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RaginCajunz
LA-Lafayette Fan
Member since Mar 2009
2457 posts

Utah Mighty 5 - Las Vegas to Salt Lake City (Pic Heavy)
Trip Basics:
Few out of New Orleans on a Friday afternoon into Las Vegas with my wife and 2 young boys (both have birthdays shortly after the trip, but 2 & 4 years old during the trip)

MAP Overview
Image: https://i.imgur.com/3AHpV7L.jpg


Day 1:

Both my wife and I worked a half-day and had a 3:30 MSY departure one way to Las Vegas. We landed, shuttled over to the rental car station and picked up an SUV from Enterprise to be returned in SLC the following Saturday.

We grabbed some dinner at Shang Artisan Noodles.
Image: https://i.imgur.com/Vy0h2Iw.jpg


And then checked into the Aria for the night. We were beat. A half day of work, then flying with the boys is a handful.

DAY 2 (Saturday)

View from The Aria Saturday morning.
Image: https://i.imgur.com/P9Uh5US.jpg

We had a few places around Vegas we wanted to check out. Nothing on the strip. We headed out early in the morning and grabbed breakfast at Jamm's. None of the shopping warrants pics.
Then off to lunch at Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana in Henderson.
Image: https://i.imgur.com/Bd0a1ux.jpg


After lunch, and a quick grocery grab at Whole Foods next door, we set out for Zion National Park. I was able to score 2 nights in the cabins. The goal was to spend ALL Sunday exploring, so it was nice to have the initial day to go at a leisurely pace.

Part of the drive North through the NW corner of Arizona on our way to Zion.
Image: https://i.imgur.com/ddWTYvH.jpg


Approaching Zion NP
Image: https://i.imgur.com/TB0IFUl.jpg


The cool thing about staying at the cabins or lodge in Zion is you get to park INSIDE the park. Otherwise, you have to park outside and use the free shuttle to get in.

View as we arrived at Zion Lodge. These Mule Deer seem to congregate here most evenings.
Image: https://i.imgur.com/4PCqSsf.jpg


This is what the cabins and area looked like. You are in the heart of the canyon. The cabins were very comfortable. Fully AC/Heated, phones, wifi, "modern" bathroom, microwave and fridge.
Image: https://i.imgur.com/p0S7Czn.jpg

This post was edited on 10/9 at 10:09 am


RaginCajunz
LA-Lafayette Fan
Member since Mar 2009
2457 posts

re: Utah Mighty 5 - Las Vegas to Salt Lake City (Pic Heavy)
Day 3 (Sunday)
As planned, we woke up in the park, ate breakfast that we brought in and went out to hop the first bus. The bus system was great and I don't think we ever waited more than 10 minutes our entire trip to get on the bus. It also allowed some nice time to take in the views. Keep in mind, wrangling precocious 2 & 4 year old boys is often a full time gig.

This is the bus lane at the lodge. It happens to be stop 5 of 10 or so stops. One bus system goes from the lodge UP to #6-#10 and another bus system goes down from there to stops #1-#5.
Image: https://i.imgur.com/n2PkaZf.jpg


The first hike we did was the Riverside Walk. Once you get to the "end" of the trail, you then have to start hiking in the river and get to what they call "The Narrows." As much as I'd love to see it, the Narrows was not going to be in the cards with frigged waters and two young kids. Apparently you need to be prepared to hike on wet, smooth rocks in water that can theoretically be as deep as your shoulders.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/jNdnOFj.jpg


Here is the end of the "easy" part of the trail and where you have to begin hiking in the river itself.
Image: https://i.imgur.com/6u7axJr.jpg


The next hike and bus stop we choose was Weeping Rock. It was a short hike but the view was well beyond the effort.
Image: https://i.imgur.com/BVxEXn9.jpg


Back to the cabin for a quick lunch and small break for the kids. Then off to hike and see the Emerald Pools. The pictures don't do any of this justice. That can be said about the entire trip. The cool thing about this hike was it starts from the lodge parking lot.

View from the parking lot:
Image: https://i.imgur.com/KMfTm1K.jpg


This is a view while standing at the lower Emerald Pools. The pictures of the pools itself fall flat compared to the experience. Small smattering of a waterfall after a meandering hike climbing in elevation.
Image: https://i.imgur.com/aimGU9H.jpg


We decided to ride the bus into town after this hike and grab dinner. The park bus takes you to the visitor's center and you can then hop on a bus that services Springdale. We exited the park and saw a brew pub. Beat from walking all day, and needing to feed the little monsters, we walked over and ate. Then, back to the cabin to shower and crash.


