LAS VEGAS, Nevada, Nov. 16, 2016/ Troy Media / – A loop through some of the western National Parks of the U.S. makes for a great driving trip. If you’re interested in seeing just how big the American West is, this is one way to do it. If you want to see natural wonders, here they are. If you like hiking, there are hikes galore.
You will need about a week to drive a representative loop through Nevada, Utah and Arizona. The actual starting point for the loop listed in most guides is Las Vegas. For the loop through the western National Parks we’re describing here, you will be driving about 1,050 miles (1,690 km).
You can fly directly to Las Vegas from many cities in the U.S and Canada. You probably will want to spend a day or two in Las Vegas to gamble, see some shows, or just satisfy your curiosity about “Sin City”, so allow time for that too.Zion National Park
The first stop on your drive is [popup url=”https://www.troymedia.com/2016/11/14/zion-national-park-walkers-paradise/” height=”1000″ width=”1200″ scrollbars=”1″]Zion National Park[/popup], in Utah. It is a deep canyon carved by the innocuous looking Virgin River. There’s a great hike up this river into a slot canyon called “The Narrows Hike.” The canyon does narrow to only 20 to 30 feet across in places. You will spend 60 per centof your time actually in the river as the canyon walls soar above you. (You must check on conditions at the visitor centre: flash floods are possible.)
If you’re not up for that strenuous hike, there are others that let you see much of what the park has to offer. You can also see some of the scenic sites by car. There is a Lodge in the park and more accommodations are available outside the park. Campgrounds are also available.
Bryce Canyon National Park, also in Utah, is your next stop. It’s a small National Park, but some visitors come away saying this is their favourite park. It’s famous for its colourful spire-shaped “hoodoos”. A hike into the canyon will make you feel you’ve entered a fairy wonderland. This park has a Lodge in the Park and good lodging nearby. Two campgrounds are near the visitor centre.
The drive to Capitol Reef National Park, again in Utah, follows along Route 12 and is very pretty. The main feature in this park is the formation known as the “Waterpocket Fold,” an ancient wrinkle in the earth’s crust. No lodging is available in the Park. Find some motels about 20 to 25 km ( 12 to 15 miles) from the park entrance. Some camping is available in the park.
You can pass though Natural Bridges National Monument. A scenic drive will take you to overlooks to view each of the three bridges that were formed by meandering streams. Allow a couple of hours for your visit. Lodging is about 50 to 65 km (30 to 40 miles) away. There is a small campground available.
You might want to make it a long day of driving and get to Monument Valley Tribal Park, which straddles Utah and Nevada. This huge valley has those iconic wild-west sandstone formations that you’ve seen in the movies. The Mittens are the most photographed, but there are other pinnacles and arches, bluffs and buttes.
You can get guided tours from Navajo tour operators. There is accommodation in the area; the only one in the Tribal Park is the new hotel called The View. Bring your camera.
We’re saving the most famous of the western National Parks for last. The Grand Canyon, in Arizona. Clearly this is one western National Park that you must see. There is accommodation and camping available in the park and many options nearby with shuttles into the Park itself.
This is such a popular destination that driving is restricted in the park in some areas. Parking can be a nightmare, so just use the shuttles.
Another day of driving will have you back at Las Vegas. By driving this loop instead of staying in town, you will have kept Las Vegas from getting too much of your money, and you’ll be far richer in experiences of the Western National Parks.
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