Southwest Trip 2024

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

In March of 2024, Jennifer traded in her all-electric 2022 Kia Niro for a slightly-used plug-in hybrid 2023 Kia Niro. She liked driving the 2022 Niro, and liked not using gasoline to drive around town, but decided she wanted a car that was easier to deal with when leaving town. The new Niro still has a plug, and can drive on electricity for the first 35 miles or so, but then it switches over to an efficient gas-hybrid engine. A black one was available nearby, so she bought it… but black not being her first choice of color, she decorated it with (she thinks) very nice white vinyl stickers from Slaced (slaced is “decals” spelled backwards).

2023 Kia Niro
Jennifer’s newly purchased and decorated 2023 Kia Niro plug-in hybrid car

In April of 2024, we went on a road trip in Jennifer’s new car.  Some friends of ours had rented a house in Bluff, Utah for a week, so we spent two days driving down there. We stopped to see the partial solar eclipse on the first day, and slept in the car at a rest area (the same setup we had in the 2022 Niro) near Spanish Fork, Utah (south of Salt Lake City). The second day, we did the first hike of the trip at Fisher Towers near Moab, Utah.

Fisher Towers, near Moab Utah
We went for a hike at Fisher Towers, near Moab Utah

In Bluff, we stayed at the historic Adams house with two other couples, Gwen & John and Scott & Diane; there was also a visit from a family Scott & Diane knew who were on their way home from a Southwest road trip, and Scott’s cousin Curtis, who used to live in the area, spent a few days with us as well. We spent a week or so hiking, sightseeing, and watching birds and lizards in the Bears Ears National Monument, Natural Bridges National Monument, Hovenweep National Monument, and Monument Valley Navaho National Park.

Hovenweep National Monument
Zach and I spent a day touring Hovenweep National Monument, home to ancient dwellings of the Pueblo people. Unlike many of the structures we saw elsewhere that were built under overhangs in river canyons, these were mostly towers.
One of many lizards we saw in Utah
The Citadel
One of the hikes we did in the Bears Ears National Monument was to the Citadel, which was featured on the cover of National Geographic magazine a few years ago
Natural Bridges National Monument
The first bridge on the hike at Natural Bridges National Monument
Hike at Natural Bridges
The hike at Natural Bridges involved climbing up and down several ladders
Monument Valley
After Scott lost his hat to the wind (we did get it back), Zach had to hold onto his the day we decided it was not great hiking weather (rain, thunderstorms) and went to Monument Valley

After our stay in Bluff, we took three days to drive back home. The first day, we stopped at the Needles area of Canyonlands National Park, and then drove north through Utah and Colorado, spending the night in Dinosaur, Colorado.

Needles area at Canyonlands National Park
We did several hikes at the Needles area of Canyonlands National Park on our return trip

The second day, we toured Dinosaur National Monument, and then drove north through Jackson, Wyoming, skirted around Yellowstone National Park, and spent the night in Butte, Montana. We saw maybe 1000 elk in one huge herd (and several other smaller herds), some pronghorns, and some deer in the Yellowstone area.

Petroglyphs at Dinosaur National Monument
Dinosaur National Monument is the home of some huge and beautiful ancient lizard petroglyphs
Dinosaur bones at Dinosaur National Monument
Dinosaur National Monument is also (strangely?) home to a very impressive wall of partially-excavated dinosaur bones

The third day we looked around the historic district of Butte for a while in the morning, and then drove back home. Trip statistics:

  • 2715 miles driven
  • 53 gallons of gas used at a cost of $197 (7 cents per mile of the trip)
  • About 66 kWh of electricity used
  • About 47 mpg while using gas