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How I Went to Zion, Bryce Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, and the Grand Canyon In Six Days

HOW I WENT TO ZION, BRYCE CANYON, HORSESHOE BEND, ANTELOPE CANYON, AND THE GRAND CANYON IN SIX DAYS

Hiking in the Grand Canyon, seeing snow-covered hoodoos in Bryce Canyon, and trekking through a river in the Narrows trail in Zion National Park were just a few of the moments that made this trip so great. Here’s how we were able to visit Zion, Bryce Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, and the Grand Canyon in six days:

Day 1 

6:05 am – Fly from Oakland, CA to Las Vegas, NV

national park trip

7:35 am – Arrive at Las Vegas and pick up rental car from Sixt.
Tip: If you’re under 25, consider booking your rental car through Sixt. They’re a European company, so they waive the underage fee!

After a quick stop at Earl’s Sandwich for a sandwich (or two), we headed towards Zion National Park. It was about a three hour drive and we arrived with enough time to do the Angel’s Landing Trail.

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The trail involved chains, so for the folks with sensitive hands, you might want to consider wearing gloves. Also, I was wearing run-down Nike Free’s, which led to some dicey moments when climbing up the frictionless, sandy rocks. It’s the things that scare you that are the most worth it though, right? The view on Angel’s Landing was truly incredible and being that high up, it’s easy to see how it earned its namesake. There are also some daredevils who attempt to rock climb and boulder these rocks.

Southwest National Park Trip

By the time we were done with the trail, the sun had almost completely disappeared and we drove back to home base at St. George. We hung out with the couchsurfers we were staying with and went out to dinner together. After the hike, I envisioned kicking back with a beer, but since St. George is a Mormon town, there are strict rules on alcohol and any beverage with an alcohol content over 3.2% cannot be sold in restaurants or grocery stores. This led popular beer brands, such as Stella Artois, to create special low alcohol content versions of their normal beers.

Day 2

With one day left at Zion, we chose to do the Narrows trail. We did this because most of the trail is through a river and since none of us had done a trail like this before, we decided it was the most unique and worth doing.

southwest national park

This is before we started the trail. The stylish black pants that Amul (left) and I (center) are wearing are dry pants and saved us from freezing our butts off while doing the trail. You can find out more about where to rent these in the “Tips” section at the end of this post.

Southwest National Park

The trail is full of light and shadow and as long as it’s not Melisandre and Stannis Baratheon’s creepy shadow baby, I’m game (of thrones).

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The colors of the trail (so tempted to say “Colors of the wind”) enchanted me, with their browns, blacks, rusty oranges, verdant greens, and cool blues. Bob Ross would’ve gone wild with this place. Also, since the trail is through the water and you’ll be trying to find your balance on the slippery rocks, consider leaving the DSLR at home and if you’re lucky enough to have a GoPro, bring it! There are definitely people who spare no expense and bring their tripod with them as well. Go for it, the shots you can get here are unlike any other in the country.

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 11.13.58 PMAfter hiking all day, In N Out tasted even more delicious.






Day 3

Today was Bryce Canyon day. From St. George, it took us about an hour and a half to get here.

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These tall, skinny rock formations are called “hoodoos”. At Bryce, they can get as tall as a 10-story building.

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If you choose to do the Peekaboo Trail, you can spot some neat formations like the Wall of Windows.

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Bryce Canyon is 1,000 feet higher than Zion, so that’s why you’ll see more snow and colder temperatures here. Hiking through the Canyon was this weird mix of feeling really cold when you’re in the shadows or really hot as you’re hiking uphill through the snow. This is how some of us cooled down:

Bryce Canyon

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At night, Bryce Canyon is one of the darkest places in North America, making it a great place to go stargazing. You can see up to 7,500 stars here, whereas in other parts of the states, 2,000 is the norm and in large cities, you’re lucky if you can see a dozen. Taking advantage of this, Bryce Canyon typically hosts an Astronomy Festival in June so if you’re a fan of astronomy, consider going around then to make the most of your trip!

Day 4

On day 4, we drove from Bryce Canyon in Utah to Antelope Canyon in Arizona, which was about a three hour drive. Crossing the state border surprisingly resulted in a time change (Utah is one hour ahead of Arizona), so keep that in mind if you have tour reservations!

