Yesterday Facebook smugly reminded me that on that exact day, two years ago, I was enjoying an epic vacation in Utah with my friend Cat. This year, Cat is now living 1,550 miles away in Texas, and I'm sitting at my windowless desk waiting for spring to arrive. Thanks for making me feel terrible as usual, Facebook.
I know a lot of you must be thinking, Utah? WTF is in Utah? At least that's the response I got from everyone in my family. Actually, the trip wasn't originally supposed to be in Utah. Back in 2012, Cat and I were planning on a trip to the Grand Canyon. Unfortunately, that shit's expensive! With a little research, I discovered that one state over housed five major national parks for a lot less money. So, we booked a flight to Salt Lake City and road tripped it through the state. (You can also access Utah by flying through Vegas, but that's a lot less scenic. Also, it's Vegas.)
Having grown up in the Northeast, the whole landscape of Utah was completely foreign to me. I couldn't get enough of it. Red rocks, natural arches, actual visible stars. It was incredible.
We didn't get to see all the big five parks, but we did make our way through Bryce, Zion, Coral Pink Sand Dunes Park, The Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument, Kanab, Antelope Canyon, Grafton Ghost Town, and Glen Canyon. We even managed to make it to the Grand Canyon, but unfortunately the northern entrance was closed (it opens Memorial Day). Luckily it didn't matter because literally every road we drove on during the trip had spectacular views.
If you're planning on going (which you should be!) then I recommend going in April like we did. The weather is still cool so you can hike all day long without passing out from heat and there's practically no one there so you have the parks and roads all to yourself. Be sure to go horseback riding in Bryce, hike Angel's Landing in Zion and walk through Antelope Canyon in Arizona. I never thought I'd be saying this, but I really want to go back to Utah!
P.S. Stay at Flanigan's Inn in Springdale if you go to Zion. The Irish Pub name is deceiving -- it's actually a beautiful and relaxing spa resort at the entrance of Zion!