Mountain Standard Women’s Camp Jacket

The Women’s Camp Jacket

When I tried my Women’s Camp Jacket in red about a month ago, I fell in love with it. Also, I got the red cap to match with the jacket. I mainly use it to go hiking and explore outside and it keeps me warm. I’m very happy with it.

This jacket is very comfortable, warm and really lightweight. I really like the kangaroo pocket in the front that I use for my phone, the two side zippers make it easy to pull over and it also has a cozy thumb hole at the end of the sleeves.

Size S fit me really well and I’m 5.2 at 143 pounds

You can buy your Women’s Camp Jacket or other apparel for men and women at

MountainStandard.com 

Weekend Road trip around Olympic NP

My friend Nick and I did a road trip around Olympic NP and checked out places I had on my bucket list! Here’s some idea’s and tips for your next road trip.

We left Saturday morning around 9:30 for our first destination.

The famous Vance Creek Bridge

This is the second tallest bridge in Washington State. Spanning 422 feet across and towering 347 feet above the creek below. Walking along this bridge is exhilarating, scary and dangerous.

There are 2 approaches to this bridge. One is right off NF-23 and the other, also longer, is off NF-2341/2199 but requires you to trespass on private property owned by the logging company. We chose the first approach that allowed us to legally hike as far as the bridge but we must stay off. To make sure no one tries climb up  they put barb wire all around the edge and started to disassemble the bridge and tracks, making the climb more difficult but also more dangerous.

After finishing with the bridge, we then, visited different beaches in Olympic National Park, located on the coast.

The Tree of Life

There is an extraordinary tree hanging on for dear life, although, it should have been dead years ago! The tree of life is miraculous! It is located at Kalaloch Beach, near the Kalaloch Campground.


Ruby Beach

I have seen so many amazing pictures from this beach that I’ve been spoiled. It’s very beautiful but in my opinion it’s better to go for a sunset.

There are 2 campgrounds near Kalaloch and Ruby Beach. Kalaloch Campground is open year-round (make sure to reserve a site, especially during the summer) and  South Beach is open from Memorial Day to Late September.

After Ruby Beach we drove to Third beach where we wanted to backpack and camp. For some reason, we decided to go to Second Beach instead. 1.4 mile roundtrip.

Second Beach

Well, our plan for the night changed but it was totally worth it. I saw the most beautiful sunset. The colors of the sky, the clouds, the rock’s shapes and the reflection took my breath away! If you don’t want or can’t camp on the beach, take a flashlight and hike back at night. This is my NUMBER 1 place from this trip so far. It was so amazing to admire the sky full of stars while eating around the fire.

In the morning, we had a cloudy and grey sunrise but it was still pretty anyway. Also, the temperatures are still chilly in April. So, I didn’t sleep well because it was pretty cold and I woke up every couple hours. But it was fun anyway and a nice first experience sleeping on the beach.

We went back to Third Beach around 8:30am. We walked on the beach as far as the waterfall on the left of the beach. It was nice and relaxing but I’m very glad we changed our plan the day before and went to Second Beach instead.

Third Beach



First Beach / La Push

The beach that everyone heard about from the famous movie Twilight. I guess we had to stop and check it out 😎


Rialto Beach

It was the last place we stopped before we headed home. We had time to do more but we were so exhausted from all the driving and the night we had. We were there for about an hour and 30 min. We walked as far as some rocks on the left and had fun walking and climbing around.


Tips:

☡ It’s bear area. Be very cautious and be sure to bring bear spray even if most people don’t. If you camp you will have to bring a bear canister to keep food in. Only bear canisters are authorized and can be rented at any ranger’s station. Hanging your food is not authorized because of the raccoons.

☡ Check the tides on the Olympic National Park’s website. Especially if you go to explore the beach and the tidepools. The best is during low tides and watch for the returning tide to avoid getting trapped by a rising tide.

☡ Wear insect repellent during warm weather.

🏡 Hotel: If you don’t camp, you can use Airbnb and get $40 off for $75 spent on your first stay. Click Here

What else to see?

Well, I already did some of them or just passed for this time but here’s some ideas:

  • Shi Shi Beach
  • Ozette Triangle
  • Cape Flattery
  • Lake Crescent
  • Port Angeles
  • Forks (if you are a fan of twilight 😉)

 

 

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My top 5 hikes in Washington State

I couldn’t be more lucky than moving to Washington from France. This is where I found out my love for hiking and how much I enjoy my time in the mountains. Here’s my 5 favorite hikes I have done:

1.Burroughs Mountain at Mount Rainier National Park

This trail is amazing from beginning to end and offers one of the most dramatic views of Mt Rainier. This hike is a 9 mile round trip with a 2,600ft elevation gain. There are many possibilities on this trail. You can stop at the first, second or third Burroughs. Usually, people turn around at the second. We reached the third Burroughs with an extra effort, which was worth it. We were so close to Mt Rainier, we felt like we could touch it.

《 Featured image on top is from this hike 》

3rd Burroughs 

2. Tolmie Peak & Eunice Lake

Very nice 7.5 miles with an 1,100ft that leads first to Eunice Lake. After 1 mile with a steep uphill, we reached an old fire lookout with a stunning view of Mt Rainier and an amazing sapphire blue color of Eunice Lake below. Most people stop at the fire lookout. We decided to leave the crowd and go a bit further and it was really incredible.

Captured from the trail
From the Fire Lookout
We kept going after the Fire Lookout

3. Tuck and Robin Lakes

Worth the effort but more a hike for backpacking. This very steep hike will take you to paradise. I recorded about 13 miles roundtrip and 3,500ft elevation gain. It was flat for the first 3 miles, then we gained about 1000ft every mile. Passed Tuck Lake, the trail became indistinct and hard to follow. Some rock stacks helped us find the way.