Day 4 (Monday)
- Zion to Bryce to Torrey, UT

Exiting the park Monday morning was just as beautiful as the park itself. A few sights from the 2 hour drive to Bryce National Park.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/xONQyET.jpg

Image: https://i.imgur.com/hELY7Qp.jpg


We stopped for breakfast at Thunderbird Lodge in Mt Carmel Junction (about 45 minutes outside of the park and on the way to Bryce Canyon)
Home of the Ho-Made Pies
Image: https://i.imgur.com/7aAaFL6.jpg


Approaching Bryce was a very big change in landscape. Parking is limited in Bryce and they also run a bus service. We parked just north of the park entrance in the town of Bryce and hopped on the bus there.

We rode the bus to the deepest point and got off at Bryce Point. Like much of Utah, the landscape was other-worldly. We hiked from Bryce Point to Inspiration Point stopping to have a picnic along the way.
Image: https://i.imgur.com/IRTwfWc.jpg

Image: https://i.imgur.com/8Rw2Xpf.jpg

Image: https://i.imgur.com/Ak0PZ9X.jpg

Image: https://i.imgur.com/1GfUNdB.jpg


We also hiked from Sunset Point after hopping the bus. You can go down into the Hoodoos on the Navajo Loop trail.
Image: https://i.imgur.com/sRpJmpD.jpg

Image: https://i.imgur.com/Xp58rBs.jpg


From there, we set off to drive to our next night's stop. Capitol Reef Resort in Torrey, UT. There are two routes there. We took the scenic route through Escalante and Boulder and highly recommend it. That was a mind-blowing drive through crazy landscape.
Image: https://i.imgur.com/tt9iDsY.jpg

Image: https://i.imgur.com/AaI55Q9.jpg


We checked into the hotel, and grabbed dinner from some of the rather limited options in Torrey. Capitol Reef Resort seems to be the nicest place to stay outside of CR National Park. It's a nicely redone older motel with added features like cabins, AC'd Teepees and covered wagons. We opted for a standard hotel room for that night.

View from our back balcony
Image: https://i.imgur.com/IJl35Jh.jpg

This post was edited on 10/9 at 9:49 am


RaginCajunz
LA-Lafayette Fan
Member since Mar 2009
2457 posts

re: Utah Mighty 5 - Las Vegas to Salt Lake City (Pic Heavy)
Day 5 - Tuesday Capitol Reef NP to Canyonland NP

We drove into Torrey for breakfast. Nothing special, but a neat all-in-one Hotel, bakery, grocery store, deli/kitchen. We fueled up and drove the 10-15 minutes to Capitol Reef National Park. We only did one hike while in this park but it was extremely memorable. We hiked the Grand Wash trail into the narrows. We were able to park at the trail head and start our walking. You are in a drainage wash that fills up during a rain, but in most conditions it is like walking in a dry river bed.

Driving in Capitol Reef.
Image: https://i.imgur.com/0dCJ4ey.jpg


Views from the hike:
Image: https://i.imgur.com/LmCrfdS.jpg

Image: https://i.imgur.com/BTW1atL.jpg


For scale, my wife and boys are in the picture.
Image: https://i.imgur.com/zkc47gz.jpg


Driving out of the park:
Image: https://i.imgur.com/yMnoF9v.jpg



We then drove the roughly two hours from Capitol Reef to Moab and checked into our hotel room briefly and grabbed coffee in town. We then backtracked to Canyonlands National Park.

Canyonlands was perfect for the afternoon. Most of it is visible from short walks from the vehicle. I've never been to the Grand Canyon, but I imagine this is it's little brother. The scope and scale of everything in Utah is difficult to verbalize and nearly impossible to capture in picture.

The drive is pleasant and after stopping at the visitor's center to pick up a map, we drove all the way to the Grand View Point. We pulled off along the way at a few scenic overlooks, but we really didn't do much hiking here. I don't think we missed much by taking the easy route.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/7U9EwGm.jpg

Image: https://i.imgur.com/JXn6zyg.jpg

Image: https://i.imgur.com/vwTbqUk.jpg


Then back to Moab for dinner and to crash at the hotel.

Day 6 - Wednesday Arches to SLC

This was the first day we actually were able to grab breakfast at the hotel. I almost forgot what a luxury that is with the boys. They usually eat shortly after waking up in the mornings, so dressing and taking the elevator down to unlimited bacon is heavenly. We snagged more coffee in town (Moab Coffee Roasters) and drove up to Arches National Park.

Arches was my favorite for some reason. I think the weather added to the experience. It was pretty brisk. The radar showed snow in the nearby mountains. There was an occasional light mist (which eventually turned into rain) and thunder and lightening in the distance. Each park has it's own kind of energy, but Arches really resonated with me.

