September 12, 2012

Utah Rocks

Check out our pics from Zion and Bryce on our Pics Page.

Today, we're in Colorado, visiting my sister and her husband and our two nephews and, now that we have Internet, we're catching up on blog posts.

After leaving Yosemite and stopping in St. George (check out Steph's post here), we picked up some groceries from a weird supermarket in Southern Utah (I got a strange look when asked the check-out guy where we could find a liquor store), and we headed into Zion National Park. While driving into the park the landscape changes and large red and orange sandstone cliffs start towering all around you.

Zion NP entrance

Cliffs at Zion

We hadn't reserved a camping spot because we thought it wouldn't be crowded mid-week after Labor Day. Wishful thinking though, as we got very lucky and got the last tent spot in the park- which meant we essentially camped on tarmac (not ideal when the days are sweltering). We soon found out that the park was full with a bunch of Europeans, older people (you get access to all National Parks and get free camping for the rest of your life for $10 !) and busloads of Chinese tourists. 

Zion has a shuttle service that is very efficient and has cut down on pollution and traffic in the park. The first night here we had a horrible nights sleep so we took it easy the first day and went on a short 2-hour hike and spent the rest of the hot afternoon in the shade of a giant tree by the Zion Lodge. Being from San Francisco we have been overwhelmed by the heat during the peak of the day (the closest market sells popsicles that we have been devouring everytime we go by), so we adjusted accordingly for the next day. We woke up early (for us) and headed to The Narrows- it is a hike that goes up the Virgin River, which carved its path through sandstone millions of years ago. The initial feel of stepping into the river is pretty cold, but once you get acclimated it is fine. Winding your way up the river the walls get higher and the river bed narrower. At times, you have 400 foot walls on either side and about 20 feet across the river- it is absolutely stunning and our $500 camera does not do it justice. 
Steph in the Narrows
The Narrows

The changing light throughout the day made some parts of the river dark and cold and then the next bend there was a sunny spot with the sun lighting up the giants cliffs above. We were glad we got an early start because on the way back down the river got pretty crowded. We finished around 2pm and headed to our picnic spot in the shade at Zion Lodge. 

We finished our last night in Zion with a soak in the river (to cool off) we were camping along, a quick dinner, and then joined some campground friends we had made for some drinks. Jillian and Ty are a mid-twenties couple that are spending 6 weeks driving from Kansas City to Idaho (to move) and hitting up a lot of the National Parks along the west coast. It is great to meet people on similar type adventures as we are. It gives us new ideas of where to go, either on this trip, or the next. We have realized we could spend a solid month in Utah alone. With Zion, Bryce, Arches, Capitol Reef, and Grand Escalante there are so many different climates and terrains to explore. Being here has reminded me of one reason why I love to travel and make it a priority. When I go to experience a new place, more often than not I meet someone who excites me about another place. It is the travelers dilemma- but a good dilemma to have. 
Working on a blog post at our campground in Zion
We pushed off in the morning and decided to quickly see Bryce Canyon before heading down to the Grand Canyon. This involved some backtracking but it was well worth to see the Hoodoos of Bryce. The Hoodoos are geological formations that look like something out of Dr Seuss. We did a couple of quick hikes around Bryce which was so different from the landscape in Zion. The landscape changes so quickly in Southern Utah and the parks have incredibly different varieties of scenery and wildlife (blog post coming later on wildlife). We didn't spend as much time at Bryce as we would have liked due to pushing off to the Grand Canyon. 

Hoodoos of Bryce
Arch in Bryce

Here are some more photos from Zion and Bryce:

Hiking the Narrows - Zion Nat'l Park
Wading through Virgin River - Zion Nat'l Park
The Narrows - Zion Nat'l Park
Steph wading in the Virgin River - Zion NP 
Hike to Emerald Pools in Zion
Bryce Nat'l Park
Self timer gone wrong - Bryce NP
Bryce NP
Bryce NP

Check out all our pics from Zion (here) and Bryce (here.) Up next - The Grand Canyon!


  1. So jealous that y'all got to hike the narrows, we missed it when we were there due to flooding.

    1. The Narrows was awesome! Next time, we'll do Angel's Landing or the Subway. Zion has been my favorite so far.

  2. Hey hope you are doing well and that you had a great trip! We made it to Idaho and are settling in nicely. It is great to see all of your updates and pictures that you have posted. When you are ready to do the Subway let us know and we will come meet you. It was great to meet you both and keep in touch.

    -Ty and Jillian

    1. Ty & Jillian! Awesome to hear from you. I just shot you an email. Hoping Idaho is making you both happy! If you get the travel bug and want to head out to Asia, you can find us there!