Tag Archives: US National Park

Notes on trips to, or that include, one or more US National Parks.

July, North America

Backpacking Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley on the John Muir Trail

While a graduate student, I was fortunate to tack a couple of days in Yosemite National Park onto the end of a conference. That was enough time to hike up Half Dome (this was in the days before permits) and to explore Yosemite Valley. While stunning, I knew I had just scratched the surface of the Yosemite’s wonders.

I later saw a slide show of a hike along the John Muir Trail, which further motivated me to return. Kyle and I talked with friends–Joe and Jeremy–about a proposed trip. We decided to focus on the section from Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley. This would take us to Cathedral Lakes, Sunrise Lakes, Clouds Rest, and Half Dome.

We set about applying to permits by fax. On our third try, we secured permits for our desired route for 21-24 July 2016.

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March

Maui in March

We love Seattle, but by February or March, we’re craving some sunlight, warmth, and outside time. Conveniently, it’s easy to get to Hawaii from the west coast. In March 2015, we headed to Maui for a week of hikes, food, and beaches. We moved around between Hana, Lahaina, and Kula so that we could explore different parts of the island.

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North America, October

Canyonlands & Arches National Parks: An October weekend in Moab

After the previous year’s enjoyable fall escape to Zion, we decided to escape the onset of Seattle’s rainy fall with a trip Moab, Utah. (We saved Bryce for a future visit.) Moab offered the chance to explore Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and could be reached by an easy, direct flight to Salt Lake City followed by a four hour drive.

Our visit included two days of hiking in Canyonlands–one in the Island in the Sky and one in the Needles District–and two days exploring Arches, including the Fiery Furnace, Devil’s Garden, Delicate Arch and Windows Arch. We also enjoyed three breathtaking sunrises at Mesa Arch, Delicate Arch, and the Windows.

Visiting in the fall meant that we got to see the most popular spots without the high-season crowds. We also got to do some hikes that the Park Service and others recommend against doing in the hot summer, including Druid Arch and Syncline Loop.

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North America, November

Zion National Park: A November Weekend

If you hike, fall is one of the best times to visit the southwest. Crowds have thinned, the days are cooler, and small spots of fall color can light up the canyons even more. Frequent summer thunderstorms can become less frequent. The days are shorter. You have to make good use of your limited daylight, but it makes it easier to catch sunrises and sunsets and to enjoy the stars.

To take advantage of this, we visited Zion National Park in November 2015, spending a day and a half in the Zion Canyon section, a day in Kolob Canyons, a day in the Subway, and a beautiful morning on the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway.

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