Itinerary: Six Days in Southern Utah

I’m spending some time this weekend sorting through photos from our trip to southern Utah and I can’t wait to share them! This trip is something my husband especially has been looking forward to for awhile. It came from one of those conversations where we ask each other, “If you could go anywhere in ‘X Country,’ where would you go?” This spring we’d earmarked a week for a U.S. trip, and we both agreed it was time to tackle southern Utah.

Utah Road TripGoing in, neither of us knew exactly what to expect, but I have to tell you, this trip has made its way into my top three for scenic beauty. Per usual, we packed a TON into just six days, but we never felt rushed – which makes it a very successful road trip in my book. Read below for a detailed itinerary of six days in southern Utah:

Day 1: Las Vegas, St. George
We flew in and out of Vegas, because it was the least expensive flight from our home airport. We’d both been to Vegas before, so we opted not to spend the night. Instead, we spent about five hours walking the strip, having lunch (at Flour & Barley, highly recommended for wood-fired pizza and an extensive beer menu), touring the National Atomic Testing Museum, and drinking beer flights at CraftHaus Brewery. From there, we drove two hours to St. George, Utah, where we spent our first night.

Day 2: Zion National Park in Springdale, Utah

Zion National Park Observation Point

Observation Point in Zion National Park

We woke up at sunrise, packed our backpacks, and jumped in the car headed for our first national park of the trip. When we arrived in Springdale (about an hour from St. George) we grabbed a quick but hearty breakfast and made our way into the park. Quick tip – the national parks in Southern Utah, like many, require a day fee per vehicle of $25-$30. If you plan to see several, buy the America the Beautiful Inter-Agency pass. It’s $80 and worth it if you’re seeing at least three parks on your trip (or within one year, which is how long the pass is valid).

 

 

Zion National Park Pa'rus Trail

The Virgin River along Pa’rus Trail in Zion National Park

By 9 am, we were on the trail to Observation Point. This 8-mile steep out and back trail is labeled as strenuous, but the view at the top is so, so worth it. After a late lunch at Zion Brewing Company and some souvenir shopping, we went back out for a 3-mile out and back hike on the Pa’rus Trail. This easy trail is flat and follows the Virgin River as it winds through the park. It was the perfect way to end the day in Zion.

 

Day 3: Bryce Canyon National Park, Page

Red Canyon Bryce Canyon National Park

Red Canyon near Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce is about an hour and 45 minutes from Springdale/Zion, so we got an early start on our drive. On the recommendation of our beertender at CraftHause in Las Vegas, we stopped first at Red Canyon, just 10 minutes outside of the national park, where we were able to get up-close and personal with the hoodoos this area is known for.

 

 

Bryce Canyon National Park

Views of Bryce Canyon National Park’s famous hoodoos from the East Rim Trail

From there we made our way into the park and directly to Bryce Point, arguably the best overlook in the area. From there, we jumped onto the East Rim Trail, which winds around the edge of the canyon. In roughly two miles we’d made our way to Inspiration Point, and then on to the famous Sunset Point. A quick shuttle ride back to our car at Bryce Point, and we were back on the road. Our hotel for the night was in Page, Arizona, where we’d spend the following day.

 

Day 4: Horseshoe Bend, Lower Antelope Canyon, Lake Powell, Monument Valley
Horseshoe Bend Page ArizonaPage, AZ is a small town built in the middle of some absolutely amazing scenery. When we woke up, just after sunrise, we went immediately to Horseshoe Bend. We just missed the crowds who’d arrived to watch the sunrise, and had the view mostly to ourselves for the next hour.

Lower Antelope Canyon Page ArizonaNext up, we toured Lower Antelope Canyon. This was SO COOL, and 100% worth the price of admission.

Lake Powell Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Page ArizonaLunch at Big John’s Texas BBQ was the food highlight of our trip, and fueled us up before we drove through Lake Powell/Glen Canyon Recreation Area (also a fee area, but covered by my America the Beautiful pass!). The views here honestly looked fake, as if it was a painting we were looking at. The photos just don’t do it justice.

Monument ValleyAnother two-hour drive led us to Monument Valley. Our first stop was mile marker 13, where Forrest Gump just stopped running. From there we took in the views, pitched our tent at the campsite, and waited on the sunset.

Day 5: Moab, Canyonlands, Colorado River
Canyonlands National Park Moab UtahWe’d intended to hike the Arches on day five, but Mother Nature wasn’t having any of it. After a three-hour drive from Monument Valley to a rainy Moab, we decided to grab lunch and drive through the Canyonlands. The clouds (and SNOW!) at the top prevented us from getting the full effect, but as we made our way back down the mountain we were able to see some pretty spectacular views.