Tuck Lake


Robin Lake

 


4. Crytal Peak and Lake

We did two hikes in one. We hiked Crystal Peak first and had a stunning view from the summit. The weather was clear and it was possible to see six volcanoes spanning two states. Mt Rainier, Mt St Helens, Mt Baker, Glacier Peak, Mt Adams, Mt Hood. We caught a nice rainbow before we went down to the lakes. The upper lake is much larger than the lower lake.   We recorded about 11 miles and 4,000ft elevation gain.

View of Mt Rainier with silly friends
Rainbow with view of Mt Adams on the left and Mt St Helens on the right
Upper Crystal Lake from Crystal Peak
Upper Crystal Lake

5. Rattlesnake Ledge

Short and very popular hike at 1h drive from Seattle. Rattlesnake ledge is a 4 mile roundtrip with an 1,160ft elevation gain. At the top, there is a view of the Cedar River wathershed, Mt Si, Mt Washington, Rattlesnake Lake and Chester Morse Lake. Also, it’s nice to stay at the lake especially during the summer. Here’s some pictures from the last time I went there but the color of the lake when it’s sunny is more beautiful.

Rattlesnake Ledge
Rattlesnake Lake

I’m sure I will change my top 5 hikes by June. I won the permit for the Enchantment.

I’m going to spend 2 nights with some friends at Colchuck Lake. I’m looking forward to it!

😎 STAY TUNED 😎

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Road Trip in Oregon

days in Oregon, Exploring nature…

How much did it cost?

Airbnb: $100 for 2 nights. We wanted an isolate room, something similar to a hotel room. We both booked 1 night as our first stay and got $40 off for $75 spent. If it’s the first time you use Airbnb, then use this link for $40 off your stay.

Gas: $60

Food: $100

Permit and passes: $40, which was $30 Northwest Forest Pass (valid 1 year) and 2 x $5 for State Parks.

🚗 We used my boyfriend’s car but if you have to rent one it was around $100 for 3 days

1st day

We left on Sunday morning around 3:30am and arrived at Ecola State Park at 7am. There is a $5 fee entrance that you pay at a kiosk. It was still grey and cloudy but the view of Cannon Beach was amazing. We stayed there about 40min and the scenery turned blue just before we left.

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7am
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7:30 am

 Then, we went to Cannon Beach where we spent about 2h, walking on the beach, taking pictures, enjoying the scenery… it was unreal! The sand was wet and gave a nice reflection. We were so happy to be there and explore the coast.

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We headed to Cape Kiwanda, which is 1h30 drive from Cannon Beach. My GPS took us to a private road, so I decided to park the car of the side on the road where two other cars were parked. Well, we learnt later that the parking lot was 5min drive further 😅 GPS’s fault 😂 We spent about 2 hours, walked on the beach, looked at people paragliding, and climbed uphill where we had an amazing view.

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Another hour drive and we hiked Drift Creek Falls, which is an easy 2.7 mile hike. We arrived there around 3pm and the parking lot was full. We parked the car on the side of the road. It took us 1h15 to make it. Really nice hike that leads to a bridge with a view of the waterfall, then you can hike down to the waterfall.

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From the bridge

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Got soaked!!!

Last stop for the day was at Devils Punch Bowl, which was a 50min drive from Drift Creek Falls. It was high tide, so we couldn’t go down to the beach and explore inside. If you are going, I recommend you to check for the low tide.

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Then, we drove to Corvallis where we stayed for the night via Airbnb. It was a nice detached room with bathroom.

2nd Day

We left early, around 7am, and went to Silver Falls State Park. Known for its 10 waterfalls loop hike. We parked at the South Waterfall’s parking lot. The loop is about 9 miles. Not really difficult. This is a very busy trail. We followed the recommendation I read online “go on the weekday and early”. Well, we basically had the trail for ourselves. Many cars and people were there when we got back to the parking lot around 1pm. Glad we started early. Our favorite waterfall was the North Falls but they were all pretty awesome.

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South Falls
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Lower South Falls
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Double Falls
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North Falls

Then, we wanted to hike Abiqua Falls, which is 50 min drive from Silver Falls State Park. Unfortunately, I didn’t know about the road conditions and we had to park about 2 mile from the trailhead. On our way I started to get a really bad headache and I didn’t feel good enough to hike 5 miles instead of 1 like I planned. Well, we just saw a dozen waterfalls and more were planned for the next day.

We drove to Gresham where we spent the night via Airbnb. We really loved this place. It was really comfy in the basement, with TV, couch, laundry room, private bathroom, 2 bedrooms and access to the hot tub.

3rd day

We left early morning around 7am and went first to Multnomah Falls. This place is very popular and I wanted a chance to enjoy it without the crazy crowd. Well, we were lucky. We saw a couple people but no one on our pics 📸🖒

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Then we went to Wahclella Falls. 2 miles. Very easy. It ends with a little loop that leads to an amazing waterfall.

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Next stop was Elowah Falls. 1.4 miles. The trail was actually closed because of a mudslide but we gave it a try anyway and it was worth it. A really small part of the trail collapsed but we could get passed it easily. Another way was possible but really steep. The trail kept going after the waterfall but we turned back and kept going up the fork to see Upper McCord Creek Falls, which was not in my plan and added another mile to the hike.

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Elowah Falls
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Upper McCord Creek Falls

Heading to Wahkeena Falls, we made a stop at Horsetail Falls, which was right on the side of the road. Really nice stop on our way.

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We made a fast stop at Wahkeena Falls, which was 1.4 miles out and back. Pretty cool but not as impressive as Elowah Falls or Wahclella Falls.

