Our Utah Summer Vacation Part I

Thought, I write about our recent Utah summer vacation and take a break from usual investment related topics and "market is falling" rant.

For 2017 summer vacation, we picked Utah as our destination because we wanted to visit Zion and Bryce Canyon National Park.

We flew to SLC (Salt Lake City) and drove about 3 hours to get to Bryce Canyon National Park. It is located at a much higher elevation than SLC. Even during a hot July summer, it was relatively cooler than most other places in Utah. Cool weather at Bryce gave us a good start to our hot vacation.

Bryce Canyon is probably the most accessible national park we have ever been to. You can pretty much see the entire park by driving through it. We decided to drive to one of the main viewpoints and then took a hike down into the valley of hodoos.

A hoodoos are these tall, thin rocks that spiral up from the base of the valley. Here is a picture of Hoodoos, looking from the rim:

Bryce Canyon National Park - Hoodoos as seen from the canyon rim.
People can hike down into these hoodoos and explore this magnificent landscape up close and personal.

I know it looks daunting to hike down there. When I first saw the trail from the rim, I was like "Oh sh*t, I'm not doing this hike". I was afraid of heights as well as the intense workout it would be to come back up. I was full of self-doubt and fear while Mrs. ATM was getting all excited to hike down the trail.

I saw little kids and older people hiking down there, so I figured I can do it too and I'm glad I did or I would've missed out a great experience.

Just when you think nothing could grow among these rocks, there is a whole forest of trees growing at the base. It's also nice and cool in the forest and trees provide shade from the sun.

We had to hike down to the valley to see the forest. The backdrop was amazing with the towering rocks in the background. We heard it is pretty awesome to visit at night as one can see stars on a dark and clear sky, though I would think it be quite spooky at night.

The hike down into the valley wasn't too bad, steep at places, but not too dangerous. Coming back up was a good workout, though it was worth it.

The hike is called Navajo Loop and is the most popular trail in the park. It starts of nice and paved and then turns into a muddy narrow unpaved trail with no rails to hold on to. Can get quite scary at places, definitely not for someone scared of heights, but worth it if you want to see these rocks up and close.

You can see people down the Navajo trail walking among these tall rocks:

Tall trees seem quite small among these huge rocks.

At some places, it felt like walking in an underground cave. I'm just glad these rocks are pretty solid and not moving much. I'm sure they would close the trail if there was a danger of a landslide.

Here is a picture I took as we were hiking out of the canyon. If you zoom in the picture, you can see people walking up and down the trail. At places, the trail gets quite scary and there is not much space to pass other hikers, so one has to be very careful and stay off the edge.

Looking down the Navajo trail, my feet were barely inches away from the edge
If you don't want to hike or you are scared of heights, there are plenty of easily accessible viewpoints to experience these beautiful rocks from a distance. Though, it won't be the same as hiking down and experiencing them up and close.

Tips and info for visiting:

Bring lots of water and snack for the hike and wear good hiking shoes. They get sudden thunderstorms often which can make the trails muddy and slippery to walk on. We were lucky as the weather was nice and dry most of the time. Though, we did experience a bit of rain and thunderstorm during our second day and after a hike we had mud all over our shoes.

It costs $30 to enter the park, but the pass is good for one week. So, you can come and go as many times as you like during the week.

There is plenty of parking within the park, but they do encourage people to take shuttles which run every 10/15 minutes and can shuttle people from nearby city to the park and within the park to all major viewpoints.

There is a nice lodge in the park, where we had lunch and took some rest. You can even stay there if you want, it is more expensive than a hotel in a nearby town. There is also a coffee shop and a Pizzeria, all within the park.

There is wildlife around, so when driving in the park, you have to lookout for deer as they often walk near the roads and sometimes cross without any warning. We didn't see any bear, but I believe we saw a few bear warning signs. We are especially sensitive to bear warning signs as we had a run in with a bear on a hike in Alaska a few years ago, it was somewhat a scary experience as we were all alone on a lonely trail, but we made it alive and unhurt.

Overall, we had a great time in Bryce Canyon. We spent two days there checking out the park and it wasn't enough, so on our way back from Zion, we stopped again to cover a few more viewpoints that we missed earlier.

Hope you liked the pictures and if you haven't been to Bryce Canyon, you would plan a trip. It's one of a kind place that everyone should visit if they get a chance. Some of these rocks look quite fragile, who knows how long these natural beauties would stay with us.

In part II of our Utah trip, I will post pictures from our trip to Zion National Park.

Thanks for reading!


  1. Glad you had a fun trip. Sometimes we forget how beautiful nature can be. It's good to get away from the busyness of everyday life. The pictures were great. Although I'm not much of a hiker, and I also am afraid of heights, I wouldn't mind visiting for the view.

    That must have a been a scary situation, having had a run in with a bear in Alaska. I'm sorry, but if I had a run in with a bear, my hiking days (which are already non-existent), would be over.

    Good stuff man!

    1. Thanks DP. You would still enjoy Bryce Canyon if you don't like hiking as there is plenty to see by car.

      That's what we thought too that our hiking days were over after the bear incident. But we eventually got over it and now only hike on trails well traveled and don't go off on our own in secluded wilderness, especially in Alaska. I should probably write about Alaska trip sometime.

  2. Stunning pictures!!! We've never been to Utah but am putting that on the list of things to see after reading this. Looking forward to your next post!

  3. Those are some beautiful shots. I'm heading that way myself to visit Denver and Wyoming next week and hope to get some hiking in the mountains as well!


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