First stop: Antelope Canyon. You must have a tour guide to see Antelope Canyon. You can choose from either the Upper Canyon or the Lower Canyon, and both have their pros and cons. The Navajo run these tours as Antelope Canyon is on a Navajo Reservation. We chose to the Lower Canyon because the tour agency, Ken’s Tours, got better reviews than their Upper Canyon counterparts on TripAdvisor, they had reservations available last-minute (we booked a day before), and the tour times fit well with our schedule.

antelope canyon

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Our tour guide was extremely helpful and even showed us the best iPhone filter to use when taking photos in the Canyon (it’s Chrome).

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Can you see the eagle-shaped rock?

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They call this one Pocahontas.

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This place rocks. It’s easy to see why it’s one of the most photographed canyons in the States.

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 11.43.58 PMWe decided this barren landscape was the perfect place for an impromptu photoshoot. We called this one “dazed, lost, and confused.”

After seeing Antelope Canyon, we headed towards Horseshoe Bend, which is just twenty minutes away. It’s a short walk to this viewpoint but after hiking Zion, you’re a pro! This will be a piece of piss.

Horseshoe Bend

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After our photoshoot at Horseshoe Bend, we drove to the Grand Canyon in time to catch the sunset. The drive was about 2 hours. It was cool to see the Colorado River at Horseshoe Bend and then see a completely different segment of it at the Grand Canyon. It reminded me of Yiruma’s “River Flows in You,” but you know, for Arizona.

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Our last full day of adventuring was at the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long and up to 18 miles wide. Once you get inside the Canyon, you can go as deep as one mile. While you’re hiking down, look around you, you could be staring at strata from the Proterozoic eon and the Paleozoic era.

Biking at grand canyon

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We rented bikes and biked the 21 mile long “yellow route.” It was a nice change from hiking and it was fun to go at our own pace and do “drive-bys” at scenic turnouts and just stare in awe at this Canyon that’s been 17 million years in the making. Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 12.00.52 AM

Armand being dramatic AF as always in front of 2 billion years worth of geological history.

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Amul is a bicycle model on the side. Leave a comment if you’re interested in booking him 🙂

Day 6

On our last day, we did one last hike down the Grand Canyon. It’s a lot easier going downhill than uphill, so save some energy for the climb back up!

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 12.02.14 AMAfter hiking this beaut, we made the 2 hour drive to Sedona to visit Red Rock State Park.

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So when I said that the Grand Canyon was our last hike, I lied. After getting to Red Rock, we decided to just “walk around a bit” and then somehow ended up scaling the rocks in the picture below.

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The view was worth it though.

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This is a fitting sign after all of those hikes and trails, no? After breathing in that fresh mountain air, we slowly made our way to Phoenix, which was another 2 hours away. 
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10:00 pm – Return rental car and fly back home to the Bay. The best part about going up (in the air) on a Tuesday was having a complete plane all to ourselves. My friends and I took advantage of this and each took up a whole row. I really couldn’t have asked for a better ending to our trip.

Tips:

Housing

There are three options for housing when you’re roadtripping to all of these parks. We initially considering renting a RV, but due to the high cost ($1,000 for seven days??), we opted for the kind of sturdier housing that included four walls.

1. Couchsurfing is a perfect option for those who are trying to ball on a budget. It’s free, you get to kick it with locals, and did I mention that it’s free? We couchsurfed when we stayed in St. George, Utah for our Zion excursion. The four guys who lived there were straight out of “Big Bang Theory” and were full of interesting facts about everything from the Mormon town to 3-D printing.

2. Airbnb is an option that we didn’t try, but a quick search for housing surrounding Horseshoe Bend turned up everything from a one-room cabin to a golf course resort. If you don’t have an Airbnb account yet, sign up here to get a free $35 travel credit.

3. Motels are where we stayed at for the remainder of the trip due to their convenience and low cost. We stayed at Best Western Plus Ruby’s Inn when we visited Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon Inn when we visited Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, and the Grand Canyon.

Hiking

1. Permits are required for some trails, like the Subway trail at Zion National Park. Some of these require reservations months in advance, so check before you go!

2. Dry pants and socks, walking sticks are highly, highly recommended if you’re planning on doing a river trail, like the Narrows in Zion National Park. For Zion National Park, you can rent these supplies at Zion Adventure Company.

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For those who are on the fence about renting the dry gear, check out my friend Armand’s ghetto “shoes” that he created after walking all day in the cold, snow melt water, with normal socks and shoes.

I would also recommend walking sticks and crampons if you’re planning on hiking in the snow. We hiked Bryce Canyon in March and there was still snow on the ground and by mile 2 of hiking uphill in snow, walking sticks and hiking boots started sounding real good.

