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. πŸ˜…

Studio_20170316_075853

HOW MUCH DID IT COST?

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

β˜† Flight: $190 from Seattle,WA to Denver,CO

β˜† Rental: $292 for 5 days with Alamo

β˜† Gas: $85

β˜† Ticket for speeding: $145 πŸ˜πŸ˜…

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

β˜† Food: $110

β˜† 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 Nebraskaγ€Šγ€Šγ€Š

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

DSC_0170

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

Jewel Cave National Monument

DSC_0290

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

DSC_0433-1.jpg

We admired the Mt Rushmore from Grand View Terrace

DSC_0461-1

Took a walk on Nature Trail to Scultor’s studio

DSC_0542-1

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

DSC_0581-1

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

DSC_0684.JPG

DSC_0676

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?

β—‡ Camping opportunities are available throughout the surrounding area.

β—‡ 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

DSC_0319

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.

IMG_2017-03-16_08-17-38

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.

IMG_2017-03-16_08-16-06

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 ❀

 

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

Please leave a comment ✏

Check out my Instagram for more πŸ“Έ

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.


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

Please leave a comment ✏

Check out my Instagram for more πŸ“Έ

Yosemite in Summer

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

dsc_0935-1

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 JosΓ© 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.

DSC_1103.JPG

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).

dsc_1111
It’s me πŸ˜€

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.

dsc_1194

 

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 ?

β˜† 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.

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

β˜† Gas: $50 / 2 pers

β˜† 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.

dsc_0516
Mirror Lake

dsc_0611

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

dsc_0842
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 πŸ˜‚πŸ˜£

dsc_0447dsc_0373dsc_0579

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.

dsc_0959
Vernal Fall
dsc_1030
Nevada Fall

dsc_1004

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. 

dsc_1179-1
At the top of Half Dome

dsc_1148

Getting the permit for the Half Dome changed my plan since I didn’t expect to win it πŸ˜… 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)

 

dsc_0844

 

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

Please leave a comment ✏

Check out my Instagram for more πŸ“Έ

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.

dsc_0113
Trail
dsc_0118
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.

dsc_0527
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.

dsc_0376
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.

dsc_0564
View from the Visitor Center

πŸš— 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
dsc_0814
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.

dsc_0122
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”.

dsc_0397

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.

img_2017-02-25_07-19-40

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

Please leave a comment ✏

Bryce CanyonΒ 

 

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!

dsc_0715

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.

DSC_0150-1-1.jpg

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

bryce-canyon-amphitheater-map.jpg

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!

dsc_0727

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.

img_2017-02-21_07-24-31

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.

img_2017-02-21_07-42-36
Navajo Loop Trail
img_2017-02-21_07-33-16
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 πŸ˜… This trail is located outside of the park on Hwy 12 going toward Tropic.

dsc_0056

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 😎

img_2017-02-21_07-50-12
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.

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

Please leave a comment ✏

San Diego

3 days in San Diego 🌞

San Diego is a major city in California located on the coast of the Pacific Ocean in Southern California and adjacent to the border with Mexico.

Sunrise at Ocean Beach

Ps : I apologize for the pitures’s quality. I had a compact camera and IPhone 4 only 😐

 

I travelled to San Diego by myself in February 2016 and I spent 3 days there. I planned my trip 2 weeks before (cause you never know when you will be off πŸ˜€) and I flew from Seattle.

Budget :

  • Flight : $330
  • Hostel : $129 for 4 nights
  • Rental car : About $190 for 2 days (very disappointed by the rental company)
  • Gas : $20
  • Tijuana in Mexico : $48 for an half day (via Viator)
  • Horse Riding : $135/pers for a group tour/ $150 for a private tour
  • Hike : $6
  • Food : $40

 

Hostel : USA HOSTELS OCEAN BEACH 😁

15 min drive from the airport. 2min walk from the beach. I loved this hostel. I shared my room with 5 other people and I made a friend from Australia. This is why I like Hostels, it’s easy to meet people and very cheap. The breakfast was included (cereals, oatmeal, fruit, tea, coffee, bread, jam…). During breakfast, you can meet new people as well. Rooms, kitchen and bathrooms were very clean. The staff was very nice and friendly and offered activities nightly, like bonfire at the beach with smores or go out to the club. The hostel also offered easy access to the Zoo, Downtown, SeaWorld and La Jolla via free shuttle.

