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What you decide to do with your day really depends on your interests, the makeup of your group, and whether or not you're up for any intense hiking or not.

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The most popular hikes in Zion are Angels Landing and The Narrows, both intense hikes that should only be attempted if weather conditions are good. The Rangers at the Visitors Center can let you know about incoming weather and trail closures. Elliot and I tackled Angels Landing early in the morning, which is a 5. It's NOT an easy hike, but is one of the most iconic in the Southwest — and we didn't regret doing it. Angels Landing took us about 4 hours to complete, meaning we had time in the afternoon to ride the shuttle around the rest of the park and do a shorter hike we chose the easy Lower Emerald Pool Trail that starts at Zion Lodge before having a relaxing evening in Springdale.

If, on the other hand, you decide the strenuous hikes aren't really for you, check out the easy and moderate hikes on Zion's hiking guide. There are plenty to choose from that range anywhere from 30 minutes to 5 hours to complete, all with great Zion views.

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Keep an eye out for bighorn sheep but if you're going to pull over for photos, make sure you do it at designated pull-out spots! Once you get to Bryce Canyon, head straight into the park for some sightseeing!


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Bryce Canyon has some nice hiking trails, too, though it's better known for its 18 mile scenic drive and lookout points like Inspiration Point, Natural Bridge, and Rainbow Point. I recommend driving all the way out to Rainbow Point first, and then working your way back to the park entrance, stopping at all the viewpoints along the way. When you get to Sunset Point, take the 1-mile rim trail to Sunrise Point for some of my favorite views. Be aware, though, that Bryce is at a higher elevation — warm layers are a must! Elliot and I visited in mid-April, and there was still some snow left over at some of the lookout points!

Where to stay: There are very few options when it comes to hotels right near the entrance to Bryce Canyon National Park. Where to eat: We visited Bryce in April, which is still more or less off-season in this part of Utah.

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Because of that, many things were still closed for the winter. We ended up having dinner at Ruby's Inn they have a decent buffet and picking up some snacks at their general store since nothing else was open. This trail will take you down into the canyon, right among all the orange hoodoos. We tackled this hike on a foggy, wet morning, and it took us about 2 hours to complete.

It makes a great morning hike before you set off on the road again, though you could probably do it on Day 3, too, if you're not too sore after Zion. After our hike, we packed up all our things and headed further east. They serve up homemade soups, breads, and pastries, and also have a full espresso bar — a perfect lunch break amid some typical Utah scenery. From Goblin Valley, it's another hour and a half to Moab, where you can base yourself for the next couple of nights. Where to eat: We grabbed dinner at Moab Brewery , touted as the town's largest restaurant and only microbrewery. They have a bunch of beers to choose from mostly ales and IPAs , and even brew their own root beer in-house.

Canyonlands National Park tends to get overlooked by visitors to this part of Utah because Arches is also so close to Moab. But I firmly believe you should dedicate a full day to each park. Canyonlands actually has two main sections of park — Island in the Sky and The Needles — which are about 60 miles apart. The Needles is more suited to hikers, so I recommend spending your day at Island in the Sky to mix in sightseeing with a little hiking.

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This section of Canyonlands is only about 45 minutes from Moab. Start out your morning with a visit to Mesa Arch. Many photographers will get here before sunrise in order to watch the arch be lit by the first orange glow of morning, but it's much less crowded if you visit slightly later in the day. Elliot and I also did the short hike out to Upheaval Dome. Located even closer to Moab only 15 minutes from town , Arches National Park is really the star in this part of Utah. And for good reason: the park has more than 2, natural stone arches, along with pinnacles, cliffs, and balanced rocks all in a brilliant orange-red hue.

We went back into town for lunch, and then got take-away sandwiches for a picnic dinner because…. Most people tackle this hike at sunset, when the setting sun paints the foot arch an incredible rusty orange color.

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The hike is tough going up, so allow yourself We got there about an hour early and enjoyed a little picnic as we watched the sun go down. After nearly a week of exploring Utah's national parks, it's time to wave goodbye on Day 7. Today you'll be crossing over into Arizona — but the great scenery will only continue! You may even recognize it from old Western movies, since it was a favorite filming location for directors like John Ford.

Elliot and I arrived at Monument Valley before lunchtime it's only a 2. After our tour was over, we drove the remaining two hours to Page to arrive just around dinnertime. Page is a tiny little town that packs a big punch. Start your morning off with a visit to Horseshoe Bend. It's just a or minute drive from your hotel, and is one of the most Instagrammable places you're likely to visit in the Southwest. A short hike will take you from the parking area to an overlook 1, feet above where the Colorado River makes a massive bend through a deep canyon.

Before lunchtime, I recommend booking a tour out to Upper Antelope Canyon. Antelope Canyon actually has two sections Upper and Lower , but it's the Upper canyon that has the famous light beams that you see in all the photos. You sadly can ONLY visit Antelope Canyon as part of a guided tour, and tours of the Upper canyon during prime light-beam-viewing hours usually 11 a.

Elliot and I went in April, and all the photography tours and most of the midday tours were sold out weeks before we even left. Spoiler alert: I DO think Antelope Canyon is worth seeing, but just be aware that you'll be sharing the experience with a lot of other people. In the evening or in the afternoon if you decide to skip Antelope Canyon , you could consider booking a sunset cruise on nearby Lake Powell, or maybe rent a kayak or standup paddleboard. However, when Elliot and I did our road trip in April , visiting the North Rim wasn't an option since the only road leading to this part of the Grand Canyon closes for the winter and is only open from mid-May through mid-October.

For that reason, we decided to spend a day at the South Rim instead. It's actually quicker to reach the South Rim entrance to Grand Canyon National Park from Page than it is to reach the North Rim, so it worked out well for us, timing-wise. We started out at Desert View at the east entrance to the Grand Canyon where we got caught in a blustery snow flurry!

After checking out the visitor center and nearby Mather Point, we hopped on one of the free park shuttles that travel along the South Rim. We even did a short hike between two of the shuttle stops along the Rim Trail just to get our legs working. We then decided to drive to Flagstaff for the night in order to save some money on a hotel it's NOT cheap to stay anywhere near the Grand Canyon during most of the year. If you book far enough ahead, though or if you're traveling in the off-season , you can find a hotel room in the small town of Tusayan, which is just outside the South Entrance.

On my third trip to the Grand Canyon, this is where I stayed, and it's very convenient to the park! Where to stay: We stayed at the Sleep Inn in Flagstaff simply because it was affordable and convenient. Day 10 is when our Southwest adventure came to an end. Elliot and I were both sad to say goodbye to the Southwest, but I have a sneaking suspicion this might not be our last trip there. If you have an extra day or two, consider adding in a stop in Sedona, Arizona, after you visit the Grand Canyon.

My sister and I spent two nights in Sedona on our cross-country road trip in , and we both loved it. And I've since been back in the winter, too, and it's just as great!

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The Elote Cafe is also highly recommended. Want to download a printer-friendly version of this itinerary? Check out my list of road trip tips for ALL my tricks for road tripping in the U. Some of this depends on what time of year you go; the Southwest can get extremely hot in the summer, and quite cold in the winter. But in general, here are some of my must-haves for this sort of road trip:. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to.

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