UTAH VACATION 2016
DAY 0 - Travel Days & Las Vegas nightlife. Tues., May 3rd and May 10/11, 2016
We arrived in Las Vegas at 5pm and took hotel shuttle to the MGM Grand. Rode the Tram to view the entire downtown and "the strip". Walked to New York New York, visited the Hershey Factory We returned to Vegas for another night out on the strip and flew home the next day.
DAY 1 - Wed., May 4th - ZION NATIONAL PARK
We drove to Zion National Park traveling up I-15 to Hwy 9 to Springdale, UT. This park does not allow vehicles, but the town of Springdale has free shuttles all up and down the main street to pick you up and drive you to the Park entrance. If you want to drive yourself, you may have trouble finding a parking space. After purchasing a National Park pass for $90 for two people, which would then get us into all parks free for the next 12 months, a great deal. Got on board the park shuttle to tour the entire length of the park ... you can stop along the way to get off and take hiking tours at each stop. The Park guide tells you the length of each hike as well as easy, intermediate or strenuous. These photos don't do justice in capturing the sheer size of these rock structures ... it was amazing to drive down through the bottom of them as opposed to looking down into them from the top canyon rims, as with the other canyons.
DAY 2 - Thurs., May 5th - BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK
Land of the HOODOOS!!! Our hotel the Ruby's Inn (Best Western) is the central hub to the entrance into Bryce. We got a tip from the bus driver that most people skip the Fairylands Point so we checked it out (as seen in the first 7 photos). Other than Sunrise and Sunset Point this is by far the best trail for getting close and personal with Bryce. There is another easy hiking trail (not on the regular route-Hwy 63) that is off Hwy 12 called Mossy Cave Trail which has small hoodoos, a river and waterfall, so don't miss this one. (see it on this map)
DAY 3 - Frid., May 6th - CAPITAL REEF NATIONAL PARK
We drove up Hwy 12 through the Dixie National Forest near the Escalate area to straight through the park taking the Capitol Reef Scenic Drive off to the right and to Capitol Gorge trail at the end. In spite of the cold rain, Shelby was rock hunting all along the way and found some really interesting specimens including dinosaur bone and black petrified wood. Just a note that after Capitol Reef the scenery on Hwy 12 through Hanksville and almost all the way to Green River gets really ugly. The mountains and hills turn all shades of green, yellow and grey ... we thought we were on mars, really!
DAY 4 - Sat., May 7th - ARCHES NATIONAL PARK
We drove through Arches and shot most of our pictures from the pullout areas. We hiked one trail, but most of them are super long, like miles and we didn't have the time to spend. Spent the night in Moab. Moab is a really cool town but it's got traffic like Austin due to the tourists, and they say it gets busier there as summer comes.
DAY 4 - Sat., May 7th - HUMMER 4x4 TOUR of HELL's REVENGE TRAIL in MOAB
This is how we spent the afternoon ... WAY COOL!
DAY 5 - Sun., May 8th - CANYONLANDS/NEEDLES DISTRICT & SIDE ROADS
While we were in the Moab area, we drove a lot of side roads, a few dirt roads, all of them clearly marked as state camping areas, but often with no road names or numbers. At the end of the main road into the Needles District of the Canyonlands National Park, is a dirt road (one lane) that has great views, but is a little scary to drive. These photos are a mix of all sorts of side trips and excursions.
DAY 6 - Mon., May 9th - OFF ROAD (San Rafael Swell & "little Grand Canyon")
From Green River we decided to go off the beaten path down Road 401 (literally driving dirt roads for more than 60 miles) ... I had no idea what amazing things we would find until the brown National Park signs led us to the San Rafael Swell which is an area known for it's camping with equestrian and 4 wheeler trails. The Wedge Overlook is known as the "little grand canyon" in Utah and was truly amazing.
DAY 7 - Tues., May 10th - CEDAR BREAKS NATIONAL MONUMENT & ZION - KOLOB CANYON
Heading across 143 through the Dixie National Forest we drove through the Panguitch Lake Resort & Brian Head Ski Area in the Dixie National Forest where we ran into an overlook for the Cedar Breaks National Monument. Unfortunately most of the area roads were still closed due to snowfall so we only saw one view of this treasure. Our final stop before heading back to Las Vegas was the top part of Zion, Kolob Canyon.
Some of our travel routes
I used this book to plan much of this trip ... Scenic Driving Utah