Jun 15 2012
Over the Memorial Day weekend, we visited Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks, 2 parks that have been on my must-see list for a long time now. Though the weather played spoilsport for a part of the trip, it was a nice trip that covered two beautiful, unique parks.
We took a break in the drive by stopping at Las Vegas first. Going to Vegas, a truly adult city if ever there was one, with the kids was quite an eye-opening experience. With billboards advertising adult entertainment dotting the air and scantily-clad people walking around everywhere, it was difficult to make the kids look at something appropriate for them. The old Dhavani Kanavugal trick of making them to look down wouldn’t have worked either since the floor was littered with discarded flyers for clubs and escort services that made the billboards look tame by comparison! So we kept the walking around outside to the minimum and spent the most time at the few kid-friendly places around. We had lunch at Rainforest Cafe, spent a lot of time in M&M World and caught a variety show that featured juggling, gymnastics and magic. Between them we popped in and out casinos like Caesar’s Palace and Venetian to gaze at the extravagant worlds they have created inside.
The next day we drove to Bryce Canyon National Park.The long drive and the loss of an hour due to the time zone change ensured that we reached the park only after lunch. But the weather conspired to reduce even more what we had planned to do at the park as there were some incredibly strong winds. It was clear at the first point we got out that we had no chance of staying out for more than a few minutes at a time since it was very cold and windy with the wind being strong enough to physically push me a few steps at a couple of places. So we ended up doing the blatantly touristy thing – driving the length of the park and stopping only at the designated vista points to see the sights. But what wonderful sights they were. The hoodoos – spires in various shades of orange rising out of the ground – presented a very unique sight as they covered the canyon floor and places like Bryce Point, where they were seen in dense groups were just spectacular. We left the park after completing the drive, thinking that this was a park that deserved a more relaxing day in much better weather.
The weather took a turn for the better the next day when we visited Zion National Park. Zion doesn’t allow cars on the section of the road that accesses the most popular sections of the park and runs shuttles to get to the attractions in this section. This initially seemed like an inconvenience but in hindsight, it worked out well since the shuttles ran very frequently and we could focus on where we wanted to go instead of worrying about traffic, finding parking, etc. We got there early enough to find a parking spot near the Visitor Center(once the lots inside the park fill up, visitors have to park outside the park, in Springdale, and take a shuttle). First we hiked the Emerald Pools trail that takes us to 3 pools. The Lower and Middle pools were disappointments since they were little more than shallow ponds created by water flowing down tiny waterfalls and creeks. But the Upper Pool at the end of the most strenuous part of the hike made up for them. The greenish yellow pool bounded by the tall cliffs offered a beautiful, peaceful sight and there were enough rocks for the kids to clamber over. After a quick lunch, we visited the Weeping Rock, a high but very light waterfall flowing down the cliff. We wrapped up the day with the Riverside Walk. As the name indicates, this trail runs adjacent to the river and ends at the Narrows. The walk got gradually more beautiful as it progressed closer to the Narrows with the river flowing peacefully below and the greenery contrasting vividly with the bright orange of the cliffs above. After a relaxing break at the end, we headed back. We drove to Las Vegas to stay the night and then drove back home the next day.
I’ve added a simple, rather crude ‘photos’ section to this website since too many inline photos in posts end up making the posts too long. Some photos from this trip can be seen there. Though it will be an ongoing project, comments and suggestions for improvement of this section are welcome.
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