Dylan and I love adventuring together, but there’s something so special about sharing this adventure with loved ones. We have had a few visitors during our van journey, but nothing compares to when my parents came to visit! I love showing them our lifestyle and making them see all the fun we have in the van.
Over the past week, we were able to explore the National Parks and other public lands in Moab. Then, we caravanned through Monument Valley, explored Petrified Forest, and finally we wandered the streets of Santa Fe. We made incredible memories that I will cherish forever.
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Table of Contents
Where We Went When My Parents Came to Visit
Stop #1: Moab, Utah
Moab is an adventurer’s paradise. If you are an outdoor lover, then this is the place to go. They have it all from overlanding on crazy trails to fishing on the river. There’s really no better place to go in a campervan.
Dylan and I drove from the Capitol Reef area to meet my parents in this amazing spot. We spent a couple days working from the library and staying on crowded BLM land before they got to town. Once they arrived, we got to trade in the cramped spaces in the van for luxurious hotel rooms.
We stayed at the Red Cliffs Lodge, which boasted amazing river views, tennis courts, and horseback riding! It was the perfect place to stay as we explored the wonderful sights in Moab.
As soon as my parents arrived, we decided to go on a quick afternoon hike after a stop at the Moab Food Truck Park for a bite to eat. The sun was out and they were ready to stretch their legs. We drove to the trailhead for the Corona Arch trail.
This is one of the most popular trails in the area, so we saw a lot of people and dogs along the way. It was a quick 1.2 mile hike to the Arch (although we did have to use chains to climb up) and we were already in awe. This arch is one of the largest and coolest Arches I’ve seen on my trip through the desert! We were all really happy that we decided to do the hike.
After a long day of travel, we all called it a night and grabbed dinner at the hotel before packing it in. We knew we had to get up early in the morning, so we wanted to be well rested.
Arches National Park
Luckily, we had plans to visit Arches (NP #24) before it started the timed entry system. Although, we wanted to catch the sunrise so we got up at 6 am to drive all the way into the park and straight to the Windows Section. This area is a short walk to multiple arches with stunning views of the colors. Dylan and I were able to climb through one of the Windows to see Turret Arch through it, which is something you have to do if you go!
Once the sun rose, we walked a couple hundred feet over to Double Arch. We had the arches all to ourselves and we had a great time climbing up and catching the views over the park from the other side.
Then, it was time for the biggest hike of the day: the hike to Delicate Arch. When my parents came to visit us, I knew that we had to do this hike. It’s one of my all time favorites, because the Arch is stunning, but so is the backdrop. We took our time to get to the top, but once we got there we spent time enjoying the views and waiting in line for photos. It’s truly something everyone has to do when they go to Arches.
Finally, we went to one last stop in Arches National Park: Landscape Arch. This trail is one of the most scenic in the park. As you pass by crazy views of the Fiery Furnace and the red rocks beyond. Landscape Arch is incredibly long and thin, so it’s wild to see it stretch across the sky. This is my second favorite Arch in the park and if you have time, then you should go to this one too!
Dan Micks Jeep Tour
In the evening, we all wanted to try something new. We decided to schedule a 4WD Jeep tour on one of the craziest trails in the area: Hell’s Revenge. The drive starts in a harrowing manner, as you climb up the mountain on an extremely narrow road where you could easily fall off. Once you make it to the top, the Jeep goes over boulders, climbs straight up rocks, and zig zags through the sand.
Our Jeep driver had done it many times, but it didn’t make it any less scary. I was nervously giggling the entire ride. Once you get to the end of the trail, you head to the Hell’s Revenge shoot. On this part of the drive, the Jeep literally straddles two sides of a ravine and the tires turn out to hold you up. It’s crazy!! If you survive, then you are rewarded with amazing views of the Colorado River and strawberries.
After a long day, my parents, Dylan, and I went to enjoy some delicious Mexican food. We had a great meal and I highly recommend stopping here.
