In 2004 my girlfriend Emily and I did a 3 week road trip through the southwest states. Here is the log of the trip with a few pictures I took and printed.
Miles driven: 3289
States visited: Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona
Friday May 7th
We left Mountain View for Grover Hot Springs SP via the scenic route. We took 580 to 120 to 4 to 89. There was some nice country side, the higlight being Ebbetts Pass on highway 4. It was 242 miles. After a stop at the grocerie store it was 7 hours.
Grover Hot Springs is awesome. The campground is very nice. It has hot showers. And the hot springs are exceptional. The water is in a large concrete pool and is a perfect 102 degrees. No smell either. It's $3 per person. Unfortunately we didn't have time to do any hiking.
We drove 207 miles to Berlin state park, an old ghost town that also is the site of a large ichthyosaur (dinosaur) find. It took about 5 hours to get there. The dinosaur is not that impressive. And Berlin is just ok, I wasn't that impressed. I think it would have been more impressive 20 years ago. $4 to enter. The sites won't bring me back. But it is nice country. When you get of of the desert plains in the higher ground were the trees start growing Nevada is great.
Next we headed to Great Basin national park. It took about 6 hours to make the 285 miles. We got Chinese food at the Eureka cafe in Eureka, NV. Chinese food in rural areas is always interesting. When in Rome... it is best to get a steak like everyone else. But the meal was not bad. That night we stayed at Border Inn on hwy 50 by the state border. Not the best but I think it is the nicest hotel in the area if you are going to stay in a hotel. $39 per night. Open 24 hours a day.
We ate at breakfast at the Border Inn, not a bad little greasy spoon. Then we went to set up camp at Great Basin NP. We got a nice little site right by the creek, site 16 in the Baker Creek campground. It is better to stay at the lower elevation Baker Creek campground early in the year as it is cold at the high elevations. We did the Lehman cave tour, It was ok. I believe they recommend to call ahead for tickets. It was $8 per person. Then we drove up to the Wheeler Peak parking lot. It is at 9886 feet. We couldnt hike to bristle cones because of snow. It probably wouldn't have been a problem with boots and gators. Then we went on a petroglylph hunt as there is supposed to be a quite a few in the park. We didn't find any. Great Basin is one of the best parks in the country.
The next morning we drove to Moab. I would love to live in Moab, what an awesome place. We ate in Salina Utah at Mom's cafe. It was pretty good. It's the only greasy spoon I have ever seen with write ups on wall. We got into Moab 7 hours later. It was 336 mile drive. We got a room at Landmark Inn. It is a pretty nice place to stay. It is clean, and it has got a pool, a hot tub, laundry (which is really nice), a fridge, and a microwave. It is right downtown too. It is totally worth the $60 per night. We got dinner at Jay's Pasta on Main Street. They are very good.
Got breakfast at the Jailhouse Cafe on Main Street. It was very good. The only problem is they close at noon. We did the Devils Garden trail in Arches National Park. It is great. I have done the Park Avenue hike, the Delicate Arch trail, and the Devils Garden trail, and the Devils Garden trail is by far the best. We ate dinner at Zax. We got the all-you-can-eat pizza, salad, and soup buffet for ten dollars each. It was decent, not as good as I remembered, but worth eating there again. The mud pie for dessert was very good.
We took a white water rafting trip at Westwater Canyon on the Colorado River. The outfitter was Tag-a-Long. I shopped around and they seemed reasonably priced. The trip and wetsuit rental for the both of us cost $290. They give you lunch with that deal too. There were only four people that day, only one boat full, so we got a row boat instead of a paddle boat. A row boat is where the guide sits in the middle with oars and rows. A paddle boat is where everyone paddles. There must be one row boat in every trip to carry the supplies. I was disappointed that there were no side hikes because our guide wanted to avoid the afternoon wind on the home stretch that occurs every day in the spring. It was a 17 mile trip total, an hour and a half of flat water, 45 minutes of class II-IV rapids, then hour and a half of flat water with lunch somewhere in between. I would use them again but I would ask before hand if there would be side hikes.
