At the end of the spring of 2015 I was lucky enough to go on a road trip heading west (starting from St. Louis MO, my home-base city).
A few co-workers and me took the map, and started sketching a route.
The desert of USA is one of the most beautiful places that I have seen. Full of variety of landscapes, mountains, canyons. desert, deep forest,... It blows my mind how beautiful is out there!
In the following map you can see the route that we created and following I will talk about the stops that we did and what you should expect from it. Let's Explore!
Who said that traveling is really expensive? Not me.... traveling can be really expensive, or really cheap. It all depends on how you travel!
Saint Louis - Denver (Point B)
A lot of people call me crazy when I go on a long road trips. But this is indeed an important key fact for a low budget traveling.
I always try to drive as long as it is possible because one important reason; car pooling.
In this road trip we were 4 people in the car. Traveling from St. Louis to Denver is around 12.5 h of driving, which it may seem a lot, but shifting drivers every 3 h is not really that much. We left early at night, with the goal to get to Denver in the morning, so we would be driving throughout the night.
I am not going to lie, this road from St. Louis to Denver, can be quite boring, specially at night, basically because Kansas does not have much to see really (please Kansas people don't kill me).
But I would say one thing, at least, for spectacular storms, Kansas is a good State.
Every time I have crossed this states I have seen a big storm in the distance. It is nice to be distracted by a lighting storm while just driving throughout a long, hypnotizing and completely straight road.
Also, lucky me, around 4am needing to fill the gas tank up, I was able to stop in a remote gas station and take a look at the clear pitch black sky, being able to look at what it would be my first milky way watch.
Moab (Point C)
In this road trip we didn't stop much in Colorado (only in our way back home), so after the shocked that it is to see a completely flat land become a bast snow mountain land, we took a break getting breakfast close to Glendwood Springs , surrounded by the beautiful landscape.
A few hours more of driving, and soon enough we were at Moab, next to Arches National Park. which is in my opinion, one of the most beautiful National Parks I have been.
You can enter the park heading a few miles north of the city of Moab. In the following link you can download the map of the park in PDF.
Like its name states, this park is beautifully fulled by arches, stone arches everywhere.
We didn't have time to check out all the places in the park (I am already planning on coming back to discover it fully) but I would say that the main stops in the park are the Parade of Elephants and Delicate Arch.
The Parade of Elephants is a really easy stop of the park. Really accessible for people that don't like to hike much, and it is quite spectacular.
In the other hand, to access the Delicate Arch (symbol of Utah), get ready for a hike. I heard people complaining that this hike was hard, but in my opinion it wasn't at all. It's only like 2 miles of a hike with a few hills, and it is totally worth it.
Indeed, I did it basically running, because I was running out of light for the sunset photo I wanted to take there. And I was totally fine. So I totally recommend it.
Here are a few photos of this magic place.
Canyonlands (Point C)
Once we visited the few places in Arches National Park, we headed to Canyonlands National Park. This is par is literally a massive land of canyons. It kind of reminds me to to the quote when Mufasa tells Simba "everything the light touches will be yours" in the Lion King.
There are multiple view points and trails you can explore in this park, but the most famous one is the Dead Horse Point.
Long story short, this is a beautiful area where the river creates a canyon surrounding a little mountain creating a flat surface in the rocks.
It is indeed pretty interesting, and Its name is coming from a peculiar story, so if you are interested you can learn more about it in this link.
We arrived to this area pretty late from Arches, so we decided to check the place and then camp near by. We tried to access the canyon first, but suddenly out of nowhere a guy with a red light in his head stopped us. The area was restricted for the night because apparently they were shooting a time lapse video of the canyon at night... so cool! They had 18 cameras laid out along the cliff so they can capture the whole landscape.
I recommend to be ready for the sunrise on this canyon. It's just gorgeous how the mountains start to light up with the first sun's rays of the morning, and there is a "valcony" where you can set up your camera with the tripod to capture the land in its whole.
So, because of this, finally we decided to set up a camp really close from the shooting point. We checked the weather and it seemed that we would have a nice forecast for the night, but we were wrong. About 30 min after we set up the camp, a big storm started. It felt that my tent was about to start to take off because of the strong winds, but the worst came for my traveling buddies.
Because the forecast seemed good, they left the roof of their tent naked, to literally sleep under the starts, but of course, when it started raining, the tent was flooded in 2 seconds...
Quickly I told them to pick up all their belongins and run into my tent, and now just try to picture this for a second, we ended up, 4 soaking wet people standing on a 2 people tent, full of mud, in the middle of the desert while a storm is passing by. Great night!
Finally everything calmed down and we could figure out the sleeping arrangements. 2 people on my tent and the other 2 went to find the car to get some rest at least on a dry place. The bad news were that, the next morning they told me that they couldn't find the car and they spent a couple of hours walking... even a greater night for them!
What's next? Do you want to know about the Grand Canyon? In the next update I will tell you all about the south of Utah and north of Arizona! See you in "Road trip to the desert - Part 2"