Virtual Vacation – Going Out West

I have tried and failed to go on a trip with friends this year. I know, this year is not the year to go anywhere except the grocery store, work, and home. But I still long for the excitement of going on an adventure and exploring new places. The only exploration I’ve been on is discovering new coffee creamers or seasonal ice cream flavors. Don’t get me wrong, I love my ice cream, but planning and researching destinations, making itineraries, and looking up fun activities get the endorphins pumping. 

So, I did just that. I made an itinerary for a trip to the Grand Canyon to keep in my back pocket for when I get the chance to travel again. Why the Grand Canyon? Its a bucket list place to visit, it’s landscape makes it an ideal road trip destination, and there are so many sights to see in a small(ish) area. 

This nine-day trip starts with a bang in Las Vegas!

Day 1-2

There are several Airbnbs in the area I would consider for a few nights. However, I would prefer staying on the strip for easy access to the sights and sounds of Sin City. I want to be able to drunkenly walk off the strip and into my hotel, slip a $20 in the slot machine and grab a nightcap without a care in the world. Centrally located on the strip are the Bellagio, Caesars Palace, and the Venetian. All three hotels have over 80,000 reviews most of which are five stars. They have it all; outdoor pools, spa, tons of dining options, casinos (duh, its vegas), and live shows. I would like to spend my time taking in the sights, maybe catch a show, and most definitely eat until I felt sick at a buffet. After all, I’ll need to make up for my lost dollars somehow, why not eat my losses in food.  

Photo by Cameron Rainey

Day 3-4

I’ll try not to party too hard, day three will start early! First things first, go pick up the RV. Just like the shrinking silhouette of the Las Vegas skyline; so are the five-star amenities from the hotel stay. For the next six days, this RV will be home. After the resort on wheels is secured, the next stop is the grocery store to stock up on food and supplies for the week, and then off to the red sands and arid desert for the adventure to begin. 


Just outside of Las Vegas is the Hoover Dam. I can’t miss an opportunity to take the dam tour and take all the dam pictures I want (name that movie). I’ve planed for 1-2 hours at the Hoover Dam; then get back out on the road towards the Grand Canyon Nation Park. There are plenty of RV campsites to choose from in this area. So, depending on rates and availability I’ll pick one and call it home for a few days. 

Photo by Josh Sorenson

The next day (day 4) should be dedicated to seeing the sights, whether it’s by land or by air. There are multiple helicopter tours and hiking trails available in the area so it’s going to be difficult to pick just one. But I suspect they will all have spectacular views.

Day 5-7 

Time to move camp. Pack up the RV, (which I’m sure I’ve named by now; Gloria, or Bessie, something along those lines) and move to Vermilion Cliffs. I will be making a few stops along the way. First in Flagstaff, to refuel and grab more food/supplies. Flagstaff looks like an adorable town; maybe I’ll grab lunch before getting back on the road. Then, I have to make a stop at Horseshoe Bend. I’ve already walked from the parking lot to Horseshoe Bend in Google Maps and the path is clearly defined. It’s a short half-mile walk without much incline, making it the perfect roadside attraction. 

Photo by Ian Beckley

After setting up camp at the RV park, I plan to spend the rest of the evening exploring close to my new home and prepare to wake up early to enter the lottery to visit The Wave. The Bureau of Land Management only allows 20 people in the Paria Canyon a day, where The Wave is located. Because of the beautiful rock formations that look like red waves gently swooping down the rock faces this preserve is a highly sought-after location for photographers, Instagramers, and hiking enthusiasts alike. From everything I’ve read online, it is VERY competitive to get a permit for the day. If I don’t end up as one of the lucky few, it’s a good idea to have a backup plan for the day. 

Photo by Pixabay

The backup plan (or the real plan for those who are pessimistic about winning the lotto) is to go to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. The landscape is a pinkish rusty red sand formed into large rolling hills. The activities for the day will be ATV Tours riding through the backcountry trails and sliding down the sandy mountains. There’s also sandboarding, which as you can guess, is like snowboarding but on sand instead of snow. I’m sure no matter what activities are chosen, I’ll go home with pockets full of sand. 

Day 8

Another day, another national park to check off the list. A quick Google image search shows breathtaking views and landscapes of Zion National Park. It’s a mixture of crimson rocks and greenery sprinkled around the caverns. Must see items along the hike are the Emerald Pools (lower pools are the easiest to get too), the Watchman Trail (a moderate hike at 3 miles), and Angles Landing Trail (listed as difficult due to steep inclines and is 5 miles in length). 

Photo by Kelsey Johnson

While researching national park trails I discovered Dirt In My Shoes itinerary planner. Her resources are very helpful in planning a trip to Zion.  

Day 9

Back to civilization, that’s if Las Vegas is considered civilized. In theory, I could return the RV and head off to the airport to return home on the same day. Or, I could spend one more night in Vegas and depart in the morning. I’m sure if I stayed an extra night I could find something entertaining or I could take a hot shower (I’m pretty sure I’ll still have pink sand in places I didn’t know existed) and order room service. 

Photo by Jason Toevs

What do you think? Tell me about your trip to the Grand Canyon or surrounding Nation Parks! What must-see stops am I missing along my route? What do you think about renting an RV; yay or nay? 

13 thoughts on “Virtual Vacation – Going Out West

  1. Can I come with you!? I’m only in Vermont…just a stone’s throw away:) All joking aside I personally have been to Sin City Las Vegas. The first time a friend literally kidnapped me telling me we were going to the bar where I lived in Desert Hot Springs, Calif. only to end up in Nevada. What a fun weekend that was. The second time I flew to Las Vegas from Sanford, Maine where I had moved for a company trip. I had no idea how to use the slot machines except for the easy ones getting lucky at one of the 5 slot machines putting in around $1.25 in nickles winning $90…twice! The casinos, drinks, stores, buffets, and sights were amazing as so was the weather. I will never forget those trips.

    1. It sounds like you’ve had tons of fun in Vegas and a lot of luck at the slots. I hope to have the opportunity to visite one day.

  2. Hey, I live in Flagstaff!!
    More than a quaint little town especially if you love to hike. If you like ruins check out Walnut Canyon before your lunch stop.
    Great travel plans!
    Best Regards ~ Ann

  3. I like your idea of a virtual tour, I think you nailed this. For a time, we lived in Ogden, UT and went to Arches National Park (Moab, UT) about twice a year for mountain biking. It is much like Zion, very spectacular. After we retired and living in Seattle, we took a road trip to the Grand Canyon in 2018. We recommend hiking the rim from the visitor’s center up to Hermit’s Rest. Then take the bus back down. To our chagrin, the bus driver made a younger couple get up to give us their seat. We usually walk about thirty-five mile a week. So embarrassing.

Leave a Reply