Kris Maria Wanders
10 Day Southern Utah Itinerary
Updated: Jul 19, 2021
So, you want to visit Southern Utah? Great choice! We recently spent ten days exploring this part of the state, and while we didn’t quite see everything, we were really happy with how much we were able to fit in (in a not overwhelming way). We hit two National Parks, and SEVERAL smaller (equally as beautiful) parks/recreation areas along the way.
With how much there is to see, you can do this trip any number of ways, but I’m going to share our exact itinerary because we loved it so much! To avoid a full on novel, I’ve kept this post to just the “essentials-” where we went, parks we visited, hikes we enjoyed, where we stayed, and any other tips worth sharing. I’ll link in posts that cover specific areas in more detail!
*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Let’s get to it then…
First, I want to note just how expansive Southern Utah really is. You can easily spend years here and still not see everything. This is largely why we chose to focus our trip on a smaller area, rather than trying to see everything in the state. With the exception of flying in/out of Vegas, we concentrated our time on Zion, Bryce, and Kanab- a triangle of sorts. While we would have loved to see the other 3 National Parks, we decided to save them for another trip. Quality over quantity here!
If flying to Southern Utah, the best airport is probably LAS (Las Vegas, McCarran). The airport in Saint George is much smaller and more expensive. You can reserve a rental car at LAS and then make the 2.5(ish) hour drive out to the Zion area. The drive from Vegas to Zion is beautiful, and there’s plenty to do along the way!
The Full Breakdown:
Let's go day-by-day...
Day 1: Travel day
Arrive at LAS.
Pick up your rental car.
Stay the night at any of the numerous Vegas hotels on or off the strip (your preference).
Day 2: First full trip day
After breakfast, drive to Valley of Fire State Park (roughly one hour from Vegas).
Trail(s): Fire Wave is a must-see, along with Pink Canyon.
Drive: Mouse’s Tank Road- the most scenic drive in the park. Stop at Rainbow Vista (this pull-off provides a great view of the valley below)
Tip: You don’t want to miss the geological wonder that is VOF; the red rock formations in this park date back over 150 million years. The swirling patterns (like those in the Fire Wave) are the result of shifts in prevailing winds….back in the JURASSIC period.
It also gets VERY hot here (over 100F), so plan accordingly!
Then, continue along to St. George.
Either drive through or choose a hike(s) in Snow Canyon. Note, there is a small entrance fee to get in.
Next, continue on to Zion.
Check into accommodations
Tip: We chose to stay in the Hurricane/La Verkin area, as opposed to Springdale. While Springdale is right outside of the West entrance to Zion, the hotel prices reflect that proximity. The town is also incredibly busy. Hurricane has a Walmart where you can stock up on supplies.
Day 3: Zion National Park
Time to hike!
Trail(s): Angels Landing and Emerald Pools (These trailheads intersect)
Tip: Go EARLY! As of May 28th, the park switched to a first come first served system for shuttle use. The shuttle is REQUIRED to access hikes like the Narrows and Angels Landing, and the first one departs at 6AM. Be sure to look into this in advance and factor in potentially long wait times. If you’re willing to spend a little money, you can try a private shuttle. We had a great experience with Zion Guru, but I'm not sure they're still running shuttles. Guru does do gear rentals for the Narrows, though. Another option ($) is to rent e-bikes and bike to the trailheads. That way, you can go at your leisure and aren't tied to the park shuttle times.
Next, Head to St. George for evening dinner and drinks. Don’t miss Zion Brewery!
Day 4: Beyond Zion
Take a break from the Zion and check out Red Cliffs Natural Conservation Area
Trail(s): Red Reef Trail- It has a bit of everything, including natural pools, caves, petroglyphs and rope climbing.
Then, cool off in nearby Quail Creek State Park. I call it the Caribbean of Utah! (There is an entrance fee of $20 per car).
Next, Head back to Zion after dinner for sunset.
Trail(s): Canyon Overlook trail (no shuttle needed). This trail is only .5 miles each way, but it’s a beautiful overlook of Zion Canyon. Another option is the Watchman Trail.
Note: Canyon Overlook is a good sunrise option as well!
Tip: Check out other fun things to do near Zion here.
Day 5: Zion National Park
Trail(s): The Narrows!
Tips: This was my favorite hike in the park of the 4 we did. I put it above Angels Landing because it’s just so unique. You’ll want to allot a full day for this hike- depending on how far up river you plan to go (max is 12-13 miles for Bottom-up route). For more details on the Narrows, like what to wear, click here!
Then, hit up Zion Brewpub in Springdale for a beer to toast your achievement!
