The Day 3 Replay: Bryce and Zion
*Woke up at Bryce View Cabins 😁😁😍😍
*Ate oatmeal for Breakfast, and bananas, drank tea in the room (Love that electric kettle)
*Kids heated up the left over pizza and put it in the car for later
*Showered, got dressed, packed up, checked out (we are good at this)
*Mossy Cave and Waterfall hike (90 minutes)
*Stopped in Bryce National Park
*Hiked the Queen’s Garden Trail (1 hour)
*Drove the Scenic Mount Carmel Hywy into Zion
*Checked into the Zion Park Motel
*Walked around Springdale choosing a Lunch place
*Ate at Porters
*Put our left overs in the fridge in our family suite, headed to the free shuttle stop #3 into Zion!
*Switched inside the park to the Zion shuttle and rode to the last stop
*Temple of Sinewa, stop, hiked hanging gardens trail (Narrows was not accessible due to rushing water)
*Shuttle to stop for Lower and Middle Emerald Falls
*Zion Gift Shop
*Shuttle to Shuttle back our Home for the night, Zion Park Motel
*Kids walked to get ice cream
*I made some calls, and relaxed, showered and went to bed!
Walked 10.2 miles!
We woke up early, and knew we were going to be driving into Zion. This is a 2 hour scenic ride. But we also knew we wanted to see the Hoodoos more closely and there is a hike close to our cabin, the “mossy cave” we planned to do. When planning hikes, I made a top 3 list for each location, knowing I could be flexible depending on many factors I could not control. The Mossy Cave and Queens Trail were my next choices after Bryce Point. So we set out down the road fully packed and stacked. We said good bye to our awesome cabin.
At this time I became aware that Josh, my 16 year old, was taking pictures with a random rock. He had found it at out first stop by the running waters we built rock towers at and named it “Neil” and decided to show Neil the Grand Canyon, so he was along for the journey! He chronicled the many travels of Neil in his own snap chat story!
Back to Bryce for more!
Mossy Cave is located along Highway 12, and the parking lot was right by our cabins - you do not enter through the regular park entrance.
We walked in to Mossy Cave Trail with some other morning hikers. We used the bathroom - which are basically holes in the ground, and nasty.
There is not a lot of parking here, but we arrived early and got good spots.
There was a ranger conducting a tour near by and we were listening to him explaining how the water is able to seep through certain areas of the rock, and give the crying (weeping) effect. We followed the trail up, it was not strenuous but required some energy - enjoying the mossy cave and weeping rock. It felt cooler up there, and the cave itself does appear to weep. How cool that water always finds a way to keep going. We took some photos then started down the trail. We ventured over to the waterfall. This is also one of our favorite parts of the whole trip. Exploring and climbing and getting to the waterfall was a little tricky (in my new sneakers which took a beating), we were sinking into the silt and trying to stay out of the water but also follow the side to get under the water fall - and we made it! GREAT place to be. If you've never been under a water fall I highly recommend it. The energy of the rushing water and confidence of the rock is life giving. There were not many other people and again we felt blessed to have so much beauty to ourselves mostly. I am sure it is crowded later in the day. The air felt so good in my lungs! My daughter however was maybe having a little altitude sickness, or just exhausted from being away from home, and up so early. (She is not a morning riser - and she was relaxing on the rock steps near the bridge - I think she napped).
Should we go to Zion now? We just didn't want to leave yet!! So, We decided to hit the Queens Garden Hike inside Bryce.
Queens Garden Trail - This was cool. We wanted to be closer to those massive hoodoos to touch and feel them. We were able to do that - but - the boys were in much better shape than I was. As we descended I saw many people stopping on their way up to breathe. We had an hour: So I designated 20 minutes for going down and 40 for coming up. When it was time to come back, I myself had to stop several times to breathe and my heart was pounding! My kids were having no problem what so ever and finally my 16 year old just took my arm and said “come on mom” and pulled my up and out, lol. I think I’m in pretty good shape. Maybe not as good as I think! They wanted to go to the bottom, maybe we needed more time in the day! I told the kids we'd feel the same way about Zion, so it was time to head that way. It was hard to leave Bryce. We fell in love with the unique land and geology there.
The ride is not like a loss of time in between stops - it's still being there! Surrounded by this impressive land and it is all around you! In my mind, since Bryce and Zion are 2 hours apart they were probably similar. I know there are some pit stops recommended but we were excited to get to Zion and had only one day planned for that park so chose to drive straight through. We saw buffalo along the way. We also saw horses and cows. The drive through will actually cut through Zion National Park, so you do show your pass or pay to use that road, Mt. Carmel is now my most favorite road to drive (replacing the Belt parkway in NY).