Getting into the park itself I found trippy. You snake up a few switchbacks and then curve back around a bit stoneface into the park. It is almost like an unveiling from a stage curtain.

Entering the park. The visitor's center is center right in the picture.
Image: https://i.imgur.com/GEkFVYJ.jpg


Entering the park after the switchbacks.
Image: https://i.imgur.com/zv0aEna.jpg


View from a distance. You can drive a good 20 miles in Arches from entrance to the parking loop at Devil's Garden.
Image: https://i.imgur.com/PrDuiwf.jpg


Balanced Rock (parking lot was being repaired, but the view from the vehicle was still great)
Image: https://i.imgur.com/MTQCmvv.jpg


The first cluster of formations we came to was probably the most spectacular to me. A fairly small area featured multiple arches and neat formations. Cove Arch, Double Arch, Turret Arch, North and South Windows.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/zDEpIuo.jpg

Image: https://i.imgur.com/XWpf86o.jpg

Image: https://i.imgur.com/cgr7MUF.jpg

Image: https://i.imgur.com/eJBsKQm.jpg

Image: https://i.imgur.com/agXrKUh.jpg



The weather started to get worse, but we drove on and did the short hike to the observation point for Delicate Arch. You can hike to the arch itself, but it is a much longer hike and the mist was turning into light rain.

Delicate Arch from a distance.
Image: https://i.imgur.com/73gZl1D.jpg


We drove the entire park and enjoyed it. This is the one park I wish I had more time in, and it would be the first one I'd want to return to.

We went back into Moab to get some rocks for the boys and started our drive up to Salt Lake City (Lehi to be precise) for the remainder of our trip.


This post was edited on 10/8 at 10:41 pm


RaginCajunz
LA-Lafayette Fan
Member since Mar 2009
2457 posts

re: Utah Mighty 5 - Las Vegas to Salt Lake City (Pic Heavy)
Day 7 - Thursday Zoo & Science Museum

We stayed at a new Hyatt Place in Lehi. It was a great choice for the last 3 nights and I opted for a king suite. The room itself is the more modern style, closer to their Hyatt House hotels. We had a nice entry area that held luggage. Bathroom, living room, dining table with it's on TV, full kitchen and separate bedroom. It had lots of space for everyone to spread out after a week in a car together.

I started jotting down the times that the attractions opened and stumbled across the SLC Connect Pass. For $139, I was able to get us 48 hours of admission to all of the attractions and museums.

Most of SLC I don't have many pictures to share simply because nearly all of them are pictures with the family, but I'll recap and share what I can.

We started off at the zoo. The zoo was not terribly large, but it was very well maintained and fairly empty first thing on a Thursday morning.

Grizzly Bear at the zoo.
Image: https://i.imgur.com/Dh7Rb5D.jpg


We grabbed some lunch downtown, and then went over to the Natural History Museum. My oldest boy loves all things dinosaurs, and they had a great selection to view. The only down side is the museum is run by the University and is a bit more "formal" than some others I've been to (Houston Museum of Natural Science for instance). It is a fairly strict no-food policy and they snipped at us for sneaking my cranky 2 year old a few goldfish from my wife's purse.
Image: https://i.imgur.com/TLBDkhS.jpg


We finished that visit fairly early since the youngest was not participating well. That was part of the benefit of the Connect Pass. The tickets were already paid for, and we had access to WAY more than we could fit in. Spending only an hour in the museum didn't hurt like it could have if we paid full admission price.

We grabbed some colorful donuts at Banbury Cross donuts, hit a few stores and grabbed dinner at a Peruvian joint south of Lehi.
Image: https://i.imgur.com/94gRotH.jpg

This post was edited on 10/8 at 10:55 pm


RaginCajunz
LA-Lafayette Fan
Member since Mar 2009
2457 posts

re: Utah Mighty 5 - Las Vegas to Salt Lake City (Pic Heavy)
Day 8 - Friday SLC Metro

We started the day by grabbing donuts in Lehi and passing by this place. I've never seen Footloose, but apparently it is of some notoriety.
Image: https://i.imgur.com/m5EfEzI.jpg


We then drove down to Provo to get coffee and continued south to pick raspberries. I've picked Blueberries and Figs in LA and Apples in CA and NC, but never even seen a field of raspberries. Fun time, nice folks and a memorable experience for sure.
Image: https://i.imgur.com/oVcHKDT.jpg

Image: https://i.imgur.com/SCHU6Ig.jpg


From there, we drove back up to Lehi and brought the boys to the Museum of Natural Curiosity. It might be my favorite kids museum ever. No real pictures to post here as they all have my boys in them.

