Los Angeles to Zion National Park road trip

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  • Post last modified:February 28, 2024
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This ultimate Los Angeles to Zion National Park road trip itinerary makes the most of America’s breathtaking Southwest. Not only does it take you to the iconic Zion National Park, but it also ticks off several other unique natural playgrounds. So fasten your seat belt and enjoy the show. You’re in for a remarkable Los Angeles to Zion National Park drive.

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  • Total distance: 1,300 mi / 2,092 km
  • Total driving time: 22 h

Route info: An in-and-out Los Angeles to Zion National Park road trip is clearly shorter than this loaded itinerary. However, with all the remarkable scenery, it’s easy to motivate the extra hours on the road.

1. Los Angeles, CA

It’s finally time for the ultimate Los Angeles to Zion National Park road trip to begin. But before you head east, don’t miss out on some of the best things to do in LA.

Stroll the Santa Monica Pier

The Santa Monica Pier magnificently juts out into the Atlantic Ocean. At the foot of Colorado Avenue, where the iconic Route 66 ends, it’s the perfect starting point for the LA to Zion National Park road trip.

For more than 100 years the Santa Monica Pier has attracted locals and tourists alike. With time the pier has become a true Los Angeles landmark.

Gloriously so the Santa Monica Pier offers fantastic views of the Pacific coastline. But the Santa Monica Pier is as much about its unique atmosphere.

Home to an amusement park, dining options and street performers something fun is always going on at the Santa Monica Pier. It’s hard to imagine a better spot for people watching.

Make your dreams come true at Disneyland

If you want to begin the road trip from Los Angeles to Zion National Park with happy faces, there’s no better place to go than Disneyland. The renowned amusement park is known as the Happiest Place on Earth.

Disneyland encompasses nine different themed areas to check out.

The original five lands of Disney are Main Street USA, Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. Later the fun-filled group has been extended with New Orleans Square, Critter Country, Mickey’s Toontown and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

With so much to enjoy, including colorful characters and thrilling rides, Disneyland is an endless family favorite. However, it’s also a magical place where adults can have a well needed respite from reality.

Sign reading "TOONTOWN" in rounded font at Disneyland, California
Toontown at Disneyland.

2. Las Vegas, NV

  • Driving distance: 270 mi / 435 km
  • Driving time: 4 h

Las Vegas, positioned in the Mojave Desert, is closely associated with its sprawling casino resorts and bright neon lights. Now you have the chance to go big on the Los Angeles to Zion National Park road trip.

Indulge in the Strip

The legendary Las Vegas Strip is the busiest part of Las Vegas Boulevard South. Here you find an in particular high concentration of luxury casinos and attractions.

It’s the epicenter of the entertainment hub that Las Vegas is.

Caesars Palace is a Greco-Roman themed institution along the Strip. Just wandering through all its grandeur, including extravagant statues and columns, is an experience on its own.

For pure Italian vibes the Venetian demands your attention. The hotel, which replicates the city of Venice, gives you a unique opportunity to add a memorable gondola ride to the itinerary.

Bellagio is another Las Vegas crowd pleaser. Its frequently running musical fountain shows, with water soaring up as high as 460 feet (140 m) into the air, is the perfect end to a day in Las Vegas.

Walk across the Hoover Dam

Just 37 miles (60 km) from the bright lights of Las Vegas the Hoover Dam is located. On the border between Nevada and Arizona it’s a National Historic Landmark that represents engineering at its finest.

Even though the Hoover Dam was completed already in the 1930s, it’s as fascinating today as it was then.

The amount of concrete used in building the Hoover Dam would be enough to pave a road from San Francisco to New York City. That’s how huge the structure is.

When visiting, it’s a must to walk across the dam. The 1,244 feet (370 m) from one side to the other fully lets you capture its grandness.

The Hoover Dam on the border between Arizona and Nevada
The Hoover Dam.

Additional stop: Valley of Fire State Park is located right along the route from Las Vegas to Zion National Park. The state park, Nevada’s oldest and largest, lures visitors in with its never ending landscape of red rocks.

3. Zion, UT

  • Driving distance: 160 mi / 257 km
  • Driving time: 2.5 h

Colorful red sandstone cliffs, blue skies and evergreen canyons. Welcome to the gorgeous Zion National Park in Utah.

Take on the famous Angels Landing

Zion National Park offers truly jaw-dropping hiking opportunities. So of course the best things to do in Zion National Park include exploring the various world-class trails.

For the experienced hiker, Angel’s Landing might be the hike on top of the list on the Los Angeles to Zion National Park road trip. It’s a trail that is known for its thrilling climbs.

At 5 miles (8 km) the trail’s length maybe doesn’t sound like a challenge. However, the trail has an elevation change of 1,488 feet (453 m), and some stretches are just a few scary feets wide.

If you’re up for the task, just pay attention to that you because of its popularity need a special Angels Landing hiking permit.

