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Horseshoe Bend to Zion National Park (Epic Road Trip)

Epic Road Trip Itinerary from Horseshoe Bend to Zion National Park

A road trip from Horseshoe Bend to Zion National Park has incredible desert scenery and loads of attractions. This unique road trip skirts along the border of Arizona and Utah. This short 2.5-hour drive could easily turn into a week of adventure stopping at all the best attractions along the way.

In this epic road trip guide from Horseshoe Bend to Zion National Park, we will be going the north route, which mostly stays on the Utah side. Depending on how much time you have, you can choose quick roadside attractions or embark on longer adventures and epic hikes.

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The Route from Horseshoe Bend to Zion National Park

The fastest, most efficient, and definitely most fun route from Horseshoe Bend to Zion National Park spans from Page, AZ, through the small town of Kanab, UT.

And finally, a crucial left turn at Carmel Junction to hit the Zion National Park Visitor Center. There are endless adventures to be had along this epic road trip that we will include below. 

How Far is Horseshoe Bend From Zion National Park

The northwest route from Horseshoe Bend to Zion National Park is about 120 miles and takes about 2 hours and 20 minutes (without stops).

When Is The Best Time Of Year For Zion National Park & Horseshoe Bend

The best time of year to visit Zion National Park and Horseshoe Bend is in the Spring or Fall. This is when temperatures are ideal for outdoor adventures.

However, these are also the most busy times. So if you are prepared to deal with the heat of summer, or cold of winter, you can find more solitude during those times.

Map Of Horseshoe Bend to Zion National Park Epic Road Trip Itinerary

Horseshoe Bend

horseshoe bend at sunset
Photo by Alan Liu on Unsplash

Of course, the first stop on this Epic Road Trip from Horseshoe Bend to Zion National Park is to hike to the Horseshoe Bend Overlook. 

The Horseshoe Bend Canyon Overlook Trail is a short 1.5 mile (round trip) hike with 242 feet elevation. The views from the rim offer one of the most beautiful views. There is a parking lot located right off Hwy 89.

The cost is $10 per passenger vehicle. 

We suggest hiking at sunrise or sunset. There are lot of people during the middle of the day, and it can be hard to snag a parking spot.

Learn more about the Horseshoe Bend Hike from our guide. 

Antelope Canyon

The next stop is Antelope Canyon which is located near Page, AZ, and must be done with a Navajo Nation guided tour. The wave-like walls as you walk deeper and deeper into the canyon are like nothing you have ever seen. It’s quite possibly the most beautiful slot canyon in the world.

This unique canyon hike can be done two different ways: Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon.

In our in-depth guide, we help you choose between Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon. Quick Tidbits: Upper Canyon is better for photography because there are famous light beams that shine down through the canyon. The Lower Canyon is about 3 times the length of Upper Antelope Canyon.

Choose an Antelope Canyon Tour:

Glen Canyon Dam

A view of the Glen Canyon Dam in Page, AZ
Glen Canyon Dam

The Glen Canyon Dam was created in 1966 to provide power and water to people in the West. The dam holds around 8.7 trillion gallons of water.

But with the dam holding the water for Lake Powell, the Colorado River no longer reaches the sea, except on rare occasions.

The road goes right over the dam, so you really can’t miss it. But its worth parking to get a better view of the dam at the overlook

Lake Powell

View of a houseboat in Lake Powell through a view of a canyon
Houseboating on Lake Powell

Lake Powell is the land of endless possibilities. While our suggestion is to rent a houseboat and explore the ins and outs of the landscape, that requires at least a few days.

For shorter day trip excursions on Lake Powell, you have a few good options.

You can explore Lake Powell just by easy access to Lone Rock Beach, or explore on a jet ski, power boat, or kayak adventure.

There is also a Canyon Dinner Princess Cruise and other scenic boat tours to choose from.

Do note, there is an entrance fee to get into the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

Because you are also going to Zion National Park, you should consider getting the America The Beautiful Annual Pass(It will waive the entrance fee at both locations).

Lake Powell has become one of our favorite places in the United States. We truly believe this stop on the epic road trip from Horseshoe Bend to Zion National Park should not be missed!

Toadstool Hoodoos

Photo by Kiki Falconer on Unsplash

A unique geological wonder that’s just a short detour off Hwy 89 are the Toadstool Hoodoos. The hike is an easy 1.8 miles with 141 ft elevation change.

The trail takes you through unique rock formations making you feel like you are on another planet. 

You also don’t have to hike the whole loop to get some of the best views of the hoodoos. 

Paria Rainbow Cliffs

Paria Rainbow Mountains: unique attractions near Kanab, UT
Paria Rainbow Mountains: Unique Attractions Near Kanab, UT

A short detour off Hwy 89 is the scenic drive to view the Paria Rainbow Cliffs. The encrusted minerals like iron oxides, cobalt, manganese, etc are what make up the stunning colors of the mountains.

The Wave

The Wave hike is probably one of the most sought-after trails in the area. The swirling layers of sandstone of are truly magnificent. But only 60 people per day are allowed on the trail. 

