I published this for December 30th, the day after my trip, but am writing this on July 7, 2016:
Holy crap one day I realized that I used to actually blog about my travels and I haven’t done that since a YEAR ago!!! So I’m going to do some retroactive posts. At this point, I have no illusions that anyone is reading this blog. Blogs are such a thing of the past! But I guess this format serves better than a diary for me, and I’ve realized that the memories that have a better chance of sticking are the ones that I blog/post pictures about.
So family trip 2015: Zion/Vegas.
This trip came about because I have a mandatory two week winter break and it seemed like a waste not to go anywhere. I hadn’t done a family trip yet in 2015 (though I don’t know why this should be a tradition – the only family trip I’ve had as an adult was to Hawaii in 2012) and I didn’t want to fly anywhere but I didn’t want to stay in California which left … Vegas. Expanding the map farther, that brought me to … Utah.
My mental image of Zion was the below:
Looks hot, exposed … a national park with tons of hiking trails!
Turns out in December, it looks more like this:
SNOW. ICE. There are hikes, but some are closed, and the ones that are marked as “easy” turn into slippery, icy trails. Also, it might drop to 20 degrees or lower and the day temperatures are around 40 degrees. On the plus side, I prefer that to the typical 100+ degrees in the summer.
In a way, I’m glad I came here in the winter – it was a very memorable experience and kind of nice to be able to drive around in our own car, even though I know that is environmentally irresponsible! Zion was the first national park (outside of Alaska) to ban private use of vehicles, and in the busy season, everyone must use park shuttles to get from point to point, but in the winter, it’s so “empty” that you’re allowed to drive.
The trip turned out to be pretty decently paced, but I had initially planned a day trip to Bryce Canyon. We attempted it in my brother’s Hyundai, and quickly realized that it seemed REALLY stupid of us to be driving on icy roads without chains or a 4 wheel drive SUV. So we turned back, and I think everyone was extremely relieved that we wouldn’t be plunging to our deaths over a Zion cliff on our 2015 family trip.
We got lodging relatively close to the park, at Driftwood Lodge in Springdale. Springdale is the closest you can stay in the park, but I think our lodging happened to be one of the farthest accommodations from the park that is still in Springdale. This turned out to be a nice benefit though, because one night my mom and I just walked home from our hike in the park and it added a nice 2 miles to our walk. The Lodge itself was ok … kind of old and a little musty but my mom was in love with the hot tub, which she would go out to even when it was, again, TWENTY DEGREES OUT.
One day I want to come back and actually do the two famous hikes in the park: Angel’s Landing and the Narrows. Pictures of it makes me very dubious that I could survive the hikes. But so many people have done it that I feel like, I must be able to!
For the trip, we stayed one night in Vegas, left the next afternoon after a very heavy breakfast and arrived at our Zion accommodations close to sunset. My parents and I did a quick, very easy hike on the Pa’rus Trail, which is right at the Visitor’s Center and reminded me quite a bit of walking around Disney’s California’s Adventures without any of the rides. Basically, a very wide, well maintained trail and seemingly painted landscapes of towering rocks right across from you. It was a very good first taste, especially since we arrived late, but we ended up turning back because all of us were FREEZING.
Second day was supposed to be our day trip to Bryce Canyon but luckily we quickly decided against this and turned around. Since our trip was scheduled for such a short amount of time, this allowed us to fully experience Zion (at least, via if the driving perspective), which I liked a lot more than rushing back and forth. We explored the Zion Lodge which was pretty cool, then attempted the Emerald Pools Trail which is one of the most popular hikes (read: should be easiest) but we turned around half way because it was too icy and we suffered some slips and falls. My mom and I then did the Riverside Walk while my dad and brother sat in the car. Eventually, my dad and brother left the park to relax while we did the Watchmen Trail. We finished the Watchmen Trail right as the night grew dark, and then walked the rest of the way home, which is strangely one of my fondest memories of the trip. I guess it’s not strange, because it’s just very relaxing to be with my mom when we are on the same page because we match pretty well when it comes to vacationing, especially when it comes to hiking.
Third day, my mom and I re-did the Pa’Rus trail, this time completing it fully, while making my brother and dad wait at the visitor’s center for us. Then we drove back to Vegas and spent the night there. My brother had booked a suite at the Delano Hotel for an absurdly low price and it was one of my favorite stays I’ve ever had in Vegas. Hiking is nice, but I really think the thing that brought our whole family together was lounging around in the luxurious suite (where my dad took three jacuzzi baths over our one night stay).