Relax with a quiet Riverside Walk

Even though you find dramatic hikes like Angels Landing in Zion, it’s also a place that caters to every traveler. So if you look for something less challenging, don’t despair.

The Riverside Walk is 2.2 miles (3.5 km) long both ways. It’s a perfect trail for a more casual stroll on your way from LA to Zion National Park.

Along Virgin River, in the heart of Zion National Park, the Riverside Walk is flat and easy. The hike ends where the canyon gets so narrow that only the river fits. There a more dramatic Zion hike, the Narrows, begins.

More info: Best places to stay at Zion

The narrow and steep Angels Landing trail in Zion National Park, Utah
The demanding Angels Landing

4. Bryce Canyon National Park, UT

  • Driving distance: 73 mi / 117 km
  • Driving time: 1.5 h

Bryce Canyon National Park is the second out of four national parks on the Los Angeles to Zion National Park itinerary. Just 1.5 hours from Zion, it’s a place filled with peculiar rock formations, including its signature hoodoos.

These tall and thin spires of rock come in enormous quantities in Bryce Canyon. Entering is like visiting another world.

Enjoy awe-inspiring hoodoo overlooks

Over millions of years a natural amphitheater, called the Bryce Amphitheater, has been carved out by Mother Nature. The Bryce Amphitheater is the park’s main area, where you find its greatest concentrations of hoodoos.

From the road through Bryce Canyon, it’s just steps to some of the park’s most iconic overlooks. Bryce Point, Inspiration Point, Sunset Point and Sunrise Point are such points that all are easy to reach from the park road.

However, during the busy summer season it’s a good to consider the park’s shuttle. If you explore the park by shuttle, your car gets some well deserved rest before the LA to Zion loop continues.

More info: Where to stay in Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon valley floor with red rocks and green trees
Bryce Canyon hike.

5. Antelope Canyon, AZ

  • Driving distance: 157 mi / 253 km
  • Driving time: 3 h

You really go from one natural wonder to another on the Los Angeles to Zion National Park road trip. Near the Utah-Arizona border, within Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park, the fabulous Antelope Canyon is located.

Antelope Canyon is defined by its wavy sandstone walls. Around the year its shapes make people’s jaws drop, but its mystique peaks during the months when beams of sunshine cut into the canyon.

While Antelope Canyon is one slot canyon, there are two different sections that you can visit.

Upper Antelope Canyon is the most popular section. This also is where the famous light beams occur at midday from the second half of March until mid October.

Lower Antelope Canyon has its own entrance point and is not as visited. Although you don’t find any light beams here, its shapes are as great as the ones on offer in Upper Antelope Canyon.

No matter which section you go for, you need a reservation with an authorized guide. Especially during the summer season the tours tend to book up early in advance.

Wavy Canyon walls in Antelope Canyon, Arizona
Antelope Canyon, AZ

6. Horseshoe Bend, AZ

  • Driving distance: 7 mi / 11 km
  • Driving time: 0.5 h

Less than 30 minutes from Antelope Canyon you find Horseshoe Bend. The iconic bend of the Colorado River, enhanced by towering cliffs, is what the experts call an incised meander.

It’s a few miles from where Grand National Park actually begins, but the scenic spot is the perfect way to kick off your Grand Canyon adventure.

With the Colorado River flowing roughly 1,000 feet (300 m) below you, the Horseshoe Bend overlook is remarkable. Nowhere within Grand Canyon National Park you find such an intimate Colorado River vista.

At Horseshoe Bend, sometimes referred to as the east rim of the Grand Canyon, the steep cliffs and reflecting Colorado River are beautiful contrasts. It’s a unique LA to Zion photo opportunity.

Horseshoe Bend is also easily accessible. From its parking lot it’s a walk of 0.75 miles (1.2 km) to the viewpoint. Just pay attention to that the heat during the warmer half of the year often gets intense.

Hot or not, Horseshoe Bend is a great morning or sunset activity on the LA to Zion National Park itinerary. Early morning the sun is behind you at the overlook, while in the evening it sets in front of you.

Horseshoe Bend of the Colorado River during sunrise
Horseshoe Bend at sunrise.

7. Grand Canyon, AZ

  • Driving distance: 133 mi / 214 km
  • Driving time: 2.5 h

After 2.5 more hours on the road you arrive in Grand Canyon Village at Grand Canyon’s South Rim. The South Rim is the most popular rim of the Grand Canyon. It’s open year round and offers a good selection of lodging within Grand Canyon National Park.

Although the Grand Canyon isn’t this itinerary’s main focus, it’s a side attraction like no other.

Admire the world wonder

As you get to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, an exceptional landscape awaits. Only steps from where you park your car you find the natural wonder that you came for.

Grand Canyon is a huge American attraction. The world-famous Arizona wonder is 277 miles (446 km) long, up to 18 miles (29 km) wide and more than a mile (1,847 m) deep.

