We were still a little sore from the Narrows hike. We decided to take another day off from hiking. There is still at least one more hike I want to do in Zion before we leave.
We cleaned the inside of the RV today, caught up on correspondences, and basically stayed within the campground. In the afternoon, we learned that family just happened to be coming into town that day to visit Zion!
We met Anne and Tim for dinner at River Rock Roastery for drinks and dinner. It was so nice to see friendly faces we knew! We managed to get a seat outside and while it was a little warm in the sun, the company was great and the food was pretty good too. 😉 Thank you guys for dinner and such a great evening!!
We are not as young as we once were. We were both stiff and sore this morning after the hike yesterday. (Really, it was just Ben and I. The boys were ready to go again.) We kept it pretty simple today to allow our muscles to recover.
We went out to breakfast at Hash House A Go Go in St. George. The chicken and waffles and the bacon mac & cheese were the best of our dishes we tried. Our other dishes were the roasted chicken hash and biscuits and gravy. I got a crazy (and good) caramel mocha coffee.
After breakfast we did some grocery shopping at Target and Costco. Will was also looking to trade in a book at a Little Library. Hurricane, where the campground is, didn’t have any registered on the website. We found two in St. George and decided to check them out as well. The boys didn’t have much luck at those two, but we found another one while driving around. Will did find a book at that one, so he was happy.
The rest of the day was spent relaxing, doing laundry, and the boys got to play pool for a little bit in the campground clubhouse.
Our passes weren’t until 11:00, so we packed up some snacks and lots of water. Everyone dressed in wicking clothes so we would dry off faster. We headed towards Zion a little early because I was worried about parking. The Visitor Lot fills up really quickly and although you can park in the town of Springdale and take their shuttle to Zion, I really wanted to park inside the park. I figured that after hiking we would be tired and would want to be able to leave as soon as possible.
We picked up our hiking gear (Zion Guru) and went into the park. I would say we got there around 9:45/10:00 am and the lot was half to 3/4 full. We had already put on our socks and boots at the store. Zion’s Visitor Center was closed (COVID), but they had lots of informational signs outside. We read those for a while and then attended a Ranger Program at 10:30. It was about mountain lions and was pretty interesting. Did you know they can leap 45 feet?!
A little before 11:00 we boarded the shuttle and headed in. We were going to do the Narrows hike that does not require a permit (Bottom-Up), the one that starts at the end of Riverside Trail (stop 9 on the shuttle). It is listed as a moderate to strenuous trail; how hard the hike is depends on water depth and flow.
It was surprisingly busy. The river was pretty shallow at the entrance point here, although it is still cold. You could probably walk here with just sandals on. The farther in you go, there are sections that got up to upper thigh on me. (Later in the hike, we heard other people talking that it was chest high farther down. The man was at least 6 foot tall, so I’m glad we didn’t get that far!)
Some spots in the river were clear and you could see the rocks and judge your path. Some spots were murky, I’m not sure if it was the crowd that stirred it up or the algae, but you couldn’t see the bottom. We were so glad to have the hiking poles to test the depth in front of us.
We saw plants growing from the walls, lots of different sizes and colors of rocks, Mystery Falls (a waterfall), Wall Street (narrowest part), and the Floating Rock (boulder in the middle of the river). We made it a little past the floating rock and decided to turn around. The Narrows is an in-and-out hike, and we were already tired. Everyone, except Will, had fallen at least once.
On our way back, Nick fell several more times in a row. We stopped and made sure he ate some peanut butter crackers and drank more water. After resting a few minutes, we started back again.
Ben jarred his back when he stepped in a hole. I tripped on a rock I couldn’t see and fell face first into the water. I will say I am glad we had on the water shoes that went above the ankle. I am sure I would have twisted something if I was in gym shoes. Will was still the winner at the end of the trail and had not fallen once!
We were exhausted when we were done. The shuttle line was long, and I would say we waited 45-60 minutes. We did see some deer and wild turkey while we waited. (YouTube video of walking the line for the shuttles.)
