How To Roadtrip From Moab, Utah to Laramie, Wyoming
Come along with Camping & Hiking expert Hannah K. as she travels through Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming. Use her experience to plan a trip of your own!
As graduation gifts to ourselves, my three best friends from university and I planned a road trip through Colorado. On a whim—the day before our trip—we expanded our adventure to include Utah and Wyoming. Here’s how we did it.
One friend lived in Colorado and the rest of us flew into Denver to meet her. She had a 2011 Toyota Rav-4 that we shoved (read: nicely packed) full of our gear as we set out on two weeks of fun. Get ready for hikes, campsites, and of course, some slightly too personal content.
Terms to Be Familiar With:
- Wilder-pee: peeing in the wilderness
- Wilder-poop: pooping in the wilderness
We all arrived in Boulder, Colorado, and while there, we decided that we needed to go to Utah first. So that night, we scrambled to find a campsite and rearranged our entire trip. After our logistics check and schedule changes, we made dinner and went to bed early. The next morning, we woke up at 4:00 am, packed the car, and by 5:30 am, we hit the road.
We drove six hours (stopping only once to wilder-pee) and made it to the Lazy Lizard Hostel in Moab, Utah. The hostel has a combination of rooms, cabins, and campsites. For the rest of the trip, we would camp on BLM land or registered campsites, so the first night on the road we decided to go luxurious. We chose a cabin.
Keep in mind, this was August in Moab so it was about 110 degrees that first night. No one could sleep. At 8:30 pm, with the sun just setting, we decided to take a ten-minute drive to the nearby river and go for a swim. It was exhilarating. No one was around us and the picturesque views were unlike anything I had ever seen.
Early the next morning, we headed out for Arches National Park. Our goal was to wake up at 3:30 am so that we could get into the park and hike to the famous Delicate Arch before sunrise. But we slept until 5:00 am. To be completely honest (and I still haven’t told my friends this), our alarm clock did in fact go off but no one heard it but myself. I made a not-so-thorough attempt at waking everyone up but then turned the alarm off and went back to sleep.
Nevertheless, we made it into the park by 6:00 am and hiked to the Delicate Arch—the most popular trail in the park and for good reason. The hike itself only has one steep section and there were even kids running up it. At the time, I was recovering from an injury so I was going slow, but the hike is very doable. I even saw someone in a boot hike the whole trail. And once you’re there, all that’s left to do is sit around, staring in awe.
We hiked back to the car and for the next two hours, we drove around the national park, stopping along the way for scenic overlooks. Because it was 114 degrees out that day, we didn’t hike anymore.
Here is a fun tip: don’t go to the desert in August!
After exiting the park, we drove about 45 minutes to Dead Horse Point State Park and set up camp at the Wingate Campground. This campsite had a great vibe to it. There was a really large table for cooking so we were able to make a feast of lentils, white beans, kale, and vegan sausage.
On our third day, we woke up at 3:30 am, packed up camp after eating some oatmeal and making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and drove further into the park to hike the Dead Horse Rim Loop Trail. It is a beautiful hike that allows you to see the entire state park. It starts and ends at the visitor center, covers five miles of land, and has a little over 900 feet of elevation gain. It was the perfect hike to start our trip with. There are plenty of cairns to help you find your way, but as long as you follow the rim, you should be good to go. We made it to the best scenic overlook for sunrise—which was our predetermined goal for every hike.
Afterward, we stopped at the visitor center to refill our water, hit the bathroom, and get some stickers. My personal goal was to collect stickers from every state or national park we went to.
From there, we drove to Telluride, Colorado—about a three-hour drive. In town, there is a free gondola that takes you to different sections of the town and lets you see the epic mountains. In the winter, the skiing would be fantastic. However, in the summer, there’s a mushroom festival that happens. Unfortunately, we missed it by a few days, but it is on my to-do list!
We walked around the town, got some delicious vegan Thai food, and camped at Telluride Town Park Campground. The campground was perfectly located near town but far enough away into the woods that we felt alone. There were also bathroom and shower facilities that we happily took advantage of. Despite the nice facilities, I still took the best wilder-poop here. Remember your Leave No Trace principles when disposing of your waste—human or otherwise!
Since we were at higher elevation and out of the desert, we didn’t feel the need to beat the sun for our morning hike. We took our time waking up and eventually made our way to Bear Creek Trail, an out-and-back trail that covers 4.5 miles of beautiful terrain and over 1,000 feet of elevation. At the peak, you make it to this amazing waterfall and get beautiful views of Telluride.
After our morning hike, we drove to Durango, Colorado and walked around town for about an hour. We had lunch and stopped at Adrenaline Falls for a short swim. Another goal we had discussed before the trip was to swim in every river we deemed warm enough. Since most of our campsites were primitive or on BLM land and did not have showers, the rivers or falls were a nice way to feel cleaner.
