Planning for the Southwest National Parks Trip


Last fall, we got the word that there would be a wedding in the family.  Jon’s cousin was getting married in Marina del Rey, just outside of Los Angeles.  Now, if you have been following this blog, you probably know that after several trips to California, I wasn’t very excited about going to California again.  So, as generally happens with our trips, a plan was hatched.

We originally looked at doing a multi-stop itinerary – flying into a city in the Southwest, renting a car one way, and then flying back out of Los Angeles. However, we had to modify that plan when we learned that the one way car rental was going to be almost $1200!  What?  We considered driving from Washington – but who has the time for that?  So, instead, we decided to fly in a couple of weeks early, rent a car and make a loop of the Southwest, then return to Los Angeles for the wedding at the end of the trip.  It didn’t take too long to figure out that we wanted to visit some of the amazing National Parks in the area.

So the planning began.  Jon told me that his must-do’s were Zion National Park, Chaco Culture National Historical Park, Mesa Verde National Park and Santa Fe.  So, that is four states for the trip already…  Of course, he decides all this without ever having looked at distances or driving directions.  So I set to work planning a loop that would head to all these places – already it is a pretty big loop!

Once I was finished planning the loop, we would be spending 12 days visiting Zion National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Arches National Park, Mesa Verde National Park, the Four Corners, Chaco Culture National Historical Park, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Petrified Forest National Park and Grand Canyon National Park, before having us back in Marina del Rey for the wedding.  Six National Parks, 1 National Historical Park, and a couple of wonderful historic cities.  Wow!

Almost as memorable as the places we would be seeing were the ones we would have to skip.  I would have loved to visit the two other National Parks in Utah – Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef.  I would have loved to stay longer in Zion and Arches and done more of the hikes – or maybe rented bikes and tried ziplining.  I would have loved to see Hovenweep, Yucca House, Aztec Ruins, Bandelier, Fort Union, and Canyon de Chelly National Monuments.  I would have liked to be able to stay a few days in several places and take in more of the restaurants and the towns.  The list could go on and on…

These states are big country, and there is no way to do it all when you have less than two weeks.  But we were going to try to make a dent!  We could rest when we got home – priorities!

 

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6 thoughts on “Planning for the Southwest National Parks Trip

    • I don’t know about that! 🙂 Jon and I just started talking about the National Parks in the area, and that set the idea in motion. Once the plan was hatched, it is just the work of planning the route and the stops. Admittedly not my favorite part – but it ends up being worth it when you see the fruits of your planning labors!

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