The Wave hike is 6.2 miles with 1,167 feet elevation change. Permits are required to hike this trail and are very competitive. Getting to this destination also requires special instructions from the park rangers. Visit the Kanab visitor center for more information. 

You’ll want to check out our Wave Hiking Guide for tons of more useful information on this hike.

Buckskin Gulch

buckskin gulch: Unique Attractions near Kanab, UT
Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Buckskin Gulch is on of the longest slot canyon hikes in the southwest. Therefore, it’s not an easy hike you can just add onto this Horseshoe Bend to Zion National Park road trip. But if you strive for grand adventures, you will surely want to add this to the list. 

The hike for Buckskin Gulch ranges from 20-45 miles. The “shorter” route is from Wire Pass to White House Trailhead, which is 20.6 miles. And the second “longer” route is from Buckskin Gulch Trailhead to Lee’s Ferry which is 45.6 miles. Therefore, it is best done as a meticulously planned backpacking trip.

White Pocket

White Pocket: Unique attraction near Kanab, UT
Photo by John Fowler on Unsplash

The road out to White Pocket is an adventure in itself and requires 4×4 and high clearance. This area closely resembles the Wave with the marble colors and wave-like textures. 

If you have the right vehicle to get there, you can roam the area freely. There aren’t really any specific hikes, but rather just free exploration the area. So use caution and make sure you know how to get back to your vehicle if you venture far.

And ‘Leave No Trace’ ethics dictate that you stick to travel on durable surfaces to minimize impact.

Sand Caves

Jake and Emily holding hands with the Sand Caves in the background
Sand Caves

An easy detour along this epic road trip is to climb into the sand caves. This series of caves has a variety of rooms and doorways to the outside.

Park across from the caves just on the side of the road, then cross the road and climb up the rock wall to the caves. You might need to scale a steep section of the wall.

Once you climb up the side rock wall, you get to venture into these massive red rock canyons. 

Moqui Caves

The Moqui Caves is an ancient history museum built into a cave. The cave never gets above 65 degrees, even in the summer months.

The cost is $5 for adults.

You can learn about ancient artifacts, see dinosaur tracks, and witness fluorescent minerals. 

Belly of the Dragon

Belly Of The Dragon: Unique Attractions Near Kanab, UT
Belly Of The Dragon: Unique Attractions Near Kanab, UT

One of the most unique attractions near Kanab, UT is Belly Of The Dragon. The hike extends through a long tunnel-like cave that resembling the belly of a dragon.

The hike is less than .5 miles roundtrip.

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

Emily walking up the Coral Pink Sand Dunes: Unique Attractions Near Kanab, UT
Coral Pink Sand Dunes

The Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is the land of adventure. There is hiking, off-roading, sand-surfing, and more. The cost to get into the Park is $8 per vehicle.

The most popular thing to do here is hike amongst the sand dunes.

The pink-ish sand dunes are beautiful to see, especially around sunrise or sunset.

What To Do At Zion National Park

Now that you have made it to your destination, there is tons to do in Zion National Park.

Whether you want to hike, backpacking, grab a beer from a local brewery, or pamper yourself at the spa, the possibilities are endless. 

Hiking in Zion National Park

Some of our all-time favorite hikes in the park are: (Our Hiking guides included)

Many of these hikes are popular tourist attractions and require a permit. Tourists can either plan ahead and apply online through a lottery or try to get a walk-in permit. Or find the other attractions at Zion here. 

The Narrows & The Subway hike are slot canyons where you hike through the river or creek. The Narrows is through the Virgin River and the Subway is along the Left Fork Creek. If rain is in the forecast, use extreme caution as flash floods can completely wipe out the whole area in the canyon. 

Both hikes are not advised to be hiked in the winter months, although it can be done. 

Another popular option for hiking in Zion National Park is Angel’s Landing trail or Observation Point. Both hikes climb up in elevation but are very exposed to the cliff edge. We would not advise this hike to anyone scared of heights. But the views along the way and at the end are spectacular!

Relax at the Spa Near Zion National Park

After a long day of hiking or simply if you would rather relax than go on an adventure, Zion has some luxury spas to pamper yourself. Each spa has restorative and rejuvenating treatments, as well as wellness workshops.

Great Spa Options in Zion National Park:

Horseshoe Bend to Zion National Park Road Trip

There are tons of unique and epic adventures to embark on between Horseshoe Bend to Zion National Park. You can easily spend a whole week or make it just an easy day trip. So take as little or as much time as you want on the adventures that interest you most. 

Personally Jake and I think Zion is one of the best National Parks. The red rocks and epic hiking opportunities just make this the perfect place for outdoor enthusiasts.

Of course, this trip can just be flipped in reverse if you are traveling from Zion National Park to Horseshoe Bend.

Save This ‘Epic Road Trip From Horseshoe Bend to Zion National Park’ For Later

a map with the pins to the best stops from horseshoe bend to zion national park
horseshoe bend overlook from the rim and zion national park from angels landing hike, with words overlay horseshoe bend to zion national park epic road trip