The Perfect 5-Day Itinerary For Zion, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, and Antelope Canyon

The American Southwest has long been one of the most consistently beautiful places in not just America, but the world. This was still considered the frontier not more than a century ago, and the landscapes remain as wild and adventurous as ever. While I’ve focused all my travels on places outside of my home country, in no way have I forgotten or choose to neglect what America has to offer.

For someone that’s been to over 80 countries, the Southwest is as unique and stunning as any places I’ve seen. The National Parks here are simply wonderful and rival even the most alien landscapes. Having traveled the world for a year after reaching financial independence, I think the Southwest of America is still one of my favorite places in the world. After the mainstays of American tourism like New York and LA, I always tell my foreign friends to take a road trip through the Southwest. Haven’t had any complaints as of yet!

Sunset at Horseshoe Bend
Sunset at Horseshoe Bend

I could easily spend a few weeks in this area of the country that includes Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and California, visiting the many many national parks. Sadly, I only had five days (Friday to Tuesday). Nevertheless, I managed to get a good taste of some of the most well known and stunning parks in the area.

Be sure to also read my Joshua Tree, Death Valley, and Red Rock Canyon Itinerary for those looking to drive westward from Las Vegas, or combine those amazing national parks with this itinerary!

If you have closer to two weeks or more to travel, then make sure to read my ultimate American road trip itinerary which combines this itinerary, Joshua Tree, Death valley, Arches national park, Canyonlands, and Monument Valley!

 

Update for COVID-19 in 2021/2022

If you’re planning your travels to the national parks in 2021/2022, make sure to familiarize yourself with the latest news and restrictions while visiting these parks. The demand for travel in 2021 and beyond to these national parks is through the roof. In fact, they predicted travel in 2021 would eclipse that of 2019 before the pandemic. As international travel is still a bit touch and go, most Americans will choose to travel domestic this year.

 

Update 2022 for US National Parks

If you’re traveling in 2022, then you will be braving the parks with the swarms of other American tourists. Be prepared for heightened numbers of visitors to the parks and be prepared for much higher costs. Inflation has really impacted the cost of travel and you’ll feel it in everything from rental cars, to cost of fuel, to restaurant costs, to hotels. The parks will also be much more packed so you’ll want to consider visiting at the opening hours before everyone else gets there. Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park are particularly busy in these times.

Most Americans are not venturing out of the country in 2021 even though Europe and other amazing places are now open like Greece or the Amalfi Coast. Last minute trips are hard to book but I think visiting places in Europe this year will be optimal as the tourism numbers remain very low.

 

Five day Itinerary for a Southwest trip


Full disclosure, we are a couple in our early 30s and would consider ourselves quite active/fit. We had hiked Machu Picchu right before this trip no problem and we are totally okay with a fast itinerary. If you have kids, or are not as keen for such an involved itinerary, this itinerary may seem rushed to you!

 

Best time to Visit The Southwest

The southwest is accessible year round. Some places are closed during the winter like the North Rim in the Grand Canyon. The summer season starting on Memorial Day to Labor day is the high season as kids are on summer vacation. We went in late October when the weather was still warm but the swathes of tourists were not present.

Some of these parks can see an extreme amount of tour groups in the summer high season between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day (late May to Early Sep). I also think winter would be an amazing time to visit as well. Snow falling on Bryce Canyon would be a completely different experience.

 

Rent a car for the southwest, this is a road trip!

Nothing says travel through the USA more than a proper road trip. This trip is best done (perhaps only done) via renting a car. Las Vegas or Phoenix airports have plenty of rental companies to give you options.

The roads in the southwest are in great condition so driving is of no issue. The views through some of the roads are incredibly picturesque. You’ll want to pull your car over and stop to soak in the views.

Update 2021: Due to the Pandemic and supply constraints, rental cars have skyrocketed in price. It’s not uncommon to see daily car rental prices north of $100 for an economy car! Make sure to book your car rentals well in advance!

 

Itinerary Map of the Zion, Bryce, Grand Canyon itinerary

Full Itinerary

[mk_table title=”” style=”style1″]

Start End Park visited Where I Stayed
Day 1 Las Vegas Airport, NV St. George N/A Holiday Inn St George
Day 2 St. George, Utah Bryce, Utah Zion National Park Bryce Canyon Log Cabins
Day 3 Bryce, Utah Page, AZ Bryce National Park, Horseshoe Bend Best Western Lake Powell
Day 4 Page, AZ Tusayan, AZ Antelope Canyon, Grand Canyon The Grand Hotel
Day 5 Tusayan, AZ Phoenix Grand Canyon, Sedona Sedona Rouge

[/mk_table]

Day 1: 

  • Land in Las Vegas Airport at night
  • Drive 2 hours to St George, Utah

Day 2:

  • Drive early morning to Springdale
  • Visit Zion National Park
  • Hike Angels Landing
  • Hike through the narrows
  • Have dinner in Springdale
  • Drive to Bryce Canyon City

Day 3:

  • Early morning hike to Bryce Canyon
  • Drive to various viewpoints in Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Drive to Lake Powell in the mid afternoon
  • Visit Glen Canyon dam before arriving in Lake Powell
  • Visit Horseshoe bend for sunset
Read Also On Johnny Africa:  The Perfect 5 Day Itinerary For Joshua Tree, Death Valley, and Red Rock Canyon

Day 4:

  • Visit Antelope Canyonj in the morning
  • Drive towards Grand Canyon in Arizona
  • Arrive in Grand Canyon in the early afternoon
  • Visit the numerous view points
  • Dinner and the night in Grand Canyon

Day 5:

  • Early morning views of the Grand Canyon
  • Drive south towards Sedona
  • Quick hike through Sedona
  • Lunch and some wine tasting in Sedona
  • Drive to Phoenix at night for a late night flight back home
southwest zion bryce grand canyon itinerary map antelope canyon
Map of my itinerary through the southwest

 

*Park Entrance Prices updated for 2022

[mk_table title=”Parks Visited” style=”style1″]

 

Park Location Admission Cost

Zion National park
Zion National Park

Springfield, Utah $20

Bryce National Park
Bryce National Park

Bryce, Utah $35

Horseshoe Bend
Horseshoe Bend

Page, Arizona Free

Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon

Page, Arizona $90 for Upper Antelope Canyon, $40 for lower canyon

Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon

Arizona $35

 

Day 1-2: Zion National Park


Zion National Park is one of the most famous national parks in the country. With over two million visitors a year, this was a great start for the trip

Las Vegas International Airport is the closest airport to Zion National Park (2.5 hours). We spent our first night in St. George, as it was too late to drive the entire distance to Springdale, the nearest city to Zion National Park. We did leave very early the next day so we could beat the crowds.

