Planning a road trip through Zion, Bryce and Grand Canyon? The Grand Circle is a popular place to plan a route for a one week family friendly adventure, in the US southwest. We’ve put together our one week itinerary, an action packed introduction to all the best hikes, sites, and places to visit you won’t want to miss.
Here is a family friendly one week Zion, Bryce and Grand Canyon Road Trip Itinerary:
- Day 1: Las Vegas / Hoover Dam tour
- Day 2: Drive to Zion. Stop at Valley of Fire along the way.
- Day 3: Zion National Park – full day
- Day 4: Zion – most of the day and drive to Bryce Canyon late afternoon, early evening
- Day 5: Bryce Canyon – full day
- Day 6: Drive to Page, AZ – Antelope Canyon / Horseshoe Bend & Lake Powell
- Day 7: Drive to Grand Canyon, Half day visit in Grand Canyon, Evening Drive to Las Vegas
While we have worked out a 7 day road trip through Utah, Arizona and Nevada, if you have an extra few days, 10 days would be ideal and allow for a slower, and less jam packed pace, especially if you have younger kids.
I would add an extra day in Page, AZ and spend the day on Lake Powell, and do a full day in the Grand Canyon, before taking the day to drive back to Las Vegas. There is a lot to see and do along that route back. You can also do this road trip in reverse Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce.
Read on for all the recommended activities, hikes, viewpoints and tips for visiting each Park.
Disclosure: Please note that this post contains affiliate links. If you click one of the links and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thank you! See full disclosure and disclaimer policy here
Road Trip Zion, Bryce, Grand Canyon: Ultimate 7 Day Itinerary
Tip: Buy an annual America the Beautiful Park Pass to save money on National and Federal Park entrance fees. Covers entrance fees for driver and passengers.
Day One – Las Vegas
Las Vegas, NV is a popular place to fly into given its a top tourist destination, with cheap flights from all over the world. Starting your road trip here also has the advantage being a city with the lowest car rental rates around. So if you need to rent a car, Las Vegas is a good choice.
Besides wandering the strip which is an adventure in itself, there are endless options of how your family could spend the day in and around Las Vegas:
- Take a Hoover Dam Tour – half a day
- Check out the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay (super cool, loved it as an adult)
- Hop On – Hop Off Bus Sightseeing Tour
- See a magic show or the Cirque du Soleil
- Marvel Avenger STATION in Treasure Island, for your superhero fans
- Neon Sign Museum
- Hot Air Balloon Rides
- Indoor Skydiving, ziplining, mini golf and arcades
Where to stay in Las Vegas
Holiday Inn Club Vacations at Desert Club Resort is a well recommended resort by families with 5 heated swimming pools, a game room, plus it’s an all-suite resort.
Mandalay Bay is another family friendly option, with two outdoor splash swimming pools complete with a lazy river and a real sand beach, as well as easy access to the Shark Reef Aquarium.
Day Two – Las Vegas to Zion National Park & Valley of Fire
Day two drive to Zion National Park. It only takes about 2.5 hours direct to drive along this scenic route, with breathtaking views. So you have some time to play with if you want extra time in Las Vegas. Take a stop at Valley of Fire along the way, as the geology and formations are different from Utah, which is interesting to compare.
Pro Tip: You lose one hour on the drive as Las Vegas is on PST and Utah is MDT.
Valley of Fire
Valley of Fire is a Nevada State Park less than an hour from Las Vegas. You can stop here for an hour, or half a day. Visit the Visitors Centre first, to get the scoop on what’s open, where to hike and more.
In the Valley of Fire you can see hoodoos, caves, petroglyphs and wildlife. Keep your eyes open for Big Horn Sheep, snakes, and vultures.
The Beehives is an easy stop with kids which takes only a short time. Enjoy the strange beehive looking sandstone formations and desert flora and fauna. Climb to the top of a dome to see what you can see.
