A Road Trip Through Utah's Mighty 5 and Beyond

A cold but memorable week cruising through Utah and Arizona

By Will Cebron, The Outbound Collective

While this road trip started in California and looped through parts of Nevada, it was really all about visiting Utah and Arizona. My girlfriend Taylor and I had dreamed, plotted and planned a route that would enable us to visit Utah’s Mighty Five and Monument Valley over the week of Thanksgiving. While we wouldn’t settle in and explore any one place for an extended period, we were willing to make this sacrifice to get a taste of as much of the Southwest had to offer.

Day 1 - Valley of Fire to Zion NP

After a late night drive from Los Angeles, we woke up early in Las Vegas excited to start our trip. Our first stop was the Valley of Fire, a state park about an hour outside of Vegas. If you were planning to film a movie about Mars, this park would probably be on your short list of locations. We didn’t have much time so we only hiked to the Fire Wave but I’d love to come back here for sunset when I'm sure the rocks light up. We spent the rest of the day in Zion picking up our backcountry permits for the Subway, grubbing delicious Mexican food at Oscar’s and watching the sunset over the Watchman. We set up our tent at the Watchman campground which was pretty amazing as it’s in the shadow of the Watchman. Highly recommend it.

Day 2 - Zion NP to Bryce NP

Jolted awake at 2:30am this morning from sheer excitement to hike the Subway. What’s wrong with me? In my defense, the Subway has been on my bucket list for a few years now. With the short winter days, we wanted an early start so we left the campground around 6am and drove to the bottom-up trail in the dark (~30 minutes away). After donning our dry pants and water shoes from Zion Adventure Company, we set off with the first light. In this case it was about the destination and not the journey as the hike itself was pretty underwhelming (mainly because it was winter and the trees were pretty bare).  It wasn't until the last 30 minutes that the trail really started to shine, as we passed small cascading falls and ultimately reached the Subway. Looking back on the hike, there’s a couple things I thought I’d share. It was late November and while you don’t necessarily need dry pants or even water shoes, they definitely helped us cut down the hike time (some of the fastest routes are just through the water). Also make sure you have a permit - there was a ranger checking them on the hike out.  After the five hour hike, we stopped for some nachos at the Whiptail Grill in Springdale as a reward. It’s a hole in the wall, but don’t let that deter you, it was one of my favorite meals in Zion. After refueling and a quick stop to see the bison herd outside Zion, we hit the road to Bryce. We arrived just in time to catch a gorgeous sunset from the rim and then checked in the Bryce Canyon Lodge. FYI, the food options in Bryce are borderline terrible. We ended up picking up a pizza from Valhalla, which is the only option in the park during the winter and called it an early night.

Day 3 - Bryce NP

We woke up to pouring rain, scuttled our sunrise plans, and headed into town for breakfast.  HUGE MISTAKE. The omelet at Ruby’s Cowboy Buffet tasted like rubber. On the plus side, the rain had turned to snow and was now blanketing the town creating a winter wonderland. We strapped on our rain gear and headed out to hike the Navajo – Queen’s Garden Trail. Bryce is beautiful but in the winter with the snow covering the hoodoos, it’s downright magical. We spent the rest of the day hiking and driving to the various viewpoints as the snow continued to fall. Once the first snow falls, a portion of the park closes. The scenic drive was closed south of Bryce Point (including Paria View) and the Fairyland road was also closed. While we were bummed we couldn’t explore these areas, it was worth it to see Bryce in the snow.