Like all the parks in this area, Zion National Park is very organized and developed as far as the tourist infrastructure goes. There is a shuttle that runs through Springdale to pick up people to drop off at the entrance of the park. We parked our car near the entrance since we arrived so early. Within the park, there is another free shuttle that regularly runs to/from the 8 stops in the park.

Since we only had a day here, we wanted to hit up the most famous and iconic areas: Angel’s Landing, and the Narrows. For the shuttle, this was the Grotto and the Temple of Sinawava stops.

 

Angel’s Landing Hike

After getting off at the Grotto stop, we proceeded to hike straight up to the top of the mountain for the famous Angel’s Landing views. We read numerous blogs as well as heard from many people we met how difficult the hike was. We packed loads of water, and were expecting a strenuous hike. In reality? This hike was easy.

Perhaps, it’s because I had just hiked up Montana Picchu in Peru, which at 8000m was much more difficult. The hike up Angel’s landing offered some amazing views make no mistake, but we were up in less than 1 hour.

Near the top, there is a hike along a very narrow ridge with nothing but air on each side. This can be quite scary because you are literally semi-tight roping across the ledge of the mountain with only chains to hold on to. For those scared of heights, I would not recommend this! Walking along the ridge itself wasn’t that difficult, but there’s no reason to speed through this part of the hike as a misstep will almost surely result in falling towards where Angel’s don’t live.

angel's landing top area
Near the top of Angel’s landing!

Once we got to the top, the views were absolutely stunning! There’s a reason this is one of the most famous hikes in the country. The views of Zion Canyon are hard to beat. There were a ton of people at the top but we managed to find a somewhat isolated spot to eat lunch and just soak in the views. After 1 hour or so, we hiked back as we still had the Narrows hike afterwards. Most people thought we were crazy to hike both Angel’s landing and the Narrows in one day but I’ve done far worse in my travels.

Angel's Landing
At the top of Angel’s Landing

 

Update 2022: Lottery system for Angel’s Landing

Starting in 2022, the Angel’s landing hike will only be open for those that have permits. The new permit system will ensure that the hike does not get overcrowded as that has been a big issue as of late.

It’s not a complicated process to get the permits, but it will require you to plan ahead which can be annoying if you’re trying to make it a spontaneous trip. Given how high in demand Angel’s Landing is, you’ll need to apply for your permits at least 1-2 months ahead of time. For example, the permits for June-Aug open in April. First come first serve.

Visit the NPS website for Angel’s Landing permits to book your slot.

 

The Narrows Hike

We took the shuttle two more stops to the Temple of Sinawava stop at the very end of the shuttle route. This is the beginning of the Narrows hike which is basically walking in between the canyons of Zion National Park. There’s a flowing stream throughout the entire hike and you’re basically walking in knee to waist deep water the entire time. Our lack of planning really festered here as we did not have the right shoes or pants.

The park actually rents waterproof shoes for this specific hike but we decided we were too cool for that (for whatever reason), and we ended up hiking in our sneakers. We saw other people that were doing this too, but after that first dip in the somewhat freezing water, I knew it was going to be a rough hike. The water is not warm in October but eventually, my feet either lost feeling or got used to the cold water and I wasn’t as bothered.

 

The current was strong however, and there were times I almost slipped on the rocks which would have resulted in me swimming.

Narrows Zion Park
The Narrows

The entire hike reminded me of the Canyons in Isalo National Park in Madagascar. In fact, all of Zion National Park and much of the American southwest reminded me of Isalo. The rock formations, colors, and even some of the foliage were all similar in nature. However, Isalo does have numerous species of lemurs to look at which of course, Zion does not!

Narrows Zion National Park
The view of the Canyons of the Narrows hike

This is an out-and-back hike. We hiked for 2-3 miles through the cold water until we couldn’t handle it anymore. I heard there were a few great stops if we went further into the Narrows but that will have to be for a better prepared day!

 

Driving from Zion to Bryce Canyon

We took the shuttle back to the entrance. It was 5pm at this point, so we proceeded to the nearest bar to have a few happy hour beers. There aren’t many good options for food in Springdale. Utah has strange alcohol laws where they can only serve beers up to 3.2%. I only saw beers on the menu with low alcohol levels or absurdly high levels (double IPA at 9%).

Naturally, I had one of the strong ones which in hindsight is not a smart idea as the driving limit is 0.05% which is essentially a single sip of beer. Nevertheless, we drove the 2.5 hours through Zion Canyon to Bryce Canyon under a perfectly clear night sky with an endless sea of stars.

Read Also On Johnny Africa:  Ultimate Guide To Machu Picchu and Hiking Montaña Picchu

The best way to get from Zion National Park to Bryce Canyon is to drive south on State Route 21. From Springdale, travel south for about 45 miles and turn right onto State Route 12. The road will lead you west toward Kodachrome Basin State Park and then southward again toward Bryce Canyon National Park. It’s more than 200 miles from Springdale to Bryce Canyon, so make sure you have enough gas and food before hitting the road.

 

Day 3: Bryce National Park


Bryce and Zion are so close, that they are very commonly done together. Bryce Canyon is the perfect example of how erosion affects landscapes. It’s famous for its phantom-like rock spires, also known as “hoodoos” that dot the landscape for miles.

Bryce sits at a much higher elevation than nearby Grand Canyon, and as such, winters are milder than Grand Canyon’s due to its more southern latitude.

The weather in Bryce Canyon is generally very mild, with temperatures ranging from an average low of 15 °F (−9 °C) in January to an average high of 85 °F (29 °C) in July.[3] The highest recorded temperature was 99 °F (37 °C) in 1990. Due to its proximity to the Great Basin Desert, nights can be uncomfortably cold during any season; however, snowfall is rare and occurs only on occasion when atmospheric conditions are just right.

There are many hiking trails throughout the park with varying degrees of difficulty. It’s a big park, and like Zion, there is a free shuttle that drops people off at the main points of attraction.

