Southwest Road Trip

Note: Click on any photo to get a larger version.

In late November 2022, we embarked on a three-week road trip to the Southwest, which I’m finally getting around to writing up a blog post about (this post is written by Jennifer). We took my electric car… the electric vehicle charging infrastructure in the US right now is having some problems (a lot of charging stations are in poor repair), but we did manage to charge up the car when we needed to (not necessarily as quickly as we would have liked, and we did choose some driving routes based on the availability of working chargers). We drove a total of 4100 miles through seven states (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, back to Utah, back to Idaho, Montana, and back through Idaho to Washington). We spent about $150 on electric vehicle charging, and figured that if we had instead driven an efficient gas car, we would have spent roughly $240 more than that on gas. Of course, we also spent time charging, but much of that was at our lodging on this trip, while we were sleeping.

The main reason for the trip was to visit with friends and family members. Our first stop was in Bend, Oregon, where we spent Thanksgiving and a couple more days eating, playing board games, and hiking with my sister Alice and her partner Paul. Then the two of us headed down to Salt Lake City, Utah, where we picked up Zach’s mom Virginia at the airport. After a few days of traveling and sight-seeing with Virginia, we arrived in Sedona, Arizona, where we hooked up with our friends Gwen and John for some hiking and board game playing for a week or so (the other friends we were supposed to meet in Sedona came down with COVID-19 a few days before we arrived, so we didn’t get to hang out with them, which was sad!). Then the three of us headed north, and spent several more days sight-seeing before we had to get back to Salt Lake City to drop off Virginia for her flight home and continue on to our house.

We visited a LOT of beautiful and interesting places, including US national parks and national monuments (Cedar Breaks, Zion, Montezuma Castle/Montezuma Well, Tuzigoot, Walnut Canyon, Grand Canyon, Canyonlands, Arches), a Navajo National Park (Monument Valley), state parks (Cathedral Gorge and Valley of Fire in Nevada, and Red Rock in Arizona), and national forests and national recreation areas (around Bend, Oregon; near Zion in Utah; Hoover Dam on the Nevada/Arizona border; around Sedona, Arizona; Sand Island Petroglyph Panel near Bluff, Utah; Mill Canyon Dinosaur Tracksite near Moab, Utah). Because it was winter, there were fewer people at the national parks than you’d see at other times of the year, so that was a bonus!

The weather was mostly pretty good for hiking and sight-seeing, though sometimes cold, but we had plenty of warm clothes with us. I think we only got rained or snowed on once or twice on days when we were sightseeing and hiking. We had snow and slippery driving conditions in a few places, but the worst day (just after picking up Virginia in Salt Lake City) we were able to stop and get a motel instead of continuing to drive, so that was fine (we didn’t have to be in a hurry to get anywhere).

Here are some photos from the trip (you’ll notice a lot of red sandstone, in many cases with a beautiful dusting of snow!), and there’s a map of our route at the bottom of the page.

near Bend, Oregon
Alice, Paul, and Zach on top of a rock in the desert near Bend, Oregon. Alice is carrying a big pack to stay in shape for backpacking.
Dirty car
After picking up Virginia at the Salt Lake City airport, we ran into some slippery roads and stopped for the night at a motel. This is what the car looked like the next day when we stopped to charge. A few days later we ran through a car wash, and Virginia said she couldn’t recognize the car any more.
Cedar Breaks National Monument
We drove up to the North View Overlook at Cedar Breaks National Monument. The parking lot was covered in snow (we could barely pull off the road), and the walkway was very slick with ice and snow, but the view was gorgeous!
Zion National Park
Our next stop was Zion National Park, where we did some hiking.
Mesa near Zion National Park
We drove up to the top of a mesa near Zion National Park and stood on the edge.
Cathedral Gorge State Park, Nevada
When we left Zion, we had a couple of days to get to Sedona, Arizona. Because of EV charging concerns, we chose a route through the Las Vegas area, which allowed us to visit two really neat Nevada state parks as well as Hoover Dam. At Cathedral Gorge State Park, there are twisty slot canyons you can walk up into.
Valley of Fire State Park
Virginia really loved the petroglyphs at Valley of Fire State Park that showed a family holding hands.
Sedona, Arizona
We did a number of hikes in Sedona, Arizona, with Gwen.
Montezuma Well, near Sedona, Arizona
We took a day trip south from Sedona to visit the Montezuma Castle, Montezuma Well (shown here), and Tuzigoot National Monuments, which contain former dwellings of the ancient people of the Southwest. On the day we left Sedona, we stopped at Walnut Canyon to see some more ancient dwellings.
Grand Canyon
Our next stop was Grand Canyon National Park, where the snow kept the visitor count down to quite pleasant levels
Monument Valley
After Grand Canyon, we headed for Moab, Utah. The most logical route took us right by Monument Valley, where we drove around the loop and stopped at all the viewpoints. Wow!
Islands in the Sky, Canyonlands National Park
Near Moab, we visited Canyonlands and Arches national parks, and also a spot with petrified dinosaur tracks (very cool, but not too photogenic). This is the Island in the Sky area at Canyonlands.
Arches National Park
We visited Arches National Park on the last hiking and sight-seeing day of our trip (although the drive from Moab to Salt Lake City, and the drive home from Salt Lake City, were still scenic).

2 Replies to “Southwest Road Trip”

  1. The pix are simply beautiful! The rock colors, those ‘red’ trees footed by snow behind Zack and his mom….so lovely! What colorful memories! The Southwest “wins” again! I remember…..trips to Northern Arizona and Utah….and to the Gold Rush areas of California….
    Thank you for sharing this and for the excellent photos!!! We surely live on a beautiful planet!!!

  2. Beautiful! The scenery, the adventure, the memories. Wow! You all do inspire! What a fun trip!

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