Road Tripping to Zion National Park


Last May, my husband and I took a two night trip to Zion National Park in Utah. I waited to post about it until now since it gets so hot there in the summer, plus the fact that it gets booked up and crowded when our nation’s families are all on summer break. Now, it’s fall, and a cooler camping season would be an ideal time to visit (before it gets too cold).

Zion Park42 web
One of many amazing views in Zion National Park

As we all know by now, the global COVID-19 pandemic has affected travel in every way. Please refer to local ordinances in the country, state, or city, and look up the website of the museum, tour, restaurant, or hotel you are considering visiting.

The Drive

We left San Diego on a Friday morning, which we almost always try to do—getting out of Southern California on a Friday after 2pm is a recipe for traffic. By leaving early, I mean really early, we didn’t hit any traffic and were in Las Vegas by lunchtime. After getting over the hump we cruised on into Zion National Park right before dinner and set up our camp while it was still light out, and even had time to do the Watchman hike before the sun went down.

I recommend anyone leaving the Southern California area to make sure they are through the Inland Empire before 2pm since rush hour gears up early on Fridays.

The photo below shows the total hours for a round trip drive including a loop containing Bryce Canyon.

San Diego to Utah

Making Stops

You might remember that we were able to make a brief stop at Seven Magic Mountains before brunch at Makers & Finders (which I HIGHLY recommend), in the artsy part of Vegas closer to Fremont Street. Having a delicious hipster brunch after being in the car for five or six hours really perked up my spirits in the way that a McDonald’s drive-thru could never do. I felt fortified for the home stretch to Zion.

Seven Magic Mountains15_web

I normally think of myself as one who “loves” road trips and the tradition of stopping to see things off the beaten path (anyone remember the movie Elizabethtown?). The reality couldn’t be farther from the truth. Once I get in the car, I am focused on my destination and arriving there as early as possible. That said, stopping at Seven Magic Mountains took conscious effort, and was more in line with the ideal version of myself. So, I am really happy I made it happen.

Road Trip Snacks

I know I just talked about brunch a second ago, but what is any long-haul drive without snacks? We’re talking 18 hours in the car round-trip. My preferred road trip fare of choice is:

  • Twizzlers
  • Sour Patch Kids
  • Cheez-Its/Goldfish
  • Oreos
  • Red Bull (but only on the way home)

I try not to keep a lot of junk food around the house normally, but on road trips I give myself leeway to graze on the perfect combination of sweet, salty, and sour.

Junk food web
“It doesn’t matter how old you are; buying snacks for a road trip should always look like an unsupervised 9-year-old was given twenty dollars.”

Check out my posts on Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon.

What are your road trip rituals? Certain snacks? Do you stop at roadside attractions?

Photos by Staci Jackson for The Voyageer. Map pulled from Google. 


2 comments on “Road Tripping to Zion National Park”

  1. I’m the same as you – I like getting point A to B as fast as possible. But, it is good to stop and check out sights along the way 🙂 Helps break up the trip as well.

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