October of 2019 we decided to do a road trip from Vegas to Salt Lake City Utah. We made stops at Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Mystic Hot Springs, and the Bonneville Salt Flats along the way. We decided to stay a night in Las Vegas to see Penn & Teller live and explore the strip.
On our night in Vegas we went to the Bacchanal buffet at Caesar’s Palace before going to the Penn and Teller live magic show. We had heard a lot of good things about this buffet so we decided to try it. There was a good variety of options, and it even had bone marrow which we tried for the first time. After stuffing ourselves (and making ourselves sick) we headed to our show. Aaron was able to go up on stage to see a prop that would be used in one of their acts before the show started. During the show I was selected to come up on stage by Teller (and he spoke to us!), along with five other audience members, to participate in a magic trick that used that prop. It was amazing being so close to Penn and Teller and still not being able to notice how they did the trick.
After the amazing night in Vegas we made our way to Zion national park. Here we decided to do some glamping, staying at the Under Canvas Zion. I always like the idea of camping but not the roughing it part, this was the perfect balance of luxury and nature. The beds were so comfortable, like sleeping on a cloud all bundled up. The communal bathroom accommodations were nice and clean and a hot water shower was a plus. At all their locations they have a main tent for check in, to hang out in and a small area to order food and drinks (remember this is Utah so they will not sell you alcohol unless you buy food). They also have the fire pit going every night where you can make s’mores and get warm. We stayed here for two nights, driving back and forth to Zion national park for our day adventures. From the campsite to the park is about a half hour drive.
Our first night we had to whip out the camera and practice our star photography. With no other houses or light pollution nearby we had the perfect dark sky and a soft glow from the campsite for our photos.
Day 1 we decided to hike The Narrows. What a beautiful hike! We started early at 8am. In October it is fairly cold so we decided to rent dry pants, boots, and hiking sticks. Although we may have been able to hike it in our own clothes we didn’t want to get our hiking boots soaked on day 1 and in the shade it was still quite cold. I actually liked hiking with the pants on. Wading through the water they gave a compression feeling to my legs which helped on such a strenuous hike. Also it was nice to be done with the hike, remove the gear and be nice and dry. The hike took us about 6 hours to do, we went as far as you were allowed without a permit and up the extra side passage. The beginning was a little crowded but the farther you got the fewer people we saw.
The second day it took us a little longer to get moving. We did the Angels Landing hike. We went mid day and it was very warm. I was shedding layers so fast as we climbed up the mountain. This hike was a different type of challenge from the Narrows. With more elevation gain my lungs were struggling more to keep up the pace. Having a slight fear of heights once we got to the narrow steep parts of the hike it was a little scary, but what a beautiful view from the top. As we went along even though I was scared I would pick a point up ahead and say “Lets just make it to that spot” and we kept on going. We did not make it to the very last part of the hike but to the second to last view point. It was getting crowded and we decided we had seen all we needed to. Passing on the chains is scary and awkward, especially with big crowds and people not following etiquette. I was so proud of myself for making it as far as I did on this hike.
For those wanting to do this hike I highly suggest doing it earlier in the morning when it is less crowded and not as hot. The scary parts of the hike were waiting for the line of people to come down the mountain as you hold on to the chain to let them pass. Coming earlier would decrease the amount of those passing.
From Zion we headed to Bryce Canyon, about a two hour drive. We checked into our accommodations for the night and set out to explore Bryce the next day. There were not many accommodations near Bryce but we found a very unique place on AirBnb that was near the main road into Bryce. We went from glamping to camping and stayed in a legit TeePee. Yep a TeePee! We love choosing unique places to stay when we can, and what a unique place it was, but maybe not when it was 20 degrees outside. The owner had two TeePee’s on his property. Each with a beautiful wooden deck surrounding it. Inside we had two raised cots with some communal blankets and sleeping bags. The TeePee had battery powered lights which we could use for night time bathroom trips. Although having warm clothes on, warm sleeping bags and blankets over us we still froze all night long. If we had come in summer time this would have been an amazing stay. Instead we froze our butts off but it was not all for loss. We were able to capture some amazing nighttime star photos and practice our star photography once again. We even captured a shooting star! And no it was not an airplane, we have captured plenty of them and can tell the difference. There was close to no light pollution and we spent the night laying out on the deck waiting for the next shooting star to pass by.
Next day we went and explored Bryce Canyon National Park. Luckily, Bryce is not that big of a park and we were able to see what we wanted to in a day. We did a few small hikes that weren’t too strenuous since we were sore from our Zion hikes. Bryce is a nice park because you can easily drive through it and stop at pullouts to see all the popular viewpoints. It felt like we were on another planet at Bryce compared to Zion.
After Bryce we worked our way up to Salt Lake City. We made a stop in Monroe at Mystic Hot Springs. I had seen this place on Instagram before and it looked like an interesting place to stop. Well it was interesting, very instagram-able but only at certain angles. When we arrived it was rundown looking. It reminded me of when you are driving for hours in the middle of the desert and you stumble upon a deserted town and run down cars. We checked in with a lady and paid our entrance fee and went over the rules. They had changing rooms inside and restrooms where we put our swimsuits on. We then walked up a hill to the soaking tubs. There was one large pool that looked a little dirty and was not very hot. Up from there were three tubs next to each other that had direct hot spring water filling into them. These were occupied when we arrived so we chose another spot until we could snag them. The best tubs in my opinion were also taken. They were by a wall and on the farthest side of the springs. They had a waterfall trickling in the spring water. These were taken when we arrived and the people stayed in them until we left. (Excuse the low quality photos, we only used our phone cameras here).
After getting our soak on we made our way to Salt Lake City. We stayed at a basic hotel near the airport and went out to explore the city. We ate at Pretty Bird, which is famous for their hot chicken sandwiches. What we did not know was to order mild. We got medium and hot spice levels assuming Utah would be more mild by nature, and oh man, we could not handle it. We couldn’t even finish the sandwiches our mouths were on fire. It was that type of eating where something tastes so good but is also torture to eat. Afterwards we hit up Last Course for some fancy dessert and to soothe the burn.
The final morning we woke up before sunrise (yes my husband hates me when I want to catch sunrise pictures, I do too, but afterwards it is totally worth it). We drove out to the Bonneville Salt Flats. We dressed up and took pictures of ourselves all fancy. The salt flats had a few inches of water covering them which made for this beautiful mirror reflection of the mountains and sunrise. It was so beautiful. Our feet got wet and shoes got crystallized in salt but it was completely worth the early wake up call.
Overall we had a fun week exploring and seeing the beauty Utah has to offer. Hopefully we will be able to come back again and see more of the other national parks that Utah has to offer. Until then I am happy to say we were able to hit some of the top highlights I had been wanting to see for awhile now. For those wanting to come visit Utah, do it! And try out Under Canvas I cannot speak highly enough about the amazing stay we had there and I cannot wait until we can stay at one of their other locations.