Utah National Parks Road Trip + Southwest Road Trip
It has always been my dream to take my family on an RV road trip and enjoy the beauty of the United States. We travel internationally so often that it is easy to forget that there is so much to see in the USA.
The Mom Trotter
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When the opportunity came up for me to plan our RV road trip, I was very excited. I immediately started looking up the best road trip destinations what the best place to explore keeping in mind that we only had 10 days total.
After a long search, I decided that I wanted us to do a combined Utah National Parks Road Trip and a Southwest Road Trip and I was so excited about planning our RV road trip.
This USA road trip will include some time in California as well as visiting Utah, Nevada and Arizona. When I mapped everything out, I was happy to learn that it would be busy but doable in 10 days.
Renting an RV For Our RV Road Trip
I searched several sites and ultimately decided to rent our RV on Outdoorsy. Outdoorsy is similar to Airbnb, except with RV rentals. The Outdoorsy website allows you to rent RV’s from the owner’s themselves.
If you’re looking to rent an RV, this is the best route to go. You can use this link for $50 off your RV Rental.
How To Rent An RV On Outdoorsy
We rented our RV on Outdoorsy and it was a very easy and seamless process.
Search for any RV by choosing a pickup location (where will your adventure start?) and entering the pick up date and drop off date.
Customize your search by selecting how many people you need the RV to sleep, price and vehicle type. You can also customize your search by looking for RV’s that include delivery as well as have the instabook option. Instabook just means being able to book the RV without prior approval from the owner.
Once you find the RV you want, send a message to the RV owner with any questions you may have such as does the RV rental come with sheets, pots and pans? Make sure to ask if they have all the essentials you’ll need. The RV we rented didn’t have any, so it took us several hours to gather the items we needed and then load the RV. If you are starting your RV trip away from home, it is very important that the RV include every single thing you need.
Once you have talked to the owner and agreed to everything, the owner will then approve your booking which gives you the green light to reserve the RV and pay the deposit.
Once everything is clear, you can go ahead and pick up your RV or the owner can deliver it to you. Whatever you agree on.
What Was The Weather Like?
Our RV trip included 4 states total; California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona. Utah was the coldest of all the places and it even snowed during our trip. Driving the RV in the snow was a bit scary so we took our time and drove very slowly.
California, Nevada and Arizona were cold however the weather was milder and manageable. The mornings and evenings were the coldest.
If I had to do it again, I would go on an RV road trip in the winter in Florida as I know it’ll be much warmer for sure, or even places like California and Arizona that don’t have extreme cold weather.
Planning An RV Road Trip
I spent weeks watching YouTube videos, reading blogs about RV trips and researching everything we needed to know about RV’s and going on an RV trip.
I booked an RV on Outdoorsy and asked all the necessary questions to make sure we had everything we needed.
I packed enough clothes in packing cubes for 10 days keeping in mind that we may not have time to do laundry during this trip.
I wrote down all the sites that I wanted us to visit.
I researched RV parks, but I did not book any ahead of time because I wasn’t sure where we would end up on each day. I had a loose itinerary meaning all the stops I wanted us to make were noted, however where we were going to sleep was left blank. This worked well in our favor, however it is recommended to book busy RV Parks ahead of time especially during the holidays as they fill up very quickly.
We loaded up the RV and took us to explore with our family!
Things To Note When Planning An RV Road Trip
You have to pay to enter every RV park so make sure you purchase a National Parks Pass at the first National Park you visit. It cost $80. It is valid for a whole year. I purchased one last year when we visited Yosemite National Park, Sequoia National Park and Death valley National park.
The National Parks Pass does not apply to state parks. You will need to pay a separate fee to enter which cost between $10 to $20 per vehicle, so keep that in mind. They usually take card or cash.
When you get to an RV park late at night when the front desk is closed, you will find a board at the entry that lists all the open RV spots and the cost.
Each spot will have an envelope which contains a map, Wi-Fi information and all the details you need to do. All you need to do is pick an RV parking spot, grab the corresponding envelope and go park there. In the morning when the office opens, you can go in and pay.
Utah National Parks Road Trip Itinerary + Southwest Road Trip Itinerary
This road trip was a mix of both a Utah National Parks road trip and Southwest road trip because we road tripped through the American southwest and visited all the National Parks in Utah.
