A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Wanderlustcanuk

Zion Canyon Days 1 & 2

Before starting this post let me say that I have started a new blog. www.wanderlustcanuk.com I do intend on eventually stopping this blog and working entirely on that page. If you like my posts please follow me at that page.

I have used Las Vegas as a hub to get to many of my choice vacations.  My favourite by far was the trip to Zion Canyon in Utah.  About two and a half hours north east of Las Vegas is the beautiful, majestic Zion Canyon.

The Canyon is 16 miles long and runs through what is known as the Narrows.  The rim of the canyon is desert.  But down within the canyon the eco system changes drastically. Here is a riparian zone which is supported by the flowing waters of the Virgin River.
The park has many different hikes and walks that one can take.  Pictures from the road do not do the beauty of the region any justice.  We hiked as many of the trails that we could.  Some were closed due to ice on the trail as we were there in January.  I have included the itinerary that my husband and I used when we visited the canyon.

Day 1:  Land in Las Vegas at 1:30PM, take shuttle to car rental.  Drive Vegas to La Verkin Utah. (We chose accommodations outside of the park to save money.)  We had intended on entering the park for a few hours at sunset but an accident on I - 15 turned our 2 hour drive into almost 6.  We are the kind of people who just roll with it, so we sun bathed on the hood of the car and watched the Air Force do some practice runs while we waited to be able to move.

Day 2: 7:30 AM Breakfast, in the park by 9:00 AM.  Entrance to the park was $30.00 for the two of us and the pass was good for 7 days. It includes an information sheet with a map and information on each trail.  If you are staying in Springdale you can take the city shuttle to the entrance and then switch to the Zion Canyon Shuttle.  Depending on the time of year driving your own vehicle may not be an option.

Hike Canyon Overlook Trail - This trail has one of the most phenomenal views.  It’s a short hike and the trail is fairly unstrenuous.  The head of the trail is a parking lot just through the mountain tunnel on Mt. Carmel Highway.  The information sheet says that it is an hour long hike.  We completed this in less than fourty five minutes.

Hike Emerald Pools - This hike takes you through three separate trails.

The Lower Emerald Pools: is a short walk.  Only around a half of a mile.  It is surrounded by lush vegetation and comes to an end as you walk under a cliff with two waterfalls cascading over it.  This trail is easy and elderly people or families with young children and strollers can enjoy it with everyone else.

Middle Emerald Pools: Past the two waterfalls and Lower Emerald Pools is the trail to Middle Emerald Pools.  This trail is a bit more strenuous past this point.  You will follow a staircase that comes around on top of the cliff that the lower waterfalls flow over. Here are the streams and pools that feed the waterfalls.

Upper Emerald Pool: This trail is a fair uphill stretch.  It’s a short hike but fairly strenuous.  The Upper Emerald Pool is worth the hike.  The pool is located at the base of an enormous cliff.  When we were there a waterfall was cascading down.  January was a chilly time to be there as you can see there was snow at the base but the beauty of the landscape was mesmerizing.  If a person so desires the Kayenta Trail will lead you to the pools as well.  This trail starts at the Zion Lodge.

Expect to take around 2 to 4 hours to complete the hike, depending on how fast you hike and how long you take to look at things.

Lunch: You are going to need to re-fuel, either pack a lunch and take it into the park with you like we did.  Or choose one of the many places to enjoy a meal in the area.

Weeping Rock Trail:  Weeping rock is a short but steep hike. Stand under the cliff as water seeps through the eroded sandstone formation.  The water that has seeped through from above and caused the eroding is the now “weeping” out of the impermeable layer.  It takes around 30 minutes round trip to see this phenomenom.

Riverside Walk:  There are two main roads which travel through the canyon.  Zion Canyon Drive and Zion - Mount Carmel Highway.  Follow Zion Canyon Drive to find the Temple of Sinawava. Here is where you will find Riverside walk.  This easy going walk is paved and wheel chair accessible.  The end of the trail is the beginning of where the canyon runs through the Narrows.
To explore the Narrows further you will need to hike upstream.  You can hike a mile or so in.  Your trail is literally the river so be prepared with excellent foot wear.  We did not explore this trail very far as the water was cold and it had been snowing that day.  The trail also requires a much more physical hike.  It is important to remember that any exploration of the Narrow’s needs to be done safely.  Be aware of high water levels.

We then returned to La Verkin for dinner, and a good nights sleep so that we could hike again in the morning.

Look forward to tomorrow for another post on the next few days we spent in Zion.

Until then Let there be adventure.

