Arches & Canyonlands National Park - A Weekend in Southeast Utah

Welcome to Utah! This year in August (2021), my 2 girl friends and I took a trip to Southeast Utah, covering Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park (we also made a pit-stop at a hidden gem which I reveal later as you read through it). It was my first time getting on a plane for a holiday, since covid hit so naturally I was so excited to see my girlies as well as travel!


Well for starters, Salt Lake City (SLC) was the cheapest to fly in and out of, for all three of us since we live in 3 different cities across the US. Second, Utah is one of the few states that I keep wanting to go back to for my love of National Parks! I’ve been to 15+ parks and my favorites are in Utah.


  • Salt Lake City (SLC) is the main/international airport that has 100s of direct flights within US and a few international as well including London, Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt. Utah is also a popular road trip destination if you live in California or Nevada.
  • Utah is HUGE. Not Texas huge, but still huge. If you are planning a weekend getaway, like us, it’s best to pick one side of Utah and explore nearby.
  • If you are flying in, getting a rental car from SLC airport is advisable and it’s pretty cheap. All major and affordable rental car companies operate out of SLC.
  • The closest city to both Arches & Canyonlands is Moab. You will find plenty of budget, as well as 1-2 luxury hotels. We stayed at the Hyatt Place in Moab since it was conveniently located, just 15 min from Arches.


Ok this is a tricky one. Since Utah is pretty much all desert, the best time to visit the national parks is technically only April, May, September and October with weather ranging between 60-80 degrees F. Summer is extremely hot and winters are quite cold, with a lot of snow. Most of the hiking trails are open year round but popular trails get slippery pretty fast. We visited in last week of August so were lucky to catch a mix of pleasant and hot weather.

Day 1: Arriving into SLC and Bonneville Salt Flats

We arrived into SLC around afternoon on a Thursday. We picked up our rental, got a sweet upgrade and drove off to our first destination. Bonneville Salt Flats are 1.5 hour away from SLC and quite popular these days. The area is a remnant of Lake Bonneville and is the largest of many salt flats located west of the Great Salt Lake. Keep in mind it’s in the opposite direction to Arches National Park (5 hours between salt flats and Moab) so plan accordingly.

💡 Helpful Tip:
Before you go, make sure to look at most recent photos of the salt flats on Google/IG. The last time I went here was in May 2018 and the salt flats were all water. Probably because it was still not hot enough for the water to dry up.

Day 2: Canyonlands National Park & Hidden Gem

Canyonlands consists of five different districts essentially. We started our first full day with a day trip to Island in the Sky, which is a 40 minute drive from Moab. It is the most visited part of the park. Other districts include The Needles, The Rivers, Horseshoe Canyon and The Maze. Maze is quite remote and inaccessible via a regular car. It involves a lot of off-roading so a 4×4 is needed. We had half a day to spend at Canyonlands so we covered the following:

  • A small hike to Mesa Arch
  • Drive to Green River overlook
  • Grand View Point

If you have more time, here are some other things to check out:

  • Upheaval Dome
  • Whale Rock
  • Aztec Butte

In the evening, we head to this hidden gem called Dead Horse Point State Park, which is about 22 miles from Canyonlands National Park. It’s not very popular on social media yet but there were still plenty of people perched on the rocks for sunset. You can see for yourself how beautiful it was.

Day 3: Arches National Park & Glamping

Arches National Park is not as big as some other Utah parks. Drive the 22-mile paved road known as the Arches Scenic Drive and you will hit most of the popular and worth seeing spots. Parking was easy to find pretty much everywhere. Here is our detailed schedule for Day 3:

Early Morning: Delicate Arch Hike

  • Early morning wake up call at 4:45 am
  • Drive to Delicate Arch trailhead. Parking is located on Delicate Arch Road. It’s a 3-mile out and back hike.
  • Best time to hike is in spring and fall when the temperatures are cooler, or during sunrise and before sunset, primarily because it’s a bald hike, there is no shade along this trail. so be sure to bring some water and a hat.


  • Even though we did a sunrise hike, by the time we came back down, the sun was out and it was hot. We head back to grab breakfast/lunch and then back to hotel to shower and change.
  • Next we drove the Arches Scenic Drive and made a pitstop at these stunning arches: Balanced Rock, Devil’s Garden (short hike to Landscape Arch, Tunnel Arch and Pine Tree Arch ), Double Arch and Windows Loop

Evening & Night:

  • This was our last full day in Moab, so we decided to spend our evening and night at a glamping experience with Under Canvas, which was just 7 miles from Moab
  • Under Canvas has multiple locations throughout Utah and it has also been recognized by Travel + Leisure and Condé Nast Traveler as one of the top resorts in the US.
  • We paid $484/night incl. taxes for a King Bed tent with a private bathroom. They have cheaper options as well if you are ok with a communal bathroom and smaller bed.
  • The experience was definitely one of a kind. Similar to camping, there were no power outlets in the tent and no wifi either, so you really get a chance to disconnect and relax.
  • They have battery operated fans & lanterns with USB plugs to charge phones. There is no AC so make sure you are up for this, specially in warmer months. For winter, they have a fireplace in the tents so heating is not an issue.
  • The only bad thing was the extreme weather in the middle of night around 3 am. Since it’s a desert, the nights can be extremely windy. This is exactly what happened and our whole tent was shaking for 30 mins lol.
  • If you like adventure, this is the perfect mix. However if you are traveling solo and are worried about getting scared, make sure to check with the locals about the weather conditions before booking.

