The Ultimate Instagram Guide to the Fire Wave and Valley of Fire State Park

The Valley of Fire is one of those places highly recommended as a day-trip from Las Vegas, but not everyone makes the drive. However, you have probably seen countless photos of the spectacular Fire Wave or strange-looking Elephant Rock and thought it would be great to explore the state park.

I'm here to convince you that Valley of Fire state park is a must-see when in Las Vegas or Nevada!

The Valley of Fire has some of the most incredible scenery I have ever seen, even after spending 3 month living Vanlife and exploring Utah. Seeing the Fire Wave alone is well worth a trip!

 

Ultimate Instagram Guide to Fire Wave and Valley of Fire State Park

 

If you are looking to go on a road trip to see the Valley of Fire in Nevada, I am sharing everything you need to know before you go. And if you would like to snap a few photos for Instagram, I'm also sharing the 7 most instagrammable places in Valley of Fire State Park, including the spectacular Fire Wave.

 

What is the Valley of Fire State Park Known For

 

The Valley of Fire State Park is a nature preservation area south of Overton, Nevada. The state park is known for its incredible rock formations created from red sandstone. These formations stem from shifting sand dunes and were formed 150 million years ago. One of the most iconic of these rock formations is the Fire Wave which is an impressive hill with red and white zebra-like stripes.

 

Road Driving Through Valley of Fire State Park

 

With it's 40,000 acres, Valley of Fire State Park is home to some incredible sights, ancient petroglyphs, and a dream come true for anyone interested in geology, human history, and photography.

 

How to Get to the Valley of Fire

 

The easiest way to get to the Valley of Fire State Park is by car. It is a 50-minute drive from Las Vegas, Nevada, on I-15N and a 1 hour, 30 minute drive from St. George, Utah, on I-15S.

There is also a possibility to get to the park with a tour bus company. However, since the trail heads within the park are dispersed, I highly recommend you go there by car so you can explore the park at your own pace and spend as much time as you like at the Fire Wave.

 

Toyota Driving Through Valley of Fire State Park

 

Best Time to Visit the Valley of Fire State Park

 

Being located at the southern tip of Nevada, the weather at Valley of Fire is extremely dry with an average of 1 day of rain per month. Temperatures can get extremely hot in summer, with highs of well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celsius). The best time to visit Valley of Fire is from October to April when the temperatures are cooler and you are able to explore the park all day long.

 

Rainbow Colored Rock Valley of Fire State Park

 

If you choose to visit during the summer months, make sure you are prepared for the heat by bringing a lot of water and having an air conditioned car. You can try to avoid the heat by entering the park right at sunrise and staying indoors between 11am and 3pm.

Many trails, such as the Fire Wave trail, are in direct sunlight with little to no shade. Hiking in the intense summer heat can be dangerous.

 

Valley of Fire State Park Details

 

Entrance Fee: $10 per vehicle for day-use, $20 per night if you like to camp plus $10 for camping sites with utility hook ups.

Hours: the park is open 365 days a year, from sunrise to sunset. These are the Valley of Fire sunset and sunrise times.

Cell Service and Wifi: You won't have cell coverage throughout most of the park but there are some spots such as at the visitor center or at the White Domes Trail parking lot which have cell reception. The park offers wifi access and a 24-hour access for 1 device is $8. You can find more details about the wifi access price plans here.

Visitor Center: The visitor center is located towards the entrance of the park and is open from 9am to 4:30pm.

Facilities: There are outhouses located throughout the park at Atlatl Rock, Seven Sisters, the Cabins, near Mouse's Tank Trailhead and White Domes parking lots.

Drone Usage: The usage of drones or any remote controlled aircrafts is not allowed in the park.

If you are looking for more information on the park and any fire restrictions which might be in place, visit the Valley of Fire State Park website.

 

Things To Do at Valley of Fire

 

With a landscape this beautiful, the Valley of Fire is more than just a compilation of rocks. The best thing to do in the park is to go on hikes and explore the different areas and rock formations. Most of the loop hikes are relatively short at only a mile or less, such as the Fire Wave Trail, the Rainbow Vista hike, and the White Domes Trail.

There are a few other hikes which are longer such as the Old Arrowhead Road, the Prospect Trail, and Charlie's Spring. For more information on the trails, you can find a full map of all Valley of Fire hiking trails here.

 

Fire Wave Trailhead Valley of Fire

 

In addition to hiking, Valley of Fire is also a great spot for rock climbing, camping with incredible views, wildlife viewing, and my personal favorite - taking photos of everything, especially the Fire Wave!

 

Wildlife at Valley of Fire State Park

 

Valley of Fire 7 Most Instagrammable Places

 

With a park this big and this beautiful, knowing the most picturesque places ahead of time will help you plan your trip as well as save time while you're in the park. I put together the 7 most Instagram-worthy locations in Valley of Fire State Park, including the Fire Wave, the best times to take photos there, and also added them to a map to help you plan your trip.

 

Fire Wave

 

The Fire Wave is by far the most impressive rock formation within the Valley of Fire State Park and it makes for an incredible Instagram photo. The combination of the red and white sandstone in zebra-like stripes across a wave-like hill is a sight like no other and also the reason why the Fire Wave is so popular.

 

Fire Wave at Valley of Fire State Park

 

How to Get There

 

From the Fire Wave parking lot, there is the Fire Wave hiking trail which will take you directly to the Fire Wave. The hike is less than 1 mile and relatively easy. Note that there is no shade along the way. Please make sure to bring lots of water and wear sun protective clothing.

 

Best Time to Take Photos at Fire Wave

 

Generally, the best times to take photos to have soft lighting are the first hour of sunlight in the morning and the last hour before sunset. However, if you want to capture the true vivid colors of the Fire Wave, taking photos later in the morning or early in the afternoon provides for some stunning shots as well.

Since there are no trees and is almost no shade at the Fire Wave, you won't need to worry as much about shadows in your photos.

 

Fire Wave at Valley of Fire State Park

 

Mouse’s Tank Road

 

Imagine a road which makes its way through the fire-colored sandstone rock at sunrise. You may not have heard of Mouse's Tank Road but chances are you have already seen a photo of this iconic road. The road itself is not anything out of the ordinary as it is part of the main road going through Valley of Fire State Park. However, it offers incredible views.

 

Instagram Photo at Mouse's Tank Road Valley of Fire

 

The best part about this instagrammable photo location is that you can create the illusion of a drone photo without actually using a drone thanks to the way the road is sloped. Make sure your photographer stands on the high point of the road and the model is further down the road. That way you can create the impression of an aerial view.

 

Girl Walking on Mouse's Tank Road in Valley of Fire

 

How to Get There

 

The perfect photo location is only a 12 minute drive from the entrance of the park and a 9 minute drive from the Fire Wave. It is right on the street and you can easily pull over with your car and snap photos as long as there is no traffic.

 

Best Time to Take Photos at Mouse's Tank Road

 

Since you are taking photos in the middle of the main road through the park, I suggest taking photos right at sunrise or sunset. That way, you will encounter the least amount of traffic and you will also have beautiful light without having to worry about harsh shadows.

 

Aerial View of Mouse's Tank Road in Valley of Fire

 

Elephant Rock

 

Elephant Rock is exactly what the name suggests: a rock which looks like an elephant. Now you might think that these rock formations might not really look like an elephant but trust me - they do! I didn't believe it either until I was there in person.

The entire rock and arch which forms the elephant trunk is extremely impressive to see in person and makes for the perfect photo opportunity.

 

Girl Jumping at Elephant Rock in Valley of Fire

 

How to Get There

 

Elephant Rock is a mere 3 minute drive from the park entrance and is on the right side of the road when driving in. Leave your car in the parking lot and take the super short hike to see the rock formation. The hike is pretty easy and is less than a mile.

 

Elephant Rock in the Sun at Valley of Fire

 

Best Time to Take Photos at Elephant Rock

 

Given the formation of the rock, the light is best at Elephant Rock later in the afternoon when the sun is low but has not yet disappeared behind the hills right next to Elephant Rock.

 

Welcome to Valley of Fire Sign

 

While this seems like an obvious place to take photos, there are so many unique locations within Valley of Fire that people forget to take a cute photo at the Welcome to Valley of Fire sign.

 

Greetings from Valley of Fire State Park Sign

 

How to Get There

 

The sign is located at the Elephant Rock parking lot, right where the Elephant Rock trail starts. You really can't miss it.

 

Best Time to Take Photos at the Valley of Fire Welcome Sign

 

Almost any time of the day would work well to take a photo here. Keep in mind though that the light might be softer and conditions generally better to take a photo early in the morning or later in the evening.

 

Rainbow Vista

 

If you are looking for rainbow-colored hills to take photos of, this is your spot! The entire rainbow vista hike provides beautiful rainbow rock views along the way and ends at the Fire Canyon Overlook. It is perfect for creating instagrammable content. There is even a mini arch on this trail which you can be creative with.

 

Arch at Rainbow Vista Valley of Fire State Park

 

Rainbow Vista Hike Valley of Fire State Park

 

How to Get There

 

The Rainbow Vista parking lot is only a 15 minute drive from the park entrance and a 6 minute drive from the Fire Wave. The hike to the rainbow vista is relatively easy and only a mile long.

 

Best Time to Take Photos at the Rainbow Vista

 

Given the hills surrounding this hike, taking photos right at sunset or sunrise might cause a lot of shadows to be in your photos so you will be better off taking photos later in the late morning and early in the afternoon.

 

White Domes Trail

 

White Domes Trail is another great place to take instagram-worthy photos as it is packed with colorful rocks and a slot canyon.

 

Rainbow Rock at White Domes Trail Valley of Fire State Park

 

Slot Canyon at White Domes Trail Valley of Fire

 

The beginning of the trail is marked with purple and yellow colored rocks whereas later in the trail you make your way through the slot canyon and stumble upon white and red striped rocks. It's a gorgeous spot to explore and has countless photo opportunities along the way.

 

White Domes Trailhead at Valley of Fire State Park

 

How to Get There

 

The White Domes Trail is the furthest trail from the park entrance but only a 23-minute drive from there, and a 3-minute drive from the Fire Wave. The drive itself is incredibly beautiful as you get to see the entire park and stop along the way to take photos.

The White Domes loop is only 1 mile and pretty easy to hike.

 

Best Time to Take Photos at the White Domes Trail

 

The best time to take photos along the White Domes trail is mid- to late-morning for the best light. If you are looking to take photos in the slot canyon, doing so later in the morning will provide for better light.

