Ultimate Guide to Banff In Fall: The 6 Best Things to See and Do

Banff is a beautiful destination all year-round, but Banff in fall has a special charm as the seasons change, many tourists go home, and the trees turn incredible shades of yellow and orange. And with most tourists gone – you will be able to enjoy even more of Banff!

Here are the top 6 things to do in Banff in fall to make you fall in love with this part of Canada. We added tips to each activity so you can get the most out of it on your trip. If you can’t make it to Banff in fall, check out our blog post on the best things to do in Banff in winter. Banff is certainly worth the trip anytime of the year.


Orange Mountain Peaks at Sunrise at Moraine Lake in Fall


Make sure you check out our top 5 tips to get the most out of our visit to Banff in fall at the end of this post!


Disclaimer:  We were offered a stay at the Mount Royal Hotel and the Open Top Touring experience by the Banff Jasper Collection by Pursuit. We can highly recommend both and our opinions on all experiences and how many Beavertails you should eat are our own - as always. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support us!


Know Before you Visit Banff in Fall


Banff is one of those bucket list destinations many people want to go to and it is just as beautiful as it looks in photos! There are a few things to keep in mind before you go.


Buy a National Park Pass


Since Banff is located in Banff National Park, you will need to purchase a national park pass (regardless of the mode of travel) for the duration of your stay. You can purchase the pass online before you visit, at the park entrances, or at the visitor center. The price of the park pass is $20 per day and your Banff National Park Pass is also valid in all other Canadian Rockies National Parks.


Boathouse with Fall Foliage at Lake Minnewanka


Wildlife Etiquette


Banff is known for having a lot of wildlife in town and many of the places we recommend in this post are relatively remote which means you may see some wild animals. Keep in mind that these animals are wild and encounters can be dangerous. Make sure you inform yourself about elk and bear encounters and never approach or feed wildlife.


Bull Elk in Banff in Fall


Does it Snow in October in Banff?


What is the best time to visit Banff in fall and does it snow in October in Banff? We get these questions all the time and to answer then in short: yes it can snow in Banff in October and the best time to go is early October.


Bettina Throwing Leaves in Banff National Park in Fall


Weather in the Canadian Rockies is rather unpredictable, and it is not that unusual to get one or two snow days during the heat of the Summer, so yes it can snow in October in Banff. However, if it does snow it is likely to just be for one day, with the snow melting soon after. The weather in Banff in fall is in general fairly cool, especially in the evenings and early mornings, but it’s not unusual for the afternoons to be sunny and warm, with many people walking around in shorts and t-shirts. That being said, the weather can change quickly, and you might encounter warm days and a dusting of snow within just a few days.


View from Vermillion Lakes Viewpoint in Fall


The earlier in fall you visit, the more likely you will get a few warm days without any snow! We recommend going early in October so you get to see the beautiful fall foliage in Banff but hopefully won’t have to deal with extremely cold temperatures yet.


What to Pack for Banff in Fall?


The weather in Banff in fall can vary wildly – sometimes just within hours. It’s best if you’re prepared for cold mornings and evenings, which means a warm jacket, scarf, toque (hat), and gloves. Don’t forget to throw in a pair of shorts and t-shirts if travelling to Banff in fall during September for some warmer weather. If you are planning to do some hiking, which we highly recommend, make sure you bring some good hiking boots and an outer wind and rain jacket that can keep you dry from any rain or snow.

Couple Standing on the Shore of Lake Louise


What Is There to Do in Banff in Fall?


Banff is famous for being surrounded by incredible nature, bright turquoise lakes, towering mountains, and lots of wildlife. It’s no wonder the city and its surroundings have become so popular over the years. There are so many things to see in and around Banff that it can get overwhelming. This is why we put together a list of the 6 best things to do in Banff in fall!


Watch the Sunrise at Moraine Lake


Catching the sunrise at Moraine Lake is one of the top moments when visiting Banff in fall. However, if you’re not a morning person, Moraine Lake at any time of the day is a great place to visit. It is known for its bright turquoise water and is absolutely breathtaking to see in person. It is often referred to as the “other lake,” meaning the other lake apart from the famous Lake Louise. However, the beauty of Moraine Lake captured us when we visited years ago and it has become our favorite lake in Banff National Park.


Bright Turquoise Water of Moraine Lake in the Day


Watching the sunrise at Moraine Lake is one of those “once in a lifetime” experiences. On a non-windy morning, the water is so calm, it perfectly reflects the mountain range behind it. And once the sun rays hit those mountain tops, they appear in the brightest pink and orange colors. It’s an incredible sight to see but getting there requires a bit of planning.


How to Get to Moraine Lake


Getting to Moraine Lake is relatively easy by car. Follow the directions on Highway 1 to Lake Louise and once you are on Lake Louise Drive, there will be a turn off on the left towards Moraine Lake. If you use Google Maps to get there, make sure you download the map before getting to the turn off, as there is no cell reception at Moraine Lake.

The road up to Moraine Lake closes after Canadian Thanksgiving weekend which is the second Monday in October. If you are planning to visit after Thanksgiving, you will need to hike the 6 miles (11km) road up to Moraine Lake.


What Time Does the Moraine Lake Parking Fill Up?


Seeing the sunrise here is so popular that you will likely have to deal with a large crowd of people, no matter if you are visiting in spring, summer, or fall. The parking lot here will fill up long before sunrise and it’s best if you arrive here very early. The best time to get here is around 5:00 AM to 5:30 AM, even though this might mean that you have a few hours until sunrise.


Pink Mountain Peaks at Moraine Lake at Sunrise


We visited in early October during the middle of the week and sunrise was just before 8:00 AM. However, we woke up at 4:00 AM and arrived at the Moraine Lake parking lot at 5:30 AM to find it already about half-full. The parking lot filled up around 6:00 AM after which any other visitors were denied entry. We took a nap until about 7:30 AM before claiming our spot on the lakeside for photos!

If you are wanting to visit Moraine Lake and the parking lot is already full – no worries! There is a Moraine Lake shuttle bus service from the overflow parking lot or Park and Ride buses on Highway 1 which run ever 15 minutes between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM.


Bettina in White Dress Watching Sunrise at Moraine Lake


We certainly weren’t the only ones here, as the lakeside was packed with others, keenly waiting for the sun to grace the mountain tops behind Moraine Lake and help warm everybody up! Despite the people, there is plenty of space on the shore of the lake to wait and take photos.

We were rewarded with spectacular views of Moraine Lake as the sun rose behind us. It was a bucket-list moment and well-worth cutting our sleep short!


Opening Times: Moraine Lake is open all year round but the road to Moraine Lake is closed in winter due to the risk of avalanches. The road usually opens at the end of May, beginning of June and closes the second Monday in October after Canadian Thanksgiving.

Price: Free

Location on Google Maps: Moraine Lake

What to Bring: A camera to capture the moment and a warm jacket


Experience the Incredible Larch Valley


Larch trees are renowned for their needles that turn a rich golden yellow in Fall. The trees are unique in that although they are conifers, they lose their needles in Fall like deciduous trees. The larch trees around Banff are primarily located in subalpine areas and hiking to see these trees is a very popular activity in Banff in Fall and well worth a hike.


Yellow Larch Trees in Fall at Larch Valley


One of the most famous areas to see the Larch trees is in Larch Valley. The valley is covered with larch trees and together with the surrounding mountains creates some stunning views and a great place to take photos and relax.

How to Get to Larch Valley


The trail head of the Larch Valley hike is at Moraine Lake and super easy to find. From the parking lot, make your way towards the Moraine Lake Lodge to the right of the lake and follow the path until you see signs for the hike.

The hike to Larch Valley follows a well-maintained and easy to follow path from Moraine Lake up 1,755 feet (535 m) over 2.7 miles (4.3 km). While the hike is fairly steep, it is not technical, and takes 3-4 hours return, depending on how much time you spend photographing all of the larch trees.


Bettina Among Yellow Larch Trees in Larch Valley


Best Time to Hike to Larch Valley


We did this hike during the first week of October, and unfortunately the Larch trees had already lost over half of their needles. If you are wanting to see the Larch trees in their full yellow glory, make sure you visit at the end of September or beginning of October. Keep in mind that the changing of the needles depends largely on the weather throughout fall and the timing can vary year by year. Once the needles turn, there is a window of 1-2 weeks before the needles fall, depending on the number of fall storms in the area.