Bryce National Park
Bryce National Park

We started driving early in the morning to various lookout points on the map  that were deeper into the park before driving back and starting our hike. There were so many hiking options that all sounded amazing. It was tough to decide on what to do as we only had the day.

 

Where to hike in bryce Canyon National Park?

We settled on starting the hike at Bryce Point, and ending it at Sunset Point. We stopped through the wall of windows, the peekaboo loop trail, amphitheater, Thor’s hammer, and numerous lookout points with amazing views of the hoodoos.

Bryce canyon views arch
Ridiculous views of Bryce Canyon

I’ve never seen anything like Bryce Canyon National Park before. The hoodoos are amazing. They kind of remind me of the chimney rock formations in Cappadocia, Turkey, with a more orange, and dramatic feel. There were far less people in Bryce Canyon National Park than Zion National Park, and many times where there were no people around us.

 

Bryce Canyon Amphitheater

Bryce Canyon Amphitheater is a natural amphitheater located in Bryce Canyon National Park in southern Utah, United States. The amphitheater is one of the park’s most popular attractions and has been featured in many National Geographic articles.

The amphitheater features hundreds of rock pinnacles called hoodoos that are formed by wind, water and frost erosion. The rocks are made up of limestone, dolomite and siltstone. The tallest hoodoo is Thor’s Hammer at 857 feet (262 m). Smaller hoodoos surround the main amphitheater area.

All in all, I think Bryce was our favorite park on the trip.

 

Zion and Bryce Canyon as its own trip

Many people opt to do just Zion and Bryce Canyon as its own trip. If you don’t want to rush through this trip like we did in 5 days, I think it is very honorable and advisable to spend 2-3 days each in Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park and call it a day. This involves far less driving than visiting the other areas on this list and you’ll be able to explore a lot more than I did.

 

Day 3: Horseshoe Bend


Horseshoe bend is an incredibly dramatic section of the Colorado river. It’s one of those wonders that was carved out over millenia by the waters of the Colorado River as it made its way down through Grand Canyon. It’s located a few minutes outside of Lake Powell and is just 15 minute walk from the parking lot to the view points. I wouldn’t classify this as a hike of any sort. It’s just a park the car, and check out the views. What a view it is!

Horsehshoe Bend
The Horseshoe Bend

I’ve seen numerous photos of this place but it is SO much bigger and more stunning in person. It’s cheesy to say pictures do it no justice, but it’s never been more true than here as I stood at the edge of the canyon in awe. We were recommended to visit during sunset as the sun lights up the canyon’s rock with a orange/yellowish hue and really bringing out the colors of the rocks.

Horseshoe bend sunset
Sunset at Horshoe Bend

Again, no hikes are required but it’s just an amazing place to take some (many) photos. There are a lot of visitors to Horseshoe Bend, but it’s such a big area, it’s easy to find an are away from the crowds.

Dinner at Big John’s Texas BBQ

After soaking up the views at Horseshoe Bend, we had dinner at Big John’s BBQ. Not sure any meat loving person can hate good BBQ, and Big John’s was delicious. Their ribs and brisket were absolutely amazing. Definitely the best meal we had on our trip. They even had locals dressed in country gear, playing country music for the majority foreign clientele to reaffirm their ideas of the USA.

 

Day 4: Antelope Canyon


No trip is complete to Arizona without a trip to the famous Antelope Canyon. It’s become infinitely more popular in recent years as social media and high end photography have really been able to highlight the beauty of the slot canyons. Created by rushing and powerful water, Antelope Canyon was discovered many centuries ago by Najavo tribes and given the English name ‘Antelope’ due to the many antelope that grazed here during the winter season.

Antelope canyon
Looking up at the Antelope Canyon

Because Antelope Canyon is located in Navajo territory, it is 100% mandatory to book a tour through the local operators in the area. The cost is around $30 per person. All tours essentially take the same route walking through the slot canyons. There are two areas, the upper Antelope canyon and the lower Antelope Canyon. I elected with the upper canyon but I’m told both will blow your mind (and I believe it).

Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon

The light beams in Antelope Canyon are, to me, what makes this place is so unforgettable. They only occur at certain times of the day and only last for a short while but when they shine through the openings up top it’s truly a sight to see.

Antelope Canyon
More Antelope Canyon

Tours run regularly on the hour, and more often during busy seasons. Tours last over an hour and there’s minimal hiking involved. Just follow the path, and enjoy the incredible views. This place is a photographers heaven, and there are tours specifically for those looking to take the best photos.

 

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Day 4 Afternoon: Grand Canyon


After our morning jaunt in the Antelope Canyon, we left Page and drove south to the Grand Canyon. The drive two hours through some very scenic terrain. The Grand Canyon is probably the most iconic of all the American National Parks. It’s almost like a right of passage to visit this park for all park enthusiasts. It is the largest canyon in the world at almost 2000 square miles. The next largest canyon is the Fish River Canyon in Namibia, which seemed huge at the time, until I came to the Grand Canyon. The Vikos Gorge Canyon in northern Greece is the deepest canyon in relation to its width.

Grand Canyon storm
Storm rolling through over the Grand Canyon National Park

South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park

There are two sides to the Grand Canyon, the North Rim and the South Rim. They are 4 hours away from each other so doing both in the same day is tough. The north rim is only open during the summer season which means I could only go to the South Rim.

Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon National Park

The South Rim is the much more popular of the two and offers the most breathtaking views. Like most of the other parks in the area, sunrise/sunset is the best time to see the Canyon. As the sun comes closer to setting or rising the sun will illuminate off these canyon walls in an array of colors. The golden hours of the desert are truly golden, and the Grand Canyon is no exception. The Grand Canyon reminded me in some ways of my trip to Cappadocia in Turkey. The rock formations are similar in color and design (minus the rock chimneys of course!)

Grand Canyon sunset
Some wine from the bottle over a stormy sunset at the Grand Canyon at Lipan Point!

The Grand Canyon is highlighted by numerous viewpoints all around the park. They are all located within a few miles from each other and a car is perfect for this purpose. Like the other parks, there is a free shuttle bus that goes through the park. Each viewpoint is just exactly that, a viewpoint. They give different perspectives of the canyon but they’re all similar to each other so you don’t need much time at each place.

There is no hiking involved at the viewpoints but some viewpoints have areas where you can go off trail. I ended up driving to most of the viewpoints but my favorites were Lipan Point, Grandview Point, and Mohave Point.

