Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park is located just a short drive from Arches National Park. If you plan to visit Arches, Canyonlands is an easy add-on to your trip. Canyonlands is maybe one of the most unknown National Parks to many people. Despite this, it has a diverse landscape with trails that can keep you entertained for weeks if you have the time.

White Rim Road

My husband wanted to tackle this trail by vehicle for almost a decade. After finally accomplishing the feat, I can see why he had this on his bucket list. This 100-mile dirt trail takes you for the journey of a lifetime inside the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands.

The trail will show you low valleys near the river, as well as tall cliffs with your vehicle mere feet from a drop-off. If you attempt this trail, you must be self-sustaining. Bring your own water, spare tire, emergency kit, and more. The park’s website does an excellent job at outlining what you will need. Due to how remote this trail is, there is no help nearby. But that is what makes it so special. You will have an experience that most people will never get to encounter.

Our journey was two nights on the trail. I would plan for two nights minimum, preferably three. We felt slightly rushed due to us wanting to stop every 5 minutes to take pictures. You will want to stop frequently….and you should. These views are not available anywhere else. Book your sites and obtain your permit months in advance!

Island in the Sky

There are three districts in Canyonlands National Park. The Maze and Needles are the most remote and therefore the least visited. Island in the Sky is the most accessible and close to Moab, Utah. Unless you have at least a week to visit the park, I suggest only visiting one of the districts and focusing your time to explore as much as you can. If time is limited and you are only visiting because you came to Arches, Island in the Sky is your best option.

You truly do feel like you are on an island in the sky once you reach a viewpoint and see multiple layers of canyons beneath you. If you have time for only one hike, do not miss the Grand View Point Overlook. If your day permits, swing by the nearby Dead Horse Point State Park which is located between the park and highway 191 in Moab.


Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon, located in Southwestern Utah, is a frequently visited National Park due to its close proximity to the nearby Zion National Park.

The Park

Bryce is famous for having the largest collection of hoodoos in the world. These structures come in all shapes and sizes. The views seen from atop the ridge are other-worldly. If you are able to visit on a clear day, the sun brings out the brightest colors which makes for excellent photos no matter what your photography skills may look like.

Hiking Trails

There are a number of different trails to experience. If you plan to visit in the off-season, some of the trails are are usually closed. One trail we were able to enjoy was Queen’s Garden Trail within the Bryce Amphitheater. Starting at Sunset Point, you can loop past Thor’s Hammer and Two Bridges and make you way up to Sunrise Point.

If you are looking to add one hike to your visit at Bryce, we recommend this. If you are visiting during the regular seasonal hours, add in the Navajo Loop which takes you through Wall Street.


There are a few campgrounds in Bryce Canyon. Our visit in November meant only one was open, North Campground. Since the temperature in winter can drop to sub-freezing, we were optimistic campsites would be in abundance. We were wrong! Do not underestimate our fellow outdoors enthusiasts! Arrive early when sites are first-come first-serve and plan for patience.

If you are unsuccessful at finding a spot, try nearby East Fork Road just to the west of the park which offers some extra camping opportunities.


Arches National Park

Arches National Park is a beautiful unique park and a must see.

We made our trip here in late November, just after the peak season (March through October). Although it was colder than the peak season, there were fewer crowds and the hikes were amazing with the cold and crispy air. We definitely recommend this time of year.

The Park

The park has more than 1.5 million visitors per year, so parking can sometimes be rough. The park roads are easy to navigate and most of the arches are either right off the road or a short walk to see.

The restrooms are kept moderately clean but are pit toilets. They are scattered throughout the park and are at just about every trailhead.

4×4 in Arches

Many may not know this, but there is actually a decent amount of off-road trails given the smaller size of this part. Off the main highway near sand dune arch, head west to salt valley. After 7.7 miles, make a left at an intersection. Drive another 1.7 miles. This stretch is for experienced 4-wheel drive owners only. After you complete this 1.7 miles, you can stay straight and drive another 1.4 miles to arrive at the tower arch trailhead. Another option is to head south at the intersection. This will take you on a 9 mile drive. Along the way you will pass by eye of the whale arch. Note this road is still 4-wheel drive recommended and you will need high ground clearance such as that of a large stock SUV. This road wraps up back on the main highway near the south end of the park.

Hiking Trails

We decided make the trek to Delicate Arch. The hike is 4.1 miles long and takes approximately 2.5 hours to complete. It is by far one of the most popular trails in the park. So parking at this location can be difficult. The earlier you arrive, the better. If you are looking to see first hand the Utah license plate mascot, this is the trail for you.

Not to Miss Viewpoint

Near the entry of the park is a little hidden gem. This scenic lookout is not visible from the main highway. But a short five minute stop here is something you won’t want to miss. Most stay at the lookout near the parking lot, but if time permits, take the short hike into the small valley for amazing views as you gaze up at these giants.