Blue Pool Wash is a fun slot canyon easily accessible from Highway 89 near Page, AZ. The canyon runs right under the highway, and there are several down climbs, pools of water (that are definitely not blue), and car parts from the highway that runs overhead.
Possibly not even considered a hike, the picturesque and world-renown Antelope Canyon is more of a place to check off your to-visit list. It was difficult to fully enjoy the beauty of the canyon while being corralled through an extremely crowded and loud slot canyon with everyone trying to take photos.
Although this is certainly not a wilderness excursion, we were in the area and figured we had to make a stop at this iconic viewpoint. To my surprise, Horseshoe Bend turned out to be one of my favorite stops on our trip! I've seen lots of photos, but seeing it in person was one of the most shocking and breath taking views I have ever seen.
We decided to return to Oak Creek this year around the same time, but everything seemed a little drier, and there wasn't as much color as last year. Even though the water was frigid, It was still an easy, beautiful overnight backpacking trip with some truly gorgeous scenery. Definitely try to visit on a weekday to avoid the crowds and lines for parking and bathrooms.
We headed to Sedona to see the colorful autumn trees that are so rarely seen in CA at the most popular trail in the Coconino National Forest. We tried to time it right to see the trees at their peak of color. October is the best month to see all of the colors, and be prepared for crowds if going on a weekend (we went on a weekday and were surprised to see so many people).
Even though it isn't considered backpacking or 'roughing it' by any means, we've heard a lot about the beautiful Havasu Falls area. Since these famous turquoise waterfalls are located in the Havasupai Indian Reservation, the permit system was very different and expensive. Overall the hike was hot and monotonous at times, but it was definitely worth it once we got down there. It was perfect weather when we went, and I was amazed at how many waterfalls were in a single location.
One of the most popular trails from our trip, Lower Calf Creek Falls is well worth braving the crowds to enjoy a 120ft. waterfall in the middle of the desert. Bring the hammock and a hat, and go early or on a weekday for maximum enjoyment :)
Rainbow Bridge is one of the largest arches accessible by foot or boat. It stands almost 300 feet wide and tall! Getting there by boat makes it a short and easy 1.3 mile hike to see the arch, and I love the 50 mile boat ride up the gorgeous Lake Powell.
During our south west road trip across 4 states, we decided to make a pit stop here at Pioneer Park and check out the supposed slot canyon right in the city of St. George, Utah. It turned out to be the narrowest slot canyon I've been in, and if you're passing through, this might be a fun stop for you to include.. but not for the claustrophobic!
Coral Pink Sand Dunes is a small state park off the beaten path that is worth staying a night, or more if you have any dune toys like buggies, motor bikes, or ATVs. The campground had the nicest facilities of any park I've stayed at, and the pink dunes were impressive to see in the middle of the desert.
The Zion Narrows is a famous hike that requires you to get a little bit wet if you want to see some of the best views in Zion. Doing this as a dayhike starting at the Temple of Sinawava lets you choose how far in you want to hike, and you don't even need a permit! It's 4.5 miles to Big Springs one way, but the views all along the way are stunningly beautiful.
Kyle has never done Angel's Landing, so of course I had to take him on this unique short hike. You'll barely have time to catch your breath on the steep switchbacks for the first part of the trail, and your palms will definitely sweat looking at the steep drop offs on both sides while climbing the chains on the ridge up to the peak. A must do for anyone visiting Zion!
Hidden Canyon is a strenuous hike up the side of the canyon wall, but it has great views of a hanging canyon, waterfall, and even a natural small arch! Warning: lots of switchbacks! Not recommended for people who are scared of heights, since there is a section of slickrock and a chain to guide you.
Island in the Sky was our favorite district within Canyonlands. Although it was definitely more crowded, you can drive between all of the attractions, and the hikes are all short and easy with just as rewarding payoffs. If you only have the time or energy for one, definitely do Grand View Overlook (at sunset for an extra bonus), because the view of the white rim is stunning.
The Grand View Overlook parking lot is easy to reach by car, and there were plenty of other hikers at this very popular overlook. It's a very easy but scenic trail - Clark and I actually hiked it all in flip flops. If you only have time for one short hike at Island in the Sky, I would recommend this one!
Buckskin Gulch was like nothing we have ever done.. it was all of our first time hiking in a slot canyon, and we underestimated how difficult the heat and sand would make the hike. Nonetheless, it was amazing to be in one of the longest slot canyons in the world.
Canyonlands is so big, it was difficult choosing a hike to do. It was ridiculously hot outside, so the ranger suggested Chesler Park/Joint Trail for some great views of the Needles and a short hike hike to do. Warning - this hike is mostly on exposed slick rock the entire time, so be sure to bring lots of water, sunscreen, and definitely a hat.
