Cross Country Road Trip Part One: California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah

Updated: Nov 20, 2018


Stars in Zion National Park

This week, I’m doing something a little different. This post will be the first in a four part series, with a new entry every week for the next month.


In August, my lovely friend Alex and embarked on an eight-day trip across the United States. We would start from Los Angeles, California on a sunny Sunday morning and head east across the country. The trip would end for Alex in Detroit the following Sunday and I’d continue on to Toronto, Canada. We would manage to travel through eleven states and one province on this eight-day journey – California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Ontario.


Alex and I have traveled through California a lot so we made a plan to push through the California portion of the trip quite quickly and end up in Zion National Park on our first night. We stopped in Nevada to see Bonnie and Clyde’s death car, because when that’s advertised from the freeway, how do you say no? Obviously, no trip to Nevada is complete without a quick casino visit and we walked away four whole dollars cheaper. High on our new riches, we continued on passing through Arizona before entering Utah in the late afternoon.

We’d been under the impression that Utah was a dry state, but we were definitely wrong about that. We had a fantastic dinner with the cheapest drinks that two LA residents could ever imagine. The first day was a total success so far. Over dinner we discussed our plan for the night and booked a hotel right outside of Zion National Park, figuring that we could make it there by around 10pm. I often wonder how much harder things would have been for my parent’s generation, before the advent of maps and apps and online bookings.


We arrived at the lodge around ten as predicted and planned to have an early night and then get up early to catch the sunrise for photos. However, when we looked up at the stars, it felt like we couldn’t miss the opportunity to catch them on camera. We took a few shots at the hotel before making the ten-minute drive into the park. We happened on a group of other photographers shooting from a bridge and stopped off to see if it was worth it. It definitely does. The photos we took couldn’t come close to doing it justice.


We ended up being up and about until 1am and set our alarms for 5:30am, so we were definitely exhausted by the time all was said and done. We headed back to the park, but never found that perfect spot. Regardless, we got some good shots. Around 8am we were checked out and headed off to find some breakfast before hitting the road. The plan that night was to make it to the Durango, Colorado area. So, we had a lot of driving to do.

We stopped at Arches and Canyonlands national parks and took a bunch of shots, despite the fact that the heat and brightness of midday wasn’t ideal. After hours of those red rocks and nothing else (including a 45 minute detour to get gas), we finally crossed into Colorado close to dusk. We were exhausted, but we still had a long way to go before reaching our planned stopping point. Check out next week’s blog for more from Colorado and Kansas.


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All images © Katherine Barcsay

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