When are you traveling? Do you have to be in Albuquerque on the 6th day?
Highway 12 from 89 takes you right past Bryce Canyon NP. Were you planning on stopping there?
Grand Staircase Escalante is not a national park. It isn't even a national monument. It was broken up in to 3 smaller national monuments last December. Of course, the region still exists. But much of it is inaccessible by passenger car. You will see some of it when you drive highway 12.
After driving highway 95, you could stop in Bluff, Utah. It would be about 5 hours to Albuquerque from Bluff. But that is by the fastest and least interesting route. A more scenic and interesting route would be to go thru Durango and Pagosa Springs Colorado and then on to Albuquerque by way of Taos and Santa Fe. If you take that route, you'd want at least one overnight between Bluff and Albuquerque.
Consider this plan:
Zion to Bryce Canyon, 1 to 2 nights
Torrey to Bluff/Bears Ears via highway 95. 1 to 2 nights
Bluff to Pagosa Springs or Durango 1 night
Durango/Pagosa Springs to Alburquerque
If you are traveling this summer, you need to make advance hotel reservations no matter what route you take or where you stay. You cannot wing it in this part of the country.
Thank you for the fast reply. We have traveled in this area twice before and will likely skip Zion and Bryce. We remember the drive on route 12 through the Grand Staircase Escalante and the wonderful vistas. We would like to see Capitol reef, natural bridges and the Bears Ears area as well as the areas around Blanding. We arrive in Las Vegas NEVADA this Saturday evening. Eventually we will want to end up in Las Vegas NM next Saturday.
Then consider this route.
Then make your way to Albuquerque.
If you are are going to be in the area next Saturday, you absolutely must have advance hotel reservations in Escalante, Torrey, Blanding and/or Bluff. Don't be surprised if you find things booked up; particularly in Torrey and Bluff. Don't get on the plan if you don't have hotel reservations in place. You may think this is off season. But it really isn't.
Thank you for the advice.
Looks like Connie did a great job with the nights/ routing.
A couple ideas of things to see:
If yo haven't seen the Aztec Ruins before in Aztec, NM they are great.
In Valley of Fire, the best hike is White Domes - it's even better if you take the Prospect side route for a ways.