Ps Cobia Photography | Springdale, UT | July 2019
Only one of my favoritest places on the planet. Every time I boast about it, I always get raised eyebrows like, “Uhh… Why Utah?” Well, the photos I am about to share are about to explain why.
This whole trip was a 30th birthday celebration for my sister in law / push present for her and me/ mommy & daddy’s first vacay away. It was so hard being away from the babies that we HAD to make every moment worth it, and I believe we accomplished that.
Day 1: Fly to Vegas. Drive to Grand Escalante. [drive time: 4hrs 47min, 302.8mi]
Day 2: Hike Somewhere ? [read below to see where we hiked!]
Day 3: Hike Somewhere ? Then drive to Zion. [drive time: 2hrs 20min, 118.8mi]
Day 4: Canyoneering.
Day 5: The Narrows. Head back to Vegas. [drive time: 2hrs 40min, 169.7mi]
Day 6: Get back to our babies.
Arrival was 1pm at Las Vegas Airport and O.M.G. what a freaking scorcher. I thought I knew dry heat but nothing like this hot blow dryer set on high just drying my eyes out the moment I stepped out of the airport. Caleb’s brother, who lives in LA, scooped us up and to the grocery store, we went. We were about to do 4 days of some pretty intense hiking, so we stocked up on water, protein bars, and red wine, of course. After this, it was a 5-hour drive. Yes, we flew for 6 and still had a 5-hour drive. [I’m telling you, it was well worth it.]
After only 30 minutes in the car with 3 boys, I knew it was going to be a long ride. I don’t think I’ve ever been with boys so. freaking. gassy. I should’ve stocked up on beano at the grocery store or at least wore a hazmat mask.
We planned on driving straight to Grand Escalante, but Zion was on the way, and the lighting was too perfect to not do a quick hike in and see Zion at its best. We (Collin) drove the rest of the way to Grand Escalante in the dark for the next 2 hours and finally arrive at our accommodations at 1am.
We woke up the next morning and had no idea that our accommodations at Escalante Outfitters was absolutely perfect. It was 55 degrees, the place was quaint with a cute shop and (AWESOME) cafe, and the views were to freaking die for. We couldn’t have landed in a more perfect spot.
As far as Escalante goes, we really didn’t have too much of an idea of what hikes we were gonna do. We pretty much just asked the locals of what was best (which I ALWAYS recommend when traveling) and they recommended Lower Calf Creek Falls. It was a 5.5mi hike there and back. (BTW I highly recommend downloading the app All Trails for maps and information regarding the hike). It was was a trail that was easily navigated and the colors around me were blowing my mind. The red, green, yellow. And as we kept creeping closer and closer, we heard the water steadily getting louder.
What a freaking sight.
We celebrated our hike by stripping down and jumping into the 60 something degree water and I swear, we never felt so alive! Let us say it was the perfect way to REALLY begin our Utah Adventures.
At this point, we were on a high. A high to find more more more! Day 2’s surprise adventure was so, what’s the cheesy word… outstanding, that we couldn’t wait to jump in and see what else was out there.
So after delicious morning breakfast at Escalante Outfitters, we were on a trek to find the Spooky & Peek-a-boo hike, which is a hike in the middle of dessert finding slot canyons. We kind of drove in circles trying to find the road leading to it but eventually, found our way. And y’all. It was literally a rocky dirt road with our shoulders rubbing against each other for TWENTY SIX MILES. It was a beautiful drive no doubt! And once we got there, we saw just one other car at the trailhead. ONE. We were kinda spooked out at the thought that we’re pretty much out there alone, but at the same time – LOVED IT.
It felt so private like we had the world to ourselves.
(Sorry getting a little poetic, but yan no, that’s just me)
We started the hike and was a little spooked. We saw rain clouds ahead and if you don’t know anything about slot canyons – they’re there because of flash floods. And a hiker from the flatlands of Florida has no business being around flash floods. But we went ahead with the hike and we’re at a constant watch of the weather. It was def a hot hike in the middle of the desert, but once we started our way through the slots – it was cooler and the walls were. mind-blowing. The colors, the striations, and even the tight spots were so freaking cool! We got a little lost at times because there was no definite trail, just rock cairns guiding our way. We encountered a few wildlife like a black widow, rattlesnake, and iguana to name a few.
The resort is a more kid-friendly environment with opportunities to zipline, golf, rock climb, and swim. We opted for a glamping tent that slept 6 and it was plenty spacious for us to spread out and be comfortable. After the intense hikes of the past couple of days, we made our way to the hot tub with a perfect outdoor chill of 55 degrees during the night. Needless to say, we slept like angels that night.
So our badass rock climbing brother brought up the idea of canyoneering on this trip and thankfully, East Zion Adventures had a great program. It involved hiking through the backcountry of the outskirts of Zion National Park and I think we all agreed that we were not expecting the intensity of the hikes we did. We climbed up unforeseeable steep paths that I did not even know that my body could withstand!
But down we went through the slot canyons, one by one and holy crap were the first few terrifying. None of us had any experience in canyoneering or rappelling so we were all secretly a bundle of nerves inside. But the more we did, the more comfortable we became. Plus our guides, Carson & Brigs, were so helpful and accommodating the whole way through. And the elevations of the drops?
They ranged from 30 – 100ft. Yup. 100 feet.
The types of canyons we rappelled down only got more and beautiful as we went through. Stone colors of white, green, red, and orange. It was definitely THE COOLEST way to see Zion for what it offers and highly recommend doing a full-day canyoneering tour with East Zion Adventures.
To end our evening, we got fancy and did a lowkey film & digital shoot in the rolling wheat fields of Utah. Needless to say, the photographer in me was STOKED to be shooting out there. It was THE MOST PERFECT evening to shoot with the most perfect subjects.
As for our last day in Utah, you can’t go to Zion without making a pass through The Narrows. It is one of the most remarkable sights to see on the planet. The rushing clear water of the Virgin River running through the towering rock walls with carved striations makes it a must-see for any human alive.
We arrived there at 0700am and there was barely a soul there. It felt very private and hearing the water rushing through made it so peaceful. Although walking through water with river walks isn’t the easiest, I had to constantly remind myself to stop looking down and look up for a brief moment to take it all in. 0830 was definitely THE best time to be there as a photographer because of the way the light hit the walls and created a soft yellow glow on the river water.
Now, we arrived at 0700 for a reason because come 1100, it was a CROWD. And to be 100% honest, it started to feel like we were walking through Big Kahunas Waterpark. By noon, we were all very ready to get out!
We then left and made our way back to Vegas.
The next morning we flew back to Florida to see our babies and we were counting down the minutes. When we finally got home, our baby boy laid his head on my shoulder and didn’t leave my arms for at least 30 minutes. And I was totally ok with that ;).
Accommodations & Guided Hikes
Escalante: Escalante Outfitters
Zion: Zion Ponderosa Resort
Las Vegas: Paris
Cayoneering: East Zion Adventures
Summary & Tips
And that is it! If you have any questions about this Epic trip, please feel free to leave a comment below!