Even if you don’t manage to see Larch Valley in the peak of Fall, it is still worth hiking to the valley and seeing these amazing trees.


Yellow Larch Trees in Larch Valley Banff National Park


Opening Times: The trail is open all year round but depending on how late you go in fall, there could be snow on the trail. Make sure you have the appropriate hiking gear.

Price: Free

Location on Google Maps: Larch Valley Hiking Trailhead

What to Bring: Good hiking shoes, a warm jacket, plenty of water


Hike at Lake Louise to Lake Agnes Tea House and Big Beehive


Lake Louise is a must-stop when visiting Banff in Fall to take in the beautiful turquoise water and iconic setting of the famous Chateau Lake Louise. The weather for Lake Louise is usually best in the morning, when the lake is more likely to be calm, however the best time to visit is really any time the sun is shining. This is easier said than done as the skies are usually overcast in the area in fall. However, when the sun shines on Lake Louise, the water color becomes so vibrant that it seems unreal!


Bettina Sitting on the Shore of Lake Louise on a Sunny Day


Before you start your hike, make sure you stop by the shore of the lake and snap a good amount of photos. The view of Lake Louise is stunning regardless of what time of day or year you are going.

The hike for a bird’s eye view of Lake Louise is very accessible, though a bit steep, to the Lake Agnes Tea House. The Lake Agnes Tea House is set on a quaint alpine lake and was built 120 years ago by the Canadian Pacific Railway, as a refuge for hikers, and to this day continues to serve hikers with piping hot specialty teas and homemade biscuits and sandwiches.


Having Tea at Lake Agnes Teahouse Lake Louise


You’ll appreciate your tea and biscuits even more once you realize that there is no electricity or running water at the teahouse, and all supplies are either helicoptered in at the beginning of the season or carried up the trail on the backs of the staff.

The Lake Agnes Tea House is 2.2 miles (3.6 km) from the Chateau Lake Louise, and takes most people 1-2 hours for the hike as they gain 1,300 feet (400 m).


View of Lake Louise from Big Beehive


If you are not tired yet after hiking to the teahouse, you can continue on the trail another mile (1.6 km) to the top of Big Beehive. The hike is relatively steep and is mostly switchbacks. Certain sections were very steep and require good hiking shoes and hiking poles if you have them.

The view from Big Beehive is certainly worth the hard work! You will be rewarded with panoramic views of Lake Louise, the Chateau Lake Louise, and Banff in fall.


Bettina in White Dress at Big Beehive Viewpoint Lake Louise


We really enjoyed this hike and can recommend it to everyone. The trail is well-maintained, but a bit steep, especially after the tea house. The hardest decision you will have to make is whether to stop for tea on the way up or the way down!


Big Beehive Hike View of Lake Louise


Opening Times: The trail is open all year but the Lake Agnes Tea House opens 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM for summer and fall, then closes for the season after Canadian Thanksgiving.

Price: Free, prices at the teahouse vary but teas start at $4.50.

Location on Google Maps: Lake Agnes Trailhead

What to Bring: Make sure you bring cash for having a tea at the Agnes Lake Tea House! Also wear good hiking shoes, a warm jacket, and lots of layers to prepare for temperature swings.


Explore the Lakes Around the Town of Banff


Banff National Park has so many great lakes to explore, however some of them are much closer than you may think! These are our favorites lakes to explore close to the town of Banff in fall.


Vermillion Lakes and Mount Rundle in Fall


Get some Exercise and Take in Fall Views at Vermillion Lakes


The main lake, or series of lakes, that are closest to the town of Banff are Vermillion Lakes, just a short drive of less than 5 minutes. The Vermillion Lakes are a series of small shallow lakes surrounded by grasses and trees, which turn beautiful shades of yellow and orange in fall. The lakes are usually calmest early in the morning and offer great views of Mount Rundle in the background. The Vermillion Lakes are popular for bike riding, running, walking, and just taking in the views of Banff in fall.


Fall Foliage at Vermillion Lakes with View of Mount Rundle


Our favorite thing to do at Vermillion Lakes is having a picnic and enjoying the incredible view of the lake and Mount Rundle. Set up on a bench on the shore or on a pier and treat yourself to your fall favorites.


Bettina Sitting on a Bench at Vermillion Lakes


Opening Times: Open all year

Price: Free

Location on Google Maps: Vermillion Lakes

What to Bring: Your favorite fall treats – we highly recommend getting some Beavertails!


Relax at Two Jack Lake


A little bit further away, but still less than a 15-minute drive, is Two Jack Lake. This beautiful lake is very popular in the summer for all sorts of activities and camping, but is also worth visiting in the fall. Two Jack Lake has a great setting with multiple picnic tables, benches, and two Adirondack chairs, making it a perfect place to relax, enjoy the afternoon, and have a snack.


View of Two Jack Lake in Fall


Bettina in Red Adirondack Chairs at Two Jack Lake


Opening Times: Open all year – for road conditions and closures in winter, check the seasonal road closures

Price: Free

Location on Google Maps: Two Jack Lake

What to Bring: Snacks and drinks for a relaxing afternoon by the lake


Stroll Along Lake Minnewanka


Lake Minnewanka is just a few minutes away from Two Jack Lake and is much larger at over 13 miles (21 km) long and quite deep. You can easily spend an entire day here as there a number of hiking trails in the area, you can rent a canoe, do the Lake Minnewanka cruise, or just relax by the beach. If you happen to get hungry, there is also a cute café and a gelato shop where you can pick up some snacks.


View of Lake Minnewanka


Canoes at Lake Minnewanka


Opening Times: Open all year – for road conditions and closures in winter, check the seasonal road closures. The Lake Minnewanka cruise and canoe rental close for the season after Canadian Thanksgiving.

Price: Free

Location on Google Maps: Lake Minnewanka

What to Bring: Comfortable shoes to walk on the gravel beach


Open Top Touring in Banff


The Open Top Touring experience is one of Banff’s newest attractions and transports you back in time through the history of Banff, while also literally transporting you around Banff to some of the top Instagram worthy sights. The open-top vintage-inspired coach looks as if it comes straight out of the 1930’s, but it actually is brand new and very comfortable.


Open Top Touring 1930s Bus


The tour starts off by getting acquainted with the seriously cool open-top coach that will take you around Banff. Once on the road, your guide (dressed to impress in 1930’s attire) will share the history of Banff through stories as you tour along the Bow River.


View from Open Top Touring Bus in Banff


The first stop is Surprise Corner, one of the best places to photograph the iconic Banff Springs Hotel. No matter how many times we have seen it, there just never seems to be a bad angle of this beautiful hotel in Banff National Park.


Bettina with Open Top Touring Vintage Bus in Banff


The history lesson will continue, as you drive the scenic Tunnel Mountain Drive. Tunnel Mountain doesn’t actually have a tunnel but the name comes from the 1800’s when there was a proposed rail line that would tunnel through the mountain. They ended up routing the railway around the mountain, but the name stuck!


Bettina at Open Top Touring Bus in Banff


Saving the best for last, the 1930s-inspired bus will bring you up the hill to the Mount Norquay lookout, for overarching views of the town of Banff. It is a great viewpoint to get a sense of Banff in fall as the colors of the changing leaves were evident all throughout the valley.


View from Mount Norquay Lookout of Banff in Fall


The Open Top Touring experience is one of the best things to do in Banff in fall, but it is also available throughout the spring and summer as well. It is closed after Canadian Thanksgiving for the winter season, but starts back up in spring.


Opening Times: The tour runs from spring to the second Monday in October

Price: $45 per person, you can book your tour at Open Top Touring here

Location on Google Maps: Pick up at Mount Royal Hotel in Banff

What to Bring: A jacket and scarf if it’s cold and sunglasses if it’s sunny


Indulge in Fall Treats and Wander the Streets of Banff


Arguably the best thing about fall anywhere are cozy evenings by the fireplace and irresistible sweet treats! A quintessentially Canadian treat which is delicious any time of year, but especially on a crisp fall day, is snacking on some BeaverTails.


Beavertails in Banff Canada


BeaverTails are a pastry which is both crispy and chewy, topped in some delicious flavor combinations. There are many flavors, from Hazel Amour, which is a chocolate hazelnut spread, to Apple Pie, covered in apple pie filling, apple slices, caramel, and crumble. And of course, since you are visiting in the Fall, just in time for Canadian Thanksgiving, don’t forget to sample some pumpkin pie!


