We had a hard time deciding how to divide our time in Southern Utah. You could easily spend a week in every park and go home happy. We tried the usual research methods – park websites, maps (Jon loves maps), and a few books on the area. I came across this video advertisement about Highway 12. Utah tourism claimed to have the most beautiful highway in America. We focused our travel plan around Highway 12, and I’m so glad we did.
Since we enjoy hiking (and try to avoid the more crowded areas), our best information came from a local blogger at Live and Let Hike. He writes amazing and detailed trail guides for southern Utah, and I will link up with his pages as we explore each park. Another great resource is Rick Stinchfield’s book, Capitol Reef National Park: The Complete Hiking and Touring Guide. Of course, we found this literary gem while eating lunch on one of our last days, but it did help narrow down our last-minute choices.
On some of our previous trips, research was necessary to make sure that we saw something worthwhile. For this destination, you need to do some research to prevent getting overwhelmed with choices. Once you see this landscape, you’ll want to do everything! Settling on an itinerary was a challenging task, so I hope that including ours will help you in your future journeys to Utah. More photos of our trip soon!
- Flew into St. George (coming from another direction, you may end up in Vegas). Rental car and Wal-Mart for supplies.
- Zion National Park. You can bypass the park (and its fees) but the drive through the park is really something. We stopped in for a bit and did the common shuttle stops.
- Checked into the Bullberry Inn B&B. We really enjoyed our stay with Bella (the dog) and her family.
Day Two – Bryce Canyon National Park
- Mossy Cave and waterfall, 0.4 miles from the inn
- Visitor Center, overlooks
- Queen’s Garden/Navajo Loop trail
- Sunset at Sunset Point
- Escalante Visitor Center in Cannonville (there are two VC’s)
- Cottonwood Canyon Road and Grovesnor Arch
- Kodachrome State Park including Shakespeare Arch
- Escalante State Park (Petrified Forest)
- Main Escalante Visitor Center
- Anasazi State Park
- Checked into our Airbnb home stay in Torrey. Always read the reviews, but we had a great experience.
- Highway 24 to Capitol Reef National Park
- Gifford House for cinnamon rolls and old-fashioned soda bottles
- Capitol Gorge trail
- Grand Wash trail
- Sunset at Panorama Point
- Breakfast at Castle Rock Coffee & Candy (looked like a gift shop, but peek inside)
- Visitor Center for flood warnings (rained overnight and this afternoon)
- Notom-Bullfrog Road to Red Canyon trail
- Went back very wet, but great hike.
- More rain overnight ruined our plans for slot canyons, but chased us to Arches National Park. Great day trip. If you’re in moderately good shape, don’t let the park publication scare you away from the arch trails. We saw a ton of arches in one day and only had to skip the strenuous hikes.
- Supper and shopping in Moab, Utah
- Tour of our host’s property and fossil collection
- Highway 12 and Zion National Park on return journey to St. George