The Grand Circle Road Trip

Craig and I have been talking about visiting Utah’s National Parks for a while. After seeing the map above in a Fodor’s travel book on the West, I decided to start planning a road trip. The “Mighty 5” (Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, Arches) have had a lot of press lately. Utah’s latest advertising campaign by Struck was great. I know we loved the video.

I decided to use the road trip above from the Fodor’s Complete Guide to The National Parks of The West. We also added a night in Page after Monument Valley so we can see Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and Lake Powell. October looked like a great time to visit so that is when we head out. Our anniversary is in October as well, so it will be a nice celebration! We added a few nights more than what the book suggested. I think 2 weeks would be even better.   

We will be flying into Las Vegas late and staying the first night there. The next morning we will drive to Zion National Park. We are spending 2 nights at the Zion Lodge, 1 night at the Bryce Canyon Lodge, 1 night at Austin’s Chuckwagon Motel in Torrey, 2 Nights at the Red Cliff’s Lodge right outside Moab, 1 night at the Fair View Lodge in Mesa Verde, 1 night at The View Hotel in Monument Valley, 1 night at The Lake Powell Resort and Marina near Page and 2 nights at Bright Angel Lodge on the South Rim of The Grand Canyon. I included the official hotel links if you would like to recreate our road trip! There are nice restaurants in each location that I read about on Trip Advisor and travel guide books. Some are The Spotted Dog Cafe in Springdale outside of Zion National Park, Hell’s Backbone Grill on Highway 12, Cafe Diablo in Torrey and Desert Bistro in Moab. The menu’s look amazing and we can’t wait to try them all.  

Sunrise Sunset is a great web site to determine sunrise and sunset times during your trips. In Southern Utah, Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon, you really want to catch the amazing sunrises and sunsets. There is also an app called Magic Hour for photography that you may want to download. 

This is a large area to cover, so plan as much time as you can or concentrate on certain areas (a smaller loop.) Look at lodging and tours way ahead. See my Pinterest pins for more ideas.



National Park Night Sky Programs and Festivals

Did you know many of the National Parks have night sky viewing programs as well as night sky festivals? At some of the parks like Bryce Canyon, the night sky is so dark you can see 7,500 stars on a moonless night! You might even see the Milky Way very clearly.  You can check online or at the visitors centers to see what programs might be going on while you are there. There are full moon hikes and bike rides in Yosemite, solar and star viewing at Bryce and much more.    

We are excited to be vising Acadia National Park next month for their Night Sky Festival. It takes place over several days and there will be viewing parties, lectures and movies. I will do a whole post on Acadia and planning with pictures when we get back!

Two New National Park Shows

Travel Channel is launching a new show America The Beautiful narrated by Robert Redford for the National Park Service’s 100th Anniversary in 2016. It starts August 23rd, 2015 and sounds great!

Another new show is Rock The Park. It follows hosts Jack Steward and Colton Smith as they visit National Parks around the US. 

Check out these shows if you are interested in the National Parks!