A natural city of hoodoos in southern Utah forms a magical National Park not to be missed. We visited Bryce Canyon in October of 2016 for a full day and ending at Sunset Campground. Hiking down into the hoodoos is when you begin to realize the vastness of the park.
Also located in Southern Utah just an hour from Bryce Canyon, Zion's red rock mountains will lure you in to explore them.
Starting out with the easy stuff at Emerald Pools, we witnessed a live tarantula in its natural habitat. Victor investigated as I ran in the other direction. We spent the rest of that day getting acquainted with the park and choosing hikes for the next two days.
We shuttled to the trailhead of Angel’s Landing that following morning. The hike began with two miles of Walter's Wiggles (switchbacks) going uphill to Scott's Lookout. This is where most hikers enjoy a bird's eye view of the park, have a bite to eat and descend back down. We weren't planning on crossing the ridge to summit, but our adrenaline got us to the part where we had to grab ahold of chains for safety. The last half mile of Angel's Landing is strenuous climb, walking on a width of 2ft with 1,400ft drop-offs on either side. We had about .2mi to go before I had to turn around! This hike still haunts me today for not finishing.
We were both sore the next day, but went ahead with The Narrows hike, a gorge carved by the Virgin River. We got our gear (water shoes, socks, pants and stick) at Zion Adventure Co. It's a popular hike, so expect a crowd and be sure to check water levels of the river depending on what month you go. I found the stick to be necessary and we didn't take my big camera on this trip for obvious reasons. We hiked about 3 miles into the canyon and it was insanely gorgeous and fun to wade the entire way. Returning 3 miles back was just as fun, but returning home to the RV was a relief.
We camped our first night in Springdale at Zion RV Campground and then woke up early to get a spot at South Campground for two nights across the road from the Visitor's Center. From there, shuttles are available throughout the park.
Note: Zion does not allow private vehicles in the summer due to high traffic, also to lower emissions in the protected area. The shuttles run through park hours stopping conveniently at trailheads and viewpoints.
We visited Arches our first year of touring the country. This was the first place that stopped me in my tracks and slowed me down to journal and really take a look around. Pick up the book Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey to get a better glimpse of what this park was like in the past. We camped at Archview RV Resort and especially appreciated the views, laundry and hot showers. It was worth it to stay there to avoid the cluster of tourists near Moab.
Nearby Arches lies Canyonlands. It was much less busy there, but just as epic. There's not as much hiking in Canyonlands unless you go down into the canyon, but the RV was not allowed due to its clearance.