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Utah Adventures With A Friend: Part 2

  • Written by Lindsey Huster
  •  / 
  • 9 min read
  •  / 
  • Last updated 3 months ago

Keith and I always look forward to Yi visiting us in Utah. As part of his stay, we planned a 10-day road trip through Southern Utah with some iconic locations on the agenda. The first few days would be spent at Bryce Canyon National Park and Lake Powell.

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Utah Adventures With A Friend
⦿ Part 1: Welcome Back to Utah
⦿ Part 2: Bryce Canyon and Lake Powell (this post)
⦿ Part 3: Mount Carmel Highway, Snow Canyon State Park, and Sand Hollow State Park
⦿ Part 4: Zion National Park and Hurricane Area (upcoming post)
⦿ Part 5: More Biking and Wrapping up the Visit (upcoming post)

Let Vacation Begin

By Friday at 2:30 pm we all were officially on vacation! We opted to drive the more scenic route from our home in Orem, UT to the surrounding area of Bryce Canyon National Park. We checked into our hotel in tiny Hatch, UT, had dinner at a local restaurant, and prepared for a busy time ahead!

Bryce Canyon Amphitheater

Walking up to the canyon amphitheater is a jaw-dropping moment that takes a bit to process. I could spend hours staring at the unique formation of hoodoos, the overall scale of the amphitheater, and the layers of rock and vegetation. It made Keith and I happy to see Yi was just as impressed as we were.

The famous amphitheater at Bryce Canyon National Park

Keith and I had hiked the Figure 8 Loop at Bryce Canyon National Park a few years prior and looked forward to sharing this experience with Yi. The 6.4-mile (10.3 kilometer) loop has 1,575 feet (480 meters) of elevation gain. The national park guide estimates a hiking time of 4-5 hours for this strenuous hike. This would give us a nice long hike to see a good portion of the park, then have time to drive the scenic route throughout the park, and if time allowed, we would visit nearby Kodachrome Basin State Park.

The Figure 8 Loop combines the Queen's Garden, Navajo, and Peekaboo Loops.  It starts at Sunrise Point and descends into the Queen’s Garden, with must-see viewpoints such as Queen Victoria and Queen’s Castle. We then connected to the Peekaboo Loop clockwise and lastly the Navajo Loop to Sunset Point before walking the Rim Trail back to Sunrise Point. Be sure to notice the Wall of Windows and Cathedral on the Peekaboo Loop, Thor’s Hammer, and Wall Street on the Navajo Loop.

As I said, Keith and I had hiked this a few years prior, but with the beauty of national parks, the scenery is never redundant! Plus, it's always exciting to be with someone experiencing it for the first time. There are several variances in the terrain and landscape so it was one amazing view after another. I took full advantage of Keith and Yi chatting to hang back and take photos of them in this enormous canyon.

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Kodachrome Basin State Park

Knowing it would be difficult to keep up with the guys all weekend, I opted out of hiking Angels Palace at Kodachrome Basin State Park. I had hiked this on another trip so it was a good time for me to relax at the park. This is one of the most popular trails in the park and is a quick 1.5 mile (2.4 kilometers) easy/moderate hike. Yi faced his fear of heights as they reached a narrow path where the trail juts out to overlook the basin. It can be a little disorienting with drop-offs on either side. Hurried travelers easily overlook the park making it much more appealing to us. It gives a good contrast to a busy national park with just as much beauty to experience. I would recommend at least a quick stop if time allows.

Check out our Video

Yi was visiting us in Utah, and we planned a 10-day road trip! This is 1 of 3 videos of the road trip.

Driving to Page, AZ

The next day we headed towards Lake Powell. We took Johnson Canyon Road, a scenic drive featuring an old Gunsmoke film set, old dilapidated buildings, and colorful cliff views. We followed this guide as a scavenger hunt to locate all the points of interest. This isn't a must-do activity, but it added a good mid-morning activity for us.

After we arrived in Page, we wasted no time starting with a hike. First, we hit the 1.5-mile (2.4 kilometer) hike to Horseshoe Bend. This is the most famous bend in the Colorado River. Its increasing popularity has led to the need for a new parking area (with a fee) and safety rails along parts of the main overlook. Even though the hike isn't long or strenuous, there is little to no shade, becoming extremely hot and stuffy. We felt this mid-September so I can see why it's such a problem in the summer. Don't take the warnings here lightly.

Next, we hiked about a mile to the Hanging Gardens. This is unique for the area with spring-fed colonies of plants that grow in an alcove in the sandstone. With little other green vegetation, the sight of these plants adds happiness to the area. After reaching the gardens, we took the shortcut up the sandstone to the Rim View Trail. We walked along this for another mile, took a snack break, and enjoyed the amazing views looking down into Lake Powell.

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Lake Powell Excursion

This was the day I had been looking forward to the most, kayaking on Lake Powell. We had seen kayakers on our first trip to the lake and this had been on my bucket list since then. Any time I’d hear the words “Lake Powell” this is what I envisioned myself doing. The appeal of going into the narrow channels where a boat could not go and floating among those tall walls was an experience I wanted to have.

It was so much more picturesque than I even imagined. The sun was out, but not too hot. The water had that deep blue color against the red rock walls. It was the perfect mix of exciting and relaxing. Paddle Lake Powell is located at the Antelope Point Marina so we got to see the dock amenities and houseboats. We chose the Hobie pedal/ paddle kayaks for the ability to peddle and paddle. This was much easier, given the distance we were going, especially being on the main part of the lake for a bit.

I was giddy with excitement and tried to enjoy each moment. Once we reached the canyon area, the walls began to narrow and you could see the details of the rock, the lizards that live there, and the stillness of the enclosed area.  There had been flooding in Antelope Canyon the week prior so we did have quite a bit of debris in the water the further back we got. Even though it would have been nice to swim off the shore in that area, it was interesting and impactful to see the damage floodwater can cause. This almost seemed more unique and I appreciated the knowledge gained from seeing it firsthand.

Antelope Canyon from Lake Powell

We began the hike into the canyon and were instructed to stop where the canyon “Y’s” as that is Navajo land and should only be accessed while on an official tour. I believe this is the well-known Antelope Canyon tour that most people go on to see this famous slot canyon. We want to do the tour sometime, but we haven't yet.

We meandered through the canyon, looking at the few plants that grow in this environment and the damage left behind from the recent and past floods. We just tried to absorb the fact that these unique places exist!

After the hike and kayaking out of Antelope Canyon, we had some time to spare before the kayaks were due back to the marina. This gave us ample time to enjoy more of this Lake Powell excursion. We had plenty of time to stop offshore and swim for a bit.  It was fun to be in the water, climb on the rocks, and enjoy the rest of the day in the sunshine. I highly recommend this activity while in the area, especially if you aren't renting a houseboat or ski boat.

Adventures Continue

Check back next week as we drive the magical Zion-Mount Carmel Highway, hike in Snow Canyon State Park, and rent a UTV for an adventure in Sand Hollow State Park!

Have you been to Lake Powell? If so, what did you do while you were there? Boat, hike, sightseeing? If you haven't been, what would be your first adventure? Let us know in the comments section below.👇 💬

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