If you are hiking around, make sure you have a good travel and hiking backpack for your kids, to carry their own water bottle, a snack, and a light jacket or sweater.
Other Valley of Fire ideas include:
- Enjoy the landscape – drive along Mouse’s Tank Road
- Check out Elephant Rock – near the east entrance
- Climb to Rainbow Vista – this 1 mile hike offers a panoramic viewpoint of the Valley of Fire. The last bit is a hill climb.
- Hike the Fire Wave – one of the most gorgeous spots in the valley, this 1.5mile out and back hike will take you to amazing white and red patterned sandstone. Photo op!
Things to know: Day use fees are $15 per vehicle for non-Nevada license plates ($10/car with). There is also no food services in the park, so make sure you pack lots of water and food.
Cool fact: This park derives its name from red sandstone formations, the Aztec Sandstone, created 150 Million years ago by shifting sand dunes.
Where to Stay in Zion
The closest town to Zion National Park is Springdale, UT, which is about a 30 minute drive from the park itself. This tiny town has a population of less than 1,000 people, so tourists make up a vast majority of the people in this town.
As parking is limited at the Zion Visitors Centre, and you need to use a shuttle in the Zion Canyon portion most of the year, we recommend staying close to the park. Cable Mountain Lodge and the Zion Lodge inside the park are two great options.
- Zion Canyon Lodge is the only lodging (besides camping) available in the park itself. While more rustic accommodations, it gives you access to the park, and stargaze worthy skies right from your front door.
- Cable Mountain Lodge is a fabulous choice for its proximity to the park, plus it has a pool, great amenities, and beautiful Zion views. It’s within walking distance to the park entrance, so you can leave your car at the Lodge, and only have to take the Zion Canyon Shuttle.
Other family friendly options if you prefer staying in Springdale, UT near Zion National Park:
- SpringHill Suites by Marriott Springdale Zion National Park
- Cliffrose Springdale Curio Collection by Hilton
Day Three – Zion National Park
Day three will be a full day in Zion National Park. The Zion Canyon section of the park is popular, and for good reason. From stunning Canyon views, to once in a lifetime hikes to instagram worthy shots in the Narrows and Angel’s Landing, this picturesque park really highlights the beauty of this earth.
Check out more fun ideas Zion has to offer in our comprehensive Guide to one day in Zion National Park for more sample itineraries, and all the info you’ll need to know on the best family friendly hikes, activities and Zion Park details.
Day Three Itinerary in Zion includes:
- Sunrise walk along Pa’rus Trail (up to 2 hours): If ambitious, wake up early and watch the sun’s rays light up the Towers of the Virgin. This easy, multi use trail starts at the Visitors Centre and follows the Virgin River towards the Canyon Junction for 3.5mi / 5.6km. You don’t have to walk far to see stunning views.
- Riverside Walk (1.5 hours): To beat the worst of the crowds, shuttle early morning all the way to the last stop, #9 Temple of Sinawava, and the start of the Riverside Walk. This trail is an easy, paved, and wheelchair accessible path ending at the river and the start of The Narrows hike. The Narrows is a strenuous hike in the river itself, so requires proper gear and preparation to do the full hike. It is fun though to dip your toes in the river and hike a little ways along the Narrows, for the experience.
- Zion Lodge for Lunch: Take Shuttle to Zion Lodge for Lunch. Picnic on the grass or eat at the restaurant. Make reservations ahead, as the restaurant does get busy.
- Hike the Lower Emerald Pools trail (1 hour) – after lunch head to the trailhead near the lodge and walk this easy 1.2mi / 1.9km roundtrip trail. This is a fun hike for kids, as you can walk behind the misty waterfall and wends its way through a shady forest so perfect for those hot summer months. You can extend the hike by also walking the Upper or Middle Emerald Pools trails as well.