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Last stop was at Latourell Falls. First we went to the top but the view is definitely not as good as the bottom. Despite all the cars in the parking lot we had the waterfall for ourselves at least 5min. We went behind the waterfall. Probably the most powerful waterfall we saw on this trip. We were so soaked after this hike that we had to change our clothes in the parking lot and unfortunately I forgot to put the bag back in the car that had our hiking shoes and pants in it that added an additional $250 to the road trip’s cost. My bad 😑

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This was a 3 days road trip but if you have only 2 days (weekend) I will recommend you these places:

  • Cannon beach
  • Cape Kiwanda
  • Silver Falls State Park
  • Multnomah Falls
  • Whaclella Falls
  • Latourell Falls

    If you have any questions or if the post was helpful to you

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    Road Trip #2 : Colorado-South Dakota-Nebraska (August 2016)

    days in Colorado, South Dakota and Nebraska

    I did this road trip by myself in August 2016. I was a bit stressed and anxious cause it was the first time I travelled alone in National Parks. I planned to camp and backpack every night but I mostly slept in my car because I was too afraid. I will do better next time, though. 😅

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    HOW MUCH DID IT COST?

    I booked the flight and the rental 2 weeks before my trip.

    Flight: $190 from Seattle,WA to Denver,CO

    Rental: $292 for 5 days with Alamo

    Gas: $85

    Ticket for speeding: $145 😐😅

    Backpacking: FREE. One night at Badlands National park, I slept in my car the other nights.

    Food: $110

    Visit:

    • Wind Cave: $12
    • Jewel Cave: $12
    • Mt Rushmore: $10

     

    Where did I go?

    》》》 There will be a post in more detail about each destination except for Mount Rushmore and Nebraska《《《

    STAY TUNED

     

    I landed around 12am in Denver in Colorado, got the car and headed to Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota. It was really hard to stay awake, drive about 6h at night and not sleep at all. My itinerary made me drive a part of Wyoming State where I caught an amazing sunrise before I entered in South Dakota State. 

    I arrived at Wind Cave around 8am, walked around and took one of the tours offered by the Park. During the tour, I met a very nice guy named Jacob from Chicago. We shared the trip as far as Badlands, following each other with our own car.

    Day 1

    Wind Cave National Park

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    Then, Jacob and I headed to Jewel Cave around 11 am, which was 30min drive from Wind Cave.

    Jewel Cave National Monument

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    Finally we drove to Mt Rushmore, which was 45min drive from Jewel Cave.

    Mount Rushmore National Monument

    Majestic figures of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt & Abraham Lincoln

    This place was why I wanted to go to South Dakota. After a few google searches, I added Wind Cave, Jewel cave and Badlands to my list. We arrived there mid-afternoon and spent about 2h.

    The first impressive view of Mt Rushmore was from the Avenue of Flags

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    We admired the Mt Rushmore from Grand View Terrace

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    Took a walk on Nature Trail to Scultor’s studio

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    And kept going on Presidential Trail that took us very close and almost under the Sculture

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    Then, we drove around a bit and waited for the night before we went back. It was really cool to see in the dark

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    We decided to drive as close as possible to Badlands and slept in our car in a rest area about 45min drive from Badlands.

    Where to sleep?

    Camping opportunities are available throughout the surrounding area.

    Lodging is available in many nearby communities: Keystone (3 miles away), Hill City (13 miles away), Custer (20 miles away) and Rapid City (24 miles away)

    You can check out Black Hills and Badlands Tourism Association

    Day 2

    Badlands National Park

    It was an incredible experience. I loved this Park. We did a hike, stopped at some overlooks and did backpacking for the night.

    More details in an upcoming blog post 》》》Don’t want to miss it? Subscribe to my blog ❤

    Day 3

    Nebraska

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    It was time to say goodbye to Jacob and keep going toward Rocky Mountain in Colorado. I added a drive in Nebraska at Oglala National Grassland and Scotts Bluff National Monument. This took me almost the entire day. I drove on a dirt road for hours because of Oglala National Grassland. I didn’t see anything special and when the GPS told me I was there, I was actually on someone’s property and had to drive through. Maybe I had a bad experience because the GPS but I didn’t like it.

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    Scotts Bluff was a bit better. It has served as a landmark for peoples from Native Americans to emigrants on the Oregon, California and Mormon Trails to modern travelers. I drove to the summit, checked out North and South overlooks, which took me about an hour.

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    I probably wouldn’t do it again, I would definitely save my time and gas for something else.

    Finally, I arrived at Rocky Mountain around 7:30pm, enjoyed the sunset and parked the car at Fall River Visitor Center where I spent 2 nights sleeping in the car.

    Day 4 & 5

    Rocky Mountain National Park

    I spent 2 days hiking as much as I could. I really liked this Park.  In my opinion, 2 days is not enough. I mostly spent my time on the East side of the park.

    More details in an upcoming blog post 》》》Don’t want to miss it? Subscribe to my blog ❤

     

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    Grand Teton

    You will never forget the beauty of the Grand Teton

    Grand Teton National Park is located in Nothwestern Wyoming in the U.S and only 10 miles south of Yellowstone National Park. It is named for Grand Teton, the tallest mountain in the Teton Range at 13,770 feet. Also, it’s a popular destination for mountaineering, hiking and fishing.

    How to get there?

    If you went to Yellowstone National Park before, then you will drive by the Yellowstone’s south entrance to get the North entrance. The road is closed from early November to mid-May. Otherwise, you can enter at the east entrance or the south entrance.

    The nearest airport is Jackson Hole Airport (JAC) located at the base of the Park. It’s 5h drive from Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC).

    Where to sleep?

    Camping: There are 6 campgrounds in the park. They operate on a first-come, first-served. Advance reservations are not accepted. Campground fees change each year. Only revervations for group camping are accepted at some campgrounds through the Grand Teton Lodge at 307-543-3296. Campgrounds are open from early May to mid-October depending on the campgrounds. During the winter, primitive camping is allowed in the plowed parking lot adjacent to the Colter Bay Visiter Center for $5 per night from December 1 to April 15.

    Other campsites are available near and outside of the park.

