Southwest Turkey Trot

Refusing to let 2020 dampen our spirit of adventure, we hit the road to take in more of Mother Nature over the kids’ Thanksgiving break. I wanted to explore more of Utah and The Grand Canyon was on Sophia’s West Coast bucket list. Phil drafted an itinerary and the Sunday before Thanksgiving we hit the road.

St. George was our launching point for our first day of hiking. We spent the morning hiking the Lava Tubes and Scout Cave in Snow Canyon State Park. The relatively flat hike with a little bit of scrambling to get into the cave was a nice start to our trip. That afternoon we ventured further into the park to check out the Petrified Sand Dunes. The kids loved running up and down the sand dunes checking out the views when they reached the top of each one.

The next morning we left St. George heading towards Zion. On our way we stopped to explore the Red Reef trail in The Red Cliffs National Conservation Area. This was probably our favorite stop on the trip, or maybe just the most surprising. The trails had lots of fun spots where the kids got to test out their rock climbing skills. Southern Utah is such a unique mix of textures and colors and I loved our sunshine filled morning on this trail.

We weren’t able to snag a ticket into the main part of Zion, but with our short timeline we enjoyed what we could see. When we arrived that afternoon we hiked the Watchman Trail which had great views of Springdale and the mountains of Zion. We finished up at Watchman with just enough time to wind around the canyon to get to our sunset spot, Canyon Overlook Trail. The Watchman and Canyon Overlook trails were the most crowded spots of the trip, likely due to their accessibility and length. It is so beautiful there and the crowds of photo-snapping tourists (ourselves included, I guess) take away from the beauty which is unfortunate. It made us wonder if the rest of Zion, even the parts that require permits, are just as crowded. Crowds aside, Zion had our jaws dropping around every corner and we hope to go back and check out more of it, as well as Bryce on a future trip.

The following morning we made one final stop in Zion to check out the Secret Petroglyphs Canyon. Is it really a secret when there’s a well marked trailhead? Either way, we enjoyed the cold morning hike without a soul in site. There were just a few petroglyphs on the trail but still cool to think that these doodles have been around for thousands of years. As we drove east we stopped to check out more wind caves as well as The Toadstools in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. As the name implies, it’s a bunch of mushroom looking balanced rock formations. Our last stop for the day was definitely a tourist stop, but very much worth the visit – Horseshoe Bend. We took a picture or twenty before sitting down to enjoy the sunset and then headed towards Flagstaff for the night. We wouldn’t leave the Colorado River for long though since tomorrow we would finally visit The Grand Canyon.

While it would have been cool to take the kids down into the canyon, we realized we wouldn’t be able to cover much in a day. Instead we decided to rent bikes and explore as much of the South Rim as possible. It turns out forty degrees is a bit chilly for biking but the kids were troopers. It was cool to see the view and landscape of the Canyon change in just a mile. After a full day of biking we returned to the car to grab one more layer of clothes before watching the sun go down at the South Rim. Sophia was happy to check this off her travel bucket list, but the kids still have hopes of visiting again and riding the mules into the canyon like Phil did when he was a kid.

Why not squeeze three more photos into this already too long post? That’s what happens when you ask me to publish a post 😉 With our travels complete, we came home and enjoyed the rest of the Thanksgiving weekend in Carlsbad. While Phil wouldn’t miss the turkey, I couldn’t skip cooking Thanksgiving dinner so we had a belated turkey day on Sunday. Full speed ahead to Christmas!