Hi friends! Many of you followed along and were very responsive to the recent road trip I took with my friend Haley. Lots of you actually asked for the itinerary so I wanted to write everything out in detail for you.
Let me start off by saying that I didn’t plan one ounce of this trip so I can’t take any of the credit for the route we took or where we stayed. My friend Haley is just as much of a planner as I am (thank God) and the bonus is she’s just as much down for any outdoor adventure as I am also.
Why we took this road trip:
This trip was actually SUPER spur of the moment for me. I had just gotten back from a girls weekend in Vegas and had nothing planned but work when Haley texted me asking if I would do “the first leg of her cross country move” with her. She was moving to North Carolina to start school and needed to drive all of her stuff out there and just wanted some company along the way.
Fortunately I can work from anywhere that I have service so this was actually possible for me. I agreed to do the first leg of the trip from Los Angeles, California to Denver, Colorado where another friend would fly in to meet her and take my spot from there. The trip in total took us 5 days and I must say, we did really good with coordinating adventures around our driving schedule.
We left Los Angeles Monday morning at 5am.
Our first pit stop (unplanned stop) was just four hours into our drive at the Seven Magic Mountains just outside of Las Vegas. This is an art installation of seven rock pillars all painted various colors. It makes for some cool pictures and while we didn’t plan to stop here, the stop didn’t take us too long.
Also in Vegas, we drove through Raising Cane’s Chicken. This was my second time ever having it and it has been officially decided that I am not a fan. I’ll just leave it at that.
First Stop: Zion National Park, Springdale, Utah.
We drove for another two hours stopping at the state line sign on the way until we reached Utah’s Zion National Park. When we drove through Springdale, the small town just outside of the park we instantly felt like we were in Car’s Land at Disneyland.
*Note, as you’re driving through town, you’ll see signs and stops for the Springdale tram, don’t mistake these for the Zion tram that you’ll take once you’re in the park. Once you reach the end of the town, where the park begins you’ll see parking lots to your left and right as well as street parking along the road at the end. The park entrance will be on the right, follow signage as there will be restaurants and gift shops in this area as well.
We arrived at Zion around 4pm and didn’t notice we drove through a time change. Now on Mountain Time, we were an hour ahead of what we thought but fortunately the sun sets an hour later as well (this was mid July and the sun set around 9pm). We really only had time for one hike and we were hesitant in our selection just because it was already early evening. We both wanted to try the most difficult hike in the park and thankfully it’s one of the shortest in the park also.
Angel’s Landing is a giant rock formation within Zion National Park. A trail was cut into the steep rock and a chain was installed for balance along the the narrow pathway making the summit accessible from Scout Lookout.
The entirety of the hike to Scout Lookout and onto Angel’s Landing is only 2.5 miles but gains 1,488ft in elevation and is estimated to take between 3 to 5 hours round trip. The hike was labeled as “strenuous” in the Zion Park map and is rated a level 3 based on the Yosemite Decimal System.
Personally, I thought the trail was moderate.
I’m relatively in shape and have a decent endurance level but we passed all sorts of people with varying athletic abilities on the way up and back. The hardest part for me was putting my nerves aside and not constantly looking down or imagining the very real possibility of falling. I definitely let out a few nervous laughs.
The hike was a steep incline on a paved pathway a majority of the way up with several switchbacks. You’ll reach Scout’s Lookout which is the turnaround point for those not wanting to do Angel’s Landing summit.
Angel’s Landing in person (especially from the Scout Lookout) looks extremely intimidating. I think it looks even more intimidating in photos. As we were hiking it we realized it’s not as crazy as it seemed when you’re focusing one step at a time. Before we knew it we were at the top enjoying our snacks until the squirrels stole them.
*Note: because this is such a heavily trafficked area, the wildlife seemed to be much riskier. We had food in our open backpacks sitting on the rock at the summit and squirrels and chipmunks would run up and steal it right out of our bags. If the container or bag to your food is open, keep it in your hand. Feeding the wildlife results in a hefty fine here.
We hung out at the top for a good half hour before making our way back down. It wasn’t too hot and there was only one other couple at the summit with us. I think this was because we started so late in the day.
We made it to be bottom by 7:30pm so the hike took us approximately 3 hours total.
If you’re confident in your level and experience with hiking, I highly recommend doing this summit later in the day when it’s cooler out and there aren’t as many people on the trail with you.
I will admit, because the trail is so narrow, it gets a bit annoying trying to find a sliver of ground to hold tight to while you allow those descending to pass you by. The descend was a bit trickier than the way up. Haley actually found it much easier to go backwards at times.
On our way out of the park we grabbed dinner at Zion Canyon Brewery and we were both honestly shocked by how good the food and beer was. It was the perfect exit of the park.
Lodging Night 1: Desert Camper
Haley booked us a camper because she thought it would be a fun experience. I actually have a lot of experience with small pop up campers so this was perfectly fine for me. Haley didn’t mind the “roughing-it” in a camper for a night however, the camper wasn’t located on a camp ground. We were literally pulled over off the side of the highway super randomly. So much so that the Airbnb host didn’t send us an actual address, she sent COORDINATES.
A quick call to my grandpa for a refresher on the mobile generator and water pump system and we were good to go. The whole -being deserted on the side of the highway in a vast desert with just the two of us alone- was a bit scary (especially after listening to true crime podcasts on the drive).
Just be aware, if you book Airbnb around the Zion National Park area and it’s listed as a camper or camping, I would ask the host a few more detailed questions before confirming the booking:
- Is this on a camp ground or a random stand-alone campsite?
- What is the bathroom situation and are there showers? Are they an extra charge?
- Will there be electricity? Is there air conditioning/heating?
The more information you can get in advance the better prepared you’ll feel!