By Brendan Leonard

I have told people before that my “happy place” is inside a puffy jacket, when I’m also wearing sandals. It’s not the most sensible combination in most places (down jacket and bare toes?), but the place it makes the most sense is the Desert Southwest: All day in the spring and fall it can be sunny and warm, and the evenings cool down enough to warrant a puffy. Hence the outfit. 

I’ve spent a ton of warm days and cool nights in the desert land of Utah, Arizona, and Southern California, climbing rocks, hiking trails, exploring canyons, and getting red dirt in between my toes. But my parents had never seen some of my favorite parts of the country. Until a few weeks ago—I convinced them to rent a small RV and take a weeklong road trip around the desert and see some of the Southwest’s best landscapes. Here are a few photos from the trip. 

Showing my dad the ropes (rather, the chains) on Angel’s Landing, Zion National Park. (photo by Hilary Oliver)


Inspiration Point, Bryce Canyon National Park. (photo by Hilary Oliver)


Dad tries to capture the scenery inside Antelope Canyon, Arizona.


Sunrise, Wahweap Marina, Lake Powell National Recreation Area.


Dad gets his first view of “Forrest Gump Road,” leading into Monument Valley, Utah. 


Goofing off at Artist’s Point, Monument Valley, Utah. (photo by Hilary Oliver)


Dad hams it up at The Mittens, Monument Valley, Utah.


Mom on her way up and out of the Grand Canyon—her 63rd birthday present was an overnight hike down the Bright Angel Trail to Phantom Ranch.


Sunset over the Grand Canyon. (photo by Hilary Oliver)


Family time on the South Rim. (photo by Hilary Oliver)

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