Five Different Itineraries for the ULTIMATE 7 Day Southwest Road Trip

I’ve spent a LOT of time road tripping through the Southwest. Growing up (and even still today), we regularly spent a lot of time in Northern New Mexico and Southwest Colorado and when I was planning out my summer 2023 travel, I decided to go big and road trip to a lot of places in the Southwest that I’d never seen before. 

I’ve done soooo much research and logged so many miles…in a Jeep, on the trails, even in the river…and now I’m going to share it with you!

For starters…the American Southwest is a BIG area. Most people think of Arizona and southern Utah as the southwest, but New Mexico and even parts of Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, and Nevada fall into this region. 

You could spend months traveling around this part of the country and not see it all. But the good news is that the American Southwest is so concentrated with amazing sites that even if you only have 7 days, you can see a LOT. 

So how do you decide to narrow it down? 

Well, first and foremost, if you have “must see” spots that are calling you…you should definitely prioritize those. Personally, I’ve been wanting to see Monument Valley for years so I knew I had to make that happen. 

Second…depending on where you’re traveling from logistics might make one itinerary preferable over another. If you’re flying to the Southwest, it’s hard to beat an itinerary that’s based out of Las Vegas. But Phoenix can also be a good option. And if you’re driving from the middle of the country, you might decide to focus on areas that are closer like New Mexico and Colorado. 

FIVE 7 Day Southwest Road Trip Itineraries

If you’re completely open and just want to see magnificent sights, I’ve put together FIVE different itineraries that I think offer a great bang for your buck. 

Some of these itineraries cover different areas, and some cover less ground, some will be a whirlwind, some might feel more like a vacation than a trip spent “touring.”

Itineraries #1 and #2 split southern Utah and Northern Arizona in half. Itinerary #1 covers the western half and itinerary #2 covers the eastern half. Itinerary #3 attempts to see the whole thing (focusing on hitting the National Parks) in a WHIRLWIND of a week. Itinerary #4 covers a lot of Arizona (from Phoenix) and itinerary #5 covers New Mexico (from Albuquerque).

Itineraries #1 and #3 start and end in Las Vegas. This is the biggest/international airport option in the area and you’re going to get the best options for flights in and out of LAS. Most airports in the US have direct flights to Las Vegas so it’s a really attractive option. 

For itinerary #2, Salt Lake City is the largest airport in the area, but Grand Junction, CO is closer (with less flight options) and if you have the $$$ then flying directly into Moab, UT is the way to go. 

Itinerary #4 starts and ends in Phoenix which is another decent sized international airport with good flight connections from most places around the country. 

And itinerary #5 works best with flying in and out of Albuquerque, NM. Santa Fe is a much smaller regional airport (more $$ and fewer direct flights) and Taos is even smaller. 

Whichever itinerary you pick, I know you’re going to have a GREAT trip!

Itinerary #1: Zion, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon & Sedona from Las Vegas

If you’ve never been to this part of the country before, this is my #1 recommendation for how to spend a week. 

Day 1: Fly into Las Vegas (LAS) // Valley of Fire State Park // Virgin, UT

Day 2: Zion National Park // Hike the Narrows or Angels Landing

Day 3: Zion Canyon Overlook // Bryce Canyon National Park

Day 4: Page, AZ // Antelope Canyon // Horseshoe Bend

Day 5: Grand Canyon (South Rim)

Day 6: Sedona

Day 7: Flagstaff // Walnut Canyon

Day 8: Back to Las Vegas to fly home

It covers some of the biggest sites in the Southwest, you can do this staying in just two places (if you don’t mind driving), and flying in and out of Las Vegas is by far your easiest (and least expensive) option. 

If this were my trip, I would book two hotels:

  1. AutoCamp Zion in Virgin UT for the first three nights
  2. High Country Motor Lodge in Flagstaff, AZ for the last four nights

I LOVE both of these places. I think they’re both “destination” hotels, and they really add to the experience of the trip. They’re not exorbitantly expensive, but they’re way more fun than staying at your basic Hampton Inn. 

