Labor Day 2015: My First Big Road Trip!

So a few years back I planned my first big road trip! It’s now become an annual thing. The Annual Labor Day trip! I usually grab a car full of friends and we drive out to AZ, UT, and/or NM! So without further ado, Labor Day 2015!

Start: San Diego
Stops: Grand Canyon, Page, Zion, Vegas
Transportation Method: My good ol little Corolla (Her name is El)
Time of Year: September

So usually we start out with a late night drive to or near our first stop, hit a bunch of other places in between and the last half day is usually a rest day in Vegas or something. There’s nothing like a bunch of yummy food after a long weekend of hiking!

As most people know, I love my excel sheets so I am including the itinerary of the trip below! This is still one of my favorite road trips ever! So here’s the breakdown of the trip:

Arizona Trip Itinerary

So we left San Diego after work (because adulting and work and no pto), the drive to the Grand Canyon was about 8hrs but it actually wasn’t that bad. We stayed as close as we could without actually staying in the park. I usually try to keep it on a low budget so we stayed as close as we could without paying an arm and leg. We got there pretty late and all pretty much crashed immediately so we could wake up nice and early and head in and start our hiking.

Needless to say no one woke up early at all. But by the time we got to the park and took all our initial group pictures we still started our hiking around 10:30a/11a.

Mini tip, make a ton of pb&j’s and toss them in a cooler for quick bites and meals on hikes. Also bring lots of water, energy bars, snacks, etc. Our favs of the trip were these butter chips, dried mangoes, chocolate covered blueberries and jerky!

So onto the actual adventures! The Grand Canyon was amazing! We went to the South Rim and hiked the Bright Angel trail. (Refer to excel screen shot above for details on the hike and different checkpoints and turn around points).

We Hiked down all the way to Plateau Point and it was so amazing! Definitely worth the hike down and a great view. I wouldn’t recommend Indian Garden as a turn around point because it’s anticlimactic, if you go that far you might as well keep going. If not you might as well stop at the 3 mile mark.

There is also the option of taking a different fork all the way down to Phantom Ranch, which is all the way down to the river. BUT if you do this please start early in the day and bring lots of water. It normally isn’t recommended as a day hike and I wouldn’t recommend it unless you are extremely fit and experienced.



After the Grand Canyon, we ate a fatty meal and then drove 2.5 hours to Page. We stay there overnight and woke up early in the morning to go to Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon. Definitely do both because they are literally 10 minutes from each other. We only did the Lower Canyon for Antelope because of time.

Horseshoe Bend is a short easy hike but it can be really bad on extremely hot days! Bring a hat, sunscreen and some water just in case. Views are spectacular! Lower Antelope was beautiful but it often feels like you are cattle being herded through the canyon. There are just so many people and it’s pretty much and endless moving line of people walking through just trying to snap their pretty pictures. But I’d say it’s till worth it, the guides are really nice and usually know what the good settings are for your phone camera if you need some help!

That took up first half of the day, we stopped by McDonald’s for Chicken Nuggets (bc what is a road trip without chicken nuggets)! It was actually a relatively quick drive to Zion from there, about 2-2.5 hours (but don’t forget about the time jump once you go from AZ to UT). We parked and got into the park and jumped on a shuttle that dropped us off at the trail head for Angel’s Landing.

This hike was pretty straightforward for the first part, just lots and lots of switchbacks. But the end is pretty terrifying but exhilarating! Narrow paths, some scrambling, hanging onto chains. Just move at your own pace, be careful and you’ll be fine. All the hikers on this trail are really nice and supportive and will help you if you need it! We started this hike pretty late so we were racing the sun down on the way back. Just make sure you get past the part with the chains before the sun fully sets. The rest is fine if you have some head lamps.

Leaving the park, we got stuck by a deer hanging out in the middle of the road. Which is pretty cool, and also a good reminder to be careful while driving! But we waited til the little guy scampered off and we were on our way. We stayed in Hurricane for the night and headed back into the park in the morning to do the narrows.

100% recommend water shoes and a walking stick! Especially the walking stick, it really helps! You can’t see where you’re walking or where the rocks are. And the rocks themselves can be really slippery so the walking stick was a life saver. I had my own water shoes but I rented the walking stick at the front after you enter the park in the store at the front. They also have water shoe rentals and neoprene sock rentals. I didn’t have neoprene socks and it was fine. It was actually really nice and refreshing for my feet!

After that, we dried off a little and drove onto Vegas for an overnight rest stop and some relaxation! We stayed at Mandalay Bay (for free with MyVegas Points, only paid resort fee). We ate at Burgr and lounged around, showered, relaxed, etc. The next morning we checked out, stopped by Lotus of Siam for lunch and headed back to San Diego.

Alien Jerky is also a fun stop on the way back from Vegas to San Diego too! Amazing Jerky, cool little spot, and lots of sauces!

And that wraps my first big road trip! This is definitely a great road trip, it’s relatively easy to plan for, super fun, great views, and can be tailored with super easy, moderate or hard hikes!

Also a short P.S.A. please remember to pick up after yourselves. Don’t just leave trash around. And be mindful of wildlife! Let’s keep our parks clean and do our parts to help preserve these great spots for future generations!

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