Teddy and I spent 12 days in February of 2022 traveling through 5 states in the American Southwest. We drove about 3,000 miles and were able to visit 10 National Parks as well as other State and Tribal Parks along the way. You can see our day-by-day itinerary here.
While that post shares all the things we got to do, I thought it would be fun to share some other things about that trip here. That includes the “We wish we had more time in….” list as well as the “Next time we want to visit….” list. A lot of the travels I’ve done in the last few years have been focused on skimming the surface of the beautiful places in the US. I then get to determine where is worth a second or even third or fourth visit. Some places I’ve visited multiple times already include Zion, Bryce Canyon, Shenandoah, New River Gorge, the Grand Canyon, the New England Coast, and the north Georgia Mountains.
First up is the “We wish we had more time in…” list. These are spots that on our Southwest Road trip, we both could have spent more time in, whether that be a few hours or a few days.
We wish we had more time in…
- Zion – We had about 1.5 days in the area. We would have loved another day or two to just sit on the porch and take in the views or do a few smaller hikes. This park just brought us so much peace and beauty, and we could have spent more time soaking it in.
- Bryce Canyon – We had about a half day in this park and watched a beautiful sunrise followed by hiking the Queens Garden to Navajo Loop trail. We drove part of the scenic drive but if we had another half day in the park, we likely would have driven more of the scenic drive and found 1 more 2-3 mile hike to do and then found a spot to watch sunset.
- Escalante – We drove through this area and pulled off at the overlooks but didn’t have time to stop and do any major hiking or exploring. Next time, I want to visit Kiva Coffee house, as well as hike to either a waterfall like Lower Calf Creek Falls.
- Goblin Valley – We didn’t necessarily plan to stop here, but it was along our way between Utah’s National Parks. Had we more time, I would have grabbed a picnic lunch for us to have and probably spent another hour or so hiking/walking through the little goblins.
- Capitol Reef – This is the park that I cannot wait to come back and visit. I get the impression this is a lesser known park, and so the time people budget for this one is usually half a day or less. While I’d been here once before, it was in the snow so I didn’t get to see as much as I would have liked. This time, we got to drive the scenic road, check out a few stops, and take in the beautiful rock views. What we weren’t sure we’d have enough time to do before dark was hiking the Cassidy Arch and the Hickman Bridge. If I had more time to spend here, I’d love 1-2 additional days. One for those two hikes and to get some Pie at the orchards, but then another to visit the lesser known part of the park in a 4×4 vehicle. I can only imagine how beautiful those untouched views are.
- Death Valley – We spent about a half day in this park and did some short hiking, sight seeing, and a lot of driving. I would love another 1-2 days in the park to hike the Golden Canyon Trail, checking out Dantes View, the Borax Works, and the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. This park is massive, so it would take that long to drive and explore all of these places.
- Sedona – We loved this area so much. The town, the hiking, the beautiful red rock views. We have talked about going here for a long weekend over the winter just to enjoy the views and the hiking. I had been here twice before, but Teddy had never been and he adored this town.
- Valley of Fire State Park – We spent about a half day here, but could have spent a full day just in this state park. They have various trails, petroglyphs, and wildlife, so more time would have been spent with more hiking and wildlife spotting.
The next list is the items we didn’t have time to check out at all on our visit, or only heard about them after we already were headed through an area.
Next time we want to visit…
- Valley of the Gods – This is known as a miniature Monument Valley and is hour from Monument Valley. It has a 1-2 hour scenic drive through it and unlike Monument Valley, it’s on BLM land, not on Tribal Park land, so you can car camp here for free. We drove by the turnoff for this and really wanted to visit, but because we visited in the winter with shorter days, we didn’t have enough daylight to visit this park.
- Gooseneck State Park – About 30 minutes south of Valley of the Gods is Gooseneck State Park. This is probably most similar to Horseshoe Bend in Page but rather than red, smooth looking stones, it’s made of rougher looking dark maroon/black rock and has more “necks” you can view where the water turns the corner.
- Lake Powell – We got to see this briefly from our stay in Page, but didn’t get to explore much. We probably would only need a few hours, but seeing more of the “coast” of Lake Powell would be worth it.
- Snow Canyon State Park – I found out about this park initially from one of the scenic rides on my Peloton. There’s beautiful red rocks and various trails to hike. I would love just half day to explore some of the hiking in the area.
- Gila National Forest – I wasn’t sure what list to put this on. Technically we went to Gila National Forest, but the one thing we really wanted to do we didn’t because we had an odd encounter while in the parking lot that didn’t leave us feeling the safest so we left. Because we really didn’t get to explore it much, I’m am keeping this on our next time list. I’d love to walk the catwalk in the canyon as well as check out the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument.
Thanks for the all the great suggestions – I’ve added several to my list! I spent my childhood visiting Sedona every summer and it’s changed so much (in my opinion, for the worse) over the last 30 years, so it’s interesting and refreshing to see a new perspective. I suppose everywhere is changing, right?
I’m so glad these were helpful! It sounds like you had an awesome opportunity getting to go so frequently as you grew up! The area may not be for everyone but we truly enjoyed our time there on our trip, especially all the hiking opportunities and its location not far from the Grand Canyon!