*Disclaimer: this is a long post. I promise there’s a lot of good stuff in here, but consider this your warning.
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 getting lucky with great boondocking near Bryce, we got lucky again at Old Hwy 89. The drive on UT Route 12 from Bryce over to Hwy 89 is actually considered the second most scenic drive in the world, and if you ever drive from Bryce to Zion you’ll see why. We weren’t sure what to expect as we turned off the highway, but we followed the road to the left to a wide open lot overlooking part of Grand Staircase-Escalante.
We also found our first scorpion here, so I was pretty excited.
From there, it was on through Kanab- an awesome little town that’s worth the stop if you’re passing through- and over to our next site right near the Paria River. This is where you’ll find “The Wave”, a newly-famous hike that requires winning the lottery- literally- to get to hike it. If you’re not familiar, Google it, and I bet you’ll instantly recognize the photos.
Instead of battling hundreds for a chance to hike the Wave, we decided to hike the Paria River trail. Our boondocking spot was in the middle of a gravel pit about two miles away, so we rode our bikes down and spent a quiet Sunday exploring the river bed. A gravel pit may not sound like an ideal spot to camp, but it was surprisingly pretty up there and felt completely secluded, even with the highway and houses just out of view.
On Monday, we had to succumb and do something we don’t normally do: pay for an RV park. We had scoped out a couple of boondocking spots around Page, but the intense heat and soon-to-arrive family visitors made it clear that we had no choice. We found the Page Lake Powell Campground and booked our stay.
Overall, the campground was nice but nothing out of the ordinary. Sites were fairly level and spacious, prices were reasonable, and the indoor pool was clean. There are not many- really no other- options in the Page area, but we would stay here again regardless if passing through.
When my mom and cousin Leah arrived Wednesday morning, we got started exploring as quickly as possible. Our first few days were spent around the Page area, seeing Horseshoe Bend, Lake Powell, and the incredible Antelope Canyon. If you’re planning a visit to the area, we highly suggest touring Lower Canyon with Dixie Ellis’ Tours. While you won’t see the famous light beams at Lower Canyon, it is less busy than Upper, and you could get the awesome Tilford as your tour guide. We were also lucky enough to be the first of only two groups touring (normally there is a constant flow), so our time in the canyon felt even more spectacular.
Come Friday, it was time to take on the national parks. Being two hours from Zion, we got everyone up early and ready to hit the road by 7am. Aren’t we such great hosts?!
The plan was to caravan with the car and RV back to Old Hwy 89. We really wanted to show my mom what true boondocking was, it was closer to Zion and Bryce, and it put us in a great position for after the vacation. This, in turn, meant getting to Zion took a lot longer than the standard two-hour drive. The hour’s worth of traffic on the road to Zion didn’t help either.
We really didn’t love Zion at first. Sure, it was beautiful, but it was also insanely busy and the line for the shuttle took about an hour. Of course, this is what we get for showing up at 11:30 on a Friday. If you plan on visiting Zion, be sure to do your research beforehand on the best times to go. We did, but didn’t have much control in this case.
Luckily, we would end up having some weekends to kill in Zion later in the month, so check back soon to learn why our opinion has totally changed.
From Zion, it was back up to Bryce for the rest of the afternoon. Since we weren’t doing extensive hiking at either park, we were able to fit both in one day. We started at the southern section and worked our way up to Bryce Amphitheater, smiling as we watched the awe-struck looks of our visitors.
On our final night with my mom and Leah, we got to show off true boondocking. We relaxed with dinner, took in the sunset, and capped off the night with a fire and board games. As always, it was tough to say goodbye, but our summer trip home was already planned, so I knew it wouldn’t be goodbye for long.
The end of the visit signaled the end of our vacation as well, so Sunday it was back to reality. Luckily, we were about to spend the next two weeks in one of our all time-favorite places in the country: Jacob Lake, AZ.
Campendium – Old Highway 89
FreeCampsites – Old 89
Campendium – Page Lake Powell Campground