Adrenaline Falls was probably my favorite swimming stop of them all. We found a section that was completely empty and jumped right in. The water was warm but not hot, and the rocks on the shore acted as excellent beds to lay on.
After our swim, we jumped in the car and drove to Silverton, Colorado.
That night, we camped on BLM land. This was the most beautiful campsite I have ever stayed on. It was reminiscent of the scene in The Sound of Music where Julie Andrews is running over the hills singing “The hills are alive…”
We made camp, ate some tofu curry, and crashed.
This day held the hardest hike of our trip. The Ice Lakes Trail is 8.2 miles with 3,000 feet of elevation gain. It’s basically straight up the entire time. To read more about it, check out this article I wrote specifically about the Ice Lakes Trail. All you have to know is that I laughed, cried, and saw a marmot that I named Shelby who hiked with me for a little bit.
This was the most intense and beautiful hike I have ever done in my life, and after, I jumped in the driver's seat and we drove to Ouray, Colorado. Before we found our campsite that night, we stopped at Orvis Hot Springs in Ridgeway for a dip, soak, and shower. This hot spring is clothing-optional, so keep that in mind if you make a pit stop. We hung out there for an hour before they closed at 9:00 pm.
We then had to find camp in the dark which is always a challenge! However, this campsite had the best starry sky of our entire road trip. It made the difficulty worth it. We stayed up until midnight gazing at the sky and watching for falling stars (I saw two!).
Earlier, I mentioned that I was injured on this trip. I had broken my foot a month earlier so the hike we did on day five pretty much killed me. We had planned on spending the day around Ouray but I was feeling motivated so we decided to hike the Ouray Perimeter Trail. It was about six miles with 1,500 feet of elevation, and, despite my motivation, I was in a lot of pain. The day before, my pain was subdued by the beauty. But that day, I was just in pain. I hiked by myself behind my friends at a much slower pace and eventually caught up with them when we made it back to the car.
We had lunch at a nearby park and left around 2:00 pm to drive two hours to Gunnison, Colorado. Along the way, we stopped at Rustic Arts in Montrose and the Ute Indian Museum. Worthy stops, if I may so myself.
We camped on BLM land right outside Black Canyon. This was a really nice campsite on a hill overlooking the canyon.
Here, one of my favorite memories of the trip took place. It is pretty embarrassing, so much so that my friends and I said we would never talk about it again. But here it is: we were discussing the desire to wilder-pee standing up like men do to put out campfires. So we tried it. We paired up and used a pulley-like system to help each other up and we did in fact put out the campfire.
I still tear up and laugh just thinking about it.
I needed a day off to rest my foot so on our seventh day, we drove from overlook to overlook, enjoying the pit of Black Canyon.
After lunch, we drove to a nice river and enjoyed laying in the sun and taking a dip. We had a really nice relaxing day, one I think we all needed.
However, after hanging at the river, we drove to one of the worst campsites I have ever stayed at. As campsites go, it wasn’t terrible. It had really nice facilities, laundry, beautiful trails, and it was beautifully green. But the not-so-great part is that half of the site is for tent camping and the other half is for RVs. Every site was so close to each other that there was no concept of privacy. Since we had gotten there pretty late, we were able to fall asleep and leave early.
That day we drove to Crested Butte—the most beautiful place I have laid my eyes on. We didn’t hike that day either but instead walked around town, and when we were ready for lunch, we drove up a mountain, passed by Trail 403 - Long Lake, and found a secluded spot to make lunch. With the windows open, we blasted Celine Dion “It's All Coming Back To Me Now” and cried.
(Pro tip: Don’t blast music when driving through a campsite. It isn’t nice.)
That night, we drove back to Boulder and stayed at my friend’s place.
On our ninth day, we were able to sleep in...until 7:00 am! It was glorious! That day, we drove to Fort Collins and a different friend joined us. We picked up groceries in town and headed to a ranch outside Fort Collins where my cousin lives.
On her ranch, we set up camp and went for a swim in a nearby swimming hole. My cousin and her four dogs joined us and then they took us on a short hike around the ranch. Later in the afternoon, another friend who was on a different road trip in Wyoming joined us.
That night, we scrambled up this small peak to watch the sunset with some bourbon in hand. We went back to camp, had dinner, and made the most beautiful campfire. We stayed up late, enjoying the summer air and each other's company.
After packing up our car and saying goodbye to my cousin, we drove to Laramie, Wyoming on a whim. I’m not sure why we did, but we did. We spent the afternoon there and enjoyed an amazing vegan cafe.
That night, we drove to Denver, had dinner at an amazing Ethiopian restaurant, and checked into our hostel before parting ways. The next morning, we all had flights to different parts of the country.
Those ten days gave me the most precious memories. From laughter to tears, from good music to painful injuries, I can honestly say that summer and that trip made me a better person. I bonded with my friends, learned about myself, and pushed my body past its limits. If you are looking to do a similar trip, follow this adventure guide and you will too. Feel free to reach out to me or another Camping & Hiking expert here on Curated with any questions!