There is a reason that the area around Moab, Utah has been used as a backdrop for dozens of movies. If you squint good enough, you can actually see Clint Eastwood and John Wayne hanging out there. (At least it looked like them. I mean, I was squinting… so hard to say what I saw.) The scenery is so beautiful, and all you need is a compact car to drive around the Western Landscapes.
I thought I’d give a brief overview of what we did, in case you look through this photo gallery and think “man, where is that?” Because, the reason I chose these places is because I saw pictures and said, “man, where is that?” Beautiful state, and I can’t wait to go back.
This is a sample of photographs, click here to see the full album from this trip.
We flew into Salt Lake City (SLC), and it’s about a four hour drive to Moab, Utah, which is in the southeast corner of Utah. At first, we asked ourselves why we didn’t find an airport closer, seeing as how it’s sort of a long drive after two flights. After looking into it, SLC is actually the closest major airport to Moab. When we flew out to see the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park (located in the southwest corner of Utah) we flew through Las Vegas. Las Vegas is the closest major airport if you want to explore that side of the state. Since we’d been to Zion, we wanted to explore the other side.
We visited Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park which are within 30 minutes of Moab. Prior to going, we finally purchased a National Parks Pass. For only $80, it seems like one of the best investments you can make. You can visit any national park you want for free! (Or one vehicle at per-vehicle-fee parks, and pass owner plus 3 other people at per-person-fee parks.) If you are a parent, and want to spoil your children rotten, you can do worse than buy this pass, rent a car and take them to as many National Parks as you can. They are all vastly different, but so easy to navigate. You pull up, and you see a sign telling you to turn to a certain radio station to hear the tips and weather for the day at the park. You pull up to the guard, show your pass, and they hand you a map and an events schedule. The map is really easy to use, and all the signs are well marked. You can choose which hikes you want to do, and they’re listed in the map according to activity level and distance. (1 mile, easy vs. 7 miles, strenuous).
The other amazing thing we did in Moab was book a house through Accommodations Unlimited of Moab. We stayed in the guest house on the Hauer Ranch. There was barely any reception, and the TV only had two channels. We were in the middle of nowhere (45 minutes to get to town). And yes, it was amazing. We also went for a horseback ride on the ranch (called Moab Horses) and that was the highlight of our trip. We rode through areas where they filmed movies, and our guide pointed those locations out. (There are so many locations in this area, take a look a this website to see just how many.)
After visiting Moab, we drove to Cortez, Colorado so we could see Mesa Verde National Park. Very fascinating place. We didn’t get to tour inside the actual cliff dwellings, since they sold out of tours that morning for the rest of the day and the rest of the following day. You have to book in person and it was a holiday weekend, so we knew we might not get to see it. However, we still saw them all from the outside, smelled the wild flowers and visited the pit houses. These things were well preserved, and very fascinating with historical signage. We found a beautiful spot to watch the sun go down, and I have no complaints about the beautiful scenery of the area.
Salt Lake City
When we got to Salt Lake City, we went to dinner at Log Haven Restaurant. That place was amazing (and expensive!) It’s inside the Wasatch National Forest, so the drive in and the scenery around you is beautiful. Since I’m a bourbon girl, we went to Whiskey Street, which had interesting cocktails with a variety of different bourbons and whiskeys.
We took a day trip to Antelope Island State Park, which was only a 30 min drive from the main part of the city, and had buffalo roaming the fields, as well as antelope frolicking. It cost $10 per vehicle. It was very serene. You basically drive through the main road and pull off when you see animals. You can take pictures, but they had funny signage in the visitor’s center to warn you when you’re “too close.” For example, if the buffalo is stopping what it’s doing to stare at you, you’re too close.
While my husband worked, I spent the day wandering around Temple Square, visiting the Church History Museum, visitor’s center and Family Search Center. I didn’t get to go into the temple. (You have to be baptized in the Mormon faith to do that.) Walking around the city was a lot of fun; it was easy to navigate, clean and you can see the mountains all around you. Very cool city.
If and when I visit again, on my list is Dead Horse Point State Park, Dinosaur National Monument, Horseshoe Canyon and Big Cottonwood Canyon. Those are places we didn’t get to this trip, and would love to see another time! So much too see… so little time!