip the tedious planning process this time! all I had to do was show up with my sleeping bag, hiking shoes, a good attitude, and an adventurous spirit. Thanks other Angie!

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