Southwest Road Trip Part 5: Under Canvas Zion

After three nights at the Hampton Inn in Kanab (which is an excellent dog-friendly option by the way - economical, clean, free hot breakfasts that fueled us for a full day of adventures), we treated ourselves to a night of glamping under the stars at Under Canvas Zion. We stayed in their Stargazer safari tent perched high on a hill, giving us this stunning, unobstructed view into Zion National Park right from our very own deck. Hoku wasted no time making himself and his coyote friend comfortable on the King bed, which boasts a Casper mattress and a viewing window for stargazing at night. There was also a wood burning stove and all the firewood we could burn to keep us warm as the temperatures dipped. "This is so not camping," David laughed as he propped his legs up on the deck chair and took in the dramatic, red mountains surrounding us. "But I'll's pretty sweet."

The harshest glamping critic I know had finally been swayed. 


As sunset approached, we walked down to the lobby tent to grab some dinner at the onsite restaurant, Embers. Hoku snuggled up in his blanket under our table as we chatted with two other guests from Oregon who told us how they were woken up the night before by a pack of coyotes howling loudly into the valley. The food, the beer (David tried Utah's very own Polygamy Porter), the company, the views (again with views, I know), the super friendly staff at Under Canvas, it all made for one heck of a good evening. 


After dinner, the mountains began glowing a bright, fiery orange and we headed back to our tent. We didn't want to miss a single minute of magic hour light from the deck. Southwest sunsets are just something else entirely. While some clouds lingered into the evening, we were thankful that it had cleared just enough for us to enjoy a sky full of stars and a faint glow of light that was the Milky Way. It was a chilly evening, but because we had our viewing window, we could take the stargazing party inside and stay warm and toasty. So under the stars, we all fell asleep to the crackling of logs in the wood burning stove. It was the best night's rest we had the entire trip.


Along our journey through the Southwest, we had seen our fair share of incredible sights. And just when we thought we had seen it all, we unzipped our tent the next morning to find THIS. No words.


Hoku slept in and missed the amazing sunrise over Zion, but I think he much rather preferred snuggling with his coyote and having breakfast in bed. The kid sure knows how to vacation in comfort.


After Hoku finally decided to get out of bed, we took a quick stroll down to the lobby tent and helped ourselves to coffee from the complimentary 24/7 beverage bar that included an assortment of teas and hot chocolate. We took our coffees back to the tent and soaked in the Zion morning sky one last time before packing up our things for the long drive back to LA. I can't think of a more perfect way for us to have concluded our short but sweet journey through the Southwest than right there on that deck, with a hot coffee in hand and a warm pup on my lap. 


Thanks for an amazing time, Under Canvas! We can't wait to come back again. 


Southwest Road Trip Part 4: Zion National Park

From the Coral Pink Sand Dunes, we headed straight to Zion National Park, just 40 minutes away. In the Spring, Zion runs a shuttle system for visitors and closes off Zion Scenic Drive to private vehicles in an effort to better manage traffic and crowds. Dogs aren't allowed on the shuttle and we realized that we missed our opportunity to do the scenic drive ourselves by a mere 5 days. (There's always next Winter!) We were, however, able to drive through Zion-Mount Carmel Highway to explore the less popular east side of the park, which worked out perfectly as our route from Kanab took us straight into the park's East Entrance. Unlike Bryce Canyon, there weren't as many opportunities to stop and let Hoku stretch his legs, but he was able to stick his face out the window and enjoy all the sights and smells from the car. 


One of the highlights of the drive was seeing a herd of Big Horn Sheep grazing right on the side of the road. They were much too focused on getting at the shrubbery stuck in the rocks to give a damn about the tourist paparazzi that had gathered round to watch. 


We had initially hoped to hike the one dog friendly trail in Zion called the Pa'rus Trail, but it was so difficult to find parking near the trailhead and the Visitors Center that we decided to call it a day. While Zion has probably been the most crowded and restrictive national park we've visited so far, it's not hard to see why all of its stunning, natural beauty attracts so many visitors and is worth protecting.

Southwest Road Trip Part 3: Coral Pink Sand Dunes

"You're in for a real treat today" the ranger told us as we paid the entrance fee to the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, located just outside of Kanab. And indeed it was. Last night's snowfall over the dunes had created a sort of strange but wonderful contrast of white snow over the park's signature bright pink-orange sand. It was the third day of our Southwest road trip and while we had loved every moment of our snowy adventure to Bryce Canyon National Park, we were glad the sun had finally decided to rejoin us. 


There was no distinct hiking trail within the dunes as the wind constantly shifts the sand as much as 50 ft in a year.  So we set off past the wooden fence, careful to watch for ATVs and headed straight up the first hill we saw. There was less snow past the fence, which gave us a better sense of just how vibrant the color of the sand really was. 

Backtracking a little...

We had seen a sign for the dunes on our way to Bryce the day before and figured we'd check it out the next morning before venturing into Zion National Park. Fully anticipating that our time in Zion would be less exploring on our feet and more sightseeing from the car due to the park's strict rules on dogs, we wanted to get some real hiking in first. And the dunes did not disappoint. Hoku had a blast here. The vastness, the fact that we pretty much had it all to ourselves that day, it almost felt like we were the last two people and dog left on earth. (Well, despite the occasional ATV zooming past us from time to time.)


Sometimes the best parts of an adventure are the parts that are unplanned. The moments that are fantastically serendipitous because you just so happened to notice a small sign off the side of the road and said, sure why not? This planner is definitely learning to embrace spontaneity.