My husband and I have been trying to travel in the fall to fun destinations in the lower 48 states. Typically, we travel in the winter for beach side vacations; however, we have been really enjoying exploring a bit closer to home during the fall.
In the last few years I have found a love for hiking. I love not having cell phone service and getting in the exercise all while seeing such beauty our world has to offer. I have hiked a few different times in Colorado, Arizona, California, and Hawaii. I kept hearing more and more about Southern Utah, so it was a destination on my radar. When I started to research this area, the amount of things to do and see ended up to be a long must-see list.
Sometimes, it is easier for me to plan my clients trips than my own. I planned a five night trip and knew we had to see at least two areas. I narrowed it down to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park. Even though we were flying there we were still a bit of a drive to our destination. It also felt a little like a fun road trip. We stayed two night in Kanab. Once we completed this trip, I think another great option is to stay right outside of Bryce Canyon.
Bryce Canyon can be a spot to spend one day or even two. Just past the visitors center are many trails all connected together. You can drive into the park or take a shuttle. We chose to drive on our own.
We started our hike at Sunrise point, and from there visited Sunset Point then followed the trail to Navajo Loop Trail. This is a must see trail. We accidentally missed the Wall Street section, but we did see the two bridges and the switch backs. They were incredible. After this you have two choices: take the Peekaboo Loop Trail or head towards the Queens Garden that will eventually bring you back to Sunset point where you started. Not including Peekaboo it was about a 5 mile trail. This is perfect because it allows time for Inspiration point and maybe even Bryce Point.
This park was beautiful, I love it! Please consider the time of year you go. We were there at the end of September and it was plenty hot. Pack lots of water. Also these are not extremely hard hikes, but do give a good workout. If we would have visited Bryce Canyon a second day, I would have hiked the other side of Navajo Trail and Peekaboo Trail.
The next day after enjoying a relaxing morning and brunch we arrived at Zion National Park. Since we were coming from Kanab we entered the East Entrance. I am so glad we did this. It was such a nice drive and we drove through the 1.1 miles of the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel.
I wanted to add in all my research about Zion, the one thing I could not figure out was if I could drive through the entire park or if I had to ride the shuttle. The answer is: you can drive partway, but not the whole way. Also, the bus is not an inconvenience, but depending on the time of the year you may have to wait awhile. We drove through the east entrance and out the south entrance into Springdale. Then, we took the bus the rest of the time. There is a Fress shuttle service in Springdale that will take you to the park. Then, a separate shuttle to take you through the park. Another way to enjoy the park is E-bikes. We did this one afternoon and it was a blast!
What hikes did we do?
- Lower Emerald Pools. We did this short hike on day one in the park. This was the afternoon we biked all the way up to the Temple of Sinawava. This is a pretty easy hike with the option to hike the Upper and Middle Emerald pools.
- Angels Landing. This full hike is five miles. The last .5 miles may have been the most insane hiking I have ever done. If you have a fear of heights, you will be tested. You will come across 21 switch back, many long slow inclines and a few drop offs.
- Narrows: Have you ever hiked through a river? This was so intriguing to me. One tip is to watch the weather and chance for flooding. This is an out and back hike, so you get to decide how far you want to go. My tip is to go as far as you can. It will get you away from the crowds of people. We set in about four miles. There comes a point where you have the options to go straight or take a right. We chose the right an I’m so glad we did. It was fun and there were a few small waterfalls or tight spaces to get through. It was also very peaceful. TIP: Rent the boots, socks and hiking stick. For $29 it was 100% worth it.
One tip I wanted to add was leave some time for rest. When hiking a few days in a row, you will want some. We took our afternoons sitting in the hot tub and relaxing by the pool and then enjoyed really good food. After a day of hiking the food was extra delicious. Springdale has many restaurants to pick from. It was a fun little town full of beautiful views.
While I keep exploring and crossing off adventures in the lower 48 I am excited to help you plan yours with extra special details. Happy travels, my friends!