Generally when I travel (even on a road trip), I like to minimize how often I change hotels so I’m willing to drive further each day if I can stay in the same hotel. 

So with my above recommendation for staying in just those two places, that’ll mean on day 3 you’ll drive from Zion National Park to Bryce Canyon and back in one day (about four hours of driving time total). On day 4 you’ll drive from Virgin, UT to Page, AZ (a little under 2.5 hours) and then onto Flagstaff when you’re finished in Page (another 2 hours). And then once you’re based in Flagstaff, it’s about an hour to the Grand Canyon and less than an hour to Sedona. 

If you’re wanting to minimize how much time you drive each day and don’t mind staying in a different hotel each night, then you could add a hotel near Bryce Canyon on night 3, a hotel in Page, AZ on night 4 (pretty much all of the standard chain options in town are very new and nice looking), and maybe even Sedona (soooo many options in all price points here but if you’re going to stay here I would probably flip day 6 and 7 to keep the hotel switching to a minimum).

Again, personally…I’ve found that even if I have to drive a bit further, keeping the hotel switching to a minimum generally makes the trip more pleasant. 

Here are more details about the itinerary hashed out: 

Day 1: Arrive in Vegas // Valley of Fire State Park // Virgin, UT

It’s pretty easy to get an early flight into Las Vegas. Even my smallish airport in Tulsa, OK has a direct flight that arrives in Las Vegas by mid morning. 

The final destination for the day is to check into your hotel in the Zion area so you could either drive straight from Las Vegas to Virgin/Springdale and maybe even squeeze half a day at Zion National Park in OR you could have a nice breakfast in Las Vegas and opt for a stop at Valley of Fire State Park on the way. 

I opted for breakfast and Valley of Fire. 

I was tempted to do one of the big brunch buffets on the strip like Wicked at the Cosmopolitan since I’d never been to Vegas before, but I didn’t want to get too hung up and lose most of the day.

So I stopped at Eggscellent off the strip. It was super easy to get in and out and it was sooooo good!

From Las Vegas, it’s about a 2.5 hour drive to the Zion National Park area. 

And a stop at Valley of Fire State Park is a great way to break it up. You’ll detour off of I-15 and drive a little horseshoe loop down through the park and connect back with I-15. 

There is some hiking you can do in the park, but when I visited (mid August) pretty much all of the trails were closed due to extreme heat. 

But there’s plenty to see just driving through the park and stopping at pull out points. 

Plan to spend at least two hours in the park. 

And then onto Zion! 

I mentioned above that my #1 pick would be to stay at AutoCamp Zion. I LOVE AutoCamp in general (they have multiple locations) and the one near Zion is pretty spectacular. I’ve written a full post about AutoCamp (and UnderCanvas) here so you can get all the details. 

But if you decide that neither of those options is right for you, there are soooo many places to stay in Springdale which is right outside the gates of Zion National Park. Marriott, Hyatt, and Hilton all have nice properties here plus there are a ton of other smaller/boutique places at various price points. 

Day 2: Zion National Park // Hike the Narrows or Angels Landing

This is your full day to spend at Zion National Park. With one full day, you’ll definitely want to do one of the park’s two most famous hikes: The Narrows or Angels Landing. 


If you’re going during the off season (not summer), you could probably manage to squeeze both into one day but if you’re going during the summer you’ll probably have to pick one. 

I decided to do the Narrows since the weather was warm and it seemed like an easier hike. 

I’ve got a full post here about Zion National Park that you should definitely read. It’ll help you decide which hike to do but also give you the lowdown on how crowded the park gets and how to navigate it all (i.e. there’s a mandatory shuttle system and sometimes during the summer there’s an hour plus wait). 

Also, if you’re not into hiking, here’s a whole list of things to do in Zion National park BESIDES hiking

P.S. If you like a good morning coffee stop, I really liked FeelLove Coffee in Springdale. 

Day 3: Zion Canyon Overlook Hike // Bryce Canyon National Park

From Virgin, it’s about 2.25 hours to Bryce Canyon National Park, but I would break it up with an early morning hike at the Zion Canyon Overlook. 

