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  1. Default Utah National Parks

    Hoping to visit all 5 parks in Utah in September 2021. Would also like to see Antelope Canyon and Horse Shoes Bend while were there. Can this be done in 8 days. Flying into Las Vegas - Recommendations of places to stay and see.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    Its certainly possible in 8 days on the ground, or will the 8 days include flying in and out of Vegas ? If that were the case it would probably become too rushed to fully enjoy the experience as even the 8 full days would keep you busy so I don't think it would be wise to start adding other things to see. Staying in, or close to the parks is always beneficial but sometimes this can mean paying a premium. Outside of Zion is the lovely town of Springdale with a decent selection of lodgings. Bryce canyon has lodgings near the entrance to the park, Rubys Inn being a popular choice. Capitol Reef has a choice of lodgings near the park or in the town of Torrey and Moab has a good selection for Arches and Canyonlands. Page AZ has a selection of lodgings but I think time will be tight to do an Antelope canyon tour and Horseshoe bend etc but you could also drive through Monument valley from Moab. Jacob lake has a nice lodge and cabins. If you can add a couple of days, I would highly recommend it.

    Are you still planning on visiting Washington state ? How are those plans coming along ?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Doable vs. Enjoyable

    As Dave noted, it very much depends on what sort of experience you want and other, unknown, factors of your trip. If your eight days includes the days spent flying into and out of Las Vegas, then no, I don't think this trip is going to be as enjoyable or rewarding as you're hoping for. The two parks farthest from Las Vegas are Canyonlands and Arches. Each is a full day's drive from Las Vegas, so no matter how you do it, you're going to spend a day's worth of time (not necessarily all at once) getting to them and then getting back to Vegas. So you could have as little as four days worth of time to visit five parks. Included in that four day's worth of time is all the time needed to get from main highway and into the parks proper.

    Yes, you could stick to the paved roads and 'scenic lookouts', but these parks demand serious foot-time to really be appreciated for everything they have to offer. If I were doing this trip with your time constraints I would probably skip Arches and Canyonlands and use my time to better experience Bryce Canyon, Zion and Capitol Reef NPs and perhaps some other nearer parks such as Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2009
    SF Bay Area


    Most efficient route would likely be from Salt Lake City, marginally better than Las Vegas.

    Best route from Las Vegas with minimum overnight stops would be:

    Day 1: drive from LV to Moab: 450-ish miles and 8 hours. See nothing else on this all-freeway sprint.

    Day 2/3: Stay in Moab; do Arches and Canyonlands.

    Day 4: drive from Moab to Capitol Reef (4 hours-ish). Stay overnight. Visit park in afternoon of arrival and into afternoon of following day. Drive to Bryce in late afternoon (two hours-ish); check into some place like Ruby's Inn.

    Day 5: Visit Bryce during the day; leave in late afternoon for Zion (two hours).

    Day 6/7: Visit Zion.

    Day 9: Drive back to LV (4 hours-ish).

    WAY TOO TIGHT! This trips feels like something best done with a full two weeks (flights included).

    Dropping Capitol Reef gives you another day to play with. Going in and out of SLC may help too.

    NOTE: above routing is not intended to prove this can be done in eight days... it is intended to show how tight (and likely un-memorable) it is. Do yourself a favor and add some days or drop some parks.

    P.S. Side comment on Horseshoe and Antelope: if you add Monument Valley (by dropping some other thing(s), you CAN hit Horseshoe Bend on the way to (or out of) Monument, and with pre-planning you can fit in an Antelope Canyon tour on your transit between Monument Valley and Zion. I have done this... you need to make sure you're holding a reservation for a tour, and make sure you leave early enough to make it (it's a 2-3 hour drive from either Monument Valley or Zion).

    Saner commenters on this board may very well disagree.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    drive from Moab to Capitol Reef (4 hours-ish)
    Can be done easily in 3 hours via US-191/I-70/UT-24.

    Drive to Bryce in late afternoon (two hours-ish)
    It's going to take longer than that if you take UT-12, HIGHLY recommended. About 3 hours with no stops, but you will want to make several at outlooks.

  6. #6


    Quote Originally Posted by Ksea View Post
    Hoping to visit all 5 parks in Utah in September 2021. Would also like to see Antelope Canyon and Horse Shoes Bend while were there. Can this be done in 8 days. Flying into Las Vegas - Recommendations of places to stay and see.
    As others have stated already, you can do the trip in the allotted time, what matters most is what kind of trip you want to have: lots of driving with brief stops or less driving with longer stops. Personal preference, having done both, is the latter. Happy travels!

  7. #7


    Not to mention that if you make it a smaller loop circle there are tons of places to visit, hike, explore, especially if you include any of the national monuments.

    Plus Utah Route 12, noted above, is a beautiful scenic drive all in itself.

    The Moab area can be very crowded in Sept and Oct which are prime time for that area due to the weather (scorching hot during the summer) and the cyclists love to have rallies during those cooler Fall months.

    AAA has a special regional-style map covering Indian Country which focuses on the very dense options in the greater Utah region (including NM, AZ, CO). Highly recommended.

    Nonetheless, 8 days is hardly enough to cover it all especially with flying in and out of Las Vegas or Salt Lake City (you really need to be within a stone's throw of the airport on getaway day). And depending upon where you are traveling in from you may not be able to get very far on arrival day. My 2 cents: I much prefer the Salt Lake City airport over the Las Vegas airport (I've done connections and layovers in both).

  8. Default

    Get reservations!

    If your trip includes the very busy Monday September 6 Labor Day Holiday, that week and the previous week will be jam filled with vacationers! You will likely find it impossible to get close lodging.

    All the Utah Parks are great but my two favorites are Bryce and Zion.

    You could easily spend a full day hiking Bryce from Sunrise Point to Sunset Point. Gorgeous!

    If the weather cooperates, the highlight of your trip would be the Narrows Walk. That is definitely worth your entire day. Watch this on a large screen TV, which still pales in comparison to what you’ll experience.

    Although the area was virtually deserted in this video, during the Holiday weeks you’d likely be accompanied by hundreds of family’s walking up the Virgin River.

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