Zion National Park is the most gorgeous National Park that I’ve ever been to. And that’s saying a lot. As I’m blogging these photos, I’m finding myself breath taken all over again.
My past adventure blogs have been extremely un-informative, so I decided to give you tons and tons of details this time around. Bare with me. If you don’t care about where we went, where we stayed, what we did… then skip ahead and just scroll through the beautiful photos.
Andi + Tre are the two beautiful humans in the first few shots. If you read my blog in the past, you’d remember them from Colorado in 2018! They modeled for me at the top of a snowy, cold mountain. Ever since that shoot, we’ve kept up with each other on social media. When Tre told me he was going to propose to Andi, with her grandmother’s ring, I lost my damn mind! How perfect are they?! So skip ahead (more detail when I post THEIR actual photos) they booked me for their engagement session and decided that what better place for engagement photos, than Valley of Fire? If you haven’t been to Valley of Fire, book a flight… cross country it, whatever you need to do. It’s gorgeous!!!
So my amazing friend, Sam, and I met in Vegas! She flew in from NM, I flew in from NC (duh) and we picked up our camper van. Que the ever so lovely van named, Topiary. A PLANT COVERED VAN. You’re kidding me right?! This was my second trip in a camper van for a week and I am DAMN determined to buy my own and build it out now. And no… I’m most definitely not joking. Add in a little rooftop tent for my kiddos. Road trips, here we come! (My kids get car sick so it’s kind of a joke that I love to road trip and they just… well, they don’t)
Back to the trip and less of my life goals.
Valley of Fire
We picked up Topiary and headed to Valley of Fire State Park. HOLY CRAP. Those red rocks, the gorgeous cacti. (Photo shown of the cacti I borrowed from Sam and edited. My shot had an engagement ring on it) I am forever obsessed. And I’m not a desert person. I ran from El Paso, TX as fast as I possibly could. This is different. The redness of the rocks sucks you in and makes you feel… warm? Is that an odd thing to say? Whatever. It makes you feel warm and happy and fuzzy. And the lizards. I love all of little lizard guys just running around. If I could’ve picked one up and taken it home with me… I would’ve.
We met up with Andi + Tre at the visitor center and made our way to Rainbow Vista Trail. Photographed these beautiful humans, took a few photos of ourselves and then we were off. We downloaded this amazing app called IOverlander which shows you camping spots that over overlanders have used. They come along with little write ups and photos and it’s amazing! We searched the path on our way to Zion National Park and it led us right to camp. It was a whopping 30 minutes outside of Zion which was PERFECT! We pulled into our spot in the dark and had NO idea that when we woke up the next morning, we would be surrounded by mountains. Our van didn’t have heat, so actually… we woke up and I jumped in the driver seat and started driving up and down the road to warm us up while Sam rolled around in the bed HAHA. Sorry, Sam. it’s a bumpy ride!
We packed up camp, meaning we changed our clothes and jumped in the front seat. We didn’t fold the bed up once. What’s the point? Clothes everywhere, shit everywhere. No big deal. Like I said… packed up camp, hit the road. Found a cute little mobil drive through coffee shop. Grabbed some coffee and off to Zion we went!
Zion National Park
The little touristy town right outside of Zion was perfect! A lot of the shops were closed, but we managed to find a little Gem shop. We stopped in and thought it was going to be a quick in and out. However, the guy working there knew all about the Avett Brothers + Caamp and we ended up talking for close to 45 minutes about all of the places he’s traveled and the concerts he’s seen. He has seen the Avett Brothers 20 times. TWENTY! I ended up buying my daughter, Emma, the cutest little gem bracelet and matching earrings. The girl collects rocks and she’s a healthy mix of tomboy and girly so I knew she would love them. Side note: She’s worn the earrings since the day I got home. Normally, she’d wake up and change her earrings to match her outfit every morning.
We headed into Zion National Park and were informed that the shuttles weren’t up and running so that we’d need to drive everywhere, which was 100% okay with me. I love to drive, I prefer to drive. I like to be in control of where I go and when. The visitor center parking lot itself is extremely gorgeous! We walked in, I bought a shirt, a hiking bag made out of recycled bottles, a pen for my travel journal, the Zion NP and Bryce Canyon NP stickers for my water bottle and 2 stuffed animal mountain goats for my twins. We didn’t see a single mountain goat, unfortunately.
