Utah And Arizona Fall Trip Plans

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So Excited For Our Utah And Arizona Fall Trip

We are headed back to the west for our Utah and Arizona fall trip. On our last visit to some of the U.S. National Parks on the west coast, we missed the Utah parks. And we regretted it. We planned a few weeks trekking through the amazing natural beauty in Utah and Arizona. And will finish up with pampering stays in Phoenix and Tucson.

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Not Our First National Park Tour

The year we spent the fall in Vancouver, we headed south and explored some of the National Parks.

Our National Park tour started in Yellowstone. While we expected to see geysers, we were stunned with how much more there was to see. Wildlife, hot springs, waterfalls and canyons delighted us on this first stop.

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When we stopped in Cedar City, Utah for the night, we realized that we were close to both Bryce and Zion. But we had our sights set on the Grand Canyon. We were so glad we made the time to visit the Grand Canyon North Rim. It was a much wilder, steeper and stunning set of canyons than we envisioned.

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The Grand Canyon South Rim was everything we expected it to be. Broad canyons and rainbow colours of rock were stunning.

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When we later drove past sign after sign that pointed to Yosemite, we decided we could not pass by. The rocks and waterfalls of Yosemite finished off our first National Park tour.

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Planning Our Fall Visit To Utah And Arizona

When we started this year, we had no firm travel plans made. But it turned out to be the year of west coast travel. And road trips. We started in January with a road trip along the California coast. In the spring we headed to British Columbia (BC) and explored the province for 5 weeks. And then we decided to add in a Utah and Arizona fall trip. But we will also head back to California and BC in December!!

The Utah parks have been on our travel wish list since our last National Park tour. We always wished we stopped on our drive south. When we planned our California road trip, we originally planned to start in Arizona. But we were surprised that Arizona was still quite cool in January. So it was natural to bring Utah and Arizona together for our next big road trip.

We debated renting a car or RV for the Utah National Park tour. In the end, we could not find an RV in Utah that we could get as a one way rental. We wanted to stay inside the Utah parks. But we left our planning too late and there were no rooms available. In the end, we picked hotels to add to our Marriott loyalty status that were close to the parks.

We learned a bit on our last National Park tour. Even if we still did not book our accommodations in the park early enough! We know to get the Annual National Park pass that will cover us for multiple parks. And we know that even our great travel SIM may not give us internet deep in the parks!

The hotel rooms on the north end of our trip were planned more for their convenience. As we reached, Phoenix and Tucson, we looked for longer, pampering stays.

Starting In Salt Lake City

We fly from Toronto to Salt Lake City. Since there was no direct flight option, we chose a route that would maximize our Air Canada points. We have a target status level we want to reach this year with Air Canada. And the route through San Francisco gave us a more comfortable flight for the longer leg of the journey.

We have a few days to explore on our own in Salt Lake City. And then we meet up with friends in the area that we met on our China trip. We always love to connect with travel friends when can!

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Touring The 5 Utah Parks

We have ambitious plans to tour all five of the Utah National Parks on this trip. We know this will mean a quick visit. But we viewed this as the first of many trips we may take to this part of the U.S.

From our stay in Moab, we plan to visit Arches and Canyonland parks. We plan to rent a rugged jeep one day to do the off-road trek through the Island in the Sky.

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Utah And Arizona Fall Trip Plans.jpg

We will drive through Capital Reef for a day on our way to Richfield for the night. This allows us an early start to visit Bryce Canyon for the day.

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Utah And Arizona Fall Trip Plans.jpg

Our next stop is in Virgin, Utah for 3 nights. This will give us time to explore Zion and head back to Bryce if we want to see more. And to find new things in the area.

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We have 7 days in the Utah National Parks. This will not let us hike for days. But will give us our first view of the splendour of these parks.

South To Arizona

From Virgin we head to Lake Powell for two nights. We will explore Antelope Canyon, the Colorado River and Horseshoe Bend from here.