The easily accessible Rim Trail follows the rim from the Grand Canyon Village area to a point called Hermit’s Rest. Along the walk you find one majestic viewpoint after another.

Mile after mile. Rock layer after rock layer. When you visit the overlooks, it’s like the Grand Canyon never ends.

The convenient vistas offer sights that you never forget. With so much to take in many visitors don’t go past the sweeping viewpoints on the rim of the Grand Canyon.

Head into the Grand Canyon

If you like what you see from the edge of the rim but want more, it’s time to put on your hiking boots and head into the Grand Canyon. The deeper you go, the more there’s to explore.

On many bucket lists, and an iconic hike for the Los Angeles to Zion National Park road trip, is the Bright Angel Trail.

It’s an out-and-back trail that really takes you to the depths of Grand Canyon.

The Bright Angel Trailhead is located at a formidable elevation of 6,850 feet (2,088 m). At Indian Garden 4.5 miles (7.2 km) from the trailhead, where many day hikers choose to turn back, you’re already down at 3,800 feet (1,158 m).

That’s a huge elevation loss.

So when you decide to return back to the rim, you have hardly done half of the job. The national park service recommends that you allow twice as much time for the way back up as it took for you to hike down.

Hiking into the Grand Canyon is truly a spectacular activity on the LA to Zion itinerary. However, it’s also a demanding activity that takes you far away from the comforts of Grand Canyon Village.

More info: Lodging at the Grand Canyon

Outlook at Grand Canyon South Rim revealing ancient geological formations
Grand Canyon South Rim viewpoint.

8. Joshua Tree National Park, CA

  • Driving distance: 369 mi / 594 km
  • Driving time: 5.5 h

On the way back from Zion National Park to Los Angeles you pass by Joshua Tree National Park. The park is named after the Mojave native Joshua tree, but its glittering rock formations are as celebrated features.

Stretch your legs past imaginative rocks

You can easily see where the rocks in Joshua Tree have gotten their names from. The shapes of the park’s most famous rocks are incredibly distinctive.

Arch Rock Trail is 1.4 miles (2.1 km) long and leads to the park’s most famous arch. On top of a stack of boulders the Arch Rock is a memorable and easy addition to the itinerary.

On the way to Arch Rock a detour takes you to Heart Rock. Its heart shape might make it the most romantic rock there is. Especially if you plan a romantic Zion National Park road trip, don’t miss out on this one.

Another unique shape is the park’s legendary Skull Rock. The rock, named for its apparent skull look, is the shining star of the 1.7 miles (2.7 km) Skull Rock Trail. But along the trail you find several other remarkable rocks to see and climb on the way back from Zion National Park to LA.

Aptly named Heart Rock in Joshua Tree National Park, California
Heart Rock in Joshua Tree National Park.

9. Los Angeles, CA

  • Driving distance: 131 mi / 211 km
  • Driving time: 2.5 h

After a majestic Los Angeles to Zion National Park road trip, it’s time to round off the adventure. The last 131 miles (211 km) on the road finishes the loop and takes you back to Los Angeles.

Los Angeles to Zion National Park road trip FAQ

How long does it take to drive the ultimate Los Angeles to Zion National Park road trip?

This ultimate Los Angeles to Zion National Park road trip loop is 1,300 miles (2,092 km) long. Driving it takes about 22 hours, not including any stops along the way.

In contrast, the shortest possible out-and-back route from Los Angeles to Zion National Park is 856 miles (1378 km). With a driving time of 14 hours, it saves you 8 hours, compared to this ultimate LA to Zion National Park loop.

Where should I stop between Los Angeles and Zion National Park?

The main stops on this ultimate Los Angeles to Zion National Park road trip are Las Vegas, Zion National Park, Bryce National Park, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Grand Canyon National Park, Sedona and Joshua Tree National Park. Additional destinations along the route include Valley of Fire State Park and Phoenix.

When is the best time to take the road trip from LA to Zion National Park?

A road trip from LA to Zion National Park is a great experience every month of the year. All the attractions on the LA to Zion itinerary, including Zion National Park, are open year round.

Summer, when the temperatures are as hottest, is the peak period of the year. Then the visitor counts skyrocket at all the natural attractions on the LA to Zion National Park itinerary.

Spring and autumn are shoulder seasons for the parks on the Los Angeles to Zion National Park itinerary. This period, with comfortable average temperatures, is ideal if you plan demanding hikes.

Winter, when the rim gets covered in snow, is a special time of the year to visit Zion National Park. But pay attention to that the low temperatures make the trails within Zion National Park more challenging.

How many days do I need to take the Los Angeles to Zion National Park road trip?

For the most rewarding experience, we recommend allowing two weeks or more. With so many top sights, including Zion National Park and Grand Canyon National Park, you certainly don’t want to rush through the itinerary.

But if you have less time, you can take a pacier road trip with less time at each stop. Or you could simply break the LA to Zion National Park itinerary up to focus more on your favorite destinations.

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