Our SE Utah roadtrip literally blew us away! From dinosaur tracks to Arches to backpacking in Canyonlands, we fell in love with this area! Most of our previous Utah experience consisted of driving across the top of the state on our way from Portland to Colorado Springs. So to experience more of what the state has to offer really excited us.
- Boondock at Copper Ridge Dinosaur Tracks, BLM near Arches and Moab, Utah
- Visit the Dinosaur Tracks, head into Moab for lunch
- Boondock at Willow Springs Road BLM, near Arches and Moab, Utah
- Visit Arches National Park and Moab, Utah
- Boondock at BLM two miles from Canyonlands National Park, near Moab, Utah
- Visit Canyonlands National Park
- RV Park at Sand Creek RV Park, Torrey, Utah off Hwy 24
- Visit Capitol Reef National Park
- Boondock at BLM off Hwy 24, Torrey, Utah
- Drive Scenic Byway 12
- Boondock at Hole in the Rock Road BLM, Escalante, Utah
- Visit Slot canyons and do some hiking
- Continue to Drive Scenic Byway 12
- Visit Bryce Canyon National Park
Copper Ridge Dinosaur Tracks
No SE Utah roadtrip is complete without seeing where the dinosaurs roamed! Cooper Ridge Dinosaur Tracks is so amazing! We stayed several nights at this BLM area about twelve miles before Arches National Park along Utah’s Highway 191. There are miles and miles of hiking and biking trails here. Plus dinosaur tracks. I’m not even kidding. You can step into the fossilized footprint of an actual dinosaur. In my book, life doesn’t get much better than that. It gets a little windy here, which whips up a ton of fine red dust, so close your windows in the afternoon prior to that daily little storm and you’ll be good to go. We did move closer to Arches on the nights before we entered the Park super early, but those are just spots to sleep in our opinion. They were crowded and noisy.
Arches and Canyonlands National Parks
These two amazing parks are within an hour of one another. We loved them both! Arches is home to more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches. We loved the Devils Garden Trail and the Sand Dune Arch. The Delicate Arch is one of the big draws of the park and definitely one of the most photographed arches.
Canyonlands’ Islands in the Sky district is great for hiking and backpacking.
Both are great places to visit and you could literally spend a week in Arches and several weeks in Canyonlands without even scratching the surface of either. They both get fairly crowded during the day, so we went in early (5:30-6:00 am). And although you’re only supposed to camp in designated campgrounds, both parks are open 24/7. Since they’re listed as Dark Sky Parks you can always watch the stars and then doze for a bit in a parking lot. We didn’t do that, but we saw campers who did!
I have to mention Moab, Utah in conjunction with Arches, since it’s just down the road. Moab offers boondockers the opportunity for laundry and a dumpstation, which is pretty important for us! It also had plenty of local shopping and eating, so it’s a great place to stop on any SE Utah roadtrip.
Check out all the things I cared about in Moab here. I’m sure there are tons of things about Moab that didn’t even make it on our radar. Go for a visit!
Capitol Reef National Park
Our road trip then took us to Capitol Reef National Park and the little town of Torrey, Utah. We stayed at Sand Creek RV Park and also boondocked along Highway 24. Both were great options for us. The Waterpocket Fold is the highlight of Capitol Reef. It’s a nearly 100-mile-long warp in the earth’s crust. The Fold formed between 50 and 70 million years ago when a major geologic shift reactivated and ancient buried fault. The park’s white domes of Navajo Sandstone reminded early pioneers of the capitol dome in Washington D.C., thus it’s name.
Get some pie at the Gifford House, you won’t be disappointed! We enjoyed city in the sunshine while enjoying great berry pie and ice cream!
Scenic Byway 12 in our SE Utah Roadtrip
After Capitol Reef, we drove down Utah’s Scenic Byway 12. The drive itself is a treat, so much beauty. Seriously, though, by this time in our trip we’re just overloaded with Utah’s beauty. I’ve said it before, but I just didn’t realize how dang beautiful Utah is. When we make the trip from Portland to Colorado Springs, we usually head across Interstate 84 through Salt Lake City. And well, if you’ve seen one interstate, you’ve seen them all. So it’s been fantastic taking smaller highways and byways in order to get a different look at our country.
We stayed a couple nights on Hole in the Rock Road, near Escalante, Utah. We did a little hiking in a slot canyon, which you can see over on our YouTube channel, here. It was a short drive further to Bryce Canyon National Park. We were short on time, so we honestly went into it, used their RV dump station, looked over the Rim Trail towards Sunrise Point and then continued on our way. Hopefully we can hit this park another time, because the pink cliffs we saw of it was stunning.
Add on Stops
We skipped some spots that are definitely worth looking into for your SE Utah roadtrip. You could easily fit them into your trip or adjust other stays if one of these look more interesting. I said it before, but we could literally spend months and months in SE Utah and still not see all that it has to offer.
- Zion National Park features massive stone formations, soaring monoliths, hiking and the Virgin River. A stop by the interpretive center rounds out the trip. While this park is technically in SW Utah, it’s still close enough for a stop. There are road width and height restrictions within Zion, so do a little homework first.
- Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Lake Powell offers nearly 2,000 miles of shoreline with hundreds of slide canyons, inlets and coves. The lake is about 186 miles long with great fishing, boating and lounging opportunities.
- Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park straddles the border of SE Utah and Arizona. Don’t miss Goulding’s Trading Post and Museum for a glimpse into life in the 1920’s. Filming for many movies and television shows took place in this area.