A New Favourite

Trip Start Mar 28, 2013
Trip End Jul 31, 2013

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Flag of United States  , Utah
Sunday, June 2, 2013

We had no idea how many National Forests the States had until we started to drive across it.  We passed through Fish Lake and Dixie National Forests on our drive to Bryce Canyon.  The campground we booked in Bryce Canyon was chosen, in Aimee's mind, because of its close proximity to the National Park. In Bruce's mind, it was chosen because of its close proximity to the local rodeo.  We had talked about finding a rodeo to see at some point on the trip but Aimee wasn't overly excited at the idea.  She had a hard time watching little calves and sheep being chased around and then roped for fun.  She agreed to give it a try as she had never been to one before and promised to keep an open mind.  The fact that the boys were out of their minds excited at the thought of seeing "a real rodeo" sold the idea a bit as well! 
The rodeo was the night we arrived so we spent the afternoon hanging out at the pool, soaking up the sun and swimming.  We couldn't believe how many European families were there.  We meet people from Italy, Switzerland, and Germany.  Each had rented RV's in LA or Vegas and were traveling to the National Parks in Utah and some were also visiting Colorado.  Most had young children like us and this was the first time on this trip that our kids experienced a language barrier.  All of the parents spoke at least some English but most of the children didn't so it was fun to watch the kids communicating while they played.
After dinner we drove down the street to Bryce Canyon City Rodeo.  We got front row seats so the kids could be close to all the action.  We saw it all from bucking horses, barrel races, bull riding, roping, and even a little guy about 4 years old riding a sheep.  There was a pretty little girl about 10 years old participating in the barrel races that especially got a lot of attention from our boys!  There was a few professional bull riders that made it the 8 seconds and they were pretty amazing to watch.  The announcer had lots of bad jokes but really got the crowd cheering.  The boys were pretty amazed by how hard it was to rope the little calves, even for a cowboy!  A fun evening was had by all and we're just waiting for the boys to ask when they can start their bull riding lessons!
We spent the next day at Bryce Canyon National Park. No where else in the world are hoodoos (tall, skinny spires of rock) as abundant as they are in Bryce Canyon.  We couldn't wait to see them and honestly, we all just liked saying the word!  At the Visitor Center we found out you could see prairie dogs and pronghorn deer at certain points along the road.  We weren't disappointed and watched lots of prairie dogs popping up from their holes and even some baby pronghorn deer too.
One of the great things about Bryce Canyon is that you can climb right down into the canyon fairly easily.  The Navajo Loop at Sunset Point had a steep climb down (unfortunately back up too) with switchbacks to make it more manageable and safe.  It was nice and cool in the shade when you got down to the bottom and was really cool when you looked up to see where you just climbed down.  The view of all the red hoodoos in the canyon was spectacular and the 1.3 mile hike was tiring but beautiful.
The scenic drive through the park was great and we stopped at Rainbow Point and Natural Bridge.  We checked out the Bryce Canyon Lodge, a rustic but nice looking place you can stay right in the park.  The park has a shuttle system for visitors that Cohen wanted to take back to the campground.  We dropped him, Clare, and Bruce at the shuttle stop and headed back to the campground to cool off in the pool.
The next morning we left for Virgin, Utah which is right outside Zion National Park.  Before we left we stopped to get gas and noticed they had a car wash for RV's.  The boys were thrilled to spray down the trailer and give it a good wash.  After 2 months on the highway, it was covered with bug splatters.  They managed to not get each other too wet in the cool morning air and we set off on our short drive to Virgin.
After a nice swim at the pool and lunch we went to Zion National Park.  There is a 1.1 mile long tunnel called the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel that we wanted to drive through.  It took 10 years to build and when they opened it in 1930 it was the longest tunnel of its type in the USA.  It was pitch black when we turned our headlights off except for a few sections where they built "arched windows" to create some light.   We all thought it was pretty cool.

 After going to the Visitor Center, we filled up our Camelbaks with water, then took the shuttle bus on the scenic drive through the park.  We got off at the Temple of Sinawava and took the mile long hike down to the Virgin River.  At that point you can turn back or as most people do, continue on hiking IN THE RIVER!  You can walk for another 8 miles in the river if you want or do as we did and just turn around and head back when you get tired.  The height of the water changed continually and you could go from a few inches to a few feet. You had to pay fairly close attention to the colour of the water which indicated how deep it was in that section.  Sometimes you could be walking in water around the height of your knees and the next step you could drop into water another foot deeper.  It was fairly cold with rocks to navigate around but the river ran right through an amazing canyon.  Who could resist trying that? 

It was such an awesome experience to "hike in a river" surrounded by the tall walls of a canyon.  Zion may have just knocked Arches out of its spot of our favourite National Park.  The boys took a couple of falls into the river along the way and how Aimee, who is extremely clumsy, didn't fall is beyond us!  A lot of people used walking sticks to help prevent them from falling and when we got back we noticed tons of sticks leaning against the rocks that people were done with.  The boys kept trucking along, Clare rode on Bruce's back, and we watched people floating down the river in tubes and rock climbing down the walls of the canyon.  As we looked around and enjoyed the peace and serenity of this beautiful canyon we really appreciated our time together as a family.  What an experience, one that will be remembered for a lifetime!

We stopped for dinner on the way home and everyone got to bed pretty late that night but it sure was worth it!  Tomorrow we are off to Las Vegas, yes, we said we are talking our children to Vegas!  Should be interesting!

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Neil on

Virgins and Hoodoos! What a trip! Sounds like another Chevy Chase Vacation.

Reid says that Aimee should have fell!

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