Do you like road trips? Yes? A little, a lot, passionately, madly? Then you’re about to read the right article! This time we are going to the United States. A huge country that can be very surprising with breathtaking landscapes. I’m not talking about skyscrapers, or any other buildings created by man. I am talking about nature, the natural and grandiose landscape that is still respected and protected by Man. What will we drive during our road trip? Follow me I tell you our adventure.
Our camper with Imoova
Things comes in threes; we are back to using the Imoova app for the third time (see my two other articles in California and Western Canada). In short, it is a site that offers relocations of recreational vehicles (RV), the vans type, from $ 1 per day! Yes, I know it seems unlikely, but we did it three times so that’s very likely! The rule is simple, the site offers destinations to bring back the RV from a city to another with different dates. If you want to add days there is usually an extra of $ 100 a day. Advantages? For us, it is to travel with a fully equipped van (bathroom, toilet, kitchen, room, it may even be larger than your apartment 😊) and therefore to be independent during the trip, no need to book a hotel or a rental car. The advantage for the company is to bring back the vehicle safely without paying transportation costs and a driver. The disadvantages? I do not really see anything. Maybe when you buy the plane ticket, landing in one city and flying back in another would be the only compromise.
Our mission, if we accepted it, was to bring back the RV from Las Vegas with the Apollo company to Denver. Mission accepted! We only had 6 days to do it and we went for the Utah route.
Valley of Fire, Nevada
So here we go to the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada, which is about an hour from Las Vegas. I think that if you are around Vegas and you have never been to this park, it is worth the trip to give you a glimpse of what the road will reserve you as a landscape. It was not a big detour and it was only the beginning of a desert landscape where the colors are already changing. As the name suggests, the Valley of Fire is home to rock formations of intense red color. You will see curious geological formations and you can go hiking around. Perfect scenery to take beautiful pictures!
The beautiful Zion National Park in Utah
The day before we had parked our RV and slept in the town of St George, Utah. To get to Zion National Park, it took about an hour. You can also do it from Las Vegas, it would take you about 2 hours 30 minutes. We arrived by Springdale, the entry to the park and the village. From there, we can see the gigantic cliffs of the canyon with the Virgin River streaming below, a beautiful contrast reminding me of Wild Wild West movies.
The entrance fee to the park is $35 per vehicle (whether you’re alone or 4), but we bought the America the Beautiful pass which costs $80 for the year and allows unlimited access to the parks and national monuments of the United States, for a car of 4 people.
Here we are to discover the famous Zion National Park, we are surrounded by impressive cliffs where we seem so tiny with different colors of rocks, sometimes orange, sometimes gray with a hint of greenery in some places. Unlike other famous canyons, we first discover it from the bottom, usually we arrive at the top and look at the splendor of the canyon, but Zion is different and has nothing to envy to others. There is a free shuttle from the information center that serves 8 stops in the park, every 5-10 minutes we could stop at any point and pick it up at another. It goes back and forth in about 1h30.
Which hike and for whom?
For young and old, amateurs and professionals of hiking and climbing, this park is really for everyone. There are from easy hikes, such as beautiful walks in nature, to the most difficult ones of several hours with more vertiginous journeys. For lack of time, we made the Emerald Pools trail, it is quite easy and runs along the Virgin River, a very nice walk without any difficulty or slope to overcome. We were up to a beautiful high alcove that forms a cascading waterfall in a natural pool. Nothing is more refreshing in this Utah dry heat of around 40 degrees Celsius.
What we wanted to have time to do was the Angels Landing Trail. We’ll probably do it the next time we’re around. It seems like a hike between 3 to 4 hours and a half, depending on your pace and if you stop often to take pictures (that would be too much of our kind!). It is 8 kilometers in length and has an altitude of 1,763 meters, it also seems that it can be dizzying and acrobatic, chains are installed on the last kilometer to climb up. There would even be a sign indicating the number of deaths on this road and warn to pay attention. But otherwise it seems that it offers a panoramic view at the top, it must be beautiful!
Where to sleep in Zion National Park?
