Grand Canyon | Antelope Canyon | Horseshoe Bend | Lake Powell | Zion National Park | Bryce Canyon
One day is enough time to enjoy the Grand Canyon from the South Rim, but you can spend more time here depending on what activities you want to do.
Attractions: Grand Canyon Village, Desert View Drive, South Rim Trail (fairly flat)
Lookout Points: Hopi Point, Maricopa Point, Trailview Point, Yavapai Point, Mather Point, Pipe Creek Vista, Grandview Point, Moran Point, Desert View Watchtower
Trails: Bright Angel Trail, South Kaibab Trail, Grandview Trail
If you plan on spending more than a day, you can plan to do some of the following activities: taking a helicopter tour, walking on the Skywalk, Colorado River rafting, hike to Havasu Falls (permit required), go to the North Rim (Bright Angel Point), spend the night at Phantom Ranch, hike rim-to-rim.
1.5 - 2 DAYS
A tour guide is required for both Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon. A list of tour operators can be found here and typically you need to book in advance. Upper Antelope Canyon tours are about 2.5 hours long. The best time to go is mid-day so that you get to the canyon in time to see the famous light beams — note that these are likely to be the most crowded tours. Lower Antelope Canyon tours are 1-1.5 hours long and they involve climbing down ladders and squeezing through narrow passageways to get through the slot canyon. Some people skip Lower Antelope Canyon, but I really enjoyed it and would recommend if you can fit it into your schedule. Note that you will have to pay a $8 fee for a Navajo Permit in addition to the cost of the tour.
Take a boat tour on Lake Powell and check out the Glen Canyon Dam, Antelope Canyon, and various geologic formations in the area. There are also tour operators that offer rafting trips that begin at Glen Canyon Dam and take you through Horseshoe Bend.
Plan to spend 1.5-2 hours at Horseshoe Bend. The viewpoint is 3/4 miles from the parking lot. It can take 30-45 minutes to walk along the sandy trail depending on your pace. For the best lighting, try to go in the afternoon or just before sunset.
ZION NATIONAL PARK
People can easily spend up to a week in Zion National Park depending on how much they want to see and do. Activities include hiking, canyoneering, rock climbing, bicycling, river trips, and stargazing. There are several hikes, some of which are highlighted below.
Angels Landing | Difficult | 5.4 Miles Roundtrip. The trail starts at the Grotto and progresses up 1,488 feet via steep switchbacks. The last half mile requires hiking along a sandstone ridge — there are chains for support. The views from the top are amazing but the hike is not for people scared of heights.
Observation Point | Difficult | 8 Miles Roundtrip. The Observation Point hike begins at the Weeping Rock Trailhead and follows the East Rim Trail up and out of the canyon. The switchbacks at the beginning of the trail are the hardest part, but are worth it.
Emerald Pools | Varies | 1.2 - 3 Miles Roundtrip. Three different pools make up Emerald Pools. The hike is fairly easy to the lower pool, moderate to the middle pool, and strenuous to the upper pool. All hikes lead to waterfalls and glistening pools and various sights can be seen all along the trails, including views of Lady Mountain, the Great White Throne, and the Red Arch Mountain.
The Narrows | Difficult | Up to 16 Miles. The Narrows is the narrowest section of Zion Canyon and is 16 miles long and only 20-30 feet wide in certain places. Most people do a bottom-up day hike that starts at the Temple of Sinawava and hike upstream for roughly 2 hours to the Orderville Canyon. Be prepared to walk, wade, or sometimes even swim through the Virgin River. A permit is required to do the top-down hike for the entire length of the trail. Always check with the rangers before attempting it to learn about risks of a flash flood.
1 - 1.5 DAYS
You can easily cover Bryce Canyon National Park’s major highlights within two days. The main highlight of Bryce Canyon are its unique rock formations called “hoodoos.” Enjoy a scenic drive through the park, stop along various viewpoints, and hike one or more of the trails.
Attractions: Bryce Amphitheater, Thors Hammer, Rim Trail
Scenic Lookout Points: Fairyland Point, Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Inspiration Point, Bryce Point, Natural Bridge, Rainbow Point, Yovimpa Point
Private Vehicle - $35. Valid for 7 days. Admits one single, private, non-commercial vehicle and all its passengers, up to a 15 person passenger van.
Per Person - $20. Valid for 7 days. Admits one individual when entering by foot, bicycle, park shuttle bus, Grand Canyon Railway and private rafting trip. Individuals 15 years old and younger are admitted free of charge.
Private Vehicle - $35. Valid for 7 consecutive days. Admits one private, non-commercial vehicle (15 passenger capacity or less) and all occupants.
Per Person - $20. Valid for 7 consecutive days. Admits one individual with no car to the monument - typically used for bicyclists and walk-ins. Youth 15 and under are admitted free.
This information was last updated in May 2020. Check the National Park Service website for other types of fees (commercial, fee waivers, free entrance days) and other important information that can help make planning your trip easier. The links to these pages are included above.