We returned our gear and headed home to take showers.
It was a once in a lifetime experience and really neat! If you were to hike the Narrows, I would definitely recommend renting equipment. The neoprene socks helped with the cold water and not having wet cotton socks rubbing on our feet was definitely a plus. The water shoes/boots were surprisingly helpful. Even the broom handle-ish walking stick seemed better suited than our normal walking sticks.
Ben and I ran into Muddy Bee Bakery and grabbed some items for breakfast: a raspberry lemon scone, a cinnamon roll, a loaf of sourdough, and breakfast sandwiches.
We were able to get afternoon passes for the shuttle and headed up. The Visitor Center parking lot was packed, but we managed to find a spot.
The shuttle is running a lower capacity (about 33 people per shuttle-which is made of two buses each) due to COVID. Our first driver was great and pointed out several of the scenes in Zion along the route. We saw a few deer along the drive as well.
There were a few trails I had on my list, but several were closed due to rock falls (stops 2, 3, 4, and 7). We decided to walk the Riverside Trail (stop 9, the final stop). It is completely paved and ends at the river where the Narrows trail begins. It is a pretty easy walk, about 2 miles. The trail goes through a swamp area (crazy in the middle of a desert) and gives you peeks at the river. Some of the rock walls along the trail were seeping water. Different plants and flowers were growing out of the rocks near these spots and made for some very pretty scenery.
There are signs everywhere saying not to feed the wildlife (in particular a lot of “don’t feed the squirrels”). These squirrels are ballsy. They come right up to you and beg for food. You know how Custer State Park had begging burros? Zion definitely has begging squirrels.
We had to wait a little bit for the shuttle back, but it wasn’t too long.
We were able to get passes for the next day in the early afternoon and decided to hike the Narrows. We rented equipment from Zion Guru. The store was in Springdale, which is right outside the gates to Zion. It was $25/person and you got a hiking pole, neoprene water socks, and water shoes/boots.
Note: The park does state to wear a mask, but it is not really well enforced. There were people who kind of had it on for the shuttle and once boarded took it off.
Zion is only 25-35 minutes away from our campground. We couldn’t get Zion Shuttle passes for our first couple of days there. In Zion during the main season, you need to park at the Visitor Center and take a shuttle along the Scenic Drive, the main road through the park. The shuttle passes have to be bought ($1/each) on recreation.gov. They go on sale each morning at 9:00 am MT for the next day. The morning and early afternoon passes go super fast, so get on right away to get the best time. If you are going in October, they are sold a little more in advance according to the website.
However, there is another way to see Zion if you can’t get passes right away! If you enter on the South Entrance, you enter through the Park Gates (they do check for passes/admission), and come to a split in the road. One goes to Scenic Drive (shuttle only right now) and the other goes on to the Zion-Mt. Caramel Highway, which you can drive on in your own vehicle. (If you enter on the East Entrance, you also pass through park gates and are already on this road. I believe it is also State Route 9.) You can find several trails and parking pull-outs along the road. You also drive through an awesome tunnel made in 1930. It is a mile long with windows cut out of the mountain. The windows were created for air, but also offer nice scenic views as you drive by. There are height restrictions though.
The drive is worth it just for this tunnel! 🙂 There is another smaller tunnel along the road as well.
On the other side of the tunnel, you will find various trails and pull-outs. The landscape is really neat. The rock looks like it is layered. Ben called is phyllo dough rock, which is what it looked like!
We stopped at a pull-out to look at Checkerboard Mesa, which Will had just learned about in class! There was also someone painting in the parking lot.
It was towards the end of the day, so we didn’t do any hiking, but I did find a trail there that I want to do before we leave.
When I was in High School I was exposed to a poet named Gary Snyder. My favorite poem of all time is a short one of his:
“After weeks of watching the roof leak, I fixed it tonight by moving a single board.”
This regularly comes into my head when I am being complacent or too lazy to fix something.
