Southwest Road Trip Itinerary
If you are looking for one of the best USA road trip ideas, one of the most iconic places to explore is the southwest USA. I think many people would agree this area is so full of amazing things to see, making it easy to plan some of the best road trips in the US. We embarked on a relatively short road trip starting in Nevada, swinging through Utah, and ultimately ending in Arizona. This was loosely a National Park road trip since we did get to see 2 new parks, but there are way more than 2 national parks in the American southwest region. So read on for our detailed Southwest Road Trip Itinerary, and find out some of the coolest things to do in the southwest United States.
The Actual Road Trip Itinerary
Start: Las Vegas, NV
Stops: Zion, Page, Grand Canyon, Sedona, Scottsdale
End: Phoenix, AZ
Distance: 653 miles
Time: 11 hours 35 minutes
Now if you really drove directly from Las Vegas to Phoenix you could get there in around 5 hours. But we did not go from point A to point B, rather we started driving northeast out of Vegas, and circled around before we headed south to Phoenix. When planning our road trip itinerary, we first started with choosing our arrival and departure airport. We had a general idea of what we wanted to see between the two, but when we got out the map of southwest USA, we made our final list of what we could realistically see on a family road trip.
Day 1: Las Vegas
- Arrive in Las Vegas
- Spend the day exploring Las Vegas
- Food: Mon Ami Gabi, Las Vegas, NV
- Accommodations: Mandalay Bay Resort, Las Vegas, NV
We landed in Las Vegas early in the morning to kick off our southwest itinerary. We had been to Las Vegas a few times without kids, so this was their first time visiting Sin City! Las Vegas is not the typical place you think of for things to do in the southwest with kids. But, we were pleasantly surprised that there are a good number of things to do in Las Vegas with kids. And not only are there quite a few kid-friendly Vegas attractions but also there are quite a few road trips from Vegas. The area can often be used as a hub to visit many different National Parks near Las Vegas. I know quite a few people who have traveled with kids and did a road trip from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon. We only spent a day in Las Vegas, and had plenty to do to keep busy with the kids in tow!
Things to do in Las Vegas with Little Kids
- Hotel pools
- Discovery Children’s Museum
- Mandalay Bay Shark Reef Aquarium
- Downtown Container Park
- The High Roller
Day 2: Zion National Park
- DRIVE: Las Vegas > Zion National Park (160 miles – 3 hours with a stop for food)
- A day spent at Zion National Park – read more here
- DRIVE: Zion National Park > Page, AZ (115 miles – 2.5 hours)
- Accommodations: Hyatt Place Page, AZ
We left Vegas early to make the drive to Zion National Park in order to be sure to get a full day of exploring in. The Las Vegas to Zion National Park drive is not terribly long, but there isn’t much between the two. If you had more time than we did, a good stop would be the Valley of Fire State Park. We stopped in St. George, UT for gas and food!
We only had time for one hike when we arrived in Zion. It was surprisingly busy in this southwest National Park and took a while to enter and park the car. We chose to hike the Riverside Walk because it was good for everyone in our group, and it was also the perfect length for the amount of time we had. There are quite a few options for family-friendly hikes in Zion though.
Family Friendly Hikes in Zion National Park
Zion really was a great stop on our trip, even if we spent only a few hours there. The distance from Las Vegas to Zion National Park really makes it a great road trip idea if you are in Vegas. But we would love to return for a proper Utah National Parks Road trip, where we focus on all the parks in the state!
Day 3: Page, AZ
- A day spent in Page, AZ – read more here
- DRIVE: Page, AZ > Grand Canyon Visitor Center (132 miles – 2.5 hours)
- Accommodations: Best Western Grand Canyon, AZ (south rim)
We pretty much wanted to see two major things in Page, Arizona: Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon. Why did we want to see these? Because if we didn’t, we would continue having FOMO! Haha! No, but really, they are both incredible landmarks in the southwest USA. If you are planning a trip out west, this little city of Page, AZ has some amazing sights to be seen. We could have spent more time here, and if we happened to have visited during a warmer month would have also spent time at Lake Powell. So make sure to bookmark this little city of Page for your southwest USA road trip.
Day 4: Grand Canyon National Park
- Explore the Grand Canyon for a day – read more here
- DRIVE: Grand Canyon, AZ > Sedona, AZ (113 miles – 2.5 hours)
- Accommodations: Hyatt Residence Club Sedona, AZ
We really did not do the Grand Canyon any justice with our quick visit and would love to return for a longer stay. But if you happen to stop for a day you really can’t go wrong with the south rim trail. This paved trail walks you along the edge of the southern side of the canyon and is easy for all skill levels. Read about our quick trip to the Grand Canyon here!
Day 5: Sedona, Arizona
- A day spent in Sedona, AZ – read more here
- DRIVE: Sedona, AZ > Scottsdale, AZ (125 miles – 2.25 hours)
- Accommodations: Hyatt Regency Scottsdale, AZ
I may say this about each and every stop on this trip, but this time I really mean it. I am coming back to Sedona for longer than 1 day. I mean like I want to spend a week here!! It’s totally a great stop for a western US road trip, but it also is a place that would be wonderful to stay put in. We stayed at a wonderful hotel with a great pool, right in the town so we would walk to everything. The views here, the red rocks against the blue skies are simply stunning and this is by far one of my favorite southwest vacation destinations.
We only spent a day here, had plenty of time to do a Pink Jeep Tour, as well as spend time exploring the town (read about our trip here)! There is so much more to do in Sedona though, and I promise you this… we will be back!
Day 6: Scottsdale/Phoenix, Arizona
- A day in Scottsdale, AZ and Phoenix, AZ
- DRIVE: Scottsdale, AZ > Phoenix International Airport (20 min)
- Depart PHX
We spent our time in Scottsdale hanging at our resort, and our time in Phoenix just wandering around the city. Scottsdale is definitely the type of place known for its resorts and since we arrived on Thanksgiving, we laid low and enjoyed the pool and resort activities.
Phoenix has a lot more to do in terms of activities for kids too! Some of the best things to do in Phoenix with kids include hiking, a zoo, botanical garden, spring training games, science center, children’s museum and lots more.
More United States Road Trip Ideas
The southwest United States is seriously the ultimate location for road trips. Another great idea for a perfect place to begin a road trip would be Denver, Colorado. This city is full of amazing things to do and would be a great starting spot for a road trip through Colorado. Read more what to do in Denver here: An Epic 3 Days in Denver.