A few weeks ago, I told you guys all about the first part of my awesome road trip with my two best friends to Zion National Park. After Zion, we head out to the Grand Canyon National Park and then looped back up towards Colorado via Arches National Park.
We arrived at the Grand Canyon after a long drive just before sunset. We managed to find one of the park's recommended sunrise/sunset overlooks and spent the next hour or two just taking photos and enjoying the general splendor that is the Grand Canyon. Once the sun went down, we set up camp at the Mather Campground further along the rim.
The next day my last final of grad school was due, and since I naturally hadn't started on any of it since we took off on our road trip, I had to spend the better half of the day cooped up in the Visitor's Center where I could access WiFi and an outlet to plug my computer into. While I was wasting time doing that, my friends hiked down the Bright Angel Trail. That afternoon, after I gladly hit "send" and closed out my graduate experience, we took the free shuttles that run back and forth along the canyon to all of the beautiful vistas.
On our final day at the Grand Canyon, we decided to hike the South Kaibab Trail.
Both South Kaibab and the Bright Angel Trail go all the way down to the river, but we just weren't prepared for that type of hike, so we stopped near Skeleton Point, making it about a 6 mile hike with 2,060 feet of elevation loss and then gain back up the canyon.
(Photo Credit: one of my friends)
It was absolutely stunning. It was just glorious views as far as you could see.
What surprised me most was how cold it was on the rim (the South Rim is at about 7,200 feet of elevation!) and how warm it was the further down into the canyon we got.
(Photo Credit: KS)
We even found some more rocks to climb...
At one point, we found a wonderful flat area with a beautiful view (duh) to sit and eat our lunches.
(Photo Credit: DL's camera's timer)
We also thought it would be fun to take a traditional "jumping" photo with the canyon in the background, which proceeded to be a surprisingly hard workout of continually jumping while the camera's self-timer snapped five consecutive photos of us. We had to do this multiple times to finally come up with ONE shot where we were all jumping at the same time.
(Really not sure what's happening here...)
The work that goes into these photos, people, is no joke ;).
After enjoying ourselves a little more, we headed back up the hard climb to the rim. You see, hiking the Grand Canyon is deceptively easy at first...all you're doing is heading down. We could have hiked down for miles and not gotten tired.
But at the end of the day, you have to turn around and have nothing but up ahead of you. Needless to say, we were glad when we got to the top.
We packed up our camp and said good bye to the canyon.
(Click for larger image)
Then we hit the road again for our next and final destination - Arches National Park. We arrived soooo late at night and had to drive down a very deserted road to find a camp site (I can't even remember where this campsite was). Not going to lie, it was kind of creepy. We set up camp and my friends hung out in the warm tent while I played with the shutter release on my camera to snap some star photos.
After about two attempts at that, I was cold, so I called it a night, too. And what a night it was. It was so incredibly windy. The entire night I was sure that the tent was just going to lift up and tumble us down the road. It never did, but the top of the tent definitely hit us all in the face multiple times and for my two friends, who were unfortunate enough to have the edge positions in the tent, the walls were suffocating them the entire night.
(My friends were really excited about the wind and not sleeping. It was still incredibly windy as we packed up)
When we woke up the next morning after a pitiful amount of sleep, we were all done. We were tired and dirty and mostly just ready to be done with this trip. I had originally planned a 7 mile hike for us around Devils Garden, but instead we opted for the scenic car route.
We picked up a map and drove around to all the "attractions" and even got out to stretch our legs for a few easy half mile hikes around some of the arches.
I have to say, had I not been entirely exhausted, I probably would have really enjoyed Arches National Park.
The natural bridges and arches are absolutely incredible and the Fiery Furnace was SO COOL! I want to hike through it next time I visit.
(The Fiery Furnace)
After about two or three hours of driving around, we hopped back in the car and headed home. We made a quick stop in the small town of Fruita, CO, on the way home to grab some absolutely delicious and much appreciated pizza. After so much camping food, pizza never tasted so good!! A few long hours later, we were finally home, and utterly exhausted from a whirlwind trip.
(Photo Credit: KS)
I would love to go back to all three parks. I really want to do some backpacking in Zion to discover more of what's in that stunning park and the next time I go to the Grand Canyon, I want to do this. I've been drooling over the idea ever since a friend from high school did it last year. Any takers?