When: January 2018
Where: Orlando --> Las Vegas --> Utah
Equipment: Jeep Wrangler, tent, camping gear
Budget: $1,800 (airfare, car rental, gas, food)
When you normally hear “I’m going to Vegas…”, you think of bachelor parties, bright lights, or the “The Hangover-esque” night out, but it’s actually the easiest jump to explore the southwest. From cheap air flights to an abundance of different national parks across multiple state lines, Vegas can be the gateway to some of the most remote camping in the United States.
Day 1-2: Boarding at MCO and camping in Red Cliffs, UT
One of the advantages from flying East to West is gaining a day with the time change. At approximately $300 per traveler for a direct flight, it’s cheaper to fly to Vegas than some of our neighboring states. Upon arriving at Vegas, renting a Wrangler was a must. From our trip in Canada we learned about the value of having the right vehicle to optimize your experience. You don’t want your exploring and the ability to see countless sites to be limited by the typical economy car. After the flight cost savings and camping during our stay, this was a no brainer and we rented a Jeep for 7 days at $450. After loading up the Jeep, we left the city, not quite sure where we would camp. After a few hours of driving, we found Red Cliffs campground in Utah and decided to spend the night there. We came across a few people while there was still light out, but by night time we were the only ones there.
Day 2-6: Red Cliffs to Lake Powell, UT
In the morning, we left Red Cliffs and decided to keep driving East and see what we come across. We made a detour at Planet Fitness to shower since showering wouldn’t be available much during our trip and stopped by Walmart to pick up food for the next few days. After a few hours, we came across Lake Powell and decided to explore the area. Lake Powell consisted of a giant lake, a boulder in the lake, mountains in the distance, sand dunes, gorges...and complete isolation. We decided to stay the night and explore. Nothing could explain the feeling of complete isolation and having an entire place to yourself.
The next day we decided to explore the area outside of Lake Powell and horseshoe bend in Arizona. Horseshoe bend was a quite a site in person, however, the influx of tourists convinced us to stay the next few days in remote Lake Powell.
During the next few days, we hiked, built campfires, explored and experienced camping in pouring rain, freezing temperatures, and almost cutting a finger off. It was hard to process how far we could see in either direction and connect that we were they only people there. By the fifth day we decided to make our way back to Vegas to cut down the drive.
Day 6-7: Mesquite, NV
On our way back to Vegas, 3 days without a shower convinced us to stay the last night in a hotel in Mesquite, NV. The shower was nice and so was the people watching at the hotel casino.
Day 7: Red Rock Canyon, NV to Orlando
By morning, we were heading back to Vegas. This was the last day of the trip, but the flight did not leave until 12:00 am. We decided to hike at Red Rock Canyon, NV until we needed to boarded our flight. After hiking longer than expected due to getting lost and taking a longer path back, we visited Planet Fitness again, returned the Jeep, and made our way back home.
The irony of experiencing the vastness, isolation, and open skies the past few days stood in stark contrast to sin city. Even with 7 days of driving and exploring, there were countless areas we wanted to delve into. This is a destination that can be revisited countless times and would take a lifetime to see all that it has to offer.