3. Water and food are crucial! It’s easy to get dehydrated on some of these trails, especially when you’re out in the sun all day. CamelBaks allow for easy water access and storage, which is handy and much appreciated after hiking for multiple hours. Some of the larger parks like the Grand Canyon will have snack stores, but with others like Bryce Canyon, you’re on your own. Stock up beforehand so you have plenty of energy to beast that trail.

I made a (poorly edited though, you have been warned) video of my Spring Break, which you can watch if you’re interested in seeing more of these parks. Skip ahead to 1:15! Sharon also makes a guest appearance at 0:30.

If you liked this post, you’ll want to read these:

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23 Comments

  • Reply
    Ringo
    August 8, 2015 at 8:05 am

    This sounds like so much fun! I’d probably skip all the hiking and just go chill and star gaze for 6 whole nights tho. That 7500 stars…. Can you still get those money shots of all those views without the hike or naw?

    haha at
    -GOT reference and pun
    -Armie’s ghetto shoes
    -ordering Mool on the side

  • Reply
    Julie Behrens
    August 10, 2015 at 2:26 am

    Have always wanted to see horseshoe bend and now (thanks to your amazing pictures) I will definitely be making a trip to antelope canyon! Just gorgeous and some truly great photography here

    • Heesun
      Reply
      Heesun
      August 12, 2015 at 6:15 pm

      Thanks so much Julie! Horseshoe was an amazing experience and I’d recommend it to anyone who’s planning on visiting the Southwest. Love your blog as well!

  • Reply
    Helen
    December 30, 2015 at 10:19 pm

    Well written! I am planning something like this in September and found your post to be very helpful.

    • Heesun
      Reply
      Heesun
      January 12, 2016 at 6:06 pm

      Thanks Helen!! Hope you have safe travels while exploring the great southwest and please let us know how it goes!

  • Reply
    Lauren Speakman
    May 30, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    Did you go to the North or South rim?

  • Reply
    Buky
    August 30, 2016 at 9:39 am

    Where did you stay in Zion and Bruce canyon?

    • Heesun
      Reply
      Heesun
      August 30, 2016 at 9:59 pm

      Hey Buky! I couchsurfed in Zion and in Bryce Canyon I stayed at Best Western Plus Ruby’s Inn.

  • Reply
    Crystal Bai
    August 31, 2016 at 12:03 am

    Love this!! Would love to start my own style blog too, what website hosting are you using? recommendations?? thanks!!!

  • Reply
    Stephanie Wu
    October 19, 2016 at 11:14 am

    What month did you go? Great read!

    • Heesun
      Reply
      Heesun
      October 20, 2016 at 9:40 pm

      Thanks so much Stephanie! We went in March 🙂

  • Reply
    keerthi
    December 23, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    Love it Heesun. We are planning on taking a 6 day tour starting from Grand canyon to Zion. I know basically we are doing exactly the same tour as you guys but in a reverse way. 🙂 Thank you so much for the post. It helped us a lot. How did you guys manage not freezing hiking Narrows in the spring. ( Especially your feet) 😀

    • Heesun
      Reply
      Heesun
      December 26, 2016 at 9:24 pm

      Glad you found it helpful Keerthi!! I’m so excited for you and hope you have the BEST time 🙂

  • Reply
    RD
    January 24, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    Thx for your tips.
    Helps a lot in planning.
    U r funny too.

    • Heesun
      Reply
      Heesun
      January 24, 2017 at 6:37 pm

      Thanks RD! Glad you found it useful!

  • Reply
    Dee
    March 7, 2017 at 11:26 pm

    Did you choose the general or photo guided tour for lower antelope canyon?

    • Heesun
      Reply
      Heesun
      March 14, 2017 at 12:45 pm

      Hi Dee! We chose the general tour, but they still provided us with advice on how to take the best photos and what filters to use 🙂

  • Reply
    Hannah
    April 5, 2017 at 8:38 pm

    Totally planning my trip around yours! Regarding the car rental, how did you get Sixt to waive the underage fee?

    • Heesun
      Reply
      Heesun
      April 6, 2017 at 10:52 pm

      Hey Hannah, great question. When we booked (March 2014), Sixt was new to the U.S. so they waived the underage fee to attract new customers, but it looks like they changed that policy now (so sneaky!). I did some research and it looks like Getaround, Silvercar, and Zipcar offer to waive fees for underage drivers. You can find more info here: http://firstquarterfinance.com/car-rental-without-under-25-fee/.

  • Reply
    Xo
    April 10, 2017 at 9:49 pm

    Thank you! Going this June!

    • Heesun
      Reply
      Heesun
      April 11, 2017 at 10:14 pm

      You’re welcome! Hope you have a great trip 🙂

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