This past May I met up with my parents and brother in Las Vegas to venture out on a 10 day hiking & road trip. I had no idea the capacity of physical or mental strength it was going to take to make it through this trip.
From Las Vegas, we drove to Zion National Park in Utah. There, we spent the first night camping in 30 degrees weather. I was so extremely cold that I woke up at 4am and started breaking down my tent just to get warm. If I would have realized there was a nice bathroom near by our camp, I probably would have slept in there...
In the morning, after I thawed out with a hot bowl of oatmeal, we headed out to Lee's Pass which was our starting point for our first 2 days of back packing. Day one of Lee's pass was exhausting. We hiked about 12 miles the fist day and man was it tough! At one point we had a 150ft elevation gain in 1/4 of a mile. That is straight up hill in a very short amount of time. We also detoured to see an the largest free standing arch which we had to ditch our packs for because the narrow trail was too technical with them on. Finally getting to camp was a sweet victory and salty hot rice from a bag never tasted so good. The next day we had about 5 miles left, which was mostly up hill. Seeing the trail head at the end was extremely satisfying. But looking back into the mountains where we had just come from was an amazing feeling. I absolutely loved my first experience backpacking. Lee's Pass was incredibly breathtaking and we were basically the only people in the whole valley. The combination of peace and quiet plus the beauty of the surrounding mountains was absolutely unforgettable.
The next 2 days after Lee's Pass we stayed in Zion to do some day hikes. We caught sunset at Canyon Overlook, survived Observation Point (which was INCREDIBLE and the most physical work I have EVER experienced. Also at one point we had to hold onto ropes on the sides of cliffs to hang on in Hidden Canyon) I wrapped up Zion with a hot shower and a pizza that was well deserved.
The next day we arrived at Bryce Canyon and I honestly hadn't done any research on it at all. I am SO glad that I didn't because I was extremely taken back when I walked up to the first view point (3rd photo from the top). I couldn't have made Bryce Canyon up in my wildest dreams. I caught sunset and sunrise the next morning. My Mom and I also took a horseback riding tour the following day. That was more terrifying to me than being 7,000ft up on a cliff (Zion).
After Bryce we headed to Arches. On the way down from on of our hikes I look at my family and said "you guys are going the wrong way, we did not hike up those huge steep rocks, there is no way we did that, we can't get down those." I was wrong...
Spending lunch at the big Arch was surreal. I could spend every lunch break for the rest of my life there.
After Arches came Antelope Canyon which was on my personal list of places to stop. In a sand storm, my Dad decided to brave it with me. I wrapped up in an ugly scarf but luckily the sand storm had subsided by the time went down there and I got to remove the tragic pink scarf (sorry Mom.) It's hard to explain how amazing Antelope Canyon was.
Canyon Lands was our sunset dinner. We made thai food in a bag with hot water and had a sweet granola bar & coffee for dessert. The majesty of our view left me speechless.
Horseshoe bend was our after dinner sunset walk the next day.
We woke up to day 10 and our last stop - the Grand Canyon. This was my first time to the big GC and, man, were all disappointed when we first go there. We were greeted by a SNOW storm in MAY. It was a complete white out and when we went to the view point to see this grandness of the Grand Canyon we could only see about 12 inches in front of our faces. We toughed it our for a few hours and finally the fog parted - and boy was it grand.
I plan to do individual blog posts about each of these hikes - there are so many stories to tell.
Have any of you been to any of these National Parks?