top of page
  • Writer's pictureNick

The Utah deserts

Monument Valley

One of the things I’ve realised about travelling is that although we travel to visit places, the best part of travelling is the living that you do in-between. Nowhere has this been more so than the Nevada/ Utah desert.

To get to Utah we first had to cross the bottom of Nevada, which meant desert. Miles of it. Hours and hours of it. Straight roads stretching as far as the eye could see, with nothing but a bit of sage bush and rocks. I loved it. Deserts are my favourite environment (self-indulgently whimsical description of deserts deleted) and our first night in Nevada was spent wild camping in said desert with a fire, a glass of whiskey and a fantastic view of the stars.

Wild Camp in Nevada desert

Our route through Utah/ Arizona took us to 6 national Parks: Great Basin, Bryce, Capital Reef, Arches, Canyon Lands, the Grand Canyon and Zion, 2 National Monuments: Grand Staircase Escalante and Monument Valley and a bunch of State Parks. They kind of blur into each other a bit to be honest. Bryce was an absolute stand-out, and despite the temperatures nudging 0 deg (Celsius for our American readers) the geology and views of the hoodoos was beyond superlative.

Bryce Canyon, Utah

As for the other National Parks, they were all enjoyable, but like many of the National Parks we have visited, the experience was somewhat spoilt by the volume of other visitors. Sure we’re glad we went – it would have been disappointing not to have made the effort, but for someone who likes to be on my own in nature, having to share the trails, roads, carparks etc with so many people is just not for me.

Endless road, Nevada

That said, all the spaces in between the National Parks (like our experience in so many other places in the US), were empty of people, just as beautiful, full of adventure and some outstanding wild camping opportunities. It really is the 90:10 rule. 90% of the beauty of National Parks, with 10% of the people. We spent night after night wild camping in various desert environments, and it was magical. We filled our days mostly by driving – in honesty we probably tried to do too much too quickly, but we managed to find time to do some cool hiking, exploring slot canyons and enjoying the Aspen fall colours.

Brenda in Aspen fall colors

The wonderful dirt road through Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, combined with the epic dirt roads of Canyonlands took their toll on Brenda’s rear window, which was hanging on by a thread by the time we got to Moab. We got lucky and found a very good glass man in Moab and we were back underway.

Amy and boys in slot canyon

A final highlight worthy of a mention is meeting a really cool guy called Al who had brought his massive (and I mean MASSIVE) telescope with him from Canada to look at the stars in Utah, which is designated a dark sky area. He spent loads of time chatting with the boys about space, answering their questions and finding them planets to look at. We got to see the moon’s craters in incredible detail, Jupiter’s stripes, Saturn’s rings, and finally he found us the Ring Nebula, a blueish star forming ring countless lightyears away.

As the days turned into weeks and we got deeper into Oct the temperature started to drop (most of Utah is between 1000m – 2000m) until I finally threw a strop and insisted we head back to California, Death valley and some warmth, but not before a quick stop off in Las Vegas. We treated ourselves to an Airbnb which made a nice change from being dusty and dirty all the time. We had a walk along the strip, saw the fountains of the Bellagio, had a wander around New York New York, found the world’s biggest sweetshop (and spent $40 on sweets by accident!) and saw some showgirls. It was also nice to sit in the Airbnb in the evening, drinking a glass of wine and watching a game of American Football.

21 views3 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page