This past weekend we road tripped to Great Basin National Park with 4 of our friends in Salt Lake. It’s a 3.5 hour drive and sits in the middle of nowhere Eastern Nevada. With so little civilization in the area, it’s the darkest spot in the continental US and the star gazing is some of the best! We got there around sunset Friday and we were able to secure a campsite at the 3rd campground we drove through within the park. We set up camp and stargazed that night before attempting to sleep during a high wind advisory..I think I slept about 4 hours and got the worst night camping sleep ever haha.
Saturday we attempted the hardest hike in the park, Wheeler Peak. It starts at 10,000 ft and the hike is 8 miles with 3,000 ft of elevation change. The first half was nice and gradual, and then we hit the 40 mph wind gusts at mile 3 when we were completely exposed to the valley on the other side of the park. We trudged our way up as far as we could before sheltering at the saddle, just before the last mile scramble of 1000 ft to the peak. On another day with lower wind speed, I think we would’ve attempted it. But we were proud we made it that far! I think 12,000 ft is the highest I’ve ever hiked to, as Utah peaks hit around 10-11K ft. We ate lunch, relaxed, and made our way down quickly as the winds picked up around noon. We stopped at an alpine lake briefly on our way down and then made it back to camp for a nap, dinner, and more stargazing. That night I got my full 8 hours of sleep!
Sunday, we packed up camp and made our way to the Bristlecone Pine Glacier Trail that also starts around 10,000 ft. It’s a 5 mile hike with 1200 ft of elevation change. It was a beautiful and gradual hike with lots of history about Bristlecone Pines along the way. The end of the trail leads you to a rock glacier with beautiful 180 degree views. I would highly recommend this hike, especially after attempting a peak it was very refreshing! I’m glad we visited and checked Great Basin off of our National Park bucket list; next month we will be visiting Glacier National Park in Montana for a long weekend!
For Memorial Day Weekend this year, we decided to camp with 4 other friends just an hour north of Salt Lake City in Ogden Canyon. We stayed at Anderson Campground for 2 nights next to Pineview Resevoir and did day hikes in the area. Although the weather was freezing for this time of year (lows around 30 at night), we had fun exploring a new area close to home!
On Saturday, we hiked Skull Crack Trail, about 30 min from the campground further in the canyon. It’s a 5 mile hike with 850 ft of elevation, and wraps around Causey Reservoir. The views were beautiful and I would recommend this hike to anyone in Salt Lake. If the temps were warmer, we probably would’ve rented kayaks to explore the reservoir that way!
On Sunday, we hiked Odgen Canyon Overlook Trail, about 15 min away from the campground. The trail is 4.5 miles long, with 950 ft of elevation and starts at SnowBasin Ski Resort. The views were also beautiful the whole way up and it looked down on Odgen Canyon at the top. Overall it was a great weekend to hike, and we survived the camping with lots of layers! We will definitely be back to hike around Ogden and ski this winter!
For Thanksgiving this year I decided to road trip with some friends to Phoenix and visit my brother Blake and his girlfriend Olivia! We have all been living out west for over a year, but we are 10 hours apart and haven’t spent a holiday together since Christmas 2017. It was so fun to travel with friends and see different parts of Arizona and Nevada along the way. We stopped at a Nevada State Park, 2 National Monuments in AZ, Horseshoe Bend, and had time to hike twice in the Phoenix area. It was the perfect balance of being active and relaxing while on Vacation, and I’m hoping we make this a yearly tradition!
We left Tuesday night after work and made the five hour drive to stay the night just across the UT/NV border. We woke up early on Wednesday so we would have time to hike and drive the other five hours of the trip.
Valley of Fire State Park
Our first stop was Valley of Fire State Park about an hour outside of Vegas. We drove through the iconic road inside the park and took some pictures, then made our way to Fire Wave Trail. It was about 1.5 miles round trip with 350 feet of elevation change. It was a nice way to stretch our legs and break up the drive, and the “Wave Rock” at the end was amazing!
We got to Phoenix around sunset on Wednesday night, and then went to dinner at an Italian restaurant in downtown Chandler. Their downtown has tons of good restaurants, bars, and a fun atmosphere!
