Zion National Park / Bryce Canyon National Park

This is our second visit to beautiful southwest Utah. You can read about our first experiences here.

Our friend Pat joined us for part of our two-week stay here. It gave Jeff a buddy to do some of the more extreme adventures with! Together, they hiked the Narrows — a wading adventure up a narrow slot canyon. They also hiked up Angels Landing, a wild and steep climb up chain-assisted rock scrambles to a knife-edge fin of rock. Yet another day they rented a Razr and took off 4 by 4-ing on the trails. They had a ball!

Together we took a day trip to Bryce Canyon and walked one of my favorite hikes of all time. Descending 320 feet down Queen’s Garden trail takes you through a veritable forest of sandstone hoodoos. Turning onto Navajo trail, you wind along the canyon floor under trees and sandstone cliffs. Then you begin climbing up a slot canyon — Wall Street — and huff and puff up a steep series of short switchbacks to the top. The hike isn’t all that long, about 4 miles as a loop, but the scenery is nothing short of amazing. It’s definitely on my “top five hikes of all time” list.

Zion is a beautiful place to visit, but trying to access the popular canyon drive during COVID was a frustrating mess. Access is permitted only by shuttle, and during our first week here, a very limited number of shuttle tickets were made available the day prior, at 5 pm, on the recreation.gov website. You’d log on and frantically click on time slots, while the website bogged down and kicked you out due to the overload of folks all trying to make reservations at the same time. In 5 minutes, all of the tickets would be gone. Through persistence, we were able to procure tickets, but not always on the day or time desired. By Friday, the park unexpectedly dropped the reserved shuttle ticket requirement, with no warning. With the Memorial Holiday crowds all queuing for overpacked shuttles — I’m not sure which system was worse! This park is definitely a victim of its own popularity at times.

During the second week of our stay, the weather turned unseasonably hot, with temperatures reaching and exceeding 100 degrees. We had already seen many of the things in the area that we had wished to, so mostly hunkered inside and out of the intense sun. It wasn’t supposed to be this hot, but we’ve found in our travels that the weather never seems to be “average!” It gave us a chance to catch the movie “Dream Horse” at the local theater. A fun, feel-good movie — and such a pleasure to be able to enjoy a movie day again!

Next up we are headed toward the Utah mountains and — hopefully — cooler weather!

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