Zion Mountain Ranch is a little piece of heaven. Our cabin was perfect. Our breakfasts were amazing. The view was spectacular. The animals were fun to watch, and even play with. We learned this morning that the Lab’s name is Dakota, and he loves bacon. Aidan ordered a side of bacon that he didn’t finish. The waitress invited the kids to feed it to Dakota, who then brought a stick to the kids, clearly asking to play fetch. I’m not sure that any of us really wanted to leave.
A few quick thoughts about the cabin at Zion Mountain Ranch . . . I am reluctant to talk much about how much we are paying for our hotel rooms, but I found this location fascinating in how it compared with other places we’d stayed, so if you’ll bear with me for a moment, I think you might find this interesting. When we travel, we tend to be Hampton Inn kind of people: comfortable, but fairly affordable. When we were first married, we tended to pay $60 or so for hotel rooms, but that’s really hard to do these days. We’re happy now whenever we can pay under $100. For this trip, we knew we would need to pay a bit more because we were heading to travel destinations, but we hoped that we wouldn’t need to go over $200 per night, and we have managed to do that. Only a couple places were more than $175, and several have been around $115 or $120. Zion Mountain Ranch was right in the middle at $152 per night, but has been the very best accommodations so far. In fact, at Bryce Canyon Resort, we paid $25 more per night for much less.
Our cabin at Zion was large, with 2 King beds and a Queen leather sleeper sofa. The decorations were lovely, more like what you might put in your (southwestern style) house, rather than a hotel. No cheesy paintings or photos of the area. We had a frig, plenty of shelves and closet space for all our luggage. We didn’t use the TV or eating area, but we could have. The picture window in the living area overlooked the meadow. The room had every little thing that you don’t think much about, but that makes all the difference in your stay: good water pressure, enough space around the sink for your toiletries, plenty of soft towels, toilet paper where you can reach it, a fan in the bathroom (rare in hotels), sufficient bathroom lighting (it’s hard to put on eyeliner in the dark), pillows of varying firmness, comfortable comforter on the bed, lamps by the bedside on both sides for reading, just everything you can think of. If you are ever in the Zion area and willing to pay $152 a night (which I recognize is more than a lot of people like to pay for hotels, including us!), please give it a try. What a wonderful place to spend some time. You will also find it hard to leave.
Though we were sad to leave, we headed on the road toward the Grand Canyon. The drive was dry and brown, with fascinating mountains and rock formations as we headed south and east to go around to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. We were excited for the Grand Canyon, partly because it’s – well – the Grand Canyon, but also because we were meeting my sister and brother-in-law and their 7 month old daughter there. We planned to stay at Yavapai Lodge, inside the Park.
Finding almost no cell coverage in Grand Canyon National Park and arriving late afternoon, we speculated about how we would locate Dave, Rebecca and Gray, my brother-in-law, sister and their daughter. We knew they were staying at the Mather Campground, also inside the Park. We also knew it would take them longer to set up camp than it would for us to check into our hotel, so we decided to head over to the campground to try to locate them.
The Campground is located in “The Village” of Grand Canyon National Park. It was technically walking distance from our hotel (at least, as the crow flies), though we didn’t end up walking between the locations. I was impressed by the Campground. Though Hal and I haven’t camped together as a family, that was almost the only way that we vacationed as a family when I was growing up, so it is familiar territory for me. Wandering around the five large loops that make up the Campground was reminiscent of selecting campsites as a child. We would look for one that was wooded, somewhat private, not too far from the bathhouse, but not too close (it can get noisy there early in the morning or late at night). There were some lovely sites and on our final loop was successful! So much fun to see people we knew after so many days on the road.
We helped Dave and Rebecca set up camp. They brought a brand-new “family” tent they got after Gray’s arrival at Christmastime. It’s called a Hobbitat. Isn’t that just adorable? I would like to do some family camping, but it’s not Hal’s favorite thing, so I’m not sure it is in our future. They also brought along their 2-man pup tent, in case anyone from our family wanted to join them on this camping expedition. They had a few takers: all three of ours were interested in sleeping over. We’d brought sleeping bags for this moment and loaded them into the pup tent, giving the kids the chance to decide if the 2-man would fit the 3 kids. They ok’d the plan and we headed out to have dinner.
There are a few restaurants within Grand Canyon National Park. Yavapai Lodge has a cafeteria. There is a “luncheonette” on the rim, outside Bright Angel Lodge. El Tovar Lodge has a restaurant that appears to be the finest dining in the Park. Bright Angel Lodge has two restaurants: the Arizona Room, with views of the Canyon, and the Bright Angel Restaurant, described as family dining. We opted for family dining. No views, but good food and good service. Our oldest two opted, once again, for steaks (they will eat us out of house and home one of these days). I had wild salmon. Wished I had the steak. It looked really good and my sister told me it was very well flavored. Haley had rainbow sherbet for dessert and the rest of us shared some chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. Yum! The restaurant worked well for all of us, offering enough space for Rebecca and Dave to take turns doing that stand-and-rock-and-sway thing that parents do when they are wearing a sleeping baby.
After dinner, we headed back to the campsite to drop off Rebecca, Dave, Gray, Austin, Haley and Aidan for their campout. The kids were already talking about the ghost stories they would be telling. It was a little strange to leave them in the dark at a campsite. Rebecca and Dave were occupied with Gray, hoping for a good night with her on her first campout. Rebecca gave the kids clear instructions about how to proceed with the evening, getting ready for bed at the bathhouse across the way. We left them with instructions to stick together, hoping that the 9 year old wouldn’t get lost in the dark. This is foreign territory for our children, but we were happy for them to have a chance to try camping and for us to have an evening on our own.