    Backcountry camping: A trip into the backcountry requires planning in advance. All backcountry camping requires a permit.  They are issued on a first-come, first served basis for $25 no more than 1 day before the start of your trip. You can apply at the Colter Bay and Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Centers, and at the Jenny Lake Ranger Stations. For advance reservations you can book through Recreation.gov from the first Wednesday in January through May 15. Fees are $35. Also, bear-proof canisters are required for overnight stays.

    Lodge: all details on Grand Teton’s website

    What to do?

    Many activities are offered but the most famous are climbing & Mountaineering, hiking and fishing.

    • Climbing & Mountaineering: No permit required
    • Hiking: Hundreds of miles of hiking trails wind around the lakes and through the mountains
    • Fishing: A license is required according to Wyoming state laws
    • Backcountry camping
    • Wildlife viewing
    • Scenic drives
    • Boating & floating
    • Biking
    • Horse back riding
    • Cross-country skiing & snowshoeing
    • Ranger Programs
    • Concessioner activities: buzinesses and organizations licenced to provide visitor activities

     

    Safety

    This is a bear country. Always carry bear spray and make bears aware of your presence.

    Be prepared for rapid weather changes.

     

    My experience

    Grand Teton National Park was a part of the road trip we did with Yellowstone in June 2016. We drove there from Yellowstone’s South entrance at the end of the day. The scenery was spectacular. The Teton range took my breath away. The sky was cloudy and the light came through them. We spent 2 days there.

    We stopped at the Visitor Center and asked a ranger where we could find a campsite available, which was Gros Ventre Campsite located near the south entrance and the airport. We were lucky to find a spot that late of the day. However, we were less fortunate the next day and had to drive about 1h outside of the park.

    Day 1

    I wanted to challenge myself and Grand Teton was a good place for that. Amphitheater Lake was our destination, which starts at the Lupine Meadows Trailhead. But we decided to start at Taggart Lake Trailhead and reach the Valley Trail Junction to get there.

    Taggart Lake Trailhead

    At the very beginning of the trail we took a right and walked a mile before we had to take another right and walked another mile as far as Bradley Lake. 

    Bradley Lake

    Then, we walked 1.5 miles and reached the Valley Trail Junction. A turn to the right would lead us to the original Trailhead. We took a left to continue on towards Amphitheater Lake. The trail made a strenuous climb over a couple switchbacks. As we were climbing higher, views of Jackson Hole became even more prominent and both Bradley and Taggart Lakes came into view as well.

    Views of Jackson Hole, Bradley Lake (left) and Taggart Lake (right)

    After 1.3 miles we took a right and walked about 2 miles. Finally, we reached the short side trail that leads to surprise Lake, which offers an outstanding view of Grand Teton from its southeastern shore. It was only a quarter-mile walk to reach Amphitheater Lake, so we decided to come back there later and swim.

    Surprise Lake

    Amphitheater Lake lies in a cirque basin below Disappointment Peak. My friend and I climbed on the side of the lake to get a higher view of it. Also, we had a great view of Jackson Hole and Taggart Lake.

    On our way down, just before Bradley Lake, we kept going straight instead of taking a left, which was the trail we took earlier. That allowed us to see Taggart Lake before getting back to the parking lot.

    Taggart Lake

    I recorded this hike but my phone shut down about 30min shortly after.

    Recorded: 15 mile – 3,697 feet elevation gain – Total time 7h30 – Moving time 5h

    I recommend starting your hike as early in the morning as possible to avoid the hight temperature during the climb.

    We wanted to find a spot at Jenny Lake Campground and be closer for our hike the next day. Unfortunately we couldn’t find one, although we tried to find one early before the hike. After the hike, we tried to find a spot at Gros ventre Campground where we spent the night before, but this time we didn’t get one. Probably because it was Saturday. We had to drive about 1h on Gros Ventre Rd to find a spot outside of the park.

    Day 2

    We took it easy on day two and chose to do Jenny Lake, which is the 2nd largest lake in the park, and String Lake. They are 2 different hikes but we wanted to combine both. Also, they are very easy and mostly flat. We started at Jenny Lake Visitor Center and headed south.

    After about a mile, we took a junction that leaded to Inspiration Point. We had a nice and panoramic view of Jenny Lake by gaining about 500 feet elevation.

    Inspiration Point

    Then, we walked back down to Jenny lake and reached String Lake by crosing a bridge.

    I looked at back on the Grand Teton while heading to Spring Lake

    We did the loop, which was about 3.7 miles. 

    String Lake

    Finally we finished the loop of Jenny Lake by the north, which was my favorite of Jenny Lake cause we had a view of the mountains.

    I also recorded this hike but unfortunately my phone shut down again. I couldn’t record the entire loop of String Lake. About 1.3 miles are missing, which I drew in black.

    Recorded: 10,9 mile – 1,037 feet elevation gain – 5:10 Total time  – Moving time 3:40

    Also, there is a shuttle boat that takes you from the Visitor Center to the other side of the lake.


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    Yellowstone

    The oldest National Parks in the world!

    Yellowstone National Park was created in 1872. The park is located in the U.S state of Wyoming. A small part of the park is located in Montana and Idaho. It is known for its wildlife and its many geothermal features. The park contains about half the world’s geysers. Also, you probably know or heard about the Grand Prismatic Spring, which is the largest spring in the park and the 3rd largest spring in the world.

    Did you know that Yellowstone National Park is an active super volcano?

    You may not see any volcanoes but that’s because much of the entire park is a volcano.



    How to get there?

    Most people stop by Yellowstone while roadtripping in the USA. They also add Grand Teton National Park to their trip, which is located South of Yellowstone. There are 5 entrance stations but only 2 are open year-round (North and Northeast entrances). Read about access at each station at different times of year on the Yellowstone National Park’s website.

    The nearest commercial airlines are located in Cody and Jackson (Wyoming), Bozeman and Billings (Montana) and Idaho Falls (Idaho). They serve round-year. The West Yellowstone airport is serviced from June to early September from Salt Lake City.

    Where to sleep?