This is one of my favorite hikes at Zion. It’s pretty short (1 mile round trip) with an amazing view. Plus you’ll get to drive the scenic Zion Mt Carmel Highway. 

**From Virgin, make sure you drive into Zion National Park and do the route through Springdale and Mount Carmel Junction (not up through Cedar City). 

You HAVE to do the scenic drive and this way it kills two birds with one stone on your way to Bryce Canyon. 

On my last trip, I did Bryce Canyon as a day trip and we arrived at the park’s visitor center about 11AM, had lunch at the park lodge, hiked the Navajo Loop Trail and drove through the whole park stopping at most of the overlooks and still wrapped up around 5 PM. 

Read this post for a full recap about how I spent the day at Bryce Canyon (and what I would do differently next time). 

Day 4: Page, AZ // Antelope Canyon // Horseshoe Bend 

Antelope Canyon is one of the most jaw droppingly iconic sites in the American Southwest and it’s the most famous slot canyon in the world. 

It’s pretty stunning any time of the year, but during the summer months when the light beams appear it’s downright magical. 

From the Virgin/Springdale area, it’s less than 2.5 hours to Page, but if you’ve got a guided tour, double and triple check the time because sometimes Arizona is in a different timezone. 

Arizona doesn’t observe daylight savings time (the Navajo Reservation does, but the tour companies mostly operate on the official time in Page, AZ) so you could be an hour off coming from Utah. 

Anyways, read this post for absolutely everything you need to know about visiting Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. But one thing you MUST know…if you’re visiting during late spring through late summer when the light beams are visible, you need to book your tour times months in advance. There are limited times of day when you can see the light beams and limited tour operators so they sell out pretty quickly. 

Also, it’s worth stopping at the Carl Hayden Visitor Center that’s part of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. It’s on top of the dam on the Colorado River and it has great views. 

I mentioned at the beginning of this itinerary that you might want to stay the night in Page (most hotel chains have pretty nice and new options in Page), but I would drive on to Flagstaff to stay for the rest of the trip. It’s about two hours down highway 89. 

The High Country Motor Lodge in Flagstaff is one of my favorite hotels I’ve stayed at recently. It’s an old Route 66 era motel that’s been completely renovated in the coziest and most aesthetically pleasing way. And it’s pretty decently priced!

Day 5: Grand Canyon South Rim

The south rim of the Grand Canyon is the most popular spot for most visitors to the Grand Canyon. From Flagstaff, it’s just a bit over an hour drive to get to the south rim. 

Full disclosure: I haven’t been to the south rim of the Grand Canyon yet (I’ve visited the north rim), but it’s the hub of tourism around the Grand Canyon. 

There are a few different ways you could do this. Most people drive to the south rim and only spend a couple of hours there. There are plenty of different viewing points and light hikes you can do along the rim. 

El Tovar is a world class National Park lodge that’s worth checking out even if you’re not staying there. There are places to eat, gift shops, etc. 

You could also book a full day tour like a mule ride down into the canyon, a rafting trip down the Colorado River or do a longer hike if you’re brave enough to hike down into (and back up) the canyon. 

If you want to make a full day of it, but you’re not looking for an extreme adventure or hike, you could drive to Williams, AZ (just west of Flagstaff) and take the train to the Grand Canyon. It’s a pretty big production however it’s mostly all about the train ride (you’re not passing magnificent scenery until you get there). 

My last bit of advice is that if you’re really just wanting to drive up, see the Grand Canyon from the overlooks, have lunch and hit the gift shop…you could probably combine this day with a drive through Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument and Wupatki National Monument. 

They’re both accessed off of Highway 89 which takes you from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon. 

In this itinerary, I’ve paired Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument and Wupatki National Monument on day 7 with Walnut Canyon National Monument since they’re all pretty close to Flagstaff, but if you have extra time on this day to visit Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki then it would clear up time on day 7 to do other things. 

