In my humble opinion, this is THE BEST route for planning your intro road-trip from Utah to Colorado or reverse. This itinerary takes you to all the must-see areas. I am so excited that you get to spend time in what I consider to be the most magical part of the country! You are going to LOVE these special places. I can always send more recommendations, but I think this should keep you busy. All the hikes I linked here are easy/moderate.
If you are coming from Los Angeles, I started this itinerary at Bryce, UT. If you are coming from Denver, do it in reverse. The following is in directional order from Bryce / Escalante ➝ Moab.
*Arrive night before to Bryce, UT.
Start the morning at Bryce Canyon National Park (spend 1/2 day here driving / taking pics)
Optional Hike: Navajo Loop & Queens Garden Trail (~2miles) otherwise keep driving.
Drive to Escalante (1.5 hours)
Stay @ La Luz Desert Retreat (this is Dylan’s family’s Airbnb) OR Yonder Escalante (1 night)
*OPTION TO EXTEND ESCALANTE PORTION
Additional / advanced hikes upon request
Pick up a picnic lunch at The Mercantile
Hike: Lower Calf Creek Falls (~6 miles, flat trail, give yourself 4 hours)
Drive to Kiva Kofeehouse (best views!)
Brunch or Dinner @ Hell’s Back Bone Grill
Stay in Boulder, UT @ Boulder Mountain Lodge or Airbnb (1 night)
Drive to Moab (4 hours)
Pit Stop at Capitol Reef Petroglyph Viewpoint (literally a parking lot on the left side of the road, you can’t miss it)
Arrive in Moab
Optional Hike: Fischer Tower Trail (~3 miles) / about 45 min drive outside of town
Stay at Under Canvas Moab or Airbnb (3 nights)
*Drive homeWhen you’re done in Moab, I would recommend driving back to LA via 1-70 to I-15. Do not drive back the same way you came. This will give you the option to see Zion National Park if you want, or continue on to Vegas. Plus, it’s faster.
*Moab and Canyonlands are right next to each other, you do not need to change lodging for the two destinations.
*The traffic to get into Arches National Park is bumper to bumper, so start early in the day.
*It will be HOT. Take more water than you think it necessary.
*If you want more or an adventure, there are excellent guide companies who can take you on excursions.
Have the best time, and please send lots of pics!