Driving from E.C. Manning to Vancouver takes you through the little town of Hope. Hope has a special place in my heart after our weekend there. The community is friendly, the camping spots are beautiful, and there are some sweet Othello Tunnels to visit for sightseeing. Make sure you visit in the summer so you can enjoy a concert in the park as well.
This is the view from our camping spot in Hope. We were right on the river (nearly all spots are right on the river). Loved this area!
These are my cute boys sitting enjoying the view as the sun gets ready to set. Ignore the super messy trailer in the background. I’d like to say that is not normally how it looks, but that is almost always how it looks. Pretty sad for the organizing queen…sigh.
This halfway eccentric photo of us with the Vancouver band, ‘The Pretties” is how Hope won my heart. All summer long Hope hosts “Concerts In The Park” on both Saturday and Sunday. We came through Hope in August and caught the very last concert in the park. The Pretties were great, sort of punk rock style. They even welcomed a photo with us to document Seth’s first concert. We then entered this photo in the “Hope Concerts In The Park Photo Contest”, and because of little baby Seth and the tie-dye shirt, we took 2nd place!
Now for those Othello Tunnels.
These easy to access tunnels run through a canyon, on the side of a gorgeous blue green river, and were a crazy feat to create since they are carved into sheer cliff faces. There are 4 tunnels in all. 3 are connected with bridges.
It’s really cool to stand in front of one tunnel and look through to the next. 2 of the Othello Tunnels are so long you can’t easily see out the other side. You may even want to bring a flashlight for the longest tunnel. We used our phones for light.
We crossed the border into Canada in Osoyoos. From there we stopped at a couple Provincial Park that did not disappoint.
Haynes Point Provincial Park
This cute little Provincial Park is located almost entirely on a narrow piece of land that extends out into the middle of Osoyoos Lake. If you go out to the point, you get a good view of the lake in both directions. Seth and I wandered out to the point just so that Seth could sit ‘in the middle’ of the lake.
Not a Provincial Park, but a weird lake. Spotted Lake is a saline endorheic alkali lake (yes I had to look that up) and contains dense deposits of magnesium sulfate, calcium and sodium sulfates. Each season the lake changes color depending on which mineral is most prevalent (pink, blue/green, white, etc). The lake also appears to have spots. The lake is so shallow that the water evaporates easily leaving dense areas of minerals and less dense areas which create the spots.
E. C. Manning Provincial Park
Great park to have lunch in, just watch out for bears. Luckily we didn’t see any while we ate, but we were warned by rangers that bear sightings are very normal in this park.
Hedley Heritage Museum
Hedley was a mining town and you can still see much of the old mine machinery and entrances up on the sides of the mountain. We went to the Hedley Heritage Museum with Seth and had some fun getting our hands on vintage mining equipment.
I’m sure you are familiar (maybe not seen, but familiar with) Leonardo DiCaprio’s movie “The Revenant.” If anything, you know that he is attacked by a bear like 4 times. Anyway, we stumbled upon the waterfall that is in that movie, Kootenai Falls. The waterfall itself is pretty cool, wide, lots of water, very blue. What was really cool was that even for such a large powerful waterfall, there were swimming pools right in the middle. We unfortunately did not know this before we engaged in this little hike, so we didn’t swim, but we would still recommend it to others (there were people swimming while we were there…we were jealous).
Another awesome thing about this stop is that on the same hike (a slight detour but same hike) is a swinging bridge. It swung so much that it was actually pretty eerie, and awesome!
We also went to the Ross Creek Cedars which were nearby. If we were just visiting these, they would have been pretty cool, but we are on our way to the coast where we will see much greener, much bigger, just generally more massive and similar trees, so this was a little disappointing.
The majority of our time in Glacier was spent on the East side of Glacier National Park, from Logan Pass to St. Mary, and into the Many Glacier area.
From Logan Pass, there are 2 awesome hikes everyone should do, Hidden Lake Overlook and Highline Trail.