- Visit the Zion Human History Museum (1 hour) – On the way back to the Visitors Centre, make a stop at the Zion Museum if it’s open. Learn more about the rich human history of the park from American Indian Culture, to pioneer settlement and the effects of water in Zion.
- Stargazing – The open night skies are the perfect place for stargazing. Ranger led stargazing tours are an option, or head to the Kolob Canyon Viewpoint on the other side of the park. If you haven’t worn out your hiking legs by this point, the Timber Creek Overlook Trail starts at the viewpoint and is only a 30 minute hike that follows the ridge to views of Timber Creek, Kolob Terrace, and the Pine Valley Mountains
Things to know about Zion:
During the busy tourist season, cars are not allowed in the Zion Canyon portion of the park, and you will have to use the Zion Canyon Shuttle, unless you’ve booked a tour. Make sure to book Zion Shuttle tickets in advance.
Phone and cell service in Zion is almost non-existent, so come prepared for that. Wifi available at Zion Lodge for a fee.
Tips for kids: The National Parks Junior Ranger program is a fun thing to do with kids in parks across the US. Zion’s is fantastic as well. This program offers fun and educational activities for kids to do while they are out exploring. You can pick up the Junior Ranger Handbook at the Visitors Center, or download from the NPS website.
Plus check out all the kid friendly tips for beating the crowds and heat in our Zion with kids.
Day Four: Zion to Bryce Canyon
Day four is focused on seeing more of Zion Canyon, then driving to Bryce Canyon in later afternoon or early evening.
Day four Zion to Bryce itinerary includes:
- Weeping Rock & Court of Patriarchs (1.5 Hours) (If open) & Watchman Trail (2 hours) OR
- Angels Landing Trail (4 hours)
- Drive to Bryce Canyon (1.5 -2 hours)
Get an early morning start by taking the first shuttle out to Weeping Rock then back to the viewpoint of the Court of Patriarchs. As of this writing they are closed due to rockfall, so check ahead to see if they’ve re-opened.
For easy to moderate hiking, choose the Weeping Rock, Court of Patriarchs and Watchman Trail option:
- Weeping Rock is an easy, short but steep 30 minute return hike. Stop at Shuttle Stop #7. This trail ends at a rocky alcove, where the porous rock seeps water, hence the name. Look out for exhibits along the way.
- Court of Patriarchs is at Shuttle Stop #4, and is a quick and easy two-minute trail to a viewpoint above the trees. Here you can see the Patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as well as The Sentinel and Mount Moroni. Stop in early morning as the light starts to peak above the Patriarchs.
- Watchman Trail (2 hours) is a delightful moderate, family friendly hike that starts right from the Visitor’s Centre. This is a great option if you didn’t book the Zion Canyon Shuttle in advance, as there’s no need to take it! The Watchmen Trail follows the Virgin River ending at a viewpoint of the whole area. See if you can identify the Temples & Towers, lower Zion Canyon, Watchman Peak and Springdale town in the distance.
If you want the full Zion experience, and can handle a strenuous hike, choose Angels Landing. One note, there can be up to an hour or more wait to summit and take your pics, during the busiest months.
Angels Landing via the West Rim Trail is a strenuous, but rewarding 4 hour return hike to the infamous red rock at the edge of the world photo op. This hike however is not suitable for young kids, or people who are afraid of heights, as there are long drop offs, and the last bit is a steep narrow trail to the summit.
Zion to Bryce Canyon
The drive from Zion to Bryce Canyon is approximately 80 miles (128km), and takes about 1.5 -2 hours. Drive the Zion – Mt Carmel Highway through the Zion tunnel, built in the rock in the 1930’s. Continue following route 89 north, towards Bryce Canyon, until you get to route 12.Turn onto Route 12 east, then keep on driving until you hit Bryce Canyon City.
If you have the time and desire, pull into the parking lot on the right, just after the Zion Tunnel for the Canyon Overlook Trail. This is a one hour easy to moderate trail (1 mi / 1.6km round trip) to a wonderful viewpoint for Pine Creek and the Lower Zion Canyon.
