Roadtripping: 3 Days in Southwestern Utah
Utah is an amazingly beautiful state from north, south, east, and west. With a state that has so much to explore, we had no shortage of things to do in our three short days spent in southwestern Utah. The hardest part of our brief trip was narrowing it down to a few key things and deciding what we would have to wait and do until our next trip. Another factor at play was the weather since it is the middle of January. Luckily, we had some nice days, but there was a fair amount of snow and ice to contend with from a previous storm.
All-in-all, our three days in Utah could not have worked out better. Some of our adventures were: hiking to Scout Lookout and Angels Landing, wading through the Narrows, exploring Belly of the Dragon, playing on the Coral Pink Sand Dunes, scrambling up to (and down from) the Kanab Sand Caves, viewing Bryce Canyon at sunrise, and wandering through Snow Canyon.
I’m working on sorting through all the pictures and memories from our time and will write a post about each with some more information for exploring these areas. While I’m working on putting those together, below I’m sharing our itinerary and how we managed to pack so much in to just a few short days. Trips don’t have to be long, expensive, and require a ton of time off work to get the most out of them. Get out there and find ways you can adventure forever!
- Catch an early flight into Las Vegas, land a little before 8:00 am, and rent a car for the three hour drive to Zion National Park
- Check-in to the hotel in Springdale, Flanigan’s Inn (I would highly recommend this hotel! It was clean, cute, and had a nice hot tub I wish we would have brought our swimsuits for.)
- Rent dry suits and boots from Zion Adventure Company to hike the Narrows the following day
- Hike to Scout Lookout/Angels Landing in Zion
- Enjoy dinner, well-deserved beers, and live music at Zion Brewery (it’s a short walk from Flanigan’s)
- Suit up and leave the hotel by 7:00 am to drive the 20 minutes to the trailhead for the Narrows and hike for two hours
- Back to the hotel to change, shower, and return the dry suits
- Lunch at Cafe Soleil in Spingdale (great spot for breakfast or lunch)
- Drive through the park toward Bryce Canyon National Park
- Pitstop to explore Belly of the Dragon
- Pitstop to play at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
- Pitstop to scramble up to and down from the Kanab Sand Caves
- Enjoy sunset from Sunset Point at Bryce Canyon
- Check-in to the hotel in Bryce Canyon City, Ruby’s Inn
- Have dinner at the restaurant at Ruby’s Inn
- Up before dawn to view the incredible sunrise from Sunrise Point in Bryce Canyon (a definite must!)
- Back to the hotel to pack-up, eat breakfast, and begin the drive back to Las Vegas
- Long pitstop at Snow Canyon to wander through the slot canyons, get lost on the petrified sand dunes, and crawl down a lava tube
- Make our way back to Las Vegas and check-in to the California Hotel and Casino on Freemont Street
- Enjoy some “real” beers back in Nevada at Banger Brewing, Atomic Liquors, Triple 7 Brewery (Utah has weird state laws regarding how strong beers can be…), and call it a night before our flight home in the morning
Our trip was incredibly active, but I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. There were definitely some lessons that we learned while making the most of it, which I’ve summarized below for when you take your own road trip to southwestern Utah.
TIPS FOR A WINTER ROADTRIP IN SOUTHWESTERN UTAH
- If you’re flying into Las Vegas to start your trip, get the earliest flight you can so you have a good half day to explore when you get to Zion.
- Rent a car with AWD or 4WD. The weather can change in a heartbeat and even with a clear forecast, you’ll likely still find icy roads in some places this time of year.
- Remember there is a one-hour time difference between Las Vegas and Utah. You’ll lose an hour going there, but gain an hour on the way back.
- If you like to enjoy beers that are over 5% ABV, cocktails, or wine, stock up before you leave Nevada.
- If you want to hike Angel’s Landing in Zion or Bryce Canyon in the winter, be prepared for ice and bring some crampons.
- If planning on hiking the Narrows in Zion in the winter, you absolutely need a dry suit. The water is around 40°F. Rent yours from an outfitter the night before so you can get an early start the next day. Most outfitters don’t open until 9:00 am.
- Get to the Narrows trailhead EARLY (like 7:30 am) and you will have the place to yourselves in the winter.
- Bring lots of warm clothes and dress in layers. We had temperatures that varied from 60° to 10° F. I also wouldn’t recommend tent camping this time of year. We are big campers and still wouldn’t want to do it.
- A lot of things are closed in the towns surrounding the parks this time of year. Be prepared for limited options, especially if you are getting early starts, and have plenty of snacks and drinks on hand.
- Buy an Annual National Parks pass! Enter the parks three times and it has already paid for itself. You can use this for an entire year at ANY national park and some state parks, too!