5 Parks, 5 Days

We've been back a week (just seven days ago we were white-knuckle driving through an Iowa blizzard and our car was covered in half an inch of solid ice), and I have not had a chance to remark on the amazement that was our spring break trip!

We flew into Vegas and spent the night at a HORRIBLE Howard Johnson's. Like incredibly dirty and so filled with pot smoke you got a contact high from it. But we were only there 5 hours, and then drove on. Lesson learned.

Day 1 - Zion. Zion is a lot of people's favorite park, and I understand why. It's incredibly beautiful, and our hike (up to the start fo the Narrows) was gorgeous. I really want to go back and stay in the lodge and hike the full Narrows (though with a smallish kid and 40 degree water, I think restraint was the better part of valor on this trip). The river was lovely and we did play in it some. It was a beautiful park, but also between the shuttles and the construction and the people it was a bit hard to manipulate.

The first night in a Best Western Thunderbird just east of the park. I had no idea Best Westerns still existed. Large room, terrible restaurant (I think their sign that said Ho-Made pie really meant it...)

Day 2 - Bryce. Might have been my favorite park (though really they were all so different it's hard to pick a favorite). The hoodoos were INCREDIBLE! We went on a lovely bristlecone hike and a great ranger walk. Grabbed some lunch at the general store and Patrick and Beatrix hiked more while I watched some of the riders. Incredibly beautiful.

Open the night in a cute little log cabin! Tiny town with only one restaurant, but tiny towns were starting to grow on me.

Day 3 - Capitol Reef. No one has ever heard of Capitol Reef (named for a big rock dome like the Capitol and a long "reef" of rocks), which is part of what made it so cool. Also, the drive along "Scenic Highway 12" was omigosh incredible for the views, and this park has one of the most dramatic entrance/visitors stations I've ever seen. It also is a park that discusses a lot of the human history of the area, including an old Mormon farmstead and several orchards, which I found truly unusual. We went on a longish hike, and Beatrix climbed a lot of rocks, and it was lovely. It's also a park where you can go off trail a little more easily.

Spent the night at a Filipino "resort" nearby. We had a traditional room (they also have cabins, wagons, and teepees) with an incredible view. People were friendly and there was a lovely hot tub and a fire pit. And oh, such clear stars!

Day 4 - Canyonlands. Canyonlands is HUGE, and we were only able to go to one part of it (the Islands in the Sky" district, and now I dare you to not have Islands in the Stream as an earworm.) Here we did some more challenging hikes that were totally worth it, and I discovered  love of climbing across slick rock. Canyonlands means it, though, when they say no food and no water!

Stayed in Moab at a Motel 6. Man, that town jacks up prices for spring break — the Sprinhill Suites was $400 a night! So though our motel was kind of a dump, at least it was cheaper. But we had great Thai food and found a fantastic bookstore, both thanks to a tip from my friend Annie. After so many smaller towns, I'm not sure I loved the "mountain party" pace of Moab.

Day 5 - Arches. I knew it would be incredible, and I was right. Glad we saved it for last. We say sooooo many of the arches and spent soooooo long in the park, and could have done more! Loved the mix of longer and shorter hikes. Could have done more. Gosh it was gorgeous!

Also found a great breakfast/sandwich place and were able to bring in bag lunches and have a lovely picnic! That plus a taproom for dinner was lovely. Plus one more trip to the bookstore.

Day 6 - Denver. Harrowing drive across the mountains, with some passes closed due to snow. Got to stop at Outer Ridge Brewery, which was incredible, and drink beer and have ur bag lunches (see, we learned from yesterday!) in a yurt. Spent the night in Denver with Beatrix's friend Johanna's family, who we had gotten close to when the girls were at Randolph Heights together. What a fantastic last night for a trip, and YES, we need to get to Denver more often!


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