Day 4 - Bryce to Moab

After our last Bryce sunrise at Sunset Point, we cruised up the scenic 12 to Moab. The trip takes 5-6 hours but the scenery is so beautiful, you won’t mind. We stopped in Capitol Reef NP to do the scenic drive and explore Fruita, and also stopped in the Factory Butte Badlands. If we had more time, I would have incorporated a hike like the Hickman Natural Bridge or Cassidy Arch, but we wanted to make it to Moab for sunset. In Moab, we stayed thirty minutes outside town (closer to Castle Valley) at the Red Cliffs Lodge. We were going to camp along the Colorado river or in Canyonlands, but the charm of this lodge swayed us. Each morning we’d wake up to horses in the pasture and the sun rising over the river. Anyway, I digress but yes, this lodge was awesome. On our first night in Moab, we headed into Arches NP to watch the sunset at the Windows and try some astrophotography. The Windows were crowded for sunset which took a little away from the experience, but at night we had the place to ourselves.  After tramping around Arches in the cold and the dark for several hours, we crushed warm flat bread and curry at Twisted Sistas in town.

Day 5 - Moab, Arches and Canyonlands

We headed back into Arches this morning to hike up to Delicate Arch. You’re faced with a quandary when you decide to hike this trail. It’s super popular so the ideal time to hike it is for sunrise, but the light is best for photos in the late afternoon and sunset. Good luck getting one without people in it though! Pick your poison. After the hike, we headed back into Moab and fueled up with some delicious breakfast burritos at Eklecticaf√©. Looking back at Arches, there’s a couple things I thought I’d share. All the major attractions are crowded so it’s best to pick your top choice and do that at sunrise. Also spend some time exploring the park after dark. The stars fill the sky, it’s peaceful and the throngs of people have left. It was my favorite part.

After lunch we drove up to Canyonlands – Island in the Sky. Canyonlands is split into three parts: The Maze, The Needles and The Island in the Sky. The Island in the Sky is known for its viewpoints and I was blown away by Grand View Point, especially if you walk the trail out to the end of the plateau. After a quick hike to Mesa Arch, we drove to Dead Horse Point State Park for sunset. It was windy and cold, but you’ll forget all that once you see the alpenglow on the distant La Sal mountains. After sunset, we headed back to Moab for dinner at Arches Thai. This place is family-run and serves great food but it’s a complete cluster and understaffed. If you don’t have a reservation, definitely avoid it.

Day 6 - Canyonlands to Monument Valley

Happy Thanksgiving! After sunrise in Castle Valley, we headed down to the Needles section of Canyonlands. This area of Canyonlands is great for hiking and is best explored by camping due to its distance from Moab (~75 miles). We wanted to do the 11-mile Chester Park Loop but we were short on time…a common theme.  Instead we hiked the Slickrock Foot Trail which spits you out on a couple cool viewpoints with the best being viewpoints #2 and #4. Compared to the madness at Arches, Canyonlands felt nearly empty. We only saw one other group on our hike in the Needles and a handful of people in the Island in the Sky.

My biggest and possibly only regret of this trip was not spending more time in Moab. If I could do it over again, I’d split it up so I had a full day in each of Arches, Island in the Sky and the Needles. Since we didn’t, we had to combine days and that led to more driving and less hiking.

After leaving the Needles, we drove down to Monument Valley where we camped at The View Campground. I can’t recommend this place enough. Once you arrive, you can pick whichever campsite you want that’s available. The campsites in the high 20s seemed more spacious, so we chose 27. Since it was Thanksgiving, we decided to eat at the View Restaurant (the restaurant, campground and hotel are all located in a close radius). Then we hunkered down for a cold night with the forecast calling for a low of 21 degrees.

Day 7 - Monument Valley

The night was freezing but I’d do it all again to wake up to the sunset views here. This was one of the highlights of the trip for me. After some Jetboil coffee, we walked over to the stables to horseback ride with Sacred Monument Tours. Since it was 8am and the temperatures were in the 20s, we were the only riders. Our guide took us down into the valley and around the monuments which gave us an appreciation for their sheer size. After the ride, we packed up our tent and headed back on the road. We had a long day of driving to make it back to Los Angeles. Honestly you could spend a month doing this same trip and still feel like you had more to see. If you're looking for a good road trip for the spring or fall, consider this loop. You won't be disappointed.
adventure, road, travel

  1. Seirus Hellfire Heated Mitts Review
  2. Test Your Limits: 6 Challenging Adventures around the World
  3. 10 Beautiful Private Campsites in New York


