Bryce Canyon & Zion National Park in Southwest Utah, not far from Las Vegas


You owe it to yourself to get out of Vegas and see the natural beauty of Utah. Zion NP is in a canyon and the peaks are high above, while Bryce Canyon is carved out below where you stand as high as 9000 ft above sea level. Bryce offers a wooded driving loop with wildlife, and has turnouts that provide the overlooks to the view below.  The northern half of Zion is park shuttle only during the season, cars are permitted in the southern half year round.  Drive out Hwy 9 to the Checkerboard Mesa, 9 miles east of the main north south road.  Cedar Breaks National Monument is also nearby - all in SW Utah within 300 miles of Vegas.  See larger map.

 

Zion Park Blvd - Hwy 9 to Checkerboard Mesa
Zion Park Blvd - Hwy 9 to Checkerboard Mesa

 

Here's Utah.com's map of best destinations and an easy to carry map & guide for sale.  Motorcycle Touring in the Southwest offers "thirty-four classic rides through the Southwest. Includes a map for each and color photos, as well as plenty of details on mileage, road conditions and terrain, services, motorcycle-friendly establishments, interesting sites, and side trips."


Monument Valley, on US163 in southern Utah is well known for stunning views.  Wikipedia has some great photos - be sure to scroll down the page and see the panoramas. There are jeep tours offered near the Visitor Center for the 17 mile off-road tour. You can also see the park on guided horseback tours.

Monument Valley - Wikipedia photo
Monument Valley - Wikipedia photo

 

"Monument Valley has been featured in many forms of media since the 1930s. It is perhaps most famous for its use in many John Ford films, including Stagecoach and The Searchers. It has also been featured in the 1969 film Easy Rider, the Robert Zemeckis film Forrest Gump, and most recently was featured in the popular United Kingdom television show Doctor Who in the two episodes The Impossible Astronaut and Day of the Moon.

 

The twin buttes of Monument Valley ("the Mittens"), the "Totem Pole," and the Ear of the Wind arch, among other features, have developed iconic status. They have appeared in many television programs, commercials, and Hollywood movies, especially Westerns."

www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_appearances_of_Monument_Valley

 


25 miles north of Monument Valley, off the main road, some adventurers discover Goosenecks State Park, where the San Juan River has carved a 1000 ft gorge. The viewpoint is on a paved road but there are limited services and no water, according to utah.com's website.  

 

"This state park has an easily accessible viewpoint above the river offering spectacular views of the goosenecks below."  www.bluffutah.org/goosenecks-state-park/  

 

Unpaved switchback near Mexican Hat, Utah
Unpaved switchback near Mexican Hat, Utah

This unpaved switchback is 11 miles north of Mexican Hat on Hwy 261.