Part 2: The Greatest National Park Road Trip

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park Hoodoo

With hiking in the morning, we changed up our schedule by driving at night. Luckily, Bryce Canyon is only an hour and 25 minutes away from Zion. We stayed in a tiny town called Panquitch.

The glamping was limited in this town, so we tried our hand at AirBnB. We stayed in the basement of a lovely family’s home. The adorable 11-year-old daughter led us to our room, and we giggled at how different this stay was from our wagon experience. We were happy to have a space that resembled our normal life even if it was oddly in someone else’s house.

Bryce Canyon National Park Rock Formations

On a hunt for some dinner, we stumbled upon the small family-owned Tandoori Taqueria. By this point in the trip, we were delirious from all of the travel to the point where everything was hysterical to us. We were debriefing the whole trip eating slightly above average tacos, and we couldn’t stop laughing at all of our memories. The fact we had been hiking and driving nonstop since the moment we left had finally caught up to us.

After a rejuvenating night of sleep, we headed out to Bryce early in the morning. The second we saw Bryce, we were in awe. The rock formations called hoodoos were breathtaking. Even though it is a smaller national park, it packs an enormous punch. There is nothing quite like this park, and it is a definite must-see. We were so close to changing our plans because we wanted to stay for another night to see the stars. Apparently Bryce is a remarkable spot to stargaze. Therefore, it undoubtedly makes my list of places I have to go back to.

There is another spot in Bryce where there is a river flowing through all of the rocks. We walked around this area for about 45 minutes before we headed on our way to Capitol Reef.

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Capitol Reef National Park

When we made it to Capitol Reef, we checked into our beautiful resort first and spent the rest of the day in the hot tub for some ~self care~ as we like to call it. The next morning, we were up and at ‘em bright and early as per usual.

I want to reiterate that every part of our trip was incredible; yet, if I had to pick a lower point in our experience, it would be this park. Not because Capitol Reef isn’t an exquisite site, but simply because we didn’t feel like we got its full essence.

Capitol Reef National Park

The rocks are stunning with stacked layers of rustic reds, oranges and yellows--this was definitely the park’s premium feature. Our only downfall was that our chosen trail was hard to follow, and we ended up getting lost several times.  As one could imagine, we started to get more and more frustrated with every wrong turn. You could argue that there is no wrong direction in an open area trail, yet we weren’t even quite sure what we were looking for.

When we finally decided to turn back, we wanted to try a different trail. The problem was that it started to rain, and our desired route had a flood warning. With safety as our main priority, we weren’t willing to risk it. We left Capitol Reef feeling like we didn’t get to see as much of it as we would have liked.

What can we say? We were living our dream hiking the western US. We couldn’t stay mad for long. Especially as we blasted Ed Sheeran’s Divide album on our way to Moab. Now that’s what I call making the best of every moment.

Moab, Utah

Canyonlands National Park Arch

Ah, our last stop! Crazy how we have come so far. It has been quite the journey indeed. Our final two and a half hours of driving had us emotional. We loved all of our long car rides and jamouts. We couldn’t believe how quickly this trip passed, yet we sure did take in every moment. And hey, we still had two parks left! It wasn’t over yet.

Our last stay was in this adorably charming AirBnB cottage that shared the grounds with three other cottages. We made friends with some other hikers in the hot tub--seems to be our favorite place to reside!

We walked around the endearing, quaint town of Moab with all of the cute local shops and got some ingredients at a local grocery store to make peanut butter banana wraps for our hikes the next day. Our day ended with a delicious meal at a coveted Thai restaurant, Arches Thai.

The next day, we braced ourselves. Our last full hiking day was jam-packed.

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands is a spread out park with lots to see. We chose three smaller hikes that would give us a taste of everything Canyonlands has to offer.

There was this one viewpoint where we sat and looked out at all the canyons and rocks. My ravish reviews wouldn’t even do it justice. The photos will have to speak for themselves.

Arches National Park

Arches National Park Delicate Arch

We had the whole rest of the afternoon and night to explore Arches. Thank goodness we did because Arches is a treasure with so much to uncover.
We started with the Double Arch hike, which is not really a hike at all. It is more of a viewpoint, so it is a super easy way to experience a splendid view of remarkable arches.

Afterwards, we made our way to the iconic Delicate Arch trail to get a photo in front of the well-known arch. It is more of a moderate trail with a steady upward climb. This hike was more crowded with many people sitting around enjoying each other’s company with casual conversation and a cool breeze in the shade.

Lastly, we saw the infamous Landscape Arch. Part of this arch actually crashed in 2008 to many people’s surprise. Now, it is blocked off so people cannot explore it as extensively. However, it is still an impressive arch, and not too hard of a hike to go see it either.

Landscape Arch Arches National Park

It is so astounding to see such intricate rock in this park. It seems otherworldly and unreal if you look at it for a while. I’m still dumbfounded about how beautiful this world is and how nature is incredible in countless ways.

We walked around Landscape Arch until it got dark because we wanted the experience of stargazing in a park. Then, euphoria hit. We drove back out of the park with the windows down listening to Sweet Disposition with the stars in full view. This moment wrapped up our whole trip marvelously. Truthfully, I don’t think there could have been a better way to end our 12-day road trip of the western US.


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Western US Road Trip

Our last morning consisted of walking around Moab and scouting out the best jewelry shops. This region is known for its turquoise, so I got turquoise earrings that I am in love with. Every time I wear them, I am flooded with beautiful memories from this trip.

We packed up our suitcases and drove Nina the Nissan to the Moab airport. It is one security check-in, one gate, and one bathroom. The tiniest airport I have ever been in with one flight a day to Denver.

Nevertheless, we made it home--happier than I could have ever imagined. This was indeed the road trip of a lifetime. Every national park was so vastly different that it is still hard for me to wrap my head around all of the nature this world has to discover. I guess you will have to see it for yourself!

If you have any questions about my experience, or if you have been to any of these parks and want to share your experience, please reach out to me. I love hearing from you!

Thank you so much for reading. :)

Hi! I'm Nikki. A mindfulness mentor on a mission to help you optimize your mindset to live a super satisfying and joyous life.

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