Made with in NYC

4th of July,7,Abu Dhabi,2,Accessories,234,Acne,13,Adventure,32,Adventure Travel,638,Advice,295,Africa,26,African Food,2,AIDS,1,Air Travel,150,Alabama,5,Alaska,20,Alberta,1,Alcohol,4,All About Beer,1,All About Wine,2,Alternative Treatments,4,America,77,American Food,5,Amsterdam,2,Android,11,Anguilla,3,Animal,367,Animal Health,1,Animals,103,Anniversary,1,Anniversary Cake,11,Antarctica,7,Anti-aging,49,Antigua,3,Appetizers & Snacks,2,Apple,11,Apps,16,Argentina,15,Arizona,19,Arkansas,2,Armenia,1,Asia Travel,47,Asian Food,7,Asthma,4,Athens,3,Austin,8,Australia,92,Australian Food,1,Austria,13,Autism,1,Auto Insurance,1,Auto Show,52,Autos,358,Azerbaijan,1,Baby Shower Cake,29,Back Pain,25,Bags,10,Bahamas,13,Balance Work & Life,50,Banana Cakes,2,Bangladesh,8,Barn Finds,1,Bathroom,43,Be a Better Manager,33,Beach Travel,58,Beaded Dress,2,Beards and Shaving,29,Beauty,1888,Beauty & Style,35,Beef Recipes,7,Belarus,1,Belgium,9,Belize,15,Bermuda,5,Best Products,17,Better Partner,40,Beverages,3,Bhutan,9,Bills to Pay,35,Birds,4,Birth Control,1,Birthday Cake,109,Blue Lagoon,2,Blueberry Cake,11,Bolivia,3,Books,1,Botswana,3,Brazil,38,Bread,11,Breads,1,Break Room,12,Breakfast & Brunch,6,Breakup,19,Breakups,3,breast,1,Breasts,69,Broken Hearts,5,Brownie,8,Brunei,1,Budget Travel,97,Bundt Cake,30,Business Skills,102,Butter Cake,52,Buying,1,By Region,3,Cake Decorating,113,Cakes,54,California,109,Cambodia,4,Camera,6,Canada,80,Cancer,73,Car Shows,1,Car Tech,2,Caramel Cake,5,Career,189,Career Advice,298,Career Choice,125,Career Growth,180,Career Paths,24,Career Problem,8,Caribbean,45,Caribbean & Mexico,5,Carrot Cake,22,Cats,49,Celebrity,17,Celebrity Dress,2,Celebs,1,Ceremonial Cake,9,Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles,1,Cheese Recipes,4,Cheesecakes,251,Chicago,7,Chicago Auto Show,2,Chicken Recipes,14,Chiffon Cake,5,Children's Health,21,Chile,7,China,21,Chocolate Cake,395,Christmas,35,Christmas Cake,23,Christmas Travel,14,Classic Cars,39,Cleaning Tips,144,Clinical Practice,1,Clothes,1,Cocktail Recipes,2,Coconut Cake,21,Coffee,1,Coffee Cake,15,Coliseum,1,Colombia,18,Colorado,32,Columbia,3,Communication,2,Companies,2,Compassion,2,Computing,16,Connecticut,4,Consumer Electronics Show,5,Cookies,10,Cooking,8,Corporate Travel,2,Costa Rica,13,Country Travel,249,Creative,309,Creative Idea,22,Creative Ideas,37,Croatia,15,Cruiser Travel,16,Cuba,18,Cultural Travel,66,Cupcake,322,Customs & Classics,2,Czech Republic,6,D.C.,2,Dandruff,1,Dating,18,Dating Advice,73,Dating Advice for Women,22,Dating Tips,13,Decor,23,Decorating Ideas,181,Delaware,1,Demotivational,636,Denmark,12,Dental Health,26,Dentistry,1,Depression,24,Desert Travel,1,Desserts,3,Detroit Auto Show,4,Diabetes,25,Diet,131,Dining Out,3,Dinner,14,Disease,116,Divorce,16,DIY,112,DIY