For the foreseeable future, people are going to be hitting the open road instead of the friendly skies. But hitting the open road usually requires you to take more time off from work to get from point A to B. Read more into this post to learn about the best road trip I took in FIVE days and only needing to take FOUR days off of work!!!
Day 1: Spend Time in Vegas
Start out your road trip by booking a room near the Vegas strip! During the pandemic, I wouldn't recommend walking the strip particularly later in the evening for safety reasons (but whatever floats your boat). But I do recommend hopping in your car and visiting Seven Magic Mountains.
Seven Magic Mountains is an art installation in the middle of the desert located right outside of Vegas. "The exhibition opened May 11, 2016, and was originally scheduled to be on view for two years. Due to the incredible success of Seven Magic Mountains since its opening, artist Ugo Rondinone has expressed a strong desire to explore ways to keep the artwork on view at its current site." So you have plenty of time to go see it and get your "instagrammable" photos!
Hotel Recommendation: Holiday Inn Express & Suites Las Vegas - E Tropicana
Food Recommendations: Pizza Rock and Vons Supermarket
Day 2: Zion National Park
The next day, leave your hotel no later than 6:00AM to drive to Zion National Park in Utah! In order to make the most out of your day at Zion, I recommend leaving at this time as Utah is an hour ahead of Vegas and it is about a THREE hour drive! The later you leave, the less time you will have to enjoy the beautiful park!
When you arrive, parking can fill up quickly at Zion so I recommend stopping by your hotel FIRST and grabbing a parking pass to leave your car there or possibly even check in early. Then, you can hop on the FREE shuttle in Springdale to take you the entry of the park.
Once you arrive at the park's main entrance you can rent supplies before entry such as walking sticks or water shoes, if you want/need them. You may need those supplies if you plan to walk the Narrows trail.
At the entry gate, you can pay for a person walking for a week or pay a little extra for the driving fee. If you plan to take this road trip, be sure to pay for the driving fee for one person in your party (per car). Therefore, you can drive through the park when you leave as this entrance fee lasts for a week! Check out entrance fees here!
Once inside, there are several trails you could take from easy to hard! And something to note, some trails are not easily accessible by foot from the main entry. Therefore, you could hop on the shuttle or take the scenic drive to those trails.
Be sure to take your time, stay safe and not litter while exploring this national park. Also, be sure to take plenty of drinking water with you and read any warning signs.
Pro Tip: The scenic drive is not available for visitor's access at all times of the year, please check their website for more info.
Pro Tip: During the pandemic, shuttle tickets inside the park must be purchased! Please visit their website for more details.
Hotel - DO NOT RECOMMEND: Springhill Suites Springdale Zion National Park
Day 3: Horseshoe Bend
On this day, you don't have to wake up as early but I do recommend leaving no later than 10am as you will have a longer drive, a stop at Horseshoe Bend, and you may have a time change (depends on the time of the year with Arizona as they do not participate in daylight savings time)!
From your hotel in Springdale, UT you will drive through Zion National Park. It is really beautiful to see the structures of Zion through this drive. BUT if you are terrified of heights or driving be prepared as it will test your fears. If you don't want to do this, you could take a slightly longer route to avoid this (but I don't know what that road looks like).
You will drive about two hours to Page, AZ where you will find Horseshoe Bend. Horseshoe Bend provides a very beautiful landscape which sits inside Glen Canyon National Park. But the entry to the lookout is within the City of Page. Entry to get into the park varies depending on what type of vehicle you are driving, so I recommend checking out the parking fees here.
Pro Tip: Wear a hat as it can get really hot up there with no shade and bring water!
Walk the mile from the parking lot to the viewpoint and get all of your picturesque views! But please don't get too close to the edge as there isn't much railing there.
After your pit stop at Horseshoe Bend, hop back in the car for another two hours to Flagstaff, AZ where you will rest for the next two nights!
Hotel Recommendation: Hilton Garden Inn Flagstaff
YouTube Video: Road Trip to Horseshoe Bend | Horseshoe Bend Travel Guide
Day 4: Grand Canyon National Park
Wake up in time to drive 30 minutes to Williams, AZ where you will catch the Grand Canyon Railway to the Grand Canyon National Park of course! But be sure to look at the schedule to determine what time your train leaves as they leave at different times depending on the season.
The TWO hour and 15 minute train ride takes on a scenic route where you may see "cowboys", animals, and anything else on a possible scavenger hunt list. You may purchase tickets in different classes depending on your preference which includes your entry into the park.
You will arrive at the South Rim of the park and you will have about THREE hours at the park to eat, hike and/or shop! There are varying trails that start near this entry point that will have different points of interest and levels of difficulty. I recommend taking the Rim Trail as you will get great views and it isn't too difficult. But you can ask your train conductor for recommended hikes or check out this site for more.
After your hike, be sure to meet back at the train so it will not leave you. You will return to Williams, AZ and head back to your hotel for the evening.
Food Recommendation: Coco's Bakery Restaurant
YouTube Video: Grand Canyon Railway Ride | Visit Grand Canyon National Park
Day 5: Spend a Little More Time in Vegas
For the last day of your road trip, you will head back to Vegas which will take about three hours. Once back in the Vegas area, you can check into your hotel or head to Red Rock Canyon. Red Rock Canyon is a great place to get in some more hiking or to just take the 13 mile scenic drive.
If you want to visit here be sure to drive your rental car as ride sharing/taxi will be very expensive. Also, be sure you have your maps ready as service gets spotty at the canyon.
It costs $15 to enter the park for a day and you can stay as long as you want. But if you take the scenic drive and miss a viewpoint, you cannot reverse your vehicle. If you really want to see that viewpoint, you must re-enter the park and take drive all over again which I don't feel its worth it.
Pro Tip: If it is open, stop by Hoover Dam on the way back to Vegas. It was closed due to the pandemic when I was driving through the area.
Pro Tip: Due to the pandemic, Red Rock Canyon has implemented timed entry reservations through May 2021. Please visit their website for additional information.
After all the driving, rest up in your hotel (back at the Holiday Inn Express) before heading back home!
Now, how did I take FOUR days of vacation for a FIVE day road trip? I took off Wednesday through Monday. Saturday and Sunday are weekend days and I do not have to take those off.
But don't you live in Atlanta? Yes, I do. I flew Southwest Airlines there (nonstop) when they were still social distancing in flight. I masked up and probably did A LOT to ensure safety. And you could do this too if you ever plan to visit the Vegas area or live nearby!
Do you recommend this for a solo traveler? Yes! I did this road trip by myself and it was so relaxing yet challenging! It is a great trip for solo travelers or a group!