As quickly as the desert changed from the pale tones of grey and tan from southern Arizona, to the red rock of Sedona, it changed just as quickly upon departing. With my bestie, Meagan, heading back home to winter after four rad weeks of shredding-the-red, it was my boyfriend Alex’s turn to visit. With a short 9 days to tackle a big list of places to check out, we decided on three key areas, and anything else we could find time for would be a bonus. The South West is a big place, and there are truly so many amazing and unique places to check out. Narrowing down the list was tough, but we concluded on Sedona, Moab and Zion National Park (both in Utah).
Goldilocks got a slight renovation before Alex’s arrival. While I do have my tent and a two person air mattress with me, I was determined that we were going to sleep in the van. It still gets chilly enough at night, and the convenience of not having to set up and tear down a tent everyday… In order to make it work, all the storage was moved to the back of the van, including piling as much as possible on my bunk, and removing the spare bench seat every night. This then involved wrapping it up in a tarp (a definite two person job) to protect it from the scary outdoor world that it had never seen. A slight bit more work than I was use to, prior to hitting the hay, but it meant we could be cozy asleep together inside the van. Finding level spots to park the van for the night had never been so critical.
We shredded the red for two days, showing off the top trails that I had found, forgetting that I had been riding a solid two months and Alex hadn’t been on his bike for, er, quite some time. He did amazing, as I had predicted, and crushed the first two days no problem. After a quick tour of Sedona, we made the relatively short drive up to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim for the coldest sleep of the trip. The morning greeted us with a light layer of frost. Thankfully the sun was quick to come out and erase it – driving Goldilocks in anything slippery is a terrifying experience (V8 rear wheel drive…). Making the most of our time, we practically ran down the South Kaibab Trail, making it a solid 5km to Skeleton Point where we got a sneak peak of the Colorado River, far below us still. The climb out was not nearly as effortless as the hike down. And then the real road trip began…we were off to Moab.
At last, I had returned to one of my favourite places to shred. Amasa Back was the top spot to check out first, and we hit the trails in what was in the end, one of the biggest rides I had done the entire trip (both distance and climbing). We covered a lot of trail before we started the infamous Captain Ahab, but I was getting to my expiration by that point. It was so hard to enjoy my absolute favourite trial (I didn’t remember so much pedalling before), but still managed to smile the whole descent back out. Glamping was in order for the two nights spent in Moab, which included free hot showers, and wifi at our site. The downside was that it was right off the main highway at the edge of town. Not the most adventurous site I have stayed at. Day two, we wanted to check out the ‘Mag 7’ ride, but the time and effort it would have taken to get a shuttle organized just wasn’t worth it. We scoped out a fairly new riding area called Navajo Rocks, which gave the best showcase of the varying types of trails that Moab has to offer. By the end I was ultimately cracked and done. I think I was on day ten of riding in a row and time off the bike was needed. The final day in Moab, I opted to shuttle Alex up to the start of Porcupine Rim (the one that Moab is well known for), and I relaxed in town. Alex’s downhilling background did not let him down, and he crushed the 17km of Porcupine Rim in what felt like a record time.
And we were off again to our third destination – Zion National Park. I had been waiting the whole trip for this Park, and it was nothing short of what I had pictured it to be. We snagged one of the last campsites and claimed it for two nights. We did roll through on the weekend, and apparently this place still gets incredibly busy this time of the year. A reservation may have been a smart move. Arriving in the dark, meant that we were greeted with some spectacular canyon views in the morning. Maybe I loved Zion so much because it reminded me a lot like Sedona.
We hit the trail early hoping to beat the crowds of people, but unfortunately everyone else had the same idea. The trail to summit Angel’s Landing is not for the faint hearted – it is sheer exposure on both sides and they have placed chains in the rocks for you to hold on for dear life. I loved every second of it. I felt like a kid in a jungle gym. The sheer number of people really put a damper on the fun though. The narrow trail meant long waits for the lines of people scared shitless to pass by. We scoped out the trail head for ‘The Narrows’, but the water was so unbelievably damn cold, that standing in the river to grab a picture was almost unbearable. I would love to come back and rent the proper water attire and hike the full length of ‘The Narrows’ – which for those that don’t know, the entire trail is hiking the Virgin River through the Canyon.
Our second last day, we departed Zion, and were able to sneak in a short trail ride on the Jem Trails in Hurricane, Utah. A popular area as the infamous Redbull Rampage partakes in the same terrain that we were riding around. I can basically say I rode Rebull Rampage now – HA just kidding. I was far from it, and just admired the steep loose dirt cliffs from the ground below.
Our final night found us parking the van, and checking in to a hotel, if you haven’t guessed it by now, in Las Vegas. Neither of us had never been there before and committed to 24 hours in Vegas. Yep that’s about all I could handle before I would have been crawling back to the desert for the peace and quiet. But don’t get me wrong, it was one hell of an experience. There really is no place like Vegas. Walking the Strip, with drinks in hand, we wandered in and out of the numerous casinos and hotels, eventually calling it a night far beyond my normal bedtime. I’m happy (or maybe sad) to announce that I spent $0 on gambling. Although at this point in my trip, some winnings would have helped the budget tremendously.
Unfortunately the trip ended far to quickly, and we had to say our goodbyes. We both departed from Vegas, Alex back to Toronto, and myself off to California for the next adventure on my trip. A state that I really have not spent any time exploring, I was excited to see what one of the ‘best’ states has to offer!
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And always remember, home is where you park it!