Posted by Wanderlustcanuk 13:25 Tagged desert canyon utah waterfall zion Comments (0)

Things to Do For Free in Las Vegas

I have been to Las Vegas on many occasions.  Being from Canada flights are very expensive.  I find that I can often find a flight to Vegas dirt cheap.  Then I can rent a car and drive anywhere I want in the area.  But I have also spent my fair share of days on Las Vegas Boulevard.

Las Vegas is known for it’s bright lights, wild nights and great shows.  But really it is much more than just that.  For things that are free to do, look no further! I have compiled a list of my favourite things that I love to do in the city that cost nothing.  For those travelling with kids, all of the activities that I am listing are kid friendly!

Flamingo Habitat: If you need a break from the hustle and bustle of the strip and the loud dinging of the casino look no further.  At the Flamingo hotel you will find a lush garden complete with waterfalls, ponds, ducks, fish, turtles and of course Flamingo’s.  Being in the habitat you won’t even remember that just beyond those walls is a hustling bustling party city.  The habitat is free and better yet family friendly so bring the kids along.

Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Garden:  This indoor garden is breath taking.  It also changes often, so even if you have seen it before check it out again.  The resort changes the display from season to season.  It also changes for the Chinese New Year.  Come to see the rare flowers, fountains, trees and displays.

The Mirage Volcano:  As the sun sets, the volcano in front of the Mirage begins to come alive.  The pool surrounding it and the volcano itself erupting with flames, fountains and special effects.  Get here early for a good view and enjoy the dancing flames while being in no real danger of a volcano burning up the strip.

The Bellagio Fountains: Watch the lake in front of the Bellagio come to life as fountains shoot hundreds of feet into the air.  The swaying dance complete with music is a sight to behold.  The show is amazing no matter how many times you have seen it.  It also changes regularily.

The Welcome to Vegas Sign: This sign which sees millions of visitors every year.  This site is a member of the National Register of Historic Places.  It is located on the strip and has a parking lot so you can drive right to it.

Fall of Atlantis:  Inside Caesars forum shops.  Right near the Cheese Cake Factory (My favourite Restaraunt) is the pyrotechnic show of The Fall of Atlantis.  Surrounded by a massive 50,000 gallon aquarium this show takes approximately 20 minutes. Fun for the whole family.

The Grand Canal Shoppes:  Visit the Venetian to stroll along through the excellent shopping.  Your tour will be along the Venice canals.  Watch the Gondolas as they float along while being serenaded by the singing Gondoliers.

Silverton aquarium:  Over 100,000 gallons of water and thousands of fish call the Silverton resort home.  Watch for the live mermaids and the divers feeding fish.

Circus Circus performers:  watch the circus performers as they soar through the air at circus circus.  Performed daily! Check on the hotels website for a list of acts.

Sam’s Town Sunset Stampede: Sam’s Town is a resort about twenty minutes from the strip.  The Mystic Falls Park located by the check in desk is home to animatronic animals and fountains.  The laser and fountain show happens each night.

There are many other things to do in Vegas that are free.  But this a list of the top ten that I enjoy.  I also like exploring the area around the city.  Anyone going to the city but wanting to save a buck try out these wonderful experiences.
Until tomorrow, wander more!

Don’t forget to check out my other blog page. Www.wanderlustcanuk.com

Posted by Wanderlustcanuk 16:29 Tagged travel las vegas things free nevada Comments (0)

Cruise to Cozumel

Cozumel Mexico is an island a short sea bus ride from Cancun. While most people who dock here cross over to the mainland, my husband and I chose to explore Cozumel itself.
The port is busy, and there is no lack of shopping in the area. When you disembark you will be expected to stand while dogs sniff you.
Then you will be shuffled through a duty free store. Here is where I put on my blinders and just walk through. I am interested in the island itself not the cheap cigarettes.

Our tour took us through San Miguel to a Mayan ruin. Tucked in the dense jungle of the island, is San Gervasio. This ruin was at one time the island's cultural and religious center. It is believed that Mayan's from hundreds of miles away would travel here to worship the goddess of the moon. Ixchel. 
Couple's wishing to be married would bring extravagant offers for the royalty who owned San Gervasio and then would stand upon the platform and if the moon shone upon them they would be married. Our guide took us wandering through the archaeological area telling us the legends of the ruins. 
Along our walk we were told about the local flora and fauna. We also viewed the large amount of iguana's hanging out on the cold rocks. 
While this ruin is not the massive size of many other ruins. It's myths and legends make it extremely interesting. Pieces of it are still being excavated as well.

