Last year I flew my mom out to Utah and took her on a much needed vacation/exploration of Southern Utah. On that trip we decided that even though we talk on the phone throughout the year and see each other over the holidays, it’s really nice to have time together – just us – and this trip needed to become an annual thing.
For that trip we stayed in Springdale for two nights, hiked in Zion and made a trek out to Snow Canyon State Park. It was sunny and warm and delightful.
My mom bought a bunch of touristy stuff like guide books and photo calendars and has lusted over the remainder of Southern Utah ever since. For this years trip we’re doing the whole enchilada (not to be confused with…The Whole Enchilada)
We started with a night in Springdale and a visit to Zion National Park but by the end of our trip we’ll be on the other side of the state in Moab, UT.
We are sort of following this route from when Nick and I took the boys to Southern Utah – except in the backwards order AND adding Zion.
So imagine this map had a little marker “F” where it says “Zion National Park” – for day one we drove from “A” to that imaginary “F” where we checked in at the Pioneer Lodge. Now here’s a little tip for you, the Pioneer Lodge was on Groupon for $39/night. Whenever we plan a road trip or getaway I always search a couple places before booking. My favorites: Priceline, RueLaLa Getaways, Groupon and LivingSocial.
PS>that RueLaLa search left me daydreaming of this 7-night getaway to Palm Island…ay yi yi!
But back to the trip at hand…
We checked in at the Pioneer Lodge around 3:30 on Sunday afternoon and decided to go into Zion NP so we could grab a map and take a quick glance at the park. We wound up driving the length of the park route (there’s no shuttle service in operation during the winter and that means the roads are open to personal vehicles). No matter how many times I’ve been here, it just blows me away every time with the grandness of it – the towering rock walls at every turn. I’d love to camp out for six months so I could photograph the everchanging lightscape, mist and shadows. It’s something that a thousand photographs can’t relay to a person who has never been. Simply incredible.
As we were driving into the park there was this heavy mist rolling off the steep canyon walls.
It was almost as if the canyon was growing taller as we drove deeper. Pretty cool feeling.
Here we are at the end of the park drive – in the Temple of Sinawava – this is the farthest you can go by vehicle but it is the starting point of the popular “Narrows” hike up the Virgin River. Given that it was 34* out – and that even the Riverwalk Trail (a cement boardwalk) was closed – we skipped that
I have a brand new camera (a FujiFilm Finepix ← that links to a refurbished model that is under $200!!) that I am learning how to use. I just opened it up on Valentine’s Day and this trip is the perfect playground to try out all the settings and options. I don’t think I captured this very well but I’m sharing anyway – the bright red loose sand, the river and then the hardened red rock/sandstone walls of the canyon behind.
Back in Springdale, we walked through the town a little even though most everything is closed for the season. We managed to find a few stores open and we of course went back to Oscars Cafe for dinner. And we ordered the exact same meal as last year. It was that good you guys! Why deviate from something you love?!
Their Top Sirloin: comes with avocado butter, twice baked mashed potatoes inside a poblano pepper, black beans and some guacamole.
We also started with some appetizers beforehand. The chips with house made salsa and guacamole were spot on. And even though that salad looks pretty simple, the dressing is something I would eat with a spoon! My mom and I were trying to place all the flavors – definitely a lot of dill and some lemon, maybe sage? I need to play around and try to recreate that. The beer you see, that’s an award winning local brew: Wasatch Fiesta Lager.
We found ourselves back at the hotel pretty early on which was great. We have both been under the wire to finish projects before making this trip happen and it’s nice to suddenly find ourselves with all this extra time.
In the morning we’ll head into Zion for a couple hikes and then we’ll take the east exit through the tunnel and head towards Bryce Canyon National Park.
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