Red Rock Romance
If you’ve ever seen the last few rosy rays of sunshine that give way to unfettered starlight, you’ll understand why the Utah desert is the perfect place for romance. If you haven’t, just trust us. The vast expanses of Bryce Canyon National Park, the epic canyons of Zion National Park, and the quaint stops in between can make you feel like you are the only two people in the world. This itinerary is perfect for honeymooners or anyone looking for a romantic retreat.
Around Zion, you can be whisked away by speedboat to admire the canyon cliffs of Lake Powell at sunset, share a moment of elation and accomplishment as you take in the vertigo-inducing view from Angel’s Landing, or unwind at a renowned desert spa retreat.
In Bryce Canyon, you’ll be transported to another world as you gaze at the impossibly bright Milky Way. Snuggle up for a drive-in movie surrounded by juniper-dusted mesas or catch an award-winning Shakespearean play.
Cross to the eastern part of the state and Moab, where you can watch the sun rise together through the window of a natural arch. Then sample the sunshine’s desert spoils at a vineyard set among the red cliffs of Moab.
Few things are better than taking in a beautiful place with the one you love — and in this week you’ll take in a lot of them together.
- Lake Powell Boat Tour
- Kayenta Art Village
- St. George Scene: Cliffside and Bear Paw
Choose from a couple hours, a half-day, or a full-day tour (like the one that visits Rainbow Bridge) of Lake Powell. With the time remaining, browse regional art at Kayenta's Art Market then head to St. George for a scenic and romantic evening at Cliffside Restaurant, the Painted Pony, or one of the growing city’s many other great dining destinations. Overnight in St. George or Springdale.
The Panoramic Tour takes you in a double-decker boat out to Gunsight Bay and back. This is an excellent option for those who don’t want to deal with the logistics of renting their own boat. Other tours offer half-day adventures or even a full day with a visit to Rainbow Bridge.
Like a Marfa, Texas, or Paonia, Colorado, many regard Kayenta as an artist colony of sorts. Kayenta's Coyote Gulch Art Village is a hub of cultural and social activity for locals and visitors alike. There are also art classes, performances, a spa and a cafe.
St. George is the largest city in Southern Utah. Thanks to its growing population, dining in St. George has become a diverse and distinctive experience. Cliffside boasts stunning views and award-winning cuisine while the Old-Fashioned French Toast at the Bear Paw is a destination breakfast choice.
- Angels Landing
- Southern Utah Spas
- Dark Skies of Bryce Canyon
Outdoor adventure can play a central role in your red rock romance, uniting you in a common and attainable goal. Today, it’s Zion’s iconic Angels Landing. Next, relaxation awaits at one of Southwestern Utah’s top rated spas. Of course, some may understandably opt for a longer day at the spa. It is your honeymoon, after all. Drive to Bryce Canyon and settle in at the historic Bryce Canyon Lodge inside the park (see Day 3) where the canyon rim and its gloriously romantic starry skies are within walking distance.
This classic Utah trail provides a spectacular half-day trip for well-conditioned hikers who have no fear of heights. A series of 21 switchbacks ascend to aerial views of Scout Lookout. Stop here or take on the final hair-raising pitch to the top of Angels Landing. 5.4 miles, round-trip.
One of the more welcome surprises for any Southern Utah adventure is the array of spa services at your fingertips. Imagine reaching Angels Landing then retreating to St. George's award-winning Green Valley Boutique Hotel and Spa or the highly acclaimed and scenic Red Mountain Spa.
Bryce Canyon is the ultimate place to experience the splendor of the night sky. Protected by a special force of park rangers and volunteer Utah astronomy enthusiasts, Bryce Canyon is known as the last grand sanctuary of natural darkness and has one of the nation's oldest astronomy programs.
- Shooting Star Drive-In
- Kiva Koffeehouse
- Bryce Canyon Lodge
After a day exploring Bryce Canyon, it’s time to return to the All-American Road, Scenic Byway 12. Grab a coffee at Kiva Koffeehouse, then backtrack to take in an evening movie the old-fashioned way at the Shooting Star Drive-in just steps from your overnight accommodation in one of their beautiful Airstreams. There are also dining and overnight options in nearby Escalante. If it’s too early for a show, foodie honeymooners might opt to make a reservation at Hell’s Backbone Grill in Boulder and overnight there or in Torrey.
Welcome to the Shooting Star RV Resort. Pull in your own home-on-the-go or saddle up in one of eight luxury Airstream accommodations decorated to resemble the Hollywood trailers of the stars. While you’re here, don’t miss a classic movie at the drive-in theater.
Nestled amid the beauty of Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument in Southern Utah, Kiva Koffeehouse offers a relaxing stop for travelers in need of homemade food and gourmet coffee or an overnight stay in one of two 700-square-foot cottages, each complete with a jetted tub, fireplace and spectacular views.
Enjoy rustic accommodations, a great menu, the best access to stunning sunrises and sunsets on the Rim Trail, and the dark Utah skies at Bryce Canyon Lodge. It’s the only lodging option within the Bryce Canyon National Park boundary. Image courtesy dmitri_66 on Flickr.
