There are two things I’ve wanted to do for awhile that I finally got to check off my bucket list. The first is glamping, which for those who might not be hip is a glamorous version of camping. So think less tent-on-the-ground and more luxury-tent-outfitted-with-indoor-plumbing-and-a-shower. For all you real campers out there who might find this silly, listen here: the thought of Jordan and I attempting to camp the traditional way on our own is laughable at best and breeding ground for a divorce at worst.
The second thing on my wishlist was to spend time in one of Utah’s national parks. And for those who might not be hip to Utah, it has a whopping five national parks (often referred to as The Mighty Five) and boasts some of the most incredible scenery in the U.S. Just google images from Utah national parks, and prepare to let your eyes feast.
I’d honestly love to visit all of the U.S. National Parks — there’s so much beauty in the U.S., and ever since our trip to Yosemite National Park in 2016, I’m officially hooked.
Jordan had a work trip to Salt Lake City, so I tagged along, and once his meetings were over, we took a 45-min regional flight down to Cedar City, UT, which is in the southwest corner of the state. From there, we drove an hour to Under Canvas Zion, our glamping site. Checking in was easy, and we got a helpful rundown of how the camp site worked. Here’s a photo of our beloved tent that was home for three nights.
There were bedside lamps we could turn on at night, bedside phone chargers, a toilet, a sink, and a pull shower with essential toiletries. There was also a wood-burning stove and a front deck to sit out on.
Jordan became mildly obsessed with tending to our wood-burning stove. For all the times he failed to wake up when our children would cry in the middle of the night, he managed to jump up and tend to that fire at 3:00 a.m. and keep us warm and toasty. He also was talented enough to find a way to watch the NBA playoffs on his phone (seen above) without access to WiFi.
Our first night at the camp site was exciting, but there was a super windy rainstorm that made for a lot of noise. I often felt certain that a person was banging on the outside of our tent, when it was actually just the wind. As crazy as the noise was, the rain stopped overnight, and when we opened the tent doors in the morning, we were greeted by this view (which Jordan saw and said, “no way!”):
In addition to our sweet tent, Under Canvas had a lodge with a full-service restaurant that served really nice food. We hardly eat meals at hotels when we travel, but having tasty food on site was really convenient and added to the slow pace of our trip. The lodge was also equally stylish and comfy. We loved sitting outside a staring at the surrounding red mountains. And in the evenings, a local artist played a live acoustic set during dinner.
With all of this scenery and amenities, you might be wondering if we ever left the camp site. And yes, indeed, we did. On our first full day, we grabbed sandwiches from a deli close to the Zion park entrance and set out to see as much of the park as we could.
During the spring to fall months, private vehicles are unable to drive through Zion National Park, so you can park near the Visitor’s Center, and then ride the free park shuttle to the various trailheads. The hike I had really hoped to do, called The Narrows, wasn’t an option due to excessive snow melt. And in fact, a few other parts of the park were closed, due to rock fall and damage done by a year of heavier than usual precipitation. But we rode the shuttle to the top of the park, and had a great time hiking up to where The Narrows begins.
After walking through a mile of towering red mountains, and along the Virgin River that’s created the park’s incredible views over the course of millions of years, we headed to the trailhead for Angel’s Landing — the park’s most popular hike.
This hike delivers incredible views, and I wanted to stop every few minutes to take it all in. The hike is also pretty steep — about two miles almost entirely on an incline, although there is a midway stretch that offers welcomed shade. I can imagine that visiting during the summer months could be pretty brutal, but even in the spring, having lots of water and snacks was really important.
The hike has a number of steep switchbacks carved into the mountain, called Wally’s Wiggles, and when you get past those, you arrive at a lookout point called Scout’s Landing.The views at Scouts Landing are great, and many people choose this spot as their final destination before heading back down the mountain. But then there are the adventurous kind who continue on to hike Angel’s Landing — a half mile stretch of mountain that leads to a higher and more magnificent view of the park. Now, a half mile hike doesn’t sound that crazy, but this “short” hike is crazy narrow with 1,000 ft. drops to both sides. There are chains bolted into the mountain to assist with climbing and safety, but the hike is definitely not for the faint of heart.
Nevertheless, we persisted. I repeatedly told myself that the hike was a matter of mental toughness, and all I had to do was take my time. But I was super freaked out by how casually some people appeared to be climbing that thing. Here’s a photo of the “trail”…
Crazy as it all was, when we made it to the top, I could easily see what all of the hype was about. It’s definitely one of those places people take iconic photos and post on Instagram, but I was certainly not trying to win photo of the year on top of that spot. Our photos taken far from the edge will do just fine.
The hike down Angel’s Landing was much easier than I anticipated, but by the time we made it back to our camp site, my legs were already talking to me (and if you’re wondering, they were saying, “who do you think you are hiking 2.5 miles uphill knowing you haven’t done any for real, for real exercise in well over a year?!”)
We closed out the night with making s’mores at one of the fire pits at Under Canvas (they provide all of the supplies!) And we had a great time chatting with other guests from places like California, Texas, and the U.K. about that crazy wind storm (it had us all shook), our favorite podcasts, and our travel plans.
Have you been to Zion National Park or one of the other parks in Utah? And how about glamping?