Thursday, April 19, 2012

Zion National Park: The Good, The Bad, and The Yummy

As much as I am still struggling with the length of Utah winters (drove home from Zions in a snowstorm last weekend . . .) I do love the outdoor scene and how we can drive to several national parks within a few hours. I've been joking about how so many of our southern California family and friends come to northern Utah to ski for spring break, many of our Utah friends go down to southern CA for Disneyland and the beach, but we are the California (and Iowa) transplants still exploring the beauties of this great state. Last year was Arches, and this year was . . .

The 1st day of hiking we headed to the Emerald Pools:

Brandon got that yellow backpack his first year of med school before Kate was born. I hate it. He loves it:
Shortly after I took this little lunch break picture, Elizabeth climbed up on that rock behind her, slipped and fell on her head. She was screaming her head off and we were really worried at first, but she ended up being just fine. The funniest thing about it was the kind doctor who came over and explained to Brandon in great detail what to look out for/warning signs for concussion, etc. He was so good to just smile and thank him. (He would have done the same thing.) 

$25 for a week long pass. Are you kidding me? Are you seeing this?

That night we ate dinner at the Bit & Spur, which turned out to be my favorite restaurant in town. I wish we had gone back there more than once!

We ate out on the patio. It was positively PERFECT weather and lovely surroundings:

Kate and I shared a bowl of sweet potato chicken curry soup. Yummmmmmmmmm . . .
Because I also wanted to try their fish tacos. (Also pretty yum.)
This was as romantic as the trip ever got. This look, across a crowded table of children. I feel like we're overdue for a little getaway:
The 2nd day of hiking we did the Riverside Walk which ends at the entrance to the Narrows. We'd love to go back someday and do the Narrows when the water is lower and warmer. (Definitely NOT this time of year!) This particular day we ended up getting rained on the entire mile hike back. These are the pics I got during the dry mile in:

 Outside the Human History Museum:

The teeny city of Springdale has many of the typical tourist trap trinket shops that are just so cute and irresistible!

We spent a lot of time at this rock and gem shop:
These were my favorite. They look like paintings:
Lucky shot. It was only there for a few minutes:

We didn't have a lot of interesting photo taking light while we were there (and I was too lazy to get up for early morning light), but I like this one:

The 3rd and best day of hiking was to Angel's Landing. Rachael made the 2 mile hike up to Scouts Lookout at the base of the last 1/2 mile push to the very top of Angel's Landing. She was a real trooper!!

The ugly yellow backpack, blue fleece and camelbak are Brandon, Elizabeth, and Will. They took the first turn up while Kate and I stayed with Rachael:

The tippy tippy top:

With the help of chains, that's the crazy thing they just hiked:
Kate, Rachael, and I hiked a little up to Scouts Lookout just opposite Angel's Landing while we were waiting so I could get this awesome photo that gives a better perspective of the INSANE trail leading up to the top. Can you believe this?
When they got back (and believe me, I breathed a sigh of relief that our little accident prone Elizabeth was still alive and well!), they took Rachael and headed back down while Kate and I took our turn. Here we are at the top:

$25 a week. I know, it's not everybody's dream trip, but we sure love this stuff: 
Heading back down. Yes, it's as scary as it looks. Thank goodness for the chain! Kate and I kept saying, "Hold on to the chain. Thank you chain. The chain is our friend . . ."
1500 foot high sheer cliff walls on either side.

Back on ground level:
The 4th day of hiking we drove the mile long Zion-Mt. Carmel tunnel through the mountain and did the Overlook Canyon Trail. It was SUCH a fun trail, and I really wish I had taken pictures of some of the cool spots along the way (was planning to on the way back) because shortly after taking this picture Will accidentally cut his finger pretty bad with his pocket knife and we had to high tail it out of there really quick. The rest of the afternoon was cold and rainy and spent getting Will's finger stitched up over 45 minutes away. He was fine--just 2 stitches--but it was no fun for any of us to be out there in the middle of nowhere when Will had a throbbing, bloody finger! (I do NOT do well when my kids are in any kind of physical pain or danger. I go straight into irrational panic mode though you'd never know it from how I act. I try to keep my cool so I don't freak out the kids, but it's totally an act.)

The overlook:

Like I said, he was fine:
Last year we rented an RV for our Arches trip, but we actually spent less this year staying in a hotel and eating out. Go figure! I actually think the RV was more fun (even if it was more work), but you can't argue with a decent bed and shower. And eating out. Only the two little girls actually slept on this pull out:
 Kate and Will had the bed that pulled out of the wall:

The best thing about this hotel was the pool and hot tub (and the scenery). Every day but the cold-and-rainy-stitches-day ended with all of us jumping back and forth between the pool and the hot tub. (Okay, Brandon and I just sat in the hot tub.) Check out Rachael's pose! Isn't this awesome?
It SNOWED that last night after the stitches, so we woke up to this pretty scene outside the back of the hotel:
Rated #1 restaurant in Springdale by Trip Advisor, I tried to go to the Mean Bean Coffee House for breakfast every morning, but it never worked out until we were heading out of town the last day. Thank goodness they served breakfast until 1pm! Belgian waffles for the little kids. Eggs benedict for Brandon . . .
. . . and my delish scrambled egg, tomato, cheese, and bacon panini with homemade salsa and an adorable little berry cup. Oh yeah:
Cheap souvenirs. She's so easy to please:
The good: hot tubbing, 3-1/2 books read (between us all), hiking, Tornado Alley IMAX, Fatali photography gallery, and family time.
The bad: dead battery as we were trying to drive away the first day, Elizabeth's fall, Will's finger, sharing a bathroom with everyone (i.e. Kate), Brandon losing his glasses on the drive home, sitting in a blizzard on the highway for a couple of hours because of a car accident. (Of course, it was better than being in a car accident . . .) 
The yummy: wood fired pizza at the Flying Monkey (but terrible ambience), everything about Oscar's, Bit & Spur, and the Mean Bean Coffee House.


  1. I read your whole post Allyson! Living your vacation through your eyes! Oh, how we miss the mountains! That is our kind of family vacation too although we can't seem to convince our girls that hiking is fun (they gripe and then after the fact they love it but won't admit it)! Thankfully our boys are totally opposite and love hiking. Just not too many mountains here in Indiana :).

    I'm glad you had such a great trip!

    Judi :)

    1. You should make the trek out here for spring break next year. Totally!!

  2. You should get a side job as a vacation planner! Thanks for the tips for eating out, our family wants to take a trip to Zion's this year. We're from UT, but our kids have never been there. There's no way I'm taking them on the Angels Landing hike yet, yikes!

    1. I would LOVE a job as a vacation planner. I just talked my in-laws into letting me plan our upcoming reunion since everyone is coming to Utah. Your kids may not be ready for Angels Landing yet, but you need to put it on your bucket list!!

  3. Fun! I love Zions... it's one of the few National parks I've been to.

    1. National Park are tough to do with babies in tow. I totally get that. But at least you live in the west and are close enough to take some really cool trips when your kids get a little older!!


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