Becki and I are escaping the cold of Wisconsin for a week – we’ve headed to Las Vegas for work. But it’s also our very first wedding anniversary, so we’re trying to make the most of the trip and have a bit of a vacation as well.
We made a detour up to Zion National Park in Utah, because all we heard from family and friends was how unbelievably, dumbfoundingly, stupendously wondifrous it is. However, every single person we know had been to it when it was a wee bit warmer out. I mean, what kind of crazy people go to the mountains (one’s with no skiing or other winter sports around) in the middle of December anyways? We had no idea if it would still be fun, or beautiful, or if we’d even enjoy it. But let me tell you, much like Audrey Hepburn’s famous quote about Paris, Zion is always a good idea.
Zion did not Disappoint
When we got there, only a tiny, miniscule amount of snow was clinging to the highest peaks and the Norther rock faces. Just the lightest of dustings really. We thought this boded well for us, since we wanted to get in there and head up some switchbacks without careening off the edge of a cliff.
Not too much to ask, right?
But as soon as we got into the park, it began to snow. Slowly but steadily big, fluffy, wet flakes of snow drifted down from above. The roads began to turn white and slick, but we barely gave it a thought. The snow partially obscured the giants all around us, to the point where you could just see the outlines of more mountains awaiting you in the distance.
We went further and further into the park, past the Zion Lodge and emerald pools, until we reached the Temple of Sinawava. The Temple is so named because it’s where the canyons close in around you. Everywhere you look, there are red rock faces with frozen waterfalls, sheer 1,000ft – 3,000ft cliffs towering over you, and this creates a natural amphitheater, wrapping you up in the natural beauty of the place. The feeling you get is the same as when you walk into a beautiful cathedral – with no one telling you to, you simply become more quiet, peaceful, and reverential, openly in awe of the place.
Return to Zion
There’s not a lot of places that Becki and I want to return to after we’ve been to them. Not that most of the places we go aren’t great and lovely – it’s just that there are so many other places out there to still see, it’s hard to warrant a return trip. Zion was harrowing and beautiful in the cold and snow, but honestly, it wasn’t enough for us.
This place is just so amazing and inspiring, we know we’ll want to come back sometime when we can lace up our boots and do some hiking. When it’s not just a side trip, but when we can bring the right gear with us and really get to see Zion, not just what you can see from the road. And, while the snow was beautiful, it ended up snowing 12″ in one night – Zion normally averages 26″ of snow in the whole month of December. We’d love to come back when the skies are clearer, and we can see the canyon stretch out in front of us.
You haven’t seen the last of us Zion, and we haven’t seen the last of you. Till next time….
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We are by no means experts on all things Zion after spending just two nights there, but since people often ask us for recommendations on what to do and where to stay, we thought we’d let you know.
Stay: We stayed at the Best Western in Springdale (the town just outside of the park), and thought it was great. They definitely gave it more of a mountain lodge feel, with soaring ceilings, thick wooden landings, and a big central fireplace – perfect for curling up with a book and some tea during out chilly stay.
It’s also a pretty good price, and included a hearty breakfast – and since hauling in food is always expensive in mountain towns, an included breakfast is no small potatoes.
(Side note – there’s a ton of cute B&B’s along the road to Zion. Not sure how pricey they are, but I’d definitely Google it if you’re thinking of a trip to Zion)
Eat: There’s some good looking places to eat all over Springdale. Unfortunately, a lot of them close down in the winter off-season, including Thai Sapa – a Thai restaurant that locals say is killer – which was too bad, as we could’ve used some spices to warm us up.
We can recommend going to Sol Foods – the local grocery store – and getting soups or sandwiches from their deli. A couple bowls of warm soup was just the thing for our picnic in our hotel room, and the groceries we got helped out a lot when all the restaurants closed before we could get dinner, due to the snow storm.