Sam and I made stops all along “Virgin River” that flows through Zion National Park. Every single place you went, it was gorgeous! We stopped at the parking lot for The Narrows and decided that March was just too cold to hike through waist high water. That will be a trip maybe next summer. We back tracked and headed to Watchman’s trail and got about halfway though the trail when we realized we wouldn’t make sunset at Overlook Canyon if we didn’t turn back.
Overlook Canyon is THE PLACE to see in Zion. (I am not a fan of heights so Angel’s Landing was terrifying for me. Hard pass) The hiking trail itself is the most beautiful and interesting trail I’ve ever been on. The website says elevation only changes 160ft through the mile long hike. It was pretty easy as long as you don’t have a fear of heights (: We took some photos at Overlook Canyon and just soaked in the gorgeousness. It’s amazing to me that view like that even exist.
After we hiked back down, we jumped in Topiary, and headed towards Bryce Canyon. At this point, we had been eating only peanut butter and jelly, ham sanwhiches, yogurt. So we decided to stop at the little restaurant for some warm food. Heads up… coffee tastes like shit. I DO NOT RECOMMEND. But the food was decent. From there, we decided it might be the only day we had time to shower. So we called hotels, motels, camp grounds, asked the guy at the counter of Family Dollar if they knew of any shower utilities. Finally we found the cute little RV park called “Bauer’s RV park!” It was closed for the season but had a money drop box stating it was $8 to shower. We parked, grabbed our clothes and shampoo and realized we hadn’t Brough towels. So we skipped the washing of hair, dried off with our shirts, and made a run for the van as fast as we possibly could.
We pulled up our IOverlander app and headed to find a camping spot in Dixie National Forest. As we approached the spot we chose, we realized the road was closed and there was a big snow bank blocking the entrance. Insert the “What the fuck” moment. We had just left Valley of Fire and Zion, with 60-70 degree weather and everything here was covered in snow. That’s what happens when you head into the Utah mountains. We found a little ATV trail on the IOverlander map that people said they’d camped at and decided that would be “home” for the night. We woke up with the same issue at 4am. No heat. It was so cold that my hands were shaking under the blankets. So, I popped in the front of the van and started driving down the road.
We made a joke the night before that we HOPED we could wake up in time to make it to Bryce Canyon for sunrise. Jokes on us… I was WIDE awake at 4:30 and decided to just drive straight to the park. We ended up watching the sunrise from “Sunset point” and it was amazing! Freaking freaking. But gorgeous. I took my few photos, realized my hands were already turning purple and I couldn’t feel my butt, so I booked it back to Topiary. Sam was braver and stayed out an additional 1o minutes. By the time she made it back to Topiary, that baby was nice and warm!
We drove over to “Sunrise point” and realized that the view was MUCH prettier from “Sunset point.” After we had a chance to warm back up, we drove out to Inspiration point to do a little hike. The trail was completely covered in snow and that’s when we realized that Bryce Canyon was a much better decision in the later spring months or summer. Every trail we looked up was closed. I was hoping to get to “Fairyland Point” to send my daughter a photo of me in front of something that just said “Fairyland” but it was also closed down due to ice. We decided that it was time to head out and made a quick stop at the Visitor center.
Valley of Fire
We decided to take the loop through the Utah Mountains and stopped in the cute little diner called, “Rambler’s Cafe.” I had my fill of coffee (huge cups) and some nice warm over easy eggs + bacon. Then we were off again. Back to Valley of Fire where we spent the rest of the evening exploring the park and trails we hadn’t had a chance to see the first day. Sam wanted to see “The Wave” and it was cool! definitely an instagram photo inspired spot. You could watch everyone posing in their workout gear with their half shirts and getting the “Gram shot!”
Pulled up IOverlander for our last night and found a cute little dirt road with camping. We watched the sunset from Topiary as we packed our bags and talked about how sad we were to be going home. But don’t worry. We WILL be back. I WILL be hiking the narrows. And then traveling to Moab. Spring 2021. Get ready (:
If you made it this far, CONGRATS! I’m done rambling. If you skipped ahead, screw you too (:
Shameless plug: If you want to book a Camper Van, head over to Escape Camper Vans and use my link so that I get Amazon Giftcards (: