Road Trip Guide: Utah, Arizona, & Nevada National Parks

This year my family decided to take a 5 day road trip all across Utah, Arizona, & Nevada for Thanksgiving. We had a jam-packed itinerary and we were on a mission to see as much as we could in 5 days. 24 people, 4 cars and vans, 8 destinations, 3 states, & 1600+ miles = the best road trip ever! If you’d like to follow us on our crazy road trip keep scrolling.


Day 1: Zion National Park | Springdale, Utah

Zion National Park - Chelsea de CastroZion National Park - Chelsea de CastroZion National Park - Chelsea de CastroZion National Park - Chelsea de Castro

The first stop on our Thanksgiving road trip was Zion National Park. We didn’t have enough time to get down and really explore Zion, but we did take a scenic drive through the park to take in nature’s beauty. Next time we visit Zion we’re definitely going to spend 4 days there because there’s so much more to do and see.

TIP: If you are planning on visiting more than 3 National Parks on your trip, consider buying an annual pass for all the National Parks. On average, each park charges $30 per car for daily admission. The annual pass costs $80 and is good for a whole year for all the National Parks.


Day 1: Bryce Canyon National Park | Bryce, Utah

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Right after we passed through Zion National Park, we went straight to Bryce Canyon National Park. We knew that this would be the coldest place on our whole trip so we all bundled up and braved the cold. It was so cold here that we spent most of our time huddling together rather than looking at the views. The sun was going down and the wind was picking up so we called it a day around 4pm. We stayed the night at the Best Western Plus right next to the entrance of Bryce Canyon and ate dinner at the only restaurant that was open, Ruby’s Inn.


Day 2: Arches National Park | Moab, UtahArches National Park - Chelsea de CastroArches National Park - Chelsea de CastroArches National Park - Chelsea de CastroArches National Park - Chelsea de CastroArches National Park - Chelsea de Castroimg_4439DCIM100GOPROGOPR0211.JPGArches National Park - Chelsea de CastroArches National Park - Chelsea de Castro

We woke up early the next morning to head out to our next destination, Arches National Park. Arches was about a 4 hour drive from Bryce Canyon. When we got there, we went straight into the park and decided we wanted to try a hike to the Delicate Arches.

The hike for the Delicate Arch is about 3 miles round trip and is labeled as difficult. By the time we started the hike it was about 2pm and knew the sun would be going down around 4pm. I wouldn’t say the hike was difficult, but it did have a lot of up hill walking and had very little shade. In the afternoon, the sun was shining down on us and it was definitely warm on the way to the arch. Once we got to the Delicate Arch, it was an amazing site to see. You could see all the red rocks, arches, and the snowy mountains in the background. This hike was definitely worth the trek and I would recommend checking it out.

TIP: Wear comfortable walking shoes and if you’re hiking closer to mid afternoon bring a jacket and lots of water. Even though it gets pretty hot going up, once the sun starts setting, the temperatures drop fast and you’ll be shivering walking back to your car.


Day 3: Arches National Park | Moab, Utah

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Our family stayed at the Hampton Inn in Moab, Utah on Thanksgiving night. We were able to get reservations at the Moab Brewery for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. The next morning we woke up and were out of our hotel by 8am so we could visit a couple more places at the Arches before we were on the road again. Our next destination was Monument Valley.


Day 3: Monument Valley | Monument Valley, UtahMonument Valley - Chelsea de Castro

Monument Valley - Chelsea de CastroMonument Valley - Chelsea de CastroMonument Valley - Chelsea de CastroMonument Valley - Chelsea de Castro

After about 3 hours of driving, we arrived at Monument Valley just as the sun was starting to set. To be honest after seeing Arches National Park, this site wasn’t as impressive but had great lighting. We stayed here for about an hour taking pictures and shopping at the visitors center. After we visited this site, we drove about 30 min to Kayenta where our hotel was located.

Kayenta is on a reservation and was the smallest town we stayed at. There were only 2 choices for dinner that wasn’t McDonald’s or Jack in the Box. Our concierge recommended that we go to the pizza place and not the chinese restaurant. Since we were on a reservation, no alcohol was allowed to be sold so the boys weren’t able to have a beer with the pizza.

As soon as we got back from dinner, we had to go straight to bed because my family would be waking up at 4am to catch Horseshoe Bend at sunrise.


Day 4: Horseshoe Bend | Page, Arizona

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Horseshoe Bend is located near Page, Arizona and was about an hour and a half drive from Kayenta. We arrived at Horseshoe Bend just at the sun was beginning to rise. We walked down about 10 minutes to get to the edge of the cliffs. By far, I think that this was the best thing we saw on our trip. It was definitely worth waking up at 4am for. I would highly recommend coming during sunrise because it was absolutely breath-taking.

TIP: Bring a wide lens camera or Go Pro to capture all of the amazing-ness. Also, there are no railings to prevent you from falling over the edge. Please be very careful standing on the rocks.


Day 4: Grand Canyon National Park | Grand Canyon, Arizona

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The last major destination on our trip was the Grand Canyon National Park. After Horseshoe Bend, we drove straight to the Grand Canyon which took about 1.5 hours. The Grand Canyon was exactly what the name says ‘Grand’. The craziest thing about the Grand Canyon was just how enormously huge it is. I’ve never seen anything like it and that’s why it was so cool.

TIP: There are free shuttle services that can take you around to all the major lookout points. Just hop on the bus and visit the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It was freaking cold and windy while we were here, so if you go during the fall/winter time, make sure to bring warm clothes and gloves.


Day 5: Colorado River | Laughlin, Nevada

After we visited the Grand Canyon, we drove to Laughlin, Nevada to get our gambling on. The drive to Laughlin from the Grand Canyon was about 3 hours. We arrived at the Aquarius hotel around 6:30pm and stayed up all night eating and gambling. This was the last stop on our Thanksgiving Road Trip and it was a great and fun way to end our trip.


This was such an awesome trip with my whole family and I’m so grateful that we were able to experience it all together. If you made it all the way down here, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed following us along our journey across the National Parks.

Love, Chelsea

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1 Comment

  1. Laura
    November 29, 2016 / 8:06 am

    Wow speechless 😶 Great pictures our world is beautiful 🌍

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