• Mona Shah

Escape To Utah

After months of sheltering ourselves from the pandemic-ravaged world outside, escape became a craving. Every anniversary we embark on month-long exploration of a new corner of the world, and this year the very act of “being elsewhere” was more urgent than ever...so in October 2020, we took to the skies and flew to the Beehive State. Let the adventures begin.


1st stop: Salt Lake City.

Frequently referred to as the "Crossroads of the West,"Salt Lake City makes a great gateway for travelers making a trip to Utah's ski resorts or southward to Utah’s renowned red rock country. The city itself has a lot to offer from the Temple Square where you will learn about the history of the Latter Day Saints Church, to the Great Salt Lake, the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere.

Downtown Salt Lake City
Downtown Salt Lake City


At Arches National Park.

We did the sunset hike to the Delicate Arch. and covered the rest of the park and did multiple hikes the next day.


Tips:

  1. Delicate Arch sunset hike is a must do. Reach before sunset as it’s a beautiful and strenuous hike. Parking lot fills up by 6pm (for a 7:20 sunset in October).

  2. Visit Sandy Dunes at midday or when it’s hottest as it’s very shaded with a nice breeze.

  3. Most other areas you should cover in the morning or afternoon.

  4. Windows and Double Arch— must do during the golden hour, right before sunset.

Arches National Park
Arches National Park

Sunrise hike to Mesa Arch in Cannonlands. Another fantastic, but very difficult hike (more like rock climbing) is the Aztec Butte—if you can make it, you will be rewarded.


Tip:

Be there at 6 for a 7:15 am sunrise to get parking and a spot by the arch. If not, you miss out on both.



Lesser known hidden gems—sharing some cool hikes we discovered.

  1. Goblin Valley State Park (go here, it has the darkest sky in all of the US and a maze-like playground of interestingly shaped sandstone, resembling goblins).

  2. The very fabulous Capital Reef National Park, where we did the Sulphur Creek hike (follows the river and ends in a waterfall-reminiscent of the Narrows-as you wade through water).


Bryce Canyon

We enjoyed a series of natural amphitheaters or bowls. You will see it from above, and it’s spectacular. I would highly recommend this hike. It’s a combination of some of the most scenic views.


We start at Sunset point and cover Wall Street/Navajo/Queens Combo. We had a bit of peekaboo Sunrise point and Sunset point. In the evening you can drive to inspiration point and do a partial Rim Trail.


Another gem: Mossy Cave (cave and waterfall)

Stay: at Bryce Lodge inside the park...great for night hikes. Or Ruby’s Inn, which is the closest.



Our last stop is Zion National Park.

The 3 most unique and difficult hikes I have ever done—pushing some personal boundaries here!

  1. The Narrows—Zion’s coolest (literally-61 degree water) hike. The trail is basically the Virgin River. The canyon is so narrow, the river covers the bottom in many spots, which means you have to wade or swim to proceed. We did 8 of the 15 mile stretch and by the end of it I couldn’t feel my toes.

  2. Angels Landing—very strenuous with steep drop-offs and very narrow sections—the last 1/2 mile is THE most difficult thing I have done—a very narrow trail that you traverse with the help of cables. 6000 ft above the canyon.

  3. Emerald Pools, upper, middle, lower—nice waterfalls and bridges with great views.

Tips: don’t take walking poles on the angels landing hike, you won’t be able to use them.

Stay: We were at the Zion Lodge: it’s superb with views of the canyon from your front porch and wildlife sightings galore.


The Narrows
The Narrows

Saving the best for last—our son, an avid rock climber at Ancient Art in Fishers Towers.


“On a desert tower, the standard is not to be measured in difficulty, but adventure.”



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