There is so much to see and do in both Zion and Bryce, that there really is no need to stop along the way.
However if you are looking for more to do, Red Canyon in the Dixie National Forest is a fun place to stop. Enjoy the vermilion-colored rock formations and ponderosa pine forests. The Birdseye Trail is a moderate .8-mile hike with close-up views of this spectacular rock.
Day Five: Bryce Canyon One Day Itinerary
Bryce Canyon is such a gorgeous area, known for its hoodoo rock formations. I’ve put together our family friendly one day itinerary that takes in some short hikes, and drivable viewpoints.
Check out our complete guide on what not to miss for one day in Bryce that gives all the park details on fees, shuttles, viewpoints, best hikes and alternative one day itineraries if this doesn’t suit your needs.
Things to know about Bryce Canyon National Park:
Bryce Canyon National Park is open 24 hours a day, year round, with the closest town being Bryce Canyon City. You will need to buy a pass to enter.
Parking can be a challenge in Bryce, so the parks service recommends taking their free Bryce Canyon Shuttle service which can pick you up from major hotels in Bryce Canyon City and drop you off at the four most iconic viewpoints of Bryce Canyon National Park; Bryce, Inspiration, Sunset, and Sunrise Points.
The park is broken up into three scenic areas:
- Bryce Amphitheatre – Sunrise & Sunset Points, Inspiration Point, Bryce Point, portions of the Rim Trail, and trailheads for Navajo Loop & Queen’s Garden Trails,
- Scenic Southern Drive (includes the Natural Bridge and Rainbow Point) and
- Mossy Cave
One Day in Bryce Canyon Itinerary
As you only have one day in Bryce, focusing on the Bryce Amphitheatre area is a must.
Morning Activities in Bryce Canyon include:
- Watch the Sunrise – Choose either Sunrise, Sunset or Bryce Point if ambitious, and early risers.
- Check out the Visitor’s Centre, located at the entrance to the park, just beyond the pay stations. Knowledgeable rangers can give you all the latest park info, and help plan your day.
- Early Morning Hike to Mossy Cave (start by 9am) & Picnic Snack – Mossy Cave Trail is located along highway 12, and is a very kid-friendly easy hike to a small you guessed it mossy cave, and waterfall. The hike only takes about an hour, and is a streamside meander following the river, coming up close to hoodoos, and arches. It’s extremely popular as it’s the only trail that doesn’t require a 1,000 foot descent into the Amphitheatre. So go well before 10am or after 6pm to avoid the crowds.
- Lunch at Bryce Lodge (make reservations) – Bryce Lodge restaurant is one of the few food services in the Park. You can also check out the General Store (at Sunrise Point) or the Valhalla Pizzeria & Coffee Shop adjacent to the Lodge for food. Due to COVID measures take out may only be offered at this time, so check ahead to see if hours / dine in options have changed.
Afternoon Activities include:
Your afternoon In Bryce Canyon will focus on hiking in the Bryce Amphitheatre, to experience the beauty of hoodoos and brilliant shades of red and orange, plus taking in other viewpoints. Three hiking options to choose from:
- Easy Hike (1 hour) – Sunset Point to Sunrise Point (or vice versa). This part of the Rim Trail is partially paved and is the easiest trail in the park for views of the hoodoos and amphitheater from above.
- Moderate Hike (2-3 hours) – Recommended hike – Navajo Loop Trail & Queen’s Garden Trail (Start at Sunset Point). For the full Bryce Canyon, hike in a clockwise direction down the Queen’s Garden Trail to see wide awesome views of the Bryce Amphitheater in front of you, then back up through the Navajo Loop Trail.
- Moderate Hike (1-2 hours) – Easiest into Bryce Amphitheater – Queen’s Garden Trail Start at Sunrise Point following the Rim Trail, before descending into the canyon for an up close look at the hoodoo and arches formed of rock, worn by erosion. Trail ends at the Queen Victoria walk.