Glamping at Under Canvas Moab

Top 10 Things to Do & See

To recap, here are my top 10 things to do and see on a trip to South East Utah:

  1. Drive to and spend time at the Bonneville Salt Flats
  2. Drive the 22 mile scenic Arches Highway to see rock formations, towers and arches
  3. Walk in the Devil’s Garden and take short walks to Landscape Arch
  4. Hike the Delicate Arch Trail at sunrise or sunset to view the arch from up close
  5. Take a stroll at Double Arch and witness this really tall arch
  6. Take a sunset stroll in the North and South Windows
  7. Drive to Canyonlands National Park and hike to Mesa Arch
  8. Stop at the Grand View Point and Green Lake Overlook
  9. Watch another sunset at the Dead Horse Point State Park
  10. Disconnect, unwind and relax at Under Canvas, a glamping experience

Kauai 4 Day Itinerary - A Guide to Hawaii's Garden Isle

Hello! I am glad you are here. This is my first ever travel post and I am super excited that you found me. Hawaii is my favorite state in the United States and Kauai has to be my favorite island of all Hawaiian islands. If you are planning a trip there and don’t know where to start, you’ve come to the right place.

Kauai is small, quiet, very remote and full of untouched nature and beauty. But don’t worry, it does have all the modern conveniences one needs to have a hassle free yet memorable trip. You’ll find a big Safeway near the airport and many fast food chains including Dominos, Panda Express, Chipotle and plenty of Subway(s) (There’s one in every part of Kauai, I know right!!?).


  • Best time to visit Kauai is April through September. These are the driest months in Kauai. The weather pretty much remains the same throughout the year.
  • Different parts of the island experience different weather.
  • South Shore (Poipu and Waimea) is the driest and North shore can be quite wet because of mountains and trade winds. Even though it rains frequently, the weather clears out pretty quickly, hence not ruining your trip. Unless of course there is a storm passing by. Always check whether conditions before planning a trip!
  • We went on the labor day weekend (first week of September) and experienced both rain and dry weather. Temperatures ranged from a high of 85 to a low of 70.
  • I carried a light jacket but did not feel the need to use it.


We took a direct flight from Seattle (5.5 hours) and there are other direct flights to Kauai (LIH) from Mainland West Coast including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Portland, San Diego and Phoenix. If you are flying in from the east coast or mid west, you can take a layover at one of these cities or fly directly to Honolulu (HNL) and take an inter-island flight to LIH.

Once you get there, a rental car is an absolute must. The entire island is mostly a one-lane road and although it may seem like you can drive around in one loop, it’s not the case! The north-west part of Kauai aka the Na Pali Coast is completely inaccessible via cars/bikes.

Rentals in Kauai are expensive, because they are very limited (tiny island reminder). Make sure to book your rental car at least ONE MONTH IN ADVANCE, specially if you are planning to go on a holiday weekend. With the recent surge in travel because of COVID, Kauai often runs out of rental cars. I remember checking a month ahead of time and everything was already sold out. Luckily there were a few cancellations with Thrifty so I was able to snag the last car.


  • [As of 10/5/2021] To enter Kauai or any other Hawaiian island requires everyone to complete the Hawaii Safe Travels Program .
  • Upload your vaccination proof or a negative PCR test taken within 72-hours of departure.
  • If you can not do either, you will have to do a mandatory 10 day quarantine (ouch).
  • Once you deplane at LIH, you walk towards the exit and airport officials will have you present the confirmation email containing the QR code to your health forms. This process was very quick and barely took 5 mins.

Day 1: Arriving into LIH and checking in hotel

After we picked up our bags, we hopped on to the rental car shuttle, picked up our rental and drove off to our resort. We stayed at the Grand Hyatt in Poipu (South Shore) which is about a 25 min drive from the airport. After checking in we went to their Seaview Terrace for a drink and live Hawaiian entertainment for the night.


View from our room at Grand Hyatt

Day 2: Helicopter Tour and North Shore

We ordered in breakfast then head out for a helicopter tour of the entire Kauai island, with Jack Harter helicopters at 10:00 am. The tour was scheduled for 11:00 am (departing from Lihue) but it’s a 25 min drive from Poipu.

