Utah's Mighty 5 National Parks Part: 1
After taking a trip to the SW the year before, we were back for more sun and warmth to escape the Seattle never ending gloom. Spring is the perfect time to head to the desert with milder temperatures and sunshine. This time we would plan to visit all 5 national parks in Utah within 9 days. Here's how we did it!
We flew into Salt Lake City late on a Friday night arriving at midnight or so. The flight was nice and quick from Seattle! I booked us a room that night at Airport Inn Hotel that was right next to the airport. We got a good night of sleep and started our adventures the next day.
The hotel had free breakfast, so we enjoyed that amenity before heading out. With 9 days on the road, being as frugal as possible with food was really important to limit the amount of money spent eating out. I planned out many meals ahead of time and made freezer bag backpacking meals. We went back to the airport that morning to pick up our rental car. We got the cheapest mid sized vehicle a couple months in advance. After some discussion, if we were to do a trip like this again we might think about driving from Seattle. We did put 1,400 miles on the rental car though. After picking up the rental we did some errands before making our way south. We stopped at Trader Joe's and loaded up on food. We bought a $6 freezer bag to keep things cold for the week. We also went to REI to pick up fuel as you are not allowed to fly with it. With everything set, we made the 3.5 hour drive south to Moab!
The drive went quickly and we found ourselves driving into the town of Moab. Towering red rocks surround the city, I was already intrigued. We went to our campsite first to check in, set up camp and then head to Arches later. I booked a site for us for 2 nights at Moab RV Resort and Campground. When I had looked many months in advance, all of the camping at Arches was already taken, which would've been my first choice. I looked at other campgrounds in the area and found this place with availability. It was more expensive for a campground at around $40 a night. It did have nice amenities such as a pool, hot tub, showers. After setting in we made our way to Arches.
Arches National Park
Arches is right outside of Moab making it easily accessible and busy. We drove into the park and were amazed by the towering walls and strange formations. We made our way to the Delicate Arch trailhead and found a busy parking lot. This hike is 3 miles roundtrip. We brought supplies with to make one of my freezer bag meals and set up a spot (amongst the crowded group) and made dinner and took in the impressive view of the massive Arch. It ended up being cloudy with no impressive sunset in sight, but we stuck it out and enjoyed the evening.
We woke before the light to make it back to Arches for sunrise. We found a nice spot to pull over and made breakfast as we watched the red rocks light up. After this we visited Balanced Rock and hiked the short loop in the Windows area, which had many arches. There are more parts of the park we didn't see, but I felt satisfied with what we did see there.
Canyonlands National Park- Island in the Sky
After Arches, we went to Canyonlands. Canyonlands is Utah's largest national park and is made up of 3 districts. Island in the sky is most visited since it is closest to Moab and not too far out of town. We didn't explore too much in this area, but hiked to the short vista to Mesa Arch. This is a very popular sunrise destination.
After this we went back to our campsite and soaked in some much needed sun at the pool. Our last destination for the day would be Deadhorse Sate Park. I saw many pictures of this place online and knew I wanted to see it in person. It's just outside of Moab on the same road to Island in the Sky. There is an entrance fee of $15 to the state park. As we drove in, we saw amazing yurts and a to die for spot to camp. I would consider camping here if and when we go back to Moab! We drove to the end of the road which had an overlook over the canyon and Colorado River. We hunkered down and made red thai curry, drank wine and soaked in the amazing colors of sunset. This was probably my favorite sunset of the trip!
That's part 1 of our trip. Backpacking in Canyonlands, visiting Goblin Valley State Park, Captiol Reef, Bryce and Zion is next!