Next drive or Shuttle to the following Viewpoints:
- Inspiration Points: Lowest viewpoint, so you feel closest to hoodoos.
- Bryce Point: Bryce Point is the most famous and popular viewpoint. The sunset form here is spectacular. Here you can view the entire Bryce Canyon amphitheater from a cliff-side viewing area.
Evening Activities – Dinner & Stargazing
If you still have energy, star gazing is a must! Take a walk along the Rim Trail between Sunrise at Sunset Point. You can stargaze along the way, or at either point.
Where to eat: After all this hiking, and outdoors time you and your travel companions will be hungry. For dinner try out the Stone Hearth Grille, but make sure to make reservations ahead of time, to avoid disappointment.
Where to stay in Bryce Canyon, UT
There are fewer places to stay here in Bryce Canyon than in and around Zion National Park.
Here are some other highly recommended and reviewed accommodation options near the National Park.
Family Friendly Places To Stay Near Bryce Canyon
Stone Canyon Inn, started as a B&B and now houses mostly free standing, private accommodations in Cabins, Bungalows, Tree Houses and Deluxe King units and the guest house. Nestled amongst the spectacular viewpoints of Bryce Canyon, Bristlecone Ridge, Sinking Ship, Fairyland Amphitheater, Sunrise and Sunset Points right from your living room or porch.
Bryce Canyon home is a family friendly option with a bit more room to play with. In addition to three bedrooms, there’s a child’s playground, free WIFI and parking and a kitchen. Which is perfect if you are looking to do a little cooking yourself. Plus as it’s only 1 mile from the park so you can be there in no time at all.
Where to Stay In Bryce Canyon City
If you are looking to stay in the small town of Bryce Canyon City itself, The two Best Western options are a good bet.
“Higher End”: Bryce Canyon City has a few options for places to stay, and no real luxury hotels. The best of the lot is the Best Western Plus – Grand (not to be confused with the Best Western Plus – Ruby’s Inn across the street). Free breakfast, an outdoor pool and fitness area and easy access to the shuttle route to the park are some of its perks.
Budget Friendly: Best Western Plus – Ruby’s Inn is your best bet for a reasonable, budget friendlier option. This cowboy themed rustic lodge is not quite as nice or up to date as its namesake across the street, but it is clean and comfortable.
Day 6: Bryce Canyon to Page, AZ – Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend & Lake Powell
Ideally you would have two days in the Page, AZ and Lake Powell area, when heading to the American Southwest. With only one, you’ll need to make some choices. Leave Bryce Canyon, UT early in the morning to ensure you have a full day in this area, and arrive in Page, AZ by breakfast time.
Visiting Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend, as well as boating or swimming in Lake Powell are all fun things to do with kids of all ages.
If you arrive by breakfast , you’ll have time to spend half a day visiting Antelope Canyon and/or Horseshoe Bend, then the other half doing water sports, boat tour, or hanging out on the beach at Lake Powell.
Things to know:
Antelope Canyon: Double check to see if Antelope Canyon is open. As it is on Navajo Nations land, it may be closed due to changing COVID measures.
Where to Eat: Stop in at R.D. Drive-In at 143 S Lake Powell Blvd in Page, AZ for family friendly eats. This family owned business serves everything from hamburgers, burritos and chicken sandwiches to dipped cones, desserts and “Rainbows” an ice cream-slushie combo, perfect for a hot day.
Bryce Canyon to Page, AZ
The Drive from Bryce Canyon to Page, AZ is about 150 mi / 243km and takes about 2.5 to 3 hours. Follow route 12 back to route US-89 S, past the Zion Junction and straight to Page, AZ. Lake Powell is located off route 89, about 15 minutes before Page as well.
Antelope Canyon, AZ
Antelope Canyon is located a 20 minute drive east of Page, Arizona in the Navajo Nation. This area is actually two slot canyons, the Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon, plus the Antelope Canyon X.