Bettina Eating Beavertails in Banff in Fall


Opening Times: Most stores in Banff open at around 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM and close between 7:00 PM and 9:00 PM Beavertails is open daily from 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM.

Price: $6-$8 per piece

Location on Google Maps: Beavertails on Banff Avenue

What to Bring: Large appetite and your wallet


Where to Stay in Banff in Fall


Right in the heart of Banff, located on Banff avenue is the Mount Royal Hotel. The hotel has been located here for more than 100 years and is full of history! It has recently been renovated with a modern style, while keeping many of the heritage touches which share the history of Banff and the hotel. The lobby really shines with its grand fireplace and opulent touches.


Lobby at Mount Royal Hotel in Banff


Almost all of the rooms have stunning views of Tunnel Mountain or Banff Avenue, and if you are lucky enough to get a corner room, you will also see Cascade Mountain. Our personal favorite part of the room was the Nespresso machine for those early mornings chasing sunrises!


Hotel Room at Mount Royal Hotel in Banff


As another bonus, the Mount Royal Hotel is the starting point for the Open Top Touring experience, meaning you only need to step outside the lobby to board that beautiful vintage coach.


Bettina in Hotel Room at Mount Royal Hotel in Banff


Where to Shop in Banff


If you made it to Banff and noticed you did not pack the right outfits or if you are looking for a break in hiking, Banff is the perfect place to go shopping! Banff Avenue is the main street that runs through town, and perfectly lines up for beautiful views of Cascade Mountain, which may even be dusted with a fresh coating of snow when visiting Banff in fall.


Bettina on Banff Avenue in Banff


You will find all kinds of stores on and around Banff Avenue and can get anything here from a new fall outfit to the perfect hiking boots for your next adventure.


The Next Trip Top 5 Tips for Visiting  Banff in Fall


1) Purchase an Annual Parks Canada Discovery Pass

Purchase the annual Parks Canada Discovery Pass. The annual pass, which allows you to visit all of Canada’s National Parks, not just Banff National Park, is $140, compared to about $20 per day. It is easy to spend one week alone in Banff National Park, so it is a great value to also explore nearby Jasper and Kootenay National Parks, plus any others for a full year.


2) Pack Clothing for All Types of Weather

This is the Rocky Mountains after all! Be prepared for all types of weather, as it is entirely possible that you will encounter sunshine and snow on your trip to Banff in fall, perhaps even on the same day. The most important items are sturdy hiking shoes, a wind/rain resistant jacket, gloves, and a toque (warm hat).


3) Chase at Least One Sunrise

Witnessing a sunrise at one of Banff’s most famous lakes (Moraine Lake or Lake Louise) is an absolute must. You will not enjoy the early morning wake-up call or the drive to the lake, but it will all be immediately forgotten once you get to witness a sunrise over one of these lakes.


4) Go Hiking

Even if you are not an avid hiker, there is so much to see and experience in Banff National Park that can only be accessed via hiking trails. Accessible hikes for almost any skill level are Larch Valley at Moraine Lake and the Teahouse hike at Lake Louise. These are both great options to explore more of Banff in fall.


5) Drive Your Own Car or Rent One

While it certainly is possible to visit almost all locations in Banff National Park via transit or free shuttles, the ease and flexibility of traveling in your own vehicle is important when visiting Banff National Park, especially when trying to catch a sunrise, or changing plans last minute due to weather.


Bettina at Lake Minnewanka Viewpoint



What is your Favorite Fall Activity in Banff?


Have you been to Banff in fall? If so, what is your favorite fall activity there? We truly enjoyed our stay in Banff in fall and would love to add your suggestions to this list for our next trip to the Canadian Rocky Mountains.


Pin this post to your Canada Travel Pinterest board to help you plan your trip to Banff in fall!

The ultimate guide to Banff in Fall to plan the perfect Banff itinerary. These are the best places to see the fall foliage, the most scenic lake and when to visit, the best hikes in Banff National Park, and what to see around Banff. | Banff National Park | Banff Photography Guide | Moraine Lake | Lake Louise | Banff in Fall | Fall Outfit | Banff Instagrammable Places | Banff Outfit Fall | Banff Itinerary | Banff Hikes
The ultimate guide to Banff in Fall to plan the perfect Banff itinerary. These are the best places to see the fall foliage, the most scenic lake and when to visit, the best hikes in Banff National Park, and what to see around Banff. | Banff National Park | Banff Photography Guide | Moraine Lake | Lake Louise | Banff in Fall | Fall Outfit | Banff Instagrammable Places | Banff Outfit Fall | Banff Itinerary | Banff Hikes

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Day of the Dead Mexico 2020 – An Extraordinary Celebration

Dia de Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, is a fantastic holiday in Mexico, for prayer and remembrance of those that have died. The celebration of Day of the Dead Mexico 2020 is best celebrated in Mexico City, where you will find the largest celebration by far. If you are thinking about visiting Mexico City, traveling during the Day of the Dead festival is an absolutely amazing time to learn about the culture, the holiday, and partake in the celebrations!


Day of the Dead Mexico 2020 Face Painting The Next Trip


Make sure you check out our top 5 tips on how to celebrate Day of the Dead Mexico 2020 at the end of this post!


Disclaimer:  This blog post contains affiliate links.  Meaning that at no extra cost to you, we will earn a small commission should you click on our links and make a purchase for when you plan your trip to the Day of the Dead Mexico 2020. Thank you for supporting the businesses that support us!


What is Day of the Dead?


Perhaps it is first best to clarify what Day of the Dead, or Dia de Muertos is not. It is not Halloween, or the Mexican version of Halloween, but is its own unique celebration where the souls of the departed celebrate together with their families. While that may seem unusual to some cultures, in Mexico death is viewed as a natural part of the human life cycle and is not something to be feared.


Bettina and Kyle with Day of the Dead Face Painting Mexico City


The primary day of celebration is November 2nd however there are various celebrations that occur on the days leading up to that day, and many remain for the days after. October 31st is the eve of Dia de Muertos, and is also known as the Night of the Witches.  November 1st is the Day of the Innocents, which commemorates deceased children, and finally November 2nd is the actual Day of the Dead.

Families build private altars, called ofrendas, to honor the deceased, using skulls, photographs, marigold flowers, and the favorite foods and drinks of the deceased. The bright color and strong scent of the marigolds are used to attract the souls of the dead and guide them from the cemetery to their family homes.


Public Ofrendas for Day of the Dead Mexico City


Public Ofrenda for Dia de los Muertos Mexico City


There generally are many ofrenda all over the city, primarily in the many public squares of Mexico City, but also in private homes, museums, and even shopping malls. The biggest by far was in Zocalo Square.


Plaza de la Constitucion for Dia de los Muertos at Night Mexico City


The Day of the Dead Parade in Mexico City


In Mexico City, there is typically a parade held with many large floats, decorations, music, and people dressed up to celebrate the Day of the Dead. Do your research well before you book your flights though, as the Day of the Dead parade may not be scheduled on the actual Day of the Dead and can vary by up to a week as it will generally be scheduled on the Saturday before November 2nd.


Day of the Dead Parade Mexico City


The official announcement from the Mexico City Ministry of Culture for Day of the Dead Mexico 2020 has not yet happened, but the parade (if it happens) and the main festivities are expected to take place on Saturday, October 31, 2020. Due to COVID-19, there will likely not be the same large-scale gathering of people for the parade, but perhaps a virtual parade or other altered celebration will occur this year.


Skeleton at Day of the Dead Parade Mexico City


Skeleton Float at Day of the Dead Parade Mexico City


Fun fact: the parade is not actually part of the historical tradition of the holiday, and was instead instituted by Mexico City a year after the fictional portrayal of a Day of the Dead parade in the opening sequence of the James Bond film, Spectre. The film was so popular that the city decided to start a parade, which has been immensely popular ever since.


How to Participate in Day of the Dead Mexico 2020


Attending the large parade is the primary way to experience Day of the Dead Mexico 2020 as a tourist. However, you will not be alone as the event draws a couple hundred thousand visitors to the city each year! The parade route in 2019 was primarily along Reforma Avenue from Chapultepec Park, before turning to go by the Palacio de Bellas Artes and finish at Zocalo Square.


