This weekend was another stay close to home weekend for Llama as he has a busy few weeks coming up. He had planned on getting out of the house and heading to Caprock Canyons, but another great offer came up.
Llama and his traveling companions have recently met new friends, Randy & Mary Gerdes, instagram.com/travatolife. Randy and Mary are avid travelers and hikers like Llama and company, so they decided to get together to discuss travel goals and styles. Part of the goal for the day was looking at the Gerdes Travato Class B Motorhome. Llama is seriously considering getting one of these in the next couple of years to aid in his road-tripping passion and getting more hiking accomplished while his hooves are still young.
After getting a through tour of their Travato and seeing all the wonderful modifications Randy and Mary have done to make it even more comfortable, everyone went to a local restaurant, Cancun Grill & Bar, to talk about travels. No one had tried this place yet but the parking lot is always slammin’ busy so they decided to give it a try. The street tacos and Jalisco grill were all very good. Everyone said they would be back.
Now Llama realizes this has nothing to do with Utah. Patience young padawan, it does.
Conversation during lunch turned to where we liked to go and where we have been. It became apparent that everyone around the table really liked Utah. And as luck would have it, Utah is the place that Llama took his first hike with Karol and Michael. Six years ago, the summer after Llama came to live with Karol, everyone took a week trip to southwestern Utah before Karol had to work in Salt Lake City. Llama’s and companion’s goal was to hit part of the Big Five. The Big (or Mighty) Five are 5 national parks located in the state of Utah: Zion, Bryce, Capital Reef, Arches, and Canyonlands. This first trip included Zion, Bryce, and Capital Reef.
Capital Reef, being the smallest of the 3 parks Llama visited on this trip, was the least crowded. Llama and companions arrived midday, enjoyed a sandwich lunch from the cooler, and headed off on the loop trail. Not knowing what to expect and having to head on to their hotel that night (part of the reason to get a Class B), they opted for the shorter hike. Also, Llama’s companions didn’t really have their hiking legs yet and Karol hadn’t had her foot surgeries yet so much over 2 miles at a time was painful.
Well Capital Reef didn’t disappoint. This park is easily in their Top 10 of parks. The park is easily accessible, has varying difficulties of hikes, and all the stunning beauty of the larger parks. The afternoon was the perfect temperature for early June and a lot of the trail was partially shaded.
Zion National Park
The next day was all about Zion. This well known park was already experiencing serious overcrowding by 2014 when Llama visited and visitors have to park and take a bus into parts of the park.
Zion is very different from Capital Reef. The park has deep canyons to hike through, which Karol loves, and high trails where you might see a condor. Llama saw a nest but the Ranger told us the condors were hunkered down too far in the nest to see. That would have been amazing to see them flying.
A cute thing did happen in Zion. While riding the shuttle bus exiting the park, a woman, probably in her early 70s, noticed Llama and struck up a conversation. She thought it was so cute that Llama got to go along on Karol’s adventures. This was early Instagram time and Llama had to explain to her about documenting his travels for students back home. 🤩
Bryce Canyon National Park
The next day was at #3 of the Big 5: Bryce. Bryce Canyon is again totally different from Capital Reef and Zion. Bryce is famous for its formations called hoodoos. Hoodoos are weathered rock columns. Bryce is miles and miles of hoodoos. Karol can’t wait to go back as one 5-mile hike down into the hoodoos is calling her name. (Remember this was pre getting her feet fixed.) She had to settle for a 3-mile hike along the rim.
Llama and friends did so much more on this trip than visit these 3 parks but that is story for another time. Llama did fall in love with Utah and has returned about 4 more times since then and finished the Big 5. You could easily take a lifetime hiking and taking in all the views.
Llama highly recommends that everyone should visit the Big 5 and marvel at the beauty. Maybe if he gets the Class B he can come back for longer periods of time. 🤞
He also wants to again thank Teddy Roosevelt and all others who had the foresight to establish our National Parks. And Llama and his companions will continue to fight for their protection.
In the comments below, tell Llama if you’ve done the Big 5 or what other of the National Parks are your favorites. If you want to visit the parks often, Llama recommends purchasing a National Parks Pass. This pays for itself in just a few visits.