    Camping is the best way to experience Yellowstone. Either inside the park or outside if campgrounds are full. There are 12 campgrounds (over 2,000 campsites) into the park, 5 reservation campgrounds and 7 first-come, first-served campgrounds. Prices range from $15 to $47.75. To make a reservation Click here

    Backcountry camping & hiking: Yellowstone has a designated backcountry campsite system, and a Backcountry Use Permit is required for all over night stays. You can obtain your permit at the visitor centers or ranger stations, only in person and no more than 48h in advance of your trip. However, you can reserve your backcountry campsites in advance. For more information, visit Yellowstone National Park’s website.

    Lodging: 9 lodging facilities are in the park (more than 2,000 rooms) but only 2 are open in the winter. To make a reservation Click here

    What to do?

    Depends on the season. Here’s a list of what you can do:

    • Snowmobile & Snowcoach Tours
    • Skiing and Snowshoeing
    • Backcountry camping & hiking
    • Day hiking
    • Bicycling (Spring & Fall)
    • Fishing
    • Boating
    • Wildlife Viewing
    • Guided Tour: a large choice of services are offered. Backpacking, biking, day hiking, boating, fishing, ski and snowshoeing, painting & photography tours
    • Ranger Programs
    • Horseback riding

     

    Safety

    Yellowstone is a “dangerous” place. Here’s some rules:

    ◇ The animals are wild and should never be approched. Always stay at least 100 yards (91m) away from wolves and bears (carry bear spray), and at least 25 yards (23m) away from all other animals. Bison have injured more people in Yellowstone than any animal and they can sprint 3 times faster than humans can run.

    From Lamar Valley

    ◇ Stay on boardwalks and trails in thermal areas. Hot Springs have injured and killed more people in Yellowstone than any other natural feature. You might of heard about the man who died after falling into a scalding hot spring in June 2016.

    My experience

    It was a road trip from Seattle, which is where I live. It was about 13h drive. My friend Dylan and I spent 5 days at Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park in June 2016. We didn’t hike that much in Yellowstone. It was mostly a drive from point to another point and walk on the boardwalks to admire geysers, hot springs and mudpots.

    North Entrance

    How much did it cost?

    This trip was pretty cheap. We used my friend’s car, so we didn’t have to rent one. We camped every night, which was about $10-15 per night. We mostly had to pay for food and gas, about $400 for both of us.

    Day 1

    We arrived a bit after 12 pm and started with Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces. It’s a walk on boardwalks above steaming thermal features. We spent about 1h there.

    Then, we drove on Lamar Valley, which is known for its wildlife. This is where I saw a bison for the first time. It was an exciting experience. We saw a bear (very far away), a Pronghorn, a bull moose and other animals.

    Lamar Valley

    Black bear

    Bull moose

    After that, we had to drive outside of the park to find a place to sleep because all campsites were full. We found one about 20min drive from the North entrance.

    Day 2

    We started the day early and stopped at these places:

    Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces (again) it was a bit different to see in the morning. The steam was more dense probably due to a colder temperature in the morning than in the afternoon.

     ◇ Norris Geyser Basin: It’s a nice 2.25 miles in the hottest and most changeable thermal area in Yellowstone. We did the whole tour in 2 different areas called Porcelain Basin and Back Basin. It was really impressive and beautiful. Each feature was totally different from all the others. We spent about 1h30 there.

    Porcelain Basin
    Back Basin

    ◇ Artists Paintpots, which is a 1 mile trail winds through brightly colored mudspots, geysers and steam vents. We spent about 30 min there.

    Lower Geyser Basin: This is the largest Geyser Basin in Yellowstone. It’s scattered over a fairly large area and features regularly-erupting geysers, hot springs, and a mud pool. We walked on Fountain Paint Pot Nature Trail and saw various hydrothermal features.

    》Great Fontain Geyser and White Dome Geyser are located on the Firehole Lake Drive in the Lower Geyser Basin Area. Unfortunately we didn’t have a chance to see them erupt. Predictions are posted at the Old Faithful Visitor Center.

    White Dome Geyser

    Midway Geyser Basin: This is where we could admire the beautiful and famous Grand Prismatic Spring. I went to Yellowstone especially for this place. It was on my bucket list since I saw it online before I came to the U.S.

    Also, we saw Excelsior Geyser.  The blue color of the water is incredible and will make you wish you could swim in it but the temperature reaches 199°F (93°C) 😱😅

    We spent about 30min, walking on boardwalks, which is a 0.8 mile heavily trafficked loop trail.

    Upper Geyser Basin has the highest concentration of geysers in the world and includes Old Faithful Geyser (see below). We only walked on boardwalks of Biscuit Basin. Then, we went to the Visitor Center where the Old Faithful Geyser is located.

     Sapphire Pool at Biscuit Basin
    Sapphire Pool

    》Old Faithful Geyser is the most famous geyser in the world. It’s a frequent and predictable geyser that erupts once approximately every 45 to 90 min, depending on the duration of the previous eruption, which is about 1.5 to 5min and a height of 110-185 ft. We had a chance to see the eruption. It was really cool.

    Finally we spent the night in a campsite outside of the Park about 45min drive from the West Entrance.
    This day was breath taking. We saw so much in a day. I had never seen places like this before.

    Day 3

    Mud Volcano

    We stopped by Mud Volcano before we went hiking at Avalanche Peak, which is a short and steep hike, 4.2 mile round trip with 2,100 ft of elevation gain.

    It has stunning views of the surrounding peaks and Yellowstone Lake at 10,566 ft elevation.

    While the crowd was around the geysers and hot springs, we shared the top with a french couple with who I could speak french with 😉 We hung out there about 30 min before we hiked down and drove at Grand Teton National ParkNew blog post is coming soon

    Other things to see?

