Memories of a Last Trip to Utah National Parks Before COVID-19 Closures

Note: Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic that has impacted us in many ways, Xplorer Maps’ Charlie Dahlstrom and partner, Kaija Elenko, were able to take a trip to Utah. They loaded up their Subaru with bikes and camping gear and set off on a journey from Missoula, Montana, to Utah where they explored five national parks, two state parks, and one national monument. At the time, they didn’t realize that it would be the last trip before all the national parks closed temporarily to curb the spread of coronavirus. For Charlie and Kaija, it was a trip to remember, and the couple says they hope to visit other national parks once they reopen. Read more about their trip and check out the photos below.

Hiking through spectacular canyons, exploring areas with other-worldly pinnacles, hoodoos, and natural arches, cooking mashed potatoes on a camp stove, and sleeping under the stars, the Utah trip was one to remember.

An employee with Xplorer Maps for the past three years and a graduate in Recreation Management from the University of Montana, Charlie Dahlstrom had always dreamed of visiting Utah’s “Big Five” national parks. He became even more interested while working in the company’s warehouse and preparing the hand-drawn Utah maps and map-related products (coasters, mugs, magnets, notecards, puzzles and more) for shipping around the world.

Earlier in 2020, Chris Robitaille, Xplorer Maps’ cofounder and artist, finished the last map in the Utah series – a combined map of Arches and Canyonlands National Park. The other national parks – Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, and Zion – complete the series.

An outdoor enthusiast who is passionate about public lands, Charlie says Xplorer Maps’ unique, custom maps inspired him to venture out to see Utah’s national parks in person.

Knowing that his girlfriend, Kaija, would be starting graduate school soon, the couple decided to pack up and hit the road for Utah. One of their goals was to visit as many of the landmarks and landscapes featured on the company’s hand-drawn maps.

Here are a few photos from their trip - some of are even matched up with Chris's drawings!

Photos by Charlie Dahlstorm and Kaija Elenko

Camping outside Goblin Valley State Park.


Kaija standing by the Capitol Gorge at Capitol Reef National Park.

View our Capitol Reef National Park map here.


Double O Arch is the second largest arch in Arches National Park.

View our Arches and Canyonlands National Park map here.


Charlie and Kaija pictured by Dark Angel in Arches National Park eating tuna and mashed potatoes for lunch.

Starry night above Goblin Valley State Park.


Top picture: Charlie standing at Angels Landing in Zion National Park.

View our Zion National Park map here.

View our Bryce Canyon National Park map here.