Fashion,34,Dogs,156,Doughnuts,5,Dress,29,Drink,27,Drinks,1,Drinks & Cocktails,4,Driving,3,Drugs,3,Dubai,15,Ears,2,East Africa,4,Easter,1,Easter Island,1,Easter Travel,1,Eco Travel,18,Ecuador,7,Education,87,Eggs,3,Egypt,4,Electronics,4,Electronics and Gadgets,2,Emirates,1,England,13,Entertainment,148,Enthusiasts,131,Entrepreneurship,40,Estonia,2,Eswatini,1,Ethiopia,2,Europe,110,European Food,8,Exercises,51,Eye,300,Eye Health,28,Eyebrow,56,Eyelash,20,Face,54,Facts,284,Fall Travel,43,Family,16,Family Travel,128,Faroe Island,1,Fashion,395,Fashion for Kids,2,Fashion for Man,12,Fashion for Woman,31,Fat Loss,91,Father's Day Cake,4,Father's Day Travel,1,Featured,218,Features,1913,Fertility,2,Festival Travel,25,Fiji,6,Finance,22,Finland,16,Fish & Seafood,13,Fitness,1177,Fitness & Exercise,219,Florida,69,Food,184,Food and Drink,14,Food Recipes,7,France,37,Frankfurt Motor Show,2,Free Travel,3,French,6,French Polynesia,5,Friendship,40,Fruit & Veggie Recipes,8,Fruitcake,70,Fruits,4,Fuel Economy,1,Fun,42,Funny,546,Gadgets,31,Galapagos,3,Games,12,Garden,24,Gardening,277,Gearheads,1,General,7,Geneva Motor Show,3,Georgia,14,Germany,18,Get Healthy,63,Ghana,2,Girlfriend Grooming,10,Google,15,Graduation Cake,2,Gratitude,11,Greece,37,Green Living,5,Greenland,1,Grooming,89,Guatemala,2,Hair,1264,Hair Care,317,Hair Color,299,Hairstyle,65,Hairstyles,855,Halloween,41,Halloween Cake,12,Halloween Travel,9,Happiness,19,Hawaii,53,Hayden Panettiere,1,Headache,22,Health,854,Health & Fitness,300,Health Care,491,Health Insurance,1,Healthcare Tech,6,Healthy,12,Healthy Drinks,31,Healthy Eating,186,Healthy Habits,159,Healthy Living,345,Hearing,1,Hiking Travel,63,HIV/AIDS,4,Holiday Travel,28,Holland,1,home,31,Home & Garden,205,Home and Decor,483,Honeymoon Travel,128,Hong Kong,13,Horoscope,31,Hot Rod Power Tour,1,Hotels,71,Housekeeper,8,Hungary,3,Ice cream Cake,21,Iceland,41,Idaho,4,Ideas,11,Illinois,13,Imports,1,Impress a Girl,20,Impress Women,4,Independence Day Travel,1,India,36,Indiana,5,Indonesia,13,Indoor Gardening,69,Industry,5,Inspiration,58,Insurance,5,Internet,19,Internship,8,Interview Skills,37,Investing,12,iPad,2,iPhone,6,Iraq,1,Ireland,36,Island,60,islands,2,Israel,9,Italy,56,Jamaica,8,Japan,44,Jealousy,2,Jewelry,13,Job Search,47,Jordan,6,Just For Fun,2,Kansas,6,Kentucky,2,Kenya,2,Kids,1,Kids & Pets,10,Kitchen,67,Koala,1,Korea,2,Kyrgyzstan,1,Lamb,2,Laptops,4,Latin America,3,Latin American Food,1,Latvia,1,Laundry,6,Layer Cake,95,Leadership,44,Legs,1,Lemon Cake,18,Life,1,Life Hacks,273,Lifestyle,909,Lips,134,Lithuania,2,London,24,Long Distance Relationship,24,Los Angeles Auto Show,14,Louisiana,9,Love,165,Lowa,4,Lunch,5,Luxembourg,1,Luxury Travel,35,Maine,6,Maintenance,3,Makeup,608,Makeup & Beauty,11,Makeup Tips,77,Malaysia,1,Maldives,15,Malta,2,Mango