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Voices from the Road

The road to Holi: Driving 800 miles to celebrate the festival of colors

I moved to the U.S. from India 7 years ago for better career prospects, but the nostalgia of being in India has remained throughout the years. Rich in cultural heritage, India boasts hundreds of festivals centered around spirituality, religion, and history. 

One festival in particular that makes me nostalgic every year is Holi, the festival of colors. Celebrated across the nation, people throw powdered color at each other to mark the arrival of spring. People party and dance all day—giving hugs and throwing color at everyone they encounter, friends and strangers alike.

In 2019, I heard about the Holi celebration at a beautiful International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISCKON) temple in Spanish Fork, Utah. My friends and I immediately started planning our road trip from Los Angeles. We found a new 2020 El Monte 40-foot RV for a great deal, and before we knew it, we were on our way to Utah. Since Spanish Fork was quite a distance from Los Angeles, we decided to make the trip a 10-day road adventure, boondocking on public lands and in national forests along the way.

Hiking, mountains, and mud

During an early morning drive on I-15, our first stop was Zion National Park, where we were absolutely blown away by the sheer depth of the canyons. We learned about the carving marvels of the Virgin River, which is still shaping the canyon today. The view on top of Angels Landing was mesmerizing, with the sunset turning the towering walls of Zion pink. After a few hikes, we were off to camp for the night in Dixie National Forest along Highway 89. The next morning, we hiked out to see gorgeous overlooks, witnessing the unique amalgam of forest and desert landscape. 

We drove a couple hours further to Capitol Reef National Park, and spent the entire day hiking Chimney Trail, Balanced Rock Trail, and some unmarked backcountry trails that had stellar views of the La Sal Mountains. The patterns on the rocks in this park are unique and made us wonder about the multi-million-year process it took to get to where it is now.

Still trudging along the mostly empty Highway 89, we entered Fishlake National Forest and ventured down muddy forest roads to find a camping spot. To no one’s surprise, we got the extremely heavy, 40-foot RV stuck in mud and couldn’t get it out. With all of our attempts in vain, we decided to start a campfire and boondock at that spot. The temperatures dropped significantly overnight, freezing the mud, and luckily we were able to get the RV out easily in the morning thanks to the hardened ground. 

Tranquility and color

After 3 days of driving, boondocking, and hiking, we finally made it to Spanish Fork and were taken aback by a massive gathering of more than 25,000 people covered in color at the temple. This was exactly the vibe I’d been craving for so long, and I was grateful to dance and throw colors while surrounded by my closest friends. 

After the 2-day event of non-stop excitement, we spent a much-needed day of relaxation at Utah Lake State Park in Provo, soaking in the tranquility of the lake surrounded by Northern Utah mountain ranges. 

When we left for the road trip, we had no idea what to expect, but we hiked in desert canyons, got stuck and magically unstuck in the middle of nowhere, and reconnected with our cultural and spiritual roots; we also may have shed a tear or two as we made our way back to Los Angeles. We learned that you never know what enlightening experiences await you until you get out on the road.

Navkaran’s trip

Meet the Roadtripper

Navkaran Sandhu