If you're on the lookout for a seven-day adventure through stunning landscapes, from canyons to deserts, head towards the American Southwest! Explore this itinerary through Utah and Arizona that will have you seeing the most beautiful tourist and natural attractions in just a few days.
This red earth itinerary is specifically designed for road trip enthusiasts who find joy behind the wheel. With a total of 19 and a half hours of driving spread over seven days, you'll cover approximately 1,200 miles of captivating panoramas and landscapes.
Before you set off, make sure you've purchased and taken with you an annual pass to national parks. For only $80, you'll have access to over 2,000 sites, eliminating the need to pay at the entrance of each national park, all while avoiding the queues.
Begin your journey from Salt Lake City, a convenient starting point perfectly connected by air to major American cities as well as Canada. Pick up your rental car at the airport and head towards Moab, about a 4-hour drive away.
1. Moab: The adventure capital of the Southwest
Upon your arrival in Moab, you'll be enveloped by the orange splendour of its landscape. This small town in Utah is known as the adventure capital, offering a multitude of outdoor activities, from hiking to mountain biking, and even riding ATVs.
Don't be surprised to see 4x4 Jeeps attempting to climb almost vertical walls on trails like Hells Revenge 4x4 or Mill Creek Trail. You'll be amazed by their feats.
Many restaurants in town offer views of the main street, allowing you to admire the local vehicles. Spend a night in Moab to have enough time to explore Arches National Park the next day.
Stop at the Colorado River Bridge before heading to Arches National Park, famous for its naturally astonishing rock formations, some of which seem to defy gravity. You can explore by car, stopping at designated spots to take well-marked hiking trails. Don't miss Delicate Arch, an iconic arch that appears on the state's license plates.
2. Monument Valley: The Breathtaking Beauty of Navajo Desert
After leaving the wonders of Arches and Moab, take Route 191 and make a stop in a less crowded but equally majestic place: Wilson Arch. Park your vehicle and take 5 minutes to stand beneath this imposing natural arch. Then, hit the road, cross the San Juan River, and get ready to discover Monument Valley.
Driving from Moab to Monument Valley will take about 2 hours and 30 minutes. During this journey, take a moment to appreciate the changing desert landscapes around you.
Monument Valley is sacred land for the Navajo people, and its spectacular natural monuments are iconic of the American West. The red rock formations rise as monumental pillars, creating a landscape that seems straight out of a Western movie.
The famous monoliths, including the most famous one, Totem Pole, proudly stand against the desert's blue sky. You can drive through the site. For an unforgettable experience, consider booking a guided tour by a Navajo to learn more about the culture and history of this region. These local guides share fascinating stories and take you to places you might not be able to explore on your own.
To spend the night near Monument Valley, make sure to book your accommodation several weeks in advance. The sunrise and sunset views are incredible!
3. Horseshoe Bend: A Unique View of the Colorado River
After leaving the magnificent Monument Valley, head to Page, Arizona, to reach Horseshoe Bend. This place is famous for its panorama: a horseshoe-shaped meander of the Colorado River winding through a canyon. The river's azure waters contrast with the canyon's red rocks, creating an incredible scene.
To enjoy this spectacle, follow a short trail leading to a natural overlook above Horseshoe Bend. The view from this point is breathtaking, especially at sunrise or sunset. Be sure to go early in the morning or late in the day to avoid tourist crowds.
4. Glen Canyon Dam
Don't miss the opportunity to stop and admire the Glen Canyon Dam. This impressive structure holds back the waters of Lake Powell, creating one of the largest freshwater reservoirs in the United States. A visit to the dam offers a fascinating insight into the engineering and environmental impact of this monumental construction.
The view from the top of the dam is stunning, overlooking the deep blue waters of Lake Powell on one side and the canyons on the other. You might also consider taking a tour of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area to further explore the natural beauty of this region.
After admiring the dam, continue your journey for about 2 hours and 30 minutes to reach your next destination.
5. The Grand Canyon
The long-awaited moment has finally arrived: you are at the Grand Canyon, one of the most iconic natural wonders on the planet. This colossal canyon, sculpted by the power of the Colorado River over millennia, is a breathtaking sight.
For an unforgettable experience, head to the main viewpoints, such as Mather Point, Yavapai Point, and Hopi Point. Marvel at the vastness of the canyon, its steep walls, and the changing hues of colours throughout the day. The sunrises and sunsets are particularly spectacular.
Extend your canyon exploration by opting for a hiking excursion. The Bright Angel Trail is one of the most popular and offers magnificent views of the canyon's walls.
Make sure to be well prepared with water, appropriate clothing, and comfortable hiking shoes, as the conditions can be challenging.
6. Zion National Park
Drive for 5 hours, and you'll be amazed as soon as you arrive at Zion National Park, a true natural gem. Be sure to take advantage of the park's shuttle service to explore different parts of Zion.
Among the must-see attractions in Zion is the iconic Zion Canyon, where red sandstone walls rise on either side, creating a breathtaking tableau. The Angel's Landing hike is a demanding 4-hour trek but well worth the effort, offering panoramic views of the park. For shorter and easier hikes, opt for the Lower Emerald Pool Trail or Riverside Walk, which will lead you through lush oases and fascinating rock formations.
Among other points of interest, there is The Narrows, a narrow gorge carved by the Virgin River, ideal for a water hike.
7. Return to Salt Lake City
To conclude your incredible adventure in the American Southwest, you will have less than 3 hours and thirty minutes of driving to return to Salt Lake City and drop off your rental car.
Before flying back, savour these final moments to reminisce about the memories you've created during your journey. The diverse landscapes, fascinating national parks, encounters with Navajo culture, memorable hikes, and breathtaking sunsets will be etched in your memory forever.
Create unforgettable memories in the Southwest!
This seven-day journey in the American Southwest is the ideal itinerary for a memorable experience that will leave you awestruck at every turn.
You'll have photos that will make your friends and family jealous as you witness stunning natural wonders. Before heading to the United States, contact a SoNomad agent to find the best travel insurance for you.