Except for this one:
Image: https://i.imgur.com/RpBSH80.jpg


After lunch, we checked out the Museum of Ancient Life. Like the kid's museum it is part of an area of attractions called Thanksgiving Point. It was somewhere between the other two museums in terms of atmosphere. It was a dinosaur heavy science museum with lots of interactive displays geared towards kids. It was much more enjoyable than the Natural History Museum due to the age of our kids. Lots of really great displays and more of them as well.
Image: https://i.imgur.com/9XCjoBx.jpg


I noticed that our city pass of tickets included a tram ride up to Snowbird. The boys were pooped, so an hour long drive seemed like a great idea. That turned out to be a really great decision. They got their first snow experiences. Smashing dad in the face with snowballs might have been the highlight of THEIR trip. The views were spectacular as well.

Image: https://i.imgur.com/NjR7Atn.jpg


SLC in the distance
Image: https://i.imgur.com/2Uu8xSB.jpg


Image: https://i.imgur.com/5l07rQ7.jpg


That about sums it up. I glazed over most of the meals and food. Great pizza and Sichuan there, but Utah isn't know for it's cuisine. I don't think we had a bad or regrettable meal though.

We were planning on hitting up the Botanical Garden the following morning when it opened, but the rain changed our minds. We zipped around hitting a few last minute spots and flew out early afternoon.





This post was edited on 10/8 at 11:09 pm


Dayman
Member since Sep 2015
453 posts

re: Utah Mighty 5 - Las Vegas to Salt Lake City (Pic Heavy)
Really enjoyed this review! Thanks.

Looks like y'all had a great time


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VABuckeye
Ohio State Fan
Oak Hill, VA
Member since Dec 2007
19945 posts

re: Utah Mighty 5 - Las Vegas to Salt Lake City (Pic Heavy)
This country is amazing. Thank you for sharing your pictures with us.


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speckledawg
Mississippi St. Fan
Somewhere Salty
Member since Nov 2016
789 posts

re: Utah Mighty 5 - Las Vegas to Salt Lake City (Pic Heavy)
Wow. Great review!


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theOG
Oklahoma Fan
Member since Feb 2010
6046 posts

re: Utah Mighty 5 - Las Vegas to Salt Lake City (Pic Heavy)
How was the hiking with the kids? Mine will be 2 and 4 next year and this looks like a great trip.


HoustonGumbeauxGuy
LSU Fan
Member since Jul 2011
11973 posts

re: Utah Mighty 5 - Las Vegas to Salt Lake City (Pic Heavy)
Will add this bad boy to the sticky later this morning.

Thanks!!!




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RaginCajunz
LA-Lafayette Fan
Member since Mar 2009
2457 posts

re: Utah Mighty 5 - Las Vegas to Salt Lake City (Pic Heavy)
quote:

How was the hiking with the kids? Mine will be 2 and 4 next year and this looks like a great trip.



I suppose it depends on the kids, but it wasn't bad at all. We've taken a decent sized trip every year and have drug them along since birth. They're somewhat conditioned to it by now but it has its challenges.

Best tips I can think of:( Probably all common sense)

- Buy a strap to connect your carseats to rolling luggage. This makes it relatively pain-free. As soon as we park at the airport, I unclip the seats and strap them down to our luggage. We have car seat bags purchased from Amazon and I shove them in there while checking our luggage.

- Budget extra time. Everything will take longer than you want or expect. Bathroom stops, grumpy mornings...you name it.

- Don't start any hike that you are not prepared to carry them the entire way. I thought we were going to die last year when we went to Crater Lake. The one trail down to the lake itself is fairly steep and long. They both decided they were NOT walking back. My wife and I had to carry and drag them uphill.

- Pack snacks and water in a backpack. You are familiar with how grumpy they get when tired or hungry. Bribes of snacks smooths everything out.

- Wear them out, then drive. That's how we did most of this trip. 3-4 hours of walking sure buttered them up for 2 hours in a car.

- DO NOT EXPECT GRATITUDE. My 4 year old was much more interested in playing in the sand and rocks than comprehending the majesty. Often followed by demands of wanting to play legos or his tablet.

This post was edited on 10/9 at 9:10 am


Saskwatch
Ole Miss Fan
Member since Feb 2016
2825 posts
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re: Utah Mighty 5 - Las Vegas to Salt Lake City (Pic Heavy)
That's a cool trip Dad... 4 yr old me would have had a heck of a time!