Day 6: Between Zion and Bryce
First, head on over to Bryce Canyon National Park, stopping to see the sights along the way.
Where to stop:
Belly of the Dragon- this stop is right off the road and a short walk to a cool man-made tunnel.
Red Canyon in Dixie National Forest- there are many short hike options, but I definitely recommend Pink Ledges Trail.
Red Canyon Arches- make sure to stop and snag a photo of these!
Kodachrome Basin State Park- 30 min outside of Bryce is this quiet state park that feels like another planet! A great hike option is Angels Palace (Check out more of Utah's Best State Parks)!
Mossy Cave Trail- this hike is in Bryce, just not the main entrance. As the name suggests, it features a cave as well as a waterfall (and it’s short).
Then, check into your accommodations.
Finally, end the day in Bryce with a sunset.
Trail(s): I recommend Sunrise/Sunset/Inspiration points along the rim trail.
Day 7: Bryce Canyon National Park
To start, head into Bryce after breakfast.
Trail(s): Queens Garden & Navajo Loop trail combo.
Other great trail options are Peekaboo and Fairyland loop!
Tip: Get more details on these trails and visiting Bryce here!
Next, drive to Kanab, UT.
Check into accommodations.
Then, end the day at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park for sunset. Note, there is a small entrance fee.
Day 8: Lake Powell
Begin the day by driving to Page, AZ.
Rent a water toy (e.g. jet ski, boat, kayak) from Antelope Point Marina.
Tip: Make a reservation a few weeks in advance. If you want to explore Lower Antelope Canyon from the water, the only viable way right now is by kayak due to low water levels.
After spending the day exploring Powell, stop at Horseshoe bend.
Another great hike option in Page is Cathedral Wash.
Day 9: Canyoneering in Kanab
Take a full or half day canyoneering trip to see some of Kanab’s slot canyons and explore places off the beaten path.
Tip: We booked a trip with All Ways Adventure and absolutely loved it. Ask for Brett! He was phenomenal.
Depending on when you finish up, take a short hike to a slot canyon.
Then, visit the sand caves!
Day 10: Explore Las Vegas or more of Kanab
Drive back to Las Vegas (early in the day or after checking out more hikes in Kanab!)
If in Kanab, a good hike is Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch. Escalante (nearby) is incredible and also has many great options (e.g. Toadstool hoodoos).
Check into Vegas accommodations. Vegas is Vegas. You can gamble/explore the strip, hit the arts district, visit breweries...I do recommend the Bellagio Fountain Show.
Day 11: Travel day
Maybe (or maybe not) try to win back the money you lost last night.
Cry as you head to the airport and fly back home.
Where we stayed:
We spent 4 nights at the Best Western Plus Zion West in La Verkin and really enjoyed it. The drive to Zion was only 25 minutes, so it added no hassle for us whatsoever. The only potential issue is parking. We had private shuttle reservations to access our Zion hikes, so we were able to use the guide company’s parking lot.
We stayed at the Best Western Plus Ruby’s Inn, which is conveniently located right outside of the park entrance. We especially loved the convenience of the restaurant inside (it had amazing food).
We stayed at Canyons Boutique Hotel in Kanab, UT. It was very conveniently located, and also one of the few hotels that had a refrigerator in the room. Aside from that, we just loved the vibe! It’s cozy and eclectic- it has an older Victorian theme.
I’ll also note that Kanab is a good home base for all of these sights if you don’t want to move hotels (and don’t mind a bit of driving).
It probably matters least where you stay here. I got a good deal on the Tropicana because I booked our rental car through Priceline, so that’s where we chose! It worked.
Most of these towns are small and are seeing a large increase in visitation. Make dinner reservations if you don’t want to wait!
To make a little room in the budget for pricier activies like jet skiing, cut back on food costs by grocery shopping for breakfast, lunch and snack foods. We bought cheap reusable bowls, plates and cutlery to prepare meals in the hotel room. We also purchased a $5 cooler bag from Walmart to transport groceries in.
You can cut back on lodging costs by staying a little outside of Zion (mentioned above).
The weather can definitely vary from place to place, so be sure to pack a warm layer or two. On that note, make sure you’re prepared for desert hiking in general (take LOTS of water)!
Good boots and socks are KEY to any hiking experience. You can check out the socks I swear by in every season here (Use code Kris10 for 10% off!)
*Remember to follow LNT principles when enjoying the outdoors, and HAVE FUN!
If you have any questions, or if there is anything I missed, leave me a comment below. Thanks for reading and happy exploring!
For more amazing Utah hikes, check out this post from an expert Utah hiker and friend!