On Thanksgiving morning Blake and I went on a hike in Scottsdale. We parked at the Lost Dog Trailhead and made our way back to a lookout of the city on the opposite side. Overall the hike was 4.5 miles and 500 ft of elevation. Since it was sprinkling the whole time, there weren’t and crowds and it was the perfect pre-turkey dinner workout! We spent the afternoon with Olivia’s family in Mesa and had a great Thanksgiving meal and relaxing night!
On Friday morning I went to my friend Stephanie’s Pure Barre class in Chandler, and it was such a great workout! We went to OHSO brewery in downtown Gilbert in the afternoon for lunch and met up with our other friend McKenzie who was also in town from Tuscon for thanksgiving. The patio was super cute and dog friendly!
On Saturday, Blake and I drove about 45 min NW of Phoenix to hike at Saguaro Lake. It was a beautiful lake tucked back into the desert, and you would never expect it! We hiked Butcher Jones Trail and it was my favorite Arizona hike so far. It was 5.25 miles and 600 ft of elevation change. The trail wraps you around part of the lake and joins up with another lake at the end. It was beautiful hiking weather and we beat the crowds by going early in the morning! Also there is a daily parking fee, but it was totally worth it.
We had a fun last day in Phoenix exploring downtown Scottsdale with Blake and Olivia. We went to a cute coffee shop/brewery and had some drinks before dinner. After dinner we met up with my friends Kelly and Stephanie at Arizona Wilderness Brewery in Chandler. The patios in AZ are my favorite! It was a great way to end my time in Phoenix before heading home Sunday morning.
Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki National Monument
On our drive home we stopped near Flagstaff, AZ at two National Monuments that were right next to each other. At Sunset Crater Volcano Nat’l Monument they had gotten a snowstorm over Thanksgiving, but it was still so beautiful! After that we drove about 45 north and visited Wupatki Nat’l Monument, it was red rock with lots of history, and it also had a snow covered backdrop. Overall it was a good way to break up the drive and see some beautiful sites!
Horseshoe Bend was the most breathtaking stop along our trip! It’s located near the highway just south of the AZ/UT border. It was definitely worth the stop and parking fees to see the views. It’s about a 20 min walk down a hill from the car, and then the big rock curve comes out of nowhere. We went on off season and there weren’t very many tourists, so that made it much more enjoyable! After this stop, we drove about 6 hours to get back to Salt Lake and went straight to bed! It was such a fun trip, and we were able to avoid the winter storm by leaving early before it hit Salt Lake. I can’t wait to visit again next year, hopefully with Matt next time!
This past weekend Matt and I took a road trip to Moab, Utah to celebrate 5 years together! We have been there once before, but wanted to explore more of the National Parks in the area. Four of our friends were also going the same weekend, so we were able to meet up with them in the Park and for dinner Saturday night!
We spent Saturday in Canyonlands National Park, since it is less crowded this time of year. The weather was perfect between 65-70 and sunny, and we didn’t have to deal with crowds on our hikes. We started towards the back of the park and worked our way out with 3 short hikes and a few lookouts.
Grand View Point Trail is a 2 mile hike with 200 ft of elevation change, it is perfect for beginners. We loved all of the lookouts during the hike and the end was beautiful!
Upheaval Dome has 2 lookouts, so you can make it a shorter or longer hike. We hiked about 2 miles and 300 ft of elevation to see both lookouts, and the crater view was beautiful!
Buck Canyon Overlook had some beautiful views, only a few steps from the car!
Mesa Arch was our last hike, and it was about .6 miles with less than 100 ft of elevation. We got there just in time to have the arch to ourselves for a few views and pictures! Shortly after we were done taking pictures, Thomas Rhett and his wife Lauren showed up with a bunch of their friends and family! They were in Moab celebrating Lauren’s birthday, and we happened to run into them. It was so random but cool to see them in person 🙂
On our way out of the park, we caught the most beautiful sunset views at a lookout spot. It was the perfect way to end our day in the park! We loved Canyonlands, especially during offseason!
After the Park, we checked into our hotel with our friends and went to dinner at Moab brewery. It was so fun to see our friends and catch up on our days in Moab! The food and beer was also delicious, I would highly recommend even thought the wait for a table can be long!
