I posted some photos from my wonderful vacation to Utah and Arizona last week and received many requests for my itinerary.
So, here it is!
Flew into Las Vegas and next day (or same day, depending on when you arrive), drove to Zion National Park. (For most of my hiking information, I used this great website, complete with top-notch photos!)
I highly recommend staying at Zion Lodge, in the canyon. Spectacular views and easy access to the shuttle and hikes. Plus, you can drive into the canyon with a special pass during the summer months. In addition, at night, the deer come out and the canyon walls and starry sky are unforgettable.
Angel's Landing - It's a 2.5 mile one way (5 mile round trip) strenuous hike, but worth all the effort! Took us about 3.5 hours. Absolutely amazing, but if you have a fear of heights you might not want to do the last stretch, which requires holding onto and, sometimes pulling yourself up, with chains drove into the rock face of the mountain.
Narrows Hike - Another 2.5 mile one way (5 mile round trip) strenuous hike. This one is completely different though. You take the free shuttle to the last stop (Temple of Sinawava) and walk up the Riverside Walk. At the end of that 1-mile hike, you leave the trail and enter the Virgin River. We took the first canyon fork (about 2.5 miles in) to go up Orderville Canyon. Much narrower and more adventurous! My son went to the end (another 30 minutes) which brought him to a waterfall where he had to pull himself up on a rope and very narrow spots, until he found the "end" or sources of the river.
We spent two nights at Zion and then headed over to Bryce Canyon and stayed at that Lodge.
We hiked the Queen's Garden trail (1.8 miles), which is the easiest of the hikes into the Canyon - but definitely NOT an easy hike, as they label it - especially in the heat of the day! We added the Navajo Trail Loop (another 1.3 miles). We went "clockwise" on the Queen's Garden Trail and I recommend doing it that way. The way back up from the Canyon is called "Wall Street" and it actually feels like they pump air condition in there! Very cool! And very welcome after the hot sun!
We could have done more hiking, but we went to the Visitor Center and checked out the movie and the dioramas (I love dioramas and maps!) and went to a few of the other lookout points.
Next day, we drove to Flagstaff, AZ, because we have a friend of my son's to visit. And, although we've been to this area of the country we never actually went into Flagstaff and wanted to see it this time. I like the vibe there. People seem very nature-oriented and health-conscious. We did a short hike into Lava River Cave in Coconino National Forest.
Bring headlamps for an easier hike, so your hands are free to navigate the rocks and boulders you'll need to descend on to enter the cave. Once deep in the cave, turn off your headlamps and witness the darkness. Complete and utter darkness. I have read that shamans enter caves such as this and spend a few days in order to "journey" to the Otherworld!
Finally, the next morning, we hiked Mt Humphrey's, at over 12,000 feet, it is the tallest peak in Arizona. We hiked among the sweet-smelling Ponderosa Pines and profusion of wildflowers. Although my son and his friend reached the peak, I made it to 11,400 feet, due to the thin air and tight schedule. We started at 9am and returned to our car around 1pm.
If you have any questions about the itinerary, please reply to this post and I will get back to you shortly!