I never wanted to take a minimoon. Most people who have taken them rave, but I didn’t think it was for me. I was pretty dead set on truly kicking off our marriage right after our wedding, but thanks to a bunch of factors, mostly the time of year we were getting married, we ended up taking a minimoon. And it was truly one of the best choices we made during wedding planning.
Once we decided to put off a honeymoon, it took away a lot of planning stress, and allowed us to focus on the wedding first, and the adventure later. Since Andrew and I are more of adventure travelers, and had been so busy with wedding planning, jobs, and life, we decided we wanted a relaxing, lounging, casual minimoon. So of course we decided that exploring the Utah National/State Parks would be just that. #sarcasm.
We couldn’t think of another time we could squeeze in this road trip, so we stuffed the car, drove for hours, slept in the middle of no where, rarely had service, woke up at 6 AM every day and hiked for hours and hours. It was the exact opposite of what we wanted in a mini moon, and it was absolutely perfect.
The first two parks we went to were Dead Horse Point and Canyonslands. Both beautiful, both I don’t need to go back to. They are located in Moab, which is where Arches is, so I am glad we saw them, but next time I will focus on more activities in the area, 4-wheelers, paddle board, etc. than going into those two parks. If you do find yourself in Moab, which is very worth it just for Arches, I would skip Dead Horse and Canyons and do an activity instead.
Trying to get the remote to work under Broken Arch
Arches National Park:
- Stayed: Moab Under Canvas
- Ate: Moab Diner, Love Muffin Cafe, Quesadilla Mobilla
- Hiked: Delicate Arch, Broken Arch, Sand Dune Arch Trail
If glamping and diner food doesn’t scream honeymood to you, I am not sure what does. I had very big hesitations about staying at Moab Under Canvas, but was proven very wrong. If you get the chance, stay there, or at any of the “Under Canvas” locations.
We very much embraced the post wedding bod diet and ate at diners almost every meal. The Moab Diner is everything you would expect at a diner, I would go back again, and recommend it if you find yourself in Moab.
The best advice we got regarding Arches, was to arrive right when the park “opens” (7 AM) and drive to the far end of the park, and work your way to the front. It is the opposite of what most people do, and worked well for us. I would add though, do the Delicate Arch trail first, or before noon.
The Delicate Arch trail isn’t bad difficulty wise, but there is almost no shade, zero water, and at one point you are just climbing up the side of a rock face, with no trail. It isn’t extraneous, but it you are very exposed to the elements. Plus the line to take a photo under the arch gets long. It is very worth the wait for the photo, and a great reason to take a break and eat.
Also worth mentioning, you are still in Utah, and their liquor laws still apply.
After Moab/Arches we drove to Bryce. Which quickly made it’s way to the top of my favorite National Parks. The hoodoos are the weirdest, most amazing natural phenomena I have seen. We hiked a couple trails, both around the edge, and down in the canyon.
We very much utilized the bus, we parked at the visitors lodge and then hopped on the bus which took us to trail heads, lunch, and shops. It was much easier than worrying about driving/parking and the drivers shared a lot of history and information about the park we would have missed.
And what would a minimoon be with out dinner at a diner. We ate at Galaxy Diner outside of town and then headed 20 minutes to another town, to grab a bottle of wine at the only liquor store within 50 miles, thanks Utah.
From the top of Angels Landing
The zig zag trail up to Angels Landing
This line to the top of Angels Landing is the reason I sat and ate a sanwhich while Andrew hiked up.
Hiking the the pools
Zion’s National Park:
Zion’s was our last stop, and rivals Bryce for my favorite park. Zion and Bryce are so different that they should not even be compared.
While most of the Utah Parks are difficult to get to, Zion is relatively close to the 15 freeway, how we drive to and from Utah, so I had been before with my mom. Zion is much cooler than my teenage self remembers.
Having been before I could have taken or left Angels Landing, the hike I really wanted to do was The Narrows. I checked on the hikes status daily prior to actually getting to Zion’s and it remained closed, thanks to a great snow season. Turns out at 8 AM the morning we got there, they opened the hike. We didn’t realize until we were already on the bus, next to many people in waders. We had to skip it, but it is top on my to-hike list (and the only).
The first hike we ended up doing was Angels Landing. During this trip I learned that apparently I am not a fan of massive drop offs. Heights I am okay with, but it is the very very massive, no change to bounce down, drop offs I do not like. And I like them even less with crowds.
When I hike Angels Landing the first time with my mom, I didn’t even think twice about the trail. I was much tougher. We also happened to go in November when there weren’t many people around, it even snowed at the top. But this time, when there were so many people and lines to hike up the tiniest path, I couldn’t do it (see 2 photos up). Andrew ended up going, and it was the most anxiety filled hour while he hiked up and back. All that being said, it is very safe, I would just advise going very very early.
After Angels Landing, we hiked the river trail, the weeping trail, and to both of the pools.
We ate at the lodge, and couldn’t leave without getting the giant soft serve.
If you are looking to do a National Parks trip, I cannot recommend Utah more. The 5 big parks are unique and have something for each kind of traveler. It was the worst idea for a loungy minimoon, but the best way to start a marriage.