We went to the Watchman Campground, the most popular in the area, because it is located in the park itself, to the right of the entrance. It is highly recommended to book it in advance, especially during the high season. We still asked if there was a cancellation or any place for our RV. Yes! There was only one RV spot left for that night, what luck! We booked it. In addition, it just cost $30, you can also camp with a tent, it will cost $20. It was perfect, we used electricity, filled the water and even made a fire under the stars surrounded by the mountains of Zion. Change of scenery and happiness guaranteed!
The Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel
On the road again … Friends joined us on our trip, it was a first time to share our RV experience with others. They went through the same relocation site, Imoova, from San Francisco, they were 4 in theirs and we followed each other on the road. We left Zion to head for another national park, Bryce Canyon. The road to get there was just incredibly beautiful we just stopped every miles to take pictures. We drove through the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel with our two RVs and we had to pay $15 per vehicle, because it is a very narrow tunnel that does not allow oversized vehicles to drive with the two lanes open.
I was incredibly surprised by what Utah could offer for perfect road trips, beautiful arid landscape, amazing mountains, everything was just awesome that even words and photos cannot do justice to such a beauty.
The majestic Bryce Canyon National Park
Voted the Most Beautiful National Park in the United States by the National Park Service, Bryce Canyon National Park is the most beautiful park we have visited. It is even curious by its irregular shapes of rocks, called “hoodoos”, that are surrounded by pinkish cliffs. There is enough to wonder how nature could create such a masterpiece!
As with Zion, there is a free shuttle around the park that we took from Ruby’s Inn, just minutes from the entrance. We could not enter this park with our RV, so in order to limit the traffic a free shuttle was set up. We did the Sunrise and Sunset points, with a spectacular hike between the two, we were within canyon to follow the Navajo Loop trail, a unique path for 2 kilometers and forms narrow ravines in between gigantic cliffs. We combined the Navajo Loop and Queens Garden trails, the colors were beautiful at the end of the afternoon and at sunset. It took our breath away! These trails are not difficult, it’s a good walk of discovery with paths that go up and down. I can imagine that describing it or showing it by pictures is not as powerful as to go there and see with your own eyes. So, get ready to be amazed at such a magical landscape.
A hidden gem: Burr trail, Boulder
A gem of Utah, the Burr trail is close to the Scenic Byway 12. This road has very appropriate name because it offers spectacular views of beautiful natural and archaeological landscapes, each curve is pure happiness for the eyes. It takes 200 kilometers from Bryce Canyon National Park to Capitol Reef National Park. It was part of our way and we did not want to miss it by driving at night. So, after Bryce Canyon, we stopped in the town of Escalante to sleep and take the road the next day.
From this same town of Escalante, we had a coffee and some snacks for the road in a nice organic food store, Escalante Mercantile. A local of the store advised us to make a small detour to see the road of Burr trail, she described it according to her words, as cliffs as big as the Empire State Building of New York … funny comparison between a natural landscape and a superficial one, but we were still curious to see this road.
It was indeed breathtaking! A road we fell in love with! It takes a good 15 minutes from Boulder to discover a wild and desert landscape with a thousand colors and shades. We did not go all the way, since it was already a detour, but it was well worth it. We even stopped to admire and take the time to enjoy this magnificent landscape. A break above our RVs with a beer. Gorgeous!
South Canyon Hot Springs
On the way to Colorado, we found these hot springs named South Canyon Hot Springs in the middle of nature, perfectly located just off the main highway, I-70, along the Colorado River towards Denver. We did not even have to make a detour to find and relax in these hot springs with such a natural setting, another gem! It does not seem to be very famous online; I saw comments that said it was dirty and others who liked it, but when we were, there was nothing dirty. There was even a local bathed naked, nothing more natural!
What to expect ? A warm natural mineral water. We are surrounded by mountains, it is beautiful and calm! There could even be this local who bathes naked, he speaks a little French, he used to live in Quebec. As it’s natural, do not expect a 5-star spa. Plus, it’s free!
And this is it, our adventure ends in Denver, Colorado, we’ve traveled 1490 kilometers of pure happiness! My impressions? Another successful trip with full head memories and a rewarding adventure. It is sometimes difficult to put on paper the emotions and the impressions, especially when a trip like this makes us live feelings of joy and freedom. I think it’s because the world is so vast and has so much to offer us that it gives us some humility. It is on this positive note that our journey ends. What will be our next adventure? The bets are open.