Grand Circle Road Trip Thoughts

We are back from our 12 night Grand Circle Road trip and it was amazing. The passport has lots of new stamps. We visited 7 National Parks, state parks, NRA’s and National Monuments! 

Some random thoughts…

My top 5 parts of the trip: 

  1. Zion National Park-It looks like what you would imagine the Garden of Eden to look like. I was amazed at how much green and water was in this desert environment.
  2. Bryce Canyon National Park and Scenic Byway 12-Amazing! Like walking and driving in a fairy tale. A photographers dream.
  3. Mesa Verde National Park-Quiet! Intimate. The best service and the best food/restaurant (Metate Room.)  The cliff dwellings are beautiful and so well taken care of.
  4. Monument Valley and Antelope Canyon-Thank you Navajo Nation for sharing these with us. As Craig said “This is a magical place Patricia.”
  5. Grand Canyon National Park-because it is the Grand Canyon! We saw lots of Elk, Mule Deer, Ravens, Mules and a Big Horn Sheep ran through a crowd of tourists! It is so well run and like a small town. There was even a Ringtail Cat at dinner in the El Tovar Dining Room.

I am so grateful Craig and I got to spend our 19th anniversary experiencing the Grand Circle. Our country is so amazing! Get out and see it please. You will not be sorry. There were tons of tourists from China, France, Germany and Spain, but very few Americans. Go Find Your Park!   

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.