Four States in Four Days
May 23: fly Lax to Salt Lake City, rent a car
May 24: Salt Lake City, Sun Dance Valley
May 25: Arches National Park, Moab, drive to Four Corners Monument
May 26: Four Corners Monument, Mexican Hat , Monument Valley, Horseshoe Bend, drive to Sedona
May 27: Sedona, drive back to California
It’s no secret I suffer from serious wanderlust. Without fail, I start to slowly wither away if I don’t travel somewhere (ANYWHERE) once every quarter of the year. After completing my trip to Singapore and Bali for the 2017-2018 New Year, I made a promise to myself to explore my own country the way I explore so many others. I traveled the coasts extensively and want to explore the rest of the states splattered across our vast continent. I made a mental list of states I should visit and I decided I should focus on the main landmarks of our nation. Admittedly I have never been to the Grand Canyon, and by the end of this blog you’re going to figure out that I still have never been to the Grand Canyon 😀 I came REALLY close, but I was all canyon-ed out and decided nothing was going to beat Horseshoe Bend anyway!
I don’t want to bore my readers since, like me, you want to know the details immediately. Before my trip, I scoured the internet in hopes of finding someone else as crazy as me to jam-pack so many cities and adventures into four days, let alone Memorial Day weekend. I found some good blogs, but no one was as crazy. So, ladies and gentlemen, here is the blog you have been searching for!
Important tips: Pack a lot of snacks and water, and top off your car with gas at nearly every gas station you see because there are LONG stretches on the road with food, water or gas. You’re going to be using either the AC or the heater and you want to make sure you have enough gas on the road.
A nerdy FYI: if you travel the same dates I did, you will be able to enjoy Venus and Jupiter in the night sky. They were like two beacons welcoming us every night.
Honestly, we never felt rushed or crammed with activities- everything was perfect! I will state from the start that we totally winged most of this, and since we were traveling Memorial Day weekend we went prepared to sleep in the car. It was a good thing since all hotels/motels were booked! We found some dark, cozy streets to sleep at and it was totally safe. It was only 2 nights of sleeping in the car, so it really isn’t bad. But if you’re traveling for longer, I highly recommend getting a room because it does start wearing on you after a while (showers are nice, too). I stayed at a family member’s home in SLC, so we saved some money there, too.
Day 1- Salt Lake City
I’ve traveled to SLC several times and I never grow tired of Utah. It’s clean, beautiful and friendly! Their idea of traffic is so adorable and makes me smile every time. Come to Los Angeles and I’ll show you what traffic is really like! Anyway, we explored downtown SLC, discovered a cool little brewery (fun fact: the only way you can legally order alcohol in Utah is if you order food first. Also fun fact: alcohol in Utah is weaker. Gotta love Utah!
We ate at the famous Red Iguana Restaurant
This meal was $10!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It easily fed the both of us.
Drove to Sundance Valley and had a great time! It was my second time at Sundance and my first time taking the lift up to the top. At first when I heard it was $20, my stingy inner voice started to complain, but then I learned it was a 1 hour lift ride and it really was worth it!
Day 2- Arches National Park, Moab, drive to Four Corners Monument
Arches National Park is about a 3.5 hour drive from SLC. The plan was to wake up at 530 am and make it to the park before 10am, but plans don’t always pan out and we ended up heading out at 730am and arriving around 11am. The entrance fee was $25 for the car. I highly recommend you travel with a camel back for water. The park offers cold water at the entrance (via water fountain) and you will want to have as much water as possible!!!!!!!! We thought the park would be way more packed since it was Memorial Day, but we were pleasantly surprised to find the opposite to be true. We kept getting lucky on the trip by just barely missing high traffic on the roads and influx of crowds in the areas we would visit. There is a lot to see at Arches National Park. I was being a whiny baby because it was 95 degrees without a cloud in the sky and hiking to Delicate Arch just wasn’t tempting. We first went to the view point but were disappointed at the distance so I finally caved and hiked to Delicate Arch. Not going to lie, I was miserable the first half. I don’t have to wonder what Mars or Hell are like- I already walked through both worlds and lived to tell the tale. Definitely pack a hat and lots of sunscreen! With that said, the hike was totally worth it. If you’re sharing the trip with a special someone like I did, the experience will take your relationship to a higher level.
Tips: There is an overlook you can climb up to right before you take the last turn before making it to Delicate Arch. It’s a little dangerous due to the winds, but you get a fantastic view of Delicate Arch and a valley/crater near it. Please do be careful out there, the wind gusts are insane!
After hiking Delicate Arch we roamed around the park a bit to see other red rocks and then hit the road around 3pm. We ate at a delicious Thai place in Moab (warning, their spicy is thai spicy and not white man spicy) and then hit the road towards Four Corners Monument in Colorado/Arizona/Utah/New Mexico. The drive was really pretty- the geography kept changing and we really enjoyed the sunset on the drive.
