Southwest Road Trip


"In the American Southwest, I began a lifelong love affair with a pile of rock." - Edward Abbey

Quick Facts

What To Expect


Pretty high temperatures, but it can get freezing at night

Landscapes you have never seen before

Many lonely hours without another soul around

General InfoS

Plan more than a week

Bring a range of clothes no matter the season

Don't forget your camera

How To Plan

The Open Road - Southwest Dreaming

Really, I believe a road trip is the only way to get the real experience of the American Southwest. Not only will you be even closer to nature all the time, but you also get to make spontaneous decisions about where you want to go next, where you need to stay just a little longer and maybe change your initial plan completely while you're on the road. I love this type of travel - giving you all the flexibility you need for an incredible experience at the most amazing places.

About four years ago, places from some of the National Parks in the Southwest were all over my daily social media feeds. I was so in awe just looking at some of those photographs, that I decided I would for sure try to check some of them out while I was in the States anyways. So when I got the chance, I rented a car in Denver and drove off. I hade planned a route through Capitol Reef, Zion, Canyonlands and Arches National Parks. I only had limited time though - due to limited money - but I couldn't have possibly narrowed it down to fewer places. And so I just went and decided to go with the flow and just see where I would end up when...

Pro tip: Always keep an eye on your gas tank!

After a few hundred miles, the first state line crossing into Utah and multiple stops to take in the overwhelming beauty of this part of the United States, I reached Capitol Reef National Park after the sun had already set. Unsure what to do now, where to go next and what I really wanted to see, I took a break, ate my very fancy bagel and cream cheese dinner and finally decided to keep on driving further into Cedar City where I would try to find a place to stay.

The next morning started slow with some time in the back of the van, enjoying beautiful scenery and breakfast with the sun on my face. Going through multiple maps, reading recommendations on the National Parks I still wanted to visit and trying to decide where to go next while enjoying my coffee and breakfast.

Breakfast was pretty much as exciting as dinner -  just that this time it was a blueberry bagel and I am not joking about that excitement - since coming from Germany any kind of bagel will immediately make me happy.

Later that morning I headed to Zion National Park. I was immediately in awe of this place - the high red mountains all around me, the green grass, tall trees and bushes everywhere, the sheer beauty of nature and how different it seemed from just a little while ago. After a drive through the pretty busy and somehow hectic canyon, I found a parking spot and started exploring a bit. I took a walk through the Narrows for a few miles and just enjoyed the beautiful landscape more or less by myself there.

"In the American Southwest, I began a lifelong love affair with a pile of rock." - Edward Abbey

"In the American Southwest, I began a lifelong love affair with a pile of rock." - Edward Abbey

After a couple of hours later and some exhaustion from the heat, I headed back to the car and took off heading further south - crossing the state border to Arizona shortly after. Following a few hours of driving down beautiful desert roads I got to a junction where one road could take me to the Grand Canyon. It would have been possible to include this place in my itinerary but I chose to follow my initial plan instead. And so I happened to witness the most gorgeous, stunning and unbelievable sunset I ever got to see - right in front of the oh so famous Horseshoe Bend in Arizona.

Even though this place was crowded - I wasn't expecting anything else really - it was still one of the best experiences and a moment I won't be forgetting for the rest of my life. I had dreamed of this place for so long and couldn't believe how lucky I was to actually see it with my own eyes now. It was already dark and probably long after 10 pm that I got back to my car. I had booked a motel room in Moab for that night and had quite a way to go - but I have truly never felt happier.

My last day in the desert would be a tough one since I couldn't decide on just one of the two National Parks right next to Moab. So it began with another one of those famous viewpoints - Mesa Arch. To my utter surprise this place was pretty much lonely when I got there and so I took it in for quite a while and enjoyed my breakfast here while staring over the desert laying peacefully in front of me.

When more and more people started to roll in, I knew it was time for me to move on. My next and last stop would be Arches National Park and a short walk/hike to a viewpoint of Delicate Arch. Due to temperatures of about 40°C (104°F) and a another long drive back to Denver on that same day I wouldn't have made it all the way up there - and I mean, there's gotta be at least one famous spot left to visit in the future, right? I stopped at some more places throughout my drive back out of the National Park and took a few more walks before finally heading back to Denver.

I might not have seen all there is to see - but I know for sure that I will be back to this magical region in the (hopefully near) future with more time to explore the more unknown places and some of the famous ones I didn't get to on this trip.

Pro tip: Plan enough time to thoroughly enjoy all the places!

I hope you found this post helpful and enjoyed this short road trip through the American Southwest as much as I did! I would love to hear your travel adventures and if you have been to the Southwest - feel free to leave a comment below or contact me via email!

March 18, 2021
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