 

White Domes Trail Movie Set

 

While you're on the White Domes Trail, make sure you stop by the remnants of an old movie set to take a photo. It was used in 1965 to film the movie 'The Professionals'. You can watch the Professional trailer here. A small part of the movie set is still there and there is also a monument explaining the history of commercial filming in Valley of Fire State Park.

 

The Professionals Movie Set at White Domes Trail Valley of Fire State Park

 

How to Get There

 

The movie set is a few minutes into the White Domes Trail hike and impossible to miss.

 

Best Time to Take Photos at the White Domes Movie Set

 

Any time of day would work to take photos here, depending on what light you are looking for. However, if you are spending the morning hiking the White Dome Trail stopping by here makes perfect sense.

 

Map of Most Instagrammable Places in Valley of Fire

 

Valley of Fire is an incredible place to discover, take photos, and a perfect stop for any road trip in the Southwest US. Use this map to help you plan our your trip and include as many instagrammable places in Valley of Fire, such as the Fire Wave.

 

 

What are Your Favorite Instagrammable Places in Valley of Fire?

 

Now that I have shared my favorite instagrammable places in Valley of Fire - especially the Fire Wave -  I am curious to hear what your favorite spots are and if I missed any to include any in this post. Please let me know in the comments as I would love to go back and explore the park more!

 

Make sure you pin this post to your USA road trip Pinterest board or Instagram Pinterest board for when you plan your road trip to the Fire Wave!

 

The Ultimate Instagram to Valley of Fire and the Fire Wave

 

The Ultimate Instagram Guide to Valley of Fire and the Fire Wave

The Ultimate Instagram Guide to Valley of Fire and the Fire Wave

 

The Ultimate Instagram Guide to Valley of Fire and the Fire Wave

 

The Ultimate Instagram Guide to Valley of Fire and the Fire Wave

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How to Spend the Perfect Weekend in Reno and 4 Best Day Trips from Reno

Reno is one of those cities that most people have heard of, but haven’t necessarily been to, and we think that is a shame! Here is how to spend the perfect weekend in Reno. We are sharing our favorite places, where to stay during your getaway, and the best day trips from Reno.

 

Perfect Weekend in Reno and Best Day Trips from Reno

 

Reno has a lot to offer the curious traveler for a weekend. With its cute downtown area, the impressive amount of street art, and vibrant restaurant scene, Reno is the perfect getaway for anyone looking to explore the USA more. There are also some super fun day trips from Reno for you to explore nearby attractions that you could easily stretch your weekend in Reno trip much longer.

 

Reno Mural

 

Make sure you scroll to our Top 5 tips for spending a weekend in Reno at the end of the post to ensure you have a great time!

 

What is Reno Known For?

 

Reno is most widely known as “The Biggest Little City in the World.” The slogan was chosen as a winner of a contest in 1929, and only a few years later became more widespread when the city began significant growth due to Nevada’s legalization of gambling and liberal divorce laws.

 

Gambling Chips in Front of Reno Arch

 

Reno is known for its casinos which are the biggest draws to the city. However, over the years, Reno has also developed an amazing art scene and is the home of the world-class art museum Nevada Museum of Art, the National Automobile Museum, and countless of incredible street art. Not to mention Reno is the closest city to Burning Man.

 

Playa Art Park Reno

 

There is no mentioning the city’s name without thinking of the festival which melds art, activities, and events in the Black Rock desert. The biggest little city in the world has a beautiful Riverwalk District which is incredibly vibrant and by far our favorite part of town.

 

Whales Art Sculptures in Riverwalk District Reno

 

We are not big gamblers ourselves, so luckily there is so much to do during a weekend in Reno besides gambling.

 

Casinos in Downtown Reno

 

There is something so exciting and thrilling about going to a casino. The thought of ending your night with double the money in your pocket makes for a great evening in itself. Paired with great company, good food, and music, you will have the night of a lifetime.

 

Bright City Lights Reflected in Window, Reno

 

With casinos being the main draw for most visitors to the city, we of course had to check out some of the main casinos in downtown Reno. Downtown Reno has some of the same famous casino brands as Las Vegas, such as Circus Circus, and Harrah’s, as well as the Eldorado, and the Club Cal-Neva.

 

Circus Circus Casino in Reno

 

Outside of downtown, you can easily see other famous Reno casinos such as the Atlantis, the Grand Sierra, and the Peppermill.

Make sure you stop by to play the slot machines or sit down for a round of poker during your weekend in Reno. (Please play responsibly and know that there is always a financial risk involved.)

 

What is There to Do in Reno Besides Gamble?

 

If gambling is not your thing, or you have already won big time, there are lots of other activities to explore during your weekend in Reno.

 

Walk Virginia Street in Reno

 

Downtown Reno is quite compact, which makes it very easy to walk to all of the nearby sights, bars, and restaurants. The Reno Arch is without a doubt one of the most famous attractions and is a must-see for your weekend in Reno itinerary. This iconic symbol of Reno was originally installed in 1926, however the current arch hails from 1987.

We recommend taking the time to see the arch by day as well as by night. At nighttime the Reno Arch is lit-up with neon lights, as are many of the nearby casinos.

 

Reno Arch Virginia Street.

 

As Virginia Street is the main street through downtown Reno, most of the downtown casinos are right here on the north side of the Truckee River, and many of the trendiest bars and restaurants are close-by on the south side of the Truckee River.

 

Believe Sign Reno

 

More famous signs are close at hand, as the ‘BELIEVE’ sculpture is located at the City Plaza, also overlooking the Truckee River. The sign was originally created for the Burning Man Festival in 2013, and the city later purchased the sign and placed it permanently at the City Plaza for everyone to enjoy.

 

Bettina Twirling in B of Believe Sign Reno

 

Reno Street Art

 

Speaking of the Burning Man Festival, as Reno is the closest major city to the festival, Reno has a number of the famous art sculptures from the festival over the years. Playa Art Park is the main attraction, with a rotating display of art sculptures. Unfortunately for us, when were in Reno the park had been closed, so we could only snap pictures from a distance!

 

Playa Art Park Reno

 

Make sure you visit the art park during your weekend in Reno though as it has some incredibly sculptures to admire and take pictures of.

 

Frida Kahlo Mural Reno

 

Elsewhere in Reno you will find all sorts of murals painted on buildings small and large. This really gives the city a positive and creative vibe, and we loved walking up and down the downtown streets looking at the art.

 

Mural in Reno

 

Snow Covered Tree Mural in Reno

 

Other Fun Things to Do in Reno

 

If the sun is shining during your stay (which it certainly should be as Reno has over 250 days of sun per year) there is no better way to unwind than a bike ride along the Truckee River Walk and explore the Riverwalk District during your weekend in Reno.

 

Bettina Biking under the Biggest Little City in the World Sign in Reno

 

This two-mile loop spans downtown Reno, and offers a great way to start your bike ride. The area around California Avenue is also well-known for trendy shops and restaurants.

 

Truckee River in Reno

 

For a city the size of Reno, there are also a number of popular museums to explore, including the Nevada Museum of Art and the National Automobile Museum.

 

Best Place to Stay in Reno

 

We stayed at the Renaissance Reno Downtown Hotel, which is located in a prime location smack dab in the middle of the city, on the banks of the Truckee River and overlooking the vibrant Riverwalk District. It is the perfect place to stay for a weekend in Reno.

 

Lobby at Renaissance Reno Downtown Hotel

 

The hotel has an expansive lobby, with gorgeous details throughout, as well as all the entertainment, food, and drinks you need without even leaving the property! Onsite, The Shore Room restaurant has amazing indoor and outdoor views of the city and river.

 

Outdoor Bar at Renaissance Reno Downtown Hotel

 

And of course if you are looking for great evening plans, the Renaissance Reno Downtown Hotel has a bocce ball court right in the lobby. The Bundox Bocce’s indoor and outdoor bocce ball courts are perfect for a fun evening during your weekend in Reno. In tune with the expansive art scene in Reno, the hotel even has a small gallery in the lobby where you can admire local artists.

 

Bike Rental at Renaissance Reno Downtown Hotel

 

One of our favorite amenities are the bike rentals! The hotel offers bike rentals so that you can better explore the city and enjoy a ride along the river! You can pick up a cute old-school bike any time and ride away.

 

Hotel Room at Renaissance Reno Downtown Hotel

 

Hotel Room at Renaissance Reno Downtown Hotel

 

Our room at the Renaissance Reno Downtown Hotel was huge, and had a sophisticated, modern design. We loved the views of the Truckee River and surrounding mountains, especially as they were still covered in snow!

 

View from Hotel Room at Renaissance Reno Downtown Hotel

 

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the Renaissance Reno Downtown Hotel. With its central location, stunning views, and beautiful modern design, it is the perfect place to stay during your weekend in Reno!

 

Hotel Room at Renaissance Reno Downtown Hotel

 

Disclaimer: Our hotel stay was provided by the Renaissance Reno Downtown Hotel and we loved it. As always, all of our opinions on our experience and how much you should gamble are our own. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support us!

 

4 Best Day Trips from Reno

 

If you are spending a weekend in Reno and are looking to extend your stay for a few days, there are a ton of great places to visit just a short drive away in any direction.

 

Home Means Nevada Floor in Elevator at Renaissance Reno Downtown Hotel

 

Lake Tahoe

 

Situated in the Sierra Nevada mountains, Lake Tahoe is a freshwater lake which is known for its beaches and stunning vibrant blues during summer. In winter, the Lake Tahoe area turns into a buzzing ski resort with stunning views of the lake while you’re on the snow-covered slope.

 

Bettina Holding Lake Tahoe Magazine

 

Lake Tahoe is only a short 45 minute drive from Reno and the perfect day trip from Reno if you’re looking for some beach time in summer or snow sports during the winter.

 

Pyramid Lake

 

If you follow the Truckee River to the north, you will get to Pyramid Lake which is famous for its unique rock formations which look like pyramids. Pyramid Lake beckons with water sports and is a great place to cool down on a hot summer day.

The drive from Reno to the Pyramid lake takes about 45 minutes and is well worth it!

 

Carson City and Historic Virginia City

 

Also a short 30 minute drive from Reno is Carson City. The city is close to Lake Tahoe and the historic Virginia City. The Nevada state capital is bursting with old-fashioned charm and combines shopping, dining, culture, as well as a happening nightlife scene.

Being so close to the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Carson City offers a lot of outdoor activities and will be a great extension of your Reno getaway. You can find everything in Carson such as golfing, fishing, boating, and hiking.

If you would like to travel back in time, make sure to visit historic Virginia City. The city was growing during the a 19th century mining boom and is home to countless Victorian buildings which make it look like a movie set. It is definitely worth a visit during your weekend in Reno.

