After we eloped in Las Vegas last year, we took what I called a "minimoon" to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks in Utah. March was a little early beach-weather-wise to do our full-fledged honeymoon to Croatia, but I wanted to do something after the "wedding" itself before heading back to the dreary Michigan weather we had left behind.
As it turns out, Vegas is actually a pretty good jumping off point to get to a bunch of amazing locations—including Utah's "Mighty Five" National Parks. Because we were only able to tackle 2 of the 5 on the minimoon, when it came time to plan our first-anniversary trip, I had my sights set on hitting the ones we missed the first time around.
As an "outdoorsy-ish" person, I do enjoy camping, but if I'm being honest..."glamping" is where it's at. Our first glamping experience was at Garden Village in Slovenia last year and it was so perfect for a couple of "nature bums" like ourselves that it's become our new thing.
Once we decided that Moab would be our central location for this trip, a little Googling led us to Under Canvas Moab. For those who follow me on IG, let me just say that my posts weren't any sort of exaggerated version of reality: this place is legit.
Under Canvas Moab
If you haven't glamped before, the basic gist of it is that you're at a campground, in a tent, but it's a fancy tent...with a bed...and if you're lucky...a bathroom. At Under Canvas Moab our tent even had a wood-burning stove, which was amazing because in early-March the temperature dropped down to the mid-30s at night and we would have been freezing without it.
Our tent also featured a little platform porch with deck chairs that faced out to the desert and gave us a perfect view of the sunrise—which we were actually up for one morning, a first for two people who often sleep until 10 or 11 on the weekend. 😬
Under Canvas has some great amenities too: an outdoor fire pit with s'more-making materials, a community tent with couches, complimentary coffee, tea, and water, the option to order healthy breakfasts and lunches to have delivered, and on-site staff 24/7 to help with anything that might come up. Oh, and there's also daily housekeeping (I know what you're thinking hardcore campers, don't judge). I love that they're located a little bit outside of town too so we were able to feel immersed in nature but still only have to drive 15 minutes to get to Arches.
All in all, it was pretty awesome and we would 100% stay there again. I recommend glamping and Under Canvas in particular to anyone who likes to moderately rough-it (ha!) and experience something a little cooler than run-of-the-mill hotel chains.
They have a few locations aside from the one in Moab too (I'm coming for you Glacier and Great Smokey Mountains), check it out on their main site: Under Canvas
Canyonlands National Park & Dead Horse Point State Park
- About 45 minutes from Moab, I looooved Canyonlands National Park. The crowds were minimal and we were able to hike far enough in that we could actually be alone in nature in complete silence. Ahhh, the NP dream...
- We explored the Island in the Sky area of the park (which I found to be aptly named) and my favorite trails were Grand View Point (stunning panoramic views the entire time with perfect rocks to picnic on) and Upheaval Dome (totally worth it to hike past the first overlook and onto the second. We parked it on a rock in the middle and took a nap in the sun, it was perfect).
- Dead Horse Point State Park is right on the drive back to Moab from Canyonlands so it's definitely worth a stop. You'll probably recognize the view from Dead Horse Point Overlook, apparently it's one of the most photographed scenic vistas in the world.
- Sidenote: The Visitor Center and facilities are way nicer at Dead Horse than at Canyonlands. The more you know 😉
Arches National Park & Corona Arch
- If Arches was as crowded as it was in March, I can't imagine what it's like in the summertime. There was definitely much less "alone in nature" time here, but it was stunning nonetheless. I truthfully loved driving through almost as much as hiking too, so if it's a billion degrees when you go, it's worth the entrance fee just for the scenic drive.
- We did a few hikes in Arches and Delicate Arch and Landscape Arch were the most memorable to me. The Delicate Arch hike was tougher than I was anticipating (uphill in direct sunlight for the majority of it) but it's pretty special when you get to the end and round the bend to see that iconic arch (it's the one on Utah's license plate) all by its lonesome with the La Sal Mountains behind it.
- We had wanted to hit Capitol Reef National Park on this trip too but the timing was going to be a little tight. We had time for one more quick hike though so we drove out to Corona Arch in Moab and it was great. Barely anyone else was on the trail and there were arches galore.
- If you're looking to take home a souvenir, the Arches NP gift shop actually has some really cool stuff. We got a t-shirt and a hat with an awesome woodblock design by a local artist.
- Sidenote: I found out the hard way that there is indeed poison ivy in the desert. Don't touch the plants! And Google it before you go so you can identify it, they look a little different than the plants we're used to up north.
And if glamping isn't for you and neither are strip-mall hotels in seedy towns (sorry Moab), we spent the night of our anniversary at the Red Cliffs Lodge in Moab (view from our room pictured below) and it was lovely. It's far enough out of town that it feels remote, the restaurant was actually surprisingly good with red rock views from every table and Cactustinis (🌵🍸) on the menu, and there's a winery on-site, bonus! The hot tub under the stars was necessary too after a few long days of hiking.
Headed out to Utah and want even more tips then I put in this blog post? Hit me up! I love nothing more than traveling...and talking about traveling...so I'm more than happy to chat 😀