We packed up our suitcase, hiking boots, and camera for our crazy adventure and set out to LA. (If you missed part one of this story, you can read it here.)
The first part of our trip was sightseeing in LA with some friends of ours. We landed in LA and then set off to Santa Monica because I’d always wanted to see the pier.
We walked the pier, went and got Sidecar doughnuts, then off to dinner. The next day, we walked downtown, visited the Flower District, went on a taco tour, got coffee, drove past the Disney Hall, went and got ice cream sandwiches, and I’m probably forgetting what else we did.
We jammed so much in our 40 hours in LA, that it was kind of a blur. Sunday morning, we set out to Walmart and grabbed our groceries for the week, and headed to Joshua Tree.
There was some miscommunication with Zach and me while we were driving out to Joshua Tree. Zach wanted to drive around it, and I wanted to hike it. By the time we got there, it was approaching noon… in the desert. But we agreed that a hike would be good, and when else would be there?
We loaded up our water, and Zach and I headed up a trail. It was HOT, but the hike was so lovely. We reached the top and sat and had some sandwiches. It was actually the perfect way to start our journey.
We got back to that car, it was 100*. Then we headed west to Las Vegas. Driving in the desert was very eerie as we didn’t pass many cars. And the GPS took us on windy roads in the middle of nowhere. Thankfully we made it to Vegas and checked in at the Venitian Hotel.
Zach’s hope for this trip was to be able to stay at a bougie hotel for at least one day, and we found AMAZING deals for the Venetian. This was our first time staying at a casino, and also Vegas. It was overwhelming, to say the least. But we explored a little and had the BEST dim sum ever.
We went to bed early because the next day we were headed to the Grand Canyon.
We woke up at the butt crack of dawn and headed out to the Grand Canyon. The drive was four hours each way. So we wanted to get there early, to explore.
Driving up to the Grand Canyon, I didn’t know what to expect, but it was absolutely amazing. When we arrived, we decided to walk along the Rim, as we didn’t have a ton of time to spend here with a four-hour drive home.
We found a beautiful spot along the rim to sit and eat our sandwiches. It was so beautiful to see God’s creation and share that little moment with Zach.
We finished walking the Rim and headed back to Vegas. We made it back in time for dinner and had some great southern comfort food.
Zach and I aren’t nightlife people, so we went to bed because the trip was starting to catch up with us. And we were barely halfway through.
We woke up early again and headed North to Utah. Zion National Park has been on my US wish list since I moved here. I was SO excited to arrive and hike.
We didn’t know what to expect when we arrived, but we got there early since everyone said the parking lot filled up FAST. And they were right. We couldn’t find parking so we parked in the nearby city and walked into Zion.
Since it was still the middle of COVID, their parks were more crowded and had more measures in place. One being signing up for the shuttle online beforehand. Which we didn’t do. So we had to think quickly and find a hike that we could start from the information building.
We found one and set up to hike. Zion was magical, it reminded me a lot of my home, with mountains and desert winds. We enjoyed this hike, but also kept watch of time because we were set to visit Bryce Canyon and hike there the same day…. Yes, we’re crazy.
We finished hiking Zion and drove 90 minutes to Bryce Canyon. This was the park both of us were DREAMING to see. It was so beautiful driving between the two parks, it almost felt outer-worldly, as we drove between red rocks. I couldn’t wait to see what the park was going to be like.
Once we arrived to Bryce, to say we were blown away, was an understatement. This park was BEAUTIFUL! We hiked down into the valley and then up a very steep hill. The scenery was stunning, the vibrant orange rocks were unlike anything we saw before.
The hike was INTENSE too. We took a lot of time hiking the trail, mostly because we were out of breath, but also we wanted to take in the scenery.
We stopped for burgers then headed through the hills to the little town of Greenriver. A town outside Moab where the Arches was.
This hotel was… well there were definitely nicer ones. But at this point we were SO tired, we closed our eyes and prayed there were no bed bugs.
We woke up early and found a lovely breakfast place. The waitress told us to get to the Arches FAST as the park fills up and closes for hours at a time to let people hike.
Zach and I scarfed our food and I ZOOMED to get to the arches. We arrived around 10 AM, and had to wait in line to enter. I was praying that we would make it in. We hadn’t experienced any delay in our trip yet, and to be honest, I didn’t want one either.
We finally entered the park and began driving the 9 miles to the trailhead we planned to visit. As we arrived at the parking lot, there was a Ranger who was telling drivers to continue on, as the lot was full. But Zach and I needed to use the bathroom BADLY, so I rolled my window down and asked if we could pop in and use the restroom. She said yes, I drove in and parked near the bathroom to let Zach out.
I looked to my right and there was one car pulling out of a spot LEAVING! So I ZIPPED through that lot and stole the open spot before I even processed what I was doing! I met Zach in line at the bathroom, only to overhear the Park Ranger say “they closed the entrance gate to visitors.”
By the grace of God we made it into the Park AND found parking. We set out to hike to the arch in the early morning heat. When we got to the arch, it was PACKED. We found a nice shaded area to eat lunch and take photos.
On the hike back we planned the other hikes we were going to do within the park. The only catch was we were running DANGEROUSLY low on gas… something we didn’t plan into the morning since we sped to get here.
We made it to all the sites we wanted in the Arches and were able to make it to a gas station with the light turning on before we pulled in.
We set out to Salt Lake where we would spend the night.
A childhood friend of mine lived in Salt Lake, so we met up with her for breakfast, then drove out to Antelope Island to look at the Salt Flats. It was so great to reconnect, and also see a State Park that is so unique.
We didn’t stay too long as we were headed up to Idaho to see another friend and spend the night. Our trip was coming to an end. And Zach and I were EXHAUSTED.
I had met a friend on Instagram, who happened to live in the city we were driving through on our way up to Yellowstone. Since we never met in person we decided to meet and stay at their house (funny how that would have been SO dangerous when I was growing up).
My friend, her husband, Zach, and I piled in to go on yet another hike in Pocatello. We then had dinner and stayed up late learning more about each other.
It was so nice to have some company and hospitality as we spent most of the trip just the two of us.
The next morning, our second last day of the trip, we got up early and set out for Yellowstone. We drove up through the Wyoming side of Yellowstone and got stuck behind some Bison.
Yellowstone was beautiful, Zach and I joked that it looked a lot like home. Mountains, streams, grassy fields. Things like that are very common in Canada and Alaska.
We spent the whole day driving around and walking out to geysers and hot pools. We saw Old Faithful erupt and spend the day exploring.
For dinner, we sat in the Park, ate Bison burgers with some Elk joining us on the grass.
We drove out of the Park and headed to Boseman. Our last stop on the trip.
We checked into our hotel, then went to Dairy Queen to celebrate the 6, 7, 8 trip. We DID IT! I don’t remember much about that night except that that bed was calling our name.
The next morning we walked around Boseman, went to the Musem of the Rockies, and then grabbed burgers for dinner. Our flight out was later that evening, so we took it slow and enjoyed the trip highlights.
We arrived home and collapsed. I didn’t feel exhausted until the next day and then took a few days off work to recover. We had never done something so strenuous, and exciting as this trip. But it was SO worth it! The time we spent together hiking, laughing, exploring will be some of my favourite memories of 2021.
Of the whole trip, we ranked these Parks in order of our favourite
If you have the chance to go explore those Parks, let me know! I’d love to give you some tips. Would you ever have embarked on a trip like we did?