 

Big Bend Campground Colorado River Moab Utah

Big Bend Campground along the Colorado River near Moab, Utah

We spent the rest of the day on touristy things – shopping and beer-ing at Moab Brewing Company. Early in the day, we’d staked out a spot at Big Bend Campground, and headed there before sunset to make a fire and enjoy our last night in Utah.

 

Day 6: Arches National Park, Las Vegas
Arches National Park Moab UtahWe woke up at our campsite along the Colorado River, and the sun was trying to make its way out from the clouds. We decided to head straight over to the Arches, and by the time we arrived, around 8:30 am, we were greeted by blue skies. We made the three-mile out and back trek to Delicate Arch, and it was the perfect way to end our trip.

From Moab, it took us about six and a half hours to drive back into Las Vegas. With a red-eye flight that night, we didn’t have much time to spare. But, we managed to sneak in dinner at a place that just really gets me – Tacos & Beer.

 

I can’t say enough about the scenery, the parks, the people. Southern Utah will go down as one of the best road trips we’ve done, ever. Look for more detailed accounts of some of our hikes and activities in the next couple of weeks! Have you been to Southern Utah? What was your favorite activity? Let me know in the comments.

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Four Tips to Plan the Perfect Couples’ Getaway

I don’t know about you, but I think there’s something special about taking off on a getaway with your significant other.

10622740_10102543276265894_106475093421040099_nMaybe it’s the teamwork of it all or the hyper-focused attention you can give to each other that comes from being out of the everyday routine. But when I get the chance to go on an adventure with my husband, I feel like we connect in a way that simply isn’t possible elsewhere. Over the last ten years, we’ve hiked mountains, swam in oceans, road-tripped scenic highways and byways and navigated countries where the only words we knew in the native language were “please” and “thank you.” It wasn’t always smooth sailing, but over the years I’ve learned a lot about planning for a couples’ trip that really delivers.

  1. Choose a destination you both want to visit. And if you can’t agree on just one, pick a destination each, and figure out how to make it work. For a recent trip to Europe, I picked my dream destination (Nice, France), my husband picked his dream destination (Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland), and we built a 12-day road trip that encompassed both – plus several incredible cities in Italy. 13232912_10103929722127274_1897117904514656583_n
  2. Collaborate on choosing the activities, restaurants, and lodging. For me, half the fun of travel is planning. I love the dreaming and imagining that happens leading up to a trip as I discover new locations, hikes, views, breweries, museums and more. But if I do it all myself, my S.O. doesn’t get as excited about the trip because he hasn’t had a hand in designing the experience. It’s always better when we’re planning together. 13307444_10103945775176834_2509785730173493827_n-2
  3. Play to your strengths. Okay, confession time. My name is Bridget, and I am directionally challenged. What I mean by that is, I have absolutely ZERO sense of direction. If given the power of making a directional decision without a working GPS program, you can be certain I will lead you in the exact opposite direction of where you wanted to go. Seriously, ask anyone who knows me even a little bit. My husband, though? He can find his way into or out of anything just by guesswork and the angle of the sun, or something. It’s pretty impressive, even if it annoys me at times that he’s ALWAYS right about which way to go. When we travel, and especially when we take long road trips, he drives. It’s an asset for times when the GPS will only speak to you in German or the map blows out the car window. But, in the face of a problem or travel crisis, like, when you get on a bus going in the wrong direction and ride it out for two hours (see above for how something like that might happen), I’m pretty calm under pressure. So when our plans veer off the tracks, I’m the go-to person for reorganizing our itinerary to allow for delays, picking a new restaurant when the reservations fall through, or staying positive when flight times get pushed by 12 hours. 206268_10101033579550214_316457621_n.jpg
  4. Take time to smell the roses. And take the pictures. And drink the wine. I’m one of the biggest offenders when it comes to overscheduling during travel, because the world is beautiful and I want to see all of it. But, especially when you’re traveling as a couple, it’s so important to allow yourselves the time to enjoy each experience. Taking just a moment to sit down together, and talk about what you’re looking at, can make all the difference between a whirlwind of cities you can hardly discern from one another and a lifetime of memorable experiences you’ll be talking about together for years to come. One of our favorite traditions when traveling is to pack a picnic, beer or wine included, whenever we hike in the mountains. When we get to the top, we find a place to sit down, and we take in the view while enjoying our lunch. It forces us to slow down and appreciate the journey as well as the destination.  Trust me, you’ll never regret the hour you spent basking in the sunshine, sharing a bottle of rose while you stared into the valley in the Alps. I know I don’t!270431_10101516123288694_580892092_n