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Roadtrip to SW National Parks: Arches, Canyonlands, Grand Canyon in Utah and Arizona

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If you frequent this blog, you probably know I am obsessed with road trips. There’s just something about being stuck in a car with an infinite supply of music, snacks, and long stretches of roads that puts me in my happiest mood. Last week, Dillon and I were trying to stay in good spirits by finding a mid-week hike off mountain loop highway, before someone mentioned the weather forecast… Of a week straight of RAIN.

We weren’t having it.

So we flipped the car around and drove back to service to start planning the fastest route out of the PNW. We talked about wanting to visit the Grand Canyon soon so we decided, hey. Let’s just drive there!

A few hours later, we had my Mazda CX 5 packed up for her first big road trip, and for this trip we weren't leaving Meadow behind! (She stayed home back when we went to Idaho in February.)

We drove about 14 hours straight and decided on this Itinerary after finding The Mangagies blog. They helped us create the best trip ever and I am so thankful and inspired by them. Be sure to give them a follow!

  1. Canyonlands National Park

  2. Arches National Park

  3. Monument Valley

  4. Grand Canyon

  5. Page, Arizona

  6. Bryce Canyon

  7. Meadow, UT

  8. Goldbug Hot Springs

  9. Coeur D’Alene

Canyonlands National Park looks like it was a replica of an old western movie set. Deep canyons carved by the Colorado river are found throughout the park, and we had such a great time exploring places like Mesa Arch before heading to our first campsite. We used iOverlander to find some sweet free sites on BLM land.

Gilly suit or mossy shrub? you decide. Canyonlands national park Mesa Arch
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Campsite at Canyonlands National Park
Making a fire at our campsite at Canyonlands National Park

Dillon grilled us some steaks for dinner, set up camp, and we enjoyed a rainfly-free tent and watched the stars before falling asleep. We woke up to a few raindrops in the middle of the night— but it was worth it! We packed everything out, and continued on to Arches National Park!

This was one of my favorite days. Everything about Arches is so stunning! These nature-made sculptures seem like they can crumble at any moment!

I really loved the walk to Sand Dune Arch! Check out how insane this is!

When flipping through our park map, I marveled at the photos of Landscape Arch, but was concerned for Meadow at this point— because dogs aren’t allowed on most trails at the National Parks we were taking turns staying with her in the car or leaving it running with the A/C. So Dillon hung back while I did the 1.2 mile walk and saw this beauty for myself. It didn’t disappoint!

We wrapped up this part of Utah with a Navajo Taco and headed down to the Grand Canyon South Rim. We were debating which entrance we could go to but since we decided to skip camping at Monument Valley so we can get to Page, AZ we decided this was ultimately the easiest stop on our route. We heard from some bikers that the North Rim is much more interesting to visit— so keep that in mind if you are deciding North Rim vs. South Rim for the Grand Canyon.

Personally I thought this place didn’t compare to the beauty of Bryce Canyon National Park. But we had fun stopping at all the viewpoints and finally checking it off our Bucket Lists! This picture I took of Dillon and Meadow makes my heart melt. <3

Cute boy and cute dog at Bryce Canyon National Park

I loved all the hoodoos casting shadows in the early morning light. We did a part of the Queens Garden Trail and I highly recommend it.

On the drive back home, we stopped at two hot springs in Meadow, UT and in Elk Bend, ID. We had both of them to ourselves because I talked Dillon into driving while I entertained myself with taking countless photos of Meadow and growing our roadtrip playlist on Spotify.

The crazy amazing thing about Goldbug was that this was the hot spring we DIDN’T get to see on our Idaho road trip— and I’m so happy we decided to take this route so I could finally see this place. Everything was pure magic.

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One of our favorite parts about the road trip was finding this post about 101 things to ask your friends on a road trip. We we’re inspired to make up some of our own questions and post our favorites, which you can find below!

Questions to uncover on a roadtrip with friends

  1. What accomplishment are you most proud of?

  2. Favorite movie of all time? (Check out some of my favorite adventure movies here!)

  3. Which of your friends are you proudest of? Why?

  4. Have you ever been skinny dipping?

  5. What’s the most beautiful place you’ve ever been?

  6. What’s your favorite snack to eat?

  7. If you were a cloud, what shape would you be?

  8. If you could live in any TV home, what would it be?

  9. If you were a tough guy/girl (opposite sex) what would your name be?

  10. What’s the first thing you do when you get home from a trip?

  11. Who would you love to punch in the face?

  12. How different was your life one year ago?

  13. Auntie Annie’s or Cinnabon?

  14. What was the best toy of the 90s?

  15. What has been your most expensive Uber ride?

  16. What is your go-to dance move?

  17. What has been your favorite photo you’ve taken?

Read the full post here!