Sunday, May 27, 2012

Dreaming of Utah

Yes, I said Utah.  It started almost 3 years ago when we visited my mom's friends in Seattle and they just came back from a trip to Utah and raved about how beautiful it was.  I was like, "Utah???"  Really?  For vacation??  What's in Utah?  Just like the way people say, "Iowa???"  or "Tennessee" when I tell people where I went to college, or where I work now.  So I looked into what was in Utah.  Do you know what's in Utah?  There is A LOT OF STUFF IS IN UTAH!!  Sorry, for the all-caps, I'll try to compose myself.
Arches National Park
Photo: Jim Karczewski - National Park Service
The two national parks I'm most interested in visiting is Arches National Park and Zion National Park.  Super recently I came across a picture of Arches National Park, but I don't know where.  As for Zion National Park, I came across a picture of it on Budget Travel's feature 12 Most Beautiful Paths: No Car Required.  Most were hiking trails but there were biking trails too.  Sometimes I think that interesting land formations are more beautiful than beaches.  Then I see a picture of a beach and think, "Well, not to say that beaches are ugly.."  Anyway, all of that was to say that I find land formations to be fascinating and gorgeous.

Two Utah locations on my radar meant that I wanted to see how close they were to each other.  So I had an adventure on Google Maps.  Those are fun.  And totally cheap.  All it takes is time and internet connection.  After talking with my special someone we mapped out a dream itinerary.  It requires a lot of vacation time probably and it would be a long while before we could do it.  If you're reading this, feel free to hijack our dream itinerary, all I ask is you report back so we know how to plan our trip better!
Zion National Park
Photo: Tom Putnak - National Park Service
Driving time: 21 hours and 34 minutes, if stayed on route and skipped "Along the way" destinations.  If you wanted to fast track from Arches National Park to Zion National Park, you can save an hour and nine minutes by staying on 1-70 and then onto 1-15.  Then you would drive through Manti-La Sal National Forest and Fishlake National Forest.

  • A. Salt Lake City Airport
  • B. Arches National Park
  • Along the way: (On top of the 21:34 hours)
    • Capital Reef National Park
    • Carcass Canyon Wilderness Study Area
    • Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
    • Kodachrome Basin State Park
    • Bryce Canyon National Park
    • Dixie National Forest
  • C. Zion National Park
  • D. Grand Canyon-North Rim
  • E. Hoover Dam
  • F. Las Vegas Airport

The reason why you would start at Salt Lake City and end in Vegas is if you wanted a one-way rental car, rental car companies would prefer cars to move toward populated areas, instead of remote.  Sometimes, you can't even rent a rental car if your destination is considered remote.  Originally, I wanted to fly into Grand Junction since it's the closest major city to Arches National Park, but one-way rental cars were $800+ a week.  After playing around with other starting points, I found that starting at Salt Lake City's airport would cost $655/week, but $350+/week if you rented the car from town.  If you enjoy driving, then you could find a rental car a lot cheaper if you return it to the same destination.  Especially from Vegas, I've seen around $10 per day in Vegas.  After seeing these prices, we decided that we're definitely waiting until we're 25 so we don't have to pay outrageous underage driver fees.

Arches National Park
Photo: Tom Gray - National Park Service
One way tickets can be expensive sometimes (and other times they don't charge you a premium for booking only one-ways), but since this trip was a way of using my mileage, I searched and found one-way flights for 12.5k miles.  Leaving from Las Vegas, we thought we'd take Southwest and then skip baggage fees.

The major destinations of this trip were Arches National Park and Zion National Park, but since the Las Vegas airport was nearby, we added Grand Canyon's North Rim and Hoover Dam to the itinerary.  Most people who visit Grand Canyon see the South Rim (not coincidentally that's the rim both of us saw).  I've been to Hoover Dam before, didn't think much of it, but when you're with a nerdy engineer, I guess you have to visit these things.  :P


  1. Sweet! I like the idea of a dream itinerary...maybe I should put one together :) Planning it is part of the fun, right?

    1. I play on Google Maps so often! I should write more dream itinerary posts! Although, when I write them as a blog post, then I do more research, hence realizing that I can't fly into Grand Junction airport and have to fly Salt Lake City. Anyway, dream itineraries are fun!