What an adventure we are on!! After three non-stop days at Rocky Mountain National Park, it was time to make our way to Moab, Utah. This was a 3 hour drive that kept us looking out the window for the whole drive. So much cool and unique landscape to take in.
We landed in Dead Horse State Park near Arches National Park for three nights. Dead Horse is at the top of a canyon. From here we were very close to everything in the state park, as well as Canyonlands National Park and Arches. This was our first campground with no water hookups. Luckily, we were close to the toilets and dish washing station which allowed us to save the RV water tank for showers.
With all of us wanting to stretch our legs, we quickly set up and began exploring Dead Horse on our first afternoon. The warm, dry air made us really appreciate the desert landscape we were surrounded by. It was absolutely beautiful.
Being in the middle of nowhere on top of the canyon has unexpected benefits. We were gifted with multiple amazing sunsets and the ability to enjoy the full moon and stars without the influence of outside lights.
The next morning we were up and out bright and early to explore Arches National Park. There are over 2000 arches scattered around the park to discover. The smallest of which has a 3 foot opening and the largest, Landscape Arch, has a 306 foot opening. These phenomenal formations are the result of water, ice, extreme temperatures and underground salt movement. We hiked and hiked around the park checking them out, but hardly noticed the 10 miles in just 6 hours.
On our way back to the campground, we found Petroglyphs on the side of the road in Moab. Very cool.
The next morning we were up and on our way early again in hopes to get a jump start on the crowds. It was well worth it. The air was cooler and we never felt cramped while we hiked and explored Canyonlands National Park. This park is similar to Arches but uniquely it’s own feel.
After a long hot day in the park, we were all ready for a refreshing beverage.
Our next stop – Bryce Canyon, UT. Our drive to Bryce was our longest one yet at 6 hours. Along the way we saw another first, cows crossing the highway because it is BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land and it just comes with the territory as the animals roam free and have the right of way.
Go, Go, Go! Rested and refreshed, we were ready to explore Bryce Canyon National Park. We had just the one day but we definitely made the most of it. The park covers many miles that they let visitors drive around themselves. We explored 6 different hikes ranging from 1 to 3 miles each in order to better take in our environment. Our strategy to see it all, was to get in the park by 7am, head to the farthest or most popular point, and work our way back to the visitors center so Addie can get her park passport stamped.
Thanks to the motivation of Ella, we were up for seeing everything possible in this area. After a full morning of exploring Bryce, we headed 90 minutes down the road to Escalante Petrified Forest State Park to see what a petrified tree actually looks like. It completely surprised us. The colors and structure of the wood looked just like rock.
Most people visit Bryce and Zion at the same time because they are so close and we were no different. It is less than 3 hours with lots to look at along the way, including more tunnels cut right through the rocks.
Very cool to drive under and through a rock tunnel.
We landed at Zion Canyon Campground. After so many days of hiking in the warm desert we were excited to have access to a refreshing pool and the view was just spectacular. The campground was located right on the Main Street with close access to restaurants, groceries, and the park entrance. But Ella’s favorite was the coffee shop across the street.
We spent 2 very full days hiking around Zion National Park. The park offers a wide vary of landscapes and water features and we wanted to see them all. We kept up our average of 10-12 miles per day. The park uses a bus system for the most popular overlook and hiking areas, which is very helpful, as there is not nearly enough parking. We were able to drive through the other areas of the park and make our way to the east entrance. This is a dramatic entrance, with massive white sand hills where we were excited to see bighorn sheep. Then you enter a mile-long tunnel that has been carved out of the rock hillside, so close to the edge that at a couple of points in the tunnel, they built windows. It then opens up to a completely different landscape show casing the canyon walls, fins and hoodoos.
The lavender in Zion was stunning.
Wow!! 8 days, 4 National Parks, 2 State Parks. Exploring the state of Utah was amazing. Such an incredible amount of breathtaking terrain – just spectacular! Being able to share this experience with Ella and Addie was remarkable. It was a super memorable adventure!