Hi - I just wanted to share this with anyone who, like me a few months ago, was planning a trip in Utah from Las Vegas. Most people we metseemed to do the reverse, but i hope you find the following useful and add to it for future users:
Left Las Vegas at 10am.
Drove via Hoover Dam. Stopped at free car parking area to the left AFTER the Dam. It means a short walk back but also means it's easier to continue on your journey.
Rather than take the I40 head for Route 66 instead for a more scenic and interesting drive. We highly recommend a great little place called Snowcap Cafe, Seligman (it has it's own website but is worth it just for the really nice bloke there and shake and fries).
From there you briefly rejoin the I40 before taking HW64.
We stayed in the park at a place called Maswick Lodge. Additionally at the South Entrance of the park it's worth thinking about purchasing an annual parks pass, especially if you're planning on seeing 4 parks or more. At this time it was $80 and saved time and money entering the parks.
Dined at Bright Angel Lodge - good service, you will have to wait to be seated but you are given an alarm that notifies you of your tables availability. Get the buzzer/alarm first, then look around the gift shop whilst you wait for your table to become available.
Food and service were very pleasant in Bright Angel Lodge. If you're there after dark and decide to stay in the Maswik please do take a torch.
We booked a Helicopter Ride via Papillion. The Airport for Grand canyon is approx 8 miles back on HW64.
Whilst in the park take the tour hop on/hop off tour buses - especially the route that ends in Hermits Rest.
Exit the park from the East Exit. Make time as there are some spectacular stop off points, culminating in the astounding view form Desert View Point. There's a huge parking area.
Leave Grand Canyon after lunch
H64 > Hw89
Hw 89 > hw 160
Monument Valley Hw 160 > hw 163
If you want an amazing once in a lifetime balcony view, pay the extra and stay at The View hotel. Highly priced but worth it for the view alone. $5 per person as entrance fee to Monument Valley (as it's a reservation NOT a state park the annual pass does not cover entrance here).
If you're happy to experience the same view from the restuarant you can still go there. Gouldings Lodge is fine, but is outside of the park (but it does have a large and pretty well stocked supermarket). The View restaurant is, personally, tapping into the fact that there's very little else around. The food was nice, but over priced. The service however is great.
Went to the car park and booked an early tour. We decided to pay the extra $10 or so and book the 'back road' tour simply because it's more than worth it. Our guide was a real gem.
In the afternoon we decided to drive out via Mexican Hat and head for a place called (off US163 via HW261) Muley Point. Muley Point is in Goosenecks State Park, but it's not easy to locate depending which side you come from because the road sign faces one way only. After the precarious drive to the top via a series of switchback turns, look to your left for a red dirt track road. It's wide enough to fit two cars. Drive down this road all the way, until you can't go any further. And please ensure your car is geared up for this as it's a loose dirt and gravel trail.
Worth it for the awesome view over the park right the way into Canyonlands, and Monument Valley.
Route: US 163>US191
Visit Arches National Park (You can use your Annual Parks Pass here)
Stay for Sunset Delicate Arch Trail
Super 8 Moab UT
Moab to Bryce Canyon approx 6 hours 30 mins
Leave Moab After Breakfast
Moab>Dead Horse Point north of Moab on hw191 to SR 313 (turn off) 40 mins
Dead Horse Point >Torrey
HW 191 to I70
I 70 > HW 24 at (Junction 149) - If you wish to, stop at Goblin Valley - we didnt as had a long drive ahead but would do another time.
Torrey - stop for lunch (about 500 yards after the junction for HW 12 is a diner on your right which is a good place to stop called Slackers Burger Bar. Very friendly and extremely tasty burgers (and veggie options too)
Then go back on yourself and take the amazingly scenic HW12. This leads through the most stunning mountainous region. It passes through Red Canyon, over Boulder Mountain (9500 high and at time of writing, covered in snow) and continues through Dixie National Forest. This was one of the reasons we were glad not to stop at Goblin Valley as there are a number of View Points along the way that are worth stopping at.
Arrived at Bryce Canyon at approx 6.30pm and stayed in The Best Western. This includes breakfast and was excellent value for money.
Bryce Canyon - easy enough to drive around. The Navajo Loop Trail is worth doing - but everything can be easily done within the day, so we decided to head back out of the park, and head back along HW12 to the Mossy Caves. A short, scenic walk to caves provides a lovely waterfall, and at time of writing this, huge long icicles hanging from the roof of the cave.
Bryce Canyon > Zion
Check out after breakfast
Arrive in Zion for lunch time
Best Western Zion Park Inn (note: the restaurant nearby is very nice, but very expensive - explore Springdale more if you are on a budget)
Zion > Las Vegas
Leave Zion circa 13.30 pm
Merge onto I15(S)
So there we have it. We drove roughly 1500 miles, but it was well worth it and amazingly relaxing. The nice thing about this trip is that we felt like we had seen a lot, but could have had another week of exploring, so definately a place to come back to and do a different route. Please note opinions expressed are subjective only and should be taken in that spirit. Thanks for reading.