Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, Route 66 Itinerary

March 29, 2016

I’ll admit I was not that excited about the idea of the Grand Canyon when we first started planning this. I had visions of tourists driving around in buses and getting on and off to take pictures. And that definitely does happen there. The village is a like a small city of bustling visitors. But there is a lot more to do at the Grand Canyon if you expand your travel. Bryce Canyon is one of the most beautiful areas we’ve ever seen and my husband and kids loved Zion and Springdale, UT.

First, we always get asked, can I fly? And you can, but you’re probably going to have to fly into Las Vegas and even then nature did not conveniently line up all of the parks side by side. You will still spend hours going from the Grand Canyon to Zion to Bryce Canyon and so on. Plus you can bring all of the clothes, bags, wine, water and snacks you want if you drive. Once you get to Arizona, the drive is beautiful forests, snow-capped mountains and wildlife sightings.

We also wrapped Route 66 into our entire trip telling our kids stories of how families drove from Chicago to Los Angeles in their station wagons stopping at roadside motels and diners along the way. So build a great Spotify playlist (including the song “Holiday Road”) and pack the car and kids.

DAY 1 – DRIVE TO AMARILLO

(Sorry folks. An all-day drive is the price of admission. But we promise it gets more fun.)

Eat: Big Texan Steak Ranch ($ – $$)
Stay: Anywhere inexpensive. We booked the Staybridge Suites ($) but really any hotel will work.

DAY 2 – ROUTE 66

• Cadillac Ranch – spray paint the cars (be sure to bring some for the kids)
• Midpoint of Route 66 – photo and breakfast if Midpoint Café is open
• Russel’s Travel Center – antique cars and memorabilia museum
• Route 66 Monument – photo
• Lunch at Route 66 Diner
• Indian Market/Continental Divide
• Painted Desert – drive and lookouts at sunset
• Wigwam Motel – photo

Eat: 66 Diner ($), Albuquerque, NM; Midpoint Café, Adrian TX ($)
Stay: Globetrotter Lodge ($) or Wigwam Motel ($), Holbrook, AZ

DAY 3 – PETRIFIED FOREST, SEDONA

• Petrified Forest in the morning
• Blue Mesa – easy walk
• Scenic, winding drive to Sedona
• Pink Jeep Tour – late afternoon
• Tlaquepaque Village – Clothes, Art, Jewelry

Eat: Sedona Memories Bakery Café ($) – Lunch, Enchantment Resort at sunset ($$)
Stay: Enchantment Resort ($$) or any of the other Sedona Resorts

DAY 4 – GRAND CANYON – HELICOPTER TOUR, BIKING

• Travel Tip: Stop at Flagstaff Visitor Center to buy Grand Canyon pass to miss the traffic
• Maverick Helicopters – Canyon Spirit Tour ($$$)
• Bright Angel Bicycles – rent bikes and ride rim trail to Mather Point and South Kaibab trail-head

Eat: Bright Angel Bicycles ($); Bright Angel Lodge Restaurant ($)
Stay: El Tovar ($$) or Bright Angel Lodge ($)

DAY 5 – GRAND CANYON – HIKING

• South Kaibab Trail – Hike down to Ooh Aah Point or even further to Cedar Ridge

Eat: We brought lunch to eat at Cedar Ridge; Dinner – Open
Stay: El Tovar ($$) or Bright Angel Lodge ($)

DAY 6 – ZION – UTV RIDES

• Rocking V – Eat Lunch in Kanab, UT
• Mild to Wild Rhino Tours ($$) – UTV Tour of Gooseberry Mesa with Buddy

Eat: Rocking V ($) – Lunch; Oscar’s ($) – Dinner, Deep Creek Coffee ($) – Breakfast; Whiptail Grill – Dinner ($); MeMe’s Café – Breakfast ($)
Stay: Desert Pearl Inn ($$) or pretty much any hotel in Springdale

DAY 7 – ZION – HIKING

• Hike Angel’s Landing to Scout’s Lookout (or further up if you dare)
• Walk Lower Emerald Pool Trail to see waterfalls and pools
• Or arrange a tour company to hike the Narrows in Summer

Eat: Bring Lunch and eat at Scout’s Lookout; or any of the other options listed above
Stay: Desert Pearl Inn ($$) or pretty much any hotel in Springdale

DAY 8 – BRYCE CANYON – HIKING

• Drive to Bryce Canyon for the day; stopping at Ruby’s Inn General Store (you can’t miss it)
• Walk up to Inspiration Point
• Hike Navajo Loop to Queen’s Garden Trail

Eat: Bring Lunch and eat at bottom of Bryce Canyon (beware of the birds)
Stay: Desert Pearl Inn ($$) or pretty much any hotel in Springdale

DAY 9 – LAKE POWELL AREA, AMANGIRI

• Horseshoe Bend – Short walk and mandatory photo op
• Horseshoe Bend Slot Canyon Adventures ($$) – Private slot canyon tour

Eat: River’s End Café – Lunch in Page, AZ ($); Amangiri – Dinner
Stay: Amangiri ($$$)

DAY 10 – AMANGIRI

• Morning hike to the private slot canyon
• Have the car pick you up when you are done hiking with packed lunches. You can then climb the large rock overlooking the resort right next door and have lunch at the top.
• Relax by the pool
• Have S’mores delivered for the evening
• Sleep under the stars

Eat: Amangiri – Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner ($$$)
Stay: Amangiri ($$$)

DAY 11 – LONG DRIVE, ROUTE 66

• Lunch at the El Rancho Hotel ($)
• Route 66 Musical Road – Tijeras, NM – The access road off the highway plays “America the Beautiful” as your tires drive over grooved pavement when you drive 45 MPH. So fun we did it twice.
• You can also stop at the Route 66 Auto Museum in Santa Rosa but we were ready to get home.

Eat: El Rancho Hotel – Gallup, NM ($); Del’s – Tucumcari, NM ($)
Stay: Blue Swallow Motel ($)

DAY 12 – LONG DRIVE, BBQ

(Your back in Texas and there’s not much to see on this road so time to just get back home and enjoy some BBQ.)

• Breakfast at Kix on 66
• Tee Pee Curious – Shopping
• Lunch at Rafter J BBQ in Iowa Park, TX – (Texas Monthly Honorable Mention for BBQ) – Be sure to try the deep fried corn on the cob

Eat: Kix on 66 ($); Rafter J BBQ ($)
Stay: Your own bed (-)

And for more details on surrounding areas see our other itineraries for New Mexico/Arizona or Moab/Dunton Hot Springs or destination notes for the Painted DesertSedonaGrand Canyon, Zion/Bryce Canyon, Amangiri/Slot Canyons, Route 66, Arches, CanyonlandsCarlsbad Caverns, White Sands, Tucson, Phoenix, and Albuquerque.

Grand Canyon, Route 66 – TRIP SumMARY – Links and reviews

TripAdvisor – Things to Do

TripAdvisor – Hotels

Yelp – Restaurants

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