Christmas Road Trip Day 6: Zion National Park
Sadly we had to say goodbye to Las Vegas, but we had a lot more places to see on our route before heading back home. On the sixth day of our wild Christmas road trip, we loaded up Beasty (our white van) this time heading east to Zion National Park! Once again, the voyage vehicle was filled with a ton of little kid voice out numbering the adults. Hearing their laugher, excitement, and happiness of going on a adventure together as a family was simply contagious.
I was over the moon that most of Seth’s family wanted to join us for the third leg of our trip! Everyone had such a great time at Death Valley, that they wanting to continue the adventure with us! This turned our normal 5 man crew + one fury dog into a 13 person crew and it was wonderful! We all were ready for another Gardner style adventure!
Driving into the park took my breath away; the view so beautiful. I did not expect it to be blanked in a thin layer of glimmering snow. The stark contrast between the red rock and the bright white snow created a picturesque winter wonderland.
I learned that this park is a rock climber and extreme hikers paradise! To be able to truly see and explore this beautiful section of land, you have to be in excellent condition. It is made up of steep grade hills and skinny trails with a chain for a railing. Being there, present and seeing with my own two eyes what more is out there in this world for me to do, lit a fire inside of me. I want to come back to this park one day and hike Angels Landing and the Narrows. I want to come back stronger than I currently am and prove to myself my own capabilities. I know one day I will get there and a good challenge only helps push me further.
Zion is a very narrow park with only a two lane road running through it. It was originally carved out by the Virgin River which created this narrow passage way which millions of tourist now flock to every year. Since it is so narrow, there is not much parking available which is a problem during peak seasons.
During the busier times of the year, the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive (which we drove) closes to traffic which forces you to ride the free shuttles. The thought of fighting huge crowds to get on trolleys to take you from one trail head to another in the heat does NOT sound enjoyable!
I am very happy we visited at the end of December which was not during the peak season. This allowed us to be able to drive the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, park at the Zion Lodge (where we had lunch and I almost fainted), and park closer to trail heads. Being in our own vehicle gave me the ability to see parts of this park without expending too much physical energy.
Before lunch, we attempted to walk the Emerald Pools Trail, but were only able to get half way through it because of the ice and snow. If we would have rented cramp ons for our shoes this trail would have been accessible. So if you visit during Winter stop in Springdale, UT to pick up your winter outdoor gear before entering into the park.
Even though we were not able to hike much of Zion, simply driving through it made me fall in love with this preserved place. The scenery was so beautiful I wish we could have spent a few days here. I could have sat on a bench for hours admiring the beautiful patterns and structures that were created in the sandstone due of weather erosion.
Zion is now one of my top two favorites National Parks because of its extreme beauty.
That evening we spent the night in a small town called Kanab, UT which sits about an hour outside of Zion. This sleepy settlement is about halfway between Zion and Antelope Canyon (which was our next destination). There were not too many options to choose from to eat or sleep at, but this little town surprised us!
We pulled our huge 15 passenger van into the only restaurant that was open that night in Kanab. With my strict diet, we were concerned that I would not be able to find anything on the menu to eat, but Peekaboo Canyon Wood Fired Kitchen shocked us! This little hole in the wall restaurant was not only adorable, but they also made gluten free and dairy free pizzas! Like whaaaat?
How was this possible that the ONLY restaurant in Kanab was gluten free and vegan?! That is one in a million to find!
Sometimes I can’t question the universe, I just have to smile and say yes!
I had a smile from ear to ear when I ordered my meal and it only grew after I took my first bite! My pizza was absolutely delicious! It was covered in vegan cheese, spinach, artichoke, vegan sausage and was on the most doughy, delicious gluten free crust. If I could, I would have ordered a basket of just the pizza crust. It was made perfectly and was the closet GF dough to french bread I have tasted since becoming gluten free six years ago.
I would have never guessed that this little restaurant, in this tiny town would have given me the best dinning experience since developing so many food sensitivities.
Kanab was yet another experience that showed me that the best things sometimes happen in unexpected places.