Canyonlands National Park & Dead Horse Point State Park
Our last stops in Moab were at Dead Horse Point State Park & Canyonlands (NP #25). These two parks overlook one of the largest and most incredible canyons in the country. Personally, I think that Dead Horse has better views of the meanders in the canyon. So, I always recommend you stop there to see the panoramas before continuing on to Canyonlands.
We didn’t have much time or energy for Canyonlands, so we kept our visit there short and quick. There are four areas of the park, but we went to the most popular one: Island in the Sky. When we were there, we did the scenic drive and then completed the short mile long Mesa Arch trail. We loved seeing the views of the canyon through the Arch and my dad wanted us to stop at every single viewpoint on the drive!
Stop #2: Monument Valley
The following morning, we started our journey out of Moab. We took the scenic drive to Monument Valley stopping along the way at some of the most beautiful stops: Wilson’s Arch, Goosenecks State Park, Forrest Gump Point, and Mexican Hat. You can read more about that drive here!
My favorite stop, however, was in Valley of the Gods. This formidable rock formation is a sight to behold. People compare the area to a smaller Monument Valley, but I thought this deserved its own accolades. If you are a camper, then you can camp all around the valley on free BLM land!
Finally, we made it to Monument Valley, one of the craziest rock formations in the entire US. While we were there, we stayed at the View hotel to get amazing views of the rocks at both sunrise and sunset. Also, we took a Navajo led tour of the area to learn about these areas owned by the Navajo people. I enjoyed the tour, but it ran a little long and I got tired by the end.
Also, the Navajo people are very strict about COVID. Because of this, many of the restaurants and shops in the area were closed. We were barely able to find food and the food at the hotel was not great. We decided to just do a grocery store picnic one night in our hotel room, which turned out very fun!
Stop #3: Petrified Forest National Park
After a couple days in Monument Valley, we drove further into Arizona. We visited Canyon de Chelly, which was an incredible sight to see. It is home to cliff dwellings and you can learn about the ancient indigeonous people who used to live in the area.
That same afternoon we went to Petrified Forest National Park (NP #26). This national park is one of the few with very strict opening and closing times. Because we got there late in the afternoon, we only had time to do a couple things before leaving. Even still, we thought this park was incredible and the landscape was super unique.
My family really enjoyed the Blue Mesa trail and if you only have time for one thing in the park, then this should be it! On this trail, you get to see wild rock formations and tons of petrified wood along the way! It’s such a great way to see the park and get up close to the wood pieces.
Stop #4: Santa Fe, NM
Our final stop on my parents visit was Santa Fe. We stayed for a few days in this lovely artsy city. It is such an interesting city to explore, because it has a quiet feel, but there are plenty of things to do when you are there.
Some of the best things we did were walk around town and shop, visited the Meow Wolf display, wandered down Canyon Road to visit art galleries, and ate delicious meals. We had an amazing time and I definitely want to go back to Santa Fe, because it was such an inviting town.
During our time there, we stayed at the Anasazi hotel. This is one of the nicest places I have ever stayed with thoughtful touches and a very accommodating staff. Every single night, they left cookies at our bedside table with a story to read that night. They also had amazing food in the kitchen.
Finally, our last stops on the trip was to visit Bandelier National Monument and Black Rock hot springs. We went on a day trip from Santa Fe to visit these two incredible areas. Bandelier is home to cliff dwellings that you are allowed to climb in, which is very cool and you can learn all about them in the trail guide. Then, we drove further to dip into free natural hot springs, which was a relaxing way to end the trip.
Overall, we had the very best time when my parents came to visit. It was nice to escape the small confines of the van for a little and explore new things. We also went on a variety of tours and saw amazing natural landscapes. I couldn’t have asked for a better week with better company!
Where We Stayed:
- Red Cliffs Lodge
- The View Hotel
- Airbnb in Holbrook
- The Anasazi Santa Fe
Let me know if you enjoyed this van chronicle in the comments!
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