    Yellowstone National has more than 900 miles of hiking trails. Here’s other places I wanted to see but didn’t have time:

    Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Uncle Tom’s Trail Hike to Lower Falls

    Yellowstone River

    Mt Washburn: strenuous 6.2 mile round trip, elevation 10,243 feet (3 122m). Stunning views from the summit fire tower.

     

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    Yosemite in Summer

    One of my favorite National Parks so far. Either in Summer or in Winter, Yosemite should be on your bucket list

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    Where should I land ?

    FresnoYosemite International  (FAT) or Merced Airport (MCE) : Allow about 2.5 hours to Yosemite Valley

    Sacramento International  (SMF) Allow about 4 hours to Yosemite Valley

    San Francisco International  (SFO), Oakland International  (OAK) or San José International  (SJC) : Allow about 5 hours to Yosemite Valley

    What kind of car should I rent ?

    Whatever you want. You can rent an economic car because you won’t have to drive on difficult roads. You can rent a Van or an RV but make sure you registered to stay in a campsite.

    Where to sleep ?

    Camping: In a tent, van or RV, it’s up to you. Reservations are the best way to make sure you have a place, especially during summer. Yosemite is one of the busiest National Parks I have seen. From April to June, the very first-come, first-served might find a campsite. Make your reservation on Recreation.gov or check it out often. If it’s sold out you might find a cancellation in a campground that accepts reservations in or near Yosemite. There are 11 different campsites but only 4 in Yosemite Valley. Camp 4 (tent site only, $6 per night) located at the beginning of Yosemite Fall trail and near Yosemite Valley Lodge. Pines Campgrounds: Lower Pines, Upper Pines and North Pines ($26 / night) located near Half Dome Village.

    Backpacking: Free wilderness permits are required year-round for any overnight stay in Yosemite. There is a limited number of people for each trailhead. Reservations are available up to 24 weeks in advance ($5 per confirmed reservation + $5 per person) If it’s something you would like to do, learn more about or make a reservation Click here

    Hotel: The hotels closest to Yosemite Valley are the more expensive ones. You will have to drive a bit further if you don’t want to spend more than $100 a night. I usually book with Booking.com

    Public Transportation :

    A large service of public transportations are available to get to Yosemite or to get around. Amtrak, Greyhound, YARTS, free shuttles… Please check out Yosemite National Park’s website for more information. I only used Yosemite Valley Shuttle, so I won’t be able to help you with the others but I wanted to let you know the possibilities. Below is some information about Yosemite Valley shuttle system:

    • Yosemite Valley Shuttle provides service around eastern Yosemite Valley and operates year-round from 7am to 10pm. It stops at most of the trailheads located into Yosemite Valley, the Pines Campgrounds, Camp 4, Half Dome Village, Visitor Center…

    • El Capitan shuttle stops at El Capitan, Bridaveil Falls, Four Mile trailhead and the Valley Visitor Center. It operates from mid-June through early October from 9am to 5pm.

    What to do ?

    Yosemite National Park offers various activities

    • Guided Tours: Take a tour at Glacier Point. Overlook with view of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, Yosemite Falls and Yosemite’s high country. Available when the Glacier Point Road is open, typically late May through October. You don’t have to take the tour, you can drive there on your own. Also, Valley Floor Tour and Tuolumne Meadows Tour are offered. To make a reservation Click here.
    • Hiking: There are so many hiking possibilities. Easy, moderate or streneous. You can find a list with more details on the National Park’s website. For some ideas, check out below in “My experience”
    • Art & Photography: Art class and Photography walks, classes & workshop…
    • Backpacking (wilderness permit required)
    • Biking:  Bicycles are available for rent in Yosemite Valley
    • Birdwatching
    • Fishing
    • Rock Climbing  & Bouldering
    • Stargazing
    • Water activities:  Kayak, Canoe, raft
    • Winter Sports: Cross-country skiing, Snowshoeing, skiing, snowboarding, Snow tubing, sledding and ice skating

     

    HALF DOME

    The Half Dome is a Yosemite Icon and a great challenge to many hikers. A permit is required to hike to Half Dome.

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    It’s a 14 to 16 mile hike (roundtrip) and you will be gaining elevation for a total of 4,800 ft. This is a very streneous hike and it is not for you if you are out of shape or unprepared. Along the way, you will have a stunning view of Vernal and Nevada falls, Liberty Cap and Half Dome. Most hikers take 10 to 12 hours to make it. The best is to start the earliest possible like before sunrise and have a non-negociable turn-around time if you haven’t reached the top of the Half Dome (3:30 pm the latest).

    The most famous and incredible experience of the hike is the ascent up the cables. The 2 metal cables allow hikers to climb the last 400 feet to the summit without rock climbing equipment. Wear good hiking boots and bring gloves for the cables (Some pairs were available before the climb but it’s better to have yours in case they are all taken).

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    It’s me 😀

    About the permit:

    A maximum of 300 hikers are allowed each day (about 225 day hikers and 75 backpackers). Permits are distributed by lottery via Recreation.gov.

    The preseason Lottery runs from March 1 through March 31. 225 permits are available each day. Results in mid-April by email.

    The Daily Lottery has approximately 50 permits available. You have to apply 2 days prior to the hiking date.

    Fees: Two separate fees are collected. The first fee is charged at the time you submit an application, $4.50 online or $6.50 by phone (per application). Non-refundable. The second fee is $8 per person only when you receive a permit.

    For 2017, they are planning on the Half Dome cables being up May 26 through October 10, but these dates could change based on conditions.

    HOW TO APPLY: Visit Recreation.gov or call 877-444-6777.

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    My experience

    I went to Yosemite National Park with my friend Hellen in Mid-June. We spent 3 days there. I planned and booked this trip about a month and half before.

    How much did it cost ?

    Flight: $150 / pers (From Seattle to Sacramento) Why Sacramento? I considered to land either at San Francisco or Sacramento. The flight was the same price but the rental was cheaper and the drive a bit shorter from Sacramento.

