good ideas: three road trips out west


the idea

Seeing how this is the first real post, I thought I’d start it off with excitement and hope for the future. That is a few road trip ideas out west. Additionally this is also an example of the kind of research that goes into planning my trips. There are a few elements that came about to creating these three specific trip ideas.

The first element is that I have the southwest companion pass until the end of 2016 and 70k miles left to blow through (more to come about it in the future). Since southwest is mostly a domestic carrier (though Costa Rica for Spring Break ’16 is possible, anyone want to join?), I started to think about places in ‘merica I wanted to visit.

The second element is that despite having lived in California, there are still a lot out west that I have not explored. I took to google maps a while back to create a list of places I’d like to visit or would like to return. Additionally, it’s been three years since I’ve gone back to Cali to hang out with the gang there (where we’ve had a few pretty awesome trips) and I’ve recently had a few messages with them about heading out there again.

The last element was hearing a podcast about roadtrips on The Extra Pack of Peanuts, especially since they’ve mentioned a few I’ve done. Anyways, that got me thinking. With great hanging out and camping with Kevin two weekends ago (post to come), we’ve identified three trips. Since these are ideas, feedback would be great.

arizona, utah, and the grand canyon

Yes, I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon (or any of these listed places). This loops links up several of the National Parks throughout Arizona and Utah. Additionally, it links up several of the most photogenic places you’ve probably seen online. Here would be the itinerary:

  • Flight into Las Vegas. Being a big tourist town, there are plenty of flight deals and cheap car rentals. Plus it’s at most 22k miles on Southwest from Raleigh.
  • Havasu Falls: First stop would be a 3 day backpacking into Supai Village from Hualapai Hilltop on Havasupai tribe land to visit Havasu Falls and several others.
  • Grand Canyon: Spend a couple of days visiting the rest of the grand canyon. Any recommendations of top hikes are welcome
  • Vermilion Cliffs National Monument: Got to see the waves.
  • Antelope Canyon: More pretties on Navajo land. Though the entrance fees would start to add up at this point.
  • Bryce Canyon: Up into Utah. Sick of the color red yet? Again suggestions welcome.
  • The Narrows and Zion National Park: Hiking up a river? OK!
  • back to Las Vegas

big sky country

I’ve never been to Yellowstone either, but I have been to Glacier National Park. This is a bit longer drive and less specific destinations, but it’s a tour of Montana and Wyoming. I’ve also heard of cool backpacking in Idaho where you get to hike in the middle of a stream/canyon. Really, this just begs me to do the continental divide at some point in my life:

  • Fly into either Salt lake City or Boise. Jackson would be even better but probably more expensive and Southwest doesn’t fly there.
  • Grand Tetons
  • Yellowstone
  • Gallatin National Forest: Yellowstone without the geysers
  • Glacier National Park
  • Bonus: you can visit Banff as well. But it seems like the Canadian Rockies deserve their own thing (EDIT 2020-5: oh yes they do, see 2019 trip report).
  • Maybe drive down through Sawtooth National Forest or something in Idaho. I’ll need more research to complete this loop
  • Return to Salt Lake City of Boise to fly out.


This was originally thought to be one large trip with big sky loop, but it seems too much and colorado deserve its own. We might do something like this during the upcoming labor day. However, we will have to abbreviate it since we only have 6 days. For one thing, there is just so much in Colorado that you really could make any type of loop you want. (EDIT 2015-8 as I prep for our Denver trip):

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