The world of sandstone and the wavy, orange, red, and tan hues of the canyon walls beckon.
- Upper Antelope Canyon: The Upper Antelope is considered the easiest canyon to travel, as its entrance and length are both at ground level. This slot canyon is a 660 feet long, in-and-out trail which is great for families with smaller children who are preschool age or younger. If you’re visiting in summer for the famous light beams, visit between 11:00am and 1:30pm.
- Lower Antelope Canyon: Lower Antelope Canyon is a lesser travelled one-way trail that is approximately 1,335 feet long, which gets great light year round.
- Antelope Canyon X: This canyon is the shortest walk at only 334 feet in and out. It does have some light beams, and lighting is good before 2pm.
You can book a tour of Antelope Canyon, but only a couple allow children. For the Upper Canyon Tours try Antelope Canyon Tours and Antelope Canyon Navajo Tours . Tours typically leave from Page, AZ and take about 2.5 hours.
Horseshoe Bend, AZ
Horseshoe Bend, in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is located 7 miles from Antelope Canyon. You can hike, fly over or boat along this 1000 ft (305 m) deep, horseshoe-shaped bend in the Colorado River.
The overlook hike is a gentle slope of 1.5 miles (2.4 km) round-trip, over flat terrain, suitable for wheelchairs, strollers, and hikers. There are even two shade stations, as it is a very sunny and hot trail.
Horseshoe Bend is open year-round from sunrise to sunset. The busiest times are between 9:00am to 11:00am in the morning and 4:30pm to 6:30pm in the evening.
Horseshoe Bend parking lot and trailhead is located off US Highway 89. The City of Page, AZ charges $10/car to park.
Tip: Watch your kids carefully. While some areas have railings, it is a 1,000 ft /305 m drop to the Colorado River below.
Lake Powell twists and winds its way for 186 mi /299 km straddling Utah and Arizona. Here you can rent house boats to small watercraft including kayaks and jet skis at the Wahweap Marina and even do boat tours. Lake Powell Resort is the main rental place for these.
Lake Powell is the perfect way to spend the afternoon, or a full day. Waterskiing, wakeboarding, tubing, cliff jumping and spending time at the beach are all favourite activities here.
Lake Powell is also a world class fishing destination, for all you anglers out there. Try fishing for northern pike, wide-mouth bass, catfish, crappie, and walleye.
Cool Fact: Lake Powell is a man made lake, formed after the Glen Canyon dam’s diversion tunnels closed in 1963. Did you know that it took 17 years for the lake to reach its full capacity? Nope me neither.
Where to stay in Page and Lake Powell, AZ:
Page and Lake Powell, AZ can provide you with many unique accommodation options from renting houseboats, to camping on the beach, or more traditional hotels, motels and resorts. I’m all for renting a houseboat, how cool is that.
Lake Powell Accommodations
Lake Powell Houseboats – Rent a private houseboat with comfy beds, great living space, and a fully appointed kitchen. Not to worry, they offer you lessons on how to drive it, if you aren’t well versed in boating. You can also choose from economy, deluxe and luxury houseboats.
Camping – Lone Rock Beach – Lone Rock Beach is a gem, as it is the only beach you can drive onto for camping. Come out of your tent in the morning to impeccable views of the Lone Rock monolith. Set up your campsite during the day. From the toll booth, you’ll need to take a number of dirt roads down to the waters edge.
Fun fact: “The Impossible Astronaut,” the first episode of the sixth season of Doctor Who, was filmed at Lone Rock Beach.
Lakeside Resort: Lake Powell Resort – If you are looking to stay lakeside, the Lake Powell Resort located at the Wahweap Marina is a fun option. With a restaurant onsite, family rooms, pool, fridges in room, plus easy access to their boat tours and rentals, it’s a one stop place to stay. Sign up for their web specials to receive special rates.
