Checking off the bucket list.
Two National Parks, one day. We weren’t here to sit on the side of the pool and drink pina coladas. We were here to check things off our bucket list. We wanted to see as much as we could on this 5 day road trip and this is what we were going to do. No complaining aloud.
We are on the last day of our “Road Trip of a Lifetime” and it was going to be the busiest day so far. We were going to be travelling through the Utah and then head back down to Phoenix in the same day.
We were anxious to leave the hotel and start our day. We stayed at the Best Western East Zion Thunderbird Lodge in a town called Mount Carmel Junction the night before. It was the perfect set up to be able to visit Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park with an early start the next day. The hotel felt like a resort in the middle of a desert. The pool and hot tub were a great way to relax before our 10 hour drive.
Mountain tunnel drive.
We start driving east on highway 89; this is red rock country. The mountain tunnels are certainly a nice break from the desert sun; the drive does not disappoint. It’s only one hour drive from our hotel to the entrance of Bryce Canyon National Park and the drive doesn’t disappoint. The upgrade to a convertible was a definitely paying off. The turn off point to the park entrance is well indicated and there is plenty of parking available at this point. There are signs telling you to park in the designed lots and free shuttles are provided to get closer to the canyon. We drive up anyways and find parking with no problem. Bryce Canyon is like something I have never seen before. It is so wide and orange and there are pine trees everywhere around and inside the canyon.
We can see people hiking down below, it looks unreal.
There are a few good view points up the road. We decide to stop at “inspiration point” which was highly recommended by the Columbian lady we met at the hostel in Flagstaff on day 1 of our road trip. There is a nice walking path alongside the rim of Bryce Canyon which I would recommend following for the most breathtaking views. There are also many other trails inside and at the bottom of the canyon that made us wish we had time to explore. This is definitely something to add to your itinerary if you have some time to spare. I can’t imagine how special and unique it would be to walk at the bottom of a canyon like this.
Time was flying and we already had to start driving towards our next destination: Zion National Park.
Zion National Park
The best part of Zion National Park is the actual drive from the entrance to the visitor Center. The Zion National Park Visitor Center is kind of like the starting point for many hikes and adventures. As we are driving, we are constantly on the lookout for viewpoints but they are everywhere. This is a drive that is worth a thousand words and it is worth taking it slow. The narrow road is filled with hairpins and tourist vehicles parked at areas that make no sense.
Once past the gate entrance, it’s the drive that keeps on giving.
The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive road is closed to public and shuttles run up and down the road every 15 minutes. We fill up our water bottle in a big outdoors fountain and we hop on the shuttle. Destination who knows.
Zion Canyon Scenic Drive
It feels like you are in a jungle with the huge trees surrounding you and the birds signing away. At this point we had no idea what to expect. The shuttle had air conditioning and also a guide on board giving you indications about where to stop and what there is to see. It was already 4pm and unfortunately the shuttles stop running around 7pm during spring.
There were many hikes available to do on the scenic road and we saw many families walking around with backpacks exploring the surrounding areas. We stopped at Zion Lodge which is out of this world beautiful. We had lunch on the patio overlooking the steep mountains that rise around the nearby river. Tourist prices were in effect at this rustic lodge but it was well worth it.
Zion National Park is a place of its own and it deserves to be discovered beyond the scenic road itself.
Sunset Road Trip
The sun was starting to set and we had a lot more driving to do today. Our maps were telling us it would take about 8 hours to get back to Phoenix from where we were. Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park in one day was a risky move that got us wanting for more. Looking back, I would definitely recommend giving yourself at least 2 days to visit these two parks or even more time if possible.
With our shoulders slightly burned from the rooftop drives and our minds flowing with lifetime memories, we were eager to lie down in bed and dream about it all.
Day 5 – Back for more.
We stayed at a modest hotel for our last night in Phoenix. We had 5 hours to sleep and nothing else really mattered but the 8 minute drive to the airport the next morning and the free “breakfast”. We got what we came here for; memories from a road trip of a lifetime.
The last five days of our lives didn’t make our bucket list any shorter, it only added to it. We will be back. We had seen and met a lot of different people with different itineraries than us during our trip and they had a plan.
When we booked our plane tickets, it was 3 days before departure date. It was spontaneous and we discovered our daily plans as we went along with each day. Although there are things we wished we had seen, things we wished we had planned for better, this only leaves us hungry for more. Utah and Arizona; we will be back. Get ready to be inspired. Spirit Bird Media has got the travel bug again.