As soon as we entered Zion, the redness of the roads and the canyon around us deep and steep was enveloping. You literally feel like you are on a different planet it is such a change in atmosphere and environment when driving in, your visually just amazed. The curvy road switches back-and-forth. You are weaving up and down and in and out of the mountain. Then you drive through the tunnel! It is the longest tunnel you can drive-through and basically cuts right through the mountain! While inside there are scenic windows you can peek out of while driving 20 miles an hour or slower and just taking the nature and beauty all around! The darkness and light create dramatic scenes that I can still picture perfectly. I really wanted to stop and take pictures. Once out of the tunnel, there are several places here that there to pull-off for families stopping for photos. My kids at this time had to use the bathroom so we really wanted to get to our hotel and check in first before exploring Zion. To stay on course and keep on schedule I did not stop but I did take pictures out the window and Josh took many pictures of Neil with that huge cliffs and arches behind him. I didn't realize that this part of Zion, is not the part we would be in all day.
We checked into the Zion Park motel, Springdale Utah. We got there on Sunday at approximately 2 o’clock and the front desk clerk was writing an envelope with my name on it because they were getting ready to leave for the day. She was genuinely glad I arrived before she left. Another friendly person! I was loving all the hospitality. She gave me the rundown of the area and check in was a breeze! She gave me some free coupons for drinks in a local restaurant :-) We had a family suite here and I had forgotten that I reserved the family suite in the excitement of the trip. I'd made all my final arrangements so long ago by this time! So once we got into our home for the night we were all happy. It’s set up like an apartment. A full kitchen with a dining room table, big living room with a pull out couch and TV, two separate bedrooms, a big bathroom with dressing area outside, heaven for a large family that’s been on the road for three days. I should have mentioned sooner that because we have five of us we had already discussed the fact that one person would be sleeping alternately every night. We basically plan for 2 in a bed every night and then one person gets the option of an air mattress, cot, cushions on the floor, whatever they decide is best for them that night. And we rotate that person. This night every person had their own space in their own bed (and my youngest son who is 14 still decided to sleep on the floor LOL) but the place itself was perfect. Fully equipped kitchen with pots and pans and dish towels and even Dawn dish soap. This came in handy because my sneakers were still very dirty from my water fall adventures in Bryce. I tried to clean them as best as I could. We had our own patio on the back porch and took some photos out there. The freezer was big enough for our entire cooler so we put some water inside and then froze some water bottles and half full Gatorade‘s in advance. I 100% recommend this stop. Not only is the Zion Park Motel in a great location but it really added to our trips personality. They do have a pool although we did not use it, we had actually planned to. And the little town of Springdale around is just charming. However very expensive! There are lots of gift options and many places to shop. If you are hungry there is an option for almost any type of food you want. The best thing about this place is that it is 1 mile from the gate of Zion and you do not have to walk because there is a free shuttle that will take you right into the park, and there is a stop right outside of this motel. My kids would have gladly stayed longer here. But it was time to see the main event: Zion.
But we're hungry and now you're going to walk us all over the Earth.... ok fine.... We decided to actually eat lunch before venturing into the park. We walked up and down the strip where most of the menus are posted outside. Porters which was right next-door to our hotel seemed our best option. The people inside were very friendly and the food was excellent. We did have a longer wait than we would have liked and so my daughter went back to our place, grabbed her lap top and began to work on some of her school assignments. There was not a lot of people in there but I imagine it does get packed. We seem to have good timing for most of our trip and avoid the crowds most of the time! We put our leftovers in our refrigerator before heading to the free shuttle into Zion.
This free shuttle is impressive. It lets you off inside of the park where you hop onto another shuttle which will take you to any one of nine stops through Zion. Time effective and efficient but I really appreciated the fluency and ease of this transition into such a beautiful place. You show your America the beautiful pass when you board and then - just wait and enjoy the beauty around you. It was air-conditioned which was appreciated, and they narrate some of the wildlife and scenery as you are driving along. For Zion we had chosen to take The Narrows hike. That is at the last stop right by the temple of the Sinewa and the hanging gardens trail. It is known for taking hikers into the Virgin River and in between steep canyon walls. I was thinking about how cold the water would be. We had water shoes and towels in our little back packs and camels with drinking water. I'd packed specifically for this hike, which is said to range in difficulty but it is the type you can turn around and go back when every you are done. Unfortunately while we were on the shuttle we found out the Narrows trail was closed due to rising water levels and the water current being too fast. My children were very disappointed.
What is a flow rate?
