Pop Pop Epistle # 196 – About our Utah/Arizona National Parks Trip

Dear Grandkids,

3 of you were with us. 6 of you were not. But here are some of my reflections from our trip last week.

Wednesday – A travel day. We flew RDU to Denver then Denver to Las Vegas. Chad’s parents (Art and Cindy) traveled with us and we met Christy, Chad, Grayson, Bowen and Miller there. Because of the time change we were there mid morning. Grabbed a rental car and drove 3 hours to Kanab, Utah which would be our home away from home for the next week. Stayed at an Airbnb which was perfect for the 9 of us to sleep, make meals, and relax in.

Thursday – Grand Canyon Day. Before heading to the canyon we hit up The Belly of the Dragon and the Sand Caves in Kanab. We then drove 2 hours  and spent the day exploring the North Rim: Visitor’s Center. Short hike to Bright Angel Point. Drove all the way up Cape Royal Road where we hiked out to the Cape Royal Overlook and saw Angel’s Window. A short drive down to the Walhalla Overlook; then down to Roosevelt Point; then Point Imperial. We were out of the park by dark which we were told was good because of the dark curvy roads and the animals that start roaming

My favorite stop was the 20 minute hike we took at Roosevelt Point to a rock outcropping where it felt like we were in the middle of the canyon (top right picture below).

Friday – Bryce Canyon Day. I’ll go ahead and say it. The Grand Canyon, as grand as it was, was somewhat underwhelming to me. Perhaps because of all the build up. Bryce, on the other hand, was astounding. It had a beauty unlike any other place that I have seen. A very different kind of beauty. Austere. Multi-hued. Triumphant. Stunning. Sublime. We hiked the rim trail from Bryce Point to Inspiration Point. Shuttled down to Sunset Point then hiked the Navaho Trail/Queen’s Garden Loop. Passed Thor’s Hammer along the way. Descended to the canyon bottom. Traversed our way through the Queen’s Garden then back up to Sunrise Point and over to Sunset Point to complete the 3.5 mile trek. It was a challenging hike but well well worth it.

Saturday/Sunday – Zion National Park. On day 1 in Zion we hiked The Narrows – a gorgeous slot canyon that the Virgin River runs through. We hiked about 2 miles up river before turning around. Most of the way we slogged through about a 1-2 feet of water. But at one spot, for about 10 yards the water was chest high. It was awesome. On day 2 we hiked up to Scout Lookout which is as close as you can get to Angel’s landing without a permit. We tried for 4 days to get a permit but to no avail. Nevertheless, the hike was amazing and definitely a highlight of the trip.

Monday – Buckskin Gulch. Located about one hour from Kanab, Buckskin Gulch is one of the longest continuous slot canyons in the world, with 16 miles of sandstone walls and stunningly unique formations. We hiked 1.7 miles down the sandy wash of Wire Pass just to get to the Gulch and then another 1.5 miles into the slot canyon and then back out. It was spectacular to say the least.

Tuesday – Las Vegas. We left Kanab Tuesday morning and drove back to Las Vegas. Spent about 5 hours wandering down the strip. We had never been there before and 5 hours was about 4 hours too long. I am not a fan of the loudness everywhere nor the lewdness nor the gambling. I am much more of a National Parks kind of guy. Regardless, here are a few pics…

Wednesday and Final Thoughts – We flew out early Wednesday and arrived back to our house around 8:30 PM. Final Thoughts: 1) Nona and I would have had fun doing the trip by ourselves but it was SO MUCH MORE fun creating shared memories. 2) The Lord is incredibly creative. His handiwork in creation that has not been marred by mankind is breathtaking. 3) By contrast, the debauchery that is so prevalent, not just in a city like Las Vegas (but as near as my own heart) is very sad. 4) We hope to have lots of shared memories in the days to come with all of you. 5) We are very very blessed and count each of you as our greatest blessings.

Never forget that you are very loved,

Pop Pop

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