Day 6: Sedona

It’s only about 40 minutes from Flagstaff to Sedona so it’s a really easy day trip to do some hiking in the famous red rocks or a Pink Jeep tour and a nice resort dinner. 

I actually haven’t gotten to visit Sedona yet (I’m planning a trip to go back soon to spend several days in the area), but it looks incredible and everyone I know who has been LOVES it. 

Most people go to Sedona for the hiking (Cathedral Rock and Devils Bridge are the two best/most popular hikes in Sedona), but you can also take one of the famous Pink Jeep tours if you’re not up for a hike. 

Sedona is also a pretty nice resort town so if you’re running low on energy after an action packed trip, this would be an excellent place to do a spa day or even a pool day if you can find a resort that does day passes. 

Or plan a nice meal at one of these restaurants

Day 7: Flagstaff // Walnut Canyon National Monument

Flagstaff was one of my unexpectedly favorite towns on my big Route 66 trip that I did last year. 

Read all about my Flagstaff favorites here, but it’s an easy place to spend the day in town shopping plus there are plenty of great restaurants and a handful of sites besides the National Monuments in the area. 

I mentioned Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument and Wupatki National Monument on day 5 as an option to add to your Grand Canyon day. 

If you didn’t get to them on day 5, on this day I would recommend starting at Walnut Canyon since it’s closest to Flagstaff and the only one that really requires a hike. 

From there, head up to Sunset Crater Volcano and finish up at Wupatki since they’re connected. 

When you finish at Wupatki you’ll be about 45 minutes from Flagstaff.

If you opt to spend more of your day in Flagstaff, I would prioritize doing Walnut Canyon earlier in the day and then spending the rest of the day in Flagstaff.

Day 8: Back to Las Vegas

From Flagstaff, it’s about a 3.75 hour drive back to Las Vegas. Since there are always so many flights leaving Vegas, it’s pretty easy to get a flight that leaves in the afternoon so you can drive back in the same day and hop on your flight. 

If you’ve got the time though you may consider spending an extra night in Las Vegas before you go home which would give you the full day to drive from Flagstaff to Las Vegas. 

You could do some classic Route 66 stops in Williams, Seligman, and Kingman and even drive the Oatman Highway before heading up to Vegas. Read this post for details on that stretch of Route 66. 

***If you want this trip to be more of a vacation (i.e. time spent fishing, white water rafting, horseback riding, and extended hiking, etc.) and less of a sightseeing tour then you can easily fill a week just exploring Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park and the north rim of the Grand Canyon. And you could do all of those from one central base camp. Kanab, UT is the most central place to stay to visit those three places. I haven’t personally stayed there, but I really like the looks of the Best Friends Roadhouse.

Itinerary #2: Moab, Monument Valley & Mesa Verde from Salt Lake City

If you’ve already done the major southwest spots from itinerary #1 (or you’re just looking for something else) then this is a great option for a trip that in some ways seems a little more off the beaten path. It’s not that this area is uncrowded, but it’s not as convenient to get to the Moab area as it is to Las Vegas so comparatively speaking it’s less crowded. 

Day 1: Fly into Salt Lake City, UT // Drive to Moab, UT

Day 2: Moab, UT // Arches National Park

Day 3: Moab, UT // Canyonlands National Park

Day 4: Monument Valley, AZ

Day 5: Mesa Verde, CO // Durango, CO

Day 6: Million Dollar Highway // Durango, CO to Ouray, CO

Day 7: Black Canyon of the Gunnison // Montrose, CO

Day 8: Drive to Salt Lake City // Fly Home

While this itinerary has you spending the first three nights of the trip in Moab, UT, the rest of the week is planned out as a pretty good sized loop that could have you spending the night in a different hotel each night road trip style or opting for a central location and doing longer day trips. 

For your first three nights in Moab, there are so many options. 

I’ve stayed at ULUM Moab which is an ultra luxury glamping experience from the creators of Under Canvas (read all about it here). 

If you want more of a vacation vibe (plunge pools, outdoor games, campfires for roasting marshmallows), then I can’t recommend it enough. The tents have air conditioning plus power outlets and rainfall showers so you’re really not going to be roughing it here. 