Storm, Grand Canyon
I think the photos actually come out better with a storm in the distance

 

Lipon Point in Grand Canyon National Park

Lipon Point is a scenic viewpoint along the South Kaibab Trail in Grand Canyon National Park, located on the North Rim of the canyon. This point offers a breathtaking view of the Colorado River as it winds through the canyon and over red rock cliffs.

Lipon Point is also known as Lipan Point. The name “Lipan” comes from the local Native American tribe that used to inhabit this area.

The Lipon Point Overlook can be accessed from either Grandview Point or Cape Royal Road, but it’s best to park at Grandview Point and walk down to Lipon Point (approximately 1/4 mile hike).

You can also do a hike down to the valley from Lipon Point. This trail leads to an overlook at the top of the canyon that can only be reached by foot.

The trailhead is about 8 miles from the North Rim entrance station and takes about 3 hours to hike round-trip. The elevation gain is 1,000 feet, and there are some steep sections along the way. Be prepared for changing conditions on this hike, as it can snow even in July and August. If you want to avoid crowds, start early in the day.

The views from Lipon Point are spectacular: You’ll see many waterfalls as well as Mount Sheridan and Mount Holmes in the distance. You might even see bighorn sheep or elk grazing on the hillsides below you.

 

Where to eat and stay in the Grand Canyon

There are a handful of accommodation options within the park itself. They are mostly expensive and are booked up well in advance. We stayed at a hotel just outside of the canyon in the town of Tusayan. We had dinner and brunch at the El Tovar hotel in the Grand Canyon. Excellent food with great views of the canyon (almost made me want to pay the $300 a night to stay at the place).

 

Day 5: Sedona


On our last day, we drove to the Grand Canyon early in the morning to catch the sunrise. We went to some of the viewpoints we did not go to the previous day. After breakfast at El Tovar (great brunch), we drove two hours south to the town of Sedona. Sedona is a beautiful city in Arizona that is known for its stunning red rocks. There are many things to do in Sedona, from hiking and biking to exploring the local shops and restaurants. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing vacation or an adventurous getaway, Sedona has something for everyone.

red rock state park sedona arizona
Red Rock state park in Sedona

As if we hadn’t seen one amazing place after the other, Sedona was a great way to finish the trip. The town is holds some old school Western charm, and is surrounded by these big red mountains. We did a short hike at the Red Rock National Park just outside of Sedona which wasn’t difficult at all, but offered fantastic views of the giant rock formations.

I’ve since been back to Sedona a few more times and have composed my ultimate list of the top things to do in Sedona, AZ!

We finished with lunch at Hideaway House which had great food and amazing views of the mountains. There’s lots of restaurants, wineries, and things to do in this town, we could have easily stayed a few nights. I can see why so many tourists and retirees flock to this part of the country.

hideaway house sedona
The views of the red mountains from Hideaway House in Sedona

After lunch, we made a quick visit to one of the nearby wineries before driving the two hours to Phoenix for our night flight out.

All in all, a great trip that we could have and should have been stretched over a week. If I could have chosen one place to spend more time in, it would definitely be in Sedona. Nevertheless, 4-5 days is enough to see an overview of the area!

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Johnny
Johnny

I'm a dual Canadian-American from NYC that moved to South Africa for work and ended up traveling all through the continent. I'm currently living the expat life in Frankfurt, Germany and traveling the world as much as I can. I'm a bit obsessed with scuba diving, churning credit cards so I never pay to fly, and eating the most questionable of foods in the most peculiar of places. My bucket list is the world, and some day I might make it there.

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  1. Thank you so much for this information. I love it! Planning to do this trip with our family end of summer. Debating leaving out Bryce. Thinking of flying into Las Vegas and making the drive to Zion to stay there for a night, want to see horseshoe and do antelope tour, grand canyon and then debating driving back to Vegas to fly home or going to Sedona and flying from somewhere in Arizona. We are from Canada. Please let me know your thoughts!

  2. This itinerary looks perfect for us, late 50s, in decent shape, 5-6 days to spend. Thinking of staying the first night in Vegas, as we’re from Florida and, well, it’s Vegas! Just checked car rentals, and in my search dropping off in Phoenix is cheaper per day but more expensive total. Still think we’d spend the extra to avoid another two hours in the car, and have a bit more time in Sedona.

      • Hi I recently tied the knot with my wife and we are looking for a honeymoon. This itinerary sounds awesome the question is would it work at the beginning of April ? Also my wife is pregnant is there anything we should skip because of that ?

      • Hey mate, no reason why it wouldn’t work beginnign of April. I’ve seen many pregnant people hiking these trails so don’t think that should be a problem either! It is not that tough.

      • Question on how much backtracking this would be: going from Zion to Antelope Canyon then from there to Bryce Canyon. I booked the Antelope Canyon tour because it was the only morning time available when in the area. We were going to go from Zion to Bryce to Antelope, but it’s not working out that way. It looks like Antelope is closer to Zion than Bryce, and we will gain an hour going to Antelope, is that correct?

      • Hi Gayle, I think it wouldn’t be so much back and forth to do this route. It’s essentailly a triangle these three places. The only question is if yo uplan to go to the Grand Canyon afterwards? From Bryce, that would be a much longer drive than from Page for example. However, if you are just doing these things then it doesn’t matter.

    • Hi I recently tied the knot with my wife and we are looking for a honeymoon. This itinerary sounds awesome the question is would it work at the beginning of April ? Also my wife is pregnant is there anything we should skip because of that ?

  3. Hi Johnny! Is it possible to go between last days of Fabruary and first days of March, about the winter, is there any of those park closed because of winter?

    • Hi Johhny, so happy i found this page, super useful! I would love to do this itinerary in November… how is the weather then? and I will take your recommendation and stay in Sedona for the last 2 nights, making this trip a week long…

      • Hey Margo, thanks for the kind words! I think November weather should be cooler but sitll enjoyable. You’ll probably have temps down into the 40s in the mornings but warming up in the day. Just keep in mind the days are shorter so you’ll have less time to do everything.

