Would you like to feel like a bad-ass next-in-line Charlie’s Angel without having the physical ability to do a single pull up? Do you consider working out putting on a pair of yoga pants and then struggling to get a wine cork out? Canyoneering might be your next Xtreme activity. All you have to do is trust your guide knows what he’s doing when tying a rope around a tree and fall backwards off a cliff. That’s it. Easy.
Southwestern Utah was a six-hour drive from Los Angeles but only a mere two hours from Las Vegas – a nice little road trip. I picked the Arrowhead Inn since it was in between Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park. We stayed at the pet friendly Garden Cabin with our two pups. After reading the reviews, I was thrilled for the farm-to-table breakfast, but unfortunately they were out of commission that weekend. We opted for the rustic Thunderbird up the street, which was well-appreciated.
When I go on vacation, I’m interested in the experience, not just a place to stay. Arrowhead Inn was exactly that and the perfect place to relax away from the city. I enjoyed watching the animals around the farm and just being in the peaceful grounds and our adorable cabin.
I may not be an acceptable rock climber but I could be a professional rock faller. I was feeling pretty confident about that when we booked a private tour with Red Desert Adventure. Why did I want to spend a day falling off cliffs? It looked like a grand adventure which could be surprisingly easy to achieve. Plus, this daring experience would have the ultimate payout – mesmerizing red rock slot canyons.
For whatever naive reason, I trusted our guide Eric immediately and appreciated his knowledge of the area and local mormon culture. We had not a clue what we were doing and didn’t want to die, yet he made us feel pretty safe considering.
I’d love to say it wasn’t scary at all, but two of our rappels were terrifying. Eric tied one line and then a safety line around a sad-looking tree, fastened them to my harness, and said, “Go for it.” I normally wouldn’t say I’m afraid of heights but this cliff went straight down. I didn’t “go for it” per se, but I managed to plant my feet firmly on the side. Following singer Fat Joe’s direction, I pulled up my pants, did the rockaway, and leaned back, leaned back, leaned back.
Trust became the challenge of the day. Maybe it was my inability to climb back up to safety, but somehow I found my internal power. Shaking ever so slightly, I made it down to one of the most gorgeous natural formations I had ever seen. I loved every second of this intimate red wonderland, hoping there’d always be just one more curve.
After canyoneering, everything was up hill from there. Zion National Park had countless interesting paths, including the Weeping Rock, the Riverside Walk, and The Narrows. The Narrows hike however was a dangerous one as the thin gorge often had flash floods, often leaving hikers stranded or even dead. The flash flood warning was low for the day, but we opted for the easy scenic hike at Zion – the Emerald Pools Trail. The pools did not live up to my expectations, but the dried out waterfall and the trail in general felt strong. Returning to our car felt as if we had victoriously completed a noble quest, even though in reality, we didn’t do this vast place justice. Instead of admitting to my laziness, I just said that the park was much too big to be experienced in a day.
Many times, I’ve wished with all my heart, that I could be in the presence of glowing spires and hoodoos. I never learned which is which but I loved them all. Bryce Canyon was one of those truly magical places that I’ve kept in my back pocket, revisiting in spirit when I needed to exhale.
I couldn’t get over how little I’ve heard about this place. When at the Grand Canyon or Zion, you might ask yourself,”Is this it? Where am I supposed to be?” But at the majestic foot of Bryce, you’ll gasp the moment you see it.
Whatever you do, make sure you’re here at the Ampitheater during sunset, some point in your lifetime, as this was the moment Bryce truly came to life. I even decided to take a short hike on the Fairyland Loop Trail.
You could do Bryce Canyon right or cheat and drive to most points as we did. Throughout our adventure, the destination left much to the imagination – to get lost in life’s mysteries. I wrapped my head around the scientific limestone erosion process, but I almost didn’t believe it. Could water and wind really sculpt something so beautiful? Captain Planet seemed more probable.
I scooped up a baggy of magical dirt, which became the inspiration of our samples from around the world collection. I’ll treasure this red earth always.
During the drive back, we stopped at many gem stone shops. The varying sizes and low prices were quite impressive. I wasn’t prepared for all this. Next time…