Below is a detailed day by day itinerary which includes what we did on each day, where we drove from and to as well as the distance, drive time and RV park we stayed at.
State abbreviations to note:
Utah – UT
Nevada – NV
Arizona – AZ
California – CA
Utah National Parks Road Trip + Southwest Road Trip – DAY 0
When booking our RV from Outdoorsy, I asked the RV owner if he offered drop off and pickup, and he agreed to do so for $100 extra.
I also asked him if he would be kind enough to drop off the RV the night before so that we could load it up at no extra charge, and he agreed. Yay!
This was perfect because we spent all evening packing and loading up the RV. This helped tremendously, especially as we had to load the RV with all our clothes, and food and essentials that we would need for our Southwest RV road trip.
Utah National Parks Road Trip + Southwest Road Trip – DAY 1
Finishing loading up RV and hit the road
Los Angeles, CA to Lake Mead RV Village – Boulder City, NV
Distance / Drive Time – 289.6 miles / 4.5 to 5 Hours
We woke up very early this morning and quickly loaded up the RV with the last things we needed as well as all our bikes. It took a little longer than we expected, and we ended up leaving the house a little later than I hoped.
The kids were so excited to be in the RV. They looked out of the window eagerly, played some car games, did some school work and when it got dark, they were able to use their tablets to keep them busy.
Lake Mead National Recreational Area, NV
We got to Lake Mead RV Village pretty late at night. We found the board that listed which RV sites were still available. We grabbed an envelope that included a map, Wi-Fi password and whatever important things we needed to know.
We then drove to the RV spot we picked and parked. My husband hooked up the RV and we were ready to have dinner and enjoy our first night in the RV. We were all so excited.
Utah National Parks Road Trip + Southwest Road Trip – DAY 2
On our 2nd day, we woke up bright and early and excited about the day ahead. My husband and I had coffee while the kids played outside.
It was so beautiful to see them play games, run around and just have a good time overall.
Valley Of Fire State Park, NV
After breakfast, we got ready and off we went to Valley of Fire State Park. We’ve been here before with the kids and they love it. It is one of my favorite state parks to visit. The kids love climbing the rocks and exploring.
We spent most of the afternoon here with the kids just having a great time. Then we went back to the RV had a snack, and off we drove to Zion River River in Utah.
The kids were excited when we announced to them on the drive that we had made it into Utah. This was our 2nd time in Utah, the first time was when we all went skiing at Deer Valley Resort.
Utah National Parks Road Trip + Southwest Road Trip – DAY 3
The kids enjoyed waffles and sausage for breakfast this morning. I love that I captured this photo of them so happy and excited to be having breakfast together in the RV.
Zion National Park, UT
We visited Zion National Park today. Zion National Park was just a short drive from our RV resort which was perfect.
When we got to Zion National Park, we met up with Arika at Zion Adventure Photog for our photoshoot. She took some amazing photos of us, and I highly recommend using her services if you ever visit Zion National Park.
After our photoshoot, we grabbed our bikes and enjoyed the most beautiful scenic ride through the park on the Pa’rus Trail. Zion National Park is one of the most beautiful National Parks I have ever been to. I was so in awe! It exceeded my expectations.
After our bike ride, we took our bikes back to the RV and walked to the shuttle stop so we could ride the shuttle to see some other parts of the park.
Unfortunately it was already getting dark so we didn’t get to do this. The shuttle ride is about 45 minutes into the park and it would have been pitch black by the time we got there.
The kids were excited to see wildlife such as deer all over the park!
After a full day at Zion National Park, we drove back to Zion River RV Park to spend the night. That night we enjoyed a yummy barbeque dinner and s’mores for dessert. We wanted to eat outside but it as so cold, so we had dinner inside the RV.
Utah National Parks Road Trip + Southwest Road Trip – DAY 4
We woke up this morning to SNOW. The kids ran out in their pajamas and played in the snow for a little bit. After breakfast, we were on our way to Bryce Canyon National Park.
Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
By the time we got to Bryce Canyon National Park, it was completely covered in snow. We were not able to hike the trails we wanted to, so we walked to the scenic look and hiked a much shorter trail.