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Then we move south to Sedona. From here we will visit Flagstaff and hike the Cathedral Rock Trail and do a jeep tour.

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We debated several hotel options and durations for a stay in Phoenix. We realized that we would be there for the Columbus Day holiday weekend. Which meant lots of kids at the larger resort properties. In the end, we got a great recommendation to stay at the smaller boutique Hermosa Inn in Scottsdale. This should be a relaxing retreat for us!

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But we finish this road trip in style! We started our year with a luxurious long weekend at the Ritz Carlton in Montreal. Our beach break was a lovely stay at the Ritz Carlton in Grand Cayman. So it was fitting that we would finish our Utah and Arizona fall trip with a pampering stay at the Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain in Tucson. While we may do a few short day trips, we plan to take some down time at this final stop.

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Great Variety On Our Utah And Arizona Fall Trip

We were excited when we planned our autumn trip to Utah and Arizona. It provided us the prefect opportunity to see some awesome natural beauty. And then to finish up with a relaxing and pampering stay.

Follow us on social media as we travel. We will post to Facebook and Instagram as we do this very scenic tour. And check back for blog posts as they are published.

How does our Utah and Arizona fall trip sound? Do you have recommendations for us?

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About TravelAtWill 739 Articles
Travel blogger and photographer! Scuba diving, luxury cruising, chocoholic, sea and sunshine addicts, camera attached and just generally curious! Join us on our adventures!


  1. OH WOW! OH WOW! OH WOW! this trip looks amazing. I havent been to Arizona or Utah yet but I am planning a trip soon to take my daughter with me, to explore national parks etc and this trip looks the real deal. Have bookmarked this page for reference. Great tips here.

  2. I’m so jealous!! My husband and I want to get to the Grand Canyon within the next year, and the Big 5 in Utah have been on our wishlist for ages. He’s a great hiker. I am not. But there is no denying the beauty of these places.

    • Patricia, We were so glad we planned to do the Utah parks this year. We are not big hikers. And there is still so much to see with shorter walks and viewpoints. Hope you get Utah on your travel plans. Enjoy the Grand Canyon. Don’t miss the North Rim. Linda

  3. I love seeing that you visited Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain. I was the spa lead there and actually opened the resort. We were the number one spa per in Arizona for many years. The still use the signature Gem Stone Treatment that I developed there.

  4. National parks in USA always fascinate me. So much to see and to be with the wonders of nature. Grand canyon is on our list, perhaps next year. Great tips here. And the barrenness intrigues me a lot.

  5. I have loved following your adventures on this trip – especially since you have hit Moab, Arches and Canyonlands! We can’t wait to come back to this area and follow in your footsteps!

    • Hannah, we are so glad we booked this trip for the fall. We missed the Utah parks on our last National Parks tour. So happy we got to see them. You will absolutely love them. Linda

  6. I would love to check out these places. Arizona is high on my list and Utah not too far off. There are so many amazing parks and things to see. I love that you got to see this all and enjoy. I hope to too.

  7. I guarantee you’re going to love this trip. It is all so incredibly beautiful and unique. We’ve made similar road trips to Yosemite, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Lake Powell, Sedona and Grand Canyon. Another park you shouldn’t miss is Death Valley, CA, but maybe you’ll have to save that for another trip!

  8. Stunning scenery! I’ve not seen a map like yours pin pointing the easy beginning to end route before either. I thought those areas were scattered all over the place. I didn’t know they were within such a relatively short drive. Is it as barren as it looks or did you run into tons of people along the way? I’d love to follow in your footsteps one of these days, the Grand Canyon and Old Faithful look amazing.

    • Vanessa, We were so happy that we could easily manage to get to all of our desired spots on this road trip. The days are long. But the scenery is definitely worth it! We are off season and many days we avoided weekend trips into the parks. It was busy but not crazy packed with people. Hope you get to visit one day. Linda

  9. This sounds like an amazing trip. I have not been to Horseshoe Bend yet and really want to visit. There are so many gorgeous Parks to explore it’s hard to choose.

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