The second Road Adventures Epic Tour was epic to say the least. This 10 day road tour covered 5 states and 10 national and state parks. Covering over 2,000 miles, this was one trip that no one would ever forget.
Chapter 1 Day 1
The epic adventure started off in Henderson, Nevada. Here, we all met up in the parking lot of the hotel to do introductions, go over the trip’s details and help get everyone ready. After a quick drivers meeting, we made our way to Hoover Dam. Once there, we did the customary drive over the dam, getting a picture of the entire group passing by. At the dam, we did the main tour to see the inner workings of this masterpiece of engineering as well as get more history into the area. After Hoover Dam, we headed East to the Grand Canyon, stopping for lunch and fuel mid day. Following lunch, we hit the fun section of Route 66. We twisted and turned our way down Route 66, making a quick stop at the Grand Canyon Caverns, which was the inspiration for the Disney movie Cars. We had planned on touring the caverns, but we had miss out as the tour schedule did not fit our schedule. Heading out, we covered the last section of fun twisty roads before another fuel and restroom stop. The last stop of the day was the Planes of Fame Museum just out side Grand Canyon Village. Here, we were able to see the old Lockheed Constellation that belonged to President Eisenhower, as well as numerous other fascinating historical planes.
Chapter 2 – Day 2
The second day of the tour was spent exploring the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Driving as a group to the park, we found a quiet parking lot and got everyone together. From here, we spread out to make our own way around the trails and sights. Some opted for a long hike, while others preferred to stroll along the rim to the different overlooks. After a day out on the rim, we all up for dinner to share our stories from the day’s adventures. A few of us went back to the park after dinner to watch the sunset, while others turned in for the night.
Chapter 3 – Day 3
Departing early on Day three, we headed for the north side of the Grand Canyon. On our way out of the South Rim Park, we found a pull out and shoe horned all the cars in for a group photo. As we made our way out of the park, we enjoyed several sections of road that allowed us to open up a bit. The entire drive to the Grand Canyon North Rim was filled with spectacular views; view that cannot be put into words. We stopped at the Marble Canyon to stretch our legs and walk across the bridge overlooking Marble Canyon, and then completed the final stretch to the North Rim.
At the Grand Canyon North Rim, the group spent a few hours hiking to the different overlooks. This area of the Grand Canyon offered views that provided perspective to just how deep the canyon is as well as cliff hanging outlooks that made you feel as though you were flying on the edge of the canyon.
The final stop before reaching the overnight hotel in Zion was Moqui Cave. Along with numerous displays of interesting rocks found in the area, we were able to see displays of rocks that naturally glow under black light. Additionally, there were displays of numerous dinosaur bones which had been discovered within the local region. From Moqui Cave, we made the short but fun hop into Zion. The road into Zion was amazing, and the overlooks offered amazing views into the park. One section of the road has you cut through part of the mountain which has naturally made holes, or windows, that offer views into the park. The drive alone was a sight worth seeing.
Chapter 4 – Day 4
The entirety of day 4 was spent at Zion Park. Since we only had a good part of the day here, many of us got out early to hit some of the trails. Most of us made our own way through the park, meeting up with other group member here and there along the way to hike sections of trails. We all had a wonderful time exploring this beautiful park and getting to know one another a little better. In late afternoon we all met back up as a group to caravan to the hotel just outside Bryce Canyon.
Chapter 5 – Day 5
The morning of our day at Bryce Canyon started with clouds rolling in fast. As we made our way into the park we were greeted with heavy rain. We decided to start our tour of Bryce Canyon from the farthest point, and stop to see the sights on our way back out. This worked we for us because by the time we reached the first stop at the far side of the park, the had stopped. This made it possible for everyone to get out of their cars at each overlook and snap some amazing pictures of Bryce Canyon. Some photos were in shade and others had the sun shining down.
Before heading to lunch at the lodge, we stopped at the main overlook for the entire canyon. Many of us were out taking pictures when we heard the thunder in the distance, which was our signal that it was time to leave. Some of us immediately returned to our vehicles, while others of us lingered to get were taking their last photos, a CRACK rang through the park. A lighting bolt had stuck just feet away from the observation point we were standing at. Everyone quickly started scrabbling to get off the ridge and back to the safety of our vehicles. After everyone was safely off the ridge, we began to laugh about our hair raising escape. While that was not a planned event, nor a recommended one, it certainly was an adrenaline rush.
