These 2 parks weren’t even on our list of stops. We had grand hopes of entering the lottery to see The Wave, a surreal, gorgeous sandstone rock formation in the Paria Canyon – Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness. When else would we be driving in this remote area? It seemed sacrilegious to not try, which is why Zion and Bryce didn’t fit into our itinerary. But we hadn’t considered all the factors involved… luckily, Lake Powell brought those factors to the forefront before we got in to deep.
After buying a few supplies in Flagstaff, AZ and unexpectedly running into some friends from Tucson, we headed towards Lake Powell intent on an afternoon toe dip before heading to our next campsite. We had spent a weekend at Lake Powell a few years ago when they had a music festival (rumor is that the small town of Page was not supportive of the festival, or rather, actively plotted against it). It was a gorgeous setting for a festival, and we had always planned to go back. We waited for festival promoters to sort out the issues with the town, but it never happened, and there was never another festival. So this was our chance to revisit, sans festival, of course.
Unfortunately, it was 2pm by the time we reached the lake. We knew it would be hot – that’s what the water is for right?! But we hadn’t planned on having to traverse 100+ yards of scorching rock and sand to reach the water. Perhaps we stopped at the wrong spot, but we didn’t really have time to veer too far from our route. And Domino’s paws were no match for the heat. We walked halfway down to the water and snapped a few photos before half-running with her back up to the car so that her paws wouldn’t burn.
Disheartened, we got back on the road, realizing that hiking out to The Wave with our 10 year old dog was a dangerous idea. Even if we hiked early in the day, we didn’t know how long it would take or how Domino’s feet would hold up. (Unfortunately, we never did get her hiking boots to work – while it’s hilarious to watch her hop around in them, none of the sizes ever seemed to fit her well enough for her to actually hike in them. We even bought some socks hoping those would help the boots stay on. But no such luck.) So we gave up our dream of going to The Wave, comforting ourselves with the idea that it was super unlikely that we would have won the lottery anyhow.
Now we needed a new plan. And since we were heading straight past Zion and Bryce, we added them to the itinerary.
We camped for 2 nights in Dixie National Forest at Duck Creek Campground which is high up on a mountain nestled between the 2 national parks. If we would have had more time, it seemed like there was a lot to explore in the national forest as well.
Our plan was to get up early and drive into Zion where we would take turns hiking the Canyon Overlook Trail. What actually happened, though, was that we nearly froze and hardly slept throughout the night. So, of course, when the sun came up and we were finally sleeping, we had no interest in getting up. We didn’t make it to Zion until 10, which is right when everyone else is getting there. Zion is a very busy park in the summer, and there are only a tiny number of parking spots at the Canyon Overlook Trailhead. So we had to pass it by.
The drive through Zion was gorgeous, but it was difficult to enjoy the park due to a lack of parking. There were not any parking spots available in the park. Most people can park at the visitor center just outside the park and take the shuttle, but pets are not allowed on the shuttle, so our choices were limited. Additionally, it was HOT – nearing 100 degrees. We decided to walk Domino on the one pet-friendly trail near the visitor center which took us along a stream. The smart people (mostly from the campground, I think) were already in the water. And we decided to be smart and join them. It was mostly shaded and was a perfect hangout spot in the heat.
We took a different route back to our campsite, so we actually don’t have many pictures of the magnificent canyon. You will have to go for yourself and take your own pictures. 🙂 Just make sure to get there early.
The next day, we arrived at Bryce National Park at 9:30, just before the rush at 10. C and I decided to split up since Domino isn’t allowed on the trails. I dropped C off at Sunset Point to check out the Navajo loop trail. Meanwhile, I continued up the road to various overlooks. C didn’t think the 1.3 mile trail down into the hoodoos was worth the steep climb back up, but I think he got some great photos!