This is my first solo backpacking adventure where I enjoyed myself a lot, got to know what my strengths are and met new people along the journey. I flew to Salt Lake City from San Francisco during October. It was a 3 day solo backpacking adventure covering 990 miles and 3 National parks ( Bryce Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands )
Day 1: Bryce Canyon National Park, Sunset Point
Bryce canyon national park is a 270 mile drive from Salt Lake City. I reserved an enterprise rental car from Salt Lake city at a discounted rate using Costco membership. I started my day driving off to Bryce canyon at 7 AM in the morning from the airport. The entrance fee is around $30 which is valid for a week. If you plan to visit couple of other national parks in Utah make sure you save that receipt which can be used in any of the national parks to get the waiver on National Parks Annual Membership. I intended to visit Arches and few other national parks this year so I bought an Annual membership at Arches National park for an additional $50 instead of paying $80, since I already paid $30 at Bryce Canyon. Makes Sense? at least to me. A word of caution though, never lose the pass, they do not track your id to issue a new one. I reached Bryce in the afternoon and reserved a camp ground in Sunset Campground. I started my hike to Navajo trail and Sunset trails from Bryce Point. It was a pretty moderate 3 mile hike. Since I was flying, I did not take my tent stuff and I car camped that night. It was so cold at Bryce. Use good layers to protect yourself from cold and to have good sleep.
Day 2: Sunrise at Bryce Canyon, Sunset at Arches National Park
Woke up early in the morning at 5.30 AM for Sunrise hike at Bryce canyon. I found a fellow solo traveler from Israel whose name is Tomer bachar, who is on a family Vacation visiting Bryce for the first time. We both paired up as a team and started out for sunrise hike down to Sunrise point, Queens garden trail to circle back to Navajo trail. I really enjoyed the sunrise at Bryce Canyon and a worth moment to cherish for. There are showers and food court near the Bryce Visitor and flexible shuttle services inside the park for visitors.
After our Sunrise hike, we shared our email addresses and departed from Bryce Canyon to Arches National Park. Arches is about 250 miles down from Bryce Canyon national park. you will enjoy the drive way to Arches. There are lot of marked View points on the way to Arches, so make sure you take some time and capture the landscapes. I reached around 2 PM, took the Map and Best view point suggestions from the help desk and started my moderate – semi difficult hike to Delicate Arch which is one of the Utah prime landscape. A word of caution there will not be any water or food courts in Arches, so you need to stack up water and food if any from Moab before going to Arches national park. Moab is so close to Arches and is around ~-5-7 miles from Arches.
I did not book any camp ground in Arches, since it was already full. But, I did book a Deluxe tent site rental down in Moab at Canyonlands RV Resort and Campground (555 S Main St., Moab, 84532, UT, US Phone: +14352596848), which has wifi and showers with a complimentary cookies for the visitors for $45 from hotwires.com. I wanted to stay cheap and get the feel of campgrounds more than staying overnight in a hotel.
Day 3: Sunrise at Arches National Park, Sunset at Canyonlands
I started my morning journey back to Arches National park from Moab Cabin to get glimpses of the sunrise. It was worth the effort. There are lot of driveway Arch view points in Arches national park and the entire park itself is a visual treat. After capturing a few snaps of the sunrise, I visited the Double Arch view point which is a 0.2 mile hike down in the park. Map from the visitor center is the best guide to cover the view points as per your timeline.
There are few easy hikes which are accessible by road side like Sand Dune Arch, Balanced Rock Arch and less than 2 miles hikes like Landscape Arch in the Park. I was really amazed by the rock formations and its accessibility to the visitors.
My last stop was to cover Canyonlands National park in the mid afternoon and Dead horse point state park for sunset. However there were some cloud covers which interrupted the sunset watching at Mesa Arch. Canyonlands is a 45-50 mile driveway from Arches National Park. There are several view points in Canyonlands which are accessible by road and require easy hiking for view point like Mesa Arch. You can plan accordingly based on the recommendations from the help desk personal at Canyonlands visitor center. I did cover the Mesa Arch, Green River overlooks in Canyonlands.
Dead horse state park is on the way back to Arches and it has a separate park entrance fees which is around $10 payable through cash or check after hours.
I visited the state park before starting back to Salt Lake city. I had to drive all the way back from CanyonLands to Salt Lake city which is a 245 mile drive in the heavy rain. Lucky that it started raining as soon as i left the Dead Horse state park and on my way to salt lake city. So rain hasn’t ruined my trip and i am glad that i could cover as much as i can by travelling solo in the Martian world.