Tour Utah and Arizona's National Parks on The Grand Circle Road

Set out through the Southwest to discover some of America's most iconic public lands.

By: Steve Larese

Photo By: STEVE LARESE

Photo By: STEVE LARESE

Photo By: AndrewSoundarajan

Photo By: STEVE LARESE

Photo By: STEVE LARESE

Photo By: STEVE LARESE

Photo By: STEVE LARESE

Photo By: STEVE LARESE

Photo By: Jeremy Pawlowski

Photo By: STEVE LARESE

Photo By: STEVE LARESE

Photo By: STEVE LARESE

Photo By: STEVE LARESE

Photo By: STEVE LARESE

Photo By: STEVE LARESE

Photo By: STEVE LARESE

Photo By:

Photo By: STEVE LARESE

Photo By: Steve Larese

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah

UT 12 winds through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which protects 1.88-million acres of landscape containing unique Native American and geological sites, including petroglyphs, fossils and natural arches. With its quiet backroads, spectacular national parks and monuments, the large area called the Grand Circle that encompasses southern Utah and northern Arizona makes for one of the most memorable road trips in the United States.

The Wave, Utah/Arizona border

The Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness on the Utah/Arizona border near Kanab, Utah, requires a permit from the Bureau of Land Management and a difficult hike to reach. The payoff is remote, otherworldly scenery and the surreal swoop of sandstone called The Wave, formed by wind erosion.

Zion National Park, Utah

Zion National Park, Utah's first national park, was created in 1909 and is renowned for its red cliffs, hidden gardens, waterfalls and emerald pools. It is a favorite destination for hikers worldwide.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Bryce Canyon National Park was established in 1928 and protects a colorful landscape of sandstone spires called hoodoos that were formed through eons of freeze-thaw erosion.

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Capitol Reef National Park protects 378-square-miles of colorful landscape and historic human inhabitation, including ruins left by ancient Native Americans and Mormon settlers in the 1880s.

Fremont Petroglyphs, Utah

Located in Captial Reef National Park, these petroglyphs were left by the Fremont Culture some 2,000 years ago. Utah's striking landscapes and public lands contribute to Utah's $7.4 billion tourism industry.

Arches National Park, Moab, Utah

Arches National Park near Moab, Utah, protects more than 2,000 natural stone arches, including Double Arch, pictured here.

Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah

Natural Bridges National Monument protects natural arches (including the pictured Sipapu Bridge), Native American ruins and a lush riparian watershed. President Theodore Roosevelt declared the site a national monument in 1908.

Gooseneck State Park

Gooseneck State Park near Mexican Hat, Utah, is a popular photo and camping stop with eight first-come-first-serve sites.

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

One of Utah's "Mighty 5" national parks, Canyonlands National Park is a playground for outdoor adventurers. Mountain bikers, four-wheelers, hikers and backpackers explore these 337,598 acres of unique geology and Native American ruins.

Bears Ears National Monument, Utah

Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, established by President Obama in 2016, protects hundreds of Native American archaeological sites. The area is still an important source of traditional resources and spiritual significance to several Native American tribes, including the Navajo Nation. Bears Ears National Monument encompasses Valley of the Gods.

Bluff, Utah

Bluff, Utah, is a gateway to many of Utah's popular destinations including Bears Ears National Monument, and is home to the Twin Rocks Cafe, name for the towering rock formation behind it. Many areas in Utah are revered for their dark night skies, which are among darkest in North America.

Cow Canyon Trading Post, Bluff, Utah

This weathered 1949 Buick Super parked in front of Cow Canyon Trading Post in Bluff has become a must-stop photo attraction for road trippers.

US 163 on the Utah/Arizona border

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park as seen driving south on US 163 from Utah into Arizona. The entrance to the park is on the Utah and Arizona border.

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Utah/Arizona

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is called Tse'Bii'Ndzisgaii in the Diné language and means "Valley of the Rocks." This iconic 91,696-acre park has been featured in many movies and has come to symbolize the American West.

Antelope Canyon, Arizona

Antelope Canyon east of Page, Arizona, is a surreal labyrinth of slot canyons on Navajo tribal land. A Navajo guide is required to visit the site, and several tour operators are located in Page. It got its English name from the herd of pronghorn antelope that used to live in the area.

Horseshoe Bend, Arizona

The Colorado River flows through Horseshoe Bend four miles south of Page, Arizona, accessed via a 3/4-mile-long trail on the west side of US 89. It is 1,000 feet from the canyon rim to the water.

Hopi Pueblo, Arizona

Hopi dancer Kyle Chase of the Pollen Trail Dancers displays his talent throughout the Southwest, including at Grand Canyon National Park. Hopi Pueblo consists of three ancient villages east of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. The Hopi Cultural Center off of AZ 264 in Second Mesa details the history and culture of the tribe, and the tribally owned Moenkopi Legacy Inn & Suites near Tuba City makes a good road trip rest stop.

Cameron Trading Post, Arizona

A Navajo master weaver demonstrate her skill in the Cameron Trading Post weaving room. Cameron Trading Post, located 30 minutes from the Grand Canyon's East Entrance on AZ 64, is a trading post, restaurant and hotel that was built in 1916.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park is 277 miles long and 18 miles across at its widest point between the north and south rims, and one mile at its deepest. It was established in 1919 by President Theodore Roosevelt, who said of it: "The Grand Canyon fills me with awe. It is beyond comparison–beyond description; absolutely unparalleled throughout the wide world...Let this great wonder of nature remain as it now is. Do nothing to mar its grandeur, sublimity and loveliness. You cannot improve on it. But what you can do is to keep it for your children, your children's children, and all who come after you, as the one great sight which every American should see."

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