    Rental: $160 insurance included with Enterprise (4 days) / 2 pers

    Gas: $50 / 2 pers

    Hostel: $137 for 3 nights / pers. Yosemite International Hostel at Groveland. We shared the room with 6 other people. Cheap hostel. Was OK for the price. Bed not really comfortable. Kitchen and bathroom shared with about 10 people. Located about 1h drive from Yosemite Valley.

    What did we do ?

    Day 1

    We arrived at Yosemite National Park around 3:30 pm but we were stuck in traffic in the park for about 1h30. When we could finally park the car at Yosemite Valley and start hiking, it was late and we didn’t have time for a long one. We did Mirror Lake, which is an easy, famous and beautiful hike. The entire loop is a 5 mile hike or you can hike to the lake and back, which is 2 miles.

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    Mirror Lake

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    Then, we stopped and admired Yosemite Fall before we hit the road and checked in at the hostel.

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    Yosemite Fall

    Day 2

    Early morning! I woke up my friend at 5:30am and we drove to Clouds Rest Trailhead, which was 1h30 drive. The trailhead is off Tioga Road. The parking lot is very small and fills up fast. It was already full when we arrived around 7:30 am but we still found a spot. It’s a 14.5 mile hike with 1,775 ft elevation gain (Clouds Rest elevation: 9,926 ft) . Bring enough water because it’s really hot and the hike takes about 8h. This hike is all about the destination but it’s totally worth it. You will have striking views in every direction, including Half Dome. Also, I recommend that you bring a mosquito spray. I got like 50 mosquito bites this day 😂😣

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    Day 3

    Woooow! I was so lucky. I won the permit to climb the Half Dome. I tried to get it by applying at the Daily Lottery 2 days before and I got the permit for my friend and myself. It’s probably the hardest hike I have done for now but also the one I’m the most proud about. We started the hike around 7:30 am and I was done at 4:30 pm. On our way, there were 2 amazing waterfalls called Vernal and Nevada Falls. You should definitely include them in your To-do list even if you don’t have the Half Dome permit. It is not required to see them. Also, it’s a BUSY trail. I recommend you to go early if you want to avoid the crowd.

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    Vernal Fall
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    Nevada Fall

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    Two Park Rangers were checking the permit at the base of the subdome, about 1 mile before the cable. I met people walking back upset because they were turned away, so don’t waste your time if you don’t have the permit. They strongly recommend at least 1 gallon of water (4L). I didn’t bring enough (2 quarts/2L) and it was a huge mistake. I ran out of water on my way back and it was a terrible experience. A really nice woman gave me one of her bottles of water and I can tell you, she saved my life. 

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    At the top of Half Dome

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    Getting the permit for the Half Dome changed my plan since I didn’t expect to win it 😅 There were  other hikes I wanted to do and places I wanted to see but I didn’t have time or energy. Here’s a list of what else wanted to do:

    • Bridaveil Fall Trail : 0.5 mile ~ 30min
    • Sentinel Dome : 2.2 mile ~ 1h30
    • Cathedral Lakes : 8 mile ~ 4h
    • Overlooks  : Glacier Point, Washburn Point and Tunnel view (I did Tunnel View during my winter trip)
    • Swimming and rafting at Merced River. You can rent a raft or bring your own. (June & July depending on conditions)

     

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    Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon & Monument Valley

     Horseshoe Bend 

    It’s a Horseshoe-shaped meander of the Colorado River located near the town of Page in Northern Arizona and adjacent to the border with Utah. It’s a 1.5 mile hike roundtrip from U.S. Route 89 and leads to the top of a cliff, overlooking Horseshoe Bend and the Colorado River over 1,000 feet below. The trail is accessible to people for all hiking skill levels and takes between 30min and 1h. The trail is made of sand and sandstone. There is no reservation needed. The National Park pass will be required. It might be difficult to park if the place is crowded.

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    Trail
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    Sunset

    Antelope Canyon

    It’s a slot canyon located on Navajo land East of Page. A slot canyon is a narrow canyon, formed by the wear of water rushing through rocks. The color of the walls is of a very intense orange. There are 2 different canyons : Lower Antelope Canyon and Upper Antelope Canyon but most of the time people visit the Lower Antelope Canyon.

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    Lower Antelope Canyon

    Cost : There is a $8 Navajo Park Entrance Fee per person to enter into the indian reserve. You must book a tour, either online or in person. I’ll recommand you to book in advance especially during the summer. Tripods are forbidden. If you want to bring yours you’ll have to take a Photographer Tour.

    Upper Antelope Canyon : Approximate prices are $48 for a general tour (1h) and $120 for a Photographer Tour (2h)

    Lower Antelope Canyon : Approximate prices are $25 for a general tour (1h15) and $47 for a Photographer Tour (2h15)

    Different guided Tours are available. We chose Ken’s Tours to visit the Lower Antelope Canyon (see review below in “my experience”)

    You can book a tour for the Upper Antelope Canyon with :

    Adventurous Antelope Canyon Photo Tours

    Antelope Slot Canyon Tours

    Antelope Canyon Tours

    Antelope Canyon Najavo Tours

    From April to September, do the tour around 11am or 12pm. The sun is at its zenith, and enters the canyon in a spectacular way.

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    Lower Antelope Canyon

    Monument Valley

    It’s located on the Arizona-Utah border. The Valley lies within the range of the Navajo Nation Reservation. It is known by its cluster of vast sandstone buttes, the largest reaching 1,000 ft (300 m) above the valley floor. The most famous buttes are called “West Mitten Butte”, “East Mitten Butte” and “Merrick Butte”. The Navajo people call this place the Valley of Rocks. Monument Valley has stood as a symbol of the American West. No reservation needed. There is a $20 fee to enter into the Park.