I’ve also stayed at Field Station Moab which is more of a bare bones “adventure hotel.” It’s set up really well for multiple adults to stay in one room with plenty of space for your gear (mountain bikes, climbing gear, etc.). 

Even if you’re not into extreme adventures (I’m a light hiker at best), it’s a fun (and inexpensive place to stay) with a great community feel. 

And there are a ton of other options for where to stay in Moab. For the nicest hotel experience, I think I would try Hoodoo Moab which is part of Hilton’s Curio Collection. 

On day 4, you’re going to want to book a room at The View Hotel in Monument Valley (more on that below). 

For nights 5-7, you could break it up and stay near Durango, then Ouray, then Grand Junction or you could stay in one central place for all three nights (maybe the Montrose area) and do your traveling as day trips. 

Here are more details about the itinerary hashed out: 

Day 1: Fly into Salt Lake City, UT // Drive to Moab, UT

This itinerary is designed as a loop from the Moab/Grand Junction area, but if you’re flying in it might be a little more complicated. 

The largest airport in the area is in Salt Lake City, UT which is almost four hours from Moab. If you’re flying Southwest, it’s probably your best option. And if you’re wanting a direct flight from a major city, it’s also your best option. 

For convenience, Grand Junction, CO is probably the airport I would pick if you don’t mind making a connection or flying American/United. It’s about 1.5 hours from Moab. 

Southwest has also introduced a flight to Montrose, CO that operates seasonally. If that flight works for you, it’s quite a bit closer than flying into SLC (2.75 hours from Moab plus it’s the ending point of this itinerary). 

There’s also a tiny airport in Moab. United and Delta partner with SkyWest Airlines to connect flights from Denver and Salt Lake City on 50 seater commuter jets. 

Day 2 & 3: Moab, UT // Arches National Park // Canyonlands National Park

Moab is home to TWO National Parks: Arches National Park & Canyonlands National Park. You could either spend a full day in each park, try to tackle both parks in one day and use your second day for some other adventures in the area or do half days in each park with other adventures in the afternoons. 

Read this post for details on both parks plus how I would do both in one day. 

Moab is practically the offroading capital of the world so if you’re going to do anything, a Jeep tour or ATV tour is a must. There’s also some pretty good white water rafting on the Colorado River. 

Day 4: Monument Valley, AZ

Monument Valley was one of my top “must sees” when I was planning my big Southwest road trip this summer. 

You can see the “monuments” in a couple hours on the 17 mile scenic route, but to see this place at its best you really need to see a sunrise and a sunset so that means spending the night. 

I stayed at The View Hotel which is on the Navajo Reservation and 100% worth it for the views alone. 

Also, even though you can drive the scenic loop in your own car (4WD not necessarily required but high clearance is strongly recommended), I did a tour with a Navajo guide into the backcountry and I definitely recommend it if you have the time. 

Read everything you need to know about visiting Monument Valley here

Day 5: Mesa Verde, CO // Durango, CO

Leaving Monument Valley, it’s time to head into Colorado. From The View Hotel it’s about 2.5 hours to Mesa Verde National Park. If you have time, take the route south through Kayenta and Teec Nos Pos. You’ll pass right by the Four Corners Monument. I didn’t have time to stop because we had early reservations for a tour at Mesa Verde, but if you’re interested, now is the time!

Mesa Verde National Park is the only National Park that preserves cultural history in the US and it has the most impressive cliff dwellings you’ll find in the American Southwest. 

To have the best experience, you’ll need to make reservations in advance to tour either Cliff Palace or Balcony House (or both!) on a ranger led tour.

Find all of the details in this post, but in general touring the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde (especially Balcony House) is one of the wildest adventures I’ve ever had in a National Park.

If you’ve got the time and you’re into this sort of thing, the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument and Yucca House National Monument are both in the area and have ancient Pueblo ruins. 

Durango is the closest sizable town to spend the night. It’s a good sized city with all your basic hotel chain options. 