Plaza de la Constitucion during Day of the Dead Parade Mexico City


Before you watch the parade though, be sure to have your face painted with some Dia de Muertos makeup! The most popular calavera, or skull, is La Calavera Catrina, which has become an icon of Dia de Muertos. The face painting of Dia de Muertos is not intended to be scary, but respectful.


Kyle getting Face Painting at Day of the Dead in Mexico City


We found countless face painting artists on Avenida Francisco I Madero on the morning of the parade. Be sure to go early though as we waited 1.5 hours at around 10:30AM to have ours painted. The wait was absolutely worth it as we loved our painting! We paid around $10 USD for both of us. Due to COVID-19, having your face painted here might not be safe as it could spread viruses. However, you could easily buy face colors and come up with your own creation.


Bettina with Day of the Dead Face Painting Mexico City


Once your face is painted, find a spot on the parade route to watch!

There is really no set agenda of festivities and events for Dia de Muertos, and it is all about the overall experience. Visit local markets, cemeteries, public performances and more to get the full experience. Take them all in, and most importantly, be respectful. Changes related to COVID-19 for Day of the Dead Mexico 2020 have not yet been officially announced, so stay tuned for how to best celebrate in 2020.


Drummer at Day of the Dead Parade Mexico City


Drummers at Day of the Dead Parade Mexico City


Where to Stay in Mexico City


Mexico City is huge, which results in many hotels, spread all across the city. The simplest and easiest place to stay is in the historic center. This will allow you to walk to most of the main sights in the city, or easily take the metro. Other nearby neighborhoods such as Zona Rosa or La Condesa are also great places to stay, depending on what your top interests are.

We have put together a list of some of our favorite AirBnBs located in great Mexico City neighborhoods for every price point!


Places to Eat in Mexico City


Since you’re in Mexico City for Dia de Muertos you should definitely be trying Pan de Muerto! This is the ‘Bread of the Dead’ baked specifically for Dia de Muertos, and is a soft sweet bread, usually with cross bones shaped on top. It is light and delicious, and you can also get it filled with chocolate, cream, or other toppings. We recommend getting your fill at Pasteleria Madrid which is a huge bakery right in the Centro Historico district. While you are there, have your fill of all of the other delicious breads, sweets, and pastries!


Pasteleria Madrid in Mexico City


Pan de Muerto in Mexico City


Tacos.  We really don’t have to say much here other than you absolutely must try some! Search out somewhere abuzz with locals to get the most authentic experience. Make sure you also try one of the most popular drinks in Mexico with your tacos: a Michelada. It's a beer-based cocktail, made with tomato juice or clamato, lime, and salt. This combination might sound very interesting on paper but trust us - it is absolutely delicious!


Bettina pouring a Michelada in taqueria in Mexico City


While by no means did we try tacos everywhere, we can definitely recommend a few places:


  • If you’re on the go in Centro Historico, try Tacos de Canasta El Flaco (there was no menu and we had no idea what we ordered or what we ate, but they were delicious!).


Bettina with Tacos from Street Vendor in Mexico City


  • If you are looking for somewhere super casual to sit down and try a bunch of Mexican dishes near Palacio de Bella Artes, try El Rincón Tapatío Bar.


Kyle at El Rincón Tapatío Bar Mexico City


  • If you are hanging out in Polanco among the rich and famous, try Taquería El Turix for some incredible and cheap tacos and panuchos. We also had Tacos Don Juan highly recommend to us, but unfortunately didn’t get a chance to try it!


Tacos at Taqueria el Turix in Mexico City


Other Places to Visit in Mexico City


While you’re in Mexico City for Day of the Dead Mexico 2020, you might as well take in a few other sites of the city that are not related to the famous holiday. Our best suggestion is to put on your best pair of walking shoes and hit the streets!

We put together a map of our favorite spots around the city to help you plan your trip!

Admire Palacio de Bella Artes


The Palacio de Bella Artes is one of our favorite buildings in Mexico City due to its stunning beauty! If you want an even more impressive view, walk across the street to the Sears building and head on up to their eighth-floor café for an unobstructed view.

Location: Palacio de Bella Artes


Palacio de Bella Artes Mexico City


Palacio de Bella Artes from Sears Building Cafe Mexico City


Visit the Mexican National Museum of Anthropology


The Mexican National Museum of Anthropology is the largest and most visited museum in Mexico. The museum is big and has an impressive collection. If you want to learn about the extensive history of Mexico prior to the arrival of Europeans, you could easily spend a couple hours here.

Location: Mexican National Museum of Anthropology


Mexican National Museum of Anthropology Mexico City


Mexican National Museum of Anthropology Mexico City


Relax at Chapultepec Park


Right next to the museum is the Chapultepec Park, which can be a great place to get back in touch with nature or visit a castle! You can easily spend a few hours here exploring the park, strolling along the Chapultepec Lake, grabbing a snack, and getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city for an afternoon. They even have a Canadian totem pole, which of course we had to snap a photo of!

Location: Chapultepec Park


Snack Stand in Chapultepec Park Mexico City


Canadian Totem Pole at Chapultepec Park Mexico City


Explore La Condesa


Possibly our favorite neighborhood of Mexico City is La Condesa. This cute part of the city has an incredibly European feel and is buzzing with life, full of hip cafes, independent boutiques, and casual taquerias on every corner. Spend half a day wandering the tree-lined streets, having coffee, and browsing the latest trends.

Location: La Condesa


Tree Lined Streets in La Condesa Mexico City


Go Back in History at The Blue House Frida Kahlo Museum


One of the places you cannot miss out on while you're in Mexico City is visiting the former home of Frida Kahlo. It was turned into a museum in 1958, four years after her death, and is now also known as The Blue House. The Blue House is not just a standard gallery or museum, it also showcases private keepsakes of Frida Kahlo and gives you a glimpse into her universe. If you are looking to also see some of her favorite pieces, The Blue House features Long Live Life (1954), Frida and the Caesarian Operation (1931), and Portrait of My Father Wilhelm Kahlo (1952).

Location: The Blue House Frida Kahlo Museum


If you have more time in Mexico City, there are plenty of day-trips available to Puebla, Cholula, Teotihuacan, Xochimilco, Taxco, and more!


Is Mexico City Safe?


Yes. But like any large city, you have to be careful. We found walking around Mexico City no different than walking around Paris, Kuala Lumpur, or Chicago. That being said, we did some research beforehand on what areas to avoid, and practiced common sense such as not wearing flashy jewelry, keeping our wallet and phones in a secure pocket, and not wandering off the beaten path after dark. We spent most of our time in the districts of Centro Historico, Chapultepec, Polanco, La Condesa, and Zona Rosa, all of which felt safe and we had no problem walking all around and between them.


Kyle and Bettina at Mexico Mi Amor Mural in Mexico City


The Next Trip Top 5 Tips for Celebrating Day of the Dead Mexico 2020


1) Learn the History

Dia de Muertos is a beautiful holiday of celebration and honor of deceased friends and family. Make sure that you are well aware of the meaning of the holiday and respectful to everyone! It was recommended to us to watch the Disney movie Coco prior to going to Mexico City and we can’t recommend it enough! Besides being an entertaining movie, it does an excellent job of accurately explaining and portraying the holiday. Watching this movie prior to attending Dia de Muertos is an absolute must!


2) Get Some Dia de Muertos Face Paint

Get your face painted mid-morning on parade day before the long lines start. Also, it pays to do some online research beforehand if you want to have a specific look! Take a screenshot of your favorite look and show it to your face paint artist. Finally, a pro tip is to either bring or purchase some disposal makeup remover wipes for when you are ready to take the face paint off! It is a lot of color and would most definitely ruin your hotel or AirBnB towels.


3) Tacos!

It may seem a bit cliché to eat a bunch of tacos in Mexico City, but you absolutely should, and you should also forget about how you think a taco should taste. Tacos in Mexico are some of the best examples of a simple meal with simple ingredients, but prepared to perfection. We listed our favorite places above, but our best suggestion is to try the street food and small vendors, or anywhere you see the locals eating. Steer well clear of any tourist-oriented taco stand and try to find the authentic stuff!


4) Visit Local Markets

The local markets can be a fantastic way to lose yourself in a labyrinth of passageways, haggle for a good deal, or just pass the time. La Ciudadela is great spot for any souvenirs you desire.


