Road Trip 3
Arizona, Utah, and Nevada
YouTube: Adventure Tails
With two mini road trips ( Road Trip 1 and Road Trip 2) of experience under my belt, I felt it was now time for a true long term road trip loaded with adventure! This trip covered about 1,400 miles in 7 days through Arizona, Utah, and Nevada, and cost around $1,500.
Day 1 – Driving to Mather Campground in Grand Canyon, Arizona
The trip from San Diego to the Grand Canyon is boring, I’m told. “It’s flat, there’s nothing but rocks/dirt, it’s boooooring!” they say... Well I absolutely loved it! Arizona has some of the coolest rock formations with intense reds and monstrous cliffs. I oo-ed and aww-ed when driving by the never ending Glamis Sand Dunes, towering mountains of Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, and the quaint town of Prescott. I stopped for a snack at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store in Yuma and met some folks from my home town in north/central Cali! Small world. Any long drive can be fun if you’ve got a keen sense of adventure!
We arrived late in the afternoon, set up camp, quickly looked for a sunrise photo spot, then went to sleep.
Day 2 – Exploring the Grand Canyon
The beauty of Grand Canyon National Park can only ever be truly appreciated in person. Neither photos nor video do this area justice. The first time I saw the Grand Canyon was at about 12 years old. Nearly two decades later I was still awed by the sheer wonder of it all. We rose before sunrise for pictures on the east side of Yavapai Point. Absolutely stunning!
After breakfast we hiked east along the South Rim Trail starting from Yavapai Point. Every view of the Grand Canyon is gorgeous, but I was looking for a specific night viewing spot. We hiked to the west side of Yavapai Point to find a wide, unobstructed view of the sky and the Grand Canyon. It was perfect for star gazing! Be extremely cautious here. Stay on the trails and do not venture out onto the cliffs.
The Grand Canyon National Park is one of the best places in the world to view the night sky. The elevation at Yavapai Point is about 7,000 ft. On a clear night one can easily make out the Milky Way. Falling stars and Last Vegas, Nevada can also be seen in the distance!
Day 3 – Driving to Watchman Campground in Zion National Park, Utah
In the morning strolled along the Rim Trail. We were on the lookout for wildlife! Then we headed over to the Bright Angel Trailhead to check out the early hikers starting the Bright Angel Trail hike, one of the trails used for the strenuous Rim-to-Rim hike.
On the way to Zion National Park we stopped at numerous scenic points along the Grand Canyon. I just couldn’t get enough of it! Grandview Point and Desert View Watchtower are the most notable. We also caught sight of the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument on the way into Utah. Someday I hope to explore both.
Day 4 – Exploring Zion National Park
Zion National Park is my all-time favorite National Park. Its home to Bucket List worthy Angel’s Landing, The Narrows, and some of the most gorgeous landscape you’ll ever see. The only dog friendly trail in Zion National Park is the Pa'rus Trail. While I explored Zion with my family, Brie enjoyed a fun stay with the doggo loving people at Doggy Dude Ranch in Springdale, Utah. I highly recommend Doggy Dude Ranch!
Angel’s Landing was a challenging hike previously on my bucket list, and completed/crossed off in 2015. I once again pushed my fear of heights aside to tackle it!
Day 5 – Exploring Zion National Park
My Mom had never seen Zion National Park. Dad and I were excited to take her to all our favorite spots! We went to the Weeping Rock, Emerald Pools, and hiked along the Riverside Walk to the entrance of The Narrows. I took sooo many photos!!
By this time Brie dog was ready for pickup! She jumped all over me and licked and licked and licked my face. She was soooo happy! The whole family got together for a delicious steak campfire dinner with roasted potatoes. Brie got a giant yummy piece of rib eye as a special reward <3
Day 6 – Driving to Atlatl Rock Campground in Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada
The drive to the Valley of Fire State Park was short and easy. It is an extremely dog friendly State Park, though the weather was a sweltering 90 F. We drove around for a time hunting for good sunset/sunrise spots. Brie and I mostly stayed inside the car with the cool AC cranked all the way up. We then went back to the campsite to await nightfall, when the sky would light up with stars!
Day 7 – Exploring Valley of Fire State Park then driving home
We rose early in the morning to explore Valley of Fire before the heat melted our bodies. We took sunrise photos at Fire Canyon, drove by Arch Rock, hiked through Petroglyph Canyon to Mouse's Tank, hiked some of Rainbow Vista, and the Fire Wave Trail. I highly recommend Atlatl Rock for a spectacular display of petroglyphs.
Driving home, final thoughts
This was our first, big camping road trip. I wasn’t 100% sure how it would go but felt confident we’d do great. It ended up being perfect!