Although I planned my road trip quite extensively to hit everything on my list within 4 days, it was so good to be behind the wheel of the car and in charge of our own itinerary and timetable. With my friends Josh and Joel, plus my brother Tristan and his girlfriend Annika, we set off on a Moab and Monument Valley road trip.
Travelling doesn’t seem nearly as simple as it once was. You used to just pack your bags, throw them into the backseat of a car and head to whichever destination you wanted. Now, we often have to think of the logistics with flights, layovers, airport transfers, not to mention thinking about when is the best time to visit where it won’t be super busy. But I decided to throw caution to the wind, relatively speaking.
Moab and Monument Valley Road Trip
We only had a 4-day weekend to hit all the places on my list. Luckily with my careful planning we were able to execute the perfect Moab and Monument Valley road trip. Starting with a two and a half hour drive from Vancouver down to Seattle. We hopped on a flight to Salt Lake City where we picked up a rental car. We then went on a three and half hour journey to Moab, our starting point.
From Moab, we were able to visit the Mystic Hot Springs, the Arches National Park with the famous Delicate Arch. We also had the chance to go off-roading with Outlaw Jeep Adventures and visit the Canyonlands National Park. As we made our way to Monument Valley, we took some time to visit the Grand Canyon South Rim. Once we had seen all that we wanted to see, we dropped the car off and took a flight home from Phoenix. Phew! What a great way to spend a long weekend!
Moab is surrounded by some of the best national parks in the West of the USA. You will find visitors from all over the country to see its many magical sights. There are some incredible views of sunrises, sunsets and starry night skies over the Canyonlands and through the beautiful arches in the national parks. After exploring the surrounding sights you can enjoy the comfort of small town hospitality within Moab. You will find charming restaurants to the many events and festivals that are hosted in the town.
The name of the town comes from an ancient kingdom in the Bible. It was also used in the name of a Nike product in 1991 for a hybrid running and hiking shoe. When you explore some arches and canyons in the east, you may even come across the Robbers Roost Hideout. This is where Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch used due to their many robberies and shootouts in Moab.
Mystic Hot Springs
Our first stop on our Moab to Monument Valley road trip was the magical Mystic Hot Springs. After seeing pictures of the hot springs for so long, I knew that we had to stop here and visit. Once there we were able to soak in the mineral water that is naturally heated and surrounded by the beautiful red rocks of Moab.
As we sat atop the rocks or in the water, we got to see the water flow down the hill into the other springs. It was a great start to our road trip! We were able to soak our muscles from the plane ride and driving from before. Also, at the resort are a variety of animals, from ducks and peacocks to llamas and even an emu. It was the perfect stop to enjoy before we headed out on a hike through the national parks nearby.
Arches National Park
Our next stop on our Moab and Monument Valley road trip was one of the big 5 national parks — Arches National Park. We parked up the car and made our way hiking through the park. We were able to see all the natural artistry of the park with all the strange rock formations. Throughout the park there are over 2,000 arches to be seen, but especially the famous Delicate Arch. We walked through the red-rocked wonderland and saw some incredible sights across the desert. I found this article on the best hikes in Arches National Park quite informative.
We stayed until quite late so that we could get the perfect sunset shot. Also, we waited to try and see the stars away from the town. When heading through this park, there are so many great viewpoints to see. There is the La Sal Mountains, the Three Gossips and even the Tower of Babel.
The Delicate Arch wasn’t the only place that we decided to stop at. There are so many arches and rock formations within the park. We wanted to visit as many as we could. I always like to make the most of my trips, as you well know. We also headed to the Window, which is a must-visit within the Arches National Park. We parked up and followed a short trail up to the viewpoint. Once you reach the top, you will immediately see the Window. This was a great spot for us to stop and take a few great photos.
Using a bit of imagination, I was able to get the perfect shot and it also offered incredible views over the landscape. Another great sight to see within the park is Hammer Rock. This is a unique rock formation that kind of looks like a hammer, depending on where you are standing. So I decided to have a bit of fun and take some interesting photos. It is somewhat similar to those that you see with the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I had so much fun finding all the fun spots to visit whilst we wandered through the National Park. It was definitely a highlight of the trip for me.
We could not visit the Arches National Park without heading to the famous Delicate Arch. This free-standing arch is a great spot for that perfect Instagram shot. Also, it is for seeing some amazing views over the rest of the park. The hike up to the arch is about 2-3 hours and is definitely worth it. It felt so weird standing beneath this enormous 46 feet high structure and looking out across the beautiful park.