      • Sugar snaps Batman, you’re absolutely correct.. ahhh ok need to revisit dates.. thank you for your quick response! If you haven’t visited 🇮🇸 Absolutely amazing just got back! Looking forward to viewing your other travels! Be well

      • We’re following your guide now and it’s been amazing! My husband and I are 29 & 32, Angels landing just showed us how out of shape we are. Only change we made was switching the order for bryce/zion based on the permit time we got for Angels landing. We’re on our way to Horseshoe bend for sunset now! Thanks so much for making this post!

  4. Thanks for this great post!
    We are planning a trip to LA in July/August and want to use 5-6 days to follow you guide. Would it make any sense to find a hotel to stay all days and then drive out from there? So we don’t have to find a new hotel for every night. And what city could be a good centrally?

    • Hi kristoffer, the distances are way too far from each other to make meaningful day trips. You could do Zion and Bryce together and stay in one place but not the other places. You could maybe get away with choosing two places (one for Zion Bryce and one around page

      • Thanks – it make sense. Think we Will go for 2 days in Grand Canyon – 1 Day in antilope – 2 days in Zion national park.

        I Think we Will stay in Tusayan Grand Canyon, and Page close to Antilope. Does that Sound good you Think? What about Zion park – Can you recommend a city to stay there closed?

        Thanks again for your time 🙂

  5. Hi Johnny,

    My boyfriend and I are planning to follow as closely as we can to this guide you’ve provided, as we are going mid October on a 6 day trip. We plan to fly into Phoenix and fly out of Las Vegas (last night of trip we want to stay in Vegas for nice dinner). Would you recommend we still go in the order listed above? Or is it logical in another way? Appreciate any feedback.

    • Hi Allie! I think either way is totally fine! I think I only did the Vegas to phoenix route because the flight was cheaper and my partner was already in Vegas for a meeting! Enjoy the trip 😉

  6. Hey Johnny,

    I just booked my Southwest trip following your itinerary and then realized that Antelope Canyon is closed =(
    Is there anything else you’d do around Page instead or would you recommend just skipping ahead to Grand Canyon and spending more time there?

    • Ah that’s a bummer! No there is nothing to do in Page at all. Obviously Horseshoe bend warrants a visit since it is right there and only takes a bit of time. However, if you have a day or so, I would definitely go to Monument Valley which is 2h or so driving from Page!

    • Hey Johnny,
      We’re following your guide except switched our days for Bryce and Zion based on the permit time I got for angels landing! Dont get much vacation time so this 5 day trip is perfect, thanks so much! On our way to Horseshoe Bend for sunset now 🙂

      • Hey mate, glad to hear it was good! Didn’t even know angels landing required permits now but makes sense given how many people go there and how busy it’s probably gotten during the pandemic. Enjoy the rest of the trip!

  7. Hi Johnny, I just wanted to thank you for this itinerary. My husband, kids, and I followed it in July 2019 for a big birthday (we altered the hikes to suit our family traveling with a 6 and 10 year old). It was so well designed…a trip we will never forget. Thank you!

  8. Johnny thank you for this information as it is greatly helping me plan my vacation! We will land early in Vegas and hope to do some quick hiking in Zion on Day 1. Do you think it’s possible to finish up hiking in Zion and drive to Bryce and hit all the major spots in Day 2? We were hoping to do a kayaking tour in Lake Powell on Day 3 which is making it difficult to do Bryce and Lake Powell in one day. Thanks for the input!

    • Hi Jordan, this is definitely possible! You won’t see much but for sure you could drive to Bryce and check off the main highlights. You could even do a short hike into the valley to get those famous views. Just remember it’s a 5.5 hour drive to Lake Powell from Bryce so you’ll get in late no matter what. However, you could for example leave Zion at 9am, get to Bryce by 11am, leave by 3pm, and get to Lake Powell by 9ish. Hope that helps!

  9. Good morning Johnny
    Is this itinerary kids friendly? I have a 14 yea old and a 9 year old
    We live in NC so there will be a 4 hour change once we get to Las Vegas

  10. Hey Johnny, We are from phoenix with a family of 5 (kids ages 8,10,12). We are planning on doing a reverse of your itinerary and the skipping grand canyon since we’ve been there 2x already. My question is would it be best to go from Sedona to antelope canyon and do horseshoe bend all in once day and then stay the night around antelope canyon or drive to Bryce canyon and sleep there? if so where do you recommend? Not sure if driving to Bryce canyon the same night would be too aggressive? We can even skip Sedona for another time since it’s pretty close to us if we really needed to. Also would you recommend other hotels other than the one you stayed at? Thanks!

    • Hey Albert, I think you can Def go from Sedona to the antelope canyon area in one day and see those sights. Horseshoe bend is just an hour or so really of sightseeing at most. You can either do the antelope canyon tour in the pm or save it for the following morning. Enjoy!

  11. Hi Johnny! 🙂

    We were planning to do a group tour similar to your itinerary (Bindlestiff Tours) though the dates we were looking at they weren’t available (Nov 3, 4, 5 and 6). After reading through your itinerary it seemed like a do-able option to just drive/visit the sights ourselves and seems cheaper. I feel this way we can keep at our own pace.

    • Hi Billie! Yes definitely recommend this as a self drive diy trip. The American southwest is the ultimate place for this! And yes tours always charge exorbitant amounts of money for this trip and I’m not sure why because it is just mostly driving and entrance fees into parks!

      • That’s awesome! I know people said they did tours so it takes the task of driving of you and than you can take in more…though we are comfortable to drive and be at our own best.

        Our only situation is we are from Australia so we are not fimilar with the wheather conditions…we know it’s the start of Winter, just wondering how this drive is early November? 🙂

      • Ah it should be fine. It won’t be super cold but you’ll just need a light jumper in the mornings. once you start hiking, you’ll be plenty warm enough for shorts in my mind. Also being from Australia, you guys will probably feel at home with the landscapes and rugged openness of the roads here because the best part of having your own car is just stopping anywhere you want without having to answer to others!

  12. Hi Johnny. Great blog! Definitely want to do all this. My only question is regarding accommodations. Except for Day 4 at the Grand Canyon, you weren’t really clear on where you stayed or if you camped or what you did. Can you give more detail about where you stayed each night of the trip (hotel, camp, airbnb, etc.) and what other options there are besides what you chose to do? Thank you!

