The Ultimate Highway 89 Road Trip
There’s nothing like an amazing summer road trip to rediscover the need for adventure in our lives. With this year’s Centennial celebration of the National Park Service (NPS), we think it’s a perfect opportunity to highlight one of the best road trips you can take. Whether you are planning a small road trip or have taken on inspiration enough to explore the nation coast to coast, adding the trip on Highway 89 to your map is something worth considering. The portion of the Highway 89 that we will be talking about extends from Flagstaff, Arizona all the way up to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming; however, if road tripping from border to border is on your bucket list, start your trip down in Nogales, Arizona and follow the road all the way up to Canada.
Starting Point: Flagstaff, Arizona
Highway 89 begins just on the Eastern edge of one of Arizona’s most treasured cities, Flagstaff, Arizona. Home of Northern Arizona University, this cozy town has a number of adventures available for both the summer and winter months. You can head up to one of the more popular attractions, Snowbowl, and see a beautiful view from the top of the mountain and ride the chair lift to make the view even more memorable. Visit in the winter months and Snowbowl is a top skiing location to escape to. There are also a number of spots to visit in or near Flagstaff such as Lowell Observatory or Meteor Crater, just on the way out of Flagstaff. If you’re coming up north from Phoenix, we highly recommend taking a quick detour to Mormon Lake Lodge, just 20 minutes Southeast of Flagstaff, and stop in the restaurant to have some delicious steak and visit our buffalo Romeo.
Lake Powell or the Grand Canyon North Rim
As you head North on Highway 89, the highway will split into two different options, you can either head on to Lake Powell for some fun on the water via Highway 89 or you can take the road West and see the amazing sites at the Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim. Let’s consider both scenarios and see which one fits your trip best.
Starting with a trip onward to Lake Powell, you’ll see more of the beautiful red mountains that make up the Navajo Nation. Once you reach the fork where you can turn left to Highway 89A, you’ll want to keep to the road and stick with Highway 89. You’ll have some hills to climb on this drive, but you’ll want to prepare to stop a few times to take in the view to the west of you, you can either head straight on to Lake Powell, or take a small detour on the Old Highway 89 and see the coveted Horseshoe Bend. This is a very popular tourist spot so please be aware of crowds.
Once you’re finished here, head into Page, Arizona. You can either stop in Page and look into taking a tour of Antelope (Slot) Canyon, we highly recommend booking a reservation in advance if you can, or you can head on into Antelope Point Marina to enjoy your afternoon at Lake Powell. Rent a kayak, rent a boat and spend the day on the water, or take a fun houseboat trip with your friends for a few days and really take in all that Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area has to offer. Before you head back out on the road, we recommend stopping to hike out and see Rainbow Bridge National Monument if you get the chance. When you’re ready though, Highway 89 will be ready for you as you make your way onto Kanab, Utah.
Perhaps you’ve already seen the beautiful lands of the Navajo Nation and would prefer a trip to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon instead. When you turn onto Highway 89A at Bitter Springs, you will take in your first views of Marble Canyon and the Colorado River and eventually will pass over the amazing Navajo Bridge. To your right, there will be a few different spots to take advantage of such as Marble Canyon, Lees Ferry (if you want to go fishing), or the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument. Stop and enjoy any of these locations or feel free to head on to Jacob Lake. At Jacob Lake you will see the turn off for Highway 67, turn left here and keep driving for just an hour more and see the incredible sights of the Grand Canyon. You can stay at the Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim and enjoy the sight for a day or two, but be sure to make your reservation beforehand. If you’d rather just grab a bite to eat at the Lodge and then head back on the road, take the trip North back up Highway 67 and then back on to Highway 89A into Kanab, Utah.