After lunch we stopped at Mossy Cave for a short hike to see this natural feature. We then made the short drive to Kodachrome Basin State Park to do some hiking. On our way there, we found ourselves surrounded by a cattle drive, as the main road to the park is also a path for ranchers to move live stock. Not something most of us get to experience in our daily commute. This cow-lock was brief, but made for some moo-ving stories.
In the park, the majority of us hiked to the top of one of the overlook rocks where we snapped a great group shot. By now it was later in the day so we started to make our way out of the park. Before leaving, however, we wanted to head over to Red Rocks to get some photos of the sights, however the rain clouds rolled back in so we decided to call it a day and headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. On the way, we setup for a great drive by shot of the group passing through one of the arches on the main road.
Chapter 6 – Day 6
The storm of the previous day was still lingering, but as we made our way to our first stop of the day they dissipated and we were greated with clear skies. Our first stop for the day was the Petrified Forest. Since we had a lot of miles to cover today, we only hiked the easy trail, allowing us to view the main area of trees. We then hit the road, making our way to Capitol Reef. We only drove through this park, as it does not offer many trails to explore, and many of the old reef sights can be seen from the comfort of your vehicle.
Following lunch, we made the last long push into Moab. On the way there, one of our drivers experienced a flat tire. Fortunately, this was the only drama we would have on the entire trip. After sorting out the tire issue, we made our way into Moab for a much needed beer. This was our longest drive day of the whole trip, covering more miles than any other day.
Chapter 7 – Day 7
This was another day of exploration. We complete the first few stops as a group, visiting Arches National Park and stopping to see the Balanced Rock. From here we split up, allowing everyone to spend the day however they wished. Some participants completed hikes to see the arches off the main trails, while other kept to the main road. Later in the afternoon, most of us regrouped and drove over to Canyon Lands to check out the vistas in that area.
We all met up that evening for dinner at the local brewery, where we all shared our stories from our day of exploring.
Chapter – Day 8
Day 8 started with a short drive to “Hole in the Rock” and Needles National Park. The “Hole in the Rock” was a cool store carved into the rock face. From here, we made our way to Needles, or the lower part of Canyonlands, to do some hiking. By lunch time, we were all hot and hungry, and ready to make the air conditioned drive to Mesa Verde.
Departing from Needles, we left the desert behind and entered into farm country. We passed through many small towns along the way, and as we drove down main street to our hotel for the night, it felt like we took a step back in time. It looked as though the town had not changed since the 1950s.
Chapter 9 – Day 9
Today’s adventure was to see Mesa Verde National Park. We spent the day seeing numerous Native American villages throughout the park. As we made our way to the main village to schedule a tour, we started to draw a lot of attention. Several of the park rangers asked about our group and the decals on our cars. In fact, one park ranger even asked for a photo with the cars. Many of the other tourists of the park also started noticing us, and at each of the stops we became a park attraction with cameras pointed at us as much as at the sights. Everyone seemed to think it was great we were touring so many parks in the area.
After feeling like celebrities for a moment, we participated in the main tour down to the Cliff Villages to see and learn more about how this group of Native Americans build their villages into the cliff sides. These were amazing to see and well worth the climb.
Day 9 was the last official tour day for everyone. Following our adventures in Mesa Verde, participants started to split off to make their way home.
Chapter 10 – Day 10
For those who were heading home west bound, the optional stops included the Petrified Forest National Park, Painted Desert, Meteor Crater and Wigwam Motel (teepee hotel). About 3/4 of us made this trek back west. Along the way we drove by Four Corners, but the rain came in hard and heavy so we decided not to get out of our cars.
As we drove further west, the rain stopped and the sky turned to blue. It was perfect timing too, as it cleared up just as we reach the Petrified Forest.
Our overnight was in Flagstaff Arizona. Here we gathered for our final group dinner at one of the many local brew houses. We shared our favorite memories from the week and said our good-byes, as the following morning we would break up into smaller groups for our final stretch home.
This was an amazing adventure, and we look forward to doing it again a few years from now. Be sure not miss out on this epic trip next time.