Arizona Utah Road Trip Itinerary + Planning Tips

This was my first “real” trip by myself!  I’ve planned countless trips and traveled all over the world, but never alone.  Here’s to an epic Arizona Utah road trip, adventure awaits!

If you want to catch up, check out how it all fell apart, my first solo adventure, and finally, the crazy planning behind this trip.  If not, all the details for my Arizona Utah Road Trip Itinerary are below.  Hope this helps with your planning.  Enjoy!

Arizona Utah Road Trip Overview

Timeframe

6 days, 5 nights + redeye  (Flagstaff 2 nights, Kanab 3 nights, Redeye 1 night)

Budget/Cost

Under $1,000

Highlights

Hoover Dam, Flagstaff, Grand Canyon South Rim, Horseshoe Bend, Upper Antelope Canyon, Lower Antelope Canyon, Lake Powell at Glen Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Las Vegas (airport)

Activities

Hiking, Walking, Paddle Boarding

Don’t Forget

You MUST book a tour ahead of time if you would like to visit Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon.  Tours do sell out and you cannot access the canyons without a tour guide.  My recommendations are included below.

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Pre-Trip Planning

Prep Time Needed

Several weeks to several months, depending on the season and where you want to go.  Planning for me was a little chaotic since I booked my trip 6 days before I left AND it was peak season AND it was for a holiday weekend, but I made it work.  Aim for a few weeks to plan, and if it is a holiday, give yourself a little more time.

Best Time to Visit

I prefer to travel during the shoulder season when temperatures are moderate and crowds are less.  The best time to visit the Grand Canyon is March, April or May if your schedule allows it.  The other shoulder season is September, October or November.  Note that nighttime temperatures tend to approach near freezing as early as mid-October so plan carefully, especially if you are camping.  I traveled in May and the morning temperature was 32F most days but warmed up to the mid-80s while hiking.  Pack layers!

Times to avoid:  June, July and August are not only hot, but also packed with families on summer vacation.  Lines are longer, rates are higher, and lodging fills up fast.  December, January and February have significantly fewer crowds, but the weather is COLD.

Layers are key!

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Flights

I usually use Skyscanner and Kayak to search for flights, but this trip I used my airline points to snag an almost-free flight.

Accommodations

If you read my crazy planning post, then you’d know I originally booked at campsites, then almost a hotel, and then eventually 2 hostels.  For campsites, I used the National Park websites and reviews on Trip Advisor.  For hotels, I used Google’s map feature and cross referenced with Trip Advisor.  For hostels, I always use Hostelworld. → Here’s how to find a good hostel.

Car Rentals

At the time of my research, Fox Car Rentals was by far the cheapest option at $150 for the week (total cost including taxes and fees).  Base price was $105.  Note: The rental company was off-site and I had to take two shuttles from the airport to get to it.  Total drive time was probably 30-45 minutes. Keep that in mind when booking your car. → Don’t skip these 12 Must-Read Rental Car + Road Trip Planning Tips.

Snacks

Buy snacks before you leave so you have exactly what you like and don’t have to worry on your trip.  You are allowed to pack food in your carry on, just no liquids.  My favorite snacks for hiking are protein/snack bars, apples, bananas, pretzels, nuts, and crackers.  Try to pick salty snacks for hiking to help retain water and therefore vital electrolytes while you’re on the trails.

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Sneakers

You do not need fancy hiking shoes for the trip I outlined below.  If you are doing more dangerous trails, carrying a heavy backpack, camping, or have weak ankles, then go ahead and buy the fancy hiking boots.  Remember, you know your body best.  No matter what, invest in thick padded socks!  I didn’t on this trip and I paid for it in the long run.  My favorite (and the one’s I used to hike the Inca Trail) are these SmartWool Trekking Socks.  In case you were wondering, my sneakers for the Inca Trail were these Adidas.  My mom’s were these Merrell’s.  I wanted hers but they felt weird on my feet so I listened to my body.  Trust your gut, not always the reviews.

Backpack

This is similar to the sneaker tip.  You do not need anything fancy for this hike, especially if you are carrying minimal items.  My backpack was nothing more than a simple OGIO I had from work which looked just like my Jansport from from high school.  If you are camping or carrying more equipment, opt for a backpack with a waist belt to help alleviate pressure from your back.  → What to look for in a daypack.

Water

I highly suggest a 2 liter water bladder or Camel Pack.  It makes a huge difference when you can easily sip on water and do not have to take your backpack off every time you want a drink.  Trust me!

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Extra Tip #1

I always pack Nuun Electrolyte Tablets when hiking.  These look like alka-seltzer tablets and go into your water bottle to keep you hydrated.  I bring an extra normal-sized water bottle for these to keep my water bladder “clean”.  There are a ton of options depending on what you want/need.  Some have added sugars and carbs to help your body refuel, some have vitamins, and others like this one, have a little caffeine to keep you energized.  I’ve tried a few flavors and like cherry limeade the best, but they all take a little getting used to.  No matter which you choose, your body will thank you.

Extra Tip #2

Get an audio book!  Actually, get a few.  You will be spending a lot of time in the car.  On this trip I listened to “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed.  It completely paralleled with my trip and I was always VERY excited to get back in the car.  Another favorite is “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coehlo.

Extra Tip #3

I mapped out where I wanted to go before I left Florida.  I used a free website called RoadTrippers to organize the best route possible.  Alternatively, you can do this on Google Maps.  The importance of mapping out your trip is important for several reasons:

1. To calculate the length of time between stops.  You have to leave enough time to get to each place!

2. To calculate the mileage.  This is important if your rental car has a daily/total mileage limit.  This is also important if you are super detailed (like me) and estimating a gas cost for your budget. → More must-read rental car tips here.

3. It’s fun!  Why wouldn’t you want to see your trip on the map? This also helps to make sure you’re not backtracking or going on a crazy detour.

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Ready to explore?

Day 1 – Hoover Dam + Flagstaff

Day 2 – Grand Canyon

Day 3 (part 1) – Horseshoe Bend

Day 3 (part 2) – Upper & Lower Antelope Canyons

Day 3 (part 3) – Paddle Boarding at Lake Powell (Glen Canyon National Park)

Day 4 – Zion National Park (Angel’s Landing + other trails)

Day 5 – Zion National Park (The Narrows)

Day 6 – Bryce Canyon National Park

Post-Trip

Would I do anything differently?

Yes!  I felt like I crammed too much in and I was constantly on the move.  While I loved it, I could’ve cut something out or extended the trip by at least a day.  Also, I would’ve 10000% recommend renting the dry pants when hiking The Narrows at Zion.  Trust me, just do it!  And finally, I would’ve planned earlier so I could’ve stayed in Springdale outside of Zion.  This town is the cutest!

Budget Breakdown

I didn’t want to spend more than $1,000, including everything such as airfare, walking poles, food, snacks at the airport, socks, workout clothes I purchased before, etc.  I spent $977 but that included $141 of cancellation fees from all the craziness while planning, souvenirs, snacks I bought ahead of time, Nuun tabs, water bladder, hiking sticks, socks, and a few items of clothing.  If you already have some of this equipment, then you won’t be spending nearly as much here.  So when you take out the $141 because that’s unique to me, I spent just over $800. Remember that I did get a flight for “free” with my points (it cost me $50 actually) so you’ll need to take that into account when planning your trip.

Shout Out

Huge shout out to Alyssa at My Life’s a Movie for her article, 10 Best Stops for an Arizona Utah Road Trip. These helped so much.

Have you done this road trip or something similar?  Do you have any tips for us?

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