Utah Road Trip // Spring Break 2016

Describing this as the road trip of a lifetime is an understatement...

The Swiss Family Grainda was at it again on another adventure, this time a road trip. It's been the works for some time now, going back and forth between which National Parks to explore and which to skip. As a joke, I had created the insane-lets-hit-everything-and-I-mean-everything route pictured below.


The route would be about 25 hours of driving without bathroom breaks, food, gas, etc. I forgot to mention that we were only going for four days. My mom was all for it, dad was reluctant (and quite justified in being so), and Gina really had no clue.

Day 1

We packed up the car Friday morning, dropped Cookie off for the weekend and hit the road! As we left Colorado, the snow kept coming down which only added on time to our drive.

Luckily, when we arrived in Vail, the snow subsided and we were on our merry way. Driving through the Rocky Mountains, we were treated to the west side of the state's beautiful landscape.


We passed most of the six hours by recounting past road trips and vacations in general while noting the beauty of Colorado. Once we finally arrived in Utah, the landscape changed dramatically to an arid prairie with large rock formations sporadically dotting the land with looming mountains in the distance.


Our final destination for day 1 was the city of Moab which is situated on the outskirts of Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. We rolled into town at about 4 pm, checked in, dropped off our bags and immediately hopped back in the car to check out Arches before the sunset.


The land is indescribable. Red rocks are scattered everywhere, each with its own unique form. After looking around and glancing at the map, we decided to do a quick hike to Delicate Arch, one of the most iconic natural formations.


The Delicate Arch is a marvel.


And MASSIVE! Here's Gina and dad posing in front of it to get some perspective.


On our way down, we made a detour to check out some Native American petroglyphs.

Completely defeated by the long car ride and hike, we went into downtown Moab for a late dinner and fell fast asleep.

Day 2

We woke up bright and early on Day 2 to beat the crowds to Arches. We spent most of the morning exploring the rock formations we had driven past the previous day.


Here's my dad and Gina, again, giving us perspective on the magnitude of the arches.


Dad exploring some rocks off the trail.


It may seem like you'd get bored of looking at red rocks, but there is a curiosity to how they formed and simple awe. Look at this double arch, how incredible is that?!


Arches treated us quite well, but it was time to move on to our next destination.


Next up was Captiol Reefs National Park! I think this park is often overlooked because it is in the middle of nowhere, basically in the center of the state. You really have to go out of your way, unless you're making the trek to Bryce, you go right through it. When we entered the park, the rocks immediately reminded me of upside down funnels.

The main attraction here is Hickman Bridge. We needed a break from driving, so we hopped out and made the trek.


See if you can spot the people in this photo!


The views at the top of the bridge were spectacular, opening up to the rest of the park.


And just like that we were back on the road again. Our next destination was Bryce National Park where we would be spending the night in the park at the lodge. Lucky for us, we made great time from Capitol Reefs and managed to squeeze in some hiking before sunset (again). At Bryce, there is a canyon with rock spires also known as hoodoos.


There were little viewing decks to get closer to the hoodoos. But to really get the full experience, we ventured down into them on the trail.


I sort of regretted doing this because if you go down one way, you have to go up on the way back. Regardless, navigating through the slot canyon was incredible.


For the record, the climb back up wasn't great. I was relieved to be back at the top overlooking the hoodoos.

Day 3

Day 3 kicked off with another early morning, this time in Bryce, to watch the sunrise at (the fitting) Sunrise Point which happened to be about 100 yards from where we were staying. As we meandered over, we saw a heard of deers having their breakfast.


Let me tell you one thing, it was COLD. Gina and I were bitter because we were told not to bring any warm clothes like gloves and a hat because it would be "hot". Turns out the person who told us this whipped out gloves this morning (cough mom cough).


Dad turning around right as a took the photo.


The sunrise turned the hoodoos a fiery orange, it was a new spectacle! Many of the guide books had described it as one of the best sunrises you'll ever watch, it's safe to say that they were correct.


Thor's Hammer peeking out above the other hoodoos. It's really called that. I did not make that up.


We drove around Bryce some more, but had to hit the road sooner than later. Day 3 was our action packed ambitious day since we had to drive all the way to Durango and attempt to make it to attractions.


While we drove in the car, mom was contently munched on some jerky.


Next on our list was Zion National Park. Unfortunately, we made it there around noon and were on such a tight schedule, we had to settle for a drive through. Still, it was worth it.


Even though we spent the least amount of time here, it was probably our favorite park. It's definitely the first one we'll be returning to in the future!


Plus the road was red, how cool is that?!


Just outside of Zion was a small town where we grabbed some grub for the road. They had a neat neon sign and excellent quesadillas which would later become lunch and dinner.


And we kept driving and driving. There isn't a road that directly goes from southwest Utah to southwest Colorado, except for the one we took which dips down into Arizona.


As we drove through Arizona, we came across Glen Canyon Bridge and Dam, two amazing modern marvels.


The water here is the same water as Lake Powell!


Nearby the bridge is a place called Horseshoe Bend. We'd been in the car for some time and it was nice to stretch our legs and take a walk to it.


I would say it was pretty worth it too, especially since is was scorching hot.


Continuing on, we made our way back into Utah and took a detour towards Monument Valley. It was well out of the way but completely and utterly worth it. Monument Valley is one of those places you always see in pictures or on commercials.


The road weaves its way right through these towering rocks and the flat land.


This was definitely a highlight of the trip for me.


With that little detour, we had a bit of trouble getting back onto the main highways and at some point got lost in the dark. Turns out there is also a Highway 666 down in that area. After a long long long day in the car, we made it to Durango at about 9:30 pm and collapsed onto our hotel beds.

Day 4

It was the last day of the trip and I was both ready for it but also craving some more adventure. We explored a bit of Durango and drove back home. It was an insane road trip, but I wouldn't want to do it with anyone else.