5) Stay Safe

I know, I know, we just said that it was safe up above. However, that doesn’t mean that you couldn’t end up in danger. Mexico City can be incredibly safe or incredibly dangerous, depending on where you are, what you are doing, and what time of the day it is. Uber is a great way to get to and from the airport and around the city safely, and easy and cheap to use. Use your common sense and do some research beforehand, and have a fabulous time in Mexico City celebrating Day of the Dead Mexico 2020!


White Skull with Red Mural Mexico City


Are You Planning to Celebrate the Day of the Dead Mexico 2020?


Are you planning to celebrate the Day of the Dead in Mexico this year? We would love to hear from you and hear about your experience! Let us know if you have any questions or need help planning your trip!


Pin this post to your Day of the Dead Mexico 2020 Pinterest board to help you plan your trip to Mexico City or for inspiration to celebrate the holiday at home!


The ultimate guide to celebrating the Day of the Dead Mexico 2020 and traveling to Mexico City! All you need to know about the Day of the Dead parade, the history and culture behind the holiday, and where to find the best tacos in Mexico City! | Mexico City Guide | Mexico City Travel | Day of the Dead Guide | Dia de los Muertos Mexico City | Dia de los Muertos Altar | Day of the Dead Face Paint | Day of the Dead Costumes | Day of the Dead Ofrendas
The ultimate guide to celebrating the Day of the Dead Mexico 2020 and traveling to Mexico City! All you need to know about the Day of the Dead parade, the history and culture behind the holiday, and where to find the best tacos in Mexico City! | Mexico City Guide | Mexico City Travel | Day of the Dead Guide | Dia de los Muertos Mexico City | Dia de los Muertos Altar | Day of the Dead Face Paint | Day of the Dead Costumes | Day of the Dead Ofrendas

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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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Month 3 on the Road – Best Hidden Places in Utah for your Bucket List

I think we are finally starting to get the hang of vanlife and living on the road. We have slowly fine-tuned our daily and weekly routines, and while we could always exercise more, eat healthier, and be more productive on the blog, those were all things that we struggled with before – some things never change!

Welcome to our third monthly update on our overlanding adventure! This month is filled with hidden places in Utah, Utah bucket list places we were finally able to check off, exploring Nevada, and an abrupt ending!


Sunset at Utah Badlands - Hidden Places in Utah


May brought excitement and anticipation related to COVID-19 as almost all Utah state parks opened up, restaurants re-opened, and many National Parks began opening as well. We would finally be able to visit all the hidden places in Utah we have been wanting to see since crossing into Utah in March!


Bettina Twirling at Cathedral Valley Capitol Reef State Park


On the other hand, Bettina was fast approaching the 90-day expiration of her tourist visa to stay in the United States, which brought back a lot of the stress and anxiety that we were trying to avoid!


Clucking Along the Chicken Corners Trail – Moab, Utah


Moab is one of the most famous Utah towns for adventure, though in our case restaurants weren’t quite open, the nearby Arches and Canyonlands National Parks were very much closed, and you couldn’t even camp anywhere in the county. Moab has been on our “must visit” list for so long that we decided to find a way around the COVID-19 restrictions.

We decided to camp on BLM land just outside the county, spend the day exploring, and make sure to leave the county again every night.


Camping during Supermoon at Chicken Corners Utah


Not wanting to miss out on all the hidden places in Utah and what Moab area has to offer, I decided that we should tackle one of the most famous off-road trails in the area, The Chicken Corners Trail. This trail is about 20 miles (32 km) one-way and has some spectacular views of the Colorado River. Across the river is Deadhorse State Park and Thelma & Louise Point, made famous from the ending scene of Thelma & Louise.


View from Chicken Corners Utah


The 20-mile road took us about 4 hours as we tackled the various rock obstacles and sections of deep sand along the way. I should probably add at this point that Bettina is not a huge fan of off-roading but I thoroughly enjoyed the excitement and thrill to explore uncharted territory and discover more hidden places in Utah. We were rewarded with an incredible view at the end and nobody else around us for miles – a perfect place to spend the night.


Super Moon at Chicken Corners Moab, Utah


The next morning, we woke up early to take in the sunrise, and then tackle the same 20 miles back to civilization. It was just as bumpy as the day before but luckily we were able to shave off a half hour this time through!


Driving Chicken Corners Off-Road Trail, Moab Utah


We weren’t done with Moab just yet though! While on the Chicken Corners Trail we could see the brilliant blue lakes on the other side of the Colorado River. Bettina was immediately intrigued, as these days any hidden place in Utah with blue is a photo shoot opportunity. We learned that they were the evaporation ponds of a nearby potash mine. We were able to get decently close to the ponds, and the blue colors were even more vivid up close!


Blue Pools Potash Mine Moab Utah


One of the places we wanted to explore around Moab was Arches National Park. Unfortunately, the national park was still closed and we had to search for hidden places in Utah with arches that we could visit.


Wilson Arch Moab, Utah


As luck would have it, Corona Arch, came to our rescue (ironic name in this case). Getting to Corona Arch was a relatively easy hike and well worth the incredible view of the arch.


Hike Across Railway Tracks to Corona Arch in Utah


View of Corona Arch in Utah at Sunset


Walking Amongst Goblins


We thought we had seen it all when it comes to unique rock formations in Utah, but we had yet to visit Goblin Valley State Park. This beautiful state park has a field of goblins, all waiting to be explored. We spent the day hiking amongst the goblins and even venturing deep into the goblin’s lair.


Goblin Valley State Park Utah


If it looks familiar, Goblin Valley State Park was featured heavily in the movie Galaxy Quest. The intriguing looking rocks, or goblins, are formed from sandstone that has existed for 165 million years. The rock has unevenly fractured and eroded over time to form what we can see today.


Sitting on Goblins at Goblin Valley State Park, Utah


Goblin Valley State Park, Utah


On of the Best Hidden Places in Utah - The Utah Badlands


After spending over a month in Utah, we have become very used to orange-colored rock. It has become our new normal, and the resulting orange dust has found its way into every crack and crevice in Swifty. This is why we were so excited to see some exotic grey rocks in the Utah Badlands. The Utah Badlands are definitely one of those hidden places in Utah that nobody would think of visiting but they are well worth seeing.


View over Utah Badlands


In fact, the Utah Badlands would not look out of place on another planet, and apparently NASA agrees because there is a Mars Desert Research Station nearby. However, for us – the sight was quite unique!


Kyle at Utah Badlands


The skyline of the Utah Badlands is dominated by Factory Butte, a massive flat-topped sandstone peak, surrounded by desert nothingness.


Factory Butte at Utah Badlands


We explored the Utah Badlands, coming across all sorts of rock formations and colors before finding another epic place to set up camp for the night at the edge of a very steep drop-off.

And if you are feeling adventurous, there is a lone spire of rock begging to be climbed for the perfect photo. It was actually quite safe to get there, and appeared incredibly strong and sturdy, though that did not stop Bettina from, understandably, freaking out a bit.


View of Utah Badlands


The Utah Badlands were an incredible place to see, and even better place to camp! It is a completely hidden place in Utah as we hardly saw anyone around. There is almost no light pollution which makes for a great opportunity for star gazing.


Finally, Open! Capitol Reef National Park


It seems like we have been dreaming of this day ever since we arrived in Utah. The day that we would finally be able to visit one of Utah’s Mighty Five National Parks: Capitol Reef National Park.

Only the remote backcountry of Capitol Reef National Park was open at this time, but that was okay with us. We set off on the remote backcountry byway, battling some of the dustiest and driest sand we had seen yet. If you have ever baked with large quantities of flour, then you can imagine how dusty this area was.


Back country drive through Capitol Reef National Park


We made it to the famous Temple of the Sun and Temple of the Moon in good time, but a storm was rolling in and our time there consisted of intense blowing sand and a bit of rain. We barely remembered to snap a picture before continuing on our way.


Temple of the Sun Capitol Reef National Park


We saw a few other really unique sights, such as a massive sinkhole and a striking line of vertical stone that ran across the desert floor, up the mountain, and continued as far as we could see. We reached the nearby campground and had one of our roughest nights of the trip as Swifty was pummeled by rain and intense wind gusts throughout the night.


