Springdale has a number of cute, boutique shops, and one particular art store drew us in more than the others. We needed to stop there one last time before leaving on our 4-National Park day (From Zion to Bryce, then Capitol Reef, and finally landing at Arches in Moab).
The proprietor of the shop talked about growing up in Springdale and how, as kids, they would lay down in the street to see how long it would take for a car to come by. Usually it was between one and two hours. Now, thanks to digital photography and the internet, Springdale is hopping along with Zion, filled with car and foot traffic.
We tried out the checkmark system so that we could walk around the art store without worrying the kids would destroy something valuable. To our shock, it worked. Andre and Owen sat on the step outside looking through maps and booklets and destroyed nothing.
The store was pretty busy, and we felt an internal clock ticking due to the looming drive, so we took a business card and began driving through Zion for the last time.
Our first stop was Bryce Canyon National Park. Because of our lack of time, our objectives were:
- Get Andre’s Junior Ranger Badge
- See Inspiration Point
Katie took Andre and the Junior Ranger booklet to an outdoor tent to go through the activities.
I largely babysat Owen, distracting him as long as I could with the Bryce Canyon video (cool for me, boring for a 3-year-old), then Visitor Center exhibits, gift shop, and finally just desperately wandering around outside the Visitor Center. In the video, we learned that the canyon was named after Ebenezer Bryce, a Mormon man that essentially owned the land and had this canyon in his backyard (hence “Bryce Canyon”). When people would ask him about his immensely beautiful canyon, he would say something like “It’s a real pain to lose a cow down there.”
Andre and Katie rocked the Junior Ranger program and then, unfortunately, had to wait in line about 30 minutes before being able to talk to the ranger to earn the badge. Finally, it happened.
Now, it was time to see the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon. We drove out to Inspiration Point (see the featured image), and gazed until the ticking internal clock struck the right cord.
Now, we were off to Capitol Reef National Park, our third National Park of the Mighty 5 of Utah. We arrived 20 minutes before the Visitor Center was to close. Katie had wisely downloaded the Junior Ranger booklet for Capitol Reef online in the car, and she and Andre had started what they could while Katie fought motion sickness.
As Katie and Andre ran in, Owen posed for the pic below. That boy loves the camera. He’s the easiest 3-year-old ever to get to smile and say cheese.
Despite only 20 minutes until closing time when we arrived, Katie’s slick negotiation skills convinced the Ranger that it was in everyone’s best interest to slightly adjust the Junior Ranger requirements (we had no time for a Ranger led program), and Andre scored another badge for the day.
There is one thing that seems to be in common with all of these National Parks: you cannot do them justice with photographs. The immense size of what you see is just hard to take in. It’s like trying to conceptualize infinity. The Grand Canyon is an obvious one, but Carlsbad Caverns’ rooms, Zion’s cliffs, Bryce Canyon’s hoodoos, and now Capitol Reef’s cliffs, are all simply impossible to measure with a photograph. You literally have to go there to experience it, and it’s always worth it.
This is from inside our car while driving through Capitol Reef National Park. It looks like a CGI filled scene from a yet to be made Flash Gordon II movie (come on, we all want it to happen so we can hear Queen sing that song for a half hour again). Yet, it doesn’t do the park justice.
From Capitol Reef, we took the scenic route to Moab, which is highway 24. Make sure your gas tank is full because there is very little signal for most of the drive and many miles between functional gas stations. It was one of the most impressive drives of the trip. Pictures can’t do it justice either (maybe we just suck at photography and that’s our excuse). There were just a lot of “how did nature form that?” moments.
We stopped in Hanksville, the first place with a gas station, and found a gem of a restaurant there called Duke’s Slickrock Grill. John Wayne is huge in this area.
Finally, after a very long day, we arrived in Moab, then drove 25 more minutes down a picturesque road to the Red Cliff Lodge on the Colorado River. You’ll have to wait until the next post to see the screen-saver worthy pics of that place!