We made it home last night from an awesome 4-day trip to Southern Utah. See John's rundown here.
On Wednesday we drove down in the rain/wind/hail/snow. The kids were great in the car, and Maggie was thrilled to see the red rock tunnels. A good sign. We stayed at Ruby's Inn, in the Lakeview lodge. The lake view was very nice, but considering the weather, we wish we'd stayed at the main lodge so we didn't have to brave the elements to go swimming.
After getting settled, we decided to continue as planned and hike to Mossy Cave. It is about 1 mile round trip to see the cave and the waterfall. We had all sorts of weather on the drive there, but luckily just a light snow during the actual hike. The hike was short with a few steep parts. The cave was really neat - water drips through cracks in the rock and forms ice stalactites 9 months of the year. You also cross a few bridges, which Maggie loved.
On the second day (Thursday), the weather wasn't supposed to be very good, but we learned in Yellowstone that it might not get any better, so go for it. We went into Bryce Canyon and hiked down into the amphitheater. We took the Queen's Garden trail down from Sunrise Point and the Navajo Loop trail back up to Sunset Point. We wanted to do the Wall Street, but it was closed due to rock slide. Maggie got really grumpy about halfway through the hike. We had to ascend steep switchbacks covered in several inches of clay-like mud, Maggie crying the whole way. You haven't heard crying until you've heard it amplified in a slot canyon. Dalton was a good sport and took a nap the first half, nursed for a bit (is nursing while hiking through mud in the snow weirder than the 405 incident?), and made it to the top before having his meltdown. He cried the last 1/2 mile along the rim back to the car. This was the longest hike we ended up doing, about 3 miles.
We went home for lunch and to rest, then drove back into the park to check out the visitor's center (we bought a postcard for Maggie's collection, and a Bryce Canyon puzzle that she latched onto as soon as we walked in) and see the other Bryce Amphitheater viewpoints, Inspiration Point and Bryce Point. Bryce Point was one of my favorite stops. Looking at the pictures of it, I am a little scared by how close Maggie is to the edge, but it seemed safe at the time.
The weather was supposed to be better on Friday, but it wasn't. Good thing we did our big hike on Thursday! It snowed and was cold, but worse, it was windy. We drove to the end of the park to do the 1 mile Bristlecone Loop. We bundled up and got out of the car and finally found the trail, buried under the snow. We weren't about to trudge through the snow at the canyon edge in our sneakers, so we just checked out the Rainbow viewpoints and got back in the car. We did the rest of the viewpoints on the way back by taking turns, and getting Maggie out about every other one. Dalton only got out once, when he was already out of his seat to eat. That was at the Natural Bridge, which was my favorite one. By the time we got home, the weather had us down. We went swimming with Maggie while Dalton had a nap. We were at the pool over an hour, and Dalton eventually woke up and got to swim for the first time.
After swimming, we decided to go for a drive. We checked out Bryce Lodge (not much to see, though Maggie enjoyed playing the drums in the gift shop), then drove East on Highway 12. We ended up in the Middle of Nowhere, aka Kodachrome Basin State Park (yes, named after Kodak, if you're wondering). The Lonely Planet guidebook we were using (thanks, Rach) made it sound like there wasn't much to see unless you did long hikes, but luckily it was wrong. We took a drive on a dirt road to see Chimney Rock (not worth it, there's one almost the same on the Nature Trail) and the Shakespeare Arch. The hike to Shakespeare Arch is short - about 10 minutes. It's a lot of up and down over little gullies and hills. The arch was pretty cool, but the view from the top of the plateau was the best.
The other trail we did in Kodachrome was the 1/2 mile Nature Trail. You can see lots of different rock formations on this trail - the tall sentinels, hoodoos, holes in the rock, you pass over a little stream. There are also informative signs about plants and animals that are nearby. John took Maggie around the trail, which is paved and wheelchair accessible, while I fed Dalton, then we went again. Maggie walked the whole way both times.
Since we arrived at the park around 5:30, we didn't have much time, but I wanted to do the Angel's Landing hike. It looks like it's about a mile, and climbs up to a plateau/sand fin with a great view.
Saturday, we checked out and headed to Red Canyon. Bryce had disappointed us (we'd also planned on doing a hike in Fairyland, which was closed due to snow). Red Canyon is part of Dixie National Forest, and it was on Highway 12 right on our way home. We did two of the hikes suggested in our guidebook - the Pink Ledges trail and the Arches trail. Maggie did most of the 1 mile Pink Ledges trail on her own. It winds around the canyon behind the Visitor's Center, with views of the valley, pink ledges, totems, hoodoos, etc. We also had an interpretive pamphlet that went along with the numbers on the trail. The Visitor's Center had some fun exhibits, including a table full of rocks for Maggie to play with.
The Arches trail is a few miles from the Visitor's Center, off a gravel road and is about 3/4 mile. It is pretty steep in parts. You see 15 small arches along the way. Saturday was such a nice day, we were finally able to have our picnic lunch as planned.
After we left Red Canyon Dalton cried himself to sleep and slept almost the entire way home. We decided to cruise on Highway 89 for a while instead of heading back to the Interstate. We stopped at Big Rock Candy Mountain (much more lame than I remember) and Cove Fort along the way. Maggie enjoyed climbing up the stairs at the fort.
Some of my favorite moments of the trip were listening to Maggie talking to herself in the backseat. She played with two of her My Little Ponies, telling them about Bryce Canyon and hiking etc. John and I would share a smile every time we heard her. Maggie girl loves hiking and had a great trip overall. She called our hotel room a cabin, and started saying, "I could not, would not" instead of "Never!"