How can I possibly survive 8 months without vacation? Nope, I can’t! I must go somewhere even if it’s a mini vacation so I started to look. It happened to be National Park Service’s 100th birthday this year so a great reason to visit one of the beautiful national parks in the US! And in perfect timing, JetBlue was having a 25% off award redemption promotion only lasted two days so I had to make a decision quick! I was amazed by the incredible landscape of the western part of the US – Grand Canyon and Antelope Canyons that we visited two years ago so it wasn’t hard to decide. Without much debate, we redeemed a flight to Salt Lake City for only 6500 miles per person one way knowing that Utah is famous for its 5 national parks – Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce, Zion, and Capital Reef so plenty of choices! The way back, I used up my 6,000 Citi ThankYou points ($60 – before it expires) plus cash to redeem for the nonstop flight from Delta (it was $141 per person). Our flight out was Thursday late night and coming back Monday late night so we really have half day in Friday (since i need to “work from home” till noon time), full two days weekend, and then Monday driving back from the park to the airport. I don’t want to squeeze in multiple parks so we can spend more time in the park rather than in the car. I had my heart set on Arches National Park because of its natural sandstone arches and those won’t last forever so see it before they are gone! Arches is also in the same area as Canyonlands and Captial Reef (a little bit far) so we could visit an additional park depending on how time goes.
- To SLC: 13,000 JetBlue miles + $11.20
- To BOS: 6,348 Thankyou points + $202.72
A rental car is a must to visit the national parks and it was the cheapest of all the expenses of this trip – $87.97 for the entire duration of the trip for a compact car and spent $43.22 on gas.
I didn’t realize how expensive hotels, actually motels, are in Moab, the town closest to Arches National Park average $200+ per night plus taxes and they often sell out so please secure hotel booking as soon as you decided on the trip! I looked into using hotel points:
Hilton: there’s a Hampton Inn there but it cost 40,000 – 50,000 Hilton points per night yikes not a good redemption value unless you are staying 5 nights because Hilton offers 5th night free with award redemption.
Intercontinental: there’s Holiday Inn Express at 35,000 IHG points per night which could be a little saving (points can be purchased for $70 for 10,000 points so 35,000 points cost $245), you can save more if you take advantage of the annual Daily Getaway to purchase 100,000 IHG points for only $565 so 35,000 points = $198 instead. The dates we were there, they have a car show event that weekend so the room rate skyrocketed up to $260 per night including taxes so using IHG points make sense. The 100,000 IHG package is still available as of today at: https://dailygetaways.ustravel.org/OffersList.aspx
Choice: there are a few Choice hotel properties in Moab – Comfort Suites, Sleep Inn, Quality Suites, and Rodeway Inn ranging from 20,000 – 30,000 points per night. The annual Daily Getaway was selling 40,000 Choice points for $160 which I quickly bought one when it was available, those sell out within minutes! This would be the best redemption value if you have Choice points. I am saving my Choice points for a future Nordic trip which gives tremendous value for hotel redemption (hotels there cost more than $300 per night and only requires like 20,000 points).
Marriot: there’s a Fairfield Inn in Moab and it’s the closest inn to Arches National Park at 30,000 points per night. We don’t have much Marriot points and rarely earn it so this is not an option for us.
I ended up paying for 1 night at the Holiday Inn Express to complete the Accelerate promotion they were running at that time ($217), 1 night with my husband’s free anniversary certificate from his IHG credit card (best value ever $45 annual fee for a free one night stay at any IHG properties in the world), and 1 night with 35,000 IHG points. It was easier and save more time to stay at one hotel rather than saving extra bucks to check-in and out different hotels. Also, Holiday Inn Express Moab is only 2 miles away from the entrance of Arches National Park! Both Fairfield Inn and Holiday Express are located outside of Moab’s town center so don’t need to go through the busy traffic each time while Hampton Inn and all of the Choice properties are located in the town center.
Total cost of hotels: $135 (1 night near SLC) + $217 + 35,000 IHG points and 1 night certificate
I am still going through the pictures which will probably take me a few weeks to post so here are some previews! Stay tuned for my complete trip report!