We recently took our family to Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. It was the first time any of us had ever been to Utah, so it was pretty exciting. Without a doubt, it was the trip of a lifetime, even if it was shorter than we would have liked. This trip was a result of my annual meeting taking place in Salt Lake City.
Since we knew the dates and location so early, we were able to plan this trip for over a year in advance. This extended amount of time allowed us to send away for numerous guide books. We even received a Utah State Highway map, which we ended up using. By studying the guides, we were able to narrow down which geographical areas to explore on our trip. We only had three full days, one of which was spent driving, which only left two full days for hiking. This severely limited our options..
If you’ve ever been to Utah, you can see our quandary, right? Utah has five national parks, a huge number of state and local parks, seemingly limitless attractions, and amazing sights to behold every where you look! It was very challenging narrowing down our options.
We did our research. I’m talking strenuous research. We went against our natural vacation mindsets (hippy, relaxed, let’s see where this day takes us) and adopted an *gulp* itinerary, which I generally rebel against every chance I get. The ultra tight deadline forced our hand, calling for an organized, specific itinerary. No, we were not militant about it. But we knew what our goals were for each day. We even built in some options (not many though), and some down time. We are not the type of family that likes to go non-stop sun up to sun down. It’s just not us.
We finally decided on Bryce Canyon which was definitely the right choice! Due to our tight time frame, we had to decide on the right family activity. Let me explain…While Jeremy and I love hiking, we are all too aware that our kids are not the most enthusiastic hikers. We were secretly hoping to fit in two hikes, but we were good if we only got in one. We also knew that if we were able to take the second hike, it would need to both spectacular (to make it worthwhile for the kids to not mutiny,) and also not as strenuous as the first hike (see previous reason.)
We arrived in Bryce Canyon at 10:30 at night, which was not the original plan. The day we drove to Bryce Canyon, we first did some sightseeing in Salt Lake City, then went to Antelope Island Sate Park. We spent much more time at Antelope Island than we had allotted for. We could have easily spent an entire day there. If you ever get a chance to go, do it! How many people on this earth can honestly say they saw buffalo grazing and roaming freely? It was a sight to behold. Plus on the day we went, it was overcast, so our pictures look like we were in Scotland.
We stayed at Ruby’s Inn, which was a nice hotel – only five minutes from Bryce Canyon. There are not many hotel choices in the area, and Ruby’s Inn got very good reviews. We enjoyed our stay, which I will expand on later.
If you ever visit a National Park, it is in your best interest to purchase a National Parks Pass. It cost $80, and is good for one year. There are also passes available for military, and 4th graders. More information can be found on the website. This pass paid for itself! It costs $30 to get into Bryce Canyon. We ended up going into the park 4 times, which would have cost us $120! Because this pass is good for one year, we are now planning to visit one or two more national parks before it expires. Let the fun continue…
Our visit to Utah was at the end of October, so the chances for snow were pretty high. We could see it on the mountain tops as we drove. The temperatures ranged from 40s to 60s, so we got lucky. We had been advised to expect snow, so we packed accordingly. But, the weather range forced us to pack more than we normally would have. Also, the short amount of days (flew in Thursday, flew out Tuesday) did not lend itself to a couple hours here or there doing laundry, or visiting stores to pick up things we forgot. I created a list for all of us, and for the most part, my family adhered to it. Keep in mind that I was not there as they were packing. I was already in Utah, and had been there for 6 days! It was up to them to follow my list, and we’d have to roll with it once they arrived in Utah.