This is the story of our epic road trip from Los Angeles to Zion and Bryce National Parks in Utah. We had limited time, but so much to see. We selected the following destinations and now share our itinerary and route for how to see 12 amazing places in only 3 days. Since we traveled in March, our itinerary had to be adjusted to account for the massive participation we had throughout the winter right up to the day before we left. Many roads were closed due to rain washout, flooding or snow, but we discovered quite a few surprises along the way. I’m just going to hit a couple of highlights from each stop because we have a lot of ground to cover.
Zzyzx Road (Nevada)
Mojave Desert National Preserve (Nevada)
Seven Magic Mountains (Nevada)
Las Vegas Strip (Nevada)
Red Rock Canyon (Nevada)
Virgin River Gorge Scenic Drive through “The Narrows” (Arizona into Utah)
Zion National Park, Utah
Dixie National Forest, Utah
Red Canyon, Utah
Bryce National Park, Utah
Day One: Road Trip from Los Angeles to Utah
We left about 4:00 AM, in the dark hoping to beat the infamous LA traffic. It was incredibly windy that morning and driving the elevations up to Pear Blossom Highway was not fun. Despite the wind and the twisting roads, I actually fell asleep on the drive, and I never sleep in the car. Ever. Of all the cars we have used for travel, this made the 2019 Chevrolet Tahoe my favorite because if it’s that comfortable that I fall asleep, you know its a comfortable ride (Thank you Chevy!). If it had been morning, we would’ve seen the Joshua Trees and the Super Bloom up near Palmdale, but I’m going to cheat and share the photos I snapped on the way home.
We arrived at Zzyzx Road, California just as the sun was coming up. This part paved, part dirt road set the tone for our adventure as the sun rose on us. Zzyzx Road leads to the Zzyzx Settlement into the Mojave Desert, which was our next stop.
We took the road through Kelso, stopping at the Visitor’s Center, but it was closed. Kelso was an interesting little ghost town, which made for some great photos. Next, we took that to Cima and up through the Desert just before the Nevada state line.
Seven Magic Mountains
Once we fueled up in Primm, our next stop was Seven Magic Mountains. This art installation is famous for being known as that big neon painted boulders you see on Instagram. I always see these amazing looking women, in these glamorous outfits with the perfect InstaPoses in front of this art installation. Then there’s me. I woke up at 2:30 AM, and was driving all day. It was windy as hell, and not the kind of “wind blowing through my hair” kind of breeze. It was wind whipping my hair around my face painfully, as I could feel the wind burn and my lips chap raw. I had on the bulky fashion look known as wearing two winter coats and the bottom of my sweater rolled up into my jacket. I’m damn cold. Dig me.
Las Vegas Strip
We continued on Highway 15 and then drove right down the middle of the Las Vegas Strip because there really is no other place like Vegas, baby. Coming back from Utah, we extended our trip an extra two days with a little bit of luxury at the Penthouse Suite at Mandalay Bay Resort (more posts on that later). We stopped for lunch and then changed up our scenery once again.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
What a great place to spend an hour or two. If we had had more time, we would have enjoyed more hiking in this beautiful place. It was a perfect place to fit into our road trip, giving a chance to both stretches our legs and feasts our eyes. The panorama views from the visitor’s center and exhibits were amazing. The winding scenic road gives you almost the entire park to see during the drive.
And now on to one of my favorite parts of the trip…
Virgin River Gorge, Nevada into Arizona into Utah
We didn’t realize that this was even on our route. When we had stopped just outside of Mesquite, we were chatting with the cashier. We told her about our trip, and she cautioned us to be careful driving through the bridge that cuts through The Narrows because of the high winds we had today. Then I handed the keys to Greg because she lost me at “high winds” and “bridge” let alone “Narrow”.
The Virgin River Gorge Scenic Drive is about 25 miles slicing across northwest Arizona just outside the Grand Canyon Parashant. The Gorge has hiking and biking trails that follow the river but is also famous for its scenic drive views. The Narrows are 500-foot limestone walls slicing through either side of Highway 15. The drive connects Beaver Dam, Arizona to St. George Utah, and eventually runs into the Mojave Desert. The golden hour lighting on the landscape was definitely equal beauty to visiting a national park.
We finally arrived in Utah at about 7:00 PM that night. We stopped for fast food, now having driven in four states and being awake over 17 hours. All I wanted was to climb into a bed. Suddenly, Greg turned into a parking lot of a shopping center and made a U-Turn, heading back in the direction that we just came.
“Did we miss a turn?” I asked. “No.” He replied, staring straight ahead. “Then why…” I started to ask; “Just wait,” he told me.
We went up a hill, and there it was: like a box being opened, the scene unfolded in front of us. A perfect sunset sky on fire with reds, oranges tipped with blues and purples. If adventure had a color, this would be its crayon.
After the sunset, the next surprise came as the icy snow peaks rose the greet us. The mountains are calling. Therefore, Greg declares we had to see them before it got dark. So off we start taking guesses at which roads lead to the perfect view. We drove through neighborhoods, construction sites, and dirt roads. He wasn’t satisfied. We were tired and it was dark. We had to get to our Airbnb. “They will be there in the morning,” I said.
Can you guess what was the first thing we saw when we walked out of our AirBnB the next morning?
To be continued: the sunrise to catch the sun rising over Zion National Park.
Day 3 we travel to Bryce National Park.