Our family has been making a concerted effort of traveling as a whole family as much as possible. We are convinced that traveling, not just vacationing, helps our children gain a better understanding of the world, love Jesus’ creation and become generally well-rounded people.
For the last several years, camping at some national parks has been on our list. National Parks are little pockets of Creation that are well cared for and absolutely breathtaking. The Mighty Five in Utah was our destination this year. The Mighty Five include Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Park. These National Parks are all located in the Southwest corner of the state, and I can’t say it enough, they are a magnificent display of God's creativity!
If you are interested in a trip to The Mighty Five, I have included our itinerary and some pictures of each destination to give an idea of what to expect.
Our trip spanned from July 29 through August 10. We headed out on Sunday the 29th after spending the morning with our church. Our destination was the great state of Colorado. Denver to be more precise. However, props should be handed out to Nebraska for their fantastic speed limits.
On Monday we made our way to Moab. I should mention that the drive on 1-70 through the Rockies never gets old, and for my wife and I, the drive brings back a lot of memories each time we travel that road. As we neared the border of Utah, we stopped at a cute little visitor center. The guy running the place was an avid hiker and outdoor enthusiast. He recommended that we take Highway 128 into Moab because the road followed the Colorado River. The drive did not disappoint. We pulled into our campground, Moab Valley Resort, late Monday afternoon and set up camp for the next three nights.
Tuesday morning marked our first hike of the trip. We were pretty excited to see what was in store. We headed out at 5:30 a.m. to beat the crowd and get to Delicate Arch with good light. We arrived just as the sun was rising, but the color was still fantastic. The rest of the morning we took in several smaller hikes. The kids enjoyed scrambling and rock climbing at each location.
On Wednesday morning, we made our way to the North Park of Canyonlands. We hit up a few small hikes and enjoyed some breathtaking views. The smoke from the California wildfires added an interesting haze to the day; we made the best of it by listening to 99% Invisible’s podcast dealing with wildfires. During the afternoon we cooled off with a swim and then headed to the South Park of Canyonlands for an evening drive.
CAPITOL REEF & BRYCE
Thursday morning marked our trip from Moab to Springdale, UT. We packed up early and headed toward Capitol Reef. It was a beautiful morning. However, the threat of severe storms loomed throughout the afternoon. A favorite memory for my wife was picking peaches from a historic orchard. Capitol Reef is filled with historic orchards of various fruits planted by the Mormons. As we picked peaches, we could hear, but not see, a large booming thunderstorm in the distance.
Before we left Capitol Reef, we picnicked and took in some small hikes and scenic stops. Around 1:30, we made our way toward Bryce Canyon with storms looming. As we drove to Bryce Canyon, we were surrounded by massive storms that closed roads (thankfully, temporarily) that we would drive later in the day.
Bryce was also beautiful; however, we had to take it all in quickly due to the storms. We were able to make one small “hike” to view Inspiration Point.
The drive from Bryce to Springdale was yet another beautiful drive. One of the roads had been closed due to the storms. The storm had caused a mudslide. It was fun to drive through the remnants of the slide and watch the crew clean up the mess of red mud.
We arrived in Springdale, and it was raining quite heavily. Setting up our tent would have to wait. We drove around and became familiar with the city. We also decided to go out for supper to wait out the rain. We found a great little pizza shop in Springdale, the Zion Pizza and Noodle Company.
After dinner, God gave us a perfect window of no rain to set up camp and settle in for the night. We were super thankful.
ZION NATIONAL PARK
Zion National Park was our final and major destination. We spent six nights camping in the base town of Springdale. After all those nights together in a tent, our family would still recommend the Ferber resort campground. Our typical schedule consisted of hiking in the morning and then returning for lunch and swimming in the afternoon. A few evenings we went for walks, and one evening we took in The Watchman. It is an excellent hike for sunsets or sunrises.
I think a significant highlight for all of us was The Narrows, a famous hike of Zion. In the Narrows, you spend much of the day in the water, so you need to come prepared. I was super proud of our family, especially Maddox, as they were all adventurous through the water. We were able to hike over a waterfall and push through to see some pretty fantastic creation.
Some of our other favorite hikes were The Hidden Canyon Trail, The Watchman, and the Weeping Rock. Several trails were still closed due to a massive rainstorm. Someday, we will have to head back and hit Angels Landing.
On Wednesday, our final morning in the park, my older boys and I headed out around 5:30 in the morning to conquer the East Rim Trail to Observation Point. It is an eight-mile hike with around a 3,000-foot climb. They worked hard to enjoy the beautiful view at the top. We headed back to camp for the afternoon and went out for dinner to celebrate their hard work.
A couple of recommendations before I go. First, tent camping is an experience that both lessens the economic impact on your family and gives you a unique experience. Second, if you go to a national park in Utah, hike in the morning. It gets significantly warmer as the day goes on. Finally, the All Trails app is an excellent app for hiking.
We loved everything about our family trip, even when our plans didn’t play out perfectly. We are already working on our next trip together!