Local Travel

National Parks Itinerary


I’ve always been what some may call, a girly tomboy. Oxymoron you say? I know. But when you find a better way to describe a gal who loves spending a day in the mall ALMOST as much as a day in the mountains, you let me know.

I’m notorious for elaborate dreams (most of which I try to bring to fruition but, ya win some ya lose some – see our last post where I confessed my paleontologist dreams.) The my most recent glimmer in my eye is America’s National Parks – and I’m determined to explore them all. I’ve tackled a few, but recently I checked off a couple more!

We’re big itinerary people, especially our mom who devised a VERY detailed itinerary –sorry, but there will be no rest for the weary for those who wish to replicate this trip!

Day 1: Downtown Moab and “glamping” at Under Canvas Moab 

** if anything is synonymous to a “girly tomboy” it may be glamorous camping.

Day 2: Canyonlands National Park and a drive to Old Town Albuquerque

Canyonlands, National Park, number one, was on our drive out of Moab and is not one that should be skipped! The sites are breathtaking and there’s plenty of short hikes for those just passing through (like us!) .

Where we stayed: A couple hours drive through the barren desert later and we arrived at the Hotel Parq Central in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The hotel was once a hospital…making my old soul / nurse heart sing!

TIP: This hotel is about 20 minutes from where you can catch a shuttle for the balloon fiesta but, if you plan to stay there for the event, you have to book about one year in advance.

Day 3: The International Balloon Fiesta 

**fun fact about me, I have a strange obsession with hot air balloons and this event was a balloon lovers’ DREAM.

TIP: get to the park and rides no later than 4:30 AM and bring a HEAVY coat!

Day 4: The Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe

Santa Fe is about a 1 hour, easy drive from New Mexico.

Our main reason for visiting Santa Fe was to see The Loretto Chapel. If you haven’t heard of the mysteries that lie around there spiral staircase take a moment to do a little reading. It may boost your faith in the process!

Day 5: Petrified Forest National Park and Drive to Sedona, AZ

Next up, another drive by park viewing! On our way to Sedona, we were able to hit a little bit of route 66 and drive through Petrified Forest National park!

Where we stayedJunipine Resort

Where we ate: Oak Creek Brewery

Day  6: Sedona

Up at the crack of dawn to catch our Pink Jeep Tour of the Sedona red rocks. Highly highly recommended!

Where we hiked: Devil’s Bridge : listed as moderate ( and if you’re from Ohio, its extreme. Scrambles galore!)

Where we ate: The Cowboy Club

Day 7: A drive to the Grand Canyon for Mule Riding

If theres one way to see the Canyon, it by mule back. While we didn’t go into the Canyon… stay tuned for day 8.

Where we stayed: El Tovar

Where we ate: El Tovar conveniently has a nice restaurant located in the hotel, reservations are strongly recommended.

Day 8: Plane over the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, and Rafting on the Colorado River. 

Now, if theres ANOTHER WAY to see the canyon, its by plane and raft. This is an experience with a view that I will never forget. The day was packed full of activities and was included in an all day tour.

TIP: Bring water proof gear and warm clothes if going in the fall months!

Day 9: Monument Valley

If you’re a western fan or grew up loving John Wayne movies like I did, Monument Valley is a must see! I couldn’t tell you how many times I said the scenery looked “like a back drop”. We arrived around 2 pm, and were able to hike a few hours before checking in to our sunset horseback riding tour! The view from Monument Valley at Sunset was like nothing I have ever seen before. It was almost like stepping back in time.

Where we stayed:The View

  • The naming of this hotel could not be more accurate. We stayed in the cabins due to the raving reviews they received and I have never been more willing to wake up at 5 am than I was the next morning because … THE VIEW.

Where we hiked: Wild Cat Trail

Where we ate: The View Hotel ( the closest restaurant on the reservation)

Tips: If you’re going on the sunset horseback tour-bring a warm coat! I went from tank top to down vest in about one hour!

Day 10: Back to Salt lake to catch our plane back to Cincinnati

The most bitter sweet ride ever. Ten days of constant movement, I will admit, was exhausting but, it was completely worth it and was spent with two of my most favorite people.

Im now even more in love with the National Parks Service than I was before! So I leave you with a question, where to next?!

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