- Robber's Roost and Cafe Diablo
- Moab Dining Scene
- Evening River Cruise
Spending the morning in Capitol Reef Country combines time in the eclectic town of Torrey with options to enjoy short hikes to panoramas and impressive sandstone formations in the national park. You might also stop at the U-Pick Orchard when fruit is in season or Gifford Homestead for a slice of pie. Regardless, you get to drive the scenic S.R. 24 on the way to Moab, where you can sit down for an excellent meal then head up the road for a sunset cruise down the Colorado River. Overnight in Moab.
The next time you visit Capitol Reef, be sure to stop in the tiny town of Torrey for tasty eats and interesting treats from handmade ice cream to unusual dishes of the southwest. While at Robber’s Roost Bookstore and Beverages, browse the selection of books by regional writers focusing on life on the Colorado Plateau.
Moab has grown up a lot in the last 30 years. While still a renowned adventure outpost, the vibrant town also serves up an array of incredible dining. Here are a few options from the eclectic to the just plain good. All are highly regarded.
An evening cruise down the Colorado River is one of the best ways to unwind — enjoy a glass of wine, catch a brilliant sunset, or gaze at the stars in one of Canyonlands by Night and Day’s spectacular outings. Photo courtesy Brendan Bombaci on Flickr.
- Hummer Tour
- Moab Culture Walk
- Red Cliffs Lodge and Castle Creek Winery
Today, plan some time in Arches National Park if you’ve never been. Otherwise, head for the hills on a Hummer tour across the sandstone plateau. Choose from one of several Moab outfitters to ride to places only a Hummer should go. Spend the afternoon browsing the best local artists in Moab or head to Red Cliffs Lodge to sample some of the local blends and varietals at Castle Creek Winery. Your evening could be spent listening to the soothing current of the Colorado River at Red Cliffs or peering deep into the universe at Red Rock Astronomy in Moab.
There are many ways to see Moab. Some take to their feet, others use two wheels, and others soar through the friendly skies. Outside of the military, there may be no better use for the Hummer than crawling the slickrock trails that made Moab famous.
There’s nothing quite like wandering the outdoor wilds of Moab — but when the sun dips low, explore incredible art and photography galleries capturing the best colors of the region, plus history, heritage, and even the delightfully educational Red Rock Astronomy. Tom Till Gallery courtesy Tom Till.
The rustic and comfortable lodge is 14 miles up the Colorado River on scenic Hwy 128 in a classic, rugged Western landscape worthy of Hollywood. It’s also an adventure base camp and is home to both the Moab Museum of Film and Western Heritage and the award-winning Castle Creek Winery.
- Mesa Arch
- Green River Rafting
- Green River Foodie
Maybe getting up early to hit Mesa Arch for its iconic sunrise isn’t your ideal honeymoon. You could certainly wait until after breakfast. Either way, as you begin to make your way back across the state, you’ll want to hit the lovely Tamarisk Restaurant on the banks of the mighty Green River. Cruise I-70 to Monroe’s weird and wonderful Mystic Hot Springs for a rejuvenating soak in the mineral-rich waters. Overnight in Richfield or Panguitch.
This is a perfect trail for newbies to slickrock desert hiking, and one of Canyonlands National Park's most iconic and photogenic vistas. It’s easy and short, and a detailed display at the trailhead explains how to hike the trail. The payoff is huge, especially at sunrise.
Recreate on the Green River for a leisurely day of floating, or amp up your adrenaline on a commercial multi-day rafting trip through soaring canyons and rippling white water — this is one the American West's finest and most untamed rivers.
Get cozy with some comfort food or light coffee shop fare during your stay in Green River. The local foodie scene offers some unexpected delights for those travelers on I-70 heading to Utah’s many recreational hotspots.
- Cedar Breaks National Monument
- Shakespeare Festival
- Centro Pizza and The Grind Coffee
There’s a sunrise option at Cedar Breaks if you’re feeling ambitious and want to grab a few hikes on the rim of the stunning amphitheater or the Alpine Loop. Otherwise, you can stop by, soak up the views and continue to Cedar City for a touch of high culture at the Shakespeare Fest. Finish the trip with a great meal in this vibrant college town and reflect on the miles behind you and the journey still ahead.
The rim of Cedar Breaks is above 10,000 feet and looks into a natural amphitheater plunging 2,000 feet below, taking your eyes for a colorful ride through arches, hoodoos and canyons. Stunning views are common on these hikes so keep your camera nearby. It’s also a certified Dark Sky Park, which means the nights are like nowhere else.
From June to October, Cedar City welcomes the world to its Tony Award-winning Utah Shakespeare Festival. Thousands converge on the campus of Southern Utah University to participate in renaissance festivities and see Shakespearean productions rotating nightly. The Fest also presents modern plays.
Cedar City's cuisine has burst onto the scene in a big way in recent years, anchored by some of the best wood-fired pizza around at Centro, but there’s also incredible BBQ, modern American restaurants, fine Mexican dining and a great community coffee shop at The Grind.