ARCHES NATIONAL PARK
On Sunday morning, we got an early start and went straight to hike Delicate Arch, the most iconic hike in Utah. It is 3 miles and 600 ft of elevation, so there are some steep parts but it is very enjoyable with the cool morning temps in the Fall. We missed the sunrise rush and beat most of the late morning rush, so we got the Arch to ourselves for some pictures! It is normally a very crowded hike, so we were lucky to have some time to explore on our own. We sat and soaked in the views and people watched after taking pictures, and it was really entertaining 🙂 We drove through the park and got back into SLC just in time to see the Packer game in the afternoon. It was the perfect weekend down in Moab!
Matt and I were able to fit in so many fall activities and hikes these past few weeks in Utah! I’m sharing a little bit about everything we’ve been able to do on the weekends while the leaves are changing. Fall in the mountains is coming to a close in the next week or two, but the fall temps in the city are perfect right now! I love that about Utah, once one season ends in the mountains, it begins in the city (or vice versa with winter to spring).
ALPINE LOOP DRIVE
This drive is my favorite fall tradition we started this year. We went 2 weekends ago when the colors were in peak, and we loved it! We went early in the morning to beat traffic since it is a very windy and skinny road (barely big enough for 2 cars to pass each other at times). We stopped at pull outs along the way and went for a hike at the summit. My favorite area was at Sundance with Mt Timpanogos views and on the way down towards the American Fork side. We did the ridge line trail at the summit, and we found the most beautiful trees and views there! We detoured a bit and did some connecting trails from the same parking lot as well. It was way more crowded after noon when we were leaving!
On the way home from the Alpine Loop Drive we stopped at Mabey’s Farm in South Jordan. It was a back yard farm and pumpkin patch that wasn’t too touristy! We didn’t have to fight crowds and were able to explore and grab some smaller pumpkins for our decor. We only spent $10 which was so nice! I would recommend this patch for those who don’t have kids, since there are not many activities/things to do besides pick pumpkins.
MILL CREEK CANYON
We’ve done a few of our favorite hikes in Mill Creek this fall. Rattlesnake Gulch is a favorite hike of mine with only 600ish ft of elevation and 3 miles long. The fall colors last weekend were the brightest red orange and yellow I’ve ever seen in this canyon. I was in love!
Lamb’s Canyon Pass was another favorite hike this fall. It’s 3 miles with 1500 ft of elevation, so parts of it are very steep! I would recommend using good hiking shoes with grip for the way down. We did it from the Mt Aire trail head on the Mill Creek side and the fall colors were just starting. I will definitely be hiking from this trail head again next year!
Murdock Peak is a 7 mile trail with 1900 ft of elevation, starting from the very end of Mill Creek road. We hit the back end of the fall colors changing, but it was still a beautiful trail! It ends at the top of Canyon’s Ski Resort, so I believe you can hike this from either side. The trail wasn’t very clearly marked at the top, so we followed the directions from All Trails.
Neff’s Canyon is located just outside of Mill Creek Canyon, in one of the surrounding neighborhoods. There is a 6.5 mile trail with 3000 ft of elevation and a smaller 1.5 mile loop with 400 ft of elevation at the same trail head. We did the shorter loop and caught the sunset at the end! It was the perfect after work hike and the fall colors are in full bloom mid October! Can’t wait to make this one of our sunset viewing spots in the future!
BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON
We did two hikes in Big Cottonwood Canyon this fall, including Willow Heights and Donut Falls. You can find pictures from these hikes in my Wasatch Wednesday 2019 blog post!
LITTLE COTTONWOOD CANYON
Last Saturday we went to Oktoberfest at Snowbird, one of my favorite fall stops! We went the very last weekend to celebrate a friend’s birthday, but I was also able to bring some Midwest friends along! We spent the afternoon there and it was fun catching up with everyone we haven’t seen in a while, while drinking some good local beer. Matt and I brought our own stein, and it saved us so much money on beer refills! On the way home we stopped at Porcupine Bar & Grill for dinner in Cottonwood Heights, and they were having an Oktoberfest themed weekend. It was a great way to end the day!
