Our Zion and Bryce Canyon National Park Family Vacation- Day 1and 2

Oh my….I have so many things I could tell you about that I don’t even know where to start. First, let me just say, we had the most awesome vacation that we have ever had as a family!!!!!!

Upon landing in Las Vegas the temperature was an awesome 111 degrees. As you can imagine, I was one VERY happy woman. My son and husband, on the other hand, were not so very happy when the pilot made this temperature announcement. After deplaning, taking the shuttle to the rent a car building, and picking out our rental for the week we headed through the desert toward Springdale, Utah. I, of course, picked the only rental with Utah license plate, because I have always wanted a car with this plate. IMG_1936We arrived just as the sun was setting and got all settled into our hotel room. It had been a very long day. We had been traveling since 5 a.m. so we were very happy when we finally arrived. That night our son captured a few star pictures and the milky way but it did not take long for us all to turn in for the night.

Our plan for our first whole day was the biggest hike we had planned which was to the top of Observation Point. Since my husband and I had stayed at this hotel once before we knew that they served a fabulous big breakfast which is included in the price of the room. I think our son was a little speechless to be honest when morning arrived and we walked to the lobby area for breakfast. This was not your typical continental breakfast. IMG_1941

We enjoyed this breakfast every single morning on the outdoor patio facing gorgeous mountain peaks…..if only I could wake up every morning to this view.

After breakfast we boarded the first of many shuttles into the park.

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Shuttle stops are located throughout the city of Springdale and make stops at many area businesses. We never once waited for more than 10 minutes for a shuttle. Upon exiting the city shuttle we then entered the park and boarded the Zion shuttle to our chosen trail head. These park shuttles are packed wall to wall with hikers and tourists but are the only way to travel through Zion National Park. Personal vehicles are not allowed on the trail head road ways in Zion National Park.  IMG_1944

After a few minutes we arrived at our trail head and immediately headed up the mountain by way of switchbacks. I knew by the look on our son’s face that he was amazed with the scenery, the steepness of the switchbacks, and the fact that this was going to be harder that what he could have ever imagined.

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Our goal was the top of Observation Point although, we all knew this was going to be nothing short of a miracle if we reached our goal. I had come down with some sort of nasty virus two days before leaving and don’t forget my husband was doing this trip with a fairly new herniated disc and nerve damage in one leg. Regardless, we headed up the mountain at fairly good speed taking breaks every few switchbacks. On this particular day it was 106 degrees but amazingly tolerable.

About half way up we started our hike through Echo Canyon which is by far my husbands favorite area. It is absolutely gorgeous!!!! Our son was stunned into silence at the beauty that surrounded him. It did not take him long to start snapping pictures so this offered us a little rest time in the cooler canyon.

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We departed the canyon and headed higher up the mountain for awhile longer. Upon coming out of the canyon we were now in complete sunshine and it was HOT! Our pace had considerably slowed, my cold medication was wearing off, and my husband let us know that he was starting to feel numbness in his foot at this point. We stopped under a small shade tree and had a snack and some more water. We debated trying to continue or to turn around and be happy with what we had accomplished. After a bit, we all agreed that this was a good time to turn around and thankfully we did. Once we had turned around we again reached the canyon opening and my husband asked to sit for a bit and take a break. His numbness had gotten a bit worse and that was our cue to rest for awhile.   IMG_1995

We eventually continued back down the mountain and took the shuttle back out to the park entrance, switched to the city shuttle and arrived back at our hotel for some well needed showers. After this it was dinner at a fabulous restaurant where we ate on an outdoor patio surrounded by more mountains.

To end our day we all enjoyed the desert sunshine pool side.  IMG_2015

This was a great ending for us as a family. We estimated we were about 1-1 1/2 miles short of accomplishing the entire hike to the top of Observation Point. I would highly suggest this hike to anyone that is planning to visit Zion National Park. The elevation is intense but well worth the effort to at least reach Echo Canyon. It’s an amazing experience to walk through canyon walls that just continue on forever…..or so it seems.

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Have you ever visited Zion National Park?

What was your favorite hike?

Do you have specific questions regarding the park or the area? Feel free to email me and I will be happy to answer them if I can.

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Our 20th Anniversary Vacation-Zion National Park- Day 3

Bright and early I got up, did some yoga and filled our packs with the required water for the day. We went down to meet everyone for breakfast in the lodge and sat out back on the patio overlooking the mountains in the distance. I could eat breakfast every day and never get tired of this view.

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At 7:45 am we all loaded into the van and headed for our first trail head. Weeping Rock and Echo Canyon was our destination.

We started up a small hill and made our first stop at Weeping Rock, just a short hike from where we parked (1 mile round trip). This is a ledge that constantly has rain water from hundreds of years ago dripping from it. It’s very refreshing.

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After this, it was off to Echo Canyon. This is a pretty good hike with some good elevation involved. It was mostly shaded at this time of day, which was a good thing, otherwise it would have been much more difficult.

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We saw all kinds of critters here that we don’t have where we live.

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Upon arriving at the canyon, I was amazed. The walls and the depth were just unbelievable.

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We walked about a half mile past the end of the canyon to get a glimpse from above, down into the canyon and this was just breathtaking. Everywhere we looked there were mountains and mountains, and not a single one looked the same. Our guides were very good about making us stop for rest, water and snack breaks along the way.

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Then it was back into the canyon to find some shade and gather for lunch. Our two guides carried enough lunch for 11 people on their backs. This was quite impressive to us. We found a nice little sandy area where they prepared the lunch assortment.

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After lunch Megan applied some first aid to a few blisters on one of the hikers

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while Brian had some fun playing in some quick sand he found.

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Then we headed back to the trail head to make our way to the Virgin River to hike the Narrows.

We refilled our water bottles at this point and headed down another trail one mile to the Virgin River. Upon arriving at the river, we all changed into water shoes and put our hiking boots into our packs.(Hoping that none of us fell in and soaked our packs!) We entered the river and hiked a mile or so down river in the Narrows.

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It was pretty cold, with a lot of rocks but all soon forgotten with the beauty of our surroundings.

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We reached a small swimming hole and a few of us took a quick swim, and then all headed back to change back into hiking boots and hike the mile back out.

This was our biggest day of hiking making it a total of about 10 miles.

We were all tired and hungry. So, back to the lodge for showers and meet up for dinner, which was at the Bit and Spur.

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On this night, we all ate, drank and laughed. It was a superb ending to our day.

As we headed out to the van, Megan and Brian (our guides) asked us to all head back to our rooms and grab a jacket and meet in 10 minutes in the lobby of our lodge for a surprise. So we all arrived shortly back in the lobby and were handed campfire sticks and were lead out back on the property of the lodge to find Brian building a makeshift campfire. The making for smores were all passed out, and again an apology from the guides for not being able to give us all the full camp experience we had all planned for on this trip.

Even the owner of the lodge joined us for his first smores ever. He is from Spain and had never even heard of them, but he was soon hooked on the chocolate gooey dessert. We all shared our favorite moment of the trip so far, again were briefed on the plan for the next day and were all in our rooms and sleeping by 11pm.

One more day to go with the most mentally and physically challenging day to share with you. A moment I will never forget!!!!