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Trip Report From the sublime to the ridiculous - Spring Break trip report with a 13 yr. old - Zion, Bryce & Vegas

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This is my first trip report so please forgive any first timer mistakes or at least tell me it sucks in a nice way. Control freak that I am, I sat my husband and son down 6 weeks ago and told them that if we all wanted to go somewhere new for spring break, they should be the ones to decide. Enough of me planning every trip, enough of me setting the itinerary - I was just going to sit back and enjoy somene else taking care of things. My son decided it would be fun to go to a couple of National Parks so we went to the book store, bought Fodor's National Parks of the Southwest and brought the book home. Where it sat... and sat and sat until I hinted if we wanted to have places to stay in the year 2006, perhaps it would be wise to actually open the book. My son's a budding rock climber so he thought Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park looked pretty interesting to him. Being reassured that they would take care of all of the arrangements and not to worry my pretty little OCD head about anything, I made myself a cocktail and a week later booked the trip myself.

Our goal was to actually stay in the Parks themselves and as many of you probably know, they book up WAYYY in advance. Because our spring break is earlier, we lucked out. Both of these parks are booked through www.xanterra.com. and we manged to find space. In Zion, we booked a "Western style cabin" and in Bryce, a motel room in the park. More on xanterra later.

Having fond memories of many road trips as a kid, we loaded up our car with too many clothes, too many snacks and wedged ourselves in between everything and took off for points Northeast (we live in LA). First stop: Zion.
We made our way past Vegas, and into a little bit of Arizona and the landscape began to change from brush and dust into something miraculous. The more we climbed, the more the topgraphy changed. To see how the plates of the earth shifted thousands of years before and were shoved up at all angles in a rainbow of colors was amazing. My memories of towering mountains and cliffs returned and my son looked in awe at how prehistoric everything was. We stopped a couple of times - once at the Virgin River Scenic Rest stop and hiked down to the river. It's a nice place to stretch your legs, make the jokes everyone has certainly heard a million times in the town of Virgin and then moved on.

As sun began to set, we climbed into the Dixie National Forest and Zion. I've been to many places in my lifetime and I will tell you, it's one of the most beatiful drives in this country you will ever take. The mountains are stunningly red and made more brilliant by the setting sun. Around every corner was a new vista more beautiful than the last. We drove through the little town of Springdale right outside the entrace and then drove into the park. You need a special pass to go down the main road to the lodge - just give them the confirmation # of your room and they will let you have one. Make sure to hold onto your receipt if you plan on leaving the park to go into town. They'll ask to see it again. As we drive slowly, there are deer and wild turkeys everywhere, clouds and a dusting of snow on the highest peaks. The lodge and surrounding cabins quite literally sit between two towering 1500 foot cliffs. Our cabin is perfect - two double beds, a gas fireplace, nice bathroom with a tub (which comes in handy after grueling hikes) and a little porch with a rocking chair. We unloaded our car, had a pretty nice dinner at the lodge and yes, there is beer and wine (another nice thing after a grueling hike - will there be an alcoholic theme here? perhaps.) We settled in for the night as the fake fire flickered and got ready for our adventures of the next day.

NEXT: OUR HIKE FROM HELL to ANGEL'S LANDING, FLYING TURKEYS AND PARK GUIDES WHO MUST ALL READ DIFFERENT BOOKS ABOUT ZION....

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