Hidden Lake Overlook Hike
The Hidden Lake Overlook trail is largely boardwalk. It takes you up past a few small glacial waterfalls, skirting along some snow banks, and through flower filled fields. When we arrived at the overlook there was a family of mountain goats grazing and playing in the fields.
This second hike was one that we were not able to complete due to the steep downhill at the end and my currently recovering knees. So we only went along the beginning part of the trail, which hugs the side of a rock cliff. The Highline trail is so popular because it gives you views of the waterfalls and canyon that are so well known in Glacier. You hike through more flower covered fields. You also can spot a few glaciers including Grinnell Glacier which I’ll talk about next.
…and another mountain goat on this trail.
Grinnell Glacier Hike
This hike is also super popular but it is in the Many Glacier area on the East side of Glacier National Park instead of on the Going-To-The-Sun road, so even though it is popular, it wasn’t overly crowded. This hike starts by hiking along the banks of 2 lakes, then makes a drastic course change and heads up, and up, and up the side of the mountain.
We reached the Grinnell Lake view and most the group turned around. We didn’t want to hike all the way for various reasons, the heat and exposed trail, the steepness and distance of the hike (almost 12 miles total), bad knees, only being 3 1/2 years old, and so on. Dad, Jason and Emily continued onto the top.
They said it was so worth it and I am so jealous. Their photos look awesome. There was even a waterfall that you had to hike through along the trail that they said was extra refreshing after ascending so much during the heat of the day.
St Mary’s Lake at Rising Sun
Here’s my last little “in the future” note. There are many areas in the park that offer boat tours. On the Grinnell Glacier hike, you could take a boat across both lakes that we hiked around. On the West side of Glacier National Park you can take a boat around McDonald Lake (the upper end). But if you choose to do a boat tour in Glacier, I would recommend a boat tour of St. Mary’s from the Rising Sun area. Bade, Seth and I spent some time around all of those lakes mentioned above and this boat tour seemed to have the best views.
After weeks of anticipation, we finally made it to Glacier National Park. We setup camp in Apgar Campground right on the edge of Lake McDonald. This area is so picturesque, and so relaxing. You could bring your paddle boards, kayaks, tubes, beach chairs, or other water toys to Lake McDonald to play and hangout. We, of course, brought none of that, so we choose to skip rocks while we enjoyed the peace.
Glacier is divided right through the middle via the Going-To-The-Sun Road. The Going-To-The-Sun Road is then divided into a West side and an East side from Logan Pass. Apgar Campground is at the West Glacier entrance to the park, on the West Side of the Going-To-The-Sun Road. This side of the park is a little more spread-out as far as touristy features go, but there are 2 hikes I would recommend doing.
John’s Lake Loop & McDonald Falls
John’s Lake Loop is the better way to get to McDonald Falls. The less good way to get to those falls is pulling off to the side of the road and hiking down a hill. The John’s Lake Loop way is by taking a less traveled, walk-in-the-woods hike past John’s Lake, then reaching McDonald Falls, and returning by an even better walk-in-the-woods hike along the side of a turquoise river.
Avalanche Lake & Trail Of The Cedars
I love when you get these 2-for’s. John’s Lake with McDonald Falls first, now Avalanche Lake and Trail of the Cedars.
Trail of the Cedars Nature Trail is almost entirely boardwalk. One half is largely cedar trees surrounded by more cedar trees. The other half gives you views of cedar trees along side turquoise water, and even a fantastic view of Seth’s favorite waterfall on this hike (I’ll show you this later). You must take at least part of this trail in order to get to the Avalanche Lake hike, so I would recommend taking one side of this trail out and the other side when you return from Avalanche Lake.
Avalanche Lake is a big-ish (for a mountain lake) shallow lake at the base of some long waterfalls. Bade thought the coolest part was that these waterfalls seem to come from the mountain top…so where are they collecting all their water??
My favorite part was the deer that came by and licked one of the backpacks we had sitting behind us.