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    View from the Visitor Center

    🚗 Take a scenic drive : Monument Valley can be visited by driving through a 17 mile dirt road that passes 11 stop points

    1. The Mittens
    2. Elephant Butte
    3. Three sisters
    4. John Ford’s Point
    5. Camel Butte
    6. The Hub
    7. Totem Pole
    8. Sand Springs
    9. Artist’s Point
    10. North Window
    11. The Thumb
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    On the dirt road

    My experience

    We did all of those places in one day. It was a part of the Road Trip we did last year in March/April.

    We spent the night at Page and started early, around 6:30am-7am at Horseshoe Bend. In my opinion, it’s better to go in the afternoon because of the shade that cuts half of the Horseshoe-shape. The good thing was we were alone. Also, we stopped there the day before. We caught the sunset after we spent the day at the Grand Canyon.

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    Around 7am in April

    Then, we went to Antelope Canyon. Our tour was scheduled at 8:30am with Ken’s Tours, which was $28 for a general tour (1h15) + the $8 Navajo Park Entrance Fee.

    Review : 4.5/5. We entered into the canyon by group of about 12 people and a guide. The guide was very nice and provided us a verbal tour and assistance in taking photos. I got my camera a few weeks before the trip (Nikon D3300) and he helped me with the settings, making my pictures look better 😍 Also, he offered to take a panaromic picture of us with our phone. When we came out of the canyon he showed us some actual “Prehistoric Dinosaur’s paw prints”.

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    Finally, we drove to Monument Valley, which is about 2h drive (120 mile) from Antelope Canyon and spent the afternoon there. We had a great view of Monument Valley from the Visitor Center. Then we hiked The Wildcat Trail, which is 3.2 miles around the West Mitten Butte. It takes about 1h30-2h. We really enjoyed this hike. We drove through the park on a 17 mile dirt road. We had an economic car and it was totally doable to drive on the dirt road (the road was dry). We left around 5pm and went back to Page for the night.

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    Bryce Canyon 

     

    Bryce Canyon and its famous hoodoos

    Bryce Canyon is an American National Park located in Southwesthern Utah. It is known for its incredible Hoodoos (odd-shaped pillars of rock left standing from the forces of erosion) and it is the largest collection of Hoodoos in the world!

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    Getting to Bryce Canyon :

    The closest major airports are in Salt Lake City (Utah) located 260 miles North of the park and Las Vegas (Nevada) located 270 miles Southwest of the park.

    Getting around in the Park :

    All roads are paved inside the park so don’t worry about needing a certain car. There is snow during winter but the Park plows and sands the road after heavy snowstorms. Some roads may be temporarily closed due to icy winter conditions. The park is open year-around.

    The Park offers free shuttle that takes visitor to the Park’s most popular viewpoints, trails and facilities.

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    Where to sleep ?

    Campground : $20/per tent-site/per night and $30/per RV-Site/per night. Reservations can be made by phone or online from 6 months to 2 days in advance.

    • Sunset Campground : 100 sites. 20 tent-only sites and 80 RV & tent sites (first-come, first-served) and 1 Group site (available by reservation) CLOSED from mid-October through mid-April. This campground is closest to the best hiking trail which begins and ends at Sunset Point
    • North Campground : 99 sites. 13 RV sites (by reservation) and 86 RV & tent sites (first-come, first-served). At least one loop is open year-round.

    Backcountry camping : Permits are required for all overnight stays ($5/person). You can purchase the permit at the Visitor Center. Reservations may be made up only 48h in advance, and only at the Visitor Center. There are 8 campsites on the 22.9 miles Under-the-Rim Trail and 4 campsites on the 8.8 miles Riggs Spring Loop Trail.

    Lodging : Bryce Canyon Lodge. Open late March through early November. Reservations by phone or online.

    What to do ?

    • RANGER PROGRAMS
    1. Geology talks (year-round)
    2. Rim Walk (Spring, Summer & Fall)
    3. Kids Programs (Summer)
    4. Evening Programs (Summer & Fall)
    5. Full Moon Hikes (Full Moon nights)
    6. Astronomy Programs
    7. Snowshoe Hikes (Winter)
    • Hiking : Easy, Moderate, Strenuous
    • Backcountry hiking (Backcountry Camping permit required)
    • Private Horse & Mule Riding (April 1 – October 31)
    • Drive the scenic overlook

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    My experience

    Bryce Canyon was one of the places we visited during the ROAD TRIP we did last year in March/April.

    We spent one full day there. It was totally breath taking. The hoodoos are so beautiful. The colors red and orange are really amazing. The pictures don’t do it justice!

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    We started with 2h of horse/mule riding. It was really fun and not too expensive ($65/pers). We got a picture of us by a photographer for $10 each. It’s a special way to explore Bryce Canyon because this trail allows horse only. You can book your tour online with Canyon Rides.

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    After that we started at Sunset Point and hiked down a part of Navajo Loop Trail (1.3 mile roundtrip). We reached Queens Garden Trail (1.8 mile roundtrip) at the bottom and finished at Sunrise Point. It was a short and easy/moderate hike, like a loop, that goes down into Bryce Amphitheater. It took us about 2h. I really liked it. It was amazing to hike between the hoodoos. Then, we walked Rim trail between Sunrise Point and Sunset Point to join our car (1 mile). It’s an amazing view from the top.

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    Navajo Loop Trail
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    Queens Garden Trail

    We did Mossy Cave Trail (.8 mile round trip) easy hike that leads to a mossy overhang and small waterfall. We wanted to see the waterfall but I was not aware that the waterfall flows from May to October 😅 This trail is located outside of the park on Hwy 12 going toward Tropic.

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    Finally, we did a part of Fairy Land Loop Trail as far as Tower Bridge (3 mile roundtrip) just before night and kept going on our road trip toward Zion Canyon, which I’ll write about later because I’m going back there in June and I’ll have so much more to say about it 😎

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    Pictures at the bottom are taken at the top of Tower Bridge

    I think 1 day is a little bit too short to fully enjoy Bryce Canyon. If you can, you should spend 2 days and camp into the park or stay at the lodge.

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