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HoustonGumbeauxGuy
LSU Fan
Member since Jul 2011
11973 posts

re: Utah Mighty 5 - Las Vegas to Salt Lake City (Pic Heavy)


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Aubie Spr96
Auburn Fan
lolwut?
Member since Dec 2009
22600 posts

re: Utah Mighty 5 - Las Vegas to Salt Lake City (Pic Heavy)
quote:

I glazed over most of the meals and food. Great pizza and Sichuan there, but Utah isn't know for it's cuisine.


We were highly impressed with the quality of food that we had in Salt Lake. It was WAY better than we expected.


TeddyPadillac
LSU Fan
Member since Dec 2010
10021 posts
 Online 

re: Utah Mighty 5 - Las Vegas to Salt Lake City (Pic Heavy)
How did you plan it out? We've been trying to read reviews and books on it and all but i guess it's really just getting out there and exploring on your own.
This post was edited on 10/16 at 10:19 am


RaginCajunz
LA-Lafayette Fan
Member since Mar 2009
2457 posts

re: Utah Mighty 5 - Las Vegas to Salt Lake City (Pic Heavy)
quote:

We were highly impressed with the quality of food that we had in Salt Lake. It was WAY better than we expected.


We didn't have any bad meals by any means. That probably wasn't a fair statement in my original review. We ate at the SLC Settebello location for lunch one day. It's hard to beat certified Neapolitan pizza, and we usually try to consume as much as possible when we are travelling to a place that has it available. SLC had several places I believe, but Settebello is always great. We also ate at Cy Noodles House for dinner one evening. I'm a sucker for The Bobbie at Cappriotti's sandwich shop, so we grabbed that on the way out to the airport Saturday.

Between Moab at SLC we stopped at Balance Rock Eatery & Pub in Price. That was a really cool building. Classic americana type food, but homemade chips and fries. Neat small town America main street and a unique building.

Image: https://s3-media3.fl.yelpcdn.com/bphoto/4W-XwpR8pvjqMWe2Tktr0A/o.jpg





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RaginCajunz
LA-Lafayette Fan
Member since Mar 2009
2457 posts

re: Utah Mighty 5 - Las Vegas to Salt Lake City (Pic Heavy)
quote:

awesome man!!
wife and i plan on doing pretty much the exact same trip except we are going to start in SLC and end in Vegas.

How did you plan it out? We've been trying to read reviews and books on it and all but i guess it's really just getting out there and exploring on your own.


Well I hope my review helped. I enjoy planning out the logistics, but 5 parks + SLC was a bit of a logistical nightmare. I started with a google map like the one I posted first. I figured out how much travel time between each location. Roughly 2-3 hours between each. Then I started trying to get a night in Zion.

I did minimal research about each park before arriving. You can go as deep or shallow as you want in every park. You could spend 2 hours in each and get a really good experience. You could spend two weeks in each and really cover everything. The limitations of small kids meant we were going to lightly scratch the surface. Hit the most bang-for-the-buck hikes. A quick visit to the visitors' center at each cleared up any uncertainty I had. They are used to "I have about 4-5 hours today, what do you recommend?" types of questions.



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Desiderita01
LSU Fan
TX
Member since Jan 2018
11 posts

re: Utah Mighty 5 - Las Vegas to Salt Lake City (Pic Heavy)
This was awesome, thanks for posting it!! I've been looking at a similar trip, except flying in early to Las Vegas and heading straight to Zion then making my way to Moab like you did, but flying home from Grand Junction. I wasn't sure about the drive from Bryce to Moab, but after reading your review I think I would enjoy it. My only question is - do you wish you had more time at each place? I worry about trying to fit too much in and being rushed, so I'm also considering splitting it into two trips...I'm just very impatient ad want to see it all now!


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Crow Pie
New Orleans Saints Fan
Bagnara Calabra, Reggio Calabria
Member since Feb 2010
15983 posts

re: Utah Mighty 5 - Las Vegas to Salt Lake City (Pic Heavy)
Great review. Southern Utah is amazing. We came around the other way..Las Vegas to South Rim of GC to Jacob Lake and on to Zion back to Vegas.... always felt Zion is one of the easiest and most accessible parks to visit. Everything is basically right there. I want to go back and do the Narrows too one day. Thanks!
This post was edited on 1/3 at 7:56 pm


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igoringa
LSU Fan
Tejas
Member since Jun 2007
10585 posts

re: Utah Mighty 5 - Las Vegas to Salt Lake City (Pic Heavy)
Fantastic review. I have a condo in park city and the family and I spend a month a year in the summer based there (and using it as a launch point to visit the parks).

Agree with you on Arches and really enjoyed the small town of Springdale (outside Zion)


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