Cake,3,Manicure,10,Marketing,10,Markets,11,Marriage,97,Marshmallow,3,Maryland,6,Massachusetts,9,Massage,5,Mauritius,6,Meditation,35,Men & Women,18,Men's,2,Men's Health,14,Menstruation,21,Mental Health,302,Mexico,74,Miami,13,Michigan,5,Microsoft,6,Middle Eastern Food,2,Mind,3,Mississippi,2,Missouri,7,Mobile,22,Moldova,1,Monaco,1,Money & Career,21,Monkey,1,Montana,12,Morocco,20,Mother's Day Travel,1,Motherhood,16,Motivation,2,Motorcycles,106,Motorsports,2,Mousse,2,Muffins,9,Mug Cake,14,Multiple Sclerosis,1,Muscle Cars,4,Muscle Cars & Hot Rods,3,Muscle Gain,2,Myanmar,9,Nail Art,195,Nails,252,Namibia,4,Nature,4,Nature Travel,102,Nepal,6,Netherlands,11,Nevada,23,Nevis,1,New Bikes,2,New Car Deals,1,New England,5,New Jersey,2,New Mexico,6,New Year Fashion,6,New Year's Day Travel,6,New York,55,New York Auto Show,3,New York City,20,New Zealand,47,Newfoundland,1,Newlyweds,4,News,334,Nicaragua,2,North America,11,North Carolina,6,North Dakota,1,North Ireland,1,Northern Ireland,1,Norway,20,Nutrition,447,Occasional Travel,9,Oceania,1,Offbeat,676,Ohio,6,Oman,5,Online Date Tips,2,Operating Systems,2,Oral,4,Oregon,10,outdoor,3,Outfits,166,Ownership,61,Pain,24,Painting,16,Pakistan,2,Panama,5,Pancake,19,Panda,1,Panna Cotta,3,Paraguay,1,Parenting,370,Paris,23,Paris Motor Show,4,Pasta,2,Pastry,7,Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance,2,Pedicure,4,Penguin,4,Pennsylvania,10,People & Places,88,Perfumes,14,Personal Finance,164,Peru,21,Pets,197,Phoenix,1,Photo Feature,1,Pie,27,Pimple,3,Plum Cake,1,Poke Cake,10,Poland,3,Popular Ingredients,26,Pork Recipes,7,Portable Media,14,Portugal,21,Pound Cake,55,Prague,1,Pregnancy,112,Premium,1,Printer,2,Protein Bars,1,Psychology,1,Pudding,9,Puerto Rico,7,Pumpkin Cake,45,Qatar,6,Quick & Easy Recipes,11,Real Estate,72,Recalls,4,Recipe,1098,Recipes,52,Recipes & Meal Ideas,3,Recipes By Course,5,Relationship,167,Relationship Advice,180,Relationship Advice for Men,23,Relationship Advice for Women,27,Relationship Problems,58,Relationship Secrets,14,Relationships,139,Research,94,Resort,11,Restaurants & News,13,Resume,11,Retirement,10,Reviews,1,Rhode Island,2,River Travel,2,Road Trips,49,Romania,4,Romantic Getaways,15,Rome,5,Russia,16,Safety,5,Saint Lucia,1,Saint Patrick's Day Travel,1,Salad,6,San Miguel de Allende,1,Science & Tech,66,Scotland,10,Seasonal,56,Seasonal Travel,59,Security,9,Self Help,14,Self-Care,3,SEMA Show,5,Senior Relationship,2,Sex,7,Sexual Health,19,Shanghai Auto Show,7,Shaving,1,Sheet Cake,20,Shirt,4,Shoes,29,Shopping,10,Shots & Shooters,1,Side Dishes,4,Sightseeing Tours,2,Singapore,18,Ski Resorts,10,Skin,429,Skin Caare,1,Skin Care,609,Sleep,62,Slovenia,6,Small Business,163,Smartphone,28,Smile,1,Smoothies & Juices,3,Snacks,1,Social Media,44,Solo Travel,24,Solomon