Thanks again for your replies. Per your suggestions, we will be leaving at 4 a.m for our trip. We will definitely try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep (although I'm not sure I will be able to, due to the excitement :D). This is our up-to-date itinerary (we already booked our campgrounds + hotel):
2 nights stay at the Grand Canyon
2 nights stay at Zion NP
2 nights stay at Las Vegas
We definitely had to think it through to make sure we could spend a full day at each national park. I wish we didn't have to skip Bryce, but we really don't want to miss exploring Zion. We also really wanted to go to Havasu Falls, but I have read that it is a 10 mile hike in--therefore not recommended to go as a day trip.
Do you suggest any places to not miss in the Grand Canyon and Zion NP? We want the full GC experience! So far, we are planning on visiting the Hopi House... and horseback riding in the GC. Not sure what we will be doing in Zion yet. Clearly, there are much more to do in both places. Even suggestions on small activities or places to visit during our ride to GC, Zion, or Vegas will be appreciated!
As you enter each park, you will be given a map of the park and other brochures and a newspaper, all of which set out what is to be had at which spot. Makes for some good bedtime reading the night before. Further more, there are rangers at the gates, information centre and throughout the park to answer any further queries which arise as you are exploring the parks. Previews of most of this can be seen on the NP website.
Make good use of all the resources when you are there. It will enhance your experience.
Last edited by Lifemagician; 08-12-2012 at 11:01 AM. Reason: typo
As you leave the GC out of the east gate you will pass Cameron Trading Post, it's a little touristy but nice to stop at and browse their wares. Glen canyon dam would also make a nice 'pit stop' if you have the time. Before you head through the Mt Carmel Tunnel in Zion there is the 'Canyon overlook Trail', check it out at on the Zion NP guide.Even suggestions on small activities or places to visit during our ride to GC, Zion, or Vegas will be appreciated!
On route to Vegas you could take a drive through 'Valley of Fire State Park'.
Along 89, between Cameron and Kanab, there is Big Water UT. Before you get to the town, which is not along the highway, you will see the sign to a rangers' station on the south side of the highway. This is a place worth stopping, even if you do not have any questions to ask. Besides the fact that the rangers - like all rangers - are full of valuable information, it is the unique layout of the buildings and the approach, which is worth checking out. The rangers will be happy to tell you the significance of it all.
An alternative between Cameron and Kanab would be to take Alt89. A little longer, but with just as many amazing attractions. The Navajo Bridge - go see the interpretative centre; Vermillion Cliffs and Marble Canyon; Lees Ferry Landing. For the latter, turn onto Lees Ferry Road at Marble Canyon (on the northern side of Alt 89) and follow it about 6 miles to the landing. (This is where many of the raft trips through the GC start.) Along the way you will come past the most wonderful rock formations, which are right by the road. Many have explanatory signs with them. At the Landing you can step into the Colorado river. There are a few interesting little side trips to explore as well. A real gem, so rarely visited.
South of Page, but I can't remember if it is along 89 or Alt89, is Horseshoe Bend. There is a signpost on the road. From the parking area it is a short hike to the overlook of the Colorado River. Another activity worth doing.
You will need to choose carefully, as the above, together with those Dave mentioned, are no where near all the attractions along these roads. Keep alert, and you will chance upon many more.