It can get quite crowded as a lot of visitors due to the arch’s popularity so timing is everything. However, the large amount of visitors didn’t make it any less enjoyable. I got the chance to see incredible views and tick another place off of my bucket list.
Canyonlands National Park
Before we headed back to the hotel, we wanted to try and get some of the best star photos by heading to the Canyonlands National Park. This is another one of the big 5 national parks in Utah. It is home to canyons, arches, rivers and has a really colourful landscape. It was a great place to visit after the Arches National Park due to it being only 30 minutes away.
I definitely wanted to fit the Canyonlands into our itinerary as it is often overlooked. It is also a great spot for stargazing. Due to the utter darkness of the night sky within the Canyonlands, meant that we were able to see the stars like I have never before. Although it was busy, we were still able to get some amazing clear views of the constellations and photos.
So one of the main reasons that I wanted to go on this road trip to Moab and Monument Valley was for the sights. But we also decided to have a bit of fun by going off-roading with Outlaw Jeep Adventures. Moab is known for having some rather difficult trails. Luckily Outlaw Jeep Adventures helped us with getting to see some incredible sights.
Our guide took us out on the jeep, and we headed out on the Hell’s Revenge trail in Moab. There were some steep climbs and even steeper descents, but we got to enjoy all of it. We also saw views over the La Sal Mountains and Grandstaff Canyon. We got the chance to stop and take pictures and look out over Grand Country and even the Colorado River. Off-roading gave us the chance to see sights that we would have missed. Plus off-roading is alway such a fun adventure to do with friends.
Grand Canyon South Rim
We couldn’t enjoy our Moab and Monument Valley road trip without heading to the Grand Canyon South Rim. When you think of a tour or road trip of America, the Grand Canyon is often a must-see. And it wasn’t any different for us. We were able to head to some of the viewpoints along the south rim which gave us great panoramic vistas. The viewpoints can get a bit busy, but they are worth the wait to see.
The south rim is also a great spot to visit during the sunrise. Sunrises over the Grand Canyon is something not to miss, especially with the light hitting all the hues of reds, pinks and oranges of the rocks. Although getting up early can be rather difficult, it is well worth it when you see this one and a million sight.
Moab to Monument Valley Road Trip Vlog
You can watch my Moab to Monument Valley road trip vlog below or directly on YouTube for better quality. Enjoy!
Our last stop on our Moab and Monument Valley road trip was of course Monument Valley. For everyone that loves nature and national parks, this is a must-visit. This is often the landscape that is seen when watching old cowboy films. It really does not disappoint when being seen in real life. It is home to sandstone buttes and is a 92,000 acre valley that has been famous due to filmmaker, John Ford. Set upon the Arizona-Utah border, it is a great place to hike, drive and take magnificent photos.
Unlike the national parks that we visited during our road trip to Moab and Monument Valley, this valley is actually a tribal park owned by the Navajo Nation. But as long as you are respectful, you will be welcomed. The valley has two great hiking trails with various lookout points that show the vastness of this natural masterpiece. Another great thing that we learned when we visited was that you are able to drive around the terrain. When we arrived, we had a pre-assigned route that gave us a couple of viewpoints to visit, getting that perfect photo.
Thanks to Joel Schat for all the trip photos.
Where we Stayed
There were quite a few of us on the Moab and Monument Valley road trip. We had to find the perfect accommodation that would fit all of us. When we were in Moab, we chose to stay at the Expedition Lodge. It had rooms for 6 which was perfect. It was such a quirky place to stay with walls that have been adorned with vintage records. As soon as we stepped into the rooms, we were transported back in time with its retro decor. It was also such a great place to stay that allowed us to get to all the places that we wanted to see around Moab.
When we headed to Monument Valley we stayed at The View Campground in one of their cabins. The cabin was absolutely amazing and offered some incredible views within Monument Valley. We had absolutely everything that we needed in our stay, several beds, an en-suite and a private porch that overlooks the valley. But something else that was great at the campground was that not only was it in the valley, but it offered some great activities. We could plan guided tours, hiking, stargazing and even a few day trips. Our main focus when it came to choosing somewhere to stay, we focused on what gave us the best access to everything that we wanted to see and do.
All in all, I had the time of my life during our Moab and Monument Valley road trip. We got to hit absolutely everything that we wanted to see and get some incredible memories together. Although a lot of the places were quite busy as they were obvious tourist sights, it was well worth being patient because we got to see magical sights. We managed to get so much done in just four days and that was down to some careful planning and knowing exactly what we wanted to do. Safe to say, there will be a few more places that I will be road tripping to.