The kids didn’t mind the snow at all, and played in it for a while. I wish I had packed their snow gear so that they could play for longer. We drove to Sunset Point and enjoyed the scenic views from there.
Overall, we enjoyed our time at Bryce Canyon National Park.
We drove almost two hours from Bryce Canyon National Park to Fremont RV River Park.
Utah National Parks Road Trip + Southwest Road Trip – DAY 5
We spent the day at Arches National Park visiting different trails as well as enjoying the scenic drive. The kids loved Balanced Rock Loop Trail and Windows Loop Trail.
Arches Lane National Park has a very scenic drive, and we could see the beautiful rocks as we drove through in our RV. We drove up to each trail we wanted to hike, parked our RV, hopped out and explored.
After spending the day at Arches National Park, we drove to Monument Valley Utah and spent the night at Monument Valley KOA.
Utah National Parks Road Trip + Southwest Road Trip – DAY 7
The kids enjoyed playing in the morning at the Monument Valley KOA before we started our day.
Monument Valley, UT
We visited Monument Valley today which is located on an Indian Reservation. RV’s are not allowed to do the scenic drive, so we booked a tour that morning from the Monument Valley KOA front desk.
It is recommended to book this tour ahead of time during busy season or else it is usually sold out. We booked a 2.hr guided tour which took us through the back end of this Navajo land and included a visit to a local tour with Monument Valley Tribal Tours and paid $275.60 total for all 6 of us. Our guide was a local who grew up in the area and was very knowledgeable. He picked us up from our RV park and took us on the tour. We also had to pay an additional $20 to enter the park.
Our tour guide took us through the park and showed us the beauty of it. He was so nice and answered every question the kids asked him. We also visited a Hogan (traditional Navajo hut) and learned how rugs are weaved and how the Navajo people lived.
Forrest Gump Point, UT
Because it was dark the night before when we drove to Monument Valley KOA and we didn’t get a chance to see Forrest Gump point, we decided to head back to see it before leaving Monument.
If you aren’t familiar with Forrest Gump Point, it is the famous spot where Forrest Gump ended his cross country run. This spot is very popular and you can’t miss it as you’ll meet a bunch of people taking photos in the middle of the road.
By the way, if you haven’t watched the movie Forrest Gump, I suggest that you do, you’ll enjoy it. It was released in 1994 and the highest grossing movie that year winning several awards.
After we stopped at Forrest Gump Point for our photo, we drove straight to Page Lake Powell Campground in Page, Arizona on our Southwest RV road trip.
Utah National Parks Road Trip + Southwest Road Trip – DAY 8
On the 8th day of our Southwest RV road trip, we visited Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend.
Antelope Canyon, AZ
Just like Monument Valley, the only way to visit and explore Antelope Canyon is through a tour. There are two types of tours offered, a tour of Upper Canyon and another of Lower Canyon. I booked the Lower Canyon Tour through Ken’s Tours and it cost us $100 for all 6 of us. Initially, I meant to book Upper Antelope Canyon and I was sure that I did., but when we got there, I realized that I had booked Lower Antelope Canyon instead.
Honestly, I was a bit bummed, but once we got in there, I was in AWE. I did not book Lower Antelope Canyon by mistake, we were meant to see it and explore it while on our Southwest RV road trip.
Most people book Upper Antelope Canyon, but from what I can tell, they are both just as beautiful. The difference is, Upper Antelope Canyon is wider at the bottom and Lower Antelope Canyon isn’t.
If you have limited mobility, you’ll definitely have a harder time navigating Lower Antelope Canyon so you may want to head to Upper Antelope Canyon instead.
Our tour guide was great and took some really amazing photos of us, we made sure to tip him very well at the end of the tour.
Horseshoe Bend, AZ
After our tour of Lower Antelope Canyon, we drove about 20 minutes to Horseshoe Bend. Horseshoe Bend is the most famous bend in a river in the world. It is located in Page, Arizona and the Colorado river runs through it, the same river that carved out the Grand Canyon.
Horseshoe bend was one of the places I was excited to see on this trip. Seeing it in person vs seeing all the photos online makes a huge difference.
It costs $10 per passenger vehicle to get in, RV included. We parked our RV in the parking lot and walked about 20 minutes +/- each way. Horeshoebend gets very crowded around sunset, so keep that in mind when you go.