 

Loneliest Road in America

 

To the east is the famous “Loneliest Road in America” which we completed after our stay in Reno. The Loneliest Road is exactly what the name would suggest – lonely! The loneliest road in America is also known as the Nevada portion of the transcontinental Highway 50, starting in Carson City and going all the way across Nevada to the Utah border.

While the road lacks civilization, it makes for an incredible drive and road trip as you will get to see some beautiful sights along the way.

 

Sand Dune Recreational Area on Loneliest Road in America

 

Make sure you fuel up and bring enough food before starting your drive as there are only a few towns on the way. If you like camping, you’re in luck as there are campgrounds and BLM land along the road, making it a great place to relax and enjoy some star gazing.

The first stop on your drive is Sand Mountain Recreation Area which is a beautiful sand dune in the middle of nowhere and a great stop for anyone who loves ATVing or wandering around sand dunes.

 

Austin Nevada Ghost Town

 

Further along the Loneliest Road in America, you will come across the cute ghost town Austin, Nevada, which could be from a movie set and Nevada’s best kept secret: hot springs.

You may not know this but Nevada has more hot springs than any other state and it would be a shame to not take advantage of them. Spencer Hot Springs is right on the Loneliest Road in America and a great spot to relax and enjoy the view of the mountains.

 

Hot Springs Pool at Spencer Hot Springs Nevada

 

The loneliest road continues all the way to the Utah border, and can be completed easily over two days or as long as a week, depending on what timeline best meets your schedule. If you are only interested in completing a small portion of the drive as a day trip for your perfect weekend in Reno, it is still worth the drive!

 

Make sure you also check out more road trip ideas in the Southwest USA if you are keen on exploring more of the USA by car after your weekend in Reno.

 

The Next Trip Top 5 Tips for The Perfect Weekend in Reno

 

Whether you're spending a fun weekend in Reno or are staying longer, here are our top 5 tips for an unforgettable time in the biggest little city in the world.

 

1) Rent a Bike

 

Reno has a beautiful downtown area and a great Riverwalk District which is great to explore by foot, but even more fun to bike along in summer. Rent a bike from the Renaissance Reno Downtown Hotel and enjoy riding along the river during your weekend in Reno.

 

2) Take A Picture with Street Art

 

There is no mentioning of Reno without thinking of its incredible art scene. If you don't feel like visiting museums, make sure you take some photos with the vibrant street art. You will find everything from fun geometric prints, landscape murals, and graffiti, to portraits of Frida Kahlo. Your weekend in Reno would not be complete without admiring some of the astonishing local art.

 

3) Explore the Riverwalk District

 

The Riverwalk District is very much the heart of the city and it is by far the most vibrant and fun place to be on a sunny summer day. Bike along the river and stop by some local restaurants and shops to enjoy everything the Riverwalk District has to offer during your weekend in Reno.

 

4) Prepare for Dry and Hot Summers

 

Summers in Reno can get very hot and dry. Make sure you are prepared and always bring water with you and wear sunscreen. A bad sunburn is not what you want as your lasting memory of your weekend in Reno!

 

5) Play a Game or Two at a Casino

 

After all, Reno is most famous for its casinos. Stop by a casino and play a game to get the complete weekend in Reno experience. There is nothing quite like the thrill of placing a bet with the hope to end your night with twice as much money in your pocket. (Please play responsibly and know that there is always a financial risk involved.)

Save this post to your USA travel Pinterest board for when you plan your next weekend in Reno and getaway in the USA.

 

The perfect weekend in Reno, Nevada and 4 best day trips from Reno

 

The perfect weekend in Reno, Nevada and 4 best day trips from Reno

 

The perfect weekend in Reno, Nevada and 4 best day trips from Reno
The perfect weekend in Reno, Nevada and 4 best day trips from Reno
The perfect weekend in Reno, Nevada and 4 best day trips from Reno

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10 Best Southwest USA Road Trip Ideas – For When We Can Travel Again

Road trips are by far my favorite way to explore the USA. There is so much vast and remote beauty which is impossible to fully explore without really getting into nature. Given the sheer size of the country, this often involves driving for a few hours. For me the drive is just as much the fun as the destination! With endless roads disappearing over the horizon, roadside diners and classic motels, a road trip will transport you to all these places and more.

 

best Southwest USA road trip destinations

 

One of the most iconic road trip destinations is the Southwest of the US. You can find some of the most beautiful scenery and Instagram-worthy views here. If you’re ready to get out there on your great American road trip, here are our favorite Southwest USA road trip destinations from Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico. For each location, we’re sharing the best time to visit, our tips for visiting the location, and the most useful resources.

 

Girl leaning agains canyon walls in Utah

 

Note: At the time of publishing this article, national parks in these states are closed and many of these destinations are not accessible. Make sure you save this post for when it is safe to travel again!

 

Why You Need to Visit the Southwest USA

 

The Southwest has all these natural wonders you usually only see in high gloss travel magazines. Think Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Arches National Park, Route 66, and more! You probably already know all of these from popular movies and TV shows but there is nothing better than experiencing these destinations first-hand doing a Southwest USA road trip!

 

Girl walking on rock formation at White Pocket Arizona

 

One note when driving through the Southwest, a lot of these places are very remote and require a fair amount of driving. You will get to see some incredible and untouched parts of nature but on the flipside, gas stations, restaurants, and hotels, are less frequent. It helps to bring a road trip planner with you so you are always prepared.

Make sure you fill up on gas before leaving a town if you don’t know where the next gas station will be. And the worst thing to happen on an iconic American road trip is to run out of gas!

 

Best Time to do your Southwest USA Road Trip

 

You will generally find the best weather in the Southwest between December and April. This area of the USA can get incredibly hot and dry and hiking to some of these places will become extremely strenuous in the heat.

Since some of the places in Utah are at relatively high elevation and could be covered in snow, I would recommend planning your Southwest USA road trip for March or April. During this time, temperatures are going to be around a comfortable 65 F (18 C) in the northern areas and 75 F (24 C) in the south.

 

Girl with sand running through hands at White Sands National Park

 

As most of the US Southwest road trip destinations are in the desert, it may get very hot during the day, but cool down substantially during the night. Make sure you bring a warm sweater or hoodie and a scarf for when the temperatures drop at night.

 

Map for an Iconic Southwest USA Road Trip

 

There are so many different attractions throughout Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico that it is hard to decide where to go. The below map shows all of our favorite attractions and the order in which we recommend seeing them in on your Southwest USA road trip. You can use this map to plan out and to figure out the best order these road trip destinations fit with your travel plans.

 

Utah Road Trip Destinations

 

Utah is one of those states that I had incredible expectations for, and you may too. It was the last state I visited out of all 50, and easily became one of my top favorites. You can read about our story on how we crossed into Utah and saw our last state here. These Utah destinations will make your Southwest USA road trip unforgettable.

 

Reflections at Bonneville Salt Flats

 

The Bonneville Salt Flats are exactly what the name suggests; an area with densely packed salt. They are located on Interstate 80 just outside of Salt Lake City, close to the Nevada border, and the perfect start for any Utah road trip.

Given the huge flat area, the salt flats make the perfect background to take photos and be creative. Get out there and have fun! Think about working with different perspectives, play with the reflection off the water, and just enjoy the view.

 

 

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Tips:

  • Given that the ground is covered in salt, don’t wear your favorite leather shoes or anything else that could be easily damaged by the salt. Salt can be extremely difficult to remove from clothing and fabrics afterwards. I recommend wearing rubber shoes or boots.
  • Keep in mind that the salt flats are covered in water which is also extremely salty, but more importantly there may be no dry place to set down a bag or anything you bring with you.
  • Temperatures on the salt flats vary greatly. In Summer, they often reach over 100 F (38 C) degrees and can drop below freezing in winter. Make sure you wear protective clothing and sun screen.

Hours: Open 24 hours a day. The Bonneville Salt Flats are managed by the Bureau of Land Management and open to the public most of the time. During events and/or filming projects, there might be restrictions. You can check out the event calendar here.

Facilities: There are no washrooms at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Cost: Visiting the salt flats is free!

Location: Bonneville Salt Flats

 

Explore Peek-A-Boo and Spooky Canyon

 

Have you ever heard of two slot canyons called Peek-A-Boo and Spooky? Me neither until I went there. These canyons completely live up to their names, are a lot of fun to explore, and definitely worth adding to your Southwest USA road trip. The canyons are closest to Escalante, Utah and are a 3-hour hike round-trip from the parking lot. The hike starts off on a flat sandy trail and continues to a climb down into the dry canyon area. The steep climb down is over smooth slick rock.

 

View at the Trailhead of Peek-A-Boo and Spooky Canyon

 

The best way to hike these two slot canyons is in a one-way loop, starting with Peek-A-Boo, traveling cross-country to reach Spooky, and then exiting Spooky in the original canyon area near the Peek-A-Boo entrance.

 

Peek-A-Boo Canyon Loops Utah

 

Once you reach Peek-A-Boo Slot Canyon, you need to climb up about a 12-foot (3.7 meters) rock face to enter the canyon. I am 5’5” (1.7 meters) and managed to get up there on the first try. Once you start walking through, you quickly understand where the name Peek-A-Boo comes from.

The canyon has some fun rock loops you can climb through and each corner is hidden – providing the best peek-a-boo game! As the slot canyon is not overly deep, you can also play peek-a-boo with people in the canyon, while walking along up top.

 

Girl in Peek-A-Boo Canyon Utah

 

Man Standing at Tight Opening at Peek-A-Boo Canyon Utah

 

When you reach the end of Peek-A-Boo, there is an easy to follow trail that travels cross-country to the entrance of Spooky Slot Canyon. The canyon very much lives up to its name. It is incredibly narrow! In some places, we could only pass by taking off our backpacks, and shuffling sideways.

Spooky also has one technical section halfway through where you need to climb overtop some car-sized boulders, and then crawl back underneath them to continue through the slot canyon. These canyons will definitely make your Utah road trip more interesting!

 

Girl Leaning Against the Peek-A-Boo Canyon Utah

 

Tips:

  • Please don’t visit these canyons if you’re claustrophobic! Both canyons have some very narrow spots and are dark at times.
  • Bring enough water but carry a small backpack. A large backpack is much harder to squeeze through the tight corners of Spooky Slot Canyon.
  • There is weak to no cell reception on the hike with T-Mobile.

Hours: Open 24 hours a day

Cost: Visiting Peek-A-Boo and Spooky Canyon is free.

Facilities: There are two outhouses at the trailhead.

