Drive The Western National Parks

A loop through some of the western National Parks of America makes a great driving trip.

If you're interested in seeing just how big the American West is... this is one way to do it.

If you want to see natural wonders... here they are.

If you like hiking... there are hikes galore.

When we have friends visit us from Europe, they love to make this driving loop if they have time.

Sometimes we have people ask us why we travel the world when there is so much to see in the United States...

We love travel in America.

Actually, we travel a lot in the U.S. too, and we decided it was time to share some of our favorite destinations with our international readers..... you!


To Drive The Western National Parks Loop
You Need AT LEAST A Week

In a week, you can drive a representative loop through Nevada, Utah and Arizona.

The actual starting point for the loop listed in most guides is Las Vegas.

For the loop through the western National Parks we're describing here, you will be driving about 1050 miles (1,690 km).

Start In Las Vegas

You can fly directly to Las Vegas from many cities in the U.S.

You probably will want to spend a day or two in Las Vegas to gamble, see some shows, or just satisfy your curiosity about "Sin City", so allow time for that too.

Zion National Park

Virgin River in Zion National Park

The first stop on this drive is Zion National Park.

It is a deep canyon carved by the innocuous looking Virgin River.

Hike IN The River

There's a great hike up this river into a slot canyon called "The Narrows Hike".... and the canyon does narrow to only 20-30 feet across in places.

You will spend 60% of your time IN the river as the canyon walls soar above you. We loved this hike... it made us feel like real adventurers.

(You must check on conditions at the visitor center... flash floods are possible.)

Other Hikes and Where To Stay

If you're not up for that strenuous hike, there are other hikes that let you see much of what the park has to offer.

Scenic drives let you see some sights by car.

There is a Lodge in the park and more accommodations are available outside the park. Campgrounds are available.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon - Hoodoos on the Navajo Loop

Bryce Canyon National Park is your next stop.

It's a small National Park, but some visitors come away saying this was their favorite park....

It's certainly one of ours.

It's famous for its colorful spire-shaped "hoodoos".

A hike into the canyon will make you feel you've entered a fairy wonderland.

This park has a Lodge in the Park and good lodging nearby. Two campgrounds are near the visitor center.

Capitol Reef National Park

The drive to Capitol Reef National Park follows along Route 12 and is very pretty.

The main feature in this park is the formation known as the "Waterpocket Fold"... an ancient wrinkle in the earth's crust.

No lodging is available in the Park. Find some motels about 12-15 miles (20-25 km) from the park entrance. Some camping is available in the park.

Natural Bridges National Monument

You can pass though Natural Bridges National Monument. A scenic drive will take you to overlooks to view each of the three bridges that were formed by meandering streams. Allow a couple of hours for this.

Lodging is about 30-40 miles away. There is a small campground available.

Monument Valley

You might want to make it a long day of driving and get to Monument Valley Tribal Park.

This huge valley has those iconic wild-west sandstone formations that you've seen in the movies... "The Mittens" are the most photographed, but there are other pinnacles and arches, bluffs and buttes.

You can get guided tours from Navajo tour operators.

There are accommodations in the area; the only one in the Tribal Park is the new hotel called The View.

Bring your camera.

The Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon from the South Rim

We're saving the most famous of the western National Parks for last. The Grand Canyon.

Clearly this is one Western National Park that you must see.

There is accommodation and camping available in the park and many options nearby with shuttles into the Park itself.

This is such a popular destination that driving is restricted in the park in some areas. Parking can be a nightmare, so just use the shuttles.

Complete The Loop

Another day of driving will have you back at Las Vegas.

By driving this loop instead of staying in town, you will have kept Las Vegas from getting too much of your money, and you’ll be far richer in experiences...

...of the Western National Parks.

Happy travels... even if you don't travel the world... just remember that life is a journey... embrace and enjoy it! Judy and Mark

Curious about what else we've written about?  Search our site for a destination or travel tip.

But... We'd love to have you share this page or comment on it…
Thanks, Judy and Mark

International Travel Tips l Europe Travel Tips
Hotel and B&B Tips l Packing Lists
Go from Western National Parks to MouseToursTravels Home Page

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Did it help with your travel planning and preparation? Eager to leave on that next vacation? Please leave your tips or comments in the box below.

Ready For A New Adventure?

We escape by traveling…
But there are more ways to escape. 
Work on something you LOVE…
With A Website
SBI Teaches You Everything

First Day Of The Rest Of Your Life

Timely Tips

Shoulder Season
We love travel during shoulder seasons.
September, October, November...

They're all great for travel somewhere!
Sunny Fall days with colorful leaves in the north.
Spring is greening things up in the Southern Hemisphere.

We are just back from Canada where we had glorious weather but just the beginning of those fall colors.

Fall foliage in shoulder season

The weather can be changeable, so be sure to pack layers and some rain gear...

See all of our Packing Lists and Tips.

Need Travel Ideas?
Things to See in Europe
Africa Calls!
Travel In America

Don't just dream about it...
Start making plans!

Custom Tour Planning List
International Travel Planning Tips
Foreign Is Fun - Not Scary!
Get Your Passports and Visas

Search

Search MouseToursTravels
Travel questions or destination info?
Find our answers faster..
.

Translate

We want you to feel comfortable out in the world and on our pages - so surf away in your own language...

Updated Tips & New Travel Stories

  1. Is the Water Safe?

    Water safety includes knowing when to drink only bottled water, when and where you can swim... Is the water safe is a good question to ask yourself.

    Read More

  2. Silk Road Adventure

    Ths silk road has called adventurers since ancient times... why not go yourself?

    Read More

  3. Travel Security Alert Packing Guide - Tips To Comply With Airport Security Rules

    Stay alert to what you can take and where to pack it when you fly. Our travel security alert packing guide will help you prepare for your flight and get through security checkpoints.

    Read More

Two Ways To Like Us!

Like Our Site Top Left
Like Our Fanpage Below
Thank You!

More On
Western National Parks

Western National Parks
Bryce Canyon
Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon Mule Trip
Grand Canyon Skywalk
Hike The Grand Canyon
Zion National Park

A Good Starting Point
Las Vegas

Navigate Our Site

Related Pages
on
Foreign Rental Car Tips

Ideas

Road Trip Ideas
Packing for roadtrips

General Information
Worldwide Roadtrips
Foreign Rental Cars
Driving In Foreign Places
Driving On the Left
Toll Roads
What Is A Highway
US Highways
Highways or Backroads
Reading Roadmaps

Know The Rules
International Roadsigns
Traffic Laws Abroad
Autobahn Etiquette
Parking In Cities

RV Stuff

RV Road Trip
Rent An RV
Traveling With An RV
RV Travel In Europe
Sharing An RV

And Just For Fun

Amusing Confusing Roadsigns
Funny Polish Detour Sign
Border Crossings
Document Rental Car Damage