View of Cathedral Valley at Capitol Reef National Park, Utah


We needed a lot of coffee to get going the next morning, but rewarded with stunning views of Cathedral Valley, the highlight of the backcountry area of Capitol Reef National Park and another of our favorite hidden places in Utah.


Best Views at Bryce Canyon National Park


With parks now opening, we weren’t going to waste any time to see the next park on our list: Bryce Canyon. Again, after a month of staring at the various rock formations in Utah, you would think that we become a bit jaded and unimpressed by rocks. It’s true, we now have a higher standard of what we deem “impressive” but apparently, we weren’t yet “rocked out” as Bryce Canyon blew us away!


Sunset Point at Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah


The area is so unique and surprisingly large. As a point of comparison, Goblin Valley State Park also had a fairly large area of densely placed unique rock formations, but Bryce Canyon was easily ten times larger.


Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah


Even more incredible than the size and shape of the rock formations, is the intense orange color. Bryce Canyon has a large number of relatively easily accessible viewpoints along the main road. We started at Sunset Point for the most impressive view.


Inspiration Point at Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah


We would have loved to complete the Navajo Loop hiking trail, however it was closed due to constructions, so we will have to wait to go back at some point! Another great nearby viewpoint is Inspiration Point with similar views but a slightly different perspective which will blow you away as well.


Bryce Canyon National Park


We followed the road to the very end at Rainbow Point, but were still most impressed by the Sunset Point view. Unfortunately, we couldn’t actually stay here until sunset, but had to hit the road, returning back to Cedar City.



Toquerville Falls - A Must Add to Your Utah Bucket List


While Bettina and I generally get along quite well, especially when we are traveling, there is an added level of difficulty when you have had no outside social interaction for the past three months.

When we were camping at Alstrom Point, which you can read about on our first monthly update, we met another couple camping who happened to be from Utah! Bettina kept in contact with them as we traveled around Utah, and as we were in the area where they lived, we decided to meet up for some appropriate social-distancing socializing. We were sure glad that we did!

We had never heard of Toquerville Falls but our Utah friends suggested we go there for a day trip. It is one of those stunning hidden places in Utah which is not known to tourists like us but very popular with the locals.


Twirling at Toquerville Falls, Utah


We all decided to make the trek out to the falls for some swimming, eating, and drinking. The road to the falls is very rough, and should only be attempted in high clearance four-wheel drive vehicle. The drive was totally worth it for us though as we were rewarded with these beautiful waterfalls.

What makes Toquerville Falls unique is that you can drive across the river just above the upper falls…


Driving Through Toquerville Falls, Utah


…and jump into the river below from the lower falls.


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The water was refreshing and clean, which made Toquerville Falls one of our favorite afternoons of our trip!


Midwest Detour


The start of our overlanding adventure was initially delayed a couple months due to my health, and while when we began our trip, I was in a pretty good spot, we were really looking forward to getting additional treatment at a specialty clinic in St. Louis. This treatment was originally scheduled for the end of March, but COVID-19 caused it to be rescheduled to the end of May.

Additionally, we initially planned and booked flights to fly from Salt Lake City to St. Louis, but with the elevated risk of flying (and the exorbitant cost) we decided to make the 24-hour, 1,500 mile (2,400 km) drive to St. Louis.


While our Toyota Tacoma with Swifty is pretty easy to drive, it is not by any stretch of the imagination, very speedy. We figured that we could drive at least 25% faster in a rental car compared to Swifty, and would save a lot in gas along the way. So we packed up Swifty and left her safely parked in St. George, Utah while we embarked on a few days of non-stop driving.


The drive was long, but uneventful, and our time in St. Louis was relaxing as we celebrated Bettina’s birthday and I completed a few days of treatment.


To spice things up on the return 24-hour journey we decided to take a more southerly route through southwest Missouri, across Oklahoma, a small portion of Texas, a very large portion of New Mexico, and all of Arizona. This contrasted nicely with our route on the way there through central Utah, all of Colorado, all of Kansas, and 99% of Missouri.


In the end we drove just shy of 3,300 miles (5,300 km) in the span of a week, which was, a lot.


Oppressive Heat in the Valley of Fire


We were very glad to get back to Swifty and our “home” after a week away. After hanging around St. George for a day or two we set out further south, leaving our favorite hidden places in Utah and ready to explore Nevada.


Greetings from Valley of Fire State Park Sign


Our goal was to visit Valley of Fire State Park in southern Nevada, but as usual I wanted to take a more indirect and adventurous route to get there. We drove the Bitter Springs Trail to position ourselves near Valley of Fire for a sunrise photoshoot the next morning. The road was rough, but we got a nice taste of the scenery in Nevada, and found a great place to camp in a wash close to the trail.


Driving Through Valley of Fire Nevada


The area was so beautiful and quiet, and we even saw some wild horses nearby.


We surprised ourselves and were able to get up early – hitting the road before sunrise on a mission to explore Valley of Fire State Park. Luckily, Valley of Fire State Park is not an overly large park, which makes seeing it all in one day very attainable.


Bettina Sitting on Street at Valley of Fire Nevada


Bettina’s heart was set on getting the iconic Valley of Fire shot from the main road, and as we were there so early, we had more than enough time with the road all to ourselves to take as many photos as we liked. The temperature at this point was quite comfortable, and so we also decided to go on a short hike to rainbow vista.


Bettina Sitting on Rainbow Rock at Valley of Fire Nevada


Temperatures that day were projected to climb over 100F / 40C, so we were on a time-sensitive mission to check off all our bucket list place before it would get to hot. The hike to rainbow vista was not very long, because we had a few more that we wanted to do before it go too hot. However, it was not even 8:00 AM yet and it was already 90F / 32C.

The north end of the park has two great short hikes, one is called the White Domes Loop, and the other is The Fire Wave. Both hikes are relatively short and the views are incredible, making it very much worth your effort.


Wave of Fire at Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada


Fire Wave at Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada


If it wasn’t for the heat we would have spent a lot longer out exploring. As lunchtime approached, the temperature was fast approaching the high for the day, 108F / 42C. That was a bit too warm for us, so we headed for some shade to make lunch before stopping by elephant rock on the way out.


Melting Away in Las Vegas


As we drove into Las Vegas, we were filled with mixed emotions. This was our first properly big city in a long time, but also where we were supposed to fly to Europe from over a month earlier. Not only that, we now knew that our original plan to continue our vanlife journey to Mexico was in imminent danger as the US-Mexico border closures had both been extended by an additional month.


Welcome to Las Vegas Sign


Our first day in Las Vegas was spent trying to avoid the heat. Normally, we could park close to a Starbucks or McDonald’s and work in Swifty while on wi-fi, but it was far too hot to do so, and indoor seating was still closed. As a result we walked into some stores to cool down, then back to Swifty to work, and then back inside to cool down. Not the best solution, but it worked temporarily.


For the evening we drove south to camp near one of Bettina’s most anticipated locations: The Seven Magic Mountains.


Bettina at Seven Magic Mountains in Las Vegas, Nevada


After a restless sleep in the heat, we dragged ourselves out of bed and were still able to make it to Seven Magic Mountains as the sun was rising. If you haven’t been there yourself, surely you are familiar with the brightly colored towers of stacked rocks in the middle of the desert.

An unusual sight, but very interesting and also very popular. We were not the only ones there and around 6am, there were already well over 20 people walking amongst the rock towers. If you want the perfect picture, make sure to arrive very early!


The Long Drive Home


At this point we had tried to extend Bettina’s ESTA visa in the United States, but learned that it was not possible. We had also called the Canadian Border and Canadian Embassy in the United States to see if I could bring her into Canada, but that was also not possible. With plan A, B, and C out the window, she would have to fly back to Switzerland, and I would drive back to Canada.


Bettina Leaning Out of a Car


We left Las Vegas late on a Friday night, aiming to reach Seattle on Sunday night before her early flight on Monday morning. It was another few long days of driving as we had 1,200 miles (1,900 km) to cover over the next two days. The journey was mostly uneventful, but we did get rather rudely woken up while camping at a highway rest stop in Idaho by a hailstorm.


Flower field in Washington State


Arriving in Seattle, we had quite literally come full circle from where we began our journey just three months before. When we started in early March, the thought of our adventure ending like this so soon was not even a possibility in our minds.

