Our Southwest road trip honeymoon: logistics
Where we went
Denver (2 nights) → day trip in Aspen → Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park, and Arches National Park (3 nights) → Zion National Park (2 nights) → quick stop at Horseshoe Bend → Flagstaff and day trip to Sedona (2 nights) → Grand Canyon National Park - South Rim (1 night) → quick stop at Hoover Dam → Las Vegas (1 night) → Joshua Tree and day trip to Palm Springs (2 nights) → Los Angeles (3 nights)
Where we stayed
Ritz Carlton, Denver
Island in the Sky campground, inside Canyonlands National Park (near Moab)
Zion Canyon campground, outside Zion National Park
Little America Hotel, Flagstaff
Ten-X campground in the Kaibab forest, outside Grand Canyon National Park
The Wynn, Las Vegas
The Joshua Tree Casita, outside the town of Joshua Tree
Airbnb in West Hollywood, Los Angeles
How we did it
We flew from Rochester to Denver (where we rented an SUV to drive the entire route). We checked several bags (which we packed separately according to purpose: camping or city), including our tent, sleeping bags, and just a few other camping supplies. We shopped for most of our camping supplies, though, at REI (and Wal Mart) in Denver. Then, when we arrived in Moab, Utah, to begin the camping portion of the trip, we grocery shopped for a schedule of meals we wanted to cook while camping. Every couple of days thereafter we'd refill our cooler with ice from random convenience stores, and we'd occasionally need another snack or two (I ate my weight in beef jerky, one of my very favorite foods). Our car became an absurd mess of suitcases, duffel bags, clothes, and supplies (while staying in a tent, we were basically living out of the back of the SUV).
The only reservations we booked in advance were at our hotel in Denver, the campground outside Zion National Park, the Joshua Tree Casita, and the Airbnb in Los Angeles (as a planner, I definitely wanted to book more of our trip, but it wasn't possible due to most of the campgrounds being rentable on a first-come, first-served basis only). In that sense, our pace from stop to stop was directed by three main things: the reservations we had in place, the fact that we had to try to get to certain campgrounds early in the morning to secure a campsite, and a desire to break up the driving somewhat sensibly (our daily drives averaged about 3-5 hours). Therefore, our basic route was planned out ahead of time, but we had a bit of flexibility in the middle of the trip (which ended up being great—we were able to add Horseshoe Bend, Flagstaff, and Sedona on a whim, as well as a night in Vegas).
When we knew the camping part of our trip was definitely over, we shipped all of our camping gear home from Los Angeles in our cooler and a large bin that we had purchased (we tried to calculate the cost of checking more bags at the airport versus what it would cost at FedEx, and we went with the latter). And we flew home to Rochester from Los Angeles.
And still to come...
what we loved most, what we'd do differently, what surprised us, our tips and advice, our camping essentials, and of course photos of many of our favorite spots