Location: Peek-A-Boo and Spooky Slot Canyon. The slot canyons are located along Hole-In-The-Rock Road, and require driving about one hour on dusty gravel roads - the perfect adventure on your Southwest USA road trip. The roads are fine for a car when dry, but do not attempt to drive when the ground is wet as it instantly turns to slick mud.

 

Stunning Grosvenor Arch

 

If you love arches but don’t feel like battling the crowds at Arches National Park, Grosvenor Arch is your destination. It is a unique double arch about 150 feet (46 meters) tall and is located within the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah. The double arch is an easy 5-minute walk from the parking lot and is extremely impressive to look at! You can’t climb around or on top of the arch but the view you get from the bottom is definitely worth it!

 

Girl Standing in Front Of Grosvenor Arch

 

Tips:

  • Grosvenor Arch is easily reachable by car but you will mostly drive on a gravel road. Make sure you fuel up before hitting the road as there are no gas stations anywhere close.
  • There is weak to no cell reception at Grosvenor Arch with T-Mobile.

Hours: Open 24 hours a day

Cost: Visiting Grosvenor Arch is free.

Facilities: There are two outhouses at the trailhead.

Location: Grosvenor Arch

 

Running Around at Devil’s Garden Escalante

 

Devil’s Garden Escalante is very much like a playground for grownups and offers so many photo opportunities. It is a perfect addition to your Southwest USA road trip. It is located in the Staircase-Escalante National Monument and known for its countless hoodoos and two small arches. Its location provides for some amazing views and given that it’s possible to climb onto the base of the hoodoos, you can let your creativity run wild.

 

Girl Sitting in front of Hoodoo at Devil's Gargen Utah

 

Girl sitting between two Hoodoos at Devils Garden Utah

 

Tips:

  • Devil’s Garden is easily reachable when driving down the Hole in the Rock road. Make sure you fuel up before your trip and bring enough water and food for the day.
  • Cell reception at Devil’s Garden is spotty with T-Mobile. I had the best reception at higher points.

Hours: Open 24 hours a day

Cost: Visiting Devil’s Garden Escalante is free.

Facilities: There are two outhouses at the trailhead.

Location: Devil’s Garden This is located on the same road as Peek-A-Boo and Spooky Slot Canyons and is great to combine into the same day.

Arizona Road Trip Destinations

 

Similar to Utah, Arizona is home to some incredible natural wonders and trying to figure out where to go can be a daunting task. These are our favorite Arizona road trip destinations, some of which you may never have heard of and which you cannot miss out on your Southwest USA road trip!

 

Girl Sitting on Rock Formation Wave at White Pocket Arizona

 

Off the Beaten Path in White Pocket, Vermillion Cliffs National Monument

 

White Pocket is an area within the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument in Arizona. It has some of the most amazing rock formations. Think orange lined rocks like the Wave, white pillow-like rock surfaces and sliver thin rock layers. You are free to walk around and explore as much as you like.

The area is a 10-minute walk on a sand trail from the parking lot. It is one of the best kept secrets but a great addition to your Southwest USA road trip.

 

Girl Standing on Rock Formation Wave in White Pocket Arizona

 

View From White Pocket Arizona

 

Getting to White Pocket is a bit more difficult.. It is a 3-4 hour drive from Kanab, UT or Page, AZ. The first hour of the drive is on a paved highway, followed by a maintained gravel road. The last 5 miles are in deeply rutted sand. A high clearance vehicle with four-wheel drive is highly recommended. That being said, most rugged SUVs and pick-up trucks with four-wheel drive should be able to make it without issue.

 

Rock Formations at White Pocket Arizona

 

Girl Jumping at White Pocket Arizona

 

Tips:

  • There are no facilities at White Pocket. It’s very remote so be sure to bring enough water, food, and sun protection.
  • Don’t leave anything behind, not even personal waste. We recommend bringing bags designed to hold human waste.
  • I had surprisingly good cell reception at White Pocket. I had 2 bars LTE with T-Mobile.

Hours: Open 24 hours a day

Cost: Visiting White Pocket is free.

Facilities: There are no facilities at White Pocket.

Location: White Pocket Vermillion Cliffs

 

Catching the Light at Antelope Canyon

 

There is nothing quite as magical as catching the sunrays as they shine through a slot canyon! Antelope Canyon is one of the most famous slot canyons in Arizona and a must see on your Southwest USA road trip. It is completely worth a visit. You will need to book a tour to access the canyon and I recommend booking far in advance as the slot canyon is incredibly busy, especially in Summer.

 

Sunrays in Slot Canyon at Lower Antelope Canyon

 

You may not know this but there is an Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon. Lower Antelope Canyon is slightly less busy and tours are cheaper. We visited Lower Antelope Canyon and loved the tour and the canyon itself.

 

View at Lower Antelope Canyon

 

Tips:

  • The tour moves quite fast and taking a lot of pictures can be difficult. If you’re planning to take photos, consider booking a tour first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon.
  • The light in the canyon is best around midday, which is also the busiest time to visit.
  • The descent into the canyon is a very steep staircase. Make sure you wear good shoes.
  • It was incredibly windy when we were there and we found orange sand in our pockets days after we walked through the canyon. Expect to have sand blown everywhere.

Hours: You cannot access Antelope Canyon without a tour. Tour hours are 7:30am – 5:45pm.

Cost: Costs for a tour at lower Antelope Canyon starts at $40 for a 1-1.5 hours tour plus $8 Navajo Parks fee. Cost for a tour at upper Antelope Canyon starts at $54 for 1.5 hour tour plus $8 Navajo Parks fee. If you decide to take a tour of both Upper and Lower, you only pay the Navajo Parks fee once!

Facilities: There is a visitor center at the Antelope Canyon with washrooms.

Location: Antelope Canyon

 

Enjoying the View at Horseshoe Bend

 

Horseshoe Bend is one of the most iconic places to visit in Arizona and on your Southwest USA road trip and definitely worth a stop! We visited the Horseshoe Bend in 2017 and also just recently in March 2020. The river formation is just as stunning the second time we saw it as the first time. The area around it has completely changed though.

You can easily drive up to the parking lot and walk 5-10 minutes on a gravel trail to get to the bend. There are two covered areas where you can get some shade along the trail as it gets extremely hot here in Summer.

 

Guy Sitting on Rock at Horseshoe Bend Arizona

 

Once you get to the very tip of the cliff, there are some areas which are fenced off for safety reasons. However, you are still free to roam around in other areas and the iconic “rock” is not fenced in and you can get one of the most Instagram-worthy photos from here.

 

Girl Sitting and Overlooking Horseshoe Bend Arizona

 

Tips:

  • Take a lot of water! Yes, the hike is short – only 5-10 minutes. However, it gets extremely hot and there is not a lot of shade. We visited in March and didn’t think we would need the extra water but we wish we had brought some.
  • Apply plenty of sunscreen! Even if you’re not planning to stay very long, the sun reflects of the rock surfaces and is very intense.
  • Horseshoe Bend is extremely popular and gets super busy. Consider visiting early in the morning or late in the evening for some amazing sunset photos.

Hours: Open daily from Dawn to Dusk according to the City of Page.

Cost: Entrance fee to Horseshoe Bend is $10 per car. You pay upon entering the parking lot.

Facilities: There are washrooms available at the parking lot.

Location: Horseshoe Bend

 

Grand Canyon Road Trip

 

Any Southwest USA road trip would not be complete without a stop at the Grand Canyon! I’m sure you have seen countless photos of the Grand Canyon and might be wondering if it’s worth going there given that you have already seen it in photos. It is absolutely worth it! Standing on the edge of the canyon and overlooking the entire area is an incredible feeling and very much worth a trip.

 

Sunset at Grand Canyon South Rim Arizona

 

The Grand Canyon has a North and a South Rim. The South Rim includes all of the popular viewpoints and it is what people usually think of when you mention Grand Canyon. It is much easier to get to and unlike the North Rim, it is open all year round.

Getting to the North Rim is for those who like to take the road less traveled. It is generally closed in Winter and lodging is only open from May to October due to the snow. Make sure you make a reservation at the North Rim lodge or campground if you’re planning to visit the North Rim, as lodging options are very limited.

 

View of Grand Canyon South Rim Arizona

 

A Grand Canyon road trip can be as long or short as you like. The South Rim is a 4.5-hour drive from Las Vegas and you can easily see some of it in a day. If you’re short on time and only have one day to spend here, I recommend visiting the South Rim as it is much easier to access. Start your day at Mather Point which is a great place to view the sunrise or sunset.

Continue to Yavapai Point which is very close and make your way West. You can easily drive to all the viewpoints and if you have time, doing the South Rim Trail is an easy way to take in all the epic views. The hike is relatively easy with minimal elevation gain.

 

Golden Light at Sunset at Grand Canyon South Rim in Arizona

 

Other viewpoints which are easy to get to by car and have an amazing view are Maricopa Point, Powell Point, Hopi Point, and Mohave Point where you can see the Colorado River. If you’re looking for wide views of the canyon, Lipan Point is another great viewpoint.

 

Sun Setting over the Grand Canyon South Rim in Arizona

 

If you have more than one day here and are planning a longer Southwest USA road trip, I highly recommend waking up early and enjoying a sunrise over the canyon and seeing the sun set behind this majestic landscape. It truly is an experience like no other.

Tips:

  • There is a lot to see at the Grand Canyon, make sure you plan out your time here and know what you want to see.
  • The South Rim viewpoints can get very busy. Being here early in the morning and later in the evening helps avoid the crowds.
  • If you want to make the most out of your Grand Canyon road trip, bring water and food with you so that you don’t have to stop in the village but can chase the amazing views instead.

Hours: The South Rim is open 24 hours daily. The North Rim is closed to all vehicles from December 1 to May 15.

Cost: Entrance to Grand Canyon National Park is $35 per vehicle. Your pass will be valid for 7 days and includes both the North and South Rim.

Facilities: The South Rim has multiple visitor centers and is fully outfitted with facilities, restaurants, and lodging. The North Rim has one visitor center which is open from May 15 to October 15 and limited lodging.

Location: Grand Canyon South Rim, Grand Canyon North Rim

 

Nevada and New Mexico Road Trip Destinations

 

You may not think of Nevada and New Mexico when planning your iconic American road trip. Trust me when I say that both states have some beautiful road trip destinations you absolutely need to add to your Southwest USA road trip!

 

Loneliest Road in America in Nevada

 

The Loneliest Road in America, also known as U.S. Route 50, goes straight across Nevada. It very much deserves the name of being the loneliest road as there is little to no civilization along the way, other than the odd ghost town. This is exactly why it’s the perfect Southwest USA road trip destination!

