As the weather starts to cool, it becomes the perfect temps for road tripping to the desert, and I just scouted out the perfect trip for you. This is an epic 4-day road trip all around Utah, a full loop that hits some incredible national parks, landmarks, and breathtakingly beautiful hikes.
Top 5 things you will need on this trip
First thing first, you will need a rockin’ mom wagon to transport you. If you already own one, you are one step ahead but let me ask you this- does it have a DVD player? If your answer is no, you gotta get your bum to Avis Car Sales & Rentals. They rent all kinds of rad vehicles out from itty bitty cars to vans that you can pack up for the long haul with four kids, two adults, camping gear and enough snack and water for a small army. My van was a Town & Country with a DVD player for the kiddos and tons of USB charger stations, air conditioning and a cushy driver’s seat for me. Inside had tons of storage including floor compartments for extra gear and pockets, pockets everywhere. Listen, you drive your car, Every.Single.Day. Treat yourself, get a gas efficient car that you only have to fill up a few times and you won’t have to worry about getting stranded in the desert. Thank me later.
Second, you’ll need a map- yes, those old-fashioned thingies that fold out and then never fold back the way it came. Why? Because there are tons of spots with no service at all and you will miss some cool landmarks if you don’t pay attention. I had planned to blog my entire trip daily, yeah…no internet cafes out there in the wide open, just beauty to behold.
Which brings me to the third thing you need- A co-pilot. Eyes on the road, driver! Don’t do it, don’t you Instagram while driving. There’s no Instagram in the afterlife, or so I hear.
4th is most definitely water & snacks and lots of it and a little bit more just in case. In some areas, you go long stretches in between with no stops and sometimes that gas station sign turns out to be an abandoned gas station with a lone cow wondering through. Just one lone cow, where did it come from??
5th is gear- pack your sleeping blankets or bags and any other gear you may need for camping and just in case. Bring a flashlight for late night pee trips and an emergency phone charger just in case your phone dies on the road. A small backpack for hiking. A good water bottle for everyone. Good hiking shoes. Spare cash is a must; many places are cash only. Also, I wasn’t mad at myself for bringing a mini spa kit and giving myself a facial on our last night on the road, just sayin’.
For this trip, we chose to do a full circle around Utah, 1200 miles! We hit some amazing places, and it was certainly an epic journey. We opted to do it in 2 trips, one to St George to scout our fun spots and one from Ogden to St. George, down to Arizona and back up through arches and then home to Ogden. Whew! That second trip was 1100 miles total. We recommend staying three nights- once in St.George, once in Arizona and once in Moab. Take a three-day weekend and you can go on a trip of a lifetime!
Ok, so where are we going? Here are the stops!
Ogden, Utah- Kannaraville, UT (4hrs7 mins)
Leave as early as possible to leave time for fun. First stop is Kannaraville! This hike is 4.8 miles roundtrip, and you will definitely get wet here because most of the hike is through an ankle-deep creek. The hike is pretty easy even for kiddos. The rocks can be a bit wobbly, so kids sometimes need a hand to hold, but other than that it is super chill. This hike is going to make you hungry, so be sure to pack a light snack.
Kannaraville, UT to St George (39 minutes)
Choose a campground or hotel to stay in and set up and re-group. I recommend the KOA, Comfort Inn & Suites or Red Cliff Campground. Now is a good chance to take a nap, get your bed ready for the night and maybe check out a rad restaurant in town, but don’t get sleep yet, there is still more to explore today!
**Tip- If you love to Rock Climb, check out Moe’s Valley!
This KOA is right across from your next stop, the Red Cliff Recreation Area.
St. George to Red Cliff (29 minutes)
This recreation area is an amazing place to visit. There are 17 hikes, a dinosaur track area featuring 17 well-preserved tracks and an archeological site from when the Ancestral Puebloans were residing there from about 500 A.D. to 1200 A.D. There is a $5 vehicle fee, but it is very much worth every penny. Bring lots of water, sunblock and a hat because it is a full sun area and it does get hot hot hot. After your hiking adventure, head back to camp to sleep. Don’t forget to set an alarm because you have a big day tomorrow!
Red Cliff Recreation Area to Grand Canyon North Rim (2hrs 41 mins)
The Grand Canyon is certainly Grand, and it is a place you absolutely must see at least once in your lifetime. North Rim has beautiful hikes, camping and an incredible lodge where you can sit and just breathe in the beauty. There are all kinds of fun activities like mule rides, hikes, scenic drives and tons of places to explore natural history and Native American artifacts. Make sure you get gas at Jacobs’s Lake gas station, there is nowhere else to get gas. Also, be sure to pick out a camping spot, cabin or another lodging beforehand, service is very limited at the Grand Canyon.
Grand Canyon to Moab (6hrs 42 minutes)
This is probably the most beautiful part of the trip because you will have to go back through the Grand Canyon and then zig zag around marble canyon to get back on track to Moab. Then, just when you think you are stuck in the desert, you hit Monument Valley, Mexican Hat, and some beautiful landmarks. Be sure to take US-163 N or you will miss all of that beauty. All along the way are Native American roadside stands, cool signs, and shops to stop in, museums and more. The drive could be 6 hours, but it really is a day trip of exploration by itself.
Once in Moab, you will want to sleep, trust me, all the sleep. We had such a fun time at the KOA in Moab, it was clean and had stunning views and a pool, not to mention lizards and bunnies EVERYWHERE. The bunnies are impossible to catch, I tried.
Moab to Arches National Park (15 minutes)
Arches Nation Park is so beautiful and worth the $25 fee for sure. Head there as early as possible to beat the line. We had a ton of kids with us, so we went to the easy hike at windows arch, there are a few arches to check out here and the hike is more of a light walk. Easy peasy! Delicate Arch is a commitment, and I just wasn’t ready for that. We drove the entire scenic route which took about 4 hours, spending 10 minutes or so at each stop and around half hour at windows. You can check out all the driving options HERE. Bring LOTS OF WATER; I can not stress that enough. We went through about five gallons of water.
Arches to Ogden, Utah (4hrs 8mins)
YAY! The home stretch! This part of the drive is, well, it’s not the prettiest. This is where that DVD player will come in real handy, stop at a Redbox and stock up if you can. There are a few beautiful spots when you hit canyons but right after that it is highway and if you hit SLC at the wrong time…rush hour traffic. It’s ok though because you are almost home, and you can sleep in your own bed and post all your amazing pictures and take a very long shower. You made it! You went on an epic trip and survived! Drink beer, you deserve it.