Seth’s favorite part was right at the beginning of the Avalanche Lake trail, just after turning off the Trail of the Cedars. This loud and captivating blue waterfall rushing down a purple rock canyon on the side of the hike.
As always, pictures don’t do it justice; I guess you’ll just have to come to the West side of Glacier National Park and hike the Avalanche Lake hike for yourself.
The Grand Tetons are such impressive mountains but neither Bade nor myself are a big enough hiker to tackle the Teton Crest Trail. Instead we take on the short hikes with those majestic Tetons in the background. Seth had yet to be on a boat so we had to take the boat to Inspiration Point at Jenny Lake. If time and legs permit, take the boat over to Inspiration Point and hike back around the lake. The hike around the lake has great views the entire time and you’ll often get the chance to see a black bear.
Hiking Inspiration Point at Jenny Lake
Inspiration Point at Jenny Lake is a 7200 ft high point overlooking the lake. The hike to the top is only a mile, but decently steep in parts. The hike is broken up by nice views of waterfalls and wooden bridges spanning the river. The best of these falls is Hidden Falls, which is always better than I remember and right along the trail to Inspiration Point.
Bade was surprised how sheer the cliffs are on the side of the trail as you near the top. The trail widens quite a bit (the rangers have made some major improvements on this trail since the last time Bade or I hiked it) so the cliffs shouldn’t be a worry, even if you are afraid of heights.
If you have the opportunity to hike back around Jenny Lake, going around the Southern way is 2.5 miles and 5 miles if you go around the North end of the lake. The boat shuttle for the lake is $9 one-way or $15 for both trips and it takes just about 10 minutes.
We are less than 2 weeks away from leaving Utah, but we wanted to fit in a few final hikes before we leave. We chose the Grotto Trail in Payson, which is only 0.3 miles long and only gains around 200 ft in elevation. My sister and her family joined us for this short little hike up Payson Canyon.
You can get to these falls any time of year. In the winter you will see a giant icicle down the falls. The photo above is from the spring, so the waterfall is pretty full, and the water was really cold!
Getting To The Grotto Trail in Payson
The map below shows you where the Grotto Trail in Payson Canyon starts.
I absolutely love Zion’s Birch Hollow hike. I’ve hiked Birch Hollow probably 6 times; each time just as good as the last. This hike has long rappels and is nearly all shaded. It is fun to bring new friends on this hike because they are always impressed. This hike easily becomes their newest favorite hike.
If you are planning on hiking Zion’s Birch Hollow hike, you’ll need to make a few preparations ahead of time such as setup a drop off and pick up vehicle, as well as get a rope long enough to handle the awesome rappels. Also, make sure you are comfortable rappelling long rappels. Most the rappel approaches are pretty easy, but the two longest rappel anchors are at your foot level. So the first step over the crest of the rock can be a bit tricky if you are uncomfortable.
The hike takes around 3-5 hours to rappel down the canyons and hike through the slot. Plan for 1-2 hours to hike out of the canyon to get to your pick up vehicle. The last time I hiked Zion’s Birch Hollow I had 4 people with 2 60m ropes and it took us 4 hours and 15 minutes total.
Zion’s Birch Hollow canyon has 12 rappels. The longest rappel is right around 90 ft. with 2 other rappels right around 80 ft.
Getting to Zion’s Birch Hollow Hike
Go to the Zion Ponderosa Ranch near the East Entrance of Zion. Continue past Zion Ponderosa Ranch approximately 3.5 miles on the dirt road. You’ll see a sign for the Birch Hollow hike. Before parking your car here, make sure you park a car or dirt bike at the pick up point… the Orderville trailhead.
Here’s a map of where Zion’s Birch Hollow Trailhead is.
Group Gear: 100m rope, 2 cars, and rope protection for sharp edges.
Personal Gear: harness, locking carabiner, descender (figure 8, ATC, etc), shoes that grip, helmet, gloves and water.
