If you're planning a trip to the American Southwest and are captivated by the stunning beauty of national parks, then visiting both the Grand Canyon and Zion might be high on your list.
Short answer: You can absolutely do Grand Canyon and Zion in one trip, but not necessarily in one day.
Long answer: Visiting Grand Canyon and Zion in one trip is a great idea but visiting them in one day, specifically, is really only feasible if your trip starts at either location. If you add travel time from another location, it will be very difficult to see both in one day.
Regardless of the time frame, it's important to plan your itinerary wisely. Take into account the distance between the two parks, the transportation options, and some useful tips.
Distance Between Grand Canyon and Zion National Park
The Grand Canyon and Zion National Park are both located in the southwestern United States, but they are not right next to each other.
The distance between Zion National Park and Grand Canyon South Rim is about 250 miles (402 kilometers) by road. It's a 4 to 5-hour drive, but it's manageable if you're prepared.
If you opt to visit the less popular Grand Canyon North Rim, the distance is only about 120 miles (193 km) over the course of a 2.5 to 3-hour drive.
Related Reading: Grand Canyon South Rim Versus North Rim
Transportation Options from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon and Zion
Las Vegas is a popular and convenient starting point for journeys to both the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park. From Las Vegas, you have several transportation options to reach these natural wonders.
One popular option is to rent a car. Las Vegas is well-connected with major highways, making it easy to drive to the Grand Canyon and Zion.
The drive from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon's South Rim takes approximately 4 to 5 hours, depending on traffic and the route you choose. Then to reach Zion National Park from the Grand Canyon North Rim, you'll drive northeast for about 3 hours.
Alternatively, if you prefer to hand over the long drive to someone else, there are tours from Las Vegas that cover both the Grand Canyon and Zion. These tours include transportation, accommodation, and expert guides who can enhance your experience with their knowledge and insights.
Things to Do at Grand Canyon
Part of planning your ideal Grand Canyon to Zion trip is having an idea of what to do when you get there. You don't want to end up lost and confused — there's no time to waste!
Hiking: Hiking is the best thing to do at the Grand Canyon. There's no extra cost and there are so many trails to choose from, with varying levels of difficulty. You can spend a whole day at the Grand Canyon just hiking the trails!
Scenic drives: If hiking isn't your thing, don't worry, you can tour the Grand Canyon by car. There are quite a few driving trails throughout the canyon, and some of the best viewpoints are accessible by car.
Mule rides: Mule rides are a fun and unique way to traverse the trails of the Grand Canyon! Donkey rides and horse rides are also offered, whether by the park or by outside tour operators.
Helicopter Tour: Helicopter tours are expensive but, if you have the means, they're worth the cost. The Grand Canyon is already breathtaking from the ground, but an aerial view will let you experience an unmatched level of beauty.
Camping: If you're into camping, the Grand Canyon is a great place to do it. On your Grand Canyon to Zion trip, consider going to the Grand Canyon first and camping on the park grounds. There are two campgrounds to choose from, as well as an RV park.
Things to Do at Zion National Park
Angels Landing: Zion National Park's most popular trail is Angels Landing. It has a reputation as a difficult hike, thanks to its length (4 or 5 hours as a round trip) and a difficult final stretch, with uneven terrain and sharp drops.
Kolob Canyons: There are lots of attractions tucked away within Zion National Park, and one of the best is Kolob Canyons. Within it are plenty of trails for different hiking levels, as well as beautiful forests, homesteads, and caves.
Waterfalls: Also among Zion's hidden treasures are a few waterfalls. There's the expansive and majestic Emerald Pools, as well as the smaller but more peaceful Pine Creek. The waterfalls aren't always active; you're most likely to see them in their full splendor during early spring.
Tips for Visiting Grand Canyon and Zion in One Trip
Plan Sufficient Time: Ideally, plan at least two days for the Grand Canyon and another two days for Zion National Park. This will give you ample time to explore the main attractions, go hiking, and immerse yourself in the beauty of these natural wonders.
Choose the Right Season: Both parks can get crowded during peak seasons. If you prefer a quieter experience, aim for shoulder seasons such as spring or fall. The weather during these times is generally pleasant, allowing for comfortable outdoor activities.
Book Accommodations in Advance: To ensure you have a place to stay, especially during peak periods, book your accommodations well in advance. You have options ranging from campsites and lodges within the parks to nearby hotels and vacation rentals.
Pack Appropriately: Be prepared for outdoor adventures by packing appropriate clothing and gear. Also, check the weather forecast before your trip and pack accordingly.
Be Mindful of Park Regulations: Familiarize yourself with each park's rules and regulations, and practice Leave No Trace principles to preserve the natural environment.
A trip combining the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park is a fantastic opportunity to knock two attractions off your American Southwest bucket list. The incredible landscapes and natural wonders offered at these two locations won't leave you disappointed.
While it's difficult to do in just one day, it is feasible to visit both parks in a short trip with proper planning. Consider the distance and transportation options, and follow the tips provided to make the most of your adventure.
Gear up, get ready to explore, and expect to be awed by the majestic beauty of the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park.