Day 6: Million Dollar Highway // Durango, CO to Ouray, CO

The drive from Durango to Ouray is hands down one of the most scenic drives in the country. They don’t call it the Million Dollar Highway for nothing!

It’s not for the faint of heart though. If you have an extreme fear of heights or driving mountain roads (there are no guard rails in the super steep parts), then you may seriously want to consider rerouting your trip when you leave Mesa Verde National Park. If you go up through Cortez and Telluride, you’ll bypass the more extreme route and you can still circle around through Ridgway and drop down to see Ouray. 

Another option is to take the historic steam train from Durango to Silverton and back. I’ve spent a lot of time in this area, but I’ve never done the train and it’s high on my list to make it happen soon. 

I have a pretty decent fear of heights and a healthy respect for this road but for some reason riding on the train doesn’t seem nearly as scary as driving it in a car. 

However you decide to go, I strongly recommend spending at least one night in Ouray. They call it the Switzerland of America and it’s one of my favorite places in Colorado. 

There aren’t any big hotels here, but plenty of small inns and vacation rentals. There are several hot springs/spas in Ouray plus shopping, hiking trails, and a lot of off road trails. 

Day 7: Black Canyon of the Gunnison // Montrose, CO

On your last full day, you could spend more time in Ouray or head over to check out Telluride. It’s a beautiful little mountain ski town and it’s free to ride the gondola up to the ski village. 

But definitely plan to squeeze in a visit to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park near Montrose. I can’t believe I’ve spent so much time in this area and I’ve never actually been here but it’s at the top of my list next time I’m in the area. 

Day 8: Drive to Salt Lake City // Fly Home

Depending on where you’ve decided to spend the last few nights and which airport you’re flying home from, you could have a way to drive on this day. If you’re flying in and out of Grand Junction or Montrose you’ll be pretty close to the airport, but if you’re driving all the way back to Salt Lake City, it’s about four hours from Grand Junction. 

Itinerary #3: Whirlwind National Parks Tour from Las Vegas 

When I say this is a whirlwind, I mean this is a WHIRLWIND week hitting Utah’s Big 5 National Parks plus the Grand Canyon. 

Honestly, I’m not sure how recommendable this is…it’s just covering soooo much crowd in such a short amount of time. BUT if you’re coming to the area from another part of the country, you’re a National Parks enthusiast, and you’re comfortable spending a lot of time in the car and mostly just hopping out to see this and that then it’s technically possible to do this trip in a week. 

I won’t go into as much detail with this itinerary since it’s all been covered in the last two itineraries, but if I was trying to knock out the Utah Big 5 and the Grand Canyon in one week, this is how I would do it…

Day 1: Fly into Las Vegas, NV // Valley of Fire State Park, NV // Springdale/Virgin, UT

On the way from Las Vegas to Zion National Park (about 2.5 hours), you could stop to drive through Valley of Fire State Park or just head on to Zion and squeeze in an extra half a day in the park. 

Since this is a whirlwind of a trip, I would just pick somewhere convenient to stay in Springdale that’s close to the park gates. 

Day 2: Zion National Park 

This is your full day to spend in Zion National Park. I think I would choose to hike Angels Landing to Scouts Lookout and do the Canyon Overlook Trail, but here are more hiking options plus things to do in Zion National Park besides hiking

Day 3: Bryce Canyon National Park

From Springdale, it’s about 2 hours to Bryce Canyon which leaves plenty of time to see the best of the park in one day. Read about how I spent 1 day at Bryce Canyon here

When you’re finished at Bryce Canyon, drive on to Torrey, UT to spend the night (I like the Skyview Hotel) so you can get an early start at Capitol Reef National Park. 

Day 4: Capitol Reef National Park // Moab, UT // Arches National Park

Capitol Reef isn’t Utah’s least visited National Park (that’s Canyonlands National Park), but it seems to be the least known. There’s plenty to see here, but on a whirlwind trip like this…it’s the most obvious place to cut time. 

In just a couple of hours, you can really see the most accessible part of the park. 

