Great Basin National Park

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!

 

 

 

Jackson Hole Ski Trip

The first weekend in March Matt and I road tripped to Jackson, WY to ski with 6 of our Midwest friends that live in Salt Lake. We have visited Jackson a few times during the summer, but this was our first time skiing there. The city and ski resort are so beautiful during the winter! We drove up Friday after work, skied a full day Saturday, half day Sunday, and drove home that night. We stayed right in downtown Jackson about 20 min from the resort, and it was great to be in walking distance to restaurants and bars. We enjoyed dinner at Snake River Brewery and got drinks at the Cowboy Bar Saturday night. We also ate at a few restaurants at the ski resort during the day. The temps were warm and the conditions were slushy and icy in patches, making it the first weekend of spring skiing. The terrain is for intermediate to advanced with mostly double blue and black runs, so we were definitely sore after day 1! Day 2 was a little bit more relaxed, and we had time to explore most of the mountain in one weekend. We took the tram up to the summit to finish out the day Sunday before heading home. It was a great last ski trip with friends and we can’t wait to explore new resorts on the Ikon Pass next season! Writing this blog over a month later, it’s crazy to think that this was our last full weekend skiing for the season before all of the resorts shut down due to Covid. We would normally be spring skiing until this past weekend, but we will just have to wait until November. We are definitely ready for hiking and camping season!

Big Sky Ski Trip

This past weekend Matt and I road tripped with 6 other friends to Big Sky Resort in Montana. This resort is on our Ikon Ski Pass and has been one of my bucket list resorts to visit! We left Friday after work and drove back Sunday late afternoon, so we were able to fit in one full ski day and a half day. It’s a 5-6 hour drive to the resort from SLC depending on weather conditions, so it was a lot of driving for a normal weekend but it was worth it! We stayed in West Yellowstone about an hour from the resort to save money and get more space for the 8 of us staying there. We loved our Airbnb, but the roads to get to the resort are very remote and snowy so they usually require a 4WD SUV for safety. We loved skiing at Big Sky, it’s higher elevation so it has great snow conditions and the most runs I’ve ever skied at one place. We loved the long and wide blue and green runs, and there were a few heated chairlifts which helped block the cold temps. We already can’t wait to go back next year and stay for a longer weekend!

SATURDAY

SUNDAY

 

Thanksgiving in Phoenix

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!

Phoenix

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!

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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.

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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

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moab Road Trip

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!

CANYONLANDS

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colorado Fall Trip

 

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.

SATURDAY

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

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!

 

 

 

 

 

Capitol Reef National Park

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

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

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!

 

 

Grand Teton Camping Trip

This past weekend Matt and I road tripped to Grand Teton National Park with our friends Katie and Sam! We have been wanting to camp together for a while and a weekend finally worked out for both of us. We left Friday after work and drove back Sunday afternoon, so we made the 5 hour drive worth it! I’ve been to this park twice but have never camped in the park, so that was a new adventure!

Friday night we got there around 11pm and found a BLM public camp spot for free near the park. We set up camp quickly in the dark and got a good nights sleep for a full day of hiking Saturday. We tried out a new hike on the far south end of the park called Death Canyon. It’s a 10 mile, 2500 ft of elevation change hike that has everything to offer! The first mile takes you to the Phelps Lake overlook, and then you go down a few hundred feet of elevation to get to the lake.

After you pass the lake, you start hiking up Death Canyon to an amphitheater at the top. The canyon follows a rushing river with mini waterfalls and wildflowers all the way up. It was gradual the whole way up and the views up and down the canyon were amazing. We ate lunch along the river at the top with mountains completely surrounding us. It was my favorite hike I’ve done in this park and I would highly recommend! The hardest part was the elevation climb on the way back to get to the lake overlook, but it was worth the views! The hike took us about 6 hours and we grilled dinner right at the parking lot after. There were two bear sightings on the hike by others that passed us on the way out but we didn’t see any.

That evening we spent grabbing drinks at Snake River Brewery and Cowboy Bar downtown Jackson. We caught the most epic sunset behind the Teton Range while a storm was rolling in on our way back to camp. We got rained on that night and a little during the hike, but it wasn’t too bad and kept the hike pretty empty!