After our exploration of San Gervasio we were taken on a scenic drive along Cozumel's shore line.
Returning to Port we took advantage of the time we had left and explored some of the shops. Here we found the typical touristy trinkets at extravagant prices. Then enjoyed a lunch at Senor Frogs. On the way back to the ship we skipped the duty free store by skirting to the right and proceeded directly to the security check point.
Until Next time, Wanderlust, Wander often, Wander more!

Don’t forget to check out my new blog.


Posted by Wanderlustcanuk 15:37 Tagged ocean cruise tropical cozumel Comments (0)

Cruising to Grand Cayman

Of all of the port’s that I have been to yet. Grand Cayman trumps them all. In this port you must tender from the ship to the pier so plan to take a bit longer getting ashore. But once there be prepared to be amazed.

This island is clean, the locals are kind, the scenery beautiful. It is a tiny little island, and as many Caribbean islands happen to be you will be driving on what those of us from North America consider the wrong side of the road.

We visited a town called Hell. Here the landscape goes from green and luscious to black like Hell. If you look closely you will see a shape in the jagged rocks that looks much like the devil. It’s caused by the current volcanic action going on underneath the island. Grand Cayman is continuously growing because of the movement of the volcanoes it resides upon.

We also spent time at the Cayman Turtle Center. I have heard many people say how horrible of a place the farm is. But in all reality the farm is good for the population of turtles. For the last two years the hatchery has collected on average 27,500 eggs. As well the Cayman Turtle Center has released over 31,000 yearling turtles into the wild. For a species under such a threat those numbers are massive towards conservation and re-population.

We then took a bus over to the Tortuga Rum factory and got free samples of many different types of rums and rum cakes. I cannot say that we didn’t leave with bags laden down with goodies.

We ended this tour with a stingray encounter. Following a short boat ride out to a sand bar we entered the water with hundreds of wild stingrays. I will admit I was terrified. I didn’t want to step on one so I tread very lightly. Snorkelling around them however was exciting. Graceful creatures that they are.

My time in Grand Cayman was not long enough. I want to return and explore the island further. The kind demeanour of the locals and the majestic appearance of the ocean have me itchy to return to the tiny island. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

For my followers I have started another blog, this one is free standing. Check it out at www.wanderlustcanuk.com

Until tomorrow, keep travelling, keep exploring. Wanderlust.

Posted by Wanderlustcanuk 17:29 Comments (0)

Cruising to Montego Bay

Our stop in Montego Bay was a repeat trip for us. We had gotten married here a few years prior and spent a week at the Sunset Beach resort. During our previous trip to Jamaica other members of the group had gone to Negril the day that we were meeting with the wedding planner. So our excursion of choice was a trip to Negril.

We found our tour group and were loaded into a bus with a rather small group of people. I always prefer the smaller groups. I hate being shuffled around in a group of fifty people. The drive from the port to our first stop in Negril was rather enjoyable. We wound our way along the coast line through tiny villages. Our first stop was Margaritaville on seven mile beach. Here we got a free lunch. I of course chose jerk chicken. One of my favourite Jamaican dishes. We then laid on the beach and played in the surf drinking red stripe for around half an our.

The next stop was Rick’s Cafe. Famous for it’s views and cliff divers. I had been excitedly waiting to go here. The view was astonishing. Nothing in the way of miles and miles of ocean. The sun sparkling along on the top of the teal blue water. We walked down the stair case towards the ocean where the divers jump. Across the tiny inlet is a gap in the rocks shining through to the other side. The locals had told us to go down there. They say that it looks like Bob Marley. It indeed looks like a mans head has been carved into the rocks by the waves.

I wanted to jump from the cliff but I wasn’t sure how much time I had so instead we enjoyed some beer while looking out at the view.

We got the chance to watch one of the cliff divers jump from the very top. Then we headed back to the port. The day seemed rather quick. But the travel time from the port to Negril and back had unfortunately eaten quite a bit of our exploration time. I definitely recommend going to see this despite the around hour long trip to and from. It was beautiful and enjoyable. Our tour guide was amazing and the driver as well.

I have plenty of things to say about Jamaica, plenty of recommendations of what to do and what to see. I intend on writing a post specifically on the island as a whole. But for cruising, it’s a wonderful port to visit. I would happily cruise there again.

Until tomorrow, happy adventures everybody.

Posted by Wanderlustcanuk 11:33 Archived in Canada Tagged cruise jamaica bay carnival montego cafe cruising rick’s Comments (0)

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