  13. Hello, I was looking at your 5 day trip to Zion National Park and ending in Sedona and I am thinking of doing this with my sister. We are concerned about how hard is it to do this. We are older and don\’t really want to hike in depth but want to go see the beauty of these parks. Can you tell me if the parks offer some kind of guided tour while there. Or can you just do on your own if you are not able to walk for long distance? Are the narrows hard to get to?

    Any guidance will help us. Are the park admissions charged by the car?

    • Hi Cris, the Angel’s landing hike can be challenging for sure but there are many other viewpoints in Zion that don’t require such a strenous hike. You can’t park your car in Zion but Bryce and the Grand Canyon is all driveable (pay per car). For Bryce and the Grand Canyon, you don’t have to walk at all if you don’t want to. You can drive right up to the viewpoint and walk a few steps and it will be there. Hope that helps!

      • Thank you Johnny. I will definitely be doing this trip probably and In June now thank you so much for your help

  14. Hi Johnny this trip looks awesome – me and my cousin will be following closely next month. Just a question about renting the gear for Narrows hike. Where in the park can you get the shoes? Would that be before or after Angel’s landing hike? Thanks!

  15. Hi Johnny – this trip looked awesome. My cousin and I are planning on following closely next month! Question: you mentioned you wish you rented gear for the Narrows hike in Zion – where in Zion is this available? Do you rent the gear before Angel’s Landing hike or after? Thanks!

    • Hey Jason there are places to rent it at the entrance of the park. I think there may have been a place to rent it at the entrance of the narrows as well but can’t say for certain. Def don’t do what we did and go straight up with regular shoes!

  16. Hi Johnny:

    We are think this itenaray but my only chance is in December. I know it will be cold. But is still a good idea? Which will the best places to go to the weather and does which are not a great idea. We will be spending New Years eve around there.

    • Hi Maria, yes it will be cold especially in the Bryce area but it is still totally doable. You will have shorter days so you’ll need to maximize your time but I think it is fine. If you’re lucky enough to see some snow, expect some stunning scenery!

  17. Hi Johnny,

    Nicely done! one quick question. I am interested to visit above places do you think its too much walk for kids ( 3 year & 5 year). which place I should avoid and include in my trip.

    In advance, appreciate your response

    • Hi dhaval, I think you could do many of the things we did but I do not recommend the angels landing hikes. For Bryce there are much easier hikes than what I did so that should be OK. Horseshoe Bend and antelope canyon are not real hikes. Grand Canyon was more of a drive to various viewpoints and soak in the views.

      • Hi Nancy, a 4×4 is not necessary. The roads are paved and there’s no off roading you’ll need to do. I’d totally go with the convertible!

  18. Hey Johnny!
    My Fiancé and I are planning on doing this in October for our honeymoon. We fly into Las Vegas on a Saturday and leave Phoenix the following Saturday. And suggestions on how and where to extend our trip? Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

    • Hey Chris! Fantastic news. I think if you have more time and want a more luxury experience of sorts, definitely stay in Sedona for a few nights. There are some fantastic properties that I’ve listed in the post for you to stay at. And of course take a day to also visit monument valley which is stunning!

      • Johnny,
        Wanted to let you know that my wife and I did this on our honeymoon. We had an absolute blast! Our favorite part was Zion and next time we go back we are definitely going to rent the stuff for the narrows. The whole trip was amazing and mid October was perfect timing. Crowds were not bad at all. Thank you so much for this itinerary because without it we would not have known what to do.

  19. We are coming from Louisiana (driving) and we are wanting to stay in a tent the entire trip (6 days roughly) the week of thanksgiving. Do you think staying in a tent during this time is doable? We are very outdoorsy and just came back from Thailand so we are just trying to save money by staying in a tent instead of hotels

    • Hey Whitney, I think thanksgiving will be colder but probably not frigid. I think Zion will definitely be doable but Bryce might be too cold as it is much higher elevation. Grand Canyon should be fine as well!

  20. Hi Johnny,

    Thanks for sharing your itinerary. What car rental company did you use? $160 for 5 days is super cheap. Im getting quoted around $500. Also is driving doable? How are the roads?

    • Hi breana, I think I may have just gotten lucky during my trip but I was not charged the crazy drop fees. However, it is totally fine to start/end the trip in the same airport. It will just take maybe 2 hours extra driving!

  21. Just Wow! What a quick trip! Though now you gave me a hint of a cool week long layout even if my family and I can only finish 2-3 of these places I now have a good plan to use to set us up!

  22. Thank you so much for writing this, it’s so incredibly helpful!! Couple questions:

    1- id like to stretch this itinerary out to 6 or 7 days, especially because I’m not super fit. Which portion would you suggest I extend? And is there anything you would change about this itinerary in hindsight?

    2- would you say this is a safe trip for a female to do solo this fall? I’d be looking at lodging options, not tenting, if that changes anything.

    Thanks!!
    MJ

    • Hey MJ if I had another 2 to 3 days I’d probably spend an extra night in Zion, Bryce, and grand Canyon! It is totally fine for a solo female to do the trip. I met quite a few of thesebwhile I was there. Enjoy!

  23. Great blog, and great itinerary. Zion and Horseshoe Bend have always been on my bucket list. You think these hikes are doable anywhere between January-March or would I be dealing with snow?

    • Hey Tyler, totally doable in Jan-March. I think these parks with the snow would be an incredible sight. Sure you’ll have to bundle up more but I think during the day time the weather should be okay to hike.!

  24. All in all about how much did you budget for this trip. Trying to pretty much do the same thing and was wondering what price range I should be looking at. Also is there a pass for all the places you went or did you buy individual park passes? Thanks!!

    • Hi Lauren, I can’t say for certain the price but I don’t think it was much. For two people including car rental, hotels, food, gas, entrance fees etc, I would say it was under $1,000 for the 4 nights. I bought individual passes for the national parks but if I went back, I’d probably just buy the America the Beautiful pass which will get you into Zion, Bryce, Horseshoe Bend, and Grand Canyon. Antelope Canyon is a separate ticket

  25. Hi Johnny – great blog and love your itinerary. Did you fly in/out of Las Vegas? The price for flights and car rental is higher for one ways on both. Sorry if I missed this!

    • Hi Michelle, I flew out of Phoenix. At the time the prices were not that different which is why I did it. However, there is no problem to fly in/out of vegas. Just budget a few mor ehoru’s of driving vs Phoenix and that’s all you’ll need!

