2,355 miles later… My husband and I are home.
We are tired, we are sunburned (thanks Lake Mead!), our clothes smell of sweat and smoke, our truck is full of red dust, but we are happy. We’re also very grateful and so appreciative that we were able to take this time away together to really explore some amazing places.
For the entire trip, I’ll be doing a few posts so I can focus a bit more on each park, as it one had it’s own unique character about it and deserves it’s own place here on my ol’ blog.
So to start off, let’s see where the journey began and how we got to Utah :-)
In my last post, I mentioned that we would be in Mammoth Wednesday-Sunday, leaving Sunday morning to begin our journey! We headed south on the 395, then cut across the 136 to the 190 to drive through Death Valley National Park.
We mostly drove through it and only stopped to use the rest room and get a few pictures of the views. The weather was a bit warm there — 98* when we were about 130 feet below sea level. We didn’t have time to visit the lowest point, but I’m glad we were able to drive through and see some beautiful California desert.
Once we drove through the park, we headed onto the 127 then hit the I-95 which took us to Las Vegas where we then got onto the I-15N which took us all the way to Utah. Turning off in St. George UT, we got onto the UT-9 and headed on in to Zion Nat’l Park after nearly total 8 hours of driving. Phew. It was a trip.
The one nap I took. Haha.
We got in a around dusk and because of that, we were very lucky to find a camping spot. We shared a group site with a couple from Washington and 7 college students from BYU-Idaho. We all sat around the fire pit and discussed movies, places we’ve traveled and had a good time just visiting.
The next morning was the morning we were most excited about.
We woke up early, had breakfast, packed up the truck, then took a shuttle to the trail head for Angel’s Landing , one of the most infamous hikes in not only Zion National Park, but the national park system itself. Here’s a link about Angel’s Landing.
We started just after 0900 and began the our hike up the steep, nicely paved trail.
That, my friends, is Angel’s Landing. You gain 1488 feet in elevation, so it’s pretty steep with a lot of switch backs along the way, up to Scout’s Lookout, which is the point where you can turn around or continue onto Angel’s Landing or the West Rim Trail.
This is an infamous hike because the last 1/2 mile you’re climbing on sheer cliffs that have 1000+ feet drop offs. One wrong move and you could, well, fall. Way, way down…
Getting to Scout’s Lookout was extremely difficult, not gonna lie. I wanted to take multiple breaks but my husband kept pushing me to keep going and I’m glad he did. I didn’t want to quit, but to stop would have taken us a longer time and I’m pretty proud of the time we made for the whole trip.
At the top of the peak, you have some awesome views of the canyon.
Hanging out. It was kind of trippy to look straight down from here.
We pretty much ran down the trail on our way back because the trail is so steep, your body just wants to naturally run.
We finished up the hike, cooled our feet off in the river, then decided to head on out to our next park! But we made it back to the trail head in pretty good time! It total, it took us just under 3 hours to do the hike, start to finish. They say it takes an average of 4-5 hours for most people to do it. So I’d say we did pretty good.
It was difficult to leave so soon but we had to make it to our next park in good time.
On the way out, we took our typical tourist photo of course :-)
From Zion, we continued on the UT-9E to the 89N to the 12E then the 63S where we ended up in Bryce Canyon National Park! Bryce is known for their red rocks (found throughout most of southern Utah, really) and their crazy formations called hoodoos. They’re rock structures that look likes kids put there after playing with Play-Doh.
Now we’ve been here before and it was actually pretty dang cold. There was snow on the ground. And we were in shorts and tank tops. We decided to only drive through and take some quick pictures before our GoPro died. Our feet were also cold.
I know there aren’t many (few, really) pictures of Bryce, but for us, we had already been there a few years ago and it’s the kind of park that you drive through and look at. Not much to do, really. Especially when it’s cold and windy.
From Bryce, we got back onto the 63, heading north, and drove through the 12E. Along the way we went up and down various landscapes from open fields, dry desert, to snowy mountains. A few hours later we drove through Capitol Reef Nat’l Park.
It was getting to be late afternoon and they only had one camp ground in the park, which is based on reservations. We found out from the camp host though that in Utah, you can pretty much camp anywhere on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land as long as it’s so many 100+ feet off a main road and you can also have a fire if there’s a pit. So that’s what we did! It was actually a lot prettier than camping inside the actual park. The only downside is no running water and bathrooms. It’s just you and nature.
We were able to witness an amazing sunset there, too.
It was a cool and very windy evening. Our fire wasn’t actually able to catch properly because of the wind. We decided to call it a night and went to bed pretty early.
In summary for this post, we left Mammoth Sunday morning and arrived in Zion early evening byway of Death Valley and Las Vegas. From Zion, we drove to Bryce through the eastern exit and from there drove to Capitol Reef.
To be continued :-)
p.s. In case you’re wondering, we did most of our research through the National Park website and also VisitUtah.com where they have lists of things to do, itineraries, etc. We planned our trip based on a 5-day itinerary although we tweaked it a little here and there of course. But more on that later :-)
This is not a sponsored post.