Our campground at Yellowstone was the first one that we had to back into. I have referred to the travel trailer as a reverse Tardis. It is bigger on the outside. After about 40 minutes of fighting it, we got the travel trailer kind of in in its spot. We had already made a bit of a raucous and our neighbors were out to gawk at the newbie goofballs. One even commented, “I bet you need a drink after that.”
Since we were in, and a little embarrassed, we decided to leave it how it was, even though the rig was not optimally where we wanted it on the site.
After getting the travel trailer disconnected from the truck, hooking up the sewer, electric and water, we pulled the slides out…and realized they wouldn’t extend all the way because we were too close to the fence in the back and the fresh water spigot on the side. We were exhausted and decided we would try it as is and see how it went.
You guessed it. It went poorly. After a week of fighting it, bumping into wall edges, windows half covered, and worried about leaks, we decided we had to take the time to fix it. With that mindset and a good nights sleep, we were able to fix it pretty quickly on a Saturday morning. Once positioned right, everything worked great.
NOTE: A month later a helpful YouTube channel pointed out that you should know the depth of your slides to make sure you won’t hit anything when you pull in. A tape measure to ensure this is a helpful device to have. This would have been handy information.
Today we drove to Bryce Canyon (about 2.25 hours from the campground). We wanted to see the hoodoos, so we looked for the best trail to take. (And by best, I mean the best that we could actually hike!) We looked in the National Parks* book and on the AllTrails app. We ended up taking a combo trail from the All Trails app for Wall Street and Queens Garden.
It was a great trail and really worked out our legs! The incline and switch backs made sure everyone was tired at the end. The views were incredible though. The combo trail was a loop trail, so we ended up back near the parking lot.
At the end of trail, near the parking lot, we ran into another family heading into the trail as we were heading out. They were a large group, with 5 or 6 kids. No one was wearing a mask and they were taking up almost the whole path. We had our masks up and stepped off to the side to let them by. Their kids were running everywhere. The dad noticed us and said, “Let’s move out of the way so they can get by.” Awesomesauce. We said thank you and started moving past them, when he adds “Make sure to stay 6 feet away or we’re all going to die.” Seriously? I didn’t mock you for not wearing a mask. We just waited by the side so you could get by and we could then go. There was no reason to add the sarcastic comment. If you don’t believe in wearing a mask, fine, but you don’t have to be rude. Especially if someone isn’t being rude to you. Ok, I’m done venting.
We got back to the truck and ate lunch. We drove around the park for a little bit seeing different overlooks/pull-offs. On our way out of the park, we stopped and walked Inspiration Point. It had some amazing views overlooking all the hoodoos. There are three levels to this path/observation points, but each one has a great view.
There are several tourist shops outside of the park. We stopped at a gift shop on our way home. There was a sign on door that said the state of Utah was “recommending” masks, but they were not required to enter their store. We picked up some postcards and a couple of other items, but we tried to be really quick.
Utah is by far the worst state so far for mask wearing. I would say 90%+ are not wearing masks outside, and even inside at least 50% are not. Right now it is up to each county if they require masks or not. Moab was much better at requiring masks to be worn indoors, although outdoors was still bad.
I am glad we went to see Bryce. The landscape was amazing and very surreal to hike through and then see from up above.
We made it to Arizona today! We drove to see the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. It was about a 2.5 hour drive from our campground.
We hiked the Cape Royal/Angels Window Trails and the Bright Angel Point trail. These trails were pretty well paved. There were some nice overlooks along the way. We could even see the Colorado River on the Cape Royal/Angels Window Trails. The views were amazing, although the trails were a little crowded.
It was pretty and had more trees than I was expecting. We saw some lizards, a couple of hawks, maybe a turkey vulture, some wild turkeys, and even a snake in the parking lot.
