Saturday, July 21, 2018

Zion National Park - Scout Lookout Hike

Zion was awesome! Here is one of the trails we hiked that contributed to the awesomeness - Scout Lookout

The thought of hiking Angel’s Landing gave me great anxiety. I watched some videos that 
freaked me out - so yeah, doing Angel’s Landing was not an option. One video I watched showed just walking up to Scout Lookout and then deciding if you want to carry on! I was 
excited about that suggestion and made this the plan! 

When doing my investigating into this hike I wanted to know:

How much time do I need?
*answers are based on my experience and different circumstances could change the outcomes*
  • From the shuttle stop, up to the top, back to the same shuttle stop it took 2 hours. We did not rush. We took quite a few pictures. We had a snack at the top. We enjoyed the view for a while and watched some hikers go up Angel’s Landing. Add 30 minutes each way if calculating time from the hotel room and taking the shuttle. There was a group of young men who ended up running down the trail. It freaked me out a bit. The trail is wide enough for people going up and down, however it is still high, and carved into the side of the mountain. I would not want to be running as there is some dirt on the paved trail, and it is a steep grade - which makes it slippery.
   Take your time and enjoy the view. One of the young men mentioned they were in a hurry as they wanted    to do the narrows before dark. I don’t think they would have had enough time. It is tempting to cram a lot in a day - but if you can - take it easy - and be safe. 

What time of day should I go?
-  I was originally planning a morning hike, but I was excited to get into the park and do something. A huge concern for me was the heat and the crowds. We left our room about 5PM and were at the Grotto stop by 5:30. The shuttle in the park at this time had plenty of room. There were no line ups for the bathroom at the Grotto Stop. There was hardly anyone on the trail. It was smoking hot that day - 100 degrees. Going at this time was not a problem. The sun was behind the mountain and we were in the shade. 

What should I bring with me?
  • I took a backpack with water, a snack, the park map, sunscreen, a flashlight and a camera. I wore hiking shoes with good traction. I didn’t need the flashlight or sunscreen. I was glad to have the other items. I do wish I would have had a selfie stick.
Do I need to prepare anything?
  • Although there were few people on the trail, there were a couple I had to shake my head at. The footwear was not appropriate. Flip flops or other sandal like shoes with no support would make for a painful hike. I was glad to have awesome traction as going up the trail and down the trail made it more enjoyable. Who needs blisters?
I loved this hike and definitely recommend it for adults and older children that are carefully looked after.

Zion National Park Adventures

Hello! Welcome to my blog! I usually only post crafty things - but the last six months involved creating an itinerary for a fantastic vacation. I found so many helpful posts that helped me prepare for this trip. I love asking people about places they have visited. I didn’t want to leave things to chance, especially as we would be driving 6000 kilometres (about 3700 miles). Reading about others’ adventures helped familiarize me with the area and I could make decisions based on my style and preferences. Here are my two cents that will hopefully in some way help someone else create their awesome vacation.
We zipped through four national parks on our 2018 summer trip. Zion National Park was our last destination, and what a finale! I was absolutely amazed. This is a place where the pictures you see do not do any justice - it has to be seen in person to truly see its beauty. Lots of time was put into preparing for this trip. I had a plan - some things worked, some things didn’t. A couple reasons some plans didn’t work out:
  1. I overplanned for the time we had. Doing everything I wanted to do would have made for too hectic of an experience. I was okay to go with the flow and be flexible. 
  2. I did not know everything, even through all my studying. 

The purpose of this post is to give my experience so that others can be a little more prepared from what I learned going to Zion National Park. 

We entered through the east entrance. We stopped at a pull out right away because we were so taken by the scenery of the Checkerboard Mesa and the cool color of the pavement.  We got back on the road heading to the Mt. Carmel tunnel. I am sure other tourists were blown away by the scenery as cars and motorhomes were stopping all over the place. There was a huge rock that a lot of people were at to take pictures. A motorhome stopped on the road - some people got out including the driver - heading towards the rock scene with camera in hand. Stopping on the road is not advised but I honestly didn’t blame them - I wanted to do the same - but didn’t want to tick people off.
Plan A was to stop at the Canyon Overlook Trail. It did not happen. The parking area on the side we were on was overloaded and when we got to the actual parking area for the trail head (which had space)- we could not turn. We said we would come back later but it just didn’t happen. I am not sure if this is only in the summer months, but there was a sign that looked pretty permanent that said no left hand turns. If you are coming from the east, just hope you luck out at the pull off just before the tunnel. There is a pedestrian cross walk to get to the parking lot for the trail head if you happen to get so lucky. If not - you can plan to come back, but we didn’t as there were other amazing things to see. It will be on my “to-do” list when I return here.