The “Welcome to Colorful Colorado” sign was much nicer from Utah- Colorado then the Arizona-Colorado.
Tip: There’s a casino in Navajo Nation you can spend the night at. They also have free drinks and coffee near the bathroom 🙂 We opted to sleep in the car again and found a cozy area far enough from the road to keep us safe from night traffic. The roads are SUPER dark and there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING around you once you make it to Four Corners. This is why you should pack snacks in the car in case you get hungry
Day 3: Four Corners Monument, Mexican Hat, Monument Valley, Horseshoe Bend, drive to Sedona
Four Corners Monument is the only place in the nation where you can stand in four states-Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah-at the same time. The monument also marks the boundary between two semi-autonomous Native American governments, the Navajo Nation, which maintains the monument as a tourist attraction, and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe Reservation. The monument is gated and opens at 8 am every day. There is a $5 entry fee to enter the monument. The Navajo and Ute have tables surrounding the monument, selling trinkets and making small conversation with visitors.
I recommend going early morning, as soon as the monument opens, to avoid crowds and to be able to take the perfect photos. We got there right when it opened and there were barely 10 people there but by the time we left the line had doubled. You also want to get there early enough (or at noon) so that the sun isn’t casting shadows. Have lots of fun with photos!
From Four Corners Monument we had an end goal to reach Sedona. Our next stop was Mexican Hat (about two hours away), mainly because my boyfriend is Mexican. The drive to Mexican Hat was easy but very, VERY desolate. Again, stop at any and every gas station and top off your tank. Buy water and snacks because Navajo Nation lacks your typical eateries (or any, really). Bathrooms aren’t that common either so be prepared to take a pee on the side of the road from time to time. Keep an eye out for the “Welcome to _________” signs to add to your photo collection! Arizona was the most disappointing one… Get with the program!
Back off ladies, this stud is mine 😉
From Mexican Hat we went to Monument Valley . Don’t stop where you see ALL tourists stop for photos. Keep going 3 to 4 view points down for better photos. If you wait just a bit for traffic to disappear, you get to take photos like these:
From Monument Valley we drove to Horseshoe Bend (about 2.5 hours). We somehow kept missing all the lines everywhere we went. We got to Horseshoe Bend around 5pm and it wasn’t overly crowded. Please be careful when taking photos. There are no rails to protect you from falling and there are random gusts of wind that are super strong! Horseshoe Bend is as amazing in person as it is in photos. Tip: take a selfie stick (we didn’t).
From Horseshoe Bend we had about a 3 hour drive to Sedona. It was a pretty drive but we missed most of the gorgeous views of the national park since we drove through it at night. We also almost hit a deer!!!!!!!!!!! On our way to Sedona we stopped at one of the dinosaur graveyards. Dinosaur graveyard in the middle of the 89 highway ! Let by the #navajo , we were educated about pterodactyl, t-rex (I’m sitting in a t Rex footprint!!!), dilofosoraus and tricerotops! There were preserved eggs and poop! You can see the skulls clearly. It’s amazing how something from millions of years ago lies right under our noses and in our backyards 😍 Jurassic park was inspired by this area since it’s where they discovered the first dilofosauraus
Day 4: Sedona and back to Los Angeles, CA
Sedona reminded me a lot of Palm Springs, CA, except more poshy. It has a very eclectic vibe and uptown Sedona is dense with New Age shops, spas and art galleries. I went specifically to visit Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park
A stupa is considered to be the living presence of the Buddha and as such represents the Mind of Enlightenment. It really was very spiritual! While walking around the grounds, I stumbled across a group doing a yoga retreat and I overheard the yogi say “You don’t just come to Sedona. Sedona calls you to it. You might not know why immediately, but one day, you’ll look back and say “that’s why!” I know my reason 😉 do you know yours? While visiting the Stupa I highly recommend making peace with your demons. Close your eyes, ask questions and wait for the signs!
Once we were done with the Stupa, we decided to drive back to Los Angeles a day early to beat Memorial Day traffic. We got to LA in under 8 hours and didn’t hit a single patch of traffic 🙂
Fun fact: there is a @mcdonalds with BLUE logos! When McDonald’s was thinking about opening a branch in Sedona, they were confronted by the strict regulations of the area concerning the local scenery. The city simply did not want to ruin its picturesque desert views with a bright yellow M. To get round this, the company came up with the idea of changing the color of the logo. now this McDonald’s is a hot tourist spot for photos!
I hope this inspires you to take adventurous road trips and to believe you can do so much in just 4 days!!! Did you enjoy the photos and/or the blog? Leave a comment below!
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Follow Wayfarer Sempre on instagram! : https://www.instagram.com/wayfarer_sempre/ (he took all photos of me during our trip)