Planning a Family Trip to Arizona, Nevada and Utah!

Our trip to Arizona in January was so wonderful that within a couple weeks we started planning a return trip. We knew we wanted to take advantage of the longest spring break Jack has ever had, so we needed to get things booked before they got super expensive. Now is the fun stuff, deciding what we want to make sure to do on our trip!

To get you up to speed, on our last trip we stuck with just Arizona, visiting Phoenix, Pine and Sedona. You can read a recap here: All About Our 4-Day Family Trip to Arizona.  We only had a long weekend for that trip, so we were super bummed out that we weren’t able to make it to the Grand Canyon or visit other super cool looking places that were a bit too North to get to with our timeline.

For our spring break trip, Travis and I literally printed out a map and started circling places we wanted to visit:

Google Map shows: Las Vegas, Valley of Fire State Park, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Kanab, Page, Grand Canyon

Here’s what we’ve come up with:

Day 1: Fly to Vegas.

We considered whether to fly into Phoenix again or to fly into the Las Vegas airport. We decided that Kanab, UT would be a good homebase, so we checked Google Maps. From Phoenix to Kanab is about 5 hours and 23 minutes. From Las Vegas to Kanab is about 3 hours and 16 minutes. Also, the Las Vegas route would take us through scenic areas we haven’t seen before AND the plane fare was less expensive. Vegas wins!

On our plan: We will be arriving in Vegas late at night. So, our plan is to take an Uber to our hotel and crash. We are staying at the Excalibur Hotel & Casino right on the Vegas strip, because it’s cheap and looks ridiculous.

Source: Excalibur Vegas website

Day 2: Vegas to Kanab, UT

On our plan: We will be checking out of our hotel, finding breakfast somewhere and picking up our rental car. From there, we will drive towards Kanab, where we have a condo rental for the rest of the week.

Possible things to do that day:

  • Eat. We need breakfast in the Vegas area before we go. We may hit up Saint Honore Donut Shop because I saw it online and it looks amazing. We will also need lunch and dinner somewhere between Vegas and Kanab.
  • Valley of Fire State Park: this state park is on the way between Vegas and Kanab and is supposed to be absolutely beautiful. They have a few different hikes we can easily do in the afternoon, which will also be a great way to stretch our legs.
  • Virgin River Gorge: this is also on the way between Vegas and Kanab, the gorge is supposed to be twisty and turny goodness.
  • Check into our condo rental and go grocery shopping.

Days 3 – 7: All the Exploring!

On our plan: We have a rental condo in Kanab and will be venturing out each day to visit nearby parks, hikes and overall cool places.

Possible things to do:

  • Zion National Park – about 30 minutes from Kanab, so we plan to spend one day exploring there. They even have e-bike rentals (like we did in Austin), so we may do that!
  • Bryce Canyon Park – About 1.5 hours from Kanab, so could be a day trip.
  • Antelope Canyon & Page – about 1 hour, 20 minutes from Kanab, so could be a day trip. You can only go with a tour group, so I need to figure out which one to book if we go there. Recommendations welcome!
  • Belly of the Dragon – about 20 minutes from Kanab.
  • Possibly booking a tour to somewhere nearby?
  • Eat ALL the food! We plan to have groceries available for easy breakfasts, lunches and snacks and enjoy going out for dinners. However, we will be there over Easter and anticipate places being closed, so we will at least need to make dinner on Easter.

If you have been to the Northern Arizona/Southern Utah area, I’d love to know any recommendations on things to do, see or eat!

Day 8: Kanab to Vegas

On our plan: We will wake up, have breakfast and pack up. Then, we will drive back to Vegas (about 3 hours), turn in our rental car, and check into our Vegas hotel. This time, we are staying at The Signature at MGM Grand.

Possible things to do:

  • We may stop somewhere between Kanab and Vegas if we want to stretch our legs, eat, or just explore.
  • Once we check-in to our hotel in Vegas, we plan to walk around the strip. Travis definitely wants to show Jack the Venetian because we have great memories from a past trip.
  • We will probably buy some sparkly souvenirs because my kid is a magpie.
  • Eat. If you have any lunch or dinner recommendations in Vegas, let me know!

Day 9: Come Home

On our plan: We have an early flight, so we will wake up and grab a taxi or Uber to the airport.

I can’t wait! If you have any recommendations for places we shouldn’t miss – whether it be food options, hikes, stores, or views – let me know!

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6 thoughts on “Planning a Family Trip to Arizona, Nevada and Utah!”

