Happy Holiday season!
As you may have recently seen on my Instagram, I celebrated my birthday in Utah!
It was an INCREDIBLE trip to say the least and I can't wait to go back!
Yes, I'm already planning a trip back there because there are so many other trails I didn't have a chance to do such as The Narrows, Emerald Pools, etc.
Also, if you're looking for a budget friendly trip this is it. Fortunately, it doesn't cost much to be out in nature! 😜
Keep reading to find out where we went, where we stayed, what we ate, etc!
Oh and I highly recommend creating an Itinerary before going on any trip. It helps keep you on track! I usually do my Itinerary on a Word document and since this was a road trip I added driving times on mine so we would know how much time it would be in between destinations. My friends really appreciated my planning skills, trust me it will make everyone happy! LOL
Okay let's get into the trip.
We flew into Salt Lake City from LAX. ✈️
Price: Flight tickets were $120 per person including luggage.
Once we got to SLC we picked up our rental Jeep from the airport. We picked it up on a Friday and turned it in that following Tuesday.
Price: It was $742 for Jeep rental, but if you split it with a few friends it's a lot more affordable.
You could also rent a different car at a lower price but I am obsessed with Jeeps, it's my dream car! So I had to have my Jeep Wrangler for this trip, it was one of the highlights of my trip... getting to experience the Jeep life.
Where we stayed in SLC:
That first night, we stayed at the SpringHill Suites by Mariott.
I highly recommend this hotel if you're staying in SLC. The location is great if you're looking to stay near downtown. It was also really clean, the room was spacious, and the bathroom was surprisingly really nice (not your ordinary hotel bathroom- suite vibes). They also had complimentary breakfast, however due to COVID they gave you a bagged breakfast rather than the typical buffet. Our bagged breakfast included some fruit, a granola bar, a juice, and a pastry. Better than nothing right?
Price: $92 for one night.
Bonneville Salt flats
This is the largest salt flat on the west of the Great Salt Lake. It's also known as a speedway. There are a couple of motorcar racing events that happen there yearly. People race cars, trucks, and motorcycles there. Others (like us) go there to take the Jeep off-roading and to take photos lol.
It was a gorgeous view, the white salt flats with the surrounding mountains and the sunrise! If you go in the Winter after it rains, the salt flats look like a lake of water and you could get some really awesome photos!
Price: $0, it's public land and free to enter!
For reference, this was about a 3hr 40 min drive from SLC to Bonneville Salt Flats Speedway.
We did the Sunset trail! We started at Sunset Point and ended at Sunrise point. Depending on what time of day you get there (sunrise or sunset) is where you should start. It was such a beautiful hike and there was snow on the canyon which made it look like a winter wonderland but with a lot of orange, yellow, red and pink hues. Along the trail you will see hoodoos of different shapes and sizes, including the one known as Thor's Hammer (picture below). It's all so breathtaking!
Price: There is a $35 entrance fee into the park.
Where we stayed in Bryce Canyon:
This night we stayed at the Bryce Canyon Pines lodge.
Price: $80 per night
This lodge was fine in our opinion, especially if you're just looking for a place to sleep. It was a decent price and about 15 min from the park. However, we did eat at their restaurant and it was not good. The wait was almost 2 hours long and the food/wine was not good. We ordered steaks and wine (Utah wine). Don't recommend either honestly- not from that restaurant. We were originally planning on going to Stone Hearth Grille which had great reviews but when we got there they were closed (no signs were posted and their voicemail did not state they would be closed that day either)- ugh! lol. If you are in the area, you may want to check it out though, it did look nice!
Coral Pink Sand Dunes state Park
Omg this was so much fun! highly recommend stopping by the dunes. We rented sand boards and sleds and it was such a blast. You can also rent ATVs if you don't want to sand board or sled. There's no time limit on the equipment you rent so you can basically sand board all day if you wanted to. We were actually supposed to do a hike in Zion after the dunes but we ended up being so sore from hiking up and down the sand dunes that we decided not to. We were going to do The Narrows but it will just have to wait for the next trip to Zion. 🤗
For anyone wondering whether sand boarding is hard... it is! I actually thought it was harder than snowboarding. The sand board kept getting stuck in the sand, we had to constantly wax the board but even then it would get stuck. Nonetheless it was such a blast and it made me want to go snowboarding asap (brb booking a trip to the snow). I recommend also getting the sled, that one just slides down all the way and you will go really fast! So fun!
Price: There is $10 entrance fee to the park and it costs $25 to rent a sand board or sled.
Since we didn't go to the Narrows after the dunes, we decided to have a nice lunch and get some drinks.
We had lunch at the Rocking V Cafe. Their pasta was really good and I enjoyed some celebratory IPAs. Oh and dessert was pretty delicious too!
Where we stayed in Zion:
This was the most expensive stays on my Itinerary. Since everything else was affordable, I wanted our last night's stay to be at a really cool place (treat yourself). Lol This is what you would call glamping- glamorous camping-(for those that don't know)!
There are 3 options for you at this resort. You can stay in a Tree House, a Yurt, or a Tiny House. I chose the Treehouse because I've always wanted a treehouse lol. It was really nice! It had an outside patio overlooking the mountains. In the bedroom upstairs, there was a large glass window across the bed so you can see the sunrise over the mountains when you're waking up. There was also a window above the bed so you can see the stars (we couldn't see stars through it, it was too dark). Also outside of our treehouse, was a fire pit and picnic table. It was all really nice, I would definitely go back there again.
On the resort they also had a jacuzzi and pool (which we had all to ourselves). We definitely took advantage of that and continued the party in the jacuzzi before starting a bonfire back at the treehouse. The skies were so clear at night, it was perfect for stargazing. ✨
Price: $321.94 for one night
For reference, we stayed at Treehouse 10.
Zion National Park
We decided to hike to Angel's Landing and it was the most exhilarating hike I've ever done and certainly not the last. It is 1,488 ft high above the canyon and to get to the top you have to hold on to chains. It's a very steep climb and there's only one way up and down so there are people going up and down at the same time. You have to be very careful because if a group is coming down at the same time there may not be room for both to use the chains to hold onto. You have to be courteous of others for everyone's safety so if you see a group going up or down and you find a safe place to stop, let them pass because it gets scary when you have nothing to hold onto. The drop-offs on both sides of the rock are scary steep. Hiking shoes are definitely recommended! I know it sounds scary and it was but trust me you can do it! There were children doing Angel's Landing lol plus the views at the top were worth it! However, if you are afraid of heights or are out of shape, I wouldn't recommend you climb all the way to the top of Angel's Landing. There is a place you can stop at before you get to the chains which is where a lot of people stopped at and rested or ate their snacks. If you're going to do this hike I think Fall or Spring time would be the best. Personally, it would be too hot for me in the summer, and in the winter the rocks will be slippery because of the rain and snow.
Price: $35 entrance fee to the park and $1 shuttle pass to the trails
*FYI you should take a screenshot of your shuttle pass because once you get to the trails you lose signal and the rangers refuse to let anyone back on the shuttle if you don't show your pass on the way back.
What an unforgettable trip that was. I'm so happy I had the chance to visit Utah for my birthday.
I knew I wanted to do something different this year. Last year, I spent my birthday in Nashville and that was an amazing time. However, I really wanted to do something more low-key and outdoors.
With everything going on in the world, I really wanted to step away from reality, distance myself from crowds of people, and connect with nature. I invited a few of my close friends whom had also not been to Utah and thought it would be a great experience for us all. It was a great choice! I love adventure!
For more Utah content, including videos- check out my Utah highlights on Instagram.