Arches NP is a unique park in that all of the points of interest are quite far apart and there aren't too many hiking trails. We decided to do a car tour with minor hiking, and it was nice to be a tourist and just get out of the car to take pictures, since it was so hot. Even though the park is a little out of the way, it is worth the trip to see some rock arches.
If you're really up for an adventure, Orderville Canyon is a great day hike to experience beautiful slot canyons, short rappels, some rock scrambling, short swims, lush greenery, and the Virgin River Narrows all in one. This hike is quite strenuous, and it is important that you have the proper footwear and water gear. We had 2 cars, so we were able to leave a car at the trailhead, but others might have to hire a shuttle.
Anyone who visits Zion MUST do this hike! Wake up early to avoid the heat of the sun (the trail is VERY exposed), and trudge up the endless switchbacks because the view from the top is worth it. The narrow ridge and chains anchored into the rock make this climb exhilarating, but not for the faint of heart.
Bryce canyon is a relatively small National Park, but if you are in Utah you should definitely make a small side trip to see this unique canyon. There aren't too many trails to choose from, but if you have a couple hours to spare, this easy dayhike is the perfect way to see all the best parts of the canyon up close. The trail is well-maintained with not much elevation change, the only downside is that it is quite exposed, dusty, and can get pretty hot in Utah sun. No matter how long you expect to hike, be sure to bring extra water.
As soon as I saw a picture of Abiqua falls, it was on the top of my list of falls to visit when I came to Oregon. It's such a unique waterfall, framed perfectly by the geometric basalt rock. I love that since the trailhead is a little out of the way and harder to get to than other falls, there are a lot less crowds, and the hike is relatively short for the payoff.
This was one of my favorite stops during my Redwood road trip, because although the trees are not particularly thick or tall, the ground has the lushest covering of redwood sorrel - it looks straight out of a fairy tale!
The Rockefeller Loop is one of the best hikes you can do in Humboldt Redwoods - it's easy, short, and gives you everything you could want in a redwood hike - tall trees, an open under story, and both a river and a creek to relax by. The 7,000 acre Rockefeller Forest is also the world's largest contiguous old growth forest of coastal redwoods.
Cleveland National Forest is the perfect forest escape from the coastal beaches in San Diego. This easy, short loop passed through beautiful trees, meadows, and view points that reminded me of my home in Northern California. Plus, we had the entire trail to ourselves, and dogs are also allowed in national forests.
The panoramic view from Sentinel Dome is one of the best in Yosemite. You'll get a bird's eye view of large rock faces and thundering waterfalls all just a short hike from Glacier Point Road. This hike is a great way to enjoy the incredible views without the crowds of Glacier Point.
For our first backpacking trip of the season, we decided on the North Fork of Big Pine Creek - a beautiful basin of glacier-fed lakes that I have been eagerly waiting to do. Once we got there, I could see why this was a popular destination - the impressive snow-capped peaks towering above all 9 beautiful lakes, great fishing, and ease of access make the North Fork the ideal Sierra hike.
We had some extra time before driving home, so we decided on 2 short hikes in the park. These both are very short, easy and well maintained, which also means lots of crowds! If you are only spending a short amount of time in Sequoia & Kings Canyon, I recommend at least seeing these two attractions.
Three Sisters is my favorite local hike from San Diego. It's only 4 miles round trip, the hike is challenging, yet interesting with several sections steep enough to require climbing with a rope, there are prominent waterfalls, and a great swimming hole. Some drawbacks of this hike are: it can get very crowded (especially on weekends), people leave trash everywhere, and it can get really hot in the summer. As long as you are relatively fit, bring lots of water, and are ready to get dusty, you're in for a great hike!
A relatively small and unknown state park, Saddleback Butte has one main hike heading up to the saddle peak of a single mountain. Since it is quite isolated, the views from the top are amazing. You can see the flat desert floor so far in every direction, and the tall, snow-capped surrounding mountain ranges added a nice touch. Located an hour and 40 from LA, the trail is short and not too difficult for anyone. I've never seen carpets of flowers, and what I saw on this hike absolutely blew me away!
One of the more popular attractions in Anza-Borrego, the Slot is easy to get to (even in 2WD), an easy and short hike, and makes for great photographs. The steep walls provide some relief from the hot sun, and kids will love exploring this maze.
Anza-Borrego is the largest CA state park and has tons of its own unique features. Mainly for 4WD, offroading, and dirt biking enthusiasts, we still had a lot of fun on foot and with just 2WD. Fish Creek Is just a tiny portion of the park, but the wind caves are truly unique and offer an amazing view for sunset. Hint - if you camp at Fish Creek Primitive Campground nearby, it's free and there are fire rings and a very clean toilet.