I’m a few weeks behind on blog posts and I almost forgot to write this one! We went back to Zion National Park a couple of weeks ago because we didn’t get a chance to hike The Narrows when we were there and this was a bucket list hike for both of us.
Because we were going to do Zion one day and Bryce the next, we decided to go the hotel route rather than the camping route. I’m planning to do a blog post about traveling and finances once summer is over, but being able to choose to stay in a hotel on some of these weekend trips has been a great privilege. It is tough camping in southern Utah in the summer heat!
I have been using Delta Hotels recently because I have a miles card and I can get double miles if I book a hotel from their site — and I’ve noticed the prices are the same as Expedia, which is what I used to use. I found a killer hotel deal in Hurricane, UT — about 20 miles from Zion — for like $60 for the night. It was a newly built hotel and they were offering half price deals for the weekend.
For anyone interested (and none of this is ever sponsored), it was called My Place Hotel. I believe it is a local chain because there are several in Utah but I’m not sure. It’s more of an extended stay hotel so our room had a full fridge and stovetop, which we didn’t need — but we couldn’t beat the price. I love staying in brand new hotels because you know no one has ever smoked in them!
We had to get up a little bit earlier since we weren’t staying right outside the park, but we still made it up to The Narrows by like 8:30-9:00am. Had to wait a short time for a shuttle but not too long. We wanted to go early in the morning because we knew it would just get even more crowded later in the day, but the downside to that was that it wasn’t quite hot enough yet for the water to feel super nice.
It definitely was not cold water though. We had a few people ask us if we were going to do this hike in wetsuits and those crazy looking water shoes and we were like no way. We both hiked in normal clothes and sandals and that was absolutely fine.
I will say that closed-toe sandals are 100 times better. Kevin was wearing Keens and had 0 issues. I was wearing Chacos and kept stubbing my toes on rocks and also ended up with a huge blister on my foot from my sandal rubbing in the same place the entire hike. I enjoyed hiking in sandals and don’t feel like the crazy water shoes are necessary, but I may be investing in some closed-toe sandals now.
This hike was not at all what I expected. I think I expected — based on the Instagram photos I’ve seen of this place — that we would be wading through the river the entire time. You do have to walk in the river most of the time, but it’s only deep in a few sections and some of those can be avoided.
I will not sugar coat this — this was not one of my favorite hikes. I’m going with the unpopular opinion on this one. At one point I turned to Kevin and said, “I am not having a good time.”
It’s really hard to walk up-river, sliding on slick rocks, going against the flow of the current, with a ton of people around you doing the same thing. Kevin has done a lot of fishing and river walking and was a million times more prepared for this hike. He’s also way taller than me — and weighs more — and I am convinced this also made things way easier for him.
It was a fun couple’s trust exercise though, because we didn’t get walking sticks so we spent the whole time holding hands and trying to make sure the other person didn’t fall. Kevin did fall once — while holding the go pro — and we can now say that it has survived being crushed into a rock by Kevin’s full weight.
And I don’t mean to say that there weren’t fun parts, but I definitely didn’t leave going, “Wow, I can’t wait to do that hike again!”
We hiked about 2.5-3 miles in — we think — and then got to a spot where Kevin couldn’t touch the bottom and he didn’t want to leave our backpack and keep going — or get the backpack wet — so we decided to turn around. Which was a good thing, it turns out, because I already had this huge blister on my foot that I was luckily able to ignore for most of the walk back.
The return trip downriver was much more enjoyable and I think that if we do this hike again, we will definitely get a permit and hike down from the top of the river. There were so many more people on our way back — and this was a source of frustration because there wasn’t really a clear direction or flow, people were just walking any way they pleased. It was really entertaining though to see so many people slipping and falling and getting drenched.
So, here’s what I would recommend if I could go back and give myself advice before this hike:
- Ignore the crowds and go in the afternoon when it’s hot. You’ll enjoy it more if you can swim/crawl through the river rather than hike through it.
- Consider taking a picnic lunch and walking in until you find a nice spot and just swim/sunbathe/eat all afternoon rather than walking upriver for miles.
- Wear closed-toe sandals and bring a walking stick.
All in all, Kevin and I decided that I like hiking on the real ground — not through rivers — and I like swimming, but not this half-walking/half-swimming business. I’m really glad we did this hike and it’s helpful to remind myself that just because everyone is out there doing it for the ‘gram doesn’t mean it’s going to be a completely 100% fun experience.
We finished our Narrows hike midday, had an overpriced lunch at a nearby restaurant, and headed over to Bryce Canyon National Park for our second hike! We scored on another hotel — well, actually a mini log cabin — in Tropic, UT just outside the park. It was normally some absurd price — like $350 — and we got it for $150! It was absolutely beautiful and we were stoked that we got it for such a bargain price!
One thing we haven’t quite mastered on these adventures is nap time. We were so exhausted after our morning hike, but when we got to the cabin it was a really awkward time — like 5:00pm — too late for a nap but too early for dinner and way too early for bedtime. We ended up finding a nearby pizza place and still going to bed at like 8:30 because I could not stay awake any longer.
And then of course, we slept in until like 8:30 so we got too much sleep. We had decided to use the shuttle inside the park so that we could do a hike without having to walk back to our car. We started our hike at Bryce Point and hiked to Sunrise Point. It was an absolutely beautiful hike and even if you don’t have time to do a long hike at Bryce, I would highly recommend doing one of the shorter hikes down into the canyon.
After the Narrows hike, this felt like a piece of cake. Hiking on solid ground, with no water and no slippery rocks?! Aside from the array of band-aids I had on my feet to protect my blisters, it was paradise. Still quite a few people, but not nearly as many as we were expecting.
The hike was about 5 miles total and so worth it. My only complaint is that part of the hike we had to walk on a shared horse trail and there was literally horse poop every five feet. Smelly and gross and with such a highly trafficked trail, I’m surprised no one maintains that better. But I’m not sure what would be done — would you pick it up or just slide it off to the side? Either way, not a huge deal but it did get smelly there for about half a mile.
10/10 would recommend any hiking route in Bryce Canyon. We wanted to do a longer hike which is why we started at Bryce Point, but there are shorter (and longer) trails too! It’s absolutely beautiful and definitely worth walking down a short way from the view points. Even if you don’t want to do a full hike, it’s nice to take a few steps away from the large crowds and get a few nice photos for the ‘gram.
PSA: Don’t do stupid shit for the ‘gram. You don’t need to walk off the trail or get too close to a cliff or something just for a good photo. But I do like taking photos without other people in the background, so if you’re into that — hike on a trail at Bryce instead of just walking out to the viewpoints!
I’m really glad we went back to both of these parks and finished up the hikes that we really wanted to do! There are a few other hikes we’d like to do at Zion but they’re closed right now, so those will be on the list for next Spring!
P.S. Check out Live A Great Story if you want to see some awesome people living their best life! My mom bought us the Live A Great Story flag and we love it! We love taking a few photos with it every trip to celebrate this wonderful story we’re living. This is not sponsored, I just really love the message. You can search their hash tag on Instagram to see some amazing stuff!