National Parks Road Trip, Part 4: Tips and Takeaways

A few tips and takeaways from our trip...

I was surprised at how expensive the entry fees were for the Utah National Parks; Arches and Canyonlands cost $25 each. However, there is also a Southeastern Utah Parks pass available for purchase that allows entry into Arches and Canyonlands, as well as The Hovenweep and Natural Bridges National Monuments. This pass costs $50, which would be the same as buying two separate passes to Arches and Canyonlands, but the appeal of this pass is that it lasts a full year as opposed to the 7 days of the other passes. Definitely more bang for your buck!

If you only have time to visit one park outside of Moab, Arches is the flashier choice, but Canyonlands really gives a sense of the scope of the canyon countryside. If you can manage to visit both parks, I highly recommend doing so. And the extra $10 for entry into Dead Horse Point State Park is certainly worth it.

Mesa Verde delivered a wonderful introduction to the Four Corners region of the United States, which comprises the intersecting borders between Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona and is rich with cultural history and interesting geology. As I mentioned before, we had somewhat low expectations, but it became a major highlight of the trip. Ranger Mark taught us a lot on our guided tour, which enhanced the experience and allowed us to experience the ruins more up-close and personally than we would have been able to do otherwise.

My final takeaway from this trip was that, while it is possible to visit all three parks within two days and cover the major must-sees, it would have been nice to be able to spend more time soaking in the atmosphere and ambience of each individual park. Taylor and I are both recent college graduates and can handle lots of driving without too much rest (or at least we’d like to think we can), so we weren’t too tired or grumpy to enjoy the parks and managed to cover a lot of ground considering our time constraints. Regardless, I left each park wishing that we could have hiked farther or lingered longer looking at the immense natural beauty surrounding us. It’s a good thing that we bought the year-long pass, because I’m already feeling the desire to return.

This blog post is the final installment in a four-part National Parks Road Trip series. Check out the previous posts:

National Parks Road Trip, Part 1: Arches

National Parks Road Trip, Part 2: Canyonlands

National Parks Road Trip, Part 3: Mesa Verde