Road tripping is the quintessential American summer vacation. We joined the masses this year with a 10 day road trip through Arizona and Utah.
Our epic journey took us to 4 national parks as well as some classic American gems –Route 66, the wonders of the Grand Canyon, rafting down the Colorado River and hiking through a river at Zion. It truly was the ultimate family vacation with out of this world landscapes and off the beaten path fun for everyone. There really is so much to see and do in Arizona with kids!
If you aren’t from the West Coast and need to fly in, you can easily start your adventure in Phoenix with a stop in Tempe where there are a great number of things to do for all ages in the family.
My family’s adventure began in Los Angeles where we decided to take the slow road to the Grand Canyon via Route 66. Driving the Mother Road was such an adventure, even for my 4.5 yr old. Exploring a different kind of forest at Bottletree Ranch, petting wild burros in Oatman and having an ice cream at a historic drive-in in Seligman were some of the highlights. Given more time, we would have been happy to stop every few minutes to savor the delights of “old America” and check out even more to see in Arizona.
Heading towards the Grand Canyon’s South Rim, we were sidelined by Bearizona, a drive through animal park, on the turn-off between Willams, Arizona and the Grand Canyon. My son thought it was the coolest thing ever to see bears, bison and other animals walk right in front of our car. And..actually, it was pretty cool. Pulled between hanging with the animals or moving on, we finally hit the road looking forward to meeting our friends at the Grand Canyon.
Arriving to Grand Canyon Village feels a bit more like reaching a small town than a national park. But all is forgiven as soon as you set eyes on the massive canyons before you. Feasting our eyes on the Grand Canyon for the first time, we were presented with beauty that photos can never fully capture. It was awe-inspiring. However, I’m not sure my 4.5 yr old (or even myself for that matter) could really grasp how grand this canyon really is. Exploring by bus, foot and interactive displays located throughout the park, we took in everything we could muster in our few short days.
The next stop on our road trip was to our luxury rental house in Page, Arizona. Most people pop into Page for a quick visit, but there is so much to see here that it deserves a bit more time. A sunrise visit to Horseshoe Bend, a mid-day visit to the surreal and unreal Antelope Canyon and a gorgeous rafting trip down the always 47 degree Colorado River from Glen Canyon Dam made this one our favorite stops on the trip.
Bookending our days with hikes and adventures during the cooler morning and evenings, we enjoyed swimming away the hottest part of the day in our glorious pool (a must in the summer in Arizona!).
Sad to move on from our luxurious home, but also ready to see what was next, we crossed the border of Utah heading straight to Grand Staircase-Escalante to learn about dinosaur fossils and let our littles earn their Junior Scientist badges. Never scared off by detours, we headed down a desolate dirt road to check out the beautiful ‘rainbow’ mountains in Paria which my son had spotted on my Pinterest feed and ‘had’ to see. This ghost town and former movie set town was a fun off the beaten path adventure, even in 110° temperatures!
Not finished yet, we packed in one more sight at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park where we played in red (not pink?) sand dunes in a freak rain shower. This is how we do driving days on a road trip – stop often!
As evening set in, we arrived to our classic 1970’s style motel at Zion National Park (Read more about where to stay and what to do at Zion). Our new home was equipped with a playground and pool surrounded by majestic Navajo Sandstone mountains on all sides. It is here that we truly felt ourselves become one with nature. Hiking through the Narrows, catching tadpoles in the Virgin River, shopping for rocks and relaxing in the adorable town of Springdale was the ideal place to end our multi-family adventure.
Sadly, all good things must come to an end. It was time to head home. But, no road trip is complete without a stop at a random tourist trap. Ours was a quick visit to the Calico Ghost Town between Las Vegas and Los Angeles. An old silver mining town refurbished with an old timey feel by Knotts Berry Farm was a quirky end to a perfect family road trip holiday.
- Hiking the Narrows was by far the favorite activity of our trip. It was a unique, energizing and exhilarating way to explore Zion National Park.
- Climbing down steep ladders to explore crevices deep below the surface at Lower Antelope Canyon was an experience not to be missed (even in extreme heat and with massive crowds!)
- Rafting down the Colorado River, exploring ancient petroglyphs and dipping our feet (legs and bodies!) in ice cold 47 degree water is a must for adventure seeking families.
Road tripping through Arizona and Utah should be on every family’s bucket list. There are an abundance of things to do and see to keep even the most discerning of children (or adults) entertained.
See below for more detailed posts sharing the in’s and out’s of our epic journey through the amazing West!