Rental car : Payless 😑

I was so disappointed 😑 I booked a car for $85 for 2 days via Rentalcar.com. When I arrived at the rental company she told me I had to take the insurance which was about $70 (First and last time I heard that). I didn’t want to take it but for some reasons she didn’t let me get the car without the insurance. I cancelled my reservation and went to Hertz. They refused my international driving license because they wanted my french driving license. I didn’t understand that. I really needed the car so I went back to Payless because the other companies were too expensive. I had to pay $190 if I wanted to get the car.  With my reservation “cancelled” they considered me like a last minute booking, so it was even more expensive. But since then It’s been so much easier to rent a car since I got my US drivers license.

First day

Early hike at Torrey Pines State Reserve and snack at La Jolla beach with Gustavo, who I met on couchsurfing. Don’t be shy at Torrey Pines, it’s not unsual to see people walk naked on the beach. Feel free to participate. LOL!

Then, I did the Tijuana Tour via Viator. It was cheap and the bus driver was nice but I didn’t really like it. I spent 3h on the same street in Tijuana and I was very uncomfortable and sometimes felt unsafe by the way guys were looking at me. Gustavo, who comes from Mexico and knows Tijuana well made fun of me the next day when we met again. He said sorry I forgot to tell you that you shouldn’t wear shorts! So girls, stay covered up! Haha! BUT the tacos were good and cheap. I ate them from a deck on the second floor and watched the people in the market walking around.

Then when I went back to San Diego, I hung out with Atylla who I also met on couchsurfing. Got some drinks and dance at the bar.

Second day

I went for a hike by myself about 1h drive from San Diego. It’s called Cedar Creek Falls to Devil’s Punchbowl. I didn’t know I needed a permit but fortunately Atylla told me the day before and I could get the permit at the last minute for $6. It was a really nice 6 mile hike that leads to the waterfalls. The water was cold but refreshing. You can jump in from an awesome rock. I really had fun but it can be crowed even during the weekday. It was busy so the permit was sold out when I arrived at the parking lot. Keep in mind, when I went, a ranger was there checking permits.

Then, I walked into Balboa Park which is a famous park in San Diego. It was very beautiful and relaxing.

Finally, I caught the sunset at Ocean beach before I went back to the hostel.

Third day

I fullfilled one of my dreams, which is to ride a horse on the beach! I booked the tour online with “San Diego Beach Rides” which is a 30min drive from Ocean Beach. I was alone for the tour (3h) and they usually don’t gallop but we did πŸ˜ƒπŸ‡ It was an incredible experience.

Then I went to Coronado Island and had lunch on the beach. It was nice to take a break and relax 😎

I made a stop at the Old Town and walked around into the market. Nothing crazy but I loved it. Also, it was Tacos Tuesday so I spoiled myself with Tacos and a margueritta 🍹

After, I went back to the hostel for the bonfire and smores with the other travellers on the beach. I met this nice Australian girl and offered her to come with me to see the Embracing Peace and USS Midway at night, which she agreed and we had fun. Then I went back there in the morning before I flew home.

Other things to do or see ?

  • Sea World
  • San Diego Zoo Safari Park
  • Seaport Village
  • Historic Gaslamp Quarter in downtown
  • Point Loma
  • Cabrillo National Monument
  • Sunset Cliffs Natural Park (Look for the cave)
  • Surf (or at least try to)
  • Whale watching
  • Catch a game
  • Flower field (mid-March through mid-April)

 

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

Please leave a comment ✏

Yosemite in Winter

Who doesn’t like snow? It beautifies everything it covers that’s why we call it WINTER WONDERLAND… ❄

I went to Yosemite during the summer (will be another post) and I can tell you it’s another world during the winter.

From Tunnel View – El Capitan, Half Dome and Bridalveil Falls

dsc_0019

Winter Road Closure 

Tiago Road (Hwy 120 through the park) and Glacier Point Road are closed for the season due to snow (chains are often required) between November and May or June. Check out Yosemite NP’s website.

Hiking 

In my opinion the most beautiful and easiest hike is Mirror lake. You won’t be dissapointed by the reflection.

dsc_0436

Unfortunately Mist Trail that leads to Vernal and Nevada Falls is closed. They are both very beautiful and popular. I walked about .1 mile to get a picture of Vernal Fall. Just amazing.

I just learned there is a way to get Nevada Fall, by the Muir Trail there is a winter route.

  dsc_0561

The Yosemite Falls is North America’s tallest waterfall, which rises 2,425 feet above the Valleyfloor. This trail starts near camp 4, it’s a steep and strenous hike. On your way to the top you will be rewarded with spectacular views of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome and Sentinel Rock. Something that particularely impressed me was the sound of the waterfall, like thunder. The waterfall is also pretty amazing to watch from Yosemite Valley.

dsc_0078dsc_0735-1-1dsc_0798dsc_0811

And wherever you go, never forget to have fun β€