Well recommended, family friendly places to stay in Page, AZ
- Family Favourite with Mountain Views:Country Inn and Suites by Radisson (Page, AZ) – What families love: includes free breakfast, family rooms, fitness centre, free private parking, and gorgeous mountain views. Restaurant onsite.
- Hampton Inn & Suites Page – Lake Powell (Page, AZ) – What guests love: The indoor Pool, free hot breakfast buffet and Wifi. Family rooms available. 5 Minutes from Horseshoe Bend and 15 from Lake Powell Marina.
- Pet Friendly: Days Inn & Suites by Wyndham (5 minutes from Lake Powell) – What guests love: Pet friendly with free breakfast & wifi plus an outdoor pool and laundry access. The Days Inn offers panoramic views of Lake Powell, Glen Canyon Dam, the Navajo Indian Reservation, and the Vermillion Cliffs along the Colorado River
- Budget Friendly: Lake Powell Motel & Apartments (Page, AZ) – What guests love: Homey feel, budget friendly, and units with kitchens and patio garden views. Free WiFi and private parking. Very clean and family friendly.
Day Seven: Page, AZ to South Rim of Grand Canyon & Las Vegas
The Grand Canyon was formed over 200 million years ago by erosion and the Colorado River. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a sight to behold.
If you have an extra day you might consider spending more than half a day here, then taking a more leisurely drive back to Las Vegas, the next day. The drive from the Grand Canyon to Las Vegas has some great spots to stop along the way.
Driving from Page, AZ to Grand Canyon
The fastest route from Page, AZ to the Grand Canyon, South Rim is approximately 150 miles, and just under 3 hour drive. As of writing this, the road through the Navajo Nation, the quickest route from Page, AZ to the Grand Canyon is closed to through traffic, due to COVID measures.
At the moment you have to drive to Flagstaff, AZ and then to the South Rim, as the AZ64 East is closed.
Which now has increased the length of drive to 217 miles and about 3.5 hours.
South Rim of the Grand Canyon
The South Rim of the Grand Canyon gives you the iconic views of what you think of as the Grand Canyon. View chiseled rock, amongst the great depths of the winding Colorado River. More facilities including the Visitors Centre, accommodations and restaurants are located at the South Rim. So it’s a good place for a first visit.
As you’ll only have about half a day, you’ll need to be choosy about what you want to see. For a first time visitor, a visit to the Grand Canyon Village and Hermit Road / walk along the Rim Trail is a must.
Stop first at the Visitors Centre, and the Mather Point viewpoint. Then take a walk along the Trail of Time between Yavapi Point and the Grand Canyon Village. Follow your adventure up by taking the shuttle along the rest of Hermit Road. Jump on and off at various viewpoints as you are inspired. You can also hike the full 7 mile Rim Trail and catch the shuttle back.
Here is a list of family friendly things to do on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon:
- Grand Canyon Visitor Center – Stop in for your free map of area. Take a few moments to visit the geological exhibits, watch the documentary, and see historic artifacts. You can also buy souvenirs, rent bikes, and check out their ranger led programs.
- Drive along the Rim Road or take the park and ride options along 4 routes.
- Mather Point Viewpoint – short walk from Visitor Center for your first majestic views. Can walk along the trail from Mather Point to the next viewpoint Yavapi or drive.
- Yavapai Point – Yavapi Point has fabulous views at sunset for that WOW factor.
- The Trail of Time – The Trail of Time is the easiest part of the Rim Trail which runs between Yavapai Geology Museum and Grand Canyon Village. This short, flat, paved 1.3 mile long trail highlights a million years of history each meter.
- Grand Canyon Village – The Grand Canyon Village started growing in 1901, when the steam train arrived. Several historic buildings from that area are here to check out, including the Grand Canyon Railway Depot, the Hopi House, Kolb Studio and the historic landmark El Tovar.
