next stop on our drive to arizona was zion national park. ian and i have both spent time there (together and separately), but never in the snow. like at bryce, we lucked out again with stunning weather and loved the lack of crowds and abundance of natural beauty. and the red rock again seemed like it was decorated for christmas with a gorgeous dusting of sparkly snow.
we entered the park from a different direction than either of us had taken before and the descent down into the valley was stunning!
we did a really easy hike (more like a walk – paved the whole way so it was nice to bring the babies in the buggy instead of in backpacks – they had a great nap!). the trail was along the valley floor and provided 360 degree views of magnificence. the boys played with sticks and the babies snoozed and ian and i talked and it was a wonderful afternoon!
we drove up in elevation a bit to see a little more snow and pulled off at this viewpoint where we felt totally wrapped up in the magic of this gorgeous place – it felt sacred. we asked a stranger to take a family photo and i did a sensory exercise with the boys (what can you hear? taste? smell? feel? see?). i went down the path a little while ian buckled the kids in the car and there was an older man close to me who was just revelling. “this is incredible! you can’t capture or describe this. it is so so beautiful.” i audibly concurred. then he snapped a photo and exclaimed “good lord!” almost like a reflex i immediately responded with, “indeed! good lord! god made us such an incredible world! god is so good!” my new friend chuckled and looked at me with a sparkle of surprised agreement in his eye. i loved that moment.
the scenic drive in zion is closed to cars during the summer months – it gets too crowded so is only accessible via shuttle … it was fun to be able to drive it ourselves, with the sunroof open, and take our time.
we headed out of zion national park having been totally filled up with the wonders of nature. we found some yummy dinner in town and stayed at a hotel that we could use points to book a room at.
the next morning en route to las vegas we made a little detour to visit kolob canyons. this is technically part of zion but not many zion-goers make their way over. my family has a little cabin just across the highway from kolob canyons so this is a special place to me where i’ve made lots of memories. but again it’s a place i’ve never seen in the snow! we drove to the scenic lookout and oh! it was so beautiful.
next stop was sin city, ha! ian had never been to las vegas! and he was kind of hilariously excited about it. we stayed at a hotel just off the strip that had a rooftop indoor/outdoor pool so i took the boys up there upon arrival to swim while the babies napped. after some fun splashing, we hit the strip, starting at the venitian and making our way past treasure island to the bellagio (with its always incredible indoor garden displays, which were top-notch with christmas stuff! – and then of course we watched the dancing fountains!).
we walked all the way from the venitian to the luxor, taking in all the wildness of vegas along the way. such a weird place. i thought ian would kind of hate it but he actually totally loved it, haha! he got a little taste and wants to go back some day 🙂
on our way out (and finally on to gilbert, arizona) the next morning, we had to stop at the iconic sign and get a family photo 🙂
and we also made a quick pitstop at hoover dam (which is right on the way and which is such a crazy incredible feat of engineering amidst really interesting landscape!).
and then we were in the final stretch to grandma and grandpa’s house!! these sweet babies ^^ were such troopers with all the driving!