Islands,1,Somoa,1,Soth Africa,1,South Africa,14,South America,3,South Carolina,4,South Dakota,5,South Korea,3,South Pacific,2,Space Travel,14,Spain,33,Special,46,Special Cake,579,Special Feature,113,Special Features,490,Sponge Cake,15,Sports,22,Sports and Exotics,4,Sports Cars,8,Spring Travel,23,Squirrel,1,Sri Lanka,6,Strawberry Cake,22,Street Fashion,8,Stress Relief,35,Stroke,2,Student Travel,1,Style Guide,25,Summer Travel,53,Summer Vacation,8,Supercars,10,Sweden,19,Swiss Alps,1,Switzerland,20,Tahiti,1,Taiwan,3,Tanzania,1,Tarts,12,Tattoos,81,Taxes,7,Teas,2,Tech,89,Tech Advice,12,Tech Education,7,Tech Hacks,19,Tech Updates,2,Technology,17,Teen Advice,4,Teeth,5,Tennessee,6,Texas,57,Thailand,31,Thanksgiving Cake,4,Thanksgiving Travel,5,Therapy,3,Things to Do,165,Tibet,2,Tips,264,Tips & Tricks,6,Tokyo Motor Show,2,Tools & Skills,16,Top Stocks,1,Top Stories,1,Traditional Cake,4,Train Travel,23,Training,1,Transportation,22,Travel,225,Travel Advice,64,Travel Apps,1,Travel Guide,40,Travel Tips,149,Trends,7,Trucks,1,True Health,5,Tunisia,2,Turkey,10,Turkish,1,Tuscany,1,TV,2,UAE,10,UK,40,Ukrine,1,Understanding Women,28,Urban Travel,47,Uruguary,1,USA,629,Utah,12,Uzbekistan,1,Vacation Travel,245,Valentine's Day Cake,7,Valentine's Day Travel,1,Vanilla Cake,17,Vegetables,3,Vehicle Travel,2,Venezuela,1,Vermont,4,Victoria Falls,1,Video,5,Vietnam,5,Virginia,5,Waffles,3,Washington,15,Washington DC,20,Waxing,19,Web & Social,17,Wedding,87,Wedding Cake,549,Wedding Dress,30,Weddings,60,Weddings Travel,4,wei,1,Weight Gain,29,Weight Loss,755,Weird,172,Wellness,193,West Indies,2,Wi-Fi,2,Wildlife Travel,13,Winter Travel,56,Wisconsin,5,Women Lifestyle,23,Women's,122,Women's Health,173,Work Environment,77,Workout,8,Workouts,81,Worldwide,155,Wyoming,2,xxx,1,Yemen,1,Yoga,85,YouTube,3,Zadar,2,Zambia,3,Zimbabwe,4,
Unplugged Magazine: A Road Trip Through Utah's Mighty 5 and Beyond
A Road Trip Through Utah's Mighty 5 and Beyond
Unplugged Magazine
Loaded All Posts Not found any posts VIEW ALL Read More Reply Cancel reply Delete By Home PAGES POSTS View All RECOMMENDED FOR YOU LABEL ARCHIVE SEARCH ALL POSTS Not found any post match with your request Back Home Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat January February March April May June July August September October November December Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec just now 1 minute ago $$1$$ minutes ago 1 hour ago $$1$$ hours ago Yesterday $$1$$ days ago $$1$$ weeks ago more than 5 weeks ago Followers Follow THIS PREMIUM CONTENT IS LOCKED STEP 1: Share to a social network STEP 2: Click the link on your social network Copy All Code Select All Code All codes were copied to your clipboard Can not copy the codes / texts, please press [CTRL]+[C] (or CMD+C with Mac) to copy