      • Hi I recently tied the knot with my wife and we are looking for a honeymoon. This itinerary sounds awesome the question is would it work at the beginning of April ? Also my wife is pregnant is there anything we should skip because of that ?

  26. This was so helpful to me! Working on the family vacation now and you pretty much did most of the work for me! I appreciate you!

    • Hi Carrie! Yes totally can do it during the winters too. Just remember your days will be shorter so you’ll need to be more strategic with your planning as well as potential snowy conditions when driving. Otherwise, I think you may find some incredibly stunning scenery if it is snowing in these places. Enjoy!

  27. Great write-up on our favorite area of the country. Doing both Angels Landing and the Narrows is ambitious! Antelope Canyon is getting busier and more expensive, a ticket for a midday tour of Upper can cost around $75 these days. Thanks for the great read.

  28. Great write up Johnny! We are following your itinerary quite closely and are doing this trip 5/8 to 5/14/2019. Great ideas and we hadn’t initially considered Antelope Canyon so thanks for the heads up on that! Also, thanks for the Sedona suggestion. We were hoping to go to Joshua Tree and Death Valley but will do that another time, too much driving for the time we are there. BTW, this is for our 35th Wedding Anniversary. Cheers – Bryce

    • Hi Bryce, happy to hear it was helpful and congrats on the anniversary! Make sure to read my Joshua Tree and Death valley itinerary for ideas as well for your next trip. Enjoy!

  29. Hi – Really enjoy your blog – Do you think it’s necessary to book accomodation or is there plenty to choose from outside the parks themselves?

    • Hi Ian, if you are visiting during peak season I would not chance it and book ahead of time. There aren’t that many lodging options in some of these parks so better to just book ahead vs getting there and having to visit numerous hotels to see if they have avail!

  30. I don’t know you Johnny but THANK YOU. My wife and I are celebrating ten years this July. Zion and the Grand Canyon are on her bucket lists so I’m working to surprise her. This gives me a fabulous starting point. Neither of us are hikers per se but we are both fit. We are planning to fly from NC to Vegas or Phoenix and go from there.

    • I think Antelope Canyon is one of those overly touristy places but it stil has to be done. There are very few places in the world like the slot canyons there. It is not “crowded” either because they keep a limit on how many people go on a tour. You’ll be fine!

  31. Hi Johnny fabulous photos and great information, I’m planning on arriving in Las Vegas in September and wanting to see Zion, Bryce and Grand Canyon I have 7 days which is the best way to do this
    Thank you

    • Hi dawn! I would just follow my itinerary but would spend another day in Zion, another day in Bryce, and another day in the Grand Canyon. That will bring your itinerary to 7 days!

  32. I LOVED your blog. Thank you so much! I have been wanting to Grand Canyon for years and finally planning for it for March 2019. We did Machu Picchu and rainbow mountain last year and it was incredible. I always traveled with friends and families in the past and I can’t seem to get a full commitment for this trip so I’m considerating just planning a solo trip. I’m a bit nervous since I never traveled alone. Will it be okay to travel alone as a woman? Honest thoughts?

    • Thank you! Yes it is definitely fine to travel alone. These are safe places and sparesly populated at that. The hikes are also quite simple and the paths are well marked. If you are going to do some intense multi day hikes, then of course it’s better to go with people but for the most part, the hikes are quite straight forward. I find it harder to meet other travelers in America however as it doesn’t seem to cater much to solo travelers (no hostels, etc. in the towns). If you are okay with that, then would say it is totally fine!

  33. Hi Johnny.
    Such a lovely detailed blog.
    We are planning to go March 16-21
    Was wondering if we can drive safely to Bryce and Zion
    We are from overseas and is not sure of the weather and driving conditions
    Can we drive to south canyon and Sedona first before going to Bruce abd Zion. Would be very happy to hear from you. Tq

    • Hi hueh, it is very safe to drive between Zion and Bryce! And yes, you can certainly visijt the grand Canyon and Sedona first. Just do my itinerary in reverse order and you will be fine!

  34. Hi, My wife and I are planning make this trip on Dec 21 through Dec 26. We are wondering would it be ok weather wise to visit this area? We live in Northeast and do want to spend some quite time in relatively warmer place.

    • Hi there, I think the weather will not be hot, and certainly not the warm weather reprieve from the Northeast. But it will still be warmer than the weather in the northeast, and if snows, the scenery at places like Bryce Canyon will be out of this world. I think a lot of people specifically try to go to Bryce in order to catch the hoodoos with snow. Alternatively, I would visit Death Valley and Joshua Tree which will likely be a bit warmer than the parks in Utah!

    • hi Tyler! I guess you can say we felt like we had so much to see and do in such little time and we would rather go and see it all, as opposed to take a relaxing approach to it all. Definitely not for everyone but we are two active people so it works for us 🙂

  35. Hi Johnny! Your blog is amazing, thanks for sharing your travel tips!

    I want to visit all the national parks as set out in your itinerary. The only difference being that I want to camp as oppose to staying at lodges. I have 7 days. Do you happen to know where is the best place to camp to watch sunrise /sunset? Any recommendation as to operators etc? Also if you have a chance to go back to these canyons, where else would you recommend to visit? Apologies for asking so many questions ;P

    Many thanks.

    • Thanks Lilly! Unfortunately, I’m not that familiar with the camping options but I do know it is very popular option for most people. I know REI does tours that involve glamping but are not cheap and likely do not visit all the parks I went to in one trip. I will say that I immensely enjoyed my sunset at horseshoe Bend and would recommend that. As for sunrise, we never work up early enough for it 🙂

  36. This is so helpful! My husband and I are planning a very similar trip on an equally short timeline. Swapping Bryce for Monument Valley.

    Maybe you answered this and I missed it, but would you mind sharing a roundabout of the total cost of the trip? We’re trying to decide how much we’ll need to budget between lodging (at low rate hotels), transport, and park fees!

    • Hi Janelle! Excluding flights, I would say the total cost is somewhere around $1k or so.

      Car rental: $160 for 5 days
      Gas: $80
      Lodging: $400 (about $100 average per night for 4 nights)
      Park fees: you can see the amounts in the post but around $125 for Zion, Bryce, antelope, grand canyon
      Food: we didn’t eat anything fancy except for a meal at the grand Canyon so we’ll say $300 here for food and drinks.

      Total is just shy of $1k here. Hope that helps!