East Canyon is on the way to Park City, and it meets up with Emigration Canyon Road. I hadn’t been to this canyon yet while living here, and it had my favorite fall colors! Last Friday I hiked the top part of the Mormon Pioneer Trail with some girl friends! It’s 3 miles long with about 700 ft of elevation, and it starts from the summit and goes down. The whole trail is about 20 miles, but we did a small section that had beautiful fall colors! It’s popular for mountain bikers, but we only saw a few others on the trail that night.
Last weekend we did a fall Photo Shoot with our friends Sam and Katie, and it was right in the peak of the fall colors! I have some IPhone shots from that night when we saw the sunset, but you can see my last blog post “Fall Photo Shoot” for all of the pictures Sam took for us!
This summer I joined my friend’s hiking group Wasatch Wednesday’s. They pick a hike in the Wasatch mountain range near the Salt Lake Valley to do every Wednesday after work. I made it to most of the hikes, and it got me in great hiking shape and it’s a perfect way to break up the work week! I’m going to share the details and a few pictures from each hike, so it can help those planning out hikes in SLC! I’ve loved getting to know everyone in this group and I’m sad it’s already over for the season. It was 25 degrees last night on our final hike, so now I’m ready for ski season starting next month!
4/17 MT VAN COTT
This hike is 2.8 miles with 1,364 ft of elevation. It was the first hike of the season, so we were a little rusty! The foothills were so green and the mountains were snow capped in the background. It was steep at parts but it was a great way to kick off the season!
5/1 HEUGHES CANYON
This hike is 3.5 Miles with 1942 ft of elevation. It starts in a neighborhood in Cottonwood Heights and follows a river the whole way up to the top. There is a rock wall to climb across that leads to a beautiful waterfall! There are steep parts to this hike, so bring appropriate hiking shoes!
5/8 MT WIRE
This hike is 4.2 miles with 2090 ft of elevation. It’s located in the foothills and has great views of the city and Wasatch. It is steep but I would suggest going early summer, before the foothills lose their green color and wildflowers!
5/15 RATTLESNAKE GULCH
This hike is 3.3 miles with 817 ft of elevation. It’s in Mill Creek Canyon, so it has a combo of canyon and city views at the end. It steep at first and then connects with the Pipeline trail and flattens out. I would suggest this in the evening, spring, or fall, when the colors are popping!
6/19 CIRCLE ALL PEAK
This trail is 3.1 miles with 1,535 ft of elevation. It is very steep, but the trail is beautiful and has great canyon views. It’s short, so you can fit it in after work before sunset.
7/17 BUTLER FORK TO DOG LAKE
This trail is 5.6 miles with 1,820 ft of elevation. There are multiple ways to get to Dog Lake, but this trail is my favorite. It’s gradual, except the last half mile is steep. The dogs at this lake were so entertaining. We had a great time seeing all of the wild flowers and dogs!
7/24 TWIN LAKES
This trail is 2.3 miles with 758 ft of elevation. It starts at the Lake Solitude trail and goes up on the backside. It’s a short hike, so it’s perfect for a week night! There are a few steep sections, but it’s mostly gradual and has a beautiful lake at the top.
8/14 MT BALDY
This trail is 5.5 miles and about 2,000 (or more?) ft of elevation. It’s not listed on All Trails, so you can find the hike on the back side of the Cecret Lake trail at Alta Ski Resort. It follows the ski run up to the top where Snowbird and Alta split. The last section is extremely steep, and you basically climb up the side of the mountain to the peak. The reward is so worth it! The views are of Little Cottonwood Canyon, and the surrounding peaks. The sunset was gorgeous that night, we saw a moose, and captured the most beautiful pictures.
8/28 LAKE CATHERINE
This trail is 4.4 miles and 1,243 ft of elevation. It’s located at Brighton Ski Resort, and passes the Lake Mary Trail on the way. The views are great in the summer and fall, and we saw my favorite mountain sunset on the way down! This is one of my favorite after work hikes.
9/11 DESOLATION TRAIL TO SALT LAKE OVERLOOK
This trail is 4.1 miles and 1325 ft of elevation, located in Mill Creek Canyon. It’s a gradual hike with great fall foliage, and it leads to a city overlook. The sunsets are great on this hike, and I love it during all seasons since it’s shaded!
