I worked for 15 years for the U.S. Forest Service on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and spent almost every weekend exploring the wonders of the American Southwest. My last trip was in the summer of 2017, to check and verify each recommendation in this book.
This guide book is the second in a series called the "Best of the Southwest", and it is divided into two parts, featuring a 7-day and a 14-day trip out of the hub city of Salt Lake City, Utah. It covers a rather loosely defined geographical area of Eastern Utah that I call Canyonlands, and I will unlock the secrets of this magical part of America. Your journey will take you to wondrous places with exotic names: Flaming Gorge; Dinosaur National Monument; The Wedge and Buckhorn Wash area of the San Rafael River; Arches National Park; Moab; Canyonlands National Park; the Abajo and Manti-LaSal Mountains; unique Mormon towns like Monticello, Blanding, and Bluff; the San Juan River and Mexican Hat; the Goosenecks; the Moki Dugway; Muley Twist; Cedar Mesa and Grand Gulch; Natural Bridges and the infamous Bears Ears; White Canyon; the weird crossroads town of Hanksville and the spooky ghost town of Hite on the dried up shores of Lake Powell; Goblin Valley; Capitol Reef; Fish Lake; the volcanic hills of the Koosharem Valley; the techno-towns of Provo and Orem; and then back to the grand Temple in Salt Lake City.
I am going to show you the best places to shop, buy your liquor and supplies, where to stay for the night or even camp if you like to rough it, the best hikes and entertaining cultural attractions, and the best places to eat. I will take all of the guesswork out of your exciting and fun trip to the Southwest.
The Best of the Southwest series gives you very few choices. I lived in the Southwest and explored the Canyonlands for fifteen years. I know it like the back of my hand. I know the best places to eat, stay, visit, and hike. And if you were doing the trip with me, we would follow my itinerary to the letter. That's why you paid for the book: to find out the best things to do and how to do them in a logical way, given the limited time you will be vacationing.
Rather than give you a list of restaurants in each town organized by cuisine and price, I tell you where I would eat. And instead of listing all the hikes in a park organized by their difficulty and length, I steer you to the best hikes. Hotels are always a subjective and budgetary consideration. I don't spend a lot of time in the hotel. I sleep there and then leave and maybe use the pool. So, I don't need luxury. You might feel different about that, and that's fine.
I have provided handy URL links to each attraction listed in this book, so you can find additional information and get the up-to-date prices and conditions. But please keep in mind that the links were created in 2017. Links die. Businesses close. The Southwest is fluid and always changing. So, before you leave on your trip, you should check the links to make sure they are still valid, and if they aren't, make a note of the new ones.
The seven days and fourteen days trips are not identical. In most respects they are quite different. For instance, the first four days of the longer trip cover a vast area that will not be visited by those doing the shorter trip. But some of the days do mirror one another (Arches, Canyonlands - Island in the Sky, Little Wild Horse Slot Canyon, and some of Capitol Reef), so there is some unavoidable repetition.
As an added bonus, I am going to fill in your days with many helpful "Insider Tips" that will give you information about the places you visit that few people know about.
And I will also show you how the save your hard-earned money!
So, just load this trusty guide onto your smartphone or iPad, follow my handy dandy directions, and the Canyonlands will come alive beyond your wildest dreams.