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Trip Report Road trip from Denver to Vegas - Hanging lake, Arches and Bryce

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Thanks to all Fodorians, We had a wonderful road trip from Denver to Las Vegas. As we have already visited zion and grand canyons, we wanted to visit new places this time in southwest. Our journey included Denver-Glenwood Springs-Moab-Bryce-Las Vegas stops….

Day-1: Landed in Denver, rented a large crossover from Alamo at the airport. We wanted to let our bodies adjusted to high altitude, so I planned stop in Glenwood Springs before heading in to Moab, UT. We checked in Cedar grove motel at 2:30PM. At Glenwood springs, we did Hanging lake hike. It’s a ‘challenging’ 3 mile hike, mostly shaded. We started at 3:30PM and noticed many other ppl like starting like us. There are total 7 footbridges and final rocky switchback before beautiful view of the hanging lake. We also found some idiots whom I doubt can read english or had any common sense, as they were swimming in the lake. Sorry, but I can’t tolerate such ppl. That was sad. Overall, I highly recommend this hike.
For diner we headed to Nepal restaurant, that I read so many good reviews. I must say – all those good reviews are true. After such a long day (EWR-DEN flight, DEN-Glenwood spr drive on I-70 & Hanging lake hike), it was good to have some nice food. Being vegetarian, I treated myself with some really good food. Good night sleep at Cedar grove motel where staff was very helpful and welcoming.


Day-2: We started early on I-70 to Utah SR-128 to Moab. We stopped at Fisher towers and couple of places on Colorado river. I was so excited on ‘touching’ Colorado river for the first time after visiting grand canyon 3 times. I dreamed of playing in Colorado ever since I learned about grand canyons.
At Moab, we checked in at Inca Inn, that is a decent motel in Moab. We had reservation for fiery furnace 4PM tour in Arches NP, but we could make it as one of us had sprained ankle at hanging lake hike. So we decided to skip fiery furnace and do it next time, if we ever come back. Rather, we visited park ave., balanced rock and windows section in Arches. Windows is very short hike with rewarding views. Balanced rock is amazing.
Arches NP visitor center had a water bottle refill center, that I liked the most. I wish all national parks would have something like this, and not only water fountains. Visitor center has lots of information about the park and how the arches formed etc. Moab has lots of options for dining. We tried Zax and loved it.


Day 3: We started late (9AM) for devil’s garden hike. We had to cut short our hike till Navajo arch only to avoid heat. But it’s beautiful, specially the landscape arch. The trail is relatively flat till landscape arch, then its interestingly challenging till Navajo arch. The Navajo arch is well shaded and good for a short break. Views from Partition arch is amazing, too.
We returned to Moab in the afternoon and visited Newspaper rock in the afternoon. We also visited hole ‘n the rock, that had some nice displays in the garden. We didn’t do the tour, seems like nothing special for tour. Moab has many rock arts, but the newspaper rock is much bigger with lots of drawings.
We took a 1-2 hour nap and headed to the delicate arch hike. This was a highlight of our trip to Moab. The hike is tough, with periodical shades and the arch itself is really amazing. Sunset at delicate arch is an amazing experience. Carry a torch if you’re planning to stay late. We saw a group of ppl starting at 8:30PM to delicate arch!!


Day 4: I knew that we had very less number of days to cover south Utah. Today, we had to skip early morning trip to canyonlands, and rather we started early to the Bryce canyon. We chose scenic route 12 to Bryce, that passes thru capital reef NP. We stopped at various vista points or scenic views, rock art in capital reef, gooseneck point in capital reef etc. But the best thing I like on our route is – Kiva coffee house. Amazing place with beautiful setting, the coffee house is a must to visit. We had nice soup and other stuff there and enjoyed the views. I can easily spend couple of hours just sitting there with a cup of coffee and relax like nowhere else!
We checked in the Bryce lodge room, that is steps away from the canyon rim. We visited the sunset point, sunrise point and enjoyed the views. My wife like it even more than grand canyon! In the night, we had star gazing event from NPS. I saw couple of galaxies and beautiful Saturn rings. I was amazed by looking at milkyway at midnight.


Day 5: The hoodoos glow in the morning light. The colors are full and the rocks looked charming. We did a morning hike on Navajo-queens loop. We started at sunset point by going down wall st. and arose at sunrise point. I wonder why park services suggest this route in opposite direction! That was a nice 2-3 hour easy hike with beautiful views of hoodoos.


We spent remaining of the time in Bryce before leaving to vegas. The other part of my trip include usual vegas casinos, Disneyland, seaworld and san diego zoo; but I was more excited about this part and various hikes we did (and few that we missed). Our trip was short, action-packed and aggressive. I would plan more days next time and would return for camping.
I would be glad to entertain any question you may have. I’ll post the pics soon. The Colorado plate and canyons are so beautiful that I joked my wife to settle there with couple of donkeys and a farm ;-) I love to return to the southwest.

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