9/18 PEAK 10,420
This hike is 1.2 miles and 682 ft of elevation, located at Guardsman Pass at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon. It’s short and very steep, but the fall colors on either side of the Peak are beautiful. We had a cold, windy night, but the sunset was unreal over the Park City side!
10/2 WILLOW HEIGHTS
This trail is 2.2 miles and 630 ft of elevation, located in Big Cottonwood Canyon. This is a loop trail, with the left side being more gradual and great for beginner hikers. We almost always see moose on this hike, and the aspen groves in the fall are amazing!
10/9 DONUT FALLS
This trail is 3 miles and 530 ft of elevation, also located in Big Cottonwood Canyon. It’s the most touristy hike in the Wasatch, but we went on a chilly night (25 degrees!), so we only saw a few others and got a parking spot at the trailhead. The trail is easy, until you get to the falls where you have to climb up a slippery rock wall. I was impressed with the falls, and we got to go into the cave to view the “donut” looking section. The fall foliage is great, but it’s almost gone by mid October. Overall, it was a great way to end the season! Looking forward to hiking season 2020 🙂
This past weekend I visited my friend Anna in Denver, CO. It was the perfect weekend to visit with summer temps in the city and fall temps and changing colors in the mountains. Matt was also there for a work trip, so we got to meet up after to celebrate his birthday! It was a quick Friday night to Monday morning trip, but we made the most of it with hikes each day.
On Saturday we drove about an hour outside the city to Mt. Evans Wilderness. It was a pretty remote trail off of a dirt road, so not many people knew about it. We went mid-morning and were able to park in the small lot and didn’t see too many people along the way. It was 7 miles round trip with about 2700ft of elevation, so it took us about 4 hours with a break at the top. The aspen groves were the most beautiful I have ever seen! They were in their prime for fall and the brightest yellow color surrounding us the whole way up. It was a nice gradual hike and the temps were perfect for hiking! Anna’s boyfriend Chance had a nice camera and took some amazing pictures for us! After our hike we went back into the city to grab dinner and head back to Anna’s house for a casual wine and game night! It was the perfect ending to our day in the mountains.
Sunday was Matt’s 27th birthday, so we started the day by celebrating him and meeting at Sam’s No. 3 restaurant for brunch. It was so yummy and perfect patio weather. After that, we met up with my friend David and went on a hike in Golden, CO. It was tucked away off of I-70 and was a reverse hike into a valley, so the elevation gain was all on the way back. It was 5 miles with 1200 ft of elevation, shaded, and followed a river, which made the views so pretty! The fall colors weren’t blooming yet since it was lower elevation, but I bet they will be soon! After, we made dinner at home and had an early night since we had to wake up early for my flight and work the next day! Overall, it was such a fun trip exploring the Denver area, and I can’t wait to go back for ski weekends with my Ikon pass this winter!
This past weekend we visited Capitol Reef for the first time! We’ve checked off 4/5 National Parks in Utah, and this might be my favorite park so far. This park has so much room to explore, and isn’t nearly as crowded as the other parks. My sister in law and her boyfriend were visiting, so it was the perfect chance to road trip down south for the weekend. We car camped on BLM land just outside the park and did 3 day hikes in the park. We just skimmed the surface of the park, and I already can’t wait to visit again next year! The temps were in the mid 70’s and sunny during the day and 40’s at night, so I’m glad we didn’t visit in the middle of summer. It was the perfect weekend getaway!
Friday morning we packed up early and drove the 3.5 hours from SLC to Capitol Reef. We arrived around 11 and started our first hike around noon. We decided to hike Cassidy Arch and Grand Wash Trails in the same day since they start at the same trail head. Cassidy Arch is 4 miles with 950 ft of elevation, it was gradual and had beautiful canyon views the entire way up. The arch was huge and you could walk across the top of it, which made for awesome pictures. The best part is we only saw 10-15 other people on the hike and had the arch to ourselves for a while!
We started Grand Wash trail around 3pm and it was a great way to end the day in the park! The canyon walls were very similar to the narrow at Zion but without the river at the bottom. The hike is about 4 miles with 400 ft of elevation, so it was basically a walk and accessible to anyone!
After the hikes we went back to camp to set up our tents and make dinner on the grill. We ended the night with a campfire and drinks. The stars were the brightest I’ve ever seen, we could even see the milky way!