Fueled up and with plenty of water and food, you can hit the road and explore the vast countryside of Nevada which ranges from salty flat areas to mountains, and grass lands full of hidden hot springs. The road itself goes straight for a large portion and offers incredible photo opportunities, sharing the vastness of the state.

 

Sand Mountain on the Loneliest Road in America in Nevada

 

Stopping in a ghost town is a must if you like the idea of traveling back in time and seeing America as it used to be. I can particularly recommend Austin, Nevada which is full of old-school houses, store fronts, and signs.

 

Girl Walking along Ghost Town Store Front in Austin Nevada along Loneliest Road

 

Other fun activities along the way include enjoying a sunset on Sand Mountain, horseback riding through the wide grass lands, and searching for hot springs. Because of its remote location, the Loneliest Road in America offers the perfect opportunity for some stargazing.

 

Girl Sitting in Heart-Shaped Bartine Hot Springs in Nevada

 

Tips:

  • The Loneliest Road in America used to be only travelable by people with survival skills. While it’s definitely easier to drive these days, make sure you fuel up before you leave and get gas every opportunity you get. Gas stations are few and far in-between.
  • Make sure you bring plenty of water and food with you.
  • Nevada has an incredible amount of hot springs and no road trip across the Loneliest Road would be complete without taking a dip. Make sure to stop at the popular Spencer Hot Springs or smaller heart-shaped Bartine Hot Springs.
  • There is surprisingly good cell reception along the Loneliest Road in America. I had 2 bars LTE with T-Mobile.

Hours: Open 24 hours a day

Cost: Driving the Loneliest Road in America is free.

Facilities: There are only few facilities along the Loneliest Road in America, whenever you hit a ghost town.

Location: Loneliest Road in America

 

White Sands Monument in New Mexico

 

White Sands National Park is everything you think of when you hear the name. It’s in the Chihuahuan Desert in New Mexico and is covered in rare white sand. While you may have never heard of it, White Sands is extremely beautiful and definitely worth adding to your Southwest USA road trip.

The white gypsum sand is like nothing I have ever seen before. As you enter the park, you will notice how incredibly quiet it is. There is no sound other than the wind forming new sand dunes.

 

Girl in Dress at White Sands National Monument

 

Girl with Sand running through hands at White Sands National Park New Mexico

 

You can easily access the dunes on the Dunes Drive which is a looped road from the visitor center to the dune field. We were able to park almost anywhere we wanted and just get out of the car to explore the area. If you would like to spend more time in Mexico, you could visit the White Sand National Park in the morning and head to Albuquerque for a weekend.

 

Couple Kissing in White Sands National Park

 

Tips:

  • The White Sands National Park is a desert and as such extremely dry and hot. Make sure you bring plenty of water.
  • You can easily get lost wandering around the dunes as there is not a lot a variety in landscape. Make sure you don’t visit alone and follow trail posts.
  • The sun reflection off the white sand is very intense. Make sure you use sunscreen with high SPF and wear protective clothing. Visiting in the early morning is best to avoid the afternoon heat.
  • There is poor to no cell reception at White Sands National Park.

 

Hours: The White Sands National Park opens at 7am daily. Closing hours vary depending on the time of the year and are generally between 6pm -7pm in winter and 8pm-9m in summer. Make sure you check the current operation hours on the official website as there might be closures for missile testing.

Cost: Entrance fee to the park is $25 per vehicle and $15 per person if there is only one person in the vehicle.

Facilities: There is a visitor center at the entrance of the park with full washrooms.

Location: White Sands National Park

 

The Next Trip Top 5 Tips for Your Southwest USA Road Trip

 

1) Prepare for the Heat

The weather in the Southwest US is very dry and hot. Especially during the Summer months, temperatures often rise over 100 F (38 C) and spending time outside can be unbearable. Make sure you are prepared for the heat  during your Southwest USA road trip. Make sure your car has air conditioning and if you plan to visit in Summer, plan accommodation with air conditioning as well. I would recommend doing your Southwest USA road trip in March or April when temperatures are more pleasant.

 

2) Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is key during the heat for safety but also to stay energized. Many of these incredible destinations are very dry and windy and you will end up needing more water than you expect. Make sure you bring plenty of fluids. I add Hydralyte to my water for extra hydration on all of my hikes to make sure I don’t get de-hydrated.

 

3) Bring Good Hiking Shoes

A lot of these Utah and Arizona road trip destinations are in rocky and sandy terrain. Make sure you bring good hiking shoes with great grip on the sole to get around easier. I have done some hikes in normal sneakers which slowed me down a bit as I wasn’t able to climb down rocky sections as easily.

 

4) Bring a Good Camera

You will undoubtedly see some incredible landscapes on your Southwest USA road trip. Make sure you bring a good camera and have it fully charged. You will want to look back to this iconic road trip years down the road and will want photos to remember all the incredible places you have seen. On our trip, we took thousands of photos of the amazing rock formations and continue to enjoy looking back on them.

 

5) Plan Around Sunrises and Sunsets

Generally, the best time to explore these places is early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Temperatures are not as hot, there will be less people on the road, and the golden hour provides for amazing photos. Make sure you know your sunrise and sunset hours as traveling in the dark can quickly get very dangerous. I would especially recommend to not do any off-road driving or hiking in the dark.

 

Girl in Dress Behind a Plant at White Sands National Park

 

Have you ever taken a Southwest USA road trip? Let us know if we missed any places we should be adding to our list! We love to explore more and hear from you! What have been your favorite road trips to date?

 

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The 10 best Southwest USA road trip destinations you can't miss including Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and more!

 

The 10 best Southwest USA road trip destinations you can't miss including Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and more!

 

The 10 best Southwest USA road trip destinations you can't miss including Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and more!
The 10 best Southwest USA road trip destinations you can't miss including Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and more!
The 10 best Southwest USA road trip destinations you can't miss including Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and more!
The 10 best Southwest USA road trip destinations you can't miss including Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and more!

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Best Things to Do in Banff in Winter

By now everyone has seen pictures of the beautiful turquoise lakes of the Canadian Rockies. Banff and Lake Louise are the epicenter of the Canadian wilderness, and are equally worth a trip in summer or winter. Here is everything you need to know to visit Banff in winter - where to stay, the most impressive natural wonders, how to pack for your trip, and the best things to do in Banff in winter.

 

Sunflare through snow covered tree in Banff

 

Make sure you don't miss our top five tips to make the most of your visit to Banff at the end of this post!

 

Banff National Park

 

Banff National Park is one of the most popular of Canada’s national parks. And for good reason! Banff is full of beautiful glacial lakes, majestic flowing rivers, and towering snowy peaks.

 

View from Fairmont Hotel Lake Louise - The Next Trip

 

Banff National Park was formed in 1885, making it Canada’s oldest national park. The park encompasses over 2,500 square miles (6,600 square km) of beautiful Canadian wilderness. With this much space, you can definitely find your own picturesque slice of nature.

 

View of Fairmont Springs Hotel in Banff - The Next Trip

 

The Canadian Pacific Railway was instrumental in the early growth of the park, building two of the most famous Canadian hotels here, the Banff Springs Hotel and Chateau Lake Louise. These magnificent hotels established Banff National Park as a popular tourist destination. Having a hot chocolate there on a cold day is an iconic thing to do in Banff in winter.

 

View of Banff - The Next Trip

 

Winter tourism in Banff was fairly limited until 1968, when the Banff Springs Hotel modernized and became winterized! Previously it was only open during the warmer months of the year.

 

Getting to Banff in Winter

 

Even though Banff is in the middle of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, it is relatively easy to get to any time of the year. If you don’t already live within driving distance, you will most likely be flying into Calgary, which is about an hour and a half drive away. In comparison, our drive from Vancouver, took about 12 hours. Despite the snow, there are a lot of things to do in Banff in winter which you can't miss out on.

 

Toyota Tacoma driving in the snow - The Next Trip

 

If you don’t want to drive through the Canadian Rockies in the middle of winter, there are a number of shuttle buses driving from Calgary to Banff.  Additionally, once in Banff there is a good public transportation system, and you can visit some incredible off the beaten path destinations with tours, such as the Winter Wonder Tour.

That being said, if you have your own vehicle, or a rental car, you can explore all the best things to do in Banff in winter at your own pace! Ensure that you have winter tires, as they are mandatory on all highways during the winter months until April.

 

Bow Valley Parkway

 

On of the best things to do in Banff in winter besides skiing is exploring the Bow Valley Parkway. The Bow Valley Parkway is the scenic alternative to drive between Banff and Lake Louise. The road stretches 31 miles (50 km) with many great sights along the way. It's the perfect place to start exploring Banff National Park and you can't miss out on what it has to offer.

 

View from Bow Valley Parkway - The Next Trip

 

 

Johnston Canyon

 

One of our favorite stops along the Bow Valley Parkway, Johnston Canyon is dramatically carved into the limestone bedrock with steep canyon walls, and plunging waterfalls. During winter, the falls freeze over, forming dramatic ice features. This is a very popular spot for ice walking and ice climbing and the views don't disappoint.

 

Entrance Gate to Johnston Canyon - The Next Trip

 

Frozen lower falls at Johnston Canyon - The Next Trip

 

The two main falls, Lower Falls and Upper Falls, are a relatively easy 0.7 miles (1.1 km) and 1.6 miles (2.6 km) hike from the parking lot. If you're like us and are visiting in winter, we recommend you wear good traction hiking shoes or bring ice cleats. The path can be quite slippery and difficult to master without the right shoes. The temperatures can be a few degrees cooler at the falls than in the parking lot. Bring your warm jacket to ensure you don't get cold during your hike!

 

Ice Climbers on Upper Falls at Johnston Canyon - The Next Trip

 

Morant's Curve

 

This is, not surprisingly, one of the most photographed spots in all of Banff National Park and also one of our favorite things to do in Banff in winter. And for good reason, as you can snap some epic pictures here. Canadian freight trains curve through Banff National Park, with the Bow River in the foreground and large mountains in the background.

 

Girl in Red Dress at Morant's Curve in Banff - The Next Trip

 

Finding Morant's Curve is relatively easy as it is well signed. Once you get onto the Bow Valley Parkway (driving from the North), it is a short five to ten minute drive. There is a small parking lot right across the street from the viewpoint. However, getting an iconic photo with a freight train is the difficult part. The freight trains passing through here do not run on a schedule and run at different times every day. As such, you can wait for hours and not see a train, or you may spot one in just a few minutes. Either way, make sure you're prepared and bring snacks and water, and a lot of patience.