  1. We were planning a similar trip for spring break, but my daughter had unexpected surgery, so we’ve pushed ours out until fall break. I didn’t get very far with our planning, but one thing my daughter specifically asked to see is The Wave, which looks to be not too far from Kanab in the Coyote Buttes area. Looking forward to hearing more about this trip!

    1. I’m sorry to hear your trip was delayed and I hope your daughter is recovering well!

      I’ve looked into The Wave because it looks amazing, however it involves a strenuous 6.4-mile round-trip hike in a wilderness area which requires hikers to cross challenging terrain and use wayfinding skills. Also, you need a permit to go, which has a lottery and is really popular and hard to get. So, I’ve looked for other similar options and have found that you can visit the nearby Antelope Canyon without a permit, but you must go on a tour. I’m currently researching tour options! There is also a place called “New Wave” which is nearby and is a free, smaller version of The Wave with no permit needed. I’ll keep you updated! =)

  2. That is my favorite area to travel. I am a National Parks junky and we have traveled to almost 300 National Park sites. Zion is my absolute favorite of all the parks and I am not alone. It can get terribly busy, especially during school breaks. The park should be running its shuttle service, which makes it much easier to get to all of the great hikes without having to battle for a parking space. You will be entering from the east side of the park, coming from Kanab, and the visitor’s center is at the west end of the park road. This is where you will need to park for the shuttle service into the best part of the park (though the drive from East to West is a beautiful one through the park). I would suggest the Emerald Pools hike (easy to moderate) and if you want a great view, Observation Point probably has the best view of the canyon (moderate–lots of zig-zags up).

    For Bryce Canyon — This is a less crowded park but pretty spectacular in its scenery. Be prepared with coats and jackets as it is at 10K feet and we saw snow in places even in June here. I would recommend a mule ride into the canyon. It is one of the best ways to see the canyon and the guides point out interesting information about the formations. This is hubby’s favorite park. He recommends being there for either sunrise or sunset if you want to get fantastic pictures because that is when the canyon shines. I would recommend bringing a picnic lunch for this day trip as there are great picnic areas along the rim road.

    The slot canyons in Page are gorgeous, a definite photographer’s dream. Antelope Canyon is probably the easiest to visit, but will be the most crowded. If you are able, try to book a tour of Canyon X. They only let a few people in a day and you will be able to take all the fantastic pictures without 30 other people in the view.

    Horseshoe bend is also very close to Page. This has become an Instagram hotspot, but since you will be looking down into the canyon to see the bend, no one should be in your picture. It is a short hike from the parking lot to the rim. I would say that this should probably take no more than an hour total if you are in a rush.

    We just recently visited Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada and it is a great choice when visiting Las Vegas. I highly recommend going the long way to visit it, through Lake Meade National Recreation Area (Hwy 167) as it is a much prettier drive and it has some interesting places to pull out along the way. You can always go back the boring way (the way your GPS will take you) via I-15 when you are tired and hungry.

    Now to the disappointing part of the trip — the food. In Vegas, you will be fine. There are tons of great places to eat. Get all of your foodie cravings out of the way there. We had terrible food in Page, (raw chicken, grissly steaks — even terrible McDonalds), and just blah food in Kenab. If you have a kitchen, be prepared to cook in Kenab. The restaurants at the park lodges are OK, but a bit overpriced for food there. Springfield (on the west side of Zion) had a few good restaurants when we were there pre-covid, but I can’t recommend anything specific now. There is a little retail empire outside of Bryce Canyon called “Ruby’s Inn” (Hotels, campgrounds with TeePees for rent, RV park, store, and restaurants). There is a buffet-type place (think Sizzler) which isn’t too bad but might be fun for Jack. They also have a grill and a diner.

    Since you are thinking of going to more than one park, I highly recommend getting an annual National Park Pass. You can purchase one at the gate. It is $80 and it will get you (and anyone in your vehicle) into all the fee-charging parks at no additional cost for one year from the date you first use it. If you are a U.S. veteran, you can get a lifetime pass for free. If Jack is in the 4th grade he can get a pass (that brings the whole family) by signing up online for Every Kid Outdoors. You might find yourself going down to Shenandoah or up to Gettysburg, or out to Asseteque, or Fort McHenry if you have the pass.

    Have fun. This is a great trip.

  3. I have really enjoyed your trip itineraries! We are hoping to take some trips. We are retired, ( well, I am semi retired, hubby retired ) and hoping to find places we can handle, and lots of scenery. Thanks for your trip ideas. Have fun!

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