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We’ve only just recovered from last weekend’s trip to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park so the only logical thing to do is travel even more!

For this July’s summer vacay we researched prices on several of our top to-do list places (mostly Alaska and Iceland for this time of year) but eventually decided to take a mini road trip around the national parks in the United States. We’ve been trying to visit as many of the parks featured on the America the Beautiful Quarters series by the U.S. Mint, so we planned out a prospective route that will take us through three new parks (Great Sand Dunes, Arches, Great Basin) and one repeat (Yosemite).


Aside from the ridiculously long first leg (we plan to sleep once we get to New Mexico at who knows what hour of the night), the rest of the trip should be a nice tour through Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada and California. A quick Google maps calculation puts the base mileage/driving time of our trip at 2,493 mi, 45 hours. If we take away that first brutal leg of getting out of Texas (8 hours to Clayton, NM) then it leaves us with a much more manageable 2,006 mi, 36 hours of driving spread over the remaining 15 days of our trip. Good enough.

We have a few things planned right now, but as always we’ll probably make some of it up as we go along.


  • Great Sand Dunes National Park (sand dunes)
  • Mesa Verde National Park (ruins of cliff dwellings)


  • Arches National Park (arch formations)
  • Canyonlands National Park (canyons, I assume)
  • maybe Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park — we pass through on the way to Page, AZ, the question is how much we’ll stop since we saw it in 2009 (although it was snowing in 2009… and we found sheep)


  • Horseshoe Bend
  • maybe Antelope Canyon or The Wave — both are sort of tricksy restricted areas and you need to get first-come first-serve permits or pay for tours or whatever. We’ll see what happens.

Utah, round 2

  • Bryce Canyon National Park (cool canyons and red rock formations)


  • Great Basin National Park (no idea, really)


  • Mono Lake — We stopped here in 2009 and I’ve always wanted to return. Travis doesn’t understand why.
  • Yosemite National Park – despite visiting Yosemite on three separate occasions, we still haven’t been there when the Tioga Pass & Glacier Road were open. They better be open this time.
  • Paso Robles (our favorite wine country)
  • Maybe visit friends 🙂

So yea, there’s our basic two week agenda — we’ll see how it goes. For the record, here’s what we did in our 4 month journey in 2009:


Road Trip 2009
4 years ago today we were in Vancouver, BC. We had sushi and japadogs and wandered around the Canada Day celebrations.

Hmm… this is fun…

5 years ago today we were whitewater rafting along the Rio Toro in Costa Rica.
3 years ago today we were busily prepping for our July 4th backyard wedding in California.
1 year ago today we were wandering the Akihabara (秋葉原) district of Tokyo in the rain.

Prev Yellowstone: Evening #2
Next Day 1 & 2: Trip Commence & Great Sand Dunes NP

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