Stopped at city market grocery store in Moab, surprisingly it was a good as any in CA, except for the fucking Utah beer. Mormons suck!
It was 130 miles and 4 hours to make it to Mesa Verde from Moab. We stayed at the Morefield campground. It's first come first serve. Morefield is aptly named, there are over 300 campsites. Ours was down from the road and surrounded by trees, site number 56. Tent sites are 20 dollars per night. There are free hot showers and large coin laundry though. There is also a general store. But it is mostly souvenirs, slim pickings on food or supplies. We visited Far View Ruins and the Spruce Tree House that day. I really liked the Spruce Tree house because it was so accessible.
We took Cliff Palace tour. I wanted to take Balcony House tour but it sold out because of some little twerps on a field trip took all the tickets. You have to get tickets for both tours.
Then we drove to Sedona, 5 1/2 hours, 364 miles. What a beautiful place. We got a room at Cedars Resort, 100 dollars, hot tub, nothing special. If we didn't get in so late we would have just camped because the hotels in Sedona are expensive. Then we got some food at the Red Planet Diner, okay food, open late.
We got a spot at the Cave Springs campground in Oak Creek Canyon a little over 10 miles north of Sedona. It is first come first server on most sites, 16 dollars per night, coin showers, drinking water. It is the only campground with showers in Sedona area. We then went for a hike Red Rock SP. All the trails are short, so we combined most of them into an hour-and-a-half hike. It was very pretty.
Sunday 16th We checked out Slide Rock SP. It is kind of neat. But you have to get there very early to avoid crowds. We then hiked the Vultee Arch-Sterling Pass Trail. It is a nice trail and it is not crowded. It was very steep though. When you get to the pass there is a very good view.
That morning we did the drive to the Grand Canyon. It was 2 1/2 hour drive with stop for fast food to get to the east entrance, a 100 miles Got to Mather Campground, a very nice campground. All sites assigned. There are nice hot showers and laundry. There is a big grocery store with anything you want or need. With all the amenities it is like you aren't even camping.
We hiked the Bright Angel Trail. We made it to 3 mile rest house. A 2100' drop in 3 miles! I had to stop because of my bad knee. I had done the Kiabab trail before. And I like it a little more because it is on a ridge and has better views. And it has less traffic. But this trail was more than fine.
We started the drive to Zion the next morning.
It was 170 miles, 4 hours from Grand Canyon with quick stop at Glen Canyon Dam and Water Holes Canyon. Before going to Water Holes Canyon take 98 East to the Navajo Visitor Station and get a hiking permit, it's on the right-hand side before the power plant, $5 per person for the day. On highway 89 just north of the Water Holes Bridge/mile marker 542. Water Holes was great! Besides being incredibly beautiful it is a blast to scramble up and down the rocks as you move along the canyon.
Zion was another 125 miles and a little over 4 hours with lunch break. We stayed at Terrace Brook Lodge in Springdale, $54 with tax. What a dump, the bed spread smelled like Bengay, and shower kept going cold. I hear it is the cheapest place in town. We went to dinner at the Bit And Spur. Heard it was good but I wasn't that impressed.
We moved over to Zion Canyon Campground. What a dump. It is very close quarters. There were showers though. It was $20 a night. I would camp in the park but there are no showers. Next time I am just going to spring for one of the nice hotels. Unfortunately there is no good place to get groceries in Springdale either. Happy Camper Market near the park seems to be the best bet. That morning we went to the Zion Adventure Company to rent shoes and walking sticks for a hike up the narrows of the north fork of the Virgin River. To get to the hike you drive to the visitor center then take the bus from the visitor center to Temple of Sinawava. It is an awesome hike. Zion is one of the best parks in the country.
We did one more stop at the Mojove National Preserve before heading back home. It was 303 miles to Kelso Dunes. Kelso Dunes is a good size set of dunes with one a couple hundred feet tall. We hiked to the top of the tallest to got a great view. The field of dunes was much smaller than I envisioned. Then it was 60 miles Hole In The Wall campground. It was $12 per night.
We drove the 525 miles back to Mountain View.