top of page

Our 2K Mile National Park Road Trip

Woah, it has been a while! We just returned from a one week road trip to 5 national parks and 1 state park across several states. We left California and headed to Arizona for our first stop at Petrified Forest National Park! After a full day checking out the park we were headed to Colorado, next stop: Mesa Verde National Park! From there we took a quick drive up to Utah to Canyonlands National Park! Moab was an off-roader's paradise. Every way you look there are overland/rock crawling/adventure rigs parked or passing by. We spent a few days checking out Canyonlands, Arches National Park, and Dead Horse State Park! Staying in Utah but were now headed to Capitol Reef! Being one of the lesser visited parks on our trips, this was by far our favorite. The mix of greenery and desert rock made for some incredible views. On top of that, not having to fight the crowds made this park one we will definitely be coming back to!

Our 7 Day Itinerary

Like all of our trips we create a full itinerary as a rough schedule for our days plans. Rather than all of our hard work going to waste, we figured we would share it to maybe help one of you! Here is an example of what one our plans looks like! We use Google Doc's and share the document so we are both able to work on it remotely. Over the years we have used Google Docs for EVERYTHING.

Color coded for a nice presentation and easy reading we went ahead and labeled everything so you can see what each item is for! Starting at the top we check the weather for where we will be most of the day and add that in there so we know how we should dress accordingly. If we spend the day driving we just set it to our final destination. This one tends to fluctuate and we are always updating it up until the days before we leave. We like to set a rough time schedule so we can make sure we have enough time to sight see and complete some hikes, as well as making it easier to plan meals. On the longer drives we try to find pitstops for when we need to use the restroom or just stretch our legs. Using Google Maps we just add waypoints and are able to space them out so we are never too far from a rest area. Continuing on we try to calculate our fueling, by knowing how far we can go on a full tank, we can plan ahead to stop and refuel. This is a nice peace of mind on those long empty highways without services for long stretches. We also like to add our lodging information for the day, at the bottom of our document we have all of our confirmations and reservations. Lastly we like to browse google maps and check out what is available to eat in town. From fast food to grocery stores, it's more of a convenience thing being able to pull this up and know there is something we can stop by on our way if we are in a rush.

Here is our full itinerary:


Sunday 4th - Driving (84°/42°)

7:30am Bfast

8:00am Leave to Petrified Forest (9hr drive)

Pitstop: Barstow Station - 1611 E Main St, Barstow, CA 92311 2hrs from home


Truck Stop: Blue Star Memorial Highway, Essex, CA 92332 Essex Rest Area EB 3.5hrs from home

Essex EB Truck stop to Kingman 1.5hrs

Home to Arco/Food: 5hrs, 330 miles

1:00pm Arrive ARCO - 3200 Stockton Hill Rd, Kingman, AZ 86409

1:30pm Eat: In n Out, McD, Taco Bell, Panda, Subway, Five Guys, KFC, Carls Jr, Chipotle

Kingman AZ to Hotel: 3.5 hrs, 238 miles

Stop in flagstaff if needed

6:00pm Arrive/Check in hotel 1- Days Inn by Wyndham Holbrook

2601 Navajo Boulevard, Holbrook, AZ, 86025

7:00pm Eat in Town: McD, Pizza Hut, Alberto’s Mexican, Carls, DQ, Safeway groceries

Make lunch for tmrw

Monday 5th - Petrified Forest (83°/46°)

Eat Bfast at hotel

9:00am Checkout

Get Gas Chevron across street

Petrified Forest Gift Shop (11am-6:30pm)

Crystal Forest Museum (At entrance park) : 6492 Petrified Forest Rd, Holbrook, AZ

30 min drive to National Park (1 Park Rd, Petrified Forest National Park, AZ 86028)

Explore Petrified Forest (Hours 8am-5pm mountain time)

10:00am Enter south part of park

Rainbow Forest Museum

Giant Logs trail (0.4mi loop)

11-12:30 Long Logs + Agate house trail (2.6 miles rt)

1:00pm Eat Lunch DIY

Long Logs to Crystal Forest 10 min drive

Crystal Forest (0.75 mi loop)

2:00pm Agate Bridge

15 min drive

Blue Mesa (3.5mi road/ 1 mile loop trail)

15 min drive

3:30-4:00pm Painted Desert Rim Trail (1 mile roundtrip)

4:30pm Drive to MV (3.5 hours, 215 miles)

Pitstop Gas/Food if needed: 508 N, US-491, Gallup, NM 87301

8:00pm Hotel 2- Cortez Check in

Things to Eat in Town: Dominos, KFC, Dennys, McD, Subway, DQ, City Market groceries 11pm closes


Hotel 2- Days Inn by Wyndham Cortez

Tuesday 6th - Mesa Verde (70°/43°)

Eat Bfast at hotel

Get gas/ICE Speedway: 2320 E Main St, Cortez, CO 81321

Drive to MV NP Entrance 10 mins

Montezuma Overlook

Park Point

Geologic Overlook

Far View Archeological Sites this 0.75-mile (1.2 km) hiking trail leads you through six mesa top sites

Mesa Top Loop Road 6-mile (10 km) driving tour through 700 years of Ancestral Pueblo History

Cedar Tree Tower

Spruce Tree House Overlook

Eat Lunch DIY

Cliff Palace/Balcony House Loop Drive

Soda Canyon Overlook Trail 1.2 miles (1.9km), round-trip

Drive back to hotel 2 Cortez

Things to Eat in Town: Dominos, KFC, Dennys, McD, Subway, DQ, City Market groceries 11pm closes


Cedar Tree Tower: An Ancestral Puebloan tower and kiva complex can be viewed from a small parking area. Nearby is the 0.5-mile (0.8 km) Farming Terrace Loop trail that leads you through a series of ancient check dams built by the Ancestral Pueblo people. Open 8:00 am to sunset.