- Hermit Road – 7 mile scenic drive from Grand Canyon Village to West Rim. You’ll need to hike, bike or use the shuttle in summer as cars are not allowed between March and November. See 10 awe inspiring viewpoints of the Grand Canyon along the way. Hike part of the Rim Trail, or the full 7 miles, and take the shuttle back.
- Desert View Drive – 25 mile long scenic drive from GC Village to the Desert View Watchtower in the east. Has about 10 pullouts and viewpoints a long the way. Climb the Watchtower for epic views. The Watchtower was designed by Mary Colter, a famous architect, to resemble the Native Pueblo architecture. Enjoy the Indigenous inspired art, murals, decor, and interior.
- Sunrise or sunset – Maricopa Point, Hopi Point or Yavapi Point
Things to know:
Grand Canyon National Park: There will be modifications in place at the Grand Canyon during the spring 2021 season (March 1 through May 28, 2021) so be sure to check the national parks website for up to date info. Masks are required in indoor spaces as well as certain popular outdoor sites.
- As with all National Parks there are fees to enter. $35 / car which is good for seven days.
- Grand Canyon is a remote area, so make sure you carry an extra set of car keys, your car is gassed up and in good repair. The nearest gas station and mechanic is not close by.
- Hermit Road is only open to private cars December to February. You will need to use the shuttle the rest of the year.
Drive from Grand Canyon to Las Vegas
Drive back to Las Vegas – drive from the South Rim or the Grand Canyon Village is roughly 4.5hrs. There are a few places you may want to consider stopping along the way if you have some extra time.
- Route 66 from Flagstaff to Kingman, Arizona – explore Historic Downtown and Railroad District of Flagstaff to learn more about its history and the Wupatki National Monument.
- Bearizona Wildlife Park, Williams, AZ (short distance from Flagstaff) – Drive through Safari Park. You can see bears, elks, mountain goats, mule deer, wolves, and bison, in a more natural habitat. Pet some animals at the petting zoo.
- Hoover Dam – if you didn’t visit when you first arrived in Las Vegas.
- Lake Mead Recreation Area – The reservoir is created by the Hoover Dam and is a pleasant place to stop for a picnic. It’s also a popular summer destination for boating and lake cruises, kayaking, swimming, biking and hiking the trails.
How long is drive from Zion to Bryce Canyon?
The drive from Zion to Bryce Canyon takes around 1.5 hours directly, and is about 80 miles / 128km.
Should you spend more time on Bryce or Zion?
Zion needs more time than Bryce, as it is a larger, more spread out park with longer hiking options, such as the Narrows and Angels Landing. Zion is also a much busier park that is more difficult to navigate, given you must use the Zion Canyon Shuttle, most of the year. The minimum amount of time you will need is two days in Zion and one day in Bryce Canyon to do a few hikes, take some epic photographs and see the best viewpoints.
Bryce Canyon to Antelope Canyon
Bryce Canyon to Antelope Canyon is about a 160 mi / 257 km drive, which takes 3 hours via US-89 S.
Grand Canyon to Antelope Canyon: How far is Grand Canyon from Antelope Canyon
The Grand Canyon is 147 mi / 236km from Antelope Canyon and is about a 3 hour drive. Due to the relatively short distance, Antelope Canyon is a popular day trip from the Grand Canyon.
The most common route is via AZ-64 E to US-89 N through the Navajo Nation, however AZ-64E is closed at the moment due to COVID prevention measures. You will now need to drive through Flagstaff, AZ, so it’s a bit longer at 221mi / 355km and approximately 3hour and 45 minute drive.
Conclusion: Zion, Bryce, Grand Canyon: One Week Family-Friendly Itinerary
Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce is one of the best road trips in the USA for good reason. Gorgeous ever changing landscapes, this route offers nature at its best. From dramatic waterways, to slot canyons, and wildlife, this is a one week trip you and your family are sure not to forget.
Related family travel destinations and travel planning tips: