Arizona’s capital and most populated city, Phoenix is home to more than 1.6 million people. The Phoenix metropolitan area is also known as the Valley of the Sun and is a part of the Salt River Valley. With a hot desert climate, the city has very hot summers and relatively mild winters and boasts the most sunshine of any major city on Earth.
Whether residing in the city or driving through, one will find plenty of things to do. Sports fans can watch the Arizona Diamondbacks, a major league baseball team that calls Phoenix home, the Arizona Cardinals of the National Football League and the Phoenix Suns of the National Basketball Association.
Phoenix has a myriad of ways to spend time outdoors, from hiking to visiting the desert botanical garden where you can view 50,000 plants. During the peak summer heat indoor options like the Heard Museum, one of the top museums in the country for American Indian Art, are perfect to visit while keeping cool.
As you make your way to Salt Lake City you will encounter diverse landscape and unique places to explore. The fun won’t end upon arriving in Salt Lake City, which is surrounded by mountains to explore and a host of cultural activities in which to engage. And of course, you can check out the Great Salt Lake!
After all of the adventure you have had thus far, it is a perfect time for a relaxing soak in a hot spring! Fortunately, Meadow Hot Springs is around two hours from Bryce Canyon National Park and an ideal next stop on your road trip. Located on private property just south of Filmore, Meadow Hot Springs has three soaking areas with water that is clear and deep (20 plus feet to the bottom) and at a temperature of about 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The pool is in the middle of a pasture and is accessible year-round, with a short hike of about a half mile from your car.
Since the springs are located on private property, be sure to obey the signs that are posted, be respectful and pack out what you bring in. Your canine companions are welcome to join you!
Upon leaving Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, you are less than an hour and a half from Bryce Canyon National Park. Known for its red rock hoodoos, which are large rock formations that were created by water and wind over millions of years of freezes and subsequent thaws. The park also includes numerous natural amphitheaters. At an elevation of 8000-9000 feet, this natural wonder can be explored year-round, whether by hiking, horseback riding, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.
During your visit, plan to enjoy activities during daylight or nighttime hours. The incredibly dark skies are perfect for viewing stars and the Park offers astronomy programs in which to participate, along with full moon hikes where you can view the hoodoos lit by the moon. A variety of trails are available for those looking to get close up to the hoodoo, like the Navajo Trail to Queens Garden, an amazing three-mile hike.
About an hour and a half from Lake Powell is the Coral Pink Dunes State Park, which features sand dunes of a coral color next to red sandstone cliffs. Formed from the erosion of the pink Navajo Sandstone found around the park, the dunes shift regularly by winds, moving a much as 50 feet each year. Visitors can explore the dunes on foot and bring along a sled to slide down them. The Park has areas to drive off-road vehicles; in fact, about 90% of the dunes are open to ATV riding. Visitors can also plan to camp within the Park.
It is believed that the dunes, which support a myriad of insects, are between 10,000 and 15,000 years old. One particular insect to keep an eye out for is the Coral Pink tiger beetle, that is found only in the Coral Pink Dunes State Park.
Located on the borders of Arizona and Utah, Lake Powell is a reservoir that is located on the Colorado River and is a popular place for vacation, with about two million visitors annually. When it comes to water capacity, Lake Powell is one of the largest man-made reservoirs in the United States. While the Lake is a water storage facility, it is also perfect for outdoor recreation like boating, fishing, waterskiing, and jet-skiing, with opportunities for hiking in the surrounding Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. There are marinas with campgrounds as well as rentals of watercraft including houseboats, and camping is allowed within the area’s canyons.
Summer months in the area can be very hot, with average temperatures in July at 98 degrees, making a dip in the cool waters of the lake an amazing experience!
About a two hour and ten minute drive from Phoenix is the unique city of Sedona, where rock formations of reds, oranges, and pinks rise from the desert, creating a natural, visual masterpiece. In addition to excellent dining and shopping options, the city is surrounded by 1.8 million acres of national forest, ensuring that visitors have plenty of outdoor opportunities just minutes away.
One place outdoor enthusiasts will want to check out is Slide Rock State Park. The Park was originally the Pendley Homestead, an apple farm on 43 acres in Oak Creek Canyon. Today, the State Park is visited by locals and tourists who can enjoy the creek, take a slide down a rock for which the creek is named, enjoy a swim to cool off, and even jump off a cliff into the deeper sections of the creek. The park is a perfect place for a picnic, where visitors can take in the beauty of the area.
From Meadow Hot Springs, you are just a few hours from your destination of Salt Lake City. Upon your arrival, you will find plenty of things to see and do within the city, both indoors and outside.
If you are looking for something to do indoors, check out the family history library, which is a library research facility that has the largest on-site collection of genealogical data in the world.
Check out the Redwood Drive-In Movie Theater and enjoy the experience of watching a movie from your vehicle. Red Butte Garden, the largest botanical garden in the Intermountain West, will offer the opportunity to explore 21 acres of gardens with five miles of trails, classes and Monday Family Nights that feature music and dance performances. While in Salt Lake City, check out the Great Salt Lake, where you can kayak, paddleboard, pedal boat or sail. The Bonneville Salt Flats are another outdoor attraction in the city, with one of the world’s most unique landscapes. The Salt Flats are made of hard white salt crust and extend as far as you can see. During your visit, consider checking out the Timpanogos Cave. A National Monument, you can access the cave system and view its unique formations by exploring a 1.5-mile paved trail that is considered strenuous.
You will find plenty of opportunities for camping in and just outside the city, whether spending the night in your RV or a tent. With plenty to do, Salt Lake City is an excellent destination, regardless of your particular interests.