Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Valley of Fire

ml_bryce.jpg

We’re trying to visit, and photograph, all the National Parks in the US. On this trip, we marked off two. To skip this riff-raff and see photos only, click these Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Valley of Fire.

This trip started late night with a visit to the Mad Greek in Baker, en route to Las Vegas and Motel 6. The Mad Greek is clearly better than all fast food in Baker. In Vegas, there’s no gambling this trip; just sleep in a suprisingly designerly Motel 6 room. It looked like it was designed by the designers who work for Target. Let it be known, Vegas blows. All that Big Baller hype is BS. Vegas is like a small town in Iowa,┬ádesigned by Walt Disney, where all the townspeople come to sit in front of computer screens and pretend they’re gambling.

This was our first time to Zion, and Utah. The reason for the delay, to Zion not Utah, is I was certain it was hours away, several hours, like Yellowstone or Colorado. Who knew it was a mere 6 1/2 hours away. It’s closer than San Francisco, at least the way I drive there. What do I know.

We stayed at the Zion Park Motel in Springdale, UT, run by a couple of spunky old ladies who couldn’t find Shellyeah’s reservation. We were there during pre-Ocktoberfest, the place was ugly with people and a cover band was playing the Eagles.

Springdale is a small town located right at the south entrance of the park. It has one main street and, unlike most of the small towns we passed to get there, it’s lined with cafes, restaurants, galleries, and new age shops. Hippies blow. However, there was plenty of good food in Springdale; especially the Zion Pizza & Noodle Co., aptly housed in an old former church, and MeMe’s Cafe. Remember, good food in Zion/Springdale.

Shellyeah was hell bent on hiking on this trip. One of her hike suggestions was Angels Landing. For those of you who know, laugh now. For those who don’t, Shellyeah has two left feet and a mortal fear of heights. This hike is probably the most challenging, with the highest elevation gain, in the park. There were ‘I survived Angels Landing’ t-shirts in the little gift shop in Springdale. It was marked as ‘Strenuous’ and ‘not for young children or anyone fearful of heights,’ and the graphic next to this hike in the park newspaper had a guy falling off a cliff.

Angels Landing Warning

We didn’t do this hike. Instead, we opted for the mildly challenging Emerald Pools, Weeping Rock, and the geriatric Grotto and Riverside hikes. All were beautiful. We recommend them all, including the Angels Landing hike, which we didn’t do.

We said goodbye to Zion and headed to Bryce Canyon. What we didn’t realize was we were also saying goodbye to good food. The season was over in Bryce Canyon City where we stayed and there was only one restaurant open, Ruby’s Inn. That’s not entirely true, there was another restaurant inside the park, Bryce Canyon Lodge. However, I was convinced it was one of those overpriced Xanterra-run joints where we’ve experienced shitty food before, so we avoided it. Hence, Ruby’s Inn, where we had lunch, dinner buffet, and breakfast and wished we could have them all back. We ended up going to Bryce Canyon Lodge out of desperation and found out it was no longer run by Xanterra. It was totally worth the extra money.

Bryce Canyon is the most alien looking natural land mass I’ve ever seen. It’s beautiful from every angle. Besides a group of loud-mouthed Koreans, it was a serene experience.