Spruce Tree House Overlook: views of the third-largest, and best-preserved cliff dwelling, Overlooks near the museum offer superb views of the cliff dwelling.

Cliff Palace/Balcony House Loop Drive: all stops and overlooks

Soda Canyon Overlook Trail 1.2 miles (1.9km), round-trip. Begins one mile north of the Balcony House parking area along the Cliff Palace Loop Road. The trail is an easy walk to the canyon edge and offers views of Balcony House and other archeological sites along Soda Canyon.

Entrance is near Cortez, from gate to cliff dwellings is 1 hour drive

What Remains Closed?

  • Mesa Verde Visitor & Research Center Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum

  • All cliff dwellings and ranger-guided cliff dwelling tours This includes continued closures of Cliff Palace, Balcony House, Long House, and Step House. (Many cliff dwellings can be viewed from overlooks along the Mesa Top and Cliff Palace/Balcony House Loop Roads.)

  • Wetherill Mesa, Wetherill Mesa Road, sites, and trails

Wednesday 7th - Canyonlands (83°/50°)

Eat Bfast Hotel

10am Checkout

Get Gas Shell: 17 N Main St, Monticello, UT 84535

10:30-12 Drive to Canyonlands (2hrs, 100 miles)

Explore Canyonlands: Island in the Sky area

2:00-2:30 Mesa Arch (0.5 mile/ 30 min)

Eat Lunch

15 min drive

4:00-6:00 Grand View Point (2 Mile/ 1.5hrs)

6:15 Drive to hotel 45 mins, 30 miles

7:00pm Check in Hotel 3- La Quinta Moab (check in 4pm)

Things to Eat in Town: McD, Dominos, Giliberto's Mexican Taco Shop 24hrs, The Village Market groceries

Visitor Center to Moab is 40 minutes/22 miles


Hotel 3- La Quinta Moab check in 4pm

At The Needles and Island in the Sky visitor centers, museum exhibits and theaters showing park films remain closed.

Thursday 8th - Arches (85°/51°)

Eat Bfast Hotel

Get Gas/ICE Maverick: 923-947 S Main St, Moab, UT 84532

Explore Arches

La Sal Mountain Viewpoint

10 min drive

Balanced Rock (0.3mi RT)

North/South Window Arch (0.7mi RT) 45 min

10 min drive

Double Arch (0.5mi RT) 30 min

20 min drive

Devils Garden Trail (varies)

15 min drive

Delicate Arch (3mi RT) (2-3hrs)

Devils Garden to Entrance 40-45 min

Hotel 3- La Quinta Moab

Things to Eat in Town: McD, Dominos, Giliberto's Mexican Taco Shop 24hrs, The Village Market groceries


Hotel 3: La Quinta Inn Moab

Mileages from Entrance Station and Visitor Center

Location Distance Drive Time from entrance:

to Balanced Rock 9.2 miles (14.8 km) 15-20 minutes

to The Windows Section 12 miles (19.3 km) 25-30 minutes

to Wolfe Ranch / Delicate Arch Trailhead 13.2 miles (21.2 km) 30-35 minutes

to Delicate Arch Viewpoint 14.2 miles (22.8 km) 30-35 minutes

to Devils Garden 18 miles (28.9 km) 40-45 minutes

Friday 9th - Rest Day (74°/34°)

10:30am Eat Bfast Hotel

Checkout 12pm

Get Gas Shell: 250 UT-24, Hanksville, UT 84734

12:00 Get groceries The Village Market

Drive to Capitol Reef (2.5hrs, 150 miles)

2:30pm Arrive Red Sands/Capitol Reef

Rest or Explore Capitol Reef

Hotel 4 Red Sands Check in 3pm

Eat Dinner - Rock Garden 5pm-10pm

Saturday 10th - Capitol Reef (64°/37°)

Eat Bfast Hotel

Get Gas Phillips 66: 675 UT-24, Torrey, UT 84775

Gifford Homestead (8am-5pm)

Gifford to Cassidy 15 minutes

Eat Lunch DIY

Hickman Bridge (1.8miles RT)

Goosenecks (0.1mile)

Sunset Point (0.4mile)

Panorama Point

Panorama Point to Hotel 10 mins

Hickman bridge to hotel 15 mins

Eat Dinner Hotel

Sunday 11th - Driving (65°/37°)

Eat Bfast Hotel

8:30am Checkout Hotel. Drive home 9hrs

Get gas if needed here: 241 N Main St, Loa, UT 84747

200 miles, 3.5hr drive to Washington UT

1:00pm Lunch

Food/Gas: Phillips 66, 260 S Green Spring Dr, Washington, UT 84780

3hr drive, 215 miles to Baker

4:00pm Gas/Jerky: 72352 Baker Blvd, Baker, CA 92309

Drive home 3hr, 200 miles


Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page