If you have a bucket list of National Parks to see on your road trip, Parry Lodge is the perfect stopping point for a few days while you venture out to Zion National Park, Pipe Spring National Monument, or the Escalante Grand Staircase. You can find out more about Hummer Tours we have available at ForeverAdventures.com. Rest in the quaint Parry Lodge and take in the unique history of the property with its historical Little Hollywood feel throughout the property and travel around Kanab for the evening as well.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Heading North out of Kanab, you’ll head back on to Highway 89 and up toward Bryce Canyon. Be cautious when taking this trip in the dark, early morning hours or at night due to deer on the road. If you decide to start your trip in the day however, you will see a number of striking sites, red rocks for miles, and all of the most beautiful scenes that rural Utah has to offer. Keep an eye out for signs to Bryce Canyon but don’t hesitate to pull off and enjoy some of the other locations along the way such as Hatch or Red Canyon. Once you reach Bryce Canyon though be prepared for one of the most spectacular sites. Although very similar to the Grand Canyon with the expanse of a vast valley that it is, nothing compares to the uniqueness of Bryce Canyon and the hoodoos that make it one of the best national parks to visit. Once you’re ready for lunch, stop into the Lodge at Bryce Canyon and have yourself a bite to eat. Lodging is available if you would like to stay at Bryce Canyon but it is a very popular tourist attraction so make your reservations to stay there as far in advance as possible.
Logan Canyon National Scenic Byway
Once you head back on the road, you’ll travel throughout all the best that Utah has to offer. Traveling through Sevier Valley (this starts at Sevier City up to Centerfield) known as Utah’s “Trail Country,” you’ll catch a glimpse of the Native American culture that has been preserved in that region and is a main part of the Utah heritage. Take a stop in Provo and Salt Lake City and explore the town and all that it has to offer. As you make your way to the Northern-most part of Utah though, you will reach the Logan Canyon National Scenic Byway drive at Cache Valley. According to UsRoute89.com, “The forest-lined drive offers many places to stop for a picnic or to camp for an extended stay. The canyon is also renowned for its display of brightly colored fall foliage.” Plan for a fall trip if you’re intrigued to see all that this area has to offer this time of year.
Grand Teton National Park
Out of Utah, through Idaho, and onto Wyoming there will be a number of various sites to see, but the most intriguing of this area will actually begin in Grand Teton National Park. Referred to as “Mountains of the Imagination” by the National Park Service, the incredible ranges of the Tetons are surrounded by incredible wildlife, alpines, and the beauty of the amazing Snake River.
If you’re looking to spice up your trip with a little adventure, we suggest taking a float trip down the Snake River with the team at Mad River Boat Trips. They offer calmer trips in the north and trips in the whitewater rapids in the south section of the Snake River Canyon. Once you’ve taken the day to explore the Grand Tetons, or want to take a day or two to see all that they have to offer, take a rest at Signal Mountain Lodge. From the lodge, you can see the most beautiful of sunsets with the Tetons in the foreground of your backdrop as you enjoy a bite to eat at The Peaks Restaurant or Leek’s Marina & Pizzeria.
Last Stop: Yellowstone National Park
The last stop on our trip through Highway 89 is at the oldest established National Park in the national, Yellowstone National Park. The trip from Signal Mountain Lodge to Yellowstone is just 40 minutes and you’ll have an opportunity to enjoy the beautiful sites of Grand Teton and the beginning of Yellowstone as you make your way there. As soon as you’ve reached Yellowstone, be sure to get out and stretch and get your best walking shoes on and to grab your camera because the most incredible sites are still ahead. Take a tour with Scenic Safaris in the summer or winter, and take on the Old Faithful Geyser Basin Hike or the Old Faithful Snowmobile Tour in the winter. If you wish to venture out on your own, follow the paths to see and learn all about the various geysers that make Yellowstone so unique such as Old Faithful.
Take an amazing road trip this summer and be sure to consider this route of Highway 89 when doing so. The trip from the desert in Arizona to the amazing ranges in Wyoming will be an adventure to remember. If we did not mention a spot to visit that you feel should be included on this list, let us know in the comments below!