Our First Utah Trip!

Hi, friends! Rex and I just returned from our “big” trip out West this year, and we had a blast! We were mostly in Utah to visit a couple of the national parks out there (both of our first time in Utah!) and flew in and out of Vegas via Southwest (both of our first time flying Southwest too).


While in Utah, we stayed at Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort which is to the east of Zion National Park. We opted for the glamping route and stayed at one of their Conestoga Wagons. It was a fun experience staying in an old Western-style wagon! The wagons have electricity and come equipped with a heater, which was needed for nighttime even in late May. There’s a grill out front of each of the Conestoga Wagons, and we made heavy use of the grille night making fire and cooking dinner.


Though we were staying at Zion, we first ventured out to Bryce Canyon National Park on our first full day in Utah. A couple of people recommended we visit Bryce Canyon while in Utah, and it made perfect sense to do so, especially since Bryce Canyon was only a little bit over an hour away from Zion Ponderosa.

We drove to the Shuttle Station in Bryce Canyon City and hopped on the Park Shuttle. The shuttles come frequently and are free with the park pass. Since this was our first time visiting, we decided to hike the Queens Garden & Navajo Combination Loop. It is the most popular hike at Bryce Canyon and rightfully so! The views are stunning throughout the trail (i.e. cool rock pictured above), and it takes about 2~3 hours. The end of the hike is quite steep so be warned!


Unfortunately (fortunately?), we did not win any lottery tickets to hike Angel’s Landing though we entered several times. Instead, we hiked the East Mesa Trail to Observation Point which is accessible via Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort (you do not have to be staying there to access the trail). They do run shuttles to the start of the trail due to the very limited number of parking spots. We took our chance and drove ourselves (to save $7 each and half a mile hike back from the shuttle stop back to the parking lot) and got lucky (perhaps because it was a weekday afternoon).

The hike itself is pretty boring for the most part, and it feels like you are taking a stroll for the majority of the time but the trail does become steep once you get closer to the Observation Point (maybe the last mile or so). The views at the Observation Point were beautiful but I couldn’t take it all in because I’m afraid of heights and there is zero railing up at the top!!! I do wish I had inched closer to the end of the canyon for a better view looking back.

On our last day in Utah, we saw a little bit more of the park via Zion Canyon Shuttle System. We hopped on and off at a few stops and did the Riverside Walk up to the Narrows. We attempted to get in the water to see a little bit more but the water was freezing (again, in late May!) so we’ll have to come back to properly do the Narrows. We also planned to do the hike the Emerald Pool Trails but some of the paths were closed that day so we’re saving that for the next visit too!


Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort has a sister company called East Zion Adventures through which we signed up for a couple of activities. We went stargazing the first night of our stay which was fun despite the full moon. Canyoneering was the other activity we did with East Zion Adventures. They have a few different options but we went with the Elkheart Canyon one since they advertise it as most scenic & beginner-friendly.

It started relatively early around 7am, and we had to drive half an hour to meet up with the tour guide at a coffee shop. From there, we rode in a UTV to the canyoneering spot, and I actually found the UTV ride really fun (a better version of a roller coaster lol)! This canyoneering adventure involved some rappelling, which was not as scary as I thought it would be, and I’m saying that as someone who is afraid of heights. I can’t explain how cool it was to see and be around the canyons. It sound cheesy but I felt transformed by the experience?! Definitely recommend doing a guided canyoneering if you’re up for it!

P.S. I shared daily vlogs from this trip on TikTok if you’re on there!

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