Road-trip:

Las Vegas to Utah

Including five national parks

Overview:

This custom travel plan is the ultimate in contrasting experiences.  Glamorous to gritty , man-created to natural, and slovenly to sweat-inducing are some of the themes in this great road trip.  Perfect for families with itchy kids and adults wanting to be adults, this road trip will satisfy everyone. 

 

If the great outdoors in the morning and a swanky place to sleep at night are your thing, then this is the road trip for you. 

 

If getting your sweat on with an exciting outdoor experience during the day and sipping on cocktails at night are your thing, get in the car already. 

The glitz of Las Vegas, the hidden canyons in Southern Utah, a sweet iced coffee where everyone knows your name in Hurricane, the excitement of an ATV ride to view the perfect sunset in Capitol Reef, a cold beer tasting at a food hall in hipster Moab, and the contradictory cultures in Salt Lake City are calling your name.  

Plus, how many of your friends have hiked in  5 National Parks in 10 days? Here's your personal travel plan for the ultimate road-trip.

 

Day 1: Vacation mode

Welcome to Las Vegas!!!

 

Welcome to your family vacation!!!! You need lunch so get the car and head to the nearest In and Out Burger....it's a west coast institution. Whatever you do, get your burger "Animal Style."

 

You are only 12 minutes to your hotel, so stop at the one on S. Maryland Parkway. And, if pinball is your thing or if it's raining....stop at the Pinball Hall of Fame right across the street.

 

Once you get to the strip, you won't be moving your car. 

 

Vegas pools aren't famous for nothing.  Channel your inner Rat Pack, don your swimsuit and floppy hat, and order cocktails from the nearest pool boy to help settle into vacation mode. You've got all afternoon to soak up the desert sun. 

Tonight, head for a walk down the Strip for exploring.  The kids will love riding the coaster at New York New York and the adults will love the cocktails at a well chosen restaurant at a well chosen time.  

After everyone is full and happy, take the 10 minute shuttle to Fremont Street for their famous light show as the perfect cap to the night.  If you dare, there are deep fried Oreo's for dessert before heading back to your luxurious accommodations.  

Day 2: Living your best life

 

Today is all about soaking up the glitz of Vegas. The hotels ooze of money and they want you to know!  From foodie dining EVERYWHERE to the decor and experiences that each resort offers, the options are limitless!  

Start with breakfast in Paris for crepes and croissants.  Then, wander the cobblestone streets in the resort ending at the Eiffel Tower.

 

Stroll the strip to walk off your breakfast, stopping in and out of each resort that calls your name.  You can't go wrong!  

There is shopping, food, and a ton of free experiences in each resort:

- Bellagio: Gardens and street of umbrellas

-The Venetian: stroll the canals and ride a gondola

-The Mirage: volcano show  

- Flamingo hotel: see the garden and birds inside

-Circus Circus: see the free circus 

-Ride one of the free trams: MGM to Aria to Bellagio, Mandalay to Luxor to Excalibur, and Mirage to Treasure Island

You've got kids, so a long and fancy dinner is out of the question.

 

Head to Alexxa's by 6pm for dinner with some travel games.  This  foodie experience is the more casual option in Paris and totally worth the cost. Enjoy cocktails and dinner, while you watch the Bellagio fountain show from your table. 

 

 This will be your most expensive and best meal of the trip so enjoy.

Day 3: Hit the trail

Today will be your favorite hike of the trip so don't dilly dally.  Oddly, it's also the least famous.  Get there quick before everyone finds out about it!

 

It's a 2.5 hour drive to Kanarraville Falls today. You'll want to get there with time to enjoy the hike as well as your "glamp" site later.  Get breakfast to go. 

If you're feeling like one more foodie meal,  send someone across the street to the Cosmopolitan hotel and stand in line at Eggslut for the best egg sandwiches while the rest of you pack the car.  It opens at 0700.  Grab a second set for your picnic later on. 

Pulling up to the tiny town of Kanarraville, you'll start to doubt what all the rush was about. Just wait. 

 

Put on your water shoes and grab your picnic of snacks. It starts out slow, but, trust me, this might be your favorite day of the whole trip.

Glamping Time!

Sunset is at 8pm so make sure to head there well before then so you can get situated and enjoy the sunset. Speaking of sunset, if an adult beverage while watching the sunset would make your night, stop and grab something on the way. 

 

Camp offers dinner, s’mores, activities, views, and boxed lunches for you take tomorrow on your hike. Be sure to order those at dinner.

Day 4: Zion Day

The famous Zion National Park is going to blow your mind today!  While this park is known for being crowded, you'll experience the magic of Zion from the little known secret of Kolob Canyon. 

 

Head to Kolob Canyons Visitor Center and get your annual pass. It will be well worth it since you are seeing so many parks. Also, checking with the rangers about current weather is always a good idea.

