The Best Southwest Glamping Road Trip
See eight national park sites on the breathtaking scenic road trip from the Grand Canyon to Arches to Zion.
Looking for the ultimate glamping road trip that brings you to the best of Utah’s national parks, plus the Grand Canyon in Arizona? We’ve paired together one of the most scenic road trips of your life with some of the best glamping camps in the country. Without having to sacrifice creature comforts, you’ll find yourself sleeping in canvas tents with luxurious linens and flushing toilets.
You’ll explore Grand Canyon National Park, Monument Valley and Arches, Canyonlands and Capitol Reef national parks. You’ll also visit Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park. Are you as ready as we are to hit the road?
Here’s the ultimate Southwest glamping loop hitting 7 national park sites.
START: Las Vegas
Grand Canyon National Park
Glamping in Valle, Ariz.
Your first major stop on the road from Las Vegas is going to be Under Canvas Grand Canyon in Valle, Ariz. You’ll check in for two nights at this new glamping hot spot just 25 minutes from the South Rim entrance to Grand Canyon National Park. Despite its proximity to the park, it feels worlds away. Nestled in a pinon pine and juniper forest, it offers solitude from the 6.38 million people who visit the canyon every year.
The giant white-tented lobby will wow you with its West Elm furnishings. So will your safari-style tent with high-end mattresses, sheets and decor. You can eat breakfast and dinner at the camp’s Embers Cafe, and there are a ton of free activities available to you on site, including live music, yoga classes, nature walks around the 160-acre property and arts and crafts. The concierge on-site will also book your off-site activities for you.
Learn more about this glampsite on our sister website: www.mygrandcanyonpark.com/where-to-stay-camp-eat/camping-rv/under-canvas-grand-canyon/
Grand Canyon Highlights
Celebrating its 102th birthday in 2021, national park offers more than great views, so spend at least two days seeing its different faces. While standing near its edge is breathtaking, you won’t really be able to comprehend its vastness until you hike into the canyon. Take Bright Angel Trail (www.mygrandcanyonpark.com/things-to-do/bright-angel-to-plateau-point), the park’s most popular, for a whole new perspective on this seventh wonder of the world.
There’s also fascinating cultural history to uncover in the museums and buildings that dot the rim. Architect Mary Colter (www.mygrandcanyonpark.com/park/grand-canyon-architect) designed a number of them like Hopi House and Desert View Watchtower, at a time when women were not “supposed” to be architects. She designed her buildings and interiors to be deeply rooted in the culture and ecology of the area, a visionary concept at the time.
48 Hours in the South Rim of the Grand Canyon
Get ready for adventure from biking Hermit Road to having an amazing breakfast on the edge of the Grand Canyon. Here are some of our favorite things to do while at the South Rim. www.mygrandcanyonpark.com/things-to-do/weekend-itinerary
On your way out of the park, stop at Desert Watchtower, one of architect Mary Colter’s masterpieces. Climb up the circular staircases to see re-creations of Native American petroglyphs from Salinas National Monument in New Mexico and elsewhere. Fred Kaboti, a Hopi from Second Mesa, did the paintings in the gallery on the first floor. Climb higher for even better views of the canyon, one of the most iconic natural attractions in the world, and the Painted Desert to the east.
Lake Powell and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
From Grand Canyon, head to Lake Powell, a literal oasis in the middle of the desert where stand-up paddleboards, houseboats, kayaks, rafting and a sandy beach await you. The town that sits just above Lake Powell is Page, Ariz., and it’s an easy two-and-half hour drive from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Along the way, you’ll see occasional roadside craft stands and a starkly beautiful desert landscape made of sage brush and red rock.
Lake Powell is large and when you arrive, it’s difficult to know where to go, what’s where and moreover, what to do. To make it easy for you, we’ve scouted out the top four things to do. At night, stay at Under Canvas’ Lake Powell Grand Staircase location. You’ll have views of Lake Powell and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument at this 50-tent property set on 220 acres. It offers on-site dining, an adventures concierge to help you plan your days, complimentary camp activities and fire pits with complimentary S’mores.
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is within easy driving distance, too, from your Under Canvas glamping abode. Wake up early and head to the monument to explore its uncrowded trails. Here are some tips on what to do in the national monument along with some beautiful state parks to explore.
Monument Valley is just under a two-and-a-half hour drive from Lake Powell. Monument Valley is really just as mesmerizing as the photos make it out to be. It’s where all the Instagram posts you’ve seen of the area fall short of what it’s like to actually see the majestic rock formations rising up from the desert floor in-person. Take time to get out of the car in Monument Valley and enjoy the views at one of the many scenic pull-offs.
After leaving Monument Valley, continue to Bluff, Utah, a river-rafting enclave that also has deep roots in Mormon history. Here are three things to do on the way or in Bluff.
Then fuel up at Comb Ridge Cafe on the left side of the road in Bluff for fantastic gourmet food (and alcohol, which can be hard to get in Mormon country) served in a cute contemporary log cabin. There’s a great shaded porch with tables to eat outside and a number of birds singing from nearby cottonwood trees. The cafe is home to beautiful little gardens, including one of sculptures made of recycled metal.
