Family Road Trip - Zion National Park to Grand Canyon Road Trip

Zion National Park to Grand Canyon Road Trip

Two of the most popular national parks in the United States, Zion National Park, and Grand Canyon National Park, are natural wonders that you don’t want to pass up on!

Starting the road trip is Zion National Park, renowned for its towering sandstone cliffs favored by rock climbers all over the world. The park has one of the biggest free-standing arches in the world, the Kolob Arch, stretching more than 287 feet.

Resting on the other end is Grand Canyon National Park, one of the world’s seven natural wonders. It is the largest canyon in the world, and one of the best examples of arid-land erosion found on the planet.

On this desert road trip, you and the family will see these spectacular wonders of nature’s grand design in person! Undoubtedly one of the most interesting road trips in the US!

Distance From Zion National Park To Grand Canyon

The distance from Zion National Park to Grand Canyon’s North Rim is 110 miles, which takes about two hours, give or take. However, if you plan on driving straight from Zion National Park to Grand Canyon’s South Rim, this spans about 255 miles, with almost five hours to complete. 

The Grand Canyon’s North and South Rims are only ten miles apart, but it takes five hours to drive from one end to the other. There is a noticeable difference between the vegetation and even climate between the two rims, making it appear as if you’re visiting two different parks on one trip!

The most common route from Zion National Park to Grand Canyon’s North Rim is to take Highway 9 east out of the park to Highway 89A or Highway 89 in Kanab, about 30 minutes from Zion National Park’s east entrance. 

Use the Highway 89A path for a more direct and scenic path to the North Rim entrance of Grand Canyon National Park, where Highway 89A will connect with SR-67 to reach the North Rim. After exploring the North Rim, take SR-67 to reach Highway 89A, turning right and following the path until Highway 89A connects with Highway 89. Then, follow Highway 89 until you reach SR-64 to the South Rim entrance of Grand Canyon National Park. 

How Long do I Need Driving Zion National Park to Grand Canyon

You should plan for at least 2-4 days to get the most out of a road trip from Zion National Park to the Grand Canyon’s North and South Rim. 

A nonstop road trip to Grand Canyon’s North Rim will only require a day. However, if you plan to head to Grand Canyon’s South Rim without any stops on the way to both rims, you’ll need at least two days to spend at both. 

USA Zion National Park to Grand Canyon Road Trip - How Long do I Need Driving Zion National Park to Grand Canyon

Best Time of Year to Drive from Zion National Park to Grand Canyon

The best time of year, hands down, to take a road trip from Zion National Park to Grand Canyon National Park is in the spring or the fall.

The summer is the busiest time of year for Zion National Park and Grand Canyon National Park when all the kids are out of school and rearing to explore the world with their parents and friends. The summer is all the hottest at these parks, and it can be pretty grueling to spend outdoors in the hot sun. 

It’s best to avoid traveling to the parks during the winter season. Zion National Park and Grand Canyon National Park get snow, making the roads icy and possibly dangerous. Visiting Grand Canyon National Park North Rim is impossible during the winter as all the roads, restaurants, and other nearby accommodations are closed for the season. 

The spring and fall seasons are a great go-between the extremely hot and cold temperatures. During the fall season, eye-catching, vibrant fall colors decorate the trees and cooler temperatures to enjoy the great outdoors. 

Utah does have a monsoon season in the late summer and early fall months, which can bring flash floods and harsh rains. Therefore, keeping up to date with the weather reports is crucial to avoid potential dangers while driving and exploring. 

Best Stops on a Zion National Park to Grand Canyon Road Trip

Zion National Park

The first national park of Utah, Zion National Park, holds geological and historical value—the place where native people and pioneers once traversed.

USA Zion National Park to Grand Canyon Road Trip - Zion National Park

The impressive towering sandstone cliffs of the park combine stunning colors of pinks, reds, and creams, paired with diverse species of animals and plants. Zion National Park is famous for its large canyon, Zion Canyon, with exceptional opportunities for visitors to hike along the canyon’s floor, known as The Narrows.

The park is also known for its natural rock arches, such as the Kolob, the Hidden Arch, and the Crawford. Many of these favored rock formations can be seen from great distances thanks to their imposing heights. 

Explore adventurous outdoor activities at Zion National Park, including climbing, camping, hiking, and swimming.

Consider camping with the family at one of the three available campgrounds at Zion National Park. The South Campground is closed during the winter while Watchman Campground is open year-round. And Lava Point Campground is an hour’s drive from the park, located on Kolob Terrace Road, which is also closed during the winter. 

Moqui Cave

Located in Southern Utah, less than six miles north of Kanab and less than one mile from the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, the Moqui Cave is a historic landmark and natural history museum. This impactful attraction preserves and features Native American artifacts and dinosaur tracks. 

USA Zion National Park to Grand Canyon Road Trip - Moqui Cave

Within Moqui Cave is an impressive collection of Native American artifacts, minerals, and fluorescent rocks sourced from around the planet, pre-Columbian artifacts from Mexico, and so much more! 

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

A must-stop on your Zion to Grand Canyon North Rim road trip, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is an adventure full of sand and fun—perfect for the family! 

USA Zion National Park to Grand Canyon Road Trip - Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

Some of the most popular activities at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park include sandboarding, sand sledding, ATVing, and hiking its expansive open landscapes. Catching the invigorating thrill of sandboarding or sand sledding down the tall sand dunes makes for an unforgettable memory made with the family.

The visitor center at the park rents out sleds and boards for everyone to try their hand at riding down the sand dunes at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park.

  • Important Note: Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park has little shade. Make sure to bring plenty of water and wear sunscreen! 

Kanab, Utah

A small town and hub spot for people traveling between the national parks, Kanab is full of hidden gems worth stopping to ponder over. 