  • We booked a DOORS OFF tour to experience the entire island the best way possible. This was also our first time in a helicopter and as much as we were excited, we were equally anxious lol.
  • If you are into taking a lot of photos and videos, then doors off is a must. A closed doors copter would be a hindrance to those perfect shots of the island. It can also cause a lot of glare!
  • Another thing to keep in mind is the weather changes constantly so ALWAYS schedule a helicopter tour for your FIRST DAY in Kauai. This is because in the event the tour gets cancelled because of weather, you still have other days to do it.
  • There are many other tour companies operating out of Kauai but make sure to check their reviews and decide which one is the best for you. We chose Jack Harter after reading countless online reviews and some from other travel bloggers as well.

The tour lasted for an hour. After that we drove up further North to Kappa for lunch. After that we drove to Hanalei and stopped at Hanalei Valley lookout. Next was Hanalei Bay and beach. Stay for sunset or drive back to the resort for a beautiful sunset.

Hanalei Valley Lookout
Hanalei Valley Lookout

The farthest point in North Shore is 1.5 hour drive from South Shore where Grand Hyatt is so we went back to our resort to catch the sunset and have dinner and drinks.

Day 3: North Shore Again

On Day 3 , we grabbed buffet breakfast at our hotel with stunning views. We wanted to hike the Queen’s Bath trail (in North Shore) but again parking was so limited that we waited for 20 mins but there were 3 cars ahead of us waiting to grab a spot. We would be standing there for more than an hour. So we decided to skip and head to explore the town of Hanalei before heading out to the beaches

Hanalei is a small, cute town, famous for food trucks. If you are into Indian food, then you have to stop by the Cafe Turmeric food truck. It’s a must. We also ordered a Pad Thai dish from Thai Elephant truck.

Soccer field with a view in Hanalei

There are so many beautiful beaches in North Shore from where you can see the beautiful cliffs of the Na Pali Coast up close.

  • I can’t stress enough about how limited parking is everywhere in Kauai, so make sure to plan accordingly and have backup plans.
  • We waited for around 20 mins to get a parking spot at Ha’ena beach. Some other beaches to explore nearby are Ke’e Beach and Tunnels beach
  • Advanced reservations are required to even park at Ke’e beach.

Day 4: Waimea Canyon and Koke'e State Parks

This was our last day. We head straight to the Waimea Canyon State Park which is about 40 mins west from Grand Hyatt. Waimea Canyon is huge with multiple trails to explore but we were short on time so we only drove to look out points.

First stop was this cute little waterfall called Red Dirt Waterfall. Next up, Waimea Canyon lookout. There is a parking fee of $10 for your vehicle and $5 per person to park at most of these spots. We paid this at Waimea Canyon Lookout.

If you keep driving north in the Waimea Canyon State Park highway 550 you’ll enter Koke’e state park where the famous 21 mile Kalalau trail starts. We drove to the highest point in Kauai called the Kalalau lookout to soak in views of my favorite (if you haven’t guessed already) Na Pali Cliffs.

Top 10 Things to Do and See in Kauai

And that’s it! I really wish we had more days to explore this green island. I would love to come back and just hike the many waterfalls and cliffs to soak in the picturesque island from up close. Until then, here are my favorite top 10 things to do and see in Kauai, specially if you are strapped on time:

  1. A doors off helicopter tour of the entire island
  2. A boat tour of the Na Pali Coast
  3. Drive the scenic road to Princeville and North Shore
  4. Drive up to Waimea Canyon State Park
  5. Drive further up to Koke’e State park and Kalalau Lookout point
  6. Hike the Pihea Vista trail to witness the Na Pali cliffs from up close
  7. Spend a day at one of many stunning beaches including Tunnels, Ke’e & Hanalei Beach
  8. Eat at the local food trucks in Hanalei. My favorite was obviously Cafe Turmeric.
  9. Grab a drink or snack at Grand Hyatt’s Seaside Terrace, Tidepools or the Captains Bar
  10. Catch a live performance of local Hawaiian dancers or watch a traditional Lau
  11. Don’t forget to enjoy and take a lot of photos because you are gonna wanna show off this amazing island to everyone you know!

Dreamy Resort - Grand Hyatt at Poipu

Out of the many reasons that we chose to stay here, one of the major ones was a wide selection of dining options. Grand Hyatt has 4 main restaurants and serves a variety of cuisines. The best part being the incredible views from literally every restaurant. Check out some of my favorite views of the hotel below.

Tidepools Restaurant at Grand Hyatt
Main pool at Grand Hyatt

Hope you enjoyed reading this blog and I inspired you to consider, or better yet, book your tickets to Kauai, Hawaii! If you have any questions, leave a comment below. I respond pretty quickly 🙂