While most of our traveling tends to tilt in the Disney or tropical direction, this summer (still unable to travel abroad much) we decided to do a family road trip adventure through some of the Western US National Parks! In the process, we added new states visited to our list and saw incredible parts of America!
Our first stop was Grand Canyon National Park, and we got to stay right on the south rim at the Thunderbird Lodge. While the rooms are small and basic, you can’t beat the view or ease of access to things, which was especially helpful with elderly grandparents traveling along with us. Our kids enjoyed walking the Rim Trail and Trail of Time which shows rocks taken from all over the canyon over billions of years. My older son and Mr. CT did a good hike down to Indian Gardens on the Bright Angel Trail into the canyon and saw lots of wildlife. Viewing the sunrise (which is very early! we had to get up at 4 AM!) from Mather Point was a special experience. My folks enjoyed taking the shuttle up to Hermit’s Rest, which stops for many scenic views along the way. We had a great lunch at El Tovar hotel, but be sure to check back regularly for reservations as they fill up fast! We ended our stay by driving out through the East Entrance and stopping at many viewpoints along the way, seeing an entirely different side of the canyon. We can’t wait to visit the North Rim another time!
Our second stop was beautiful Zion National Park. We drove in through the Eastern entrance and experienced the long tunnel and views of arches and red rock from hairpin turns. We ended up at our La Quinta hotel in Springdale, which was great for families as it included a fun pool, breakfast, suites and laundry facilities. That evening, we rented gear from Zion Outfitters for our Narrows hike the next day. It was super easy and the gear was so helpful! We got to the tram stop by 5 AM as the line and parking lot fills up quickly and the shuttles start running packed full at 6 AM. We went all the way to Stop #9 at the top of the canyon, where we had a great time hiking the Narrows! We were proud of our kids for making it so far into the canyon. The Outfitters gear (neoprene socks and boots with a walking stick) was well worth it! My parents enjoyed breakfast at the Zion Lodge which has beautiful outdoor seating and canyon views. We exited the next day back through the East entrance enjoyed stopping for more views and scenic photographs.
Our third stop was Bryce Canyon National Park, just a 1.5 hour drive or so from Zion. This park is much smaller but I loved the intimacy and simplicity of it. It’s well worth a visit. We loved hiking the Hoodoos and exploring the awesome rock work. The geology of the area is absolutely incredible. Our hotel was a Best Western and had huge spacious rooms with a full buffet hot breakfast and all the treats and fixings (our first one since the pandemic started, our son was in heaven!) We also enjoyed eating at Ruby’s Inn and meeting some of the locals.
Each park continues to prove so unique from the last and yet all of them have been A+ incredible experiences. We are taking a rest in gorgeous Park City at Marriott Summit Watch (resort amenities, super convenient to dining and shopping) before continuing on to Yellowstone!