Utah and Arizona National Parks Plus Other Attractions
by Joseph A. Sprince – Photography by Gerald B. Allen
This section profiles the Grand Circle Loop of Utah & Arizona National Parks. This includes Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, either the North Rim or South Rim, Lake Powell (Glen Canyon National Recreation Area on the Arizona/Utah border), and Utah’s Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park. The Grand Circle can be covered in a week. Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks can be visited with an overnight stay.
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The Grand Circle Loop
Southwest Utah offers excellent attractions for both tourist and recreationalists. Two of Utah’s most popular national parks, Zion and Bryce Canyon, are an easy drive from Las Vegas, heading north on I-15. Zion National Park is 163 miles, about a three-hour drive. Bryce Canyon National Park is an additional 87 miles, another two hours of driving. It is possible to do a long day trip to Zion but spending at least one night at each park would be much more enjoyable.
Las Vegas visitors can also make an excellent loop road trip, the Grand Circle, heading south on US-93 via Hoover Dam to I-40 heading east to Flagstaff, with optional visits to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and/or Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon. From Flagstaff, US-89 takes you north to Page, Arizona and Lake Powell where there are numerous recreational opportunities. Route US-89a offers access to Lee’s Ferry (Glen Canyon) and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon before reconnecting with US-89. (Generally, most people visit one rim or the other. The South Rim is more easily accessible and has the best vistas into the canyon. However it is very, very crowded. The North Rim is more remote and has far fewer visitors, creating a more pleasing outdoor experience.)
From Page, US-89 continues north into Utah. Hikers and backpackers may want to visit the Paria Wilderness and Coyote Buttes about thirty miles north of Page. Both are available by reservation only. North of Kanab, Utah, the route gives access to Bryce Canyon National Park – east on Utah-12 – and Zion National Park – west on Utah-9 which eventually reaches I-15 with a quick and easy return to Las Vegas.
The Grand Canyon – Lake Powell – Bryce Canyon – Zion National Parks loop can be completed in less than a week. It is about 850 miles of driving. A week to ten days would be much more enjoyable and less rushed.
Visitors with more time, two weeks or more, can complete the spectacular larger Grand Circle loop. Continue east from Flagstaff on I-40, then north on US-191 towards the Four Corners area. This provides opportunities to visit Petrified Forest National Park with its outstanding views of the Painted Desert, Canyon de Chelly, Monument Valley, and other great locations. US-191 continues north into Utah to I-70, reaching two more great Utah national parks, Canyonlands and Arches. The loop then turns west through Utah’s Capitol Reef National Park, then reaching Scenic Utah-12. This great route passes through the surreal landscapes of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument before reaching Bryce Canyon National Park from the east. From there you head south to Zion and the return to Las Vegas.
Additional Guides and Articles
Arizona National Parks and Nearby Attractions
- Grand Canyon Area Travel Guide
- Lake Powell Travel Guide
- Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon Travel Guide (includes Verde Valley, Prescott, and Jerome)
- Northern Arizona Travel Guide
Utah National Parks and Nearby Attractions
- Southern Utah Travel Guide (includes Grand Staircase)
- Canyonlands / Four Corners Travel Guide
- Paria Canyon Guide (includes Coyote Buttes info)
- Zion Narrows Hiking Guide
- Utah Destinations (Bryce and Zion National Parks articles)