bugsy running on lone rock beach with the airstream and f-150 in the background

Trip planning: Southwest for the late fall–Big Trip #2

This planning post was for what became Big Trip #2 in late 2018. Read the trip retrospective here!

kodachrome dog

We haven’t even started our next Airstream trip (leaving next week!) (possibly subbing Babcock State Park in WV for Nashville as the TN State Fair has bumped us from our preferred campground at the Fairgrounds Nashville), but we’re already deep in the planning weeds for a late fall road trip out West. Ever since our Big Trip (later known as Big Trip #1) two and a half years ago, we’ve been dreaming about Southern Utah, and when the opportunity to skip town for a while presented itself, we started plotting a course through Utah, northern Nevada and Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Hopefully the snow will hold off until we’re out of the mountains!

canyonlands national park

Here are some of our targets; let us know if you have opinions!

  • Omaha: need to stop somewhere on our way to Denver, and we’ve never been to Omaha. Is it fun? It has a bunch of breweries and good-looking run routes.
  • Denver, to see friends
  • Wyoming: cruising through on the way to Utah, maybe hiking in Flaming Gorge
  • Northern Utah: stay near Park City, hike in Albion Basin, the Wasatch Mountains, Uinta National Forest…
  • Southern Utah: More in Zion, and hiking around Snow Canyon SP, Yant Flat, and Coral Pink Sand Dunes SP in the Zion area; revisit some favorites from Scenic Rt 12; check out the less-trafficked Needles section of Canyonlands NP; go off the grid in Valley of the Gods [potential boondocking resource: freecampsites.net]
  • Durango? Taos? We’ll be getting into ski season so will have to make some game-time decisions based on weather and hiking trail conditions
  • Southern New Mexico: White Sands, Brokeoff Mountains (dog-friendly BLM land adjacent to Guadalupe Mountains NP); what else? El Malpais?
  • Northern Arizona: Guadalupe Mountains NP, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon (visited by only 10% of all Grand Canyon visitors; we’ll be hitting this earlier in the trip from southern Utah as it closes in winter), Canyon de Chelly. Maybe return to Flagstaff?
  • Southern Arizona: We likely won’t have time to do both northern NM and southern AZ, but if the cold chases us from NM we could seek the sun in the Tucson area and hike amongst the cacti [<–in that link there’s a hike with a warning about nudists on the trail!].
  • Texas: We might head to Texas earlier if we’re tired of being cold, or have to skip mountain destinations due to snow. We’re definitely spending several days in Austin at our favorite urban campground, but we may also revisit Alpine and Big Bend.
  • Nashville: another favorite city-camping destination for us, and a convenient stop on the way home to Virginia

Other important trip information:

Will J grow out his traveling beard? YES.

Will I get to spend the morning of my birthday at the Grand Canyon and the evening of my birthday at Zion? YES.

Will Bugsy be the happiest dog in the land? YES.

Can’t wait!

And… it was amazing! Click here to read the recap!

dead horse point state park


8 responses to “Trip planning: Southwest for the late fall–Big Trip #2”

  1. Uncle Jim Avatar
    Uncle Jim

    Comments??? careful what you ask for…I would ignore Wyoming anytime after early October. Just too cold and nasty.. Maybe try I-70 out of Denver to Utah.. Northern Utah great for skiing but not sure about hiking possibilities… I’d suggest more time in Canyonlands… Needles section and Bears Ears much less crowded than the area around Moab (neat town, but give me a break—a million nut cases).. Check out Blanding also.… A couple of folks I know in Utah suggest little if any time in Zion or Bryce due to crowds but nice hiking in Capital Reef and Cedar Breaks.. On the way to GC North Rim (loved my stay and hiking there in mid Oct. many years ago) visit St. George and of course Vermillion Cliffs.. In New Mexico White Sands is nice to look at but try Gila Cliff Dwellings NM outside Silver City.. You mention Canyon de Chelly but I’d prefer you visit Chaco Canyon Nat. Historical Park.. Not sure about taking the trailer down there but it is a must on any trip to that area. (My favorite hiking and camping spot in the west).. When all this fails just come to Tucson and visit that old guy Uncle Jim and he’ll show you some real hikes that Bugsy would love.

    1. bugsy Avatar

      So much good stuff here. Thank you!!!

    2. bugsy Avatar

      We’re incorporating a bunch of this stuff into our master map. Thank you!!!

  2. Deb Avatar

    Check out BLM RV Park near White sands and
    Carrizozo, NM called Valley of the Fires

    Colorado Springs best campground:
    Cheyenne Mountain State Park

    We just took #36 West to Denver through MO and KS. Loved it and Pony Express Museum, Pawnee Indian Museum and the World’s biggest painting in KS.

    Travel safe!

    1. bugsy Avatar

      THANK YOU, Deb!! Looking at these places now!

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