Leisure Nature Recipes Travel

Utah National Parks: Zion, Bryce Canyon, Cedar Breaks, Lake Powell

We took a whirlwind driving trip midweek to visit a few Utah national parks and enjoy a little cooler weather.  There were some hits and misses on this goal and here’s the wrap up.

Lake Powell – HIT

Tailgate Picnic at Lake Powell

We packed a LOT of food with us.  The day before we left, I made Grandma’s potato salad, deviled eggs and air-fried chicken for a roadside picnic. Lake Powell was not really a destination for this trip, but it was a perfect stop to park, open the tailgate and enjoy a lakeside picnic.

Air Fryer Chicken

We ended up doing two tailgate picnics and boy do they attract attention.  We started off in a secluded area enjoying food and scenery, and pretty soon we had curious new “friends” who I think want to be invited.  We certainly met some nice people.  But we didn’t share.

Zion – MISS

Zion Morning

Zion is beautiful and we enjoyed our day there, but I’m calling this a miss because it was 100 degrees and the Virgin River has contaminated algae and cannot be entered without risk.  If I wanted to walk around in 100 degrees, we could have done that right out the front door.

Zion is an old park, designated in 1919 and is Utah’s first national park.  Other than the natural beauty, what I found most interesting is that the area is at the junction of the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin and Mojave Desert.  So many interesting plants and animals make it their home.

Bryce Canyon – HIT

Hoodoos at Bryce

This was my first trip to this Bryce Canyon park and I am smitten.  It’s much higher altitude and was perfect outdoor weather.  Bryce was designated as a national park in 1924 and their claim to fame is the largest concentration of hoodoos (rock columns) in the world.  They are stunning.

Cedar Breaks – HIT

Cedar Breaks

En-route to our ski resort accommodations, we passed through and visited Cedar Breaks which sits at an altitude of 10,000 feet.  Wanna talk about how chilly it was there?  Yep, just what the doctor ordered.  Unless you are interested in breathing while you’re walking, of course. 

Because it is so late in the season, we didn’t see wildflowers or meadows in bloom, but the geography is surprising and gorgeous.  Opposite the canyons are lava flows and the juxtaposition is so interesting.

We were not aware of this park and it was not on our itinerary, so it was just a lovely surprise.

Brian Head Ski Resort – MIXED

Quaking Aspens at Brian Head

We were having a hard time finding the right place to stay that would locate us between Zion and Bryce, and decided on Brian Head and a timeshare resort.  Coincidentally, DF Cindy had just vacationed there so I got a little intel before we went.

We enjoy staying at Diamond Resorts for the kitchen and cooking areas.  That worked out well.  The weather was lovely. 

What didn’t work is that because it’s a ski resort, the units didn’t have their own decks.  I found on this trip that having a little place to end the day without having to walk up and down two flights of stairs (in 10,000 feet altitude) is pretty important.

I’ll be on the lookout for that in future trips.

The town of Brian Head is probably just fine when it’s covered with snow, but it’s not too foxed up compared with Vail or Aspen and it just made me sad that those places we wanted to visit this year were nixed.

The Drive – MISS

For us, a six-hour drive in a day is very doable and worth a quick vacation.  Though GPS routing claims 6.5 hours, the drive back from Bryce was over 8 hours.  There is a lot of road construction, two-lane highways with semis, etc.  The long drive back and then getting right back to work was a mistake.

We experienced quite a bit of smoke from the west coast fires so the sky is not terribly blue in any of the pictures, but the scenery is gorgeous.

Rosh Hashanah

Happy New Year, dear friends and God bless you.

1 Comment

  1. I’m glad you made it to Cedar Breaks and Brian Head. Ya…. I should have told you there weren’t decks….which is really a bummer. But that area with the Adirondack chairs was nice for happy hour. When we were there….hardly anyone else in the resort. So we had that area to ourselves….with sweaters, of course. We’ll go back, since our time there was cut short. It’s not a great place to go in the middle of summer because the Diamond Resort (probably all other places there in Brian Head) don’t have air conditioning in the units.

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