Backcountry America: 4 Days 5 State Lines (Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada & Colorado)

This is one of my favorite road trips, it begins in Salt Lake City and ends in Las Vegas. It took a total of 4 days to complete and included  900 miles of driving. I know that may sound like a lot of driving but you would be surprised how enjoyable it was with the diverse and changing landscapes.  I would avoid visiting this area in the summer months as temperatures can get quite high, spring and fall are the best times to do this trip. 

Day 1: Arches National Park

Arches National Park is a 4 hour, 246 mile drive from the Salt Lake City airport. I flew in to Salt Lake City and arrived late in the evening.  I picked up my rental car and ended up staying the night at the Marriott Spring Hill Suites which is located in Provo about 50 miles from the airport. The hotel was comfortable and allowed me to get a head start in the morning. 

Recommended: http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/slcps-springhill-suites-provo/ 

Arches National Park contains the world’s largest concentration of natural sand stone arches with over 2,000 arches located within the parks 76,518 acres. The arch that draws the most attention from visitors is Delicate Arch, which is a 3 mile round trip hike with moderate difficulty. It will take you around 4 hours to complete this hike at a leisurely pace, accounting time for all the photos you will want to take. 

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Utah

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Utah

Arches National Park, Utah

Arches National Park, Utah

Landscape Arch, Arches National Park, Utah

Landscape Arch, Arches National Park, Utah

Arches National Park

Arches National Park

While you’re in town be sure to check out Moab Brewery, Moab’s only microbrewery, for food and light refreshments.  I recommend trying their most popular beer, Dead Horse Ale, it takes its name from a scenic overlook near Canyonlands National Park.

Recommended: http://www.themoabbrewery.com/ 

I chose to stay at Recapture Lodge for the night because it was in a convenient location. It was very basic but it was also very inexpensive. After a long day of hiking I was just happy to have a hot shower and comfortable bed. 

Recapture Lodge: http://www.recapturelodge.com/ 

Day 2: Four Corners & Monument Valley

The Four Corners Monument is a 3 hour, 165 mile drive from Arches National Park and marks the quadripoint in the Southwestern United States where the states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah intersect. It is the only place in the United States where you can be in four states at once. The monument is located on Navajo land which spans over 17 million acres. A small fee is required to enter the park but it is worth it. 

Four Corners Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico

Four Corners Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico

Monument Valley is a 1.5 hour, 102 mile drive from the Four Corners Monument and boasts sandstone structures that tower heights of 400 to 1,000 feet. The park is quite large and to see it all you will need a car. There is a loop that will take you through the entire park and showcase some of the most breathtaking views. The road is unpaved but not to worry I did it in a mustang, a 4 wheel drive is not necessary.

*Fun Fact*: Monument Valley has been used as a backdrop for countless Hollywood blockbusters including Back to the Future III, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Mission Impossible II and many more. 

Monument Valley, Utah

Monument Valley, Utah

Monument Valley, Utah

Monument Valley, Utah

Monument Valley, Utah

Monument Valley, Utah

Day 3: Page & Zion National Park

Page, Arizona is a 2 hour, 122 mile drive from Monument Valley and has the highest density of slot canyons in the world.  What is a slot canyon you ask? Slot canyons are extremely narrow canyons they are formed over millions of years as water and wind erodes the existing channels in the earth’s surface.To visit the slot canyons you will need to go with a tour guide for a few good reasons:

  1. To ensure your safety: if conditions are not optimal the tour will not run, slot canyons become death traps during a flash flood.
  2. To access the slot canyons: many of the slot canyons are in hard to reach places and require special vehicles to get to.
  3. To help you get the best possible picture: your tour guide will help you set up your camera to ensure you get the most amazing photos of the slot canyon.

I booked my tour through Slot Canyon Hummer Adventures and I would highly recommend them to anyone thinking of doing a slot canyon tour. The company was very professional and unlike a lot of the other companies they took me to a secret canyon which meant we were the only ones there. A lot of the more famous canyons become so crowded you can barely move, let alone get a good picture. The big tour companies tend to heard people in and out like cattle, no thank you. 

Recommended Tourhttp://www.hummeradventures.net/#sthash.hYgajP6n.dpbs

In terms of accommodation there is quite a lot to choose from in Page as it's a reasonable sized town. I stayed at Days Inn and Suites which was very reasonably priced, clean and in a convenient location. 

Recommended:  http://www.daysinn.com/hotels/arizona/page/days-inn-and-suites-page-lake-powell/hotel-overview 

Slot Canyon Hummer Adventures, Arizona

Slot Canyon Hummer Adventures, Arizona

Slot Canyon, Page Arizona

Slot Canyon, Page Arizona

Slot Canyon, Page Arizona 

Slot Canyon, Page Arizona 

Slot Canyon, Page Arizona

Slot Canyon, Page Arizona

While you are in Page be sure to check out Horseshoe Bend, which is a horseshoe shaped meander of the Colorado River. It’s a short 1.5 mile round trip hike to access it, mostly uphill through sand, but the views are nothing short of amazing. 

Horseshoe Bend, Page Arizona

Horseshoe Bend, Page Arizona

Horseshoe Bend, Page Arizona

Horseshoe Bend, Page Arizona

Zion National Park is a 2 hour, 104 mile drive from Monument Valley. As you drive into the park you descend down a windy road that offers magnificent views of the canyon, which is 15 miles long and up to half a mile deep. The lowest elevation in the park is 3,666 ft at Coalpits Wash and the highest elevation is 8,726 ft at Horse Ranch Mountain.

Zion actually has accommodation located inside the park and is a hiker’s paradise. You can choose to stay in a cabin, hotel room or suite. I recommend staying in the cabin’s they are separate from the main building and offer the most privacy, don’t mind the wild life they are all very friendly.

Recommended: Zion National Park Lodge http://www.zionlodge.com/  

Cabin Zion National Park, Utah

Cabin Zion National Park, Utah

Zion National Park, Utah

Zion National Park, Utah

Day 4: Zion National Park & Las Vegas

Zion has lots of trails on offer from easy to difficult, if you are up for a challenge I recommend the Angels Landing hike it is one of the most famous and thrilling hikes in the park. The hike is approximately 5 miles long and takes an average of 5 hours to complete. The hike is quite strenuous and is mostly uphill but the trail is very well maintained and the first 2 miles are paved. Once you reach the top you will have the most spectacular views of the park that will most certainly take your breath away. 

Angels Landing Hike, Zion National Park, Utah

Angels Landing Hike, Zion National Park, Utah

Angels Landing Hike, Zion National Park, Utah

Angels Landing Hike, Zion National Park, Utah

Zion National Park, Utah

Zion National Park, Utah

Today you will drive to the Las Vegas International Airport which is a 3 hour, 166 mile drive from Zion National Park. The drive is actually very picturesque and takes you through some amazing landscape.  

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