On this solo road trip in Utah via backroads and scenic byways my desire was to stay in the most unusual accommodations that were remote but comfortable at the same time (and somewhat close to National Parks to make hiking accessible). So when I found a homestead deep in the brush, an yurt down a dirt road, a tipi on a horse ranch with an outdoor hot tub, and a wolf sanctuary with optional massage, my choices were easily made. Little did I know I would meet the kindest, most welcoming people in those off the beaten path locations!
Day 1 – from CO on I70 to UT24 thru Hankville and Cainesville all the way to Notom, UT
Sunlit Oasis at Notom Ranch was my destination for the night, of course I reached it after dark, per my usual tardiness. The bed & breakfast is built on the land of an old homestead which now encompasses several properties. It is under new ownership, the food is delicious and the rooms and baths (jet tub and epsom salts included) are spotless clean! My room featured Wild West decor with multiple pictures and posters of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid who once upon a time roamed the area with their Wild Bunch. The bedroom had a balcony overlooking Utah’s red cliffs and a perfect location to salute the sun at 7am. Or you can stargaze using the 2 portable telescopes downstairs. They also have very friendly horses on the property that you can feed and pet after breakfast.
Day 2 – from Notom, UT through Capitol Reef National Park via Boulder and Escalante on Scenic Byway 12, past Bryce National Park, all the way to Hatch, UT
The road between Boulder and Escalante is one of the most beautiful drives I’ve done. And the desert was SO lush after the rain they had been getting, all the brush was flowering yellow, and the sky was a constant #cloudporn You’d be surprised what a river or a stream can do to vegetation in the desert #oasis My destination for the night was an yurt on the outskirts of Bryce Canyon National Park. The yurts were #glamping at its best! All the privacy you could ask for, even yoga on the deck at sunrise if you so desire, without missing any modern conveniences (bathroom with a tub and shower included). My hosts were the kindest, sweetest, most informative couple!
Day 3 – from Bryce National Park thru Kanab, UT and Fredonia, AZ to Cane Beds, AZ
Instead of going straight to St George from Hatch, I decided to take a back road and skirt around the border with Arizona. I had never been to AZ before and had to put a new state to my map! The drive was pretty uneventful with the occasional gas station to fuel up. Not a coffee shop, not a restaurant worth a stop from Hatch to Cane Beds, I guess that’s what it means to stay in an “unincorporated community”…
I wasn’t planning on stopping or doing more hiking, I had just walked all the trails of Bryce National Park (some twice for good measure) 🙂 but then I reached Paiute Native American Reservation in Arizona and saw a sign for a National Monument on the reservation…sharp right it was and there was the blond girl #wildchild on a tour of an Indian Reservation by myself (yes, they even braided my hair :-)) #ifnotnowthenwhen
At Pipe Spring National Monument a Native American from the local tribe (even they themselves are not certain if they are Paiute, Navajo or what) told me the real story of the land, the story of the Native Americans (Anasazi, Paiute, Navajo), the Indian Slave Trade, the Mormon invasion, the white settlers, the massacres that ensued… #sadstory
My stop for the night was a tipi with an outdoor shower and a hot tub on a mini ranch adjacent to the Indian Reservation. That was my first time sleeping outdoors by myself, no door, no locks, just curtains (aka teepee). #glamping #roughingit
Day 4 – from Cane Beds, AZ to Las Vegas, NV
I had to leave for Vegas but I was really not feeling like going back to civilization and I enjoyed sleeping outdoors too much. My hair was dirty, my body was covered in dust, my soul was happy! 😍 On my way to and from Vegas I took the scenic route and drove through Moapa Valley, Valley of Fire State Park, Lake Mead National Recreational Area, and Hoover Dam. Having paid my tribute to driving through Nevada 3 times in this lifetime (Interstates 15, 50, and 70) and visited its parks – lesson learned, never again. (Well, it took me 3 times to learn the lesson after all…) The drive is boring and ugly, almost uglier than Indiana, if that were even possible. And hot, very hot!
Day 5 – Las Vegas, NV to Apple Valley, UT (after a week in Vegas for work)
To top my road trip of random accommodations and long drives, I had booked a room at a wolf sanctuary (Howling Wolf Retreat) outside of Zion National Park for the weekend on my way back Vegas to Colorado. That stay was so special for me that it deserves its own blog post. And I will be back!
Day 6 – consisted of driving to and from Zion National Park and hiking my bum off exploring the Narrows, Wall Street, and Orderville Canyon.
Day 7 – Zion National Park to Colorado
7.5 hrs on the road by myself after I had hiked Angels Landing before breakfast (read 5am wake up call, 6am hike start), Emerald Pools while chewing some nutrition bars, and I had made it to horseback riding at 11am. I thought I would die on that stretch back home, especially the 90 mph I70 in Utah which is very beautiful the first time you drive it and very boring the third time you find yourself there.