Once we got our fill of hanging out in the Tahoe area, it was on to our first national park in quite a while: Lassen Volcanic National Park. This northern California beauty had been on Andy’s list for a long time, and we were both excited for a night in a campground. It’s funny, but sometimes going to a campground feels more like camping that being out in the middle of the woods...
In mid July we decided to fly home to Buffalo to enjoy some family time. As great as living wild in the west is, there is still nothing like cracking a beer on a boat in the finger lakes surrounded by loved ones. After a great week home it was time to get out of the desert, we turned our sights on the Sierra Nevadas of California and never looked back.
After our first visit to Zion, we weren’t convinced that anything could change our minds about this most popular park. Don’t get me wrong, it was stunningly beautiful, but the sheer amount of people in the canyon made it feel a bit overwhelming. That being said, everything flipped upside down when we got there at the crack of dawn to hike Angel’s Landing. And again when we went back the following weekend to hike Observation Point. You see, Zion may be insanely busy in the summer, but if you can time it just right, you start to understand the jaw-dropping allure of this place.
As the dust settled from a long week off of work, we began to realize a harsh reality… That it was mid June and we were in southern Utah. With temperatures soaring, we needed to find some refuge at higher elevation. We had to look no further than just across the border in Arizona, where sat the Kaibab Plateau. Once the land of the plateau breaks about 7,000 feet, juniper deserts transform into stoic stands of Ponderosa Pine. Atop the plateau in the mid 8,000 foot range the forest is mixed conifer perfection broken up by huge groves of Quaking Aspen. We had found our home for the next two weeks.
Our second weekend at Bryce was the kickoff to our spring vacation, so the week that followed was packed to the brim with new places to see. To top it off, my mom and cousin were coming to visit, so we were ready to show family a good time as well. On the To-Do List? Lake Powell, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Oh, and Zion National Park… and Bryce again. Busy is an understatement…
After our unforgettable weekend at Capitol Reef, we settled down for some free camping in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. This is a monument in the sense that it is nearly 2 million acres of pure, rugged, Utah landscape. We stayed near the town of Escalante and the river for which the town gets its name, so that part made sense to us, but we were still a bit unsure about the meaning of this ‘grand staircase’. Regardless of our confusion, the week came to a close and it was time to pack up and head to a highly anticipated National Park - Bryce Canyon. Little did we know that this park was actually situated on a high plateau that sits at the top of the ‘staircase’.
Our two weeks in the Moab area had us both absolutely floored by Utah’s beauty. Having such an expectation shattering introduction to Southern Utah had me feeling a mixture of anticipation for what’s to come and hesitation that days this good couldn’t last forever. Never-the-less, when our second week at Klondike Bluffs came to a close we hit the open road, heading into terrain that would redefine our interest in geology. Capitol Reef National Park was our destination, a place we knew little about but would immediately become one of our all time favorite National Parks.
Since we weren’t in love with our week at Yellow Circle Road, we knew we wanted to find another boondocking spot. We had just tackled Arches, but there was another national park on the other side of town that demanded our attention: Canyonlands. Thanks to a recent review from some new RV friends, we learned about the lesser-known Klondike Bluffs just north of the parks. With the weekend at Canyonlands ahead of us, we made our way along the winding dirt road to one of the best boondocking spots in Moab.