There are many safe spots to take photos at Horseshoe Bend, make sure to find them before calling the entire family to get into the photo. Some places are Not safe! Make sure not to put your family at risk for a photo.
After spending the evening at Horseshoe Bend, we drove to Trailer Village RV Park in Grand Canyon Village Arizona. It was so cold and snowy when we got to Grand Canyon Village that night.
Utah National Parks Road Trip + Southwest Road Trip – DAY 9
Trailer Village RV Park – Grand Canyon Village, AZ to Grand Canyon National Park Visitor Center, AZ
Distance / Drive Time – 1.8 miles / 8 mins
Grand Canyon National Park Visitor Center to Joshua Tree Lake RV – Joshua Tree, CA
Distance / Drive Time – 382.1 miles / 6 hrs 3 mins
Joshua Tree Lake RV & Campground – Joshua Tree, CA
RV Park Cost – $65
When we woke up that morning the kids were excited to see that it had snowed the night before and played in the snow all morning.
Grand Canyon, AZ
After we got ready, we drove to the Grand Canyon Visitor Center. The Grand Canyon is Huge; and there is a North Rim and South Rim which are hours away from each other. Most people visit the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
At the visitor center, the kids were excited to grab their Jr. Ranger books. The visitor center is also a great place to plan your trip. It is impossible to see everything in one day, so the rangers at the visitors center can help you plan your day so that you maximize your time there.
Once we figured out the places we wanted to visit, we started off by watching the 30 minute on the Grand Canyon, and all we could say was WOW! The Grand Canyon is amazing in every way possible and definitely a top must visit.
We then walked to the shuttle bus stop, and took it to see a few of the lookouts. The kids worked on their Jr, Ranger books as well. They finished it in time to be sworn in and they were so excited to get their Jr. Ranger badges.
After we left the Grand Canyon, we drove to Joshua Tree Lake RV & Campground. This was the longest drive yet and it took so long. I wish we had broken this drive down but we were already on our 9th day with only one day left, so we had to drive straight to California.
If we had more time, we would have visited Sedona, Arizona. I had it on my list but we had to skip it.
Utah National Parks Road Trip + Southwest Road Trip – DAY 10
Joshua Tree Lake RV – Joshua Tree, CA to Joshua Tree National Park, Twentynine Palms, CA
Distance / Drive Time – 20 miles / 34 mins
Joshua Tree National Park, Twentynine Palms to Los Angeles, CA
Distance / Drive Time – 134 miles / 2hrs 20 mins
On our last day, we woke up and spent a relaxed morning.
Joshua Tree National Park, CA
After we got ready, we visited Joshua Tree National Park, one of our family’s favorite National Park to visit in California as it is the closest one to our home.
We drove through the scenic route and made a few stops at different viewpoints, and then finally stopped to hike Hidden Valley Trail which is very kid friendly.
After we left Joshua Tree National Park, we drove home, as that was the end of our RV trip. We were excited to be home but also very sad that our 1- day RV road trip had come to an end.
We really enjoyed this RV road trip as a family. If I had to do it again, I would extend this trip for another 10 days and spend at least 2 to 3 nights at each National Park to ensure that we could thoroughly explore it.
This family RV trip was a success, and we can’t wait to go on another RV road trip soon!
What Did We Eat During Our RV Road Trip
A few days before our RV trip, I cooked several meals that I knew would take too long to cook while we were in the RV and froze them. This helped tremendously and cut down the amount of time I spent cooking in the kitchen.
Below is a quick list of some of the meals we ate while on our RV Trip:
We loved this RV trip so much we are already planning our next one. This time we plan to take it slow and spend more time relaxing and enjoying the outdoors. Maybe even head to an RV park by the beach.
The possibilities are endless!
This post is sponsored by GoRving, however all opinions are mine.
The Mom Trotter
The Mom Trotter
My name is Karen, and I a mom, wife, aunt and the face behind The MOM Trotter. My goal is to inspire and encourage families to find a balance between parenting, educating their kids and traveling the world with kids. I am also the founder of Black Kids Do Travel which is an organization created to bring about diversity in travel and bridge the gap. Click HERE to read more ...