 

Snowy Winterland View from Morant's Curve Banff - The Next Trip

 

We visited the Morant's Curve twice during our stay in Banff. While we did not get to see a full freight train, we did see a small locomotive and snow plough come through Morant’s Curve.

 

 
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Lake Louise

 

Lake Louise is another one of the quintessential Canadian Rockies “must-sees” that should be at the top of your list any time of year. It is definitely at the top of our list of things to do in Banff in winter. You might know the lake due to its striking blue waters. In winter, the lake is covered in ice and snow, but it is no less beautiful.

 

Ice Hockey Game at Lake Louise - The Next Trip

 

Instead of canoeing, you will find the lake turned into a hockey rink, an ice castle, and the perfect place to snowshoe and cross-country ski.

 

Ice Castle at Lake Louise - The Next Trip

 

Girl Twirling at Ice Castle Lake Louise - The Next Trip

 

Girl Twirling at Ice Castle Lake Louise - The Next Trip

 

Lake Louise is easily accessible by car and is a 40 minutes drive away from Banff. If you're planning to visit during the holidays or on weekends, make sure you get there early in the day. It can be very busy and the parking lot fills up quickly. Also be sure to check the weather before you plan your trip there as it can be dramatically different from Banff.

 

Girl Jumping at Lake Louise - The Next Trip

 

Vermilion Lakes

 

The Vermilion Lakes are actually less than 2 miles from the town of Banff, and yet they feel like they are a million miles away! You may have seen pictures of beautiful reflections of Mount Rundle at any time of the year, and this is where the pictures were taken from!

 

View at Vermillion Lakes - The Next Trip

The great part about going to Vermilion Lakes in the winter is that there is almost no one there. We spent a few hours one afternoon at Vermilion Lakes. During our time we only saw a handful of other people out enjoying the beautiful weather. This makes Vermilion Lakes easy to schedule into your itinerary any time of day and a must add to your list of things to do in Banff in winter.

 

Couple standing on frozen vermillion lakes - The Next Trip

 

 

Girl throwing snow at Vermillion Lakes Banff - The Next Trip

 

If you are feeling adventurous, Vermilion Lakes is a great place to test the waters, quite literally, and take a polar dip.  There are a few areas of the vast lake that are not covered in ice, if you are in need of a refreshing dip! Just be sure to have a warm car waiting for you.

 

Girl doing Polar Dip at Vermillion Lakes Banff - The Next Trip

 

Where to Stay Near Banff


We were hosted by  the Grande Rockies Resort and had a wonderful time at the resort. We are excited to share our stay with you. As always, all of the opinions are our own. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support us!

 

Girl twirling at Grande Rockies Resort Canmore - The Next Trip

 

Canmore is a great place to base your adventures of Banff National Park, as accommodation, food, and all other essentials are easier to come by and more affordable in Canmore compared to Banff and the entire town is less busy. We stayed in nearby Canmore, at the Grande Rockies Resort.

 

Driveway at Grande Rockies Resort Canmore - The Next Trip

 

Sunrise at Grande Rockies Resort Canmore - The Next Trip

 

Our stay was in a one-bedroom suite which was perfect for our time in Banff National Park as it allowed us the room to relax in the evenings by the fireplace and make a delicious home cooked meal.

 

Kitchen at Grande Rockies Resort Canmore - The Next Trip

 

Fireplace at Grande Rockies Resort Canmore - The Next Trip

 

If you're looking to explore the trails around Canmore, the Grande Rockies Resort has fat tire bikes and snowshoes that can be reserved for free. We took the fat bike on a spin and it's incredibly smooth to ride in the snow and such a fun thing to do in Banff in winter. They also have a wonderful indoor swimming pool, indoor-outdoor hot tub, and heated indoor parking!

 

Fat Bike driving in Canmore - The Next Trip

 

What Should I Pack for Banff in Winter?

 

The weather can get properly cold in the Canadian Rockies during the winter. During our visit the nightly low temperatures reached -18C (0F), but -30C (-22F) would not be unheard of. Since you will be exploring the best things to do in Banff in winter, you should be fully outfitted in winter gear from head to toe with a toque (Canadian warm winter hat), scarf, warm jacket, gloves, warm pants, and winter boots. If you are spending a few hours outdoors a very worthwhile investment are the glove warmer packets! We used these each day outside, and they easily lasted the whole day.

 

Girl standing on frozen lake with backpack and suitcase - The Next Trip

 

 

The Next Trip Top 5 Tips for Things to Do in Banff in Winter:

 

1) Prepare for the cold

This is winter in the Canadian Rockies, and as we already mentioned it can get really cold! Even if you already live somewhere that has cold winters, it pays to be prepared for your trip to Banff. Often when we travel we spend a lot more time outdoors, so be sure to pack all warm clothing and hand warmers!

2) Stay Hydrated

We noticed that our skin was very dry during our stay in Banff. This is partially due to the cold and dry air outside and the hot dry air inside from the building heaters. Another important factor is that we tend to drink less water when it is cold outside! Packing a thermos with some warm water, tea, or broth on your outdoor adventures is a great way to stay hydrated and warm at the same time!

3) Cook your own meals

While there are some fantastic restaurants in both Banff and Canmore, as they are located in a small remote resort town, they are priced accordingly! The easiest way to save a large amount of money on your trip to Banff is to cook a few meals in your hotel room. Our one-bedroom suite at the Grande Rockies Resort was perfect for us to cook some of our meals ourselves!

4) Hit the slopes

While we didn't have enough time on our trip to get some skiing and snowboarding in, this is a fantastic area for winter sports. Banff Sunshine and Lake Louise are by far the biggest and most popular ski mountains with tourists. Smaller Norquay is nearer to Banff, and can be a great alternative to escape the crowds.

5) Have a flexible schedule

This is the number one mindset to have to enjoy your trip to Banff in the winter. Winter weather is unpredictable, and can be rather unfriendly towards winter travelers. On our trip we encountered multiple road closures, rain, snow, and sunshine. You never really know what the weather conditions will be, but you just have to be able to roll with it. That being said, it's great to always have a secondary plan in the back of your mind if your first plans don't work out due to weather.

 

Save this post to your Canada travel Pinterest board for when you compile your list of things to do in Banff in winter or plan your next vacation!

 

Best Things to Do in Banff in Winter. These are our top places to see in Banff, where to stay, and what to pack.

 

Best Things to Do in Banff in Winter. These are our top places to see in Banff, where to stay, and what to pack.

Best Things to Do in Banff in Winter. These are our top places to see in Banff, where to stay, and what to pack.
Best Things to Do in Banff in Winter. These are our top places to see in Banff, where to stay, and what to pack.
Best Things to Do in Banff in Winter. These are our top places to see in Banff, where to stay, and what to pack.
Best Things to Do in Banff in Winter. These are our top places to see in Banff, where to stay, and what to pack.
Best Things to Do in Banff in Winter. These are our top places to see in Banff, where to stay, and what to pack.

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Explore Banff National Park with Winter Wonder Tour

Banff National Park is a dream to visit in winter! In case you didn't know, Kyle is from Canada (read about our story here), and we love exploring Canada. Read about our Canada East Coast adventures here. However, we have not visited the Canadian Rockies in winter until now. The snow-covered mountains and trees make for the perfect fairy tale getaway. There is no better way to start off your romantic trip than with the Banff Winter Wonder Tour. The tour takes you to some of the main highlights of Banff National Park in winter. Hence, it provides you with a quintessential Canadian experience along the way!

 

Snowshoeing at Lake Minnewanka Banff - The Next Trip

 

All of the below locations and activities were included within the Banff Winter Wonder Tour, which we enjoyed on a beautiful sunny afternoon. We were taken between all locations by coach bus. This allowed us to heat up after each outdoor activity and leave our belongings in a safe space when we didn’t need them. Take a seat as we take you through all of the tour activities!

 

Disclaimer:  Our tour was provided by Brewster Sightseeing and we loved it. As always, all of our opinions on our experience and how many Canadian treats you should eat are completely our own. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support us!

 

Views of Two Jack Lake

 

The first stop of the tour is a viewpoint of Two Jack Lake. The lake is named after two local Jack’s who used to work in the area and frequent the lake. Two Jack Lake is relatively unknown compared to some of the most famous nearby lakes. However, it is no less beautiful!

 

Two Jack Lake Banff National Park in Winter - The Next Trip

 

The sun reflecting off the frozen lake is magical!

 

Snowshoeing at Lake Minnewanka

 

Lake Minnewanka is a large glacial lake in Banff National Park, and was one of our favorite stops on the tour! It is very popular in the summer, but equally as beautiful in the winter.

 

Showshoeing at Lake Minnewanka with Pursuit Collection - The Next Trip

 

Here we went on a short snowshoeing walk through the forest and along the lake. It had snowed the night before, so there was fresh snow everywhere. As a result, it was a lot of fun bounding through the deep snow. As the lake was entirely frozen and covered in snow, we even walked out onto the ice!

 

Snowshoeing at Lake Minnewanka Banff National Park in Winter - The Next Trip

 

Bettina tried using some old-style snowshoes made with a wooden frame and dried caribou hide webbing. However, as they didn’t have the metal ice picks on the bottom like modern snowshoes do, it was slippery! Luckily, she didn't fall!

 

Old Snowshoes at Lake Minnewanka - The Next Trip

 

Old Snowshoes at Lake Minnewanka - The Next Trip

 

Cave & Basin National Historic Site

 

The Cave and Basin National Historic Site is an interactive place to learn about the birthplace of Canada’s national parks, as well as local history and culture.

 

Cave and Basin Natural Hot Spring Banff - The Next Trip

 

The site includes access to an underground natural hot spring, which is protected to preserve the habitat of the Banff Springs snail. This minuscule snail has adapted to live in the harsh environment of the natural thermal springs. The snail lives in just five of the nine Banff hot springs, and is considered ‘at risk’ or endangered.  Additionally, there is only one hot springs open to the public (the Upper Hot Springs) to preserve these little Banff Spring snails.

 

Bow Falls

 

These waterfalls on the Bow River are located very close to Banff town center. The viewpoint here allows you to see the beautiful ice-covered falls in the winter, as well as the nearby merger of the Bow and Spray rivers.

 

Bow River Banff National Park

 

We also enjoyed a cup of warm hot chocolate and a traditional Canadian sweet, Nanaimo Bars while taking in the beautiful Bow Falls!

Banff Gondola on the Winter of Wonder Tour

 

The last stop on the tour is at the Banff Gondola. The gondola climbs 2,292 feet (698 meters) to the top of Sulphur Mountain. On your way to the top you will have glimpses of the town of Banff and the mountain views that await.