Start the day with breakfast at Wild Rabbit Cafe in Torrey and then head to the park to do the scenic drive from the visitor center. 

The hike to the Hickman Natural Bridge is also a good hike if you have time. It’s a fairly easy 1.5 mile trail. 

And don’t forget to stop at the Gifford House in Fruita for some pie and ice cream!

Read more about visiting Capitol Reef for the day here

From the Capitol Reef visitor center, it’s about 2.5 hours to Moab. 

Check into your hotel and plan to enter Arches National Park after 4 PM (reservations aren’t required after 4) and make your way to the Delicate Arch trailhead about 1.5 hours before sunset. 

This is a must do hike and sunset is the best time to do it. 

Day 5: Canyonlands National Park // Arches National Park 

If you’re majorly into hiking, of course you could spend a full day at Canyonlands and Arches (multiple days really!), but it’s also pretty easy to hit the highlights of both in one day (especially if you hiked to Delicate Arch the evening before). 

Read how I would do Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park on the same day here

Day 6: Monument Valley // Petrified Forest National Park

This will be a fairly big day of travel, but it’s worth it to squeeze in an extra National Park plus a Navajo Tribal Park. 

From Moab, it’s about 2.5 hours south to Monument Valley. This is an absolute don’t miss for me on a trip to the American Southwest. Read all about Monument Valley here

The only bad part about this itinerary is that you’ll just be driving through Monument Valley during the day and you won’t be around to see sunset or sunrise, but it’s still magnificent. 

When you’re done at Monument Valley, keep heading south to Petrified Forest National Park. It’s about 3 hours from Monument Valley and ideally you’ll pace yourself so you’ll have time to visit the park today. 

There is hiking of course, but I was surprised how “drive thru” friendly this park is. Plan about two hours to drive through both sides of the park (the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest) and stop at all of the big lookout points. 

This post has more info about the Petrified Forest National Park on this stretch of Route 66. 

Hop on I-40 and head west to Winslow where I would recommend spending the night at La Posada. It’s a renovated Harvey House hotel with a prime spot on the Santa Fe Railway. 

Day 7: Flagstaff // Grand Canyon 

Keep heading west on I-40 and grab a room in Flagstaff for the night. From Flagstaff, it’s about an hour up to the south rim of the Grand Canyon which is by far the most popular entrance. 

Check out the viewpoints, see El Tovar Hotel and head back to Flagstaff for dinner. 

If you have extra time, you could squeeze in a visit to Walnut Canyon National Monument. 

Day 8: Back to Las Vegas to Fly Home

From Flagstaff, it’s about four hours back to Las Vegas. 

I warned you…7 National Parks in 7 days is a LOT. But if you’re super National Park focused and want more time in a certain park, you could skip the Monument Valley/Petrified Forest leg and add a day where you want more time. 

Itinerary #4: Grand Canyon, Sedona, Flagstaff & Antelope Canyon from Phoenix

I’m really sticking this itinerary here as a place holder since I’ll be doing a version of this trip soon and I’ll be back with all of the details. 

But it’s pretty easy to get a direct flight to Phoenix (PHX) from most US cities and you can see so much based out of there. 

From Phoenix, you could drive north to Sedona, Flagstaff, Page (Antelope Canyon) and the Grand Canyon), plus you could even drop down south to Tucson to visit Saguaro National Park or do a couple of resort days somewhere in Scottsdale.

Itinerary #5: Santa Fe & Taos from Albuquerque

New Mexico is one of my favorite trips. I think Santa Fe and Taos is one of the best cultural areas in the US.

It’s easy to fly into Albuquerque and from there it’s just about 1.5 hours to Santa Fe and another hour to Taos. 

I’m working on another trip to finalize the perfect itinerary, but in the meantime, here are some of my favorite New Mexico posts: 

Route 66 in Albuquerque

Santa Fe vs Taos

Santa Fe to Taos: High Road vs Low Road

My Favorite Things to Do in Taos

Taos Restaurant Recommendations

Fall Foliage in New Mexico