Arches and Canyonlands National Parks
Glamping in Moab
Arrive in Moab, Utah, in the evening. Check in for your three-night stay at Under Canvas Moab by driving 11 miles past Arches National Park north along Hwy. 119. Devastatingly beautiful views of the La Sal Mountains, iconic red-rock formations, your elegant safari-style tent and flushing toilets await.
This glamping experience sets you just outside what has become in the last 10 years a very popular (read: crowded) Moab. You’re a short distance away from its restaurants and breweries, but you are miles away from the traffic and hoards of tourists strolling downtown.
While there is no restaurant on site, you can order breakfast and lunch a la carte from the lobby at night and pick it up from reception at 7 a.m.
Take advantage of the concierge staff who can book you spots on ziplining adventures, Hummer tours, whitewater rafting and more. They’ll also share their insider tips on where to go on your own to see off-the-beaten path gems.
Must-Do Things in Arches and Canyonlands
With so much to do both in Canyonlands and Arches national parks, along with the surrounding area, you’ll need three days or more. Here are three things not to miss in Arches National Park. This list, of course includes Delicate Arch, the red-rock formation on Utah’s license plates.
Canyonlands actually has four different districts, each offering you unique experiences. Here’s a rundown on each district, plus two other sites you shouldn’t miss.
Top Things to Do in Moab
The scenic southern Utah community of Moab is the gateway to Arches and Canyonlands national parks, as well as Dead Horse Point State Park, and the cool waters of the Colorado River. With so many things to do in Moab, choose among our favorite nine things to do with family.
Capitol Reef National Park
In the morning, hit the road and take the Capitol Reef Scenic Byway to Capitol Reef National Park. This 124-mile byway is one of the most scenic in the nation. This little-known national park has all the beauty of its sister parks in state but none of the crowds.
Download a park map of Capitol Reef National Park to get your bearings. To maximize your time, we created a top five things to do list for you that won’t take up the whole day.
But if you want a full-day itinerary, here’s our perfect day in Capitol Reef.
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
The scenic drive from Capitol Reef to Under Canvas Zion, your next glamping spot, is 4 hours and 213 miles away.
On your way, explore Willis Creek Slot Canyon in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Accessed near the town of Cannonville, Utah, this easy, 3-mile out and back hike starts in a gorgeous canyon that’s initially relatively wide and narrows dramatically as you reach the 1.5-mile point. You’ll be walking alongside or in Willis Creek as you explore. Get there early in the morning to beat the heat. If rain is in the forecast, do not do this hike as flash floods can be catastrophic in canyons.
Then hit the road, continuing on Scenic Byway 12, which has it all: isolated canyons, grand plateaus that rise 9,000-feet above sea level, deep valleys that plunge to 4,000-feet and the natural and human-made history to prove it. Take this road to Bryce Canyon National Park.
Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks
Glamping Near Zion
You’ll check in for three nights of paradise at Under Canvas Zion, a 196-acre oasis in the red-rock desert bordering Zion National Park. The oversized tented lobby and gorgeous red-rock views from your tent will have you mesmerized. Have dinner at Embers Cafe on site and order a boxed lunch to go for pick-up in the morning, so you can eat lunch in the park.
Under Canvas’ on-site concierge service can help you reserve places on a number of guided adventures from Jeep safari tours to kayaking. The staff will also give you free advice on what to do for the following day. The most difficult part of staying here will be having to leave when it’s time to check out.
Best Things to Do in Zion and Beyond
There’s a reason why 4.3 million travelers visited Zion National Park in 2018. Every turn in the trail offers more striking views than the previous. Get a lay of the land with a Zion park map. And then start exploring this park’s spectacular trails and sights from the monolith Temple of Sinawa to the Angels Landing hike. Here are our top 7 things to do.
But there are also gorgeous state parks that have all the beauty and none of the crowds Zion has. Make time for them. Here are our top 6 ways to experience the area’s beauty in solitude.
Top Things to Do In Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park is known for its strange formations called hoodoos that burst through the desert floor and create an out-of-this-world experience for those who see them.
Get a sense of the park layout with our map.
For some of Bryce’s amazing overlooks that you can reach by car, check out our recommendations. But if you want to do a hike and see the hoodoos Bryce is known for, we have five top hikes for you, ranging from a 1-mile loop to eight miles of incredible scenery. Read about them and watch a video.
Glamping Near Bryce Canyon
Stay your last nights at Under Canvas Bryce Canyon, just minutes from Bryce Canyon National Park. The location’s 7,600 elevation gives you cool average temperatures in the 70s and 80s to beat the Utah heat. All of these luxurious tents come equipped with king beds, private, en-suite bathrooms and a wood stove. There’s on-site dining, complimentary camp activities, a fire pit with complimentary s’mores and a concierge service that will help you reserve adventures.
End: Las Vegas
It’s time to check out of Under Canvas Zion and hit the road back to Las Vegas. Even with Utah fading in your rearview mirror as you cross into Nevada, your experiences and the scenery from this epic glamping road trip will stay with you for a long time.