Week two of our road trip included most of Utah’s national parks with the exception of Capitol Reef National Park, which we still need to get to. We started off with a little detour to Las Vegas and finished off with some more hikes and gorgeous lakes in beautiful Colorado before heading home.
(Week Two Map)
– Seven Magic Mountains –
Seven Magic Mountains is a large-scale public art display just outside of Las Vegas that will be up until May of 2018.
I knew I wanted to see this display, what I didn’t know that it was only about a two hour drive from St. George where we were staying. Since we were already in the area, we decided to wake up at 5 a.m. and head to Vegas! We arrived around 7 a.m. and luckily only two people were there so we were able to get some great pictures without a ton of tourists!
Afterwards, we had to drive down Las Vegas Blvd a couple times and then headed back to Zion for some more hiking!
– Zion National Park – Day Two –
Our second day at Zion we started off with an 8 mile hike (round trip) up to Observation Point. We crossed through Echo Canyon on the way and enjoyed views Of Angel’s Landing and Zion Canyon once we reached the top.
Because of the rapid elevation gain and it’s steepness, it’s known as one of the most strenuous of the classic hikes in the park.
After Observation Point, we hiked about five miles through the clear, refreshing waters of the Narrows, the narrowest section of Zion Canyon. An overnight permit is needed if you are hiking the full 16 miles but you can hike 5 miles down and back without one. The water was cool, the current was strong and the towering canyon walls around you made this hike my favorite! Water shoes and at least one hiking pole is recommended. There is an outfitter right outside the park that you can rent both from. We didn’t have a hiking stick, so I used Bo as a crutch and that worked well! 🙂
After cooling off in the Narrows, we ended the day with a hike up most of Angel’s Landing. The last half mile of the trail, after you reach Scout Lookout, gets extremely dangerous. It’s a narrow ridge with thousand foot drop offs on both sides accompanied by chains for support to get you there safely. Since 2004, seven people have fallen to their deaths! 😨 When we reached the chains, we decided to head back down since Bo is afraid of heights. I’m hoping the next time we go back I can convince him to do it! 🙏
– Bryce Canyon National Park –
Bryce Canyon has the largest collection of hoodoos in the world!
We got there at sunrise and quickly headed to sunrise point. It was a cold and windy day and since we did a lot of hiking at Zion, my ankles were swollen and hurt so we decided to take it easy.
We checked out all the points, hiked the Navajo loop trail and went on a three hour horseback ride through the canyon. We ended the day watching the sunset at Bryce Point.
– Arches National Park –
Arches National Park was a pretty cool place! Right outside of Moab, this park is great for families because the hiking is minimal and it’s pretty flat for the most part. Part of the park was closed due to construction, so we weren’t able to see it all. The main arches we visited were the iconic Delicate Arch (printed on Utah’s license plate), Double Arch, Broken Arch, North and South Windows and the Turret Arch.
– Dinosaur Tracks –
After Arches, we went on a little scavenger hunt. When we were at Mesa Verde, a guy had mentioned dinosaur tracks outside of Moab. This peaked our interest, so we put Google to work and headed to the Dinosaur Stomping Ground Trail at the Mega Steps Trailhead about 20 miles north of Moab. The sign told us to follow the cairns and yellow dots. It was a pretty fun hunt! I was hoping for massive T-Rex tracks, but they were slightly smaller than that.
They believe these tracks were made by three-toed carnivores – probably theropods.
-Canyonlands National Park-
By the time we got to Canyonlands, I was kind of all Utah-ed out. I was ready to see some green again, so we really only spent the morning there. We stayed in the Island of Sky region of the park. We got there at sunrise and luckily by chance stopped at the
Mesa Arch, one of the parks most most popular points of interest especially at sunrise because the sun shines right through the arch ↥↥.
Be aware that this is a highly photographed spot and usually pretty crowded with visitors and photographers. We also checked out a few of the Overlooks. When we got to the Grand View Point Overlook, we hiked the Grand View Point Trail which was about a 2 mile rim hike with gorgeous views of the canyon! Afterwards, it was back to Colorado!
– Hanging Lake –
So much gorgeous green!! 😍 Hanging Lake was our first stop back in Colorado. We were pretty worried that we weren’t going to make it there because a boy had recently died on the trail and it was also closed down for a few days for trail work and repairs. Luckily, when we came back around, it was open again! The signs for the trail are a little misleading in my opinion. It states how strenuous it is, but honestly, it was a breeze!
The trail was gorgeous and follows a mountain stream all the way up crossing a few bridges along the way and when you reach the top, seriously the most breathtaking lake I’ve ever seen, it was pure Heaven for me!
Don’t miss the extra very small hike to the top to see Spouting Rock Falls! I’m so glad I brought my tripod!
– Maroon Bells & Crater Lake –
Maroon Bells is one of the most photographed lakes in all of Colorado and for good reason!
Before sunrise, photographers line the beach to photograph the sunrise turning the mountain peeks a gorgeous golden glow. Because of this, of course we were there at 5 a.m.! It’s especially more attractive in the fall when the trees are sprinkled with yellows and greens. The best thing about Maroon Bells is that you can only get there by bus during the day which cuts down on a lot of tourists. You are allowed to drive before 8 a.m. or after 5 p.m. There are a few hiking trails around the lake. We headed up the Crater Lake Trail, a 3.6 mile round trip hike to Crater Lake, another pristine lake with insane reflections.
– Pikes Peak via Barr Trail-
Bo was bound and determined to get a fourteener under his belt! A fourteener is mountain peak with an elevation of at least 14,000 feet. Colorado has 53 of them and he wanted Pikes Peak. As much as I wanted to hike it with him, my body did not, so I shopped in the cute little historic town of Manitou Springs while he conquered the beast in just about 8 hours ascending and descending. From what I hear, it takes most people about 8 hours to hike one way, so that’s some pretty good timing! Perfect timing because by the time he got down, I had already gone all through the shops, ate lunch and ended up in the park. I don’t know much about his hike besides getting lost and ending up on the incline again 😆 and getting free pancakes at Barr Camp. 😋
– Chasm Lake –
Our last day of the road trip! I read how bright blue and crystal clear Chasm Lake was, so we decided to make it our last hike before we headed home. Back to Rocky Mountain National Park at the Longs Peak Trailhead, the hike to the lake was 8 miles round trip starting with warm switchbacks and switching to cool, snowy, rocky hillsides. It was pretty stormy out and the skies were gray, so unfortunately, I didn’t get the blue that I had hoped for and the snow and storms kept us from venturing down to the lake. Luckily, we did not get rained on!
The views were insane with a beautiful waterfall and towering mountain walls and lovely views of the alpine tundra, I definitely want to do this hike again!
Because of the storms, after the hike we headed back home to Iowa. We followed this rainbow for hours before the sun finally set.
We stopped at a rest stop for a few hours of rest and made it back home on Sunday morning, just in time for Father’s Day. 💗
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