In January of 2015 we set out on a trip of our lives - the tour of the Great American West. Initially, we planned to rent an RV and skip the hotel part - rough it in the nature, so to speak. On second thought, we changed our minds and decided to get a family van and book hotels instead. After all, there were six of us - my husband Chris and I, our two little boys Liam and Max (5 and 2 years old at that time), and my parents who were visiting us from Russia. Spending ten days in an RV in this company could be... well... hard to pull off... to put it mildly :).
We flew into Las Vegas, stayed at the Paris Hotel for one night, hopped on board our beautiful Toyota Sienna that we had picked up at the airport upon arrival, and started driving... driving into these amazingly vast lands with skies so clear and air so fresh that it makes you feel as if you were re-born!
The first stop of our tour was Zion National Park, and if you are ever there, this is what you should do:
1. Stay at the Majestic View Lodge
Because, as you can see, it is majestic! The imposing mountains surround you, and the vista that you will wake up to in the morning will take your breath away. Add a bold aroma of coffee, and this can truly be called paradise on Earth!
We went to Zion in January, which is the off-season - so the room at this hotel only cost us $110. It's twice as expensive during the high season. I would definitely recommend going in the winter though. It's cold, but it's nicely cold: you can sense the cool mountain air on your skin, and there are almost no people around. You are literally alone with nature!
2. Have dinner at the Lodge Steakhouse
Walk to the restaurant located on the premises, go through the quirky lobby and enjoy some of the best steaks you will ever have in your life!
3. Jump into a hot tub at night!
The hot tub was less than a minute walk from our rooms - so we went there twice. :) Once with Chris and a bottle of wine at night, checking out the Milky Way and filling our lungs with crispy-cold Zion air. By the way, I have never seen the Milky Way that clearly before - a road of silver-white stars leading to an unknown and mysterious destination in the celestial realm. And the second time - in the morning, with my parents and my kids. It took a bit of time to convince our 5-year-old Liam that it was okay to strip down to his swim trunks and plunge into the hot tub - as long as he gets bundled up the moment he comes out of it. Liam loves hot tubs now!
View from the hot tub!!!
4. Go for a drive!
Wake up and set out on one of the most stunning and picturesque drives in North America. The Toyota Sienna that we had makes for a very cool and relaxed drive with kids, because the windows are so large, you feel like you are inside a huge bubble and can see everything around – silver planes zooming through the fresh skies, majestic terracotta mountain formations towering over your head and quaint little shops dotting the Old West streets.
5. Have some ice-cream in town!
And check out the shops. You can find lots of cool gifts made by local Indian artisans. Super cool!
6. Go hike some trails!
There are LOTS of hiking trails in Zion – most of them will literally take your breath away. The trails also range in difficulty levels – that way you can choose to rough it or just take a nice little stroll with the kids. Whichever way you choose to go, you are guaranteed to come back revived, with your lungs full of refreshing air. You can find a full list and description of the trails here.
7. Jump back in your car and drive to Bryce Canyon!
Our report about visiting Bryce will be ready shortly, I promise.
Oh, and I almost forgot. Crank this song up while driving around Zion – you won’t regret it!