Thursday, August 8, 2013

day 7: Bryce Canyon, Zion and Grand Canyon National Parks

We started the day off by driving to Bryce Canyon National Park.

What a gorgeous place!  We loved this stop and were so glad we added it to our trip at the last minute.  We were kind of mad that we didn't have more time for hikes because they looked incredible (see the trail in the picture above?).

lone tree growing down in a canyon

We were able to do a short hike down into a canyon and back up and out.  That was really awesome and we were happy we squeezed it in!

We really want to come back and spend more time in Bryce.  There was more vegetation here than we've seen in the other Utah parks.  Bryce was really clean and well maintained.

We would highly recommend Bryce to friends who hike and to those who would rather just drive and take pictures.  :)

John at Bryce, doesn't it look like that canyon is painted?

After Bryce we drove to Zion National Park.  What an incredible place!!  The sandstone mountains were enormous and so amazing.

 We were awestruck driving into the park.  I keep saying every place we go is amazing but Zion was truly breathtaking.

It's obvious that it is one of the most popular national parks as there were a ton of people there.  The parking lot at the visitor's center was easily 8-10 times bigger than any we'd been to in the last couple of days.  The visitor's center had a huge gift shop.  At Zion you take a shuttle that drops you off at 10 different destinations throughout the park where you can go on various hikes and/or take pictures.

The Three Patriarchs

One of my favorite things we saw was the Weeping Rock, which is basically a huge boulder that has water coming out of it.  You can stand in a naturally carved out part and the boulder is like an overhang with a tiny waterfall coming down.  The water mixed with the view of the mountains and vegetation was beautiful.

standing inside the carved out section of Weeping Rock

All of the sights were gorgeous and we were again a little upset that we didn't have more time to hike and explore.  God's beauty really is abounding at Zion and all of the other parks we visited.  I am so thankful that I've been able to see all of these sights.

one last picture of Zion

After Zion, we started driving towards the Grand Canyon, we planned on camping there and seeing it in the morning. Once we began our drive, we noticed the signs said we were much closer to the Grand Canyon than our GPS led us to believe.  So we drove quick, quick, quick to make it there before sunset.  When we arrived we grabbed the camera and all but ran to the viewpoint.  Talk about breathtaking!!

(the picture can't even begin to capture how massive it was)

I literally had to catch my breath when I saw it.  And then I teared up some at the sheer grandeur of it.  I kept thinking "God is amazing, thank you Lord that I am able to see this".  It is something everyone should see in their lifetime if they're able to.  And all of the people working there were so nice.  We stuck around taking pictures until we were the only two left on the overlook.

We walked around, bought some souvenirs and went back to look at the stars.  Stars on such a clear night with that vast of a landscape...AMAZING!  The Grand Canyon was absolutely incredible, we were in awe the entire time we were there.

After we wrapped everything up at the Grand Canyon we drove to a couple of campsites before we found one with vacancy.  Once we found one, we set up camp and passed out.  Oh!  One more thing, while driving to the Grand Canyon we passed a lot of huge meadows and saw tons of deer.  We were both shocked that there were so many large groups of them out in the open. They were beautiful.

see all of them?

Then we saw bison!  A huge group of bison!  And they were right next to the road so John stopped and I took pictures, they walked a little closer and I got a little scared because they showed no fear.  Pretty cool to see them so close though.

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