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Tuesday Travels: Four National Parks in Four Days

Last month, my parents, husband, and I took a trip unlike any other that we've taken before; we visited four national parks in four days. Our usual method is to explore a place in depth, but for this particular trip, a broad overview worked for us. So come along as I recap our whirlwind tour of Capitol Reef, Zion, the Grand Canyon, and Bryce.

The first day of the journey, we left our house in Utah county in the morning around 9 or so. By early afternoon, we had arrived at Capitol Reef National Park. The red rock formations, deep canyons, and obvious evidence of the earth's movement gave us a sense of awe. 

Photo: A deep red-rocked canyon
We stopped at the Gifford House Store and Museum for a bite of pie before we going on the Scenic Drive. 

Photo: The humble pioneer Gifford House serves as a museum and store
At the end of the scenic drive, we got out to hike part of the Capitol Gorge trail. 

Photo: The sun's location behind a huge red mountain causes a sunburst
Along the trail, we wondered how in the world these names were carved into the rocks so neatly. We also were curious as to how the people even reached that spot on the mountain; they must have been lowered down from above, because the names were up really high. 

Photo: signatures carved on a sheer red rock wall
Photo: A close-up of the signatures: John R. Stewart, Quinby Stewart, Isaac R. Hayes, Eli S. Hurst, Jas. A Ollrton, Sam Gifford  Dated Sept. 24, 1911
After completing the Scenic Drive, we drove to Kanab to stay in a rental house that would be our home base for the rest of the trip. The house itself was a bit quirky and rustic. Although my parents' bathroom was traditional, I scraped my knee on the rough wooden walls while trying to get into the tub in my bathroom. What an adventure!

Photo: A horse watering trough serves as a bathtub in the rental house
The next morning, we were off to Zion National Park. Zion offers world-class hikes, notably The Narrows and Angel's Landing. Our emphasis this trip was not on hiking, but we did take the Grotto Trail; we also went on the Riverside Walk, which is the trail to the start of The Narrows hike (if you are hiking upstream.) It's a beautiful, scenic walk along the Virgin River.

Photo: The Virgin River flows between the tall canyon walls
We spotted various wildlife throughout our trip, including these bighorn sheep we noticed while driving between the Mt. Carmel tunnel and the East Entrance to the park. 

Photo: Five bighorn sheep gather around and munch on a shrubby plant
After a full day at Zion, we returned to Kanab, so we could rest up before starting the second half of our trip. 

The next park was much-anticipated: the Grand Canyon. We visited the less-busy, cooler, and (in my opinion) better side, the North Rim. We drove the North Rim Scenic Drive, and stopped frequently to take pictures at the overlooks. Photos do not do it justice. 

Photo: The expansive Grand Canyon under a cloudless blue sky
Photo: My dad stands with his tripod and camera, preparing to get the perfect shot of the Grand Canyon

We stayed until sunset, not wanting the day to end.

Photo: The sun sinks below the horizon. Evergreen trees stand in the foreground, and the Grand Canyon fills the remainder of the frame.
When the sun went down, we drove back to Kanab. The next morning, we checked out of the rental place and headed to Bryce Canyon, the last national park on our itinerary.

Bryce is filled with hoodoos--in fact, it contains the world's largest concentration of those rock columns. We spent our time at Bryce much like we did at the other parks, driving to the overlooks and capturing the beauty in photos. 

Photo: White and orange-red hoodoos stand like giant sand castles, dwarfing the trees around them
The deciduous trees were starting to display their autumn glory.

Photo: Quaking aspen leaves of gold in the foreground contrast with the red of the giant rock arch
Sadly, our trip had to come to an end. Amazingly, even though we spent less than 24 hours in each park, we managed to see these national treasures without feeling rushed. If long hikes are not a priority, it is definitely possible to see four national parks in four days.

I'm thankful for national parks and time spent with family. What national parks have you visited?


Comments

  1. Your photos of these four park are beautiful, seeing the majestic vistas shows the power of God.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. It really is a beautiful world He created.

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