Our Zion and Bryce Canyon National Park Family Vacation-Day 3

Today our plans were to hike to the 3 Emerald Pools and also do the Narrows. However, nothing happens until after a hearty breakfast just like yesterday. Again, we filled our stomachs with wonderful food while being surrounded by beautiful mountains and then boarded the shuttle back into the park.

Our first hike was the Emerald Pools. The trail head is located right across the street from the Zion Lodge in Zion National Park.  IMG_2017

We started out across a bridge and immediately noticed a horse corral and riders crossing the Virgin River. I have always wanted to try horseback riding but there are not enough allergy medications in the world for this to ever be possible, so I watched from the bridge with envy. IMG_2024This trail starts out paved and is well maintained until you reach the first Emerald Pool. There is a nice waterfall and a great little area where you pass behind and enjoy a sprinkle from above while doing so…..very refreshing.  IMG_2044 It was a great photography place and a nice area to cool off before heading up to the next two pools.  IMG_2049  IMG_2052 After getting all the shots my son wanted here we headed up the trail to Pool #2. The trail at this point was no longer paved and got a bit more rugged but tolerable. It took only a few minutes to reach pool two and we were happily surprised to find water in this one along with some tadpoles. This is the dry season so we were not sure what to expect at each pool.

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After a short time here, we headed back up higher to the last pool. This is where the trail became more like rock scrambling that hiking. It completely turned to a sand trail with boulders to maneuver up and over. This was right up to my expectations, one of my favorite things to do is rock scramble….and I loved it! This stretch offered very little shade and was hot and dusty but exciting all at the same time. After a while we crossed over a hill of boulders and were rewarded with the last pool and a nice large area of shade to rest.

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IMG_2078Our son took some pictures, we all sat on the big boulders to cool down a bit and this is also where we shared a trail snack before heading back on the same trail.

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Upon reaching the trail head we again boarded the free park shuttle and headed toward our next trail which was the Narrows hike.

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This is probably the most populated trail in the park in our opinion….and I will admit, not my favorite for this one reason. However, if this is your first time I would say it’s a must see and worth dealing with the crowd. This is a completely paved trail until you reach the rivers edge. There are rental places near the visitors center to rent water shoes and hiking poles to help you through the river up into the Narrows or you can do what many do and walk right in with their hiking boots/shoes. (We brought our kayaking shoes from home) When you reach the rivers edge there is a spot to change and put your personal belongings into dry bags/ziploks etc which you must also provide yourself. IMG_2089After you are all settled you walk down the steps into the river. Hiking poles, large sticks, and trekking poles are all a good idea….it is a river and there are many rocks.  IMG_2087

You start out down river and eventually make a turn into the Narrows passage….this is where the crowd is typically enormous as it was on our day here. I actually skipped this river walk this time around, last time it was not my favorite adventure. My boys were gone about and hour and we then made our way back to the shuttle bus for our return trip to the city shuttle which then returned us to our hotel.

Again, this was a very nice day, with temps over 100 degrees which meant we were in need of showers yet again before dinner. We ate tonight at a restaurant that had some amazing appetizers.

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And since it was vacation we ended the night again pool side with views of the mountains in the background.

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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.

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.