The flow rate of the Virgin River is measured by Cubic Feet Per Second (CFS). At certain flow rates your experience will vary - If The Narrows reach a specific high rate of flow, the river is actually closed by the Zion National Park Service and you will be unable to hike during that time. At flow rates of 0-150 CFS, the river is open and accessible to Bottom-Up Hikers and considered safe to hike. Seasonally the Narrows may close due to floods or snowmelt. When the water is above 150 CFS the Park closes the narrows for up to 24 hours until it falls below 150 CFS.
On this day is was about 250 CFS. When we got down to the place where the trail into the water would begin, my oldest was pretty sure he could manage with the rushing current... I was not!
So plan B: We will sill get off at the last stop and see how close we can get to the Narrows Trail!
When you get off by the temple of the Sinewa there is a wander factor. I forgot the plan completely because I was so enthralled by the water, rocks, and canyon. It’s just like being at the beach along the Virgin River. The kids hung out by the water we sat on some rocks and just took in the scenery for a little bit. Massive red rock all around and the blue of the water just feels so serene. Lots of laughter and families all around added good vibes and appreciation. We saw some squirrels that are native to the area which certainly believe that is their park and anyone who comes is there to see them LOL
I did not even realize we were on the hanging gardens trail when we found it. But we took the most beautiful walk a long this pathway leading around the rock structures that follows the river transporting you to another place and time altogether! It’s a few miles long and The entire walk is ever-changing, there are things to climb and explore every step of the way. The Hike itself was enjoyable. The mist of the river and shade from the foliage is comforting on a hot day. At the end of the walk way begins the Narrows hike into the river. We looked at it and while I agreed the water was rushing too fast for me to wade through, I knew my boys could have made it. We looked longingly at the path we hoped to explore. But unfortunately, we were not able to go that route. So, we turned around and walked back a few miles to the shuttle.
We did not want to leave. (AGAIN) But I had 3 hikes for each destination - My next choice was the Emerald pools hike so we hopped the shuttle, got off at that stop and embarked on another trail. Very different from the first trail this one is much less scenic until you get to the end. You’re not along running water; you are looking into sandy rocky jagged structures and the one side is going up and the other side is going down! The boys were joking about how they should have railings along the sides. Maybe not the best trail for small kids. You really feel like you are in a forest, and we were looking down at the drops and admiring all of the foliage. And the next thing you know there is a huge waterfall all around you. It does not have a massive pouring spout, it’s more like a subtle waterfall, all misty and green... the Emerald pools name is suitable. We climbed under and around enjoying the cool water and water vapor surrounding. My oldest Surfed in the mist, and we all oohed and aaahed at the way the land connects and winds, and wanders along the earth.
From there we went to the visitor center and did a little shopping my children purchased some things in the gift shop. With their own money! Which really says a lot. Zion was extremely impressive. My oldest son could have stayed there and kept hiking. They didn't want to leave!!
Yesterday at Bryce we walked a total of 8 miles. (Partial Las Vegas walking back and fourth to the car was a hike in itself)
Today at Zion we hit the 10 mile mark. (Some of that was Bryce in the morning)
I was actually tired. Driving a lot and not sleeping very much was catching up. I went back to the hotel, made a few phone calls, showered and got in to bed. The kids walked out into Springdale and got some ice cream before calling it a night themselves.
I had a big day planned for the morning and that had to be an early start. But what I did notice was driving through the Mount Carmel highway into Zion gives you a completely different view than the shuttle and hikes you go on. And I really wanted to take some family pictures at some of those stops we’d missed coming in. So while I wanted to leave early I also planned to have some family photos on the Zion landscape before completely leaving.
Tips: Enjoy the view. Stop and smell the fresh air. Drink a lot of water. More than you think you should.
Eat, Laugh, Live, Love the ones your with <3 Use the bathroom before you get to Mossy Cave!
Wishes: we should have followed the path to the Queens Garden trail so we would have found our way back to the car directly. That was a time waster being lost. (I may have enjoyed being lost if I didn’t need a bathroom!)
Mossy cave Trail (Bryce) – No admission fee
Queens Garden Trail (Bryce) – Showed America the Beautiful Park Pass for entry
Drive to Zion (scenic route) - Showed America the Beautiful Park Pass for entry
Zion park motel check in - $235.38
Porters Steak House $100.00
Shuttle into Zion - Showed America the Beautiful Park Pass for entry
Hiking (FREE and Great for the heart mind and soul)
Gift shop in Zion (kids spent their own money on shirts and hoodies, reasonably priced)
Ice cream - $12.00
Daily Total: 347.38
I am satisfied with my spending/ budgeting so far! Still on track.
See Day 4 for the North Rim, Waterhole Canyon, and Page