We have definitely seen more snakes on our trip than we usually do at home. We did our research before we left and learned identifying marks of poisonous snakes (at least for the US/North America). Poisonous snakes will have cat eyes (elongated pupil). They will have thicker bodies and broader triangular heads. Rattlesnakes will have the rattle sound, but some other snakes apparently will also mimic this noise by moving their tails against the ground/leaves. Poisonous snakes also have a heat pit on their face/nose, but I don’t think you can see that one from far away! The exception to these rules is the coral snake who has round pupils, but you can tell it’s poisonous by it’s coloring (red and yellow a dangerous fellow, red and black poison lack). This website was really helpful when it came time to teach the kids what to look out for. Of course, we still try to maintain all the distance we can!
The campground had a laundry room, pool and hot tub, and fenced in dog area. There were also waste bags along the fence line for dog clean up. It seemed like it had a good layout. The boys made a YouTube video of the campground.
The pool is nice, with a few fountains off the side shooting in and a basketball hoop. The pool is not heated, so it will cool you off on a hot day. The hot tub is off to the side of the pool. There is a changing/bathroom and an outdoor shower in the pool area as well.
The office was small and only offered a few things for sale, although they do have brochures for local attractions. They did sell ice for $2.75/bag (City Market, aka Kroger, had for $1.99/bag with loyalty card) and also had some individual ice cream items (most were $1.75). The office closed at 5:00pm. They do lock the ice after hours, so get any ice you need before then. There was a spot on the office desk for outgoing mail. TIP: There is a small holder of postcards on a shelf for $1/each of area landscapes with the Milky Way. You can get these for free in various Biz Card holders around town (Two places that I know of: McStiff’s Plaza-outdoors on side of wall near right side of their parking lot and Red Rock Bakery-inside towards the back). There was also a lounge attached to the office, but was closed for COVID.
The campground offers Wi-Fi and cable. We didn’t have much luck with the cable, just a few channels, and the WiFi was the standard campground kind.
The laundry room was nice. It was even air conditioned! There were plenty of machines and there was a change machine in the room as well. A wash cycle cost $2.25 and the dryer $1.50.
The shower/bathhouse was amazing. It was the nicest one so far. There were separate rooms that contained a toilet and shower with locking doors.
I believe the campground is all RV spots, with most sites being pull-through. We had a 50 amp site, which we definitely needed in the heat to run both A/C units. No tents/gazebos/pop-ups are allowed. There are trees and grass at each site. The trees help a little with the heat. We had an end of the row site, which was great for parking, but meant that we only had shade on one side. If you wanted more shade, I would try to get a spot further in so you get trees on both sides.
Each site had a picnic table with a concrete pad that sits right next to your RV steps. No fire pits or grills are provided in the campground. Utah also had fire bans going while we were there.
The campground is close to town (7-10 minutes), Arches (15-20 minutes), and Canyonlands (45-60 minutes depending on traffic). There are several grocery stores in town, although pricing seems a little higher here than back home. We mostly shopped at City Market (Kroger) for the fuel points and coupons.
We had a good start, finished packing up inside and worked on the outside. I went to line up the truck and bumped the hitch into the trailer. It wasn’t raised up with the jack yet. I obviously needed coffee and to not rush. Luckily nothing happened, but not a great start to my morning.
The drive was uneventful (thank goodness) to our next campground in Hurricane, Utah. We checked in and they led us to our campsite. It was a back-in and they helped direct us in. We set up the RV. It was pretty hot out (104 degrees F), but at least the site had some shade! I am so glad we had a 50 amp site and could run both A/C’s.
The town was bigger than I thought it would be. There were several restaurants and grocery places close by. The one grocery store was within walking distance!
We ran into St. George (about 10-15 minutes away) to go to Costco. This Costco was not very different from others we have seen, although they did sell ice. It was very crowded. It was the least amount we had ever spent: $34, including a pizza!
We unpacked the groceries and Ben took the boys into town to try to find a replacement cup and forks. I got to read for an hour by myself! It was so relaxing. The boys came back, but didn’t have much luck at the nearby store. We called it a night and settled in.