The Great American Road Trip Season 2, Part 2: Utah
I have one word to describe our time in Utah: magic. As I sit here under a juniper tree with Roxy by my side, in a valley surrounded by red rock cliffs, I watch the thunderheads forming and continually think, “is this real life?” A distant roll of thunder reminds me that, in fact, it is — and I am so grateful to be right here, right now.
When Greg and I decided to spend a month in Southern Utah, I wasn’t really sure what we would do or see. We had only ever driven through there on our way to Yellowstone and I hadn’t recalled seeing much from the 15 freeway. Well, let me tell you: as soon as we pulled in to our first stop in St. George, I was in awe.
Snow Canyon State Park
Greg booked our first few nights inside Snow Canyon State Park and it was so quiet and serene! It’s not a big park but there were seemingly endless trails to explore. One we especially loved was the Whiptail Trail, which was paved so Roxy could come on a hike with us in her cart! She absolutely loved being able to adventure in the great outdoors again, sniffing new sniffs, seeing new sights, and giving the local lizards the side-eye.
Greg and I hiked all over, including up to what felt like the top of the world! I have an intense fear of falling so while I, of course, had to get photos, I also had to sit down so close to the edge. Can you spot me in the photo above?
We took a different hike each day and absolutely fell in love with Snow Canyon. If you’re heading to Utah, we highly recommend it. If you want to stay inside the park, book early because the spots fill up very quickly.
Red Reef Trail
One morning, Greg and I decided to drive over to Red Reef Trail to hike along the creek and see the dinosaur footprints (which were amazing)! It was a beautiful hike and we kept saying “look at that!” around every turn.
Somehow, Greg also convinced me to climb across this rock face rather than turn around. Did I mention my intense fear of falling? My heart was absolutely pounding out of my chest as I used the foot holes and hand holds to make my way across. It really doesn’t look that scary in the picture but it sure felt that way when I was hanging on for dear life. Hah!
Risking life and limb (ok, that’s maybe a little dramatic) was worth it, though. The trail was absolutely stunning! We were so lucky to see water here, too. We heard from some locals that there hasn’t been water for many, many years. Thanks to the intense snow and rain this past winter, though, the creeks are flowing once again!
Zion National Park
Next up on our tour of Southern Utah was Zion. Ooooooh my goodness. Zion was out of this world! Mid-day temps were getting very warm so we hiked early in the morning or later in the evening. We especially loved the Pa’rus Trail because it was paved and pup-friendly. Roxy loved her evening carriage rides through Zion! The photo above was taken on one of those walks. We had planned to shoot some starry night photographs but Mother Nature had different plans… hello, clouds!
One of our other hikes that I have to share was to the Emerald Pools (above with the waterfalls). There was a lot of uphill climbing on this hike but it was totally worth it for the beautiful waterfalls and incredible views all along the way. We started this trail pretty early in the morning for cooler temperatures and fewer crowds! We’d recommend you do the same!
I’m sure a lot of you will ask if we did The Narrows. We did not — because they were closed! Remember I mentioned above about all the rain and snow this past winter? Well, the river that flows through The Narrows was much too high and running far too fast to be safe for exploration. We’ll be back on our way home later this year and will hopefully be able to give it a try!
We didn’t have a ton of time at Bryce but we did get to take a wonderful hike up through the canyon one day! We started on a trailhead in Tropic and walked up the canyon first. This was a very smart move because had I walked down it first, I would have been feeling very anxious the entire time about making it back up. Hah! This trail was steep… we climbed about 1,100 feet of elevation during our hike. It was worth it, though!
Greg and I absolutely love hiking and are so happy we’ve been getting to do so much of it on the trip so far. We love being out in nature, seeing new things, and experiencing new places!
Kodachrome Basin State Park
Mother Nature may not have cooperated for starry night shots at Zion but she sure did at Kodachrome! We woke up around 3:30am one morning, loaded the photo gear into the truck, and headed off into the dark, dark night to capture the Milky Way in all its glory. There was no moon so we needed flashlights to see the trail. The night air was cold — in the 40s — but thankfully, I had my GoldPaw fleece leggings to keep me warm because, silly me, I did not bring winter clothes with me on this summertime trip! When we arrived to our location, the Milky Way was exactly where I thought it would be, perfectly aligned behind the incredible rock formations. It was so, so bright and I knew the camera would capture it even more intensely! As we stared up into the vast sky, the stars sparkled brightly and meteors could be seen everywhere!
Kodachrome is a truly beautiful park with great trails, quiet campgrounds, incredible scenery, and so much more. There is no cell service in the park so if you need internet, plan ahead! We are grateful for our Starlink setup!
Fun fact for my photography nerd peeps: I originally thought the famous Kodak film was named after the park but I learned it’s actually the other way around! The state of Utah got special permission from Kodak to name the park after the film!
Utah Photo Shoot for Our Trip Sponsors
Did you know that a giant part of our trip is to create photographs for the three brands who are helping us make our dreams of traveling the country a reality? We wouldn’t be on this giant adventure without them and we are so, so grateful that they put their trust in us to create special images everywhere we go!
Since we were in Utah this month, we knew we had to feature the epic red rock landscape and the dogs who love to adventure through it! We found the most amazing dogs and parents who helped make this one of our favorite shoots ever!
Max modeled a Sun Shield Tee, SwiftLock Collar, and Featherweight Leash for GoldPaw. I was really excited to share the Sun Shield Tees with Max and his mom because I knew they’d help keep him cool during the hot Utah summer. One of my favorite things about these tees is that you can get them wet for maximum cooling!
Oakley modeled the Italian Napoli Collar & Leash set and his mom modeling the Deluxe Training Pouch from P.L.A.Y. The treat pouch is perfect for training or everday use and even has a spot for poop bags! The collar & leash are super-lux and absolutely gorgeous!
Kilo and his mom modeled CORE Power Packed Chicken Jerky Treats from Wellness. Kilo loved these jerky treats and kept a close eye on anyone who was holding one. Can you guess what was being held right behind the camera?
Rey and her mom modeled The Rewarding Life Lamb & Salmon Treats from Wellness. Rey couldn’t get enough of these and was thrilled that her job during this photo shoot was to keep eating them! We love these treats because they’re soft, can be easily broken into smaller bits, and we haven’t met a dog who doesn’t flip for them!
Where are we going next?
We are headed to the heart of the wild, wild west: Wyoming! Although I am a bit sad to leave Utah, I am sooooo excited to visit Jackson, Grand Teton, and Yellowstone again. They are three of my favorite places on earth and where I always feel so content. Have you ever been there? This will be our fifth trip to the area — but it’ll be our longest and I can’t wait!
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‘Til next month!
Did you miss the other posts in this series?