Saturday morning we woke up to a beautiful sunrise and made breakfast around the campfire before packing up camp. It was a beautiful morning and we even had the luxury of fresh coffee from the gas station down the road. After packing up we made our way into the park for a longer hike! We decided on Navajo Knob hike which is about 8.5 miles and 2500 ft of elevation. We passed the Hickman Bridge Trail and the Rim Overlook, so it was like three different trails in one! It was a beautiful blue bird day and we couldn’t of asked for better views along the way. We decided to stop about a mile from the top to have lunch and drinks before making our way back. Overall we did about 6.5 of the 8.5 mile hike but it was the perfect length before we had to drive home.
Once we got home, we had a great dinner at The Dodo in SLC Saturday night and Brunch at Park Cafe on Sunday morning before dropping Sarah and Adam off at the airport. They are the best visitors and went with the flow the whole time, I can’t wait for them to visit again next year!
My friends Lexi, Brad, and I spent this past weekend hiking and camping in the Uinta Mountains. The changing leaves haven’t hit quite yet, but fall was in the air during the day and it dropped to almost freezing temps overnight. It was fun to spend one last weekend in the mountains before the snow hits and we can’t tent camp anymore. We tried two new hikes and even checked a peak off the bucket list.
We spent Friday exploring downtown Park City and stayed there with Lexi’s family so we could attend the hot air balloon festival early Saturday morning. We woke up early to get there before the crowds and see all of the balloons take off. It was a beautiful morning and Park City mountain was so pretty with all of the balloons floating in the sky! After the festival, we were on our way to the Unitas. about an hour drive away.
We got to the Uintas and found a camp site to set our tent up at before starting our first hike. It was a nice change of pace to camp at a campground instead of backpacking! We could have the luxury of being close to the car, cooking hot food on the grill, and having a built in fire pit. We did a 9 mile hike to Island Lake, off the Crystal lake trail head. There is about 1000 ft of elevation, so it was a relatively flat hike besides a few sections of up and down. We passed plenty of lakes along the way and the views were incredible!
After the hike, we went back to camp to set up the rest of our things, cook dinner, play games, and sit around the fire. It was a perfect night (besides the bees that kept swarming). We went to bed pretty early that night to rest up for our hike the next morning! We ate breakfast and packed up camp in the morning before driving to Bald Mountain. This trail is short but steep! Its about 3.5 miles round trip with 1000 ft of elevation. We took lots of breaks but the 360 views of the Unitas and surrounding lakes were beautiful. At the top we were at 12000 ft, so we could see parts of the Wasatch in the distance. We explored at the top and saw one mountain goat and a only a few other people on the trail. After the hike, we drove home to catch the Packer win over the Vikings! Overall it was an amazing trip and I’m so thankful for all of the places I got to see this summer!
This past weekend I went to the Uinta Mountains with my friends Lisa and Jon. We chose to backpack the Naturalist Basin trail that starts from the Mirror Lake Trailhead in the Uinta’s. It was a 13 mile out and back trail or a 16-18 mile loop (depending on how much you explore the lakes). We drove about 2 hours to the trailhead Saturday morning and started hiking around 10:30am. We hiked for about 5 hours and stopped to set up camp at Blue Lake along the loop. The first picture below was about 2 miles in where there was forest fire damage from last summer. It was crazy to see the aftermath in person. The first 6 miles of the trail had gradual elevation change, and last 2 miles were steep to get to the top where the lakes were. We camped 8 miles in and had the whole area to ourselves!
After setting up camp we explored the area and surrounding lakes. We got hit with a rain storm right after dinner, but it ended right when sunset started. We soaked that in and had a bonfire and stargazed to end the night. We were so exhausted from hiking and got a full nights sleep to rest up for the rest of the hike.
On Sunday we hiked the rest of the loop and saw about 5 more lakes and a few waterfalls! It was a beautiful area and I’m glad we did the whole loop hike. The hardest part was the last 2 miles that were a gradual uphill. We ended up hiking about 10 miles Sunday and we were so tired on the car ride home. But it was definitely worth the 18 mile hike for all of the beautiful views and lakes we saw! This was my favorite hike so far in the Uinta Mountains and I can’t wait to explore more!