      • Hi Brandon, to be honest, I think i just got very lucky with the reservation I had during that period. I think if it is outrageous expensive, I would just pick up and drop off in Vegas. Car rentals there are dirt cheap and with this itinerary, it is only an extra 2 hours from Sedona to Vegas (vs Sedona to Phoenix)!

  37. Hi-your itinerary looks amazing…I am thinking of a trip in November when we would have a week. If we fly into Vegas and add the extra days to Bryce/Zion, convenient hotel you recommend staying for two nights Zion? Two nights Bryce?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Jaci, would definitely recommend 2 nights in each place if you have the time! I didn’t have it unfortunately. Don’t know what your budget is but we were really keen on the Driftwood Lodge in Zion. Very quite affordable when we were looking (around $120-150 a night). For Bryce, where we stayed was fantastic at the Bryce Canyon Log Cabins. Room was huge, built like what you’d expect staying in the southwest and close to the park.

      Enjoy your trip!

  38. HI Johnny. Great blog. I want to arrange a similar trip but I have limited time. I had been looking at hiring a car in Vegas and dropping off in Phoenix so I can visits Sedona…. is Sedona worth seeing vs the one way car rental fee??

    • Thanks Ellie! I honestly LOVED Sedona even though I was only there for maybe 10 hours. I did the Red Rock hike and spent some time in the city and absolutely loved it. For us, we actually a similar rate to dropping off in Phoenix versus dropping off in Vegas. Nomrally this won’t be the case so it really depends on how much you’re willing to spend. Alternatively, it is 4 hours from Sedona to Las Vegas airport (which is only 2 hours more than to Phoenix) so if you can swing that, there’s no need to drop in Phoenix. Hope that helps!

      • Really helpful, thanks Johnny. Sounds like the Sedona wineries will be needed afternoon low alcohol Utah beer.
        I have limited time to fit everything in on the trip. Do you think a day in Zion and more time around Bryce / horseshoe bend / lake Powell is a good idea?
        I LOVE a good sunset- any recommendations on the best spots for sunsets? Thanks

      • I def prefer Bryce over Zion although both parks are amazing. For sunsets, you can’t go wrong with anywhere in the above. Horseshoe bend at sunset is a must for sure and the pics as you’ve seen from my post are amazing. In Bryce, literally anywhere will have nice sunsets because you are above it all and will be able to see the chimneys with the sun setting no matter what.

  39. Thanks for all the great info. What tour company did you use at Antelope Canyon? The prices I am seeing are $60+ a person, and I would love to find something less expensive.

    • Hi Bracha, I think you might be looking at organized tours to Antelope Canyon? Pretty much a way for someone to drive you to the canyon, go on the same tour as every other person because you HAVE to go on a tour with the native indians working there, and charge you more money.

      The official tours are $25-$30 per person. Just show up to the entrance of the park, and you pay when you arrive. Anything more than that means you’re over-paying.

      There is a photography tour option that is a bit more where you get your private guide that takes you to the best photo spots. Otherwise, for the standard tour of the place, the price should be $20-$30

      • Are you saying there is NO need to book for upper or lower antelope via https://navajonationparks.org/guided-tour-operators/antelope-canyon-tour-operators/ before going to antelope? I believe the slots are limited? Please explain.

        Also I notice you mentioning “Because Antelope Canyon is located in Navajo territory, it is 100% mandatory to book a tour through the local operators in the area. The cost is around $30 per person. All tours essentially take the same route walking through the slot canyons.” where do I book this?

      • I just rocked up and booked my tour in the morning at the entrance. Tours leave quite regularly so you shouldn’t have a problem with it. Maybe book in advance if youre visiting in peak summer season!

    • Hi Bev! Here is my list

      Night 1: St George Inn and Suites
      Night 2: Bryce Canyon Log Cabins
      Night 3: Best Western View of Lake Powell Hotel
      Night 4: Canyon Plaza Resort Grand Canyon

      I didn’t stay in nice hotels as they were just one night stays. More of a crash pad for most purposes. Definitely some nicer options available but i wanted to save costs! Enjoy!

      • Thanks for all the info. My husband and I are headed out there for an 8 day trip and want to do the same itinerary plus maybe Lake Powell. Do you know if that’s worth seeing? We also don’t need high end hotels/motels as long as they are clean. Thanks for all your info. Extremely helpful.

      • Hi Karla! Lake Powell is where the horseshoe Bend and antelope canyon are so definitely highly recommend it! As for accommodation, our hotels were around $100 a night and we were very satisfied with what we chose!

  40. I have just over two weeks in the US and this area is most high on my list. Do you have any advice for what to do in this area if you had two weeks instead of 5-6 days? Thanks!

    • Hi Celia! I wish I had two weeks to explore the area! I would definitely do the following

      – I would also consider going to Death Valley at the start of the trip. It is west of Las Vegas for a day or two as that park is really something special as well.
      – 1 more day in Zion
      – 1 more day in Bryce
      – From bryce, I would head towards Moab to visit Arches National Park for a night or two and then come back towards Page (For Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon)
      – 2 more days in Sedona

      There are so many possibilities, I hope that helps!

  41. Is there any reason you ending in Phoenix vs Vegas besides it being an hour shorter of a drive?
    Would it be easier to drive the extra hour to keep rental and flight reservations to the Vegas airport?

    • Hi Chris, I chose phoenix because it was 2 hours from Sedona vs 4+ hrs to Vegas airport. I also didn’t find much difference in price for dropping off the car at a different airport, or flying home from a different airport. Could be different for everyone of course but jus twanted to maximize the little time I had!

  42. Great write up Johnny! The parks look amazing. We are planning a similar trip but we have 1 week. Would you go to other parks with the extra time or would you spend more time at one of the parks you visited. I know you mention you wish you had more time in Sedona, just trying to get other ideas!

    • Hey karen, that’s a tough question. If i had 3 more days, I would definitely stay a night or two in Sedona, and definitely a visit to the Wave Rock in Arizona. I’m bummed I didn’t go there during my trip but I actually didn’t even know about it until someone told me about it months later.

  43. Great pictures! Especially love your photos of the Grand Canyon! Will definitely add this to the bucket list when I visit the US!

    • The Grand Canyon really surprised me too. I didn’t expect it to be so big so colorful as it was, especially given the sunset thunderstorm I saw. Enjoy your trip!