The Stats – Month Three


Miles driven: 2,574

Nights in Swifty: 19

US States crossed: Utah, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Oregon, Washington

Number of Wild Horses Spotted: 3

In-N-Out Burgers Consumed: 10 (there’s two of us but Kyle had more than half!)

Number of Sunrise Photoshoots: 5

Number of Nights Hailed On: 1

Days over 35C / 95F: 8

Favorite Meal: Burgers at In-N-Out in St. George, Utah

Favorite Campsite: Utah Badlands


In Summary


Just as we were really starting to get a hang of the whole #vanlife thing, we’ve been forced to cut our trip short. It is disappointing, and made harder by not only having to stop, but be separated halfway across the world. At this point it is hard to know what the future will hold. I am not able to enter Europe to visit Bettina in Swizterland, and Bettina is not able to enter Canada.

With COVID-19 impacting so many countries around the world, especially Latin America at the moment, the future does look uncertain. However, we are remaining optimistic that borders will re-open at some point this year and we can continue an amended version of our trip. We are fully aware that our situation is still far better than many people who have had their lives impacted by COVID-19.


Bettina Walking on Street in Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada


As a result of having to put our #vanlife adventure on hold, this will also put a temporary hold on these monthly updates. At the moment, the hardest part is the uncertainty of when borders will re-open and it will be safe again to travel. Our travel adventures are not completely on hold as Bettina will be sharing much of her Switzerland stay on her Instagram. Make sure to stop by every once in a while to see the magic of Swiss summers.


Save this pin in our road trip Pinterest board for when your next road trip across the US!

Best Hidden Places in Utah to Explore on a Road Trip


Utah Badlands - Best Hidden Places in Utah to Explore on a Road Trip

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The Ultimate Oregon Roadtrip Itinerary For The 5 Best Waterfalls in Oregon

From its stunning coastline to its mountainous regions, the Pacific Northwest of the USA is home to many incredible natural wonders and some incredible waterfalls. Oregon has undoubtedly some of the most spectacular waterfalls in the country. The best thing is, they are relatively easy to explore on an Oregon roadtrip and only a short easy to moderate hike away from your car.


Oregon Roadtrip to See Best 5 Waterfalls in Oregon


This Ultimate Oregon Roadtrip itinerary takes you to the 5 best waterfalls in Oregon, including the three highest waterfalls in the state! Plus, if you have some extra time we’ve included a few bonus nearby waterfalls and hot springs to take in while you are in the area.


Disclaimer:  This blog post contains affiliate links.  Meaning that at no extra cost to you, we will earn a small commission should you click on our links and make a purchase for your Oregon roadtrip . Thank you for supporting the businesses that support us!


Your Ultimate Oregon Roadtrip Itinerary to See the Best 5 Waterfalls in Oregon


The best way to start your Oregon roadtrip is from Portland, the main city of Oregon. Portland is known for its independent breweries, great food, and its hip vibes and definitely worth a visit. Spend a few days there to explore its culinary specialties before starting your Oregon roadtrip to explore Oregon’s 5 best waterfalls.


Multnomah Falls in Oregon


Oregon Roadtrip Map


The below Oregon roadtrip map shows you the location of each waterfall and the driving distances included in this itinerary. The map closely follows our recommended itinerary but feel free to switch things up if you would like to explore other places along the way.



Day One of Oregon Roadtrip - Multnomah Falls and Abiqua Falls


The first day of this Oregon Waterfall Roadtrip Itinerary is a big day, knocking out arguably the most famous of Oregon’s waterfalls: Multnomah Falls, and also our personal favorite, Abiqua Falls. With so much packed into the first day, getting an early start is imperative, but getting up early should not at all a problem when you have the best waterfalls in Oregon to look forward to.


Multnomah Falls


Starting off from Portland, it is an easy half hour drive East along the Columbia River until you reach Multnomah Falls. You can’t miss this one as there are a ton of signs, and the waterfall is easily seen from the highway. The parking lot is actually in the middle of the highway, and from there it is a short 5-minute walk up to the base of the falls.


Multnomah Falls in Oregon


Multnomah Falls is incredible to see in person. The size of the falls is immense, as water plunges over 600 feet (180 meters) from the top of the cliff. As you get closer and closer you will be craning your neck to see up to the top of the falls! There is an accessible bridge halfway to better take in the falls, though be sure to get the famous photograph from below, including the bridge, before venturing up onto it.


Cost to see Multnomah Falls: Free

Estimated time to see Multnomah Falls: 1 hour

Difficulty Level: Easy. The entire walkway to the bottom of the falls is paved.

We recommend you wear: Something waterproof as you might get a bit wet depending on the wind direction. If you are planning to take professional photos here, consider bringing rain protection for your camera.


Abiqua Falls


As Multnomah Falls is easily accessible on the highway, and with only a short walk to the falls, it is easy to see another one of the best waterfalls in Oregon on the same day. Abiqua Falls is an hour and a half to two hours drive south from Multnomah Falls. You will pass through some of the Southeastern Portland suburbs, which is a great time to fill up on gas, water, and snacks to make sure you are ready for this mini adventure.


Bettina twirling at Abiqua Falls, Oregon


Abiqua Falls is the most difficult of the best waterfalls in Oregon to access, requiring some driving on gravel roads, and a steep hike down to the falls, but it is all worth it!


Start by driving to the town of Scotts Mills and then take the Crooked Finger Road almost 11 miles until you reach an unnamed gravel road. Turn right, and follow the road downhill for the last 2 miles. The road will get rougher as you go and the last 1.5 miles of this requires a high clearance four wheel drive vehicle. You can either park at the top of the hill and hike the 2 miles down the road, or drive as far as they can, and then park on the side of the road.


Tree covered in moss at Abiqua Falls Oregon


You will know you have reached the trailhead, when you come across a large gate blocking the road. About 100 feet back from the gate is the beginning of the trail, heading down on a forest trail towards Abiqua Creek. The trail gets very steep as you near the creek, and there are a number of ropes to help aid in getting up and down the hill. Use these ropes as they are very helpful!


Abiqua Falls in Oregon - Photo taken with Neutral Density Filter


Once at the creek level, it is a relatively short hike upstream to Abiqua Falls. The falls are absolutely breathtaking, cascading over a cliff of basalt columns, and reminded us very much of Svartifoss in Iceland. If you are curious to know what we are talking about, check out our weekend in Iceland guide here.

Enjoy your time here, and take in the quietness and solitude at the falls, but don’t enjoy it for too long as you still have to hike back up the hill!


Cost to see Abiqua Falls: Free

Estimated time to see Abiqua Falls: 2 hours (add more if you have to hike on the road)

Difficulty Level: Moderate. The hike to the falls is definitely a bit more involved and pretty steep in the beginning.

We recommend you wear: Good shoes with traction and pants you don’t mind getting dirty as you will have to climb over tree trunks.


If you are hiking in the summer, there should still be a few hours of daylight left after you see both falls. We would recommend the 45 minute drive to Silver Falls State Park in the evening. The park has a great campground, or cabins to stay at, which puts you within walking distance of South Falls, which you’ll explore on day two. If you are new to camping and are worried about sleeping under the stars, make sure to read these Camping Tips for Beginners and you will be all set.



Day Two of Oregon Roadtrip – Hiking to the South Falls


Day two includes another great waterfall, South Falls, located within Silver Falls State Park. The best part about Silver Falls State Park is that there are over ten great waterfalls and you can walk behind 4 of them! We completed the Trail of Ten Falls hike to take them all in, and highly recommend spending the time to enjoy this park while you are here.


South Falls and Silver Falls State Park, Oregon


South Falls


South Falls is unique in that you can walk completely behind the falls! There is something so magical about walking behind a waterfall and seeing it from a completely different angle.


Walking Behind South Falls in Silver Falls State Park


If you have camped at Silver Falls State Park, South Falls is an easy 20 minute walk away from the campground. Alternatively, if you are driving into the park for the day, there is a very large parking lot near South Falls.


You will hear the thundering sound of the water plunging over the edge and see the mist rise into the air, well before you see the falls. The falls are impressive to see from any angle, but the best is surely from underneath the falls, on the narrow trail that circumnavigates the falls. You will likely get wet, but it is totally worth the experience!


