Utah National Park Road Trip

In 2010, Louis and I took my tiny Mazda Protege on an epic road trip to Zion, Bryce and Arches National Park. Even though the Protege lost its transmission in the middle of a highway somewhere between Bryce and Zion National Park, it was a memorable trip that started our passion with hiking, traveling and fascination with the beauty of the national parks of Utah.

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The beloved Mazda Protege at the beginning of the road trip arriving to Zion National Park in the midst of a snow storm.

We arrived to Zion National Park in the midst of a snow storm. The fresh new snow covering the red sand stone just made the scene much more dramatic. We spent the rest of the day driving our the rim of the park, ooing and ahhing at everything insight. The next day, we decided to rent wet suits from Zion Outfitters and hike the famous Narrows. The wet suit did a great job keeping us insulated and warm throughout the hike.

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Sam at the mouth of the trail with water already knee deep

Being the hiking amateurs we were at the time, we did not bring wet sacks with us to the hike. At several points during the hike, the water got chest deep and we were forced to lift our packs above our heads to keep it from getting wet. In hindsight this was a very risky move as our cell phones and cameras were in our backpacks. Luckily, nothing got wet and we made it through the Narrows without having to swim.

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Hikers without backpackers were floating on their back across the deep parts of the Zion Narrows.

The cold did eventually seep in for me about 5 miles into the hike. Even though we didn’t get a chance to see the entire trail, it was still one of the most memorable hikes we have ever done.

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Next we set off to Bryce Canyon National Park where we hiked the Queen’s Garden Trail. Compared to the Zion Narrows where we were inside the canyon, the Queen’s Garden Trail looped around the rim of the park, giving us a complete new perspective of the canyon from the top down.

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Vantage point of the Queen’s Garden Trail looking at hoodoos shooting straight out from the canyon floor.

This trail is only about 1.8 miles long but plan on spending at least a couple hours if it’s your first time. There are so many beautiful stops along the way, you will want to bring your camera for some amazing photos.

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Louis posing in front of a set of funny looking hoodos

Our last stop was Arches National Park. First, we hiked an easy one mile loop to see the North and South Window Arch and Turret Arch.

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Turret Arch from North Window Arch

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Closeup of the Turret Arch

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North Window Arch

Next we hiked 0.8 miles to the Double Arch. It’s pretty amazing how many of these arch formations are within the short distance of each other inside the park!

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Double Arches

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Closeup inside the double arch

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Closeup of the Double Arch with three birds flying through it

 

Last we decided to visit the Landscape Arch via Devil’s Garden Trail. The Devils Garden Trail is roughly 7.5 miles long but due to time restrictions we did not have enough time to complete this trail.

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Devils Garden Trail at the trail head. Be sure to bring microspikes if you are doing this hike in the winter!

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Pencil thin Landscape Arch

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Low lying Navajo Arch at about 1.8 miles from the trailhead

We have been back to Zion and Bryce National Park since our visit in 2010. The park looks different in every season, however, I still think it is the most beautiful in the winter against the snow.

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