 

You'll drive the scenic Kolob Canyon Rd to the end and take the Timber Creek Trail for a quick “aah” moment. This is a perfect place to finish off your coffee, if you are a sipper like me.

 

Head back toward the visitor center to the Taylor Creek Trail. This lovely 5 miles RT hike will round out your day at Zion. Picnic along the way with that fabulous lunch box from camp.

 

You’ve worked hard today! So, grab a yummy local snack for an awesome scenic drive to Bryce National Park.  Grab drive-thru smoothies at Perk’s, ice cream at Palette Creamery, or visit the Grindhouse for coffee with more substantial food options for your hungry teenagers.

 

When mapping your route, be sure to leave Cedar City via Center Street for the best route. This is stunning (vs highway) and only adds 4 minutes to the total drive time.

Check in to your cute cabin, grab a pizza to go, and watch the sunset from Sunset Point.

 

Day 4: Bryce Day

Up and at 'em!  You'll want to beat the crowds to Bryce Canyon National Park. 

 

It's a stunning 8 mile drive to end of the park for views for days. Convince yourself to pass the crowded pull overs for now.

 

Once you've got your "ooh's" and "aah's" out of the way, you'll head back toward the Queens Garden Trail for your hike.  Don't forget to stop at views you passed up. 

 

You'll get your sweat on and some peace amongst the hoodoo's by hiking away from the crowds.  Its a constantly changing  2.9 mile loop with something for everyone. Task the kids with picking the perfect picnic spot. 

 

Head to the most scenic hipster coffee spot in Southern Utah.  Whether it's the perfect pour, a tasty bakery item, or the epic view, get there fast! 

 

Speaking of views, the drive to your next  hotel in phenomenal.  Soak it all in.   You'll be resting your head at the the only rustic resort in these sparse parts. 

Tonight is for celebrating and relaxing. The hotel restaurant is surprisingly satisfying for how remote it is.  And they have stellar adult beverages.  Plus, they let you take the rest of your wine to enjoy in your fun cabin, hotel room, or yurt! 

You'll get a s’more kit from the desk, sit around the fire, enjoy the rest of that wine with the sunset, then head to the hot tub to relax.

 

Tomorrow is an early day and full of fun.

Day 5: Capitol Reef National Park: the hidden gem nobody goes to

Capitol Reef National Park

I know it's early but you'll really love the two super short trails below before driving the 1 hour to your tour. They are a few minutes from your hotel and a worthy place to have breakfast this morning. 

 

Hike Gooseneck's view (.2 mi rt) and Sunset point (.8 mi rt)); they are right next to each so you don't even have to move your car.  If you pick only one....go Sunset point.

 

Then, head on your way to Hanksville for your tour. You'll drive the 8 miles through stunning red and orange Capitol Reef National Park and also pass by the pioneer town of Fruita  where you can pick fruit from an original orchard created in 1880!

Get ready for some fun as you experience canyoneering in Robber's Roost and then a 4x4 ride along not for the faint of heart!  Today is all about challenging yourself kissed with the reward of great views and a great dinner in hipster Moab. 

Day 6: Mountain bike Moab

Moab and mountain go together like peanut butter and jelly.  This town was made for adventure!

 

Meet your guide, get fitted to your bike, and get on the trail!  There are tons of options for all levels and any of them have views for days.  You'll work up an appetite and earn the right for a yummy local lunch.  

Back in Moab, you've got your pick of local haunts.  Gastropubs, breweries, BBQ, and Thai abound here.  And, leave room for the spectacle of Nitro ice cream at The Garage. 

 

Then, hang at your resort pool and soak those bones in the hot tub....you've earned it! 

Day 7: Drive to Salt Lake City

 

Stroll Main street in Moab and pick your favorite coffee shop. You'll need your energy for your last National Park: Arches!  While you are eating breakfast, don't forget to order some lunch to eat in Arches.

Arches National Park is a stunner!  So, grab your map and head to the back of the park to escape the crowds.  

 

On the way, you'll navigate yourself to these awesome roadside arches so get your camera ready!
 

  1.  Skyline arch 

  2.  Sand Dune arch

  3.  Balanced Rock arch

When it's time for lunch, head to Windows arch parking lot and take you pick of 3 short hikes to 3 separate arches.......it's the most bang for your buck!  Lunch in any shade you find and enjoy these anomalies. 

After all the scenery you've experienced, the highway drive to Salt Lake City will bore you to tears! Put on some good music, grab some fancy coffee for the road, and remember all the fun you've had.

 

Once there, head out on foot for a 15 minute walk to the Utah State Capitol building and grounds and then to Temple Square to see the Mormon headquarters before dinner. Both of these are beautiful to poke around and explore. 

Good food is abundant in Salt Lake City.  You can opt to go commercial or go to the gritty underground bar scene. I'd do both. Pretty Bird has the best chicken sandwiches.  If whiskey is your thing, Whiskey Street will pour you a nice one to toast the end of a phenomenal trip. 

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