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Saturday 21 May 2016

Zion National Park

Today I'm back with more ridiculously scenic photos from our Spring Break trip to the desert.

After visiting Las Vegas and Valley of Fire State Park, we headed to Utah and Zion National Park.

I hadn't anticipated just how busy Zion would be during our visit. It may not look like there were many other people there in the photos below, but trust me, it was super busy and it took an awfully long time just to get into the park where we discovered there were no parking spaces left! But, just look at that spectacular scenery - it was definitely worth a wait! 

Kim dropped the girls and I off before heading back out of the park to find a parking space. Surprisingly he found a parking space outside of Zion within easy walking distance of the entrance and came back to meet the girls and I in the long queue for the shuttle bus that would take us to various destinations throughout the park.

We took the shuttle bus to the base of the hike to Angels Landing. The hike to the very top of Angels Landing is quite a strenuous and potentially dangerous one. Just before we arrived at the the shuttle stop a message warning that hikers have died on the trail was broadcast in the bus and oh man, did Ava freak out! It took quite some time to convince her that we would only be hiking the lower part of the trail! I'm sure that the views from the top are absolutely stunning, but with three kids in tow it was out of the question for us this time.

We might have missed the stunning views from the top of the trail, but the views from the lower part were pretty amazing in their own right. Seriously, Zion is such a picturesque place. 

The lower part of the hike took us past a waterfall and looped back around to Zion Lodge where we stopped for lunch. Along our hike we were told by quite a few people that there were deer just up ahead, but we never did spot them. We did, however, see lots of birds, squirrels, cacti, flowers and fun rocks that were just begging to be climbed on.

As we approached the waterfall we walked through a rock wall area that was perfect for cheesy photos. And you know I'm all about cheesy photos!

When we reached the waterfall the view looking back was stunning. Kim and the girls weren't keen to stop for long by the waterfall though as they weren't keen on getting sprayed. The ground was also pretty muddy and slippery. Sure enough, one of my kids slipped in the mud! Lola ended up with slightly muddy hands which she was keen to rinse off in the waterfall until she felt how icy cold the water was!

Up until we reached the waterfall our walk had been steadily uphill. From the waterfall to Zion Lodge it was all downhill which made the kids pretty happy!

While we ate lunch Ava and Lola worked on the activities in their Junior Ranger booklets. Every time we visit a National Park the girls take part in the Junior Ranger program. They get a booklet full of activities to complete and once they're done they get sworn in as an official Junior Ranger and given a badge. The girls' badge collection is growing. They have badges from Zion, Grand Canyon, Alcatraz, Joshua Tree, Muir Woods among others. The badges are such a great little souvenir. To get their Zion badge there was just one more activity to complete. The girls needed to listen to a ranger talk, so we hopped on a shuttle heading back towards the visitor center. We got off at the Zion Human History Museum, the second stop from the entrance, and listed to a range talk about the geology of Zion. The girls were pretty interested to learn about the different colored layers of rock and were amazed at just how old Zion is. Once the talk was over the girls were sworn in along with a large group of children.

While the girls were being sworn in another visitor alerted one of the rangers to a tarantula that was on the steps of the building and in danger of being stepped on. The ranger collected the tarantula and brought it over to a grassy area near us. The girls were pretty excited to see the tarantula. It was a big one! Just look at how big it is next to Mathilde! Much bigger than Rosie, the pet tarantula in Lola's classroom that we help look after.

We then walked back along a creek to the Visitor Center. Mathilde had sent most of the day in her Ergo carrier, but as this particular walk was flat with no dangerous drops it was safe for Mathilde to walk the whole way back. This meant that the walk took a little longer than expected but it was great for Mathilde to get down and stretch her legs.

The weather had been pretty cool during our visit to Zion, but it had been very sunny all day which made up for it. By now the fog was starting to come down from the hills which created a very atmospheric landscape.

By the time we reached the entrance to the park and were on our way back to the car the sun had come out again. We stopped by the entrance sign to take photos and take one last look at those amazing hills. This time around we only had one day in Zion, but next time we visit we'll know to spend a few days here instead.

Zion truly is a beautiful place. We'll definitely be back to see more and next time I think we'll stay in the park for a couple of days. And if the girls are old enough, we just might hike to the top of Angels Landing!

For more information about Zion National Park visit https://www.nps.gov/zion/index.htm

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