Amazing road trip in Utah

In September 2016, I visited Utah for the first time. I fell in LOVE with that state! Throughout my journey,  I was overwhelmed by the beauty of its landscapes and rock formations.

In September 2016, it was also the first time I travelled with my dad. At first, I planned to make a solo ro ad trip, but one week before I left my dad asked if he could come with me! Being himself a traveller/camper/hiker, I knew he would love that trip as mush as I would. He also came with me because he was worried that I would travel alone, which surprised me because I did so many trips alone before that one!

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Canyonlands National Park – Grand View Point Trail

We did so many things in our 8-day trip! I was tired at the end though, and maybe a bit grumpy (sorry dad!). Here was our road trip route:

If you’re road tripping through Utah or the United States and plan to visit many National Parks, it might be a good option for you to buy the America the Beautiful annual pass (80 USD $). Each Annual Pass can have up to two owners and is accepted in more than 2,000 recreation areas, including National Parks. If you plan to visit the Mighty Five in Utah, you should definitely buy it, since the entrance fee for each park is 30 USD $ per private vehicle (30$ x 5 parks = 150 USD). However, if you only plan to visit one or two parks, you should know that the 30$ car admission fee is good for seven days and includes use of the shuttle service (where applicable).

We travelled to Utah at the end of September 2016. My plane ticket from Montreal (YUL) to Salt Lake City (SLC), including one stopover in Calgary, cost me 360 CAD $ with Delta Airlines when I bought it in mid-August. My father’s plane ticket was more expensive because he bought it a few days before our departure. Our plane landed in Salt Lake City around 6:30 pm and we picked up our rental car at the Thrifty counter aroung 7 pm. We left the airport and drove to Springville’s Walmart (~1 hour) to buy groceries for our trip  and we ate at Subway Restaurant. Then, we drove for 1,5 hour to Fillmore, where we camped for the night. I booked our tent site ahead, and the staff explained how we would pay afterhours (so they knew we would arrive late in the evening), but they didn’t give us the password to access the bathrooms, nor the password to access the Wi-Fi. We paid in a locked box upon our arrival, so when we realized that, it was too late. We camped there anyway, but we had to drive to a gas station to use a bathroom before going to bed… Let’s just say that’s not ideal… I wrote to the campground administration afterwards to get a refund, but they didn’t even care to write back…

The next morning, we left early, stopped in a gas station to eat our homemade breakfast (bread, banada, peanut butter and jam) and then drove again until we arrived in Springdale (the closest city to Zion National Park).

Zion National Park

Click here to read my post about that park.

  • Combine Kayenta Trail (starts at The Grotto; difficulty: moderate; duration: 45 minutes one way; distance: 1.0 miles/1,6 km; elevation change: 150 ft/46 m) with Upper Emerald Pool Trail (difficulty: moderate; duration: 1 hour roundtrip; distance: 1.0 miles/1,6 km; elevation change: 200 ft/61 m) and end with Lower Emerald Pool Trail (difficulty: easy; duration 30 minutes one way; distance: 0.6 miles/0.95 km; elevation change: 69 ft/21 m).
  • Riverside walk (starts at Temple of Sinawa; difficulty: easy; duration: 1,5 hour roundtrip; distance: 2.2 miles/3.5 km; evelation change: negligible): great view, easy paved walk, but too crowded.
  • Watchman Trail (starts at Zion Canyon Visitor Center; difficulty: moderate; duration: 2 hours roundtrip, but it took us 3 hours because we stayed for a long time the admire the view; distance: 3.3 miles/4.3 km; elevation change: 368 ft/112 m): that hike was my favorite in Zion Park.
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Watchman Trail

On the road between Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park

We left Zion National Park around noon and really took our time on the road. We stopped at several places to take photos, enjoy the view and eat our snacks.

  • Drive the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway: there are many roadside stops and spectacular viewpoints.
  • Canyon Overlook Trail: You can only get to the parking at the trail start if you’re driving from Zion National Park (if you’re coming from the other direction, you won’t be able to park there because left turns are prohibited and there are poles that block the road). There’s a toilet near the parking.
  • We also made a detour to Cedar Breaks National Monument at sunset. It was realy pretty and the view was amazing! I was happy that we’ve been there, but it’s really similar to Bryce Canyon. If you drive on Scenic Route 14 at night, be very careful and don’t drive too fast because there are many deers that cross the road.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Click here to read my post about that park.

  • Hike Navajo and Queen’s Garden Combinaison Trail
  • Wake-up early and see the sunrise at Sunset Point (no mistake in the name here)

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On the road between Bryce Canyon National Park and Arches National Park

  • Quick hike on Moosy Cave Trail
  • Make a small detour at Slackers in Torey to eat delicious hamburgers.
  • Drive through Dixie National Forest

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  • Stop at Gifford Homestead to eat tasty peach pie, in the Fruita valley. You can also pick fruits in that desert oasis (apples, cherries, apples, and peaches, depending on the season growth).
  • Drive through Capitol Reef National Park.
  • Drive through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

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Arches National Park

A post about that park will soon be published. Please come back later.

  • Do not miss Delicate Arch Trail!
  • Combine Sand Dune Arch, Broken Arch and Tapestry Arch on Broken Arch Loop Trail
  • Make a quick stop on the road to see Skyline Arch
  • Hike a little more to see Landscape Arch
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Delicate Arch

Canyonlands National Park – Island in the sky

A post about that park will soon be published. Please come back later.

  • Mesa Arch Trail
  • Buck Canyon Overlook
  • Grand View Point Overlook Trail
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Grand View Point Trail

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14 thoughts on “Amazing road trip in Utah

  1. Pingback: Wandering through hoodoos at Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah | CRAVINGS OF A WANDERHER

  2. This is AMAZING!!! Thank you so much for sharing, this is such an informative guide to the area. From seeing pictures of Utah’s beautiful landscape I get more and more jealous everyday! It’s a must on my bucket list. Great pictures too! Bryce Canyon National Park looks like the dream!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful photos! Utah keeps coming up lately as a great destination especially for hikers and this post really makes me want to visit ASAP! So nice that you did the trip with your Dad – great memories together.

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    • Thank you! What is great about doing a road trip in Utah, is that it’s really accessible to anybody. Some hikes are harder, but most of the time you can see great landscapes from the road or by walking a little on an easy path. You should definitely visit that state! 😉

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  4. These photos just look so amazing! It is my dream to take time and do a road trip around the USA, but I guess I am underestimating the size of each state if Utah itself needs 8 days already.

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  5. Just looking at the photos almost makes me feel like it’s on a whole other planet, the rock formations are breathtaking! I’ve had an itching to explore Utah but wasn’t sure what to do, all of your tips have virtually solved that problem. Sounds like it was a brilliant adventure, can’t wait to visit it myself!

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  6. What a beautiful area! Your road trip sounds amazing, and the hikes look stunning!! I’m looking for a road trip to do this summer from Alberta, so I’m going to pin this as an option!! Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Your photos are so dreamy!!! I’m planning a trip around Nevada, Utah, Arizona and South Cali and I think I need to extend my trip after seeing your itinerary. I think the photos from Bryce are my favorite! *insert heart eye emoji*

    Liked by 1 person

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