Canyonlands: Islands in the Sky

I probably shouldn’t have tried to fit Arches AND Canyonlands into one trip. That is way too much southern Utah beauty to pack into a two day camping trip, but to the dismay of many past travel companions I am a “Type A” vacationer. Sometimes this motivation to cover everything in a very short amount of time has the side effects of exaustion, burn out, and lack of relaxation, which some people actually WANT when the go on a vacation. Go figure. I wish I could transfer this quality to other areas of my life…I would be a much more productive person if that were the case.

Anyway, because of my over planing, we were only able to fit in a small taste of the park. In the evening we hit Mesa arch and some scenic views of the sunset and the next day we hiked whale rock. Even though our time in the park was short, we experienced so many breathtaking views that a trip to the needles (another area of the park) is in order for our next southern Utah road trip. Here are some photos.


Arches National Park

Today I was pulled over and given my first ticket by a very grumpy police woman (why was she so grouchy? She wasn’t the one getting a ticket!) It was a really traumatic experience, made more awful by the fact that I had left my wallet at home (whoops, no license!) and the pregnancy hormones were raging something fierce today, which resulted in a humiliating bawl-fest and once the flood gates were opened nothing could stop the barrage of tears, not even an early morning bowl of rocky road ice cream I might have eaten to calm myself.  I decided I would cheer myself up by blogging about one of the coolest places I’ve ever been. Arches National Park is amazing! It’s actually embarrassing how long I lived in Utah before I planned a visit. The pictures I had seen of this place, no matter how beautiful, did not do it justice. There is something about being there and getting the whole 360 degree experience. Not only are there arches and massive, red rock formations, but also contrasting green rock, flat desert, and snow capped mountains off in the distance.

Arches ViewArchesAfter we found a place to set up camp, we headed to the park for an evening hike to delicate arch. My photography teacher had warned me that it would be next to impossible to get a good picture of the landmark because there are constantly tourists posing in front of it. He was absolutely correct, but it didn’t bother me! Being one of about…a billion amateur photographers, I’m pretty sure I can’t produce a picture of this landscape that someone else hasn’t already done better, so I just relaxed and enjoyed the view.

Delicate ArchThe highlight of the trip was the Devil’s Garden hike. There are 8 arches along the trail and some really unique scenery.

Devil's Garden HikeDevil's Garden Hike 2Devil's Garden Hike 4One of the arches along the trail is Double O arch. It is a massive arch and there were people climbing on top of it (yikes!) We climbed up to eat lunch with a view, but my intense fear of heights prevented me from climbing over the arch.

Double O ArchDouble O Arch 2Devil's Garden Hike 3Double O Arch 3We also saw Landscape arch on the hike, which to me looks more delicate than delicate arch. Apparently, a few big pieces of it have fallen off so the trail no longer goes underneath it. We saw a bunch of hikers bypass the fence and explore the underside. Not this girl! I admired it from a safe distance. I mean…look how thin it looks on that one side.

Landscape ArchThere are plenty of other opportunities for climbing around along the trail. Notice how none of these pictures are of me. It might have something to do with the whole heights thing.

Arches 3Arches 4Arches 5Arches 6We headed back to our campsite at Big Bend campground (just outside of Moab, on the Colorado river), DEVOURED some tin foil dinners, and got some rest before our next adventure in…Canyonlands.

Big Bend CampgroundBig Bend Campground 2Big Bend Campground 3

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park, Taggart Lake Trail

Most of our time in Jackson Hole was spent at Grand Teton National Park.  Being poor college students, we spend a lot of our time on vacation hiking.  It’s not that we are particularly granola, it’s just the most fun activity we can do for free.  We preemptively pop a few Advil so our old creaky bones don’t ache too much and head out on the trails. Don’t get me wrong, we really enjoy it, but if we had more dinero to burn, we might throw a few more activities into our repertoire…such has rafting or horseback riding.  You can even go llama trekking. Yes, that’s a thing.  And I would highly recommend it (even though I’ve never done it) just so you can brag about it to all your friends.

We also visited the National Elk Refuge.  Although the refuge can have up to 7,500 elk visiting during the winter…we did not see a single one.  We did, however, see antelope, coyote, moose, and deer.  We will have to check the elusive elk off of our list some other time!

On our first day at the park, we hiked the Jenny Lake trail. It was a beautiful, clear lake and it was close to the parking lot.  It would be a great hike for little ones.  The trail goes around the lake.  It followed the road for a while, so maybe not a good hike for those who want to get off the beaten path.

Grand Teton National Park 2

Grand Teton National Park 3

Grand Teton National Park 4

Brandon used his wildlife spotting skills to find this cute little guy right off of the path.  Some hikers ahead of us walked right by him.  Get a load of those ears!

Picnic Jackson Hole

I took a break for a picnic with this handsome fella.

The next day we did the Taggart Lake trail.  It was a little more challenging, but still doable for two couch potatoes.  It makes a nice loop and only took us 2-3 hours.

Grand Teton Nation Park 6

Grand Teton National Park Moose

Some pictures from the elk refuge.

Elk Refuge 1

Elk Refuge 2

Elk Refuge 3

I would recomend following up any healthy, outdoor activity with a high calorie food, such as pizza.  Wouldn’t want that food baby melting away.  I would miss it too much.

Jackson WY Pizza

Jackson Hole, WY

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Last fall my husband and I traveled to Jackson Hole, WY.  Without fail we ALWAYS plan our trips the weekend of some hugely crowded event that prevents us from finding hotel rooms.  Oh well! I guess you could say we have a special knack for it!  We really were trying to plan and prepare.  We went the week after labor day, you know, to avoid the crowds.  We ended up being there the weekend of “Lotoja”, a cycling race that starts in Logan, Utah and ends in Jackson Hole, WY.  There were zero vacancies within a fifty mile radius of the city. We ended up staying in Tetonia, ID, which was about an hour drive from Jackson.  It wasn’t so bad, but we could have used that extra time to explore the beauty that is the tetons!  You live and learn.

Travel tip of the day: when planning a trip, be sure to check ahead for any events that might interfere with your travel plans (namely marathons and bike races!)


Jackson Hole, WY

Jackson is a great little touristy western town, adorned with many, many antlers. There are a lot of restaurants and some fun shopping…and by shopping, I mean window shopping because, if you’re like me, you just can’t spend 300 dollars on a fur hat or novelty knife made of…you guessed it! Antler!  We had a lot of fun wandering around.  We visited the farmer’s market, a delectable pizza place (we wanted to go to the chuck wagon, but were limited on time), and enjoyed a rodeo.    The rodeo is held every Friday and Saturday during the summer season, so hit that up if you visit! Most of our time was spent in Grand Teton National Park, but that’s another post for another day.


Photo op in front of Jackson’s most celebrated decorating accessory.



Window shopping.  It was so hard to walk out of that store without this flattering hat.  And yes…I am one of those annoying tourists that poses for pictures with store merchandise.

Oh wait…here I am doing it again at the rodeo.  I’ve got to stop doing that!




This four year old girl is showing those macho cowboys how it’s done!


What’s better than an action packed rodeo set against the backdrop of the Tetons?

Until next time!