Donna and I took a wonderful end-of-year trip to Nevada, California, Arizona, and Utah this year. We started out in Las Vegas (briefly) -- we picked up a Camaro convertible (?), then headed to Beatty, Nevada to get the party started.
I've had Death Valley on my winter travel trip list for a long time, and 2020 was a good enough excuse to make that plan a reality this year. Lodging at Death Valley was closed right before our trip, so we did a quick re-plan to stay in Beatty (which turned out to be a great idea, anyway).
We then headed out through Rhyolite, Nevada and Death Valley to enjoy the sights (and much cooler temperatures), with an overnight stop in Laughlin, Nevada. I've never been to Laughlin, so this was a new experience for me.
Grand Canyon National Park was our next overnight destination. We stopped off in Kingman, Arizona to see a little of historic U.S. Route 66, then continued to Williams, Arizona to see a bit more. Both of these towns deserve a more detailed visit, especially Williams. The weather was getting a bit more interesting as we headed north from Williams, and quickly turned to snow as the temperatures dipped. The Camaro didn't appreciate the road conditions, but we took it slow as we got to the park. Grand Canyon is amazing enough, but the snow cover highlighted the impressive geology by affecting the contrast of the geology and the sky.
Because Navajo Nation closed the east entrance to Grand Canyon earlier in 2020, we took the long way to Zion -- back to Williams, then east to Flagstaff. More U.S. Route 66 sightseeing (much more is required), then north through Cameron, Arizona to Zion National Park.
We spent two nights in Zion National Park, to allow for some serious hiking in the canyon. We didn't make it all the way to Angel's Landing (the ice was a bit much), but we saw wonderful scenery on the portion that we did. I'm glad I spent a lot of time pre-trip studying up on the geology of the area; it made the trip more enjoyable for me, as I was able to spot specific features in the park.
From Zion National Park, we headed to Las Vegas to see 2020 out the door. There weren't specific festivities available in Las Vegas this year, so we enjoyed walking up and down the strip.
We drove to Boulder City for the last night of our trip, staying in the Boulder Dam Hotel. We enjoyed hiking around the town, and our stay at the hotel. This was the third dam-related stay of the past year: Fort Peck, Riverton, and now Boulder City. I highly recommend the Boulder Dam Hotel for comfort and historic charm.
We wound up the trip with a drive to Hoover Dam, and a meandering trip back to Las Vegas. We took the red-eye back to IAD, arriving after noon on Sunday.
It was a great trip; I'll likely put in more details shortly, as I dive through the photographs and videos.