It took three minutes to drive through the tunnel. It was neat! The part that was amazing was coming out and having the mountain scenery greet us!! Driving down the windy mountain side into the town of Springdale was incredible. 

The side of the road was packed with vehicles and tourists taking it all in. I would have love to have pulled over to get pictures - there just wasn't room. What a view looking up to the mountain we just drove through.We did notice on the corners of the road lots of rubber marks bumping the curb. It would be extremely tricky driving a motorhome on this road.

We booked a room at the Holiday Inn Express. We found this to be a great spot! It was close to Shuttle stop number 6. We caught the shuttle twice from here in the afternoon and early evening and it was full after stop number 4. We had to refuse people that were wanting on. The good thing was that the shuttles were every 15 minutes; however, it would be interesting to know if that is a problem at the stops closer to the park entrance. If one stayed closer to the entrance though, it would be easy enough to walk there.  The shuttle ride with all the stops took less than 10 minutes to the park (not including the wait for the shuttle).

We stayed two nights in Zion and did the two bucket list hikes I was planning - Scout Lookout and the Narrows. Learn more about these hikes by clicking on the pictures.

I had other hikes in mind if there was time, but was happy with what we did!

What did I learn?:

1. Two nights is not enough. There is sooo much to do and sooo much to see. Everything is spectacular here. The good thing with
only staying two nights is that I have a lot to do the next time I am here.

2. Come prepared. I seen so many unprepared people. I couldn't believe the flip flops I seen on the trails. That would be so uncomfortable. It is also good to come prepared with a reasonable plan. We came across a group of young men running to get to another trail because they were short on time. Thank goodness the trail we were on was not busy - or that could have been very dangerous.

3. Is it a family vacation spot? Although it was just my husband and I traveling together - we did observe toddlers that were absolutely miserable. It is hot. It is busy. They are not taking in any of the beauty - and I think because the kids might be cranky - parents would not be able to enjoy the beauty of it. I did see children about eight and up having the time of their life walking in the river at the narrows (although I don't know how far they got). There are trails that are dangerous, and those that are not as strenuous to adults might be for not as tall and not as strong children.

Am I going back? You bet! I love Zion National Park!

Friday, July 20, 2018

Utah Road Trip - What I Learned, What I Would Change

 I just got back from the most amazing holiday in my life. I have not traveled much in the world, but I am starting to explore the continent I live on. I have been to Oregon and loved the three highway 101 trips we have done.  We have gone to Avenue of the Giants in California. We have been to Olympic National Park. Of course these were wonderful amazing trips filled with beauty and the awe of nature. I have to say, I was blown away by our trip to Utah. I live in beautiful British Columbia Canada. We had a week to do our trip. I would have loved to have been able to spend more time but the cost of the trip was pricey with having to pay 1.36 exchange - OUCH! The studying about the area and the planning began months and months in advance. It was hard to choose where to go, I wanted to see it all, but I knew that time was limited. I searched Pinterest, Trip Advisor, and many blogs and websites. I am so grateful for all the information people have shared. If I didn’t do my homework this trip would not have been as good. 
Here is what I learned when I went to Utah along with some things I would change:

 Moab: (July 1)We drove from Salt Lake to Moab via highway 6W. This took about 4 1/2 hours. Most of the way was flat and desolate. We did not find this very scenic, but it was the fastest route.
We took a little detour to Dead Horse State Park. The drive on highway 313 was very scenic. This is the highway that takes you to Island in the Sky Viewpoint. We only went as far as the State Park. I will do a post on that in the future. We only had one night in Moab. I wish I had time to do at least two nights. We stayed at the Fairfield Inn and Suites. It was awesome but pricey. It was our favorite hotel of the trip, but then again it should be as we paid the most for it. We relaxed at the pool for a while. The pool area was the nicest I have seen at a hotel. It was July 1 and scorching hot. Around 6:00 we drove to Arches (very handy - 3 minutes away). We drove right in - no line up. The drive at the beginning was fantastic! The big cliffs, driving up the mountain road was incredible. We drove to a lot of the sites that were easy to get to. Doing hikes in that kind of heat was not my favorite so we opted for the easy short ones - the double arch/windows, and balancing rock. A lot of formations are easy to see from the road - however the one I wanted to see was Delicate Arch which I researched was a 2 hour hike to get to. We planned on doing this hike in the morning - but we did not get to it. My hubby was not feeling well (could have had something to do with the heat) so we left Moab without seeing it.  