On Sunday we made breakfast at camp and decided to do a shorter and more leisurely hike on our last day. We took the shuttle boat across Jenny Lake and hiked to hidden falls and back to the trailhead. It was about a 3 mile hike with less than 1000 ft of elevation for the 1 way hike. The temperatures were warm and intense with the elevation so we were glad we took it easy! We stopped at Mormon Row and the Chapel of the Transfiguration on our way out of the park. We also got Raspberry Shakes in Bear Lake, they were totally worth it. It was such a fun trip and I’m so glad the guys got to experience the park for the first time. Can’t wait to go back next year and backpack the Tetons!

 

 

 

Montana Backpacking Trip

After a year of living in Utah, Matt and I finally went on our first ever backpacking trip alone last weekend! He suggested we visit Montana to escape the 100 degree temps in Salt Lake and we also got to visit a friend of his in Bozeman. It was a 6 hour drive, so we spent Friday night exploring the city and got up early Saturday to drive to our hike in Big Sky, the ski town about 30 min away.

LAVA LAKE

We hiked to Lava Lake and it was a beautiful hike all the way up. The trail had a rushing river alongside tons of greenery and pine trees. Each way was about 3 miles and 1600 ft of elevation change, which was perfect with our backpacks on. We spent most of the day exploring around the lake, fly fishing, and setting up camp. We found a quiet spot with a lake and sunset view, and made dinner right on the water. The water temp was a little too cold to jump in, but we saw plenty of swimmers cliff jump. The views and lake were unlike anything we’ve ever seen out west and we were so happy with our decision to visit this area of Montana. It was great to be on our own schedule and just get to talk about our future together. We brought our bear spray and hung up our food in a far away tree just in case a bear came through, but we didn’t end up seeing any, whew!

The hike down was very relaxing and we had a nice 6 hour drive home. We stopped at Panera in Idaho on the way home and realized I missed it so much from the Midwest! It was so yummy after a weekend of ramen, oatmeal, and instant mashed potatoes haha.  Overall it was an amazing trip and I can’t to be back in the winter to ski Big Sky with our Ikon passes!

Birthday Weekend – The Narrows at Zion

ZION NATIONAL PARK

This past weekend I celebrated my 26th Birthday with my friends Kristin, Lauren, and Inna in Zion National Park! It was the 2nd time I’ve been to the park, but this time we were able to hike The Narrows. I’ve also hiked Angel’s Landing and Observation Point, and those are so worth it! You can see my previous Zion blog post for that trip. We went Thursday night to Friday night to beat the weekend crowds and it was so worth it! The temps were in the 90’s but we started early in the morning to beat the crowds and heat.

We left our hotel at 6:30am to rent gear before heading into the park. The Zion Adventure Company rents water hiking boots, socks, and hiking poles for $25 just outside the park. It was so worth it to get the gear and get there right when they opened at 7am. We got into the park around 8am and got in line for the shuttle. Since the Narrows is the last stop in the park, we started hiking around 9am. The first half mile to mile is walking on a paved path that is accessible for everyone before getting in the water.

We started with a few other people on our shuttle, but overall the crowds spread out once we were hiking through the river. The temps were in the 70’s and we were shaded from the canyon walls for most of the morning. We hiked about 3.5 hours before taking a break for lunch. There were so many beautiful views and variety of depths to hike through. Some parts were dry, but most of the hike was between ankle deep and  waist deep water. We didn’t bring any valuables besides 1 waterproof phone, car keys, water, food, and an extra layer of clothing just in case we fell in. The water temp was around 60 degrees and it felt great to escape from the heat in the afternoon. We got to the part of the narrows where it split into 2 canyons, and after that the canyon walls got narrower and the current picked up.

After lunch we turned around and that is when the sun was on us and the crowds got more intense the closer we got to the start. We took our time on the way back and swam in the deeper sections when the sun started getting too hot. I loved doing this hike on a week day in the summer, it was so beautiful and comfortable with the hot temps. Overall it was an amazing experience and we couldn’t have asked for a better day at Zion! We finished our trip with dinner at Zion Brewery and drove home!

SALT LAKE

On Saturday I had a birthday get together with our friends in Salt Lake. We hiked to Lake Mary at Brighton (3 miles round trip) and it was the perfect hike for a large group! Most of the snow was melted and it has beautiful views for a shorter hike. The wildflowers were also in bloom, which made the ski resort area so beautiful! We stopped at Hog Wallow pub for a post hike beer, and the patio was perfect for our group! It was an amazing birthday weekend with friends and I am so thankful for our community in Salt Lake!