- 7 Things to Do in Page Arizona (with Kids)
- Ultimate Guide to Exploring Zion National Park with Kids
- Hiking the Narrows with Kids
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23 thoughts on “Our Epic Utah and Arizona Grand Canyon Road Trip”
Oh wow! I want to do a trip like this! Last year, we did a Flagstaff, Sedona, Jerome, Prescott road trip and it was amazing. This year we want to explore a little bit more Route 66, The Grand Canyon and Flagstaff. Want to go to Utah too but not sure if it will happen before the end of the year.
Sedona and Flagstaff are on our list. There is so much amazing stuff to see in both Arizona and Utah. Beautiful country we have here!
Gorgeous photos! Sometimes Mother Nature can be truly fascinating! I’m sure your kid had an amazing time on this trip. 🙂
He LOVED it! His favorite things were hiking the Narrows and catching tadpoles!!
I love those pictures of the Colorado River and of course the Grand Canyon – one of the most memorable places I have visited.
It was an amazing trip that’s for sure. My son learned so much and just being the two us was pretty awesome.
That is an epic road trip and looks like you saw so much. Keep up this tradition,
I hope we can! We are thinking Alaska or Yellowstone for next summer!
We love our road trips in the USA too! we did Wyoming last year and Utah is high on our wish list. Never thought about adding Arizona like you did but it seems completely doable from what you say. I’m thinking next year! #TheWeeklyPostcard
There is so much to see in Arizona and Utah that it’s hard to do it all. We had so many more items on our wish list when we started planning the trip. The friends we travelled with like to go slower. If it was just us we probably would have moved around a lot more– which has its on drawbacks!
We’ve yet to really travel the US and this makes us want to see it more than ever! It’s funny how people seem to forget to explore their own backyards before heading out to see the rest of the world! Amazing photos too btw!
It’s true. I never had much interest in exploring the U.S. I was always off in some adventure. I think after living in India for so many years and exploring there I got into the habit of wanting to see what was in my own area rather than always flying off. America really has some amazing scenery and places to visit.
Arizona and Utah – definitely my two favourite US states. I just love the stark beauty of the countryside.
What a fun trip! We took a road trip west this spring, too. We only drove through Utah on our way to California, but I want to go back to explore. Even the Utah rest area was beautiful! We spent a little more time in Arizona, also driving Route 66. We’ve been in Arizona a few times but keep finding new places in the state to explore. Great photos!
What a great road trip! Having grown up in Arizona, it’s wonderful seeing the awestruck reactions in visitors to the Southwest, and reading about it in their blogs. Makes me a bit homesick! Sounds like you had a great trip – thanks for sharing!
I love the Southwest! It hold’s such a special place in my heart because we honeymooned in Sedona. Looks like it was a great family vacation!
I loved reading your post as it reminded me of all these beautiful places that I have visited myself. Excellent pictures!
Beautiful photos! I love this road trip and you guys certainly packed a lot in this epic adventure. We’ve done most of these trips but over the years 🙂 Utah and Arizona have some of the most scenic spots. We love Page and it really is one of the most underrated areas in the US. So glad you got to do the Colorado River rafting tour. Ours got cancelled due to high winds. Looking forward to the rest of the posts from this trip.
Wow. That looks like a spectacular part of the world. If you like dinosaurs, you should check out Drumheller and the Canadian Badlands. I believe it is one of the largest archaeological sites in the world. Cheers.
Oh good to know! My son loves them of course!
I’m so excited to have stumbled across your post! I’m currently researching a trip for next March with our boys, ages 7 and 10. Did you do tours for both the Upper & Lower Antelope? I was planning on doing the Navajo tour for upper, but saw your posting for the lower. Also, do you mind sharing which company you used for the rafting? Thank you!
Hi Whitney! Glad you found the post. This was one of our favorite trips. If no one in your group has mobility issues I would say the lower canyon would be more fun for the kids. Getting to climb up and down the steel ladders makes it feel even more adventurous! We bought our tickets through the Navajo group as well. I think on the antelope canyon post I provide the link.
For rafting.. I can’t remember, but will look online to see who we used. Did you check the 7 things to do in Page post? It might be linked there.
You will have so much fun! It’s a beautiful area!
We found your post when looking for roadtrip ideas for this summer, and thank you so much for inspiration.
Your 7 thing to do in Page link seem to have dissapeared or doesn’t work, and I didnt write Down you tips for Antilope Canyon and rafting, maybe you can help 🙂
Gitte from Denmark