USA Zion National Park to Grand Canyon Road Trip - Kanab

The self-proclaimed “Little Hollywood,” Kanab, has been used as a filming location for more than a few films thanks to its classic American West vibe. You’ll note the different abandoned film sets throughout the town now set up as quirky tourist attractions. The Little Hollywood Museum is one of them. Plus, it’s free to visit! 

In February, Kanab hosts a three-day festival that features the Battle of the Bands competition, a balloon glow and lantern launch, and a street fair. All within view of the iconic red rock formations of the area as 40+ hot air balloons drift into the sky. 

Le Fevre Overlook

Make a quick stop at Le Fevre Overlook for breathtaking views of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, an expansive sequence of sedimentary rock layers that reach from Bryce Canyon National Park to Zion National Park and Grand Canyon National Park.

Le Fevre Overlook offers a massive set of standing binoculars to view the monument’s geological features. 

Jacob Lake (+ Accommodations)

A tranquil area located in the North Kaibab National Forest, Jacob Lake is a town and recreation area to stop at and even lodge between heading to or leaving the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. 

USA Zion National Park to Grand Canyon Road Trip - Kaibab National Forest

The recreation area of Jacob Lake features a peaceful lake encompassed by towering ponderosa pines. Nearby are a campground, restaurant, store, lodge, and numerous trails to go hiking or biking in the thriving forest. Many travelers will choose to stay in Jacob Lake as Grand Canyon National Park tends to have little lodging availability. 

We recommend packing some snacks (don’t forget the cutlery!) to settle down for a picnic surrounded by the natural beauty of Kaibab National Forest

Accommodations: Grand Canyon’s North Rim is pretty remote, so there aren’t many options to choose from to stay the night. Jacob Lake Inn is a family-owned and operated business that offers a rustic, comfortable setting perfect for a road trip from Zion to Grand Canyon National Park. 

The inn is a 44-mile drive, full of spectacular scenery, from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Tall pines of the Kaibab National Forest surround Jacob Lake Inn, with nearby activities to fish at the Colorado River, sightseeing, hiking, and more!  

Grand Canyon National Park (North Rim)

At a higher elevation than the South Rim, Grand Canyon National Park’s North Rim is more than 8,000 feet above sea level (the South Rim is 7,200 feet). Due to its higher elevation, the North Rim has cooler temperatures year-round.

USA Zion National Park to Grand Canyon Road Trip - Grand Canyon National Park (North Rim)

Though the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park tends to attract more visitors because of the North Rim’s remoteness and closure during the winter, the North Rim offers more pleasant temperatures, picturesque landscapes, and a calming atmosphere to sink into.

Bright Angel Point is one such place to witness these breathtaking views. Found at the Visitor Center, close to the campground and Grand Canyon Lodge, Bright Angel Point is a notorious spot for its glorious sunset and sunrises.

  • Important Note: The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is only open seasonally, from May 15-October 15. 

Antelope Canyon

Protected by the Navajo Parks and Recreation within Navajo Nation, Antelope Canyon is a world-famous slot canyon that can only be accessed by reserving a tour. 

USA Zion National Park to Grand Canyon Road Trip - Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon was shaped by millions of years of wind and water erosion. Named after the herds of pronghorn antelope that roamed the area once upon a time, the slot canyon is notorious for its picturesque sights and hiking opportunities.

Horseshoe Bend

A world-renowned natural landmark, Horseshoe Bend visualizes the shape of a horseshoe made of a range of red and orange-colored rocks. A river flows through the horseshoe shape, cutting out the massive boulder, an example of wind’s erosion through time.

USA Zion National Park to Grand Canyon Road Trip - Horseshoe Bend

Continue the adventure from Horseshoe Bend to Glen Canyon and Lake Powell before reaching Grand Canyon National Park’s South Rim! 

Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim)

More visited than the North Rim due to its easy access, accommodations, and being open year-round, Grand Canyon National Park’s South Rim is a step into one of the world’s seven natural wonders! 

USA Zion National Park to Grand Canyon Road Trip - Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim)

There’s so much waiting to be explored at the South Rim, including skydiving, helicopter rides, hiking, train rides, and many more fun-filled activities. Head to the Desert View Watchtower for some of the most outstanding views seen within the park.

Visit the Tusayan Ruin, one of more than 4,000 archeological sites found within the Grand Canyon National Park that date back 12,000 years. 

Grand Canyon Accommodations

Grand Canyon Lodge – North Rim

The Grand Canyon Lodge – North Rim is the only option available at the North Rim entrance of Grand Canyon National Park. The lodge offers motel and cabin rooms with easy access to hiking trails, scenic viewpoints, and even mule rides! 

Bright Angel Lodge & Cabins

Located on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, Bright Angel Lodge & Cabins is a registered National Historic Landmark boasting a rich cultural history. The lodge and its featured cabins offer a step back into its origins, dating back to the early 1900s. 

An alternative is to look just outside of the South Entrance at Tusayan for more family-friendly accommodation options and camping and RV parks if lodgings inside the national park are fully booked.

More Tips for Road Tripping Zion National Park to Grand Canyon

  • Bring plenty of water and sunscreen!
  • We recommend packing a cooler full of yummy treats and refreshing drinks to picnic along the way! Pair with utensils (reusable tools can make a significant impact!). 
  • Download the Waze app to stay in touch with traffic updates, redlight cameras, and police cars to avoid any speed traps or construction.
  • Download the app Sit or Squat, a parent’s lifesaver when traveling on the go. The app is designed to find public toilets, which can be super helpful when traveling in remote areas near the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. 
  • Is it worth continuing your journey to also experience the West Rim of the Grand Canyon and the Skywalk? Our complete run-through of the pros and cons of visiting Grand Canyon West.
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