In mid August we met Aiden’s family in southern Utah to go on a road trip of some the Utah parks.
Day 1: We drove from Boulder, CO to Bryce Canyon. This was by far the longest driving day but we left early enough to make some fun stops along the way. Goblin Valley State Park is one of my favorite state parks and we decided last minute to stop there so Aiden could see the hoodoos. It is just such a unique place, I feel like the sandstone formations look like mushrooms and I love it! Next we drove through Capitol Reef National Park and stopped at the petroglyphs and some of the viewpoints. I loved just driving through the riverbed, it is so beautiful. We did not enter the other side of the park since we knew we were coming back on the way to Moab. We had an Airbnb in ____ for the night and they had some delicious fruit trees which was a great end to the day!
Day 2: My absolute favorite national park is by far Bryce canyon. I think it is so underrated and just amazing! We spent most of they hiking through the valley and up along the rim. We ate lunch at the lodge (not my favorite but they had a couple really delicious dishes). Late afternoon we drove to Escalante Petrified Forest State Park to meet up with Aiden’s family. There is a big reservoir that is perfect for swimming and paddle boarding. We did hike through the park and the petrified logs are super interesting and cool looking but I highly recommend doing it in the early morning. It was so so hot (a jump in the lake really helped though!). After hiking we headed to the Slot Canyon Inn which was absolutely amazing. The property is stunning and there are lots of animals. The views are so pretty! We got the best sunset views during dinner at their restaurant, North Creek Grill (the pizza was the absolute best I have had in a while). They even have petroglyphs just on their cliffs.
Day 3: We started the day with a delicious breakfast at the Inn then headed out to hike to the Lower Calf Creek Falls. I wasn’t sure what to expect but we got to the top (after a long and hot hike) and it was definitely worth it. The water is freezing but I had to go for a swim anyways! It is a 5.5 mile hike roundtrip and not that difficult as far as terrain goes, but bring lots of water since it is so hot. The next stop was driving the Burr Trail in Boulder, UT. There was almost no one there and the views were, in my opinion, just as interesting and beautiful as Capitol Reef (and way less people). We ended the day with dinner at Hell’s Backbone Grill & Farm which I 10/10 recommend. There carrot puree was amazing and they had an ice cream s’more dessert that was to die for. We drove from Boulder, UT to Teasdale up over the mountains and it was like nothing I have seen before. I think that drive was my favorite part of the whole trip. It is this gorgeous hike mountain range that looks down into the dessert and cliffs of Utah. It is indescribable. We stayed the night at The Muddy Duck Bed and Breakfast which is nestled up against some cliffs and looks over the rest of the valley (so beautiful and the kindest host).
Day 4: We drove through Capitol Reef on our way to Moab but this time we explored a little more and went on hike. We drove down the scenic drive (absolutely beautiful) and through the gorge on a dirt road. It is crazy how narrow it gets, you are basically driving in the riverbed. We hiked along the Gorge trail from there to further enjoy the views. Before heading out we stopped for pie at the Gifford House. It is strange there are some orchards and the old town nestled right in the gorge. We drove on to Moab, stopping in Green Rive to buy melons. There is a local melon stand at one of the gas stations and they have a big variety of different melons. In Moab we checked into our Airbnb (a lovely house right in town). We walked to Miguel’s Baja Grill for dinner and then browsed Back of Beyond Books (of course).
Day 5: We grabbed some breakfast burritos from Love Muffin Cafe (which are seriously delicious, the locals burrito is my favorite) before heading to Canyonlands National Park. We spent the day exploring different areas of the Island in the Sky area of the park. There are some gorgeous overlooks and short hikes totally worth checking out. We did the Mesa Arch hike and hiked along the rim at Grand Point Overlook. My biggest recommendation for this part is to get a four wheel drive car (or rent an off road jeep) because there are a ton of amazing dirt roads to explore, with way less people on them. Next we headed to Dead Horse Point State Park. The views here are totally worth it and different from Canyonlands. You can see beautiful views of the rivers and the salt flats. For dinner we went to Zaks in Moab, they have great buffet deal with the best bear cheese soup I have ever had.
Day 6: Our final full day in the parks was spent mostly at Arches National Park. We have been here before so we still only spent half day here but it is definitely a cool place to visit. This time we hiked in the Devil’s Garden area, checking out Tunnel and Pine Tree Arches. We also went to the viewpoints for Delicate Arch so Aiden’s family could see it. In general my favorite area in Arches is the Window’s Section, there is so much to see! We walked around the shops in Moab for part of the afternoon (I recommend Moab Made, everything they carry is locally made and so interesting/unique). For dinner we headed to Sunset Grill for beautiful views and delicious food. It was definitely my favorite restaurant in Moab (the French Onion Soup and Chocolate Mousse were my favorites, of the things we ordered).
I can’t recommend a Utah parks trip enough. They all have such unique landscapes and rock formations. Let me know if you want any more recommendations and/or trip advice! Thanks for reading!