South Falls at Silver Falls State Park, Oregon


While at Silver Falls State Park, we would highly recommend you to hike the Trail of Ten Falls hike which continues from South Falls, and meanders throughout the park, taking in (you guessed it) ten more waterfalls, including more that you can walk behind! The full hike should take about three hours, and is on an easy to follow 7 mile (11.5 km) trail. We really enjoyed hiking through the peaceful backcountry of the park, taking in the waterfalls and meandering river all to ourselves on a brisk March morning!


Oregon Waterfall in Silver Falls State Park


Cost to see South Falls: $5 park day-use permit

Estimated time to see South Falls: Thirty minutes to only see South Falls. Just over three hours for the Trail of Ten Falls

Difficulty Level: Easy to Moderate. The ground might be a bit slippery if it rained recently and some of the inclines can get your heart rate up.

We recommend you wear: Good shoes with good traction as the muddy trail can be slippery when wet. Also make sure you bring a rain jacket and a protective bag for your camera as you will likely get wet when walking behind the waterfalls.


After spending most of the day exploring Silver Falls State Park, you can either stay another night in the campground here, or drive an hour and a half south towards Eugene, Oregon where there are many accommodation options.


Day Three of Oregon Roadtrip – Exploring Salt Creek Falls and Watson Falls


The third day is the last day of your ultimate Oregon roadtrip to see the 5 best waterfalls in Oregon. Packing in two more powerful waterfalls, this day also requires the most driving. If you spent the night at Silver Falls State Park, it is a two and a half hour drive to Salt Creek Falls, or just over 1 hour from Eugene.


Salt Creek Falls


Once you reach the Salt Creek Falls they are super easy to access, as there is a parking lot right near the falls. Salt Creek Falls is known for it’s main drop of 286 vertical feet (87 meters), the third highest in Oregon! Third only to Multnomah Falls (check!), and Watson Falls (coming up next!).


Cost to see Salt Creek Falls: $5 park day-use fee

Estimated time to see Salt Creek Falls: Thirty minutes

Difficulty Level: Easy

We recommend you wear: Anything you would like.


Back on the road, it’s an hour and a half drive to Watson Falls which are in the Umpqua National Forest.


Watson Falls


Watson Falls involves a short but steep hike up a heavily trafficked path. The hike will take you past beautiful mossy rocks and trees, as well as some small rapids, before Watson Falls comes into view. Watson Falls are the second highest falls in Oregon and are just as impressive as you would imagine. There are multiple viewing platforms and a bridge that crosses the river below the falls, allowing you to get the perfect viewpoint.


Watson Falls, Oregon


After snapping a few photos, you can take an alternate path back down to the parking lot for some more variety in your hiking views.


Cost to see Watson Falls: Free

Estimated time to see Watson Falls: Less than 1 hour

Difficulty Level: Moderate but short. The hike is steep and can be a bit muddy.

We recommend you wear: Good shoes with traction.


Day Three Bonus - Toketee Falls and Umpqua Hot Springs


While you are visiting the Watson Falls in the Umpqua National Forest on your Oregon roadtrip, make sure you check out a few other highlights, only a few miles away – namely Toketee Falls and Umpqua Hot Springs.


Toketee Falls


The drive to Toketee Falls from Watson Falls is less than five minutes and the hike to Toketee Falls is relatively easy and less than one mile. The falls are viewed from a platform, high above the river below, and you can feel the power of the water as it cascades over the edge. Toketee Falls is very impressive as it is also surrounded by basalt columns, similar to Abiqua Falls.


Toketee Falls Oregon


Cost to see Toketee Falls: Free

Estimated time to see Toketee Falls: Less than 1 hour

Difficulty Level: Easy to moderate. It’s a relatively steep but short walk to the platform on forest ground.

We recommend you wear: Good shoes as you climb over some roots.


Umpqua Hot Springs


The road that the Toketee Falls parking lot is on, also happens to be the road to Umpqua Hot Springs, which is only a few miles further. If you haven’t heard of Umpqua Hot Springs before, they are a series of pools on a hillside overlooking the North Umpqua River which we visited on our first month of vanlife. The pools are filled with natural hot mineral water, pouring out of the hillside, filling the top pool and continuing to flowing into lower level pools. The way the hot springs are situated, you will experience the hottest water at the top. The water temperature cools down the further down the hill you go.


Bettina at Umpqua Hot Springs Oregon


If you enjoy cold water, you can walk downhill to the North Umpqua River for a short dip and warm back up in the hot springs.

To get to the Umpqua Hot Springs from the parking lot, you will do a short but steep hike. Note that the Umpqua Hot Springs can be extremely popular. We recommend you visit early in the morning or during the week and either in Spring or Fall.


Cost to see Umpqua Hot Springs: $5 day-use fee

Estimated time to see Umpqua Hot Springs: Less than 30 minutes hiking time; stay as long as you like in the hot springs pool!

Difficulty Level: Moderate. The hike to the Umpqua Hot Springs is steep on forest ground but short.

We recommend you wear: Good shoes with good traction. As the hot springs are completely natural, there are no changing rooms. If you would like some privacy to change into your swimwear, you would have to do so before starting the hike. The area is also popular with nudists so don’t be surprised if you end up seeing more than expected.


The drive back to Portland to complete your Oregon roadtrip is 4 hours and if you have spent all day exploring the Umpqua National Forest, you will likely want to camp in the area rather than driving through the night. As an alternative to visiting Umpqua Hot Springs on Day Three, you could also extend your Oregon roadtrip by one day and enjoy the hot springs the next day, first thing in the morning.


Where to Stay for the Ultimate Oregon Roadtrip


The best place to start and end your ultimate Oregon roadtrip is in Portland, Oregon. Portland has an amazing and quirky restaurant scene, and is also worth exploring while you are in the area. We have put together a list of some of our favorite airbnb's in Portland to help plan the start of your ultimate Oregon roadtrip!




Kyle Standing at Abiqua Falls, Oregon


It will be hard to leave the state after completing the ultimate Oregon roadtrip to see the 5 best waterfalls in Oregon. We were simply amazed at the power of nature, and impressed by the natural beauty of Oregon! The state of Oregon has so much to offer, with these 5 waterfalls, being some of our favorite places to visit! If you are yearning to explore more of Oregon, check out our summary of the first month on the road of vanlife, where we also explored nearby Crater Lake in Oregon!

If you are looking for a road trip adventure in Colorado, make sure you check out these tips for the perfect 6 day Colorado road tip!


Bettina twirling at Crater Lake in Oregon


The Next Trip Top 5 Tips for Your Oregon Roadtrip


1) Prepare for Muddy Trails

Most hiking trails to these waterfalls on your Oregon roadtrip are on forest ground and can be quite muddy in spring after the snow melt or after rain. Make sure you have good shoes with good traction to facilitate the hike. Also prepare to have your clothes get dirty on some of these hikes.


2) Expect to Get Wet

Expect to get wet! You are at a waterfall after all and any wind gust can transport the waterfall mist and get you soaked. Especially if you are planning to walk behind waterfalls or get close to them, be prepared to get wet and bring a rain jacket. We also recommend bringing water protection for your camera if you are planning to take professional photos.


3) Let Someone Know Where You're Going

Many of these places on your Oregon roadtrip don't have any cell reception or only spotty reception. Before you leave, make sure you let someone know where you're going and when you expect to be back. That way, in case something happens, they know where to look for you.


4) Pack Some Snacks

Some of these waterfalls are remote and there aren't any restaurants or coffee shops nearby. Make sure you pack some snacks for your Oregon roadtrip so that you don't end up being hungry on your hike.


5) Plan Your Oregon Roadtrip for Between April and October

Due to the higher elevation in these locations, it can get quite cold and snowy during the winter months. The best time to go on your Oregon road trip to see the best waterfalls is between April and October. Any earlier or later in the year and you might still have snowy and icy trails.


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The Ultimate Oregon Roadtrip Itinerary to the 5 Best Waterfalls in Oregon


The Ultimate Oregon Roadtrip Itinerary to the 5 Best Waterfalls in Oregon


The Ultimate Oregon Roadtrip Itinerary to the 5 Best Waterfalls in Oregon
The Ultimate Oregon Roadtrip Itinerary to the 5 Best Waterfalls in Oregon
The Ultimate Oregon Roadtrip Itinerary to the 5 Best Waterfalls in Oregon
The Ultimate Oregon Roadtrip Itinerary to the 5 Best Waterfalls in Oregon

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