 

View from Sulphur Mountain Banff Gondola - The Next Trip

 

The eight-minute journey to the top is totally worth it when you arrive to magnificent views like these!

 

View from Sulphur Mountain Banff Gondola - The Next Trip

 

At the top of Sulphur Mountain, the Winter Wonder tour includes a delicious sampling of a traditional Canadian snack. We tried bannock with maple butter and a cup of hot apple cider. Both the bannock and apple cider were freshly made upon our arrival. As a result, they were absolutely delicious! So much that we even had seconds!

 

Canadian Treat Bannock - The Next Trip

 

After our snack we had an hour of free time. You could take photos, walk the boardwalk to nearby Sanson’s Peak, or explore the gondola summit.

 

View from Sulphur Mountain Banff Gondola - The Next Trip

 

Igloo at Banff Gondola - The Next Trip

 

 

After our time at the summit, we took the gondola back down to the mountain base. The coach bus drove back to the town of Banff, and we said goodbye to our excellent tour hosts. The Banff Winter Wonder tour is a wonderful way to spend your afternoon exploring Banff National Park in winter and complete with outdoor winter activities, historical facts, classic Canadian treats, and most importantly all those iconic Canadian Rockies views.

 

Alpenglow Festival

 

The Alpenglow Festival was not specifically included in our Winter Wonder Tour, but we wanted to highlight it as it is a must see if you’re in Banff on a winter weekend. During the festival you can enjoy an evening of more amazing views and live music at the top of Sulphur Mountain. It happens every Friday and Saturday night between the end of January and April.

 

Alpenglow Festival at Banff Gondola - The Next Trip

 

Alpenglow Festival at Banff Gondola - The Next Trip

 

The festival is included within a Banff Gondola ticket, and provides a warm and cozy atmosphere at the top of Sulphur Mountain. Inside the gondola summit there is the Glow Bar Lounge, with live music, signature drinks, and tasty treats.

 

Alpenglow Festival at Banff Gondola - The Next Trip

 

If you feel like venturing out onto the rooftop, don't worry about the cold! You will be rewarded with a heated igloo, where you can eat a delicious s’more after roasting it yourself on the firepits! Our roasted s'mores were perfect! We enjoyed a relaxing Friday night at the Alpenglow Festival and can highly recommend it as an evening out on top of the town of Banff!

 

Alpenglow Festival at Banff Gondola - The Next Trip

 

 

Pin this post to your Banff and Canada board to help plan your next trip!

 

Explore Banff National Park with Winter Wonder Tour 37

 

Explore Banff National Park in Winter with the Winter Wonder Tour! Go snowshoeing at Lake Minnewanka, take a ride up the Banff Gondola, and enjoy this Canadian Rockies destination!
Explore Banff National Park in Winter with the Winter Wonder Tour! Go snowshoeing at Lake Minnewanka, take a ride up the Banff Gondola, and enjoy this Canadian Rockies destination!
Explore Banff National Park in Winter with the Winter Wonder Tour! Go snowshoeing at Lake Minnewanka, take a ride up the Banff Gondola, and enjoy this Canadian Rockies destination!
Explore Banff National Park in Winter with the Winter Wonder Tour! Go snowshoeing at Lake Minnewanka, take a ride up the Banff Gondola, and enjoy this Canadian Rockies destination!
Explore Banff National Park in Winter with the Winter Wonder Tour! Go snowshoeing at Lake Minnewanka, take a ride up the Banff Gondola, and enjoy this Canadian Rockies destination!
Explore Banff National Park in Winter with the Winter Wonder Tour! Go snowshoeing at Lake Minnewanka, take a ride up the Banff Gondola, and enjoy this Canadian Rockies destination!

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Things to Do in Bangkok in Three Days

Bangkok is one of the quintessential cities in Southeast Asia with its amazing food, huge nightlife scene, crazy traffic congestion, and intense heat – it truly is a full-out assault on the senses. This however, doesn’t mean that your trip to Bangkok needs to be hectic, stressful, or overwhelming. While three days is not quite enough time to see everything, it is the perfect amount of time to get a true sense of the city, so read on for our recommendations on the best things to do in Bangkok in three days. If you are looking to see more of the country outside of Bangkok as well, don't miss out on these ways to explore the beauty of Thailand.

 

Bettina and Kyle at Wat Arun - The Next Trip

 

To skip ahead to our top 5 tips on things to do in Bangkok in three days, click here.

 

Is Bangkok Worth Visiting?

 

Absolutely! Even if you only have three days in Bangkok, the city is worth it as it has a little bit of something for everyone! Bangkok, officially known as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon, has a population of over 11 million inhabitants who welcome over 20 million visitors every year. This makes Bangkok one of the most visited cities in the world, and it is not hard to see why.

 

Busy Street in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

The tropical metropolis is extremely tourist friendly and offers everything from a vibrant street and nightlife, to hundreds of ornate temples and cultural sites, to bustling markets, to relaxing spas and wellness, all topped off by delicious and affordable food. The busyness of the city is exactly why Bettina fell in love with it.

 

Busy Street in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

In addition, Bangkok has two large airports, and is an aviation hub of Southeast Asia, meaning that it is often more affordable than you think to fly here from virtually anywhere on the globe. If you’re interested in learning more on how to book cheap flights, check out our Five Step Guide.

 

Where to Stay in Bangkok

 

As Bangkok is such a huge city with so many diverse sights spread across the city, a hotel with a central location and access to public transit is ideal. For our time in Bangkok we stayed at the Shama Lakeview Asoke Bangkok, which worked out perfectly. The Shama Lakeview Asoke hotel is located in a quiet area of the Central Business District and is an easy 10-minute walk to BTS Skytrain and MRT metro stations, as well as shopping malls and restaurants galore. This location allowed us to take public transportation when we were out exploring for the day!

 

View from Shama Asoke Lakeview Bangkok

 

What makes the Shama Lakeview Asoke especially great for those on an extended Southeast Asia stay is every room in the hotel is an apartment style suite so you have lots of room to relax, and have some of the conveniences of home. Our one-bedroom lakeview suite included a fully stocked kitchen, comfortable work space, and washer and dryer, all of which we greatly appreciated.

 

Hotel Room at Shama Asoke Lakeview Bangkok

 

When not relaxing in your room, the hotel amenities include a huge outdoor pool and large gym, and a few fun activities like a ping pong table and indoor golf driving range.

 

Pool Area of Shama Asoke Lakeview Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Last but not least, there are two restaurants you can choose from for breakfast! We ended up eating all of our hotel meals at the Coffee Club café. It was so good that we even came back here for late night snacks, dessert, and drinks each night.

 

Breakfast at Coffee Club Cafe

 

If you are looking for a centrally located place to stay in Bangkok, which is comfortable, incredibly clean, and full of amenities, we can highly recommend the Shama Lakeview Asoke Bangkok.

We were hosted by  Shama Lakeview Asoke Bangkok and had a wonderful time and are excited to share our trip with you. All of the opinions are our own. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support us!

 

Thai Food

 

Thai food is world-renowned for its diversity in flavors and attention to detail and happens to be one of our favorite cuisines in the world. If Bettina could pick just one favorite meal, for her it is absolutely Thai Green Curry. As a result, we went on the search for green curry every day in Bangkok!

 

Basil Chicken Thai Food at Chatachuk Weekend Market - The Next Trip

 

With a three-day visit to Bangkok, there is a lot to see in a short amount of time. One thing you don’t need to be too worried about, is having great food. There is amazing Thai food around every corner. For our time in Bangkok we enjoyed every meal, and didn’t really do any significant prior research.

 

Street Food in Thailand - The Next Trip

 

That being said we recommend a quick peak on Google Maps restaurant ratings when you are ready to eat. We found that while there were a lot of highly rated restaurants, there were also a surprising number of poorly rated restaurants (which we would generally say is less than four stars out of five, however there were a lot below three stars when we searched).

Some of our other favorite Thai dishes which are definitely worth trying are Pad Thai, Yellow Curry, a fresh Thai Salad, and so many others.

 

Streetfood in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

You may be wondering "is street food safe in Bangkok?” and to that we can say that we sampled street food too many times to count and we never got sick. We highly recommend you try some local street food as it is an essential part of the Bangkok experience! There are so many street vendors on every corner, you can and should be picky about where you eat. Choose the vendor with a clean looking cart, and where the meat is being freshly grilled, as opposed to looking like it has been sitting in the hot sun all afternoon.

 

Fun Things to Do in Bangkok in Three Days

 

A trip to Bangkok can be very different for each individual person, depending on your interests.  If you want to party all night long, the city can certainly deliver, but we opted for a visit focused primarily on exploring some of best wats (Buddhist temples) the city has to offer.

 

Temples in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Before you visit any temples, make sure you are respectful to the religion and culture and dress appropriately. For women, this means covering your shoulders and knees. If you are wearing a short skirt and revealing top, make sure you bring a large scarf to cover up your knees and a cardigan to cover your shoulders and chest area. Men should wear long pants and either short- or long-sleeve shirts (no tank tops). No worries if you forget to dress properly though; most wats also have clothes rentals.

 

Wat Benchamabophit in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Wat Arun

 

Wat Arun is one of the best known in Bangkok, and is one of the few main tourist sites located on the west side of the Chao Phraya River. Getting here is fairly easy as it is a short walk from one of the MRT Blue Line stops. Wat Arun towers in the distance, as its central spire is over 70 metres (200 feet) tall, and is covered in colorful porcelain.

 

Wat Arun in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

The entrance fee is 50 baht (about $1.65 USD). Due to its popularity, we highly recommend arriving early in the morning to avoid the worst of the thick crowds. We also heard that the morning sun reflects off the temple to give a nice pearly glow.

 

Wat Arun in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Wat Arun in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Most people arrive at Wat Arun by taking one of the many ferries that cross the Chao Phraya River, which is another experience worth doing! The ferries are inexpensive, and the quickest way to cross over to the next main attraction!

 

Crossing Chao Phraya River on a Ferry - The Next Trip

 

Wat Pho and the Reclining Buddha

 

In addition to Wat Arun, Wat Pho is another of the best known Bangkok attractions, together with the nearby Grand Palace. This temple has the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand, and also includes the famous Reclining Buddha, built in 1832 and lying 46 meters long (151 feet).

 

Reclining Buddha in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Wat Pho in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

The entrance fee is 100 baht (about $3.30 USD) and is worth it! We again recommend arriving early due to the huge crowds that come to see the Reclining Buddha. Even if you don't arrive early, the entire area is not overly crowded. That means you can easily walk around and enjoy the sights.

