I went alone. I love traveling alone, but I have learned that it has to be on organized trips because if I go to a city and I have no tours taken, I will be consumed by laziness, and I would never leave the hotel to explore.
I discovered that I love traveling alone thanks to the cruises that Carnival has kindly invited me to go on years past.
I have always had a great time, although at times I have missed my family. So this time, I wanted to do something that I know they wouldn’t enjoy. In my family, I am the only one who LOVES being outside in nature, even if it means getting sweaty and fighting mosquitoes.
I quickly settle on Wildland Trekking because they have so many options of dates, places (many national parks, but also Ecuador, Chile, and more), types of organized walks: for a day, 2-4-6 and more days. Accommodation: in tents, in cabins or lodges. For me it was essential to go on an organized tour because I have no experience in hiking, I had never been to Utah, I didn’t know about the weather, nor what kind of clothes to wear or the best trails. It was definitely the right decision.
Once I booked the trip with Wildland Trekking, they sent me information about what I should take on the trip (recommended shoes, layers of clothes, what logistics would be (which airport to fly, shuttle companies, etc.). And suggestions on how to train to enjoy the adventure. Here in Houston, there are no hills, so I did stairs to prepare. Two weeks before the trip, I received an email from what would be our guides Brittney and Dylan with more recommendations and the possibility to ask questions.
Once in Utah, the night before, I meet the guides and the other people on the group: 3 couples and I, plus two guides and two cars: one for the luggage and the other one to take us around.
The first day we met before dawn in the hotel parking lot, and the first stop was in a cafe for breakfast. The tour was all included. So in each place, everyone asked for what they wanted, but the guides paid.
From there, we went to Zion to explore the “Narrows,” this is one of the few walks that are not on a trail but in water. At the entrance of the park, there is a rental shop for special water shoes and rubber socks, they are not waterproof, but they dry quickly and are comfortable and safe, with a lot of grip. Our guides also gave each of us a day backpack, snack options to carry, and trekking poles. Moreover, we were taught how to use the poles, ideal height going up or down, how to move them when to use them, it makes a lot of difference.
That day we took sandwiches that we ate on a stone out of the water. The other days our guides prepared amazing picnics in places with beautiful views.
The walk in the Narrows is spectacular, although being Saturday it was crowded, it was still hot in September, so the water was refreshing. Walking in water is not the same as walking on land, and my muscles weren’t happy. Let’s say that naproxen was necessary.
In Zion National Park, they have a shuttle system that runs through the most visited part of the park to avoid congestion and contamination of private cars. It is well organized, and the waits are minimal. During the day, our luggage was in the car, so we only carried our backpacks. That night and the next, we stayed in rustic cabins at Zion Mountain Ranch with spectacular views on the east side outside the park. We went to dinner at a tapas restaurant in Kanab: Sego, excellent.
The second day, also in Zion, we made the walk going to “Angel’s Landing”, to a place with spectacular views “Scout’s Lookout”, from there you can continue even higher to the landing, but it is without a path, holding of chains and really that is not for me, I’m quite scared of heights.
We were lucky to see a condor and wild turkeys. It was hot, so after this hike, we had lunch and went to the river to relax. Then another hike “Canyon Overlook Trail” in another area of the park, just past the Mount Carmel tunnel where we saw a horned sheep. In the evening, we went to a Mexican restaurant in the town at the entrance of the park Springdale, which I found very attractive to stay on a future trip.
Picture of one of the climbs we did, it leaves your legs like jello 😅.
On the third day, we went to Bryce very early; we had breakfast at a traditional diner Thunderbird Restaurant, then at the park, our guides made us walk in a row with our eyes closed to a viewpoint it was spectacular. In Bryce, I felt the altitude, the air is dry and thin, but everything is worth it because it is beautiful. Here, we hiked the “Fairyland loop,” which according to our guide, Dylan is one of his absolute favorites hikes considering all the parks. He explained to us that many walks are to get to a place: to a waterfall, viewpoint, etc. Here, the focus is on the journey, the landscape is changing so fast, and it is so spectacularly beautiful. We had dinner early at a fantastic steakhouse Stone Hearth Grille. We stayed inside the national park in cabins at the Lodge, the main building and the cabins are 100 years old. I loved being able to have the experience of staying there.
The last day, we went to see the sunrise at one of the viewpoints on Bryce, sublime. Then we ate a good breakfast at the Lodge and did another moderate hike on Bryce “Navajo trail,” before heading back to explore the northern part of Zion “Kolob Canyon.” Lunch was at the park and back to the hotel from where we depart in St. George, Utah. See the tour that I took.
The next day I made my way back to Las Vegas in a shuttle and flew back to Houston.
The million-dollar question: Would I do it again? A thousand times and again with Wildland. I found that the service was excellent, our guides Dylan and Brittney informed, friendly, caring. Of course, we talked a lot on all these walks, and they told us that their top national parks in the US are: Yosemite, Cascades (Washington State), Everglades (Florida), and Bryce. There is much to explore 🙂