overall opinion of Arches - of course Arches is beautiful, and I didn’t see everything to give a fair opinion - however - with the pictures I had seen of the park online - I was not surprised when I visited, other than the first drive into the park which was really cool. I would definitely change the time I spent - at least two nights is needed. There are lots of bike trails that looked really interesting. Although I am a dirt biker, I would opt for the mountain bike rides as there was a cool paved path for them. I seen an ATV tour depart and it looked super dusty having to follow a pack of ATV's like that. 
 Capital Reef: (July 2) We drove from Moab to Bryce Canyon. Although we did not intentionally stop to visit Capital Reef National Park, we drove Highway 24 which drives through some of it. We actually thought we were on the Scenic Byway 12 - the drive was so beautiful. We were thinking, how could highway 12 be more beautiful than this! We stopped for a break at the Hickman Bridge Trail which is right off the highway. This was about 2 1/4 hours from Moab. It was 11 AM, and boy was it HOT! We made it to the bridge in 1/2 an hour - taking a few picture and water breaks. We rested under the bridge for quite a while as it was shady and relief from the sun. The restrooms here were nice and clean. A little further after Hickman Bridge, we stopped to look at some Petroglyphs. It was really neat to see orchards along this highway too.

overall opinion of Capital Reef - I would love to come back and explore more! There was a pullout along the highway just before the Hickman Bridge trail pullout called The Grand Wash. My hubby was excited to see Factory Butte along the way too (natures dirt bike area).
 Bryce: (July 2) We arrived in Bryce around 3:00. (Left hotel in Moab around 8:30ish). We took our time driving as Highway 24 and 12 are amazing! We stopped for one hike and stopped at quite a few lookouts. Hogsback is an interesting part of the highway that freaked me out. It felt like Angel’s Landing for my car. We stayed at Best Western Ruby’s Inn. I was amazed at the size of this “Inn”, and was impressed how organized the check-in and check-out was. It was very touristy, but that made it neat too. We didn’t want to go to the National Park until around 7:00 so it would be cooler. We went to Sunrise Point. I had read all sorts of opinions about how to do the Queen’s/Navajo trail loops. At one point I was thinking to start from Sunset to Sunrise, but later decided to do Sunrise to Sunset as the park suggests. I liked this route. Going up the switchbacks to Sunset Point was an amazing finale to the hike. At 7:00 we were in the shade, although it was sunny out. We looked down into the ampitheatre, and my hubby said - “that’s nice - but I’m not going down there.” I said, “oh yes you are!!!” He was glad that I convinced him. Words cannot adequately describe this trail. Pictures cannot adequately capture its beauty. We started the hike from Sunrise Point at 7:15 and ended at Sunset Point at 8:30. We were taking it easy with lots of stopping to take it all in. I was worried about the trail being too hard. I am not exactly a spring chicken. I heard the elevations make it even more tough. When I told my daughter about the trail we were going to hike she said- good luck with that - I am guessing she was insinuating that I was not fit enough. The switchbacks going up the Sunset Point are a little steep, BUT, I do trails in British Columbia that are harder than this. I found it rather easy. Being in the shade and the cooler part of the day probably helped. We stuck around for the sunset and also stayed until really dark to see the stars in the night sky. 

overall opinion of Bryce - I was blown away. I sort of knew what to expect from the pictures, but being there in person is another thing. Every step we took, we were amazed. What to change? There were some great looking paved mountain bike trails that looked attractive to me as I am very strong in my pedalling stamina. Would stay at least two nights to get more hikes in. The rim trail from Sunset Point to Bryce Point would have been nice to walk. I was glad to visit in the evening when it was cooler.
Zion: (July 3/4) We arrived in Zion around 11 AM, which took just under 2 hours from Bryce. With this stretch of the highway we drove through Red Canyon which has two arches you drive through. When we got to Zion National Park, the entrance took my breath away. Never have I seen such amazing beauty. As we drove further, the scenery did not stop. How many times can a person say “wow!” I bet that word has been said more here than anywhere else, surely out of my mouth anyway. Driving through the Mt. Carmel tunnel, then winding down that mountain is a drive I will never forget. For more information about Zion click HERE.

overall opinion of Zion - Never have I seen such amazing beauty. Evening hikes or first thing in the morning a must. Even taking the 6:30 shuttle it was overfull by the second stop.

My first thought when I got back home was - when can I go back? I want to do some more exploring before I am not physically able to. What a great place to go!

Next summers destination - Yosemite!!