 

Wat Pho in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Wat Pho Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

If you have enough time and truly are an early bird, be sure to check out The Grand Palace. It is the most famous landmark in Bangkok and Thailand's most sacred site. Tickets to the palace are 500 baht ($16.60).

 

Wat Pho in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

More of Wat You Want

 

During our time in Bangkok, we toured two additional wats, although there are hundreds more that we didn’t get to.  Wat Ratchanatdaram is stunningly beautiful, with a style that is slightly simplified and symmetric compared to most other wats that we saw.

 

Wat Ratchanatdaram in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

The best part about this wat is that there is no entrance fee. As it is further away from the main tourist area, it is also not very busy at all. We arrived in the late afternoon, and there was only a handful of other people visiting at the same time.

 

Wat Ratchanatdaram in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Only a tuk tuk ride away is Wat Benchamabophit Dusitvanaram, our favorite wat in Bangkok.  We arrived just before sunset, and had the place almost all to ourselves.

 

Tuk Tuks in Bangkok, Thailand - The Next Trip

 

This wat is also known as the marble temple; and you can see why from the photos! Entrance to Wat Benchamabophit was 50 baht (about $1.65 USD), and definitely worth it.

 

Wat Benchamabophit in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Wat Benchamabophit in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

Wat Benchamabophit in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

 
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Chatuchak Weekend Market

 

Chatuchak Weekend Market is another quintessential Bangkok experience and is one of the great things to do in Bangkok in three days. It is the world’s largest and most diverse weekend market with more than 15,000 stalls selling almost everything you could imagine.

 

Chatachuk Weekend Market - The Next Trip

 

Entrance to the market is free, so you can save your baht for shopping and eating! We purchased a few souvenirs at the market, but since we were most excited about the food, we arrived hungry and sampled as much as we could! If you like coconut, you will love the Thai coconut ice cream! It comes in a coconut and with toppings of tapioca pearls, peanuts, shaved coconut, etc.

 

Dinner at Chatachuk Weekend Market - The Next Trip

 

Thai Coconut Ice Cream at Chatachuk Weekend Market - The Next Trip

 

We visited Chatuchak Weekend Market on a Friday evening which is less busy than during the weekend. However, not all market stands were open so we didn't get to experience the full size of it. We'd recommend visiting on a Saturday or Sunday for shopping, but Friday night for eating.

 

Accessories at Chatachuk Weekend Market - The Next Trip

 

Food court at Chatachuk Weekend Market - The Next Trip

 

Getting to Chatuchak Weekend market is relatively easy as both public transport systems, BTS and MRT,  have nearby stations to the Chatuchak Weekend Market.

 

How to Get Around Bangkok

 

Not only is Bangkok a large city population-wise, but also geographically. This means you will be spending time trying to figure out how to get between the amazing sightseeing opportunities here. Traffic congestion can also be a problem, which can seriously cut into your time enjoying the city.  We primarily used the MRT (metro) to get to and from our hotel to various areas of the city. As the MRT travels underground, you don’t have to worry about traffic.  The same goes for the BTS Skytrain, which travels above the city streets. Another great reason to take the MRT is that it is cheap, safe, but more importantly, air-conditioned which comes in super handy on those hot and humid summer days! As a bonus, with stations looking as pretty, taking public transport is a sight in itself!

 

Metro Station in Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

If you find yourself too far away from a MRT or BTS Skytrain station, we can highly recommend Grab, which functions just like Uber or Lyft. We also used Grab to get to and from the airport, without any issues.

Of course, no trip to Bangkok would be complete without a trip on a tuk tuk! Be sure to agree upon a price prior to getting in, and then sit back, and hold on!

 

Spas and Thai Massages in Bangkok

 

We were pretty jetlagged when we arrived in Bangkok, so decided to pamper ourselves with a famous Thai massage. The Shama Lakeview Asoke Bangkok offers in-house Thai massages and we couldn't resist to book one for each of us. We both received a set of pants and top to put on before getting situated on the massage bed. Thai massages are very different to Swedish massages and combine acupressure and yoga postures. If you are looking for a relaxing massage, Thai massages may not be your best choice. Bettina chose a "medium" strength massage but I'm pretty sure I heard her say "ouch" at some point! 🙂 The massages can be a bit painful but we felt extremely relaxed afterwards and were able to sleep off our jetlag.

 

Pool Area of Shama Asoke Lakeview Bangkok - The Next Trip

 

If you are looking to get your nails done, Bangkok is one of the best places to do so! Bettina and I picked a place in a nearby shopping center and received and incredibly detailed and gentle pedicure. It is also very reasonably priced, making it another one of the great things to do in Bangkok in three days.

 

 

The Next Trip Top 5 Tips for Things to Do in Bangkok in Three Days:

 

1) Prepare for an assault on the senses. Sometimes your expectations can make or break a trip. While Bangkok is absolutely amazing, it is not the most relaxing place to be. If you are prepared to experience extreme heat and humidity, smell delicious food mixed with raw sewage nearby, see extreme wealth and poverty juxtaposed, and are prepared to battle the insane traffic congestion, you will have a great time! Part of traveling is just rolling with the local scene, even if it is not what you are used to. It's Bettina's favorite part about traveling!

2) Stay Hydrated. Building on top of our first point, almost no matter what time of the year you visit, it will be hot. Nothing takes the fun out of travelling like a good headache, sunburn, or dehydration. We carried water bottles and sunscreen with us everywhere we went and absolutely needed it. You can buy water bottles almost everywhere from street vendors. However, if you are in tourist area, prepare to pay 2-4x the “regular” price compared to a stand just a few blocks away.

3) Use the BTS Skytrain and MRT metro!  Before arriving, we planned to walk and take tuk tuks mostly everywhere, but after a half day in the heat, taking a tuk tuk spitting out exhaust fumes, while sitting overtop the hot engine in a traffic jam, was less than appealing. Our rides on the MRT were an nice air-conditioned break, rejuvenating our energy for the next activity.

4) Take out enough cash. Cash truly is king in Bangkok.  There were very few places that we went that accepted credit cards, so make sure to have enough Thai Baht currency for all of the wat entrance fees, street food, and market shopping for your trip. ATM machines are plentiful to take out more cash if you run out.

5) Eat the street food. This is absolutely part of the Bangkok experience. If you still have concerns, inspect each street vendors stall carefully to look for reasonable food preparation conditions. Look for stands where they cook the meat in front of you. You can even ask them to cook it longer if you prefer. Another tip is to seek out the food vendor that has the longest line of locals getting food.  If locals line up to eat there it should be delicious and safe.

 

Save this post to your Asia travel Pinterest board for when you plan your next vacation!

 

Things to Do in Bangkok in Three Days 48

 

Bangkok is a fantastic world class city with so much to offer! Read on for our top things to do in Bangkok, what to eat, tips on street food, the best temples to visit, and other experiences you can't miss in three days for your perfect trip.
Bangkok is a fantastic world class city with so much to offer! Read on for our top things to do in Bangkok, what to eat at Chatuchak Weekend Market, tips on street food, the best temples to visit, and other experiences you can't miss in three days for your perfect trip.
Bangkok is a fantastic world class city with so much to offer! Read on for our top things to do in Bangkok, what to eat, tips on street food, the best temples to visit, and other experiences you can't miss in three days for your perfect trip.
Bangkok is a fantastic world class city with so much to offer! Read on for our top things to do in Bangkok, what to eat, tips on street food, the best temples to visit, and other experiences you can't miss in three days for your perfect trip.

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The Best Weekend in Alaska – The Kenai Peninsula

The Kenai Peninsula is a great place to spend a (long) weekend in Alaska. It is perfect for getting a quick taste of wild Alaska, as it is relatively close to Anchorage. Prepare to see majestic mountains, beautiful glaciers, historic towns, and a chance of wildlife during your trip to the Kenai Peninsula. Be sure you have your camera charged and ready at all times! Unlike Bettina, wildlife doesn't pose and wait for you to be ready. 🙂

 

A weekend in Alaska and Kenai Peninsula - The Next Trip

 

We worked with Pursuit Collection to be able to share the full Alaska wildlife experience with you! As always, all our opinions and photos are our own. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support us. 

As you may know, it is our goal to visit all 50 U.S. States and Alaska has been a state neither of us had been to yet! You can check out the progress of our states visits on our U.S. States map. You can also read about our previous adventures offroading in Colorado, our cultural immersion in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and our weekend in San Antonio, Texas.

 

Laying in the grass in Kenai Peninsula Alaska - The Next Trip

 

We spent the July 4th weekend in Alaska and used the holiday to make it a 4-day trip without missing too much at work. Despite it being the height of summer, temperatures in Anchorage are usually around 65 degrees Fahrenheit (15 Celsius).

Our trip on the fourth of July weekend was unique as a number of record high temperatures were recorded in Alaska that week. This made for a much warmer trip than we expected! For us, summer is definitely the best time to visit Alaska.

To skip ahead to our top 5 tips on how to spend a weekend in Alaska and Kenai Peninsula.

 

Welcome to Alaska's Kenai Peninsula - The Next Trip

 

What is the Kenai Peninsula?

 

The Kenai Peninsula extends approximately 150 miles (240 km) southwest from Anchorage and includes mountain ranges with glaciers, many lakes and rivers, historic towns, and the famous sounds and fjords of the Gulf of Alaska. The Kenai Peninsula doesn’t include all of the popular sights of Alaska, but it is a great starting off point. We highly recommend it for your first trip to The Last Frontier and it makes a great trip for a weekend in Alaska.

 

River in the Summer at Kenai Peninsula - The Next Trip

 

 

How to Get To The Kenai Peninsula

 

You will almost certainly be flying into Anchorage, which is the largest city in Alaska, and also has the largest airport. All major US carriers fly here multiple times per day throughout the summer. Flight frequencies drop off significantly once the weather gets cold.

 

Plane Landing at Anchorage Airport Alaska - The Next Trip

 

You can also fly seasonally from Canada, Germany, Russia, and Iceland! Due to the distance from Alaska to the lower 48 states, there are a lot of flights that arrive and depart late in the evening (for example we arrived at 1am and then flew a red-eye back to Chicago leaving at 8pm and arriving at 4am!).

 

Once in Anchorage, we highly recommend you rent a car to explore the peninsula as it makes getting around much easier and you can make the most out of your weekend in Alaska. You don’t need to rent an SUV or truck to get around, as a car will easily reach all of the main sights.

 

Where to Stay in the Kenai Peninsula for a Weekend in Alaska

 

If you are planning to see all of the Kenai Peninsula in a weekend or extended weekend, having a base somewhere near the middle of the peninsula is a great way to go. That way you can explore each day without having to pack up and stay