family trip: bryce + zion recap

We took off on our little road trip to Utah around midnight right after my husband got off work and we drove through the night while our kiddos were sleeping (that just always works best for us on car rides longer than 5 hours) to meet up with two of other families and stay in a cabin to celebrate New Years together while all our kids were still on their Christmas breaks from school.

We woke up to snow falling and we crammed back into our cars to head to Bryce Canyon to explore. The kids did great and Crosley napped on the drive up. We stopped off for gas and found some cute random covered wagons back behind it so we ran around with the kids for a bit and tried not to freeze our butts off in the 19 degree weather! On the way into Bryce there are these amazing arches that extend over the road and its our tradition to stop off at them every time and get a picture under them! Sadly Bryce Canyon was a little socked in with fog so you couldn’t see too much so we spent an hour or so pulling the kids around on the sled and I bundled up crosley and couldn’t stop laughing at him trying to waddle around in his snowsuit. It was hilarious. He loved the snow so much until his glove fell off and he grabbed a giant chunk and then got extremely confused about why the cold felt like it was burning his hand off haha!

After Bryce we headed back to the cabin and started unpacking and making dinner and drinks for our fun NYE celebration ahead. The town we stayed in was called Alton and was kind of in the middle of nowhere because when we were booking we wanted somewhere in-between Bryce and Zion, so this seemed like a good spot… what we didn’t know was that stores of any kind were limited… which is hard with eight kids and the inevitable things that come up on vacation that warrant an occasional trip to the store. Anyway, a few ingredients for our dinner was missing so the boys headed to the store while the girls started on dinner with the items we had and finished unloading and wrangling the kids. While they were at the store a young girl overheard one of our guys talking about how they needed to buy some meat for our tacos tomorrow but the drug store was really limited and didnt have what they were looking for. So they girl offered to give them a piece of her prized steer that she had raised from a baby and recently butchered! She insisted and had her dad come and drop it off so we could have it… we couldn’t believe how sweet she was when the guys came home and told us the story!

That night we kicked off our NYE celebration with good food and affirmations! We each went around one by one and gave each other three affirmations and a mantra to carry into the New Year. We didnt realize it would get so deep and layered and bring on so many tears… even with our husbands!! (actually especially with our husbands haha!) It truly was one of those bonding moments that I know all of us will remember forever. None of our kids had any issues out-partying us that night… I think when the clock hit 1 AM they were still having pillow fights and running around crazy. We counted down the ball drop and lit up our sparklers to ring in the new year!

The next day we had plans to go some hot springs that I had been to before but it was a two hour drive from the cabin and a majority vote decided that we should stay and just enjoy some sledding and relaxation for the day. So the kids made snow runs and we all took turns sledding and cooking together and huddling around the outdoor campfire roasting marshmallows and trying to keep warm.

That last day we all packed up and headed to Zion! I wasn’t sure what to expect, I had heard of overcrowding and tons of tourists and we weren’t sure if it would be as foggy as Bryce was or if with the government shut downs right now there would even be a way to get in without the shuttles running…. but we were pleasantly surprised. It turned out we didnt have to pay for entry and just could drive through the park when usually people have to shuttle In and wait for different stops etc. I absolutely could not believe my eyes. It felt like I was driving into the Grand Canyon! The weather was perfect and the sun popped out and illuminated all the giant red rocks… I couldn’t stop repeating “I can’t believe i’ve never seen this before” over and over again. I already want to go back! We stopped off for lunch at the Zion Lodge and then bundled up to hike to the lower Emerald Pool. It was a short mile hike and so easy with kids but still absolutely stunning. I would love to go back for longer and stay in Zion and hike everyday though next time… we didnt have enough time with all our schedules but Im sure we will be back in the future!

My little family headed to Las Vegas and stopped off at the Bellagio for the night and got the most amazing view of the fountains. We got pizza and changed into robes and laid in our hotel beds and lounged and watched TV and in the morning we headed to the Jacuzzi, gorged ourselves with crab and lobster at the Bellagio buffet (buffets are NOT my thing but I was outnumbered in votes) before heading on the road for the remaining 4 hours home. All the kids were so pooped from the trip they all slept on the way home and we were SO excited to come home and sleep in our own beds and start de-Christmas-ing and recouping after all the madness of the holidays!!

note: I know some of you had asked for the info on the cabin we stayed at, but we didn’t fully love our experience with the owner (in fact we are in mediation with airbnb right now with her) and I just wouldn’t feel comfortable referring anyone if there was even a chance they could have a similar experience with her. I hope you all understand! This is our first airbnb host debacle, but it’s making me kind of nervous about future bookings! xo