Just minutes away from Honolulu and Waikiki is the Manoa Valley with the Manoa Falls hike. This hike will make you feel like you are walking through Jurassic Park, and best of all, the whole hike is shaded from beginning to end so you can enjoy this hike whenever is convenient during the day. The Manoa Falls hike is only 1.5 miles round trip, starts in tall Eucalyptus tree forests and evolves into a tropical rainforest with a waterfall. You will see giant ferns, bamboo groves, wild ginger and even guava trees. Hikers of all ages and fitness levels can enjoy this hike, even pets.
Manoa Falls Hike Trailhead
The trailhead for the Manoa Falls hike starts at the top of Manoa Road just outside of Waikiki. The last stretch of road is in a residential area, and you can park for free in this area, however it is narrow, with limited parking, and you will extend your hike by a half a mile. It is $5 to park at the trailhead in the Paradise Park parking lot, and in my opinion, totally worth it.
You’ll start your hike on pavement, then transition to a pebble path, and finally reach the bulk of the hike which is in slippery pseudo-mud, which is more or less muddy depending on how recently it rained. Yes your shoes will get muddy regardless of rain, but there are shoe cleaning spigots near the parking lot to clean your shoes after the hike.
Even though this trail is short, it is very diverse. You’ll pass lush fields with towering trees where some movies and TV shows were shot; go through guava tree groves as well as climb hill-sides alongside a stream.
The 150-ft waterfall is beautiful to look at, but you can’t touch. Unfortunately no swimming in the base of Manoa Falls due to falling rocks.
Another great hike near Waikiki is the Koko Head Crater hike which is perfect for catching the sunrise as it is one of the first places on Oahu to feel the sun’s rays in the morning.
Hole in the Rock Road is a hidden Utah treasure that I love sharing with friends and family interested in seeing more of what Utah has to offer. Along this long dirt road are multiple slot canyons such as Zebra, Tunnel, Peek-a-Boo and Spooky, as well as multiple arches and hoodoos such as the 94 foot Broken Bow Arch and a city of hoodoos at Devils Garden.
Getting To Hole In The Rock Road
Head towards Escalante, UT. Getting to Escalante when coming from Northern Utah is really pretty, especially when you get to the ‘fin’ part of the freeway where you have to slow down to 20 miles per hour. Enjoy the view at that point. Make sure you travel in this area with a little bit of day light either going to, or coming from Escalante. It’s about 5-6 hours from Salt Lake City. Hole in the Rock road is 5 miles East of Escalante, UT on UT-12 (it’s hard to miss since there really aren’t any other roads).
Points Of Interest
Hole-in-the-Rock Road is a long, long dirt road. The road goes for around 60 miles. Most people only go on the first 15 miles, so those miles of dirt road are well maintained (especially if you go early in the season, spring-ish, when the road is freshly graded). I would suggest that you go 26.5 miles in so that you can hit up Peek-A-Book and Spooky canyons. Before I get ahead of myself, here are my suggested stops.
mile 0.0 – Reset Odometer – you want to make sure you reset your odometer since most side roads aren’t labeled.
mile 8 –Zebra & Tunnel Slots – Go 8 miles until just after a cattle guard. The trailhead is on the south side of the road. If you hit Halfway Hollow, you’ve gone about a 1/4 a mile too far. The hike out to Zebra and Tunnel slot canyons 2.5 miles out, then 2.5 miles straight back. Zebra slot itself is really short but SO picturesque! There is almost always some water to wade through, but you can just go out and back, so wade as far as you’d like. In the spring these two canyons may be too full of water to enjoy, but if you go in the fall have your cameras ready. Tunnel Canyon is about 1/4-1/2 a mile in a sandy wash away from Zebra. Here are the details you might want to print out, or at least look at the map since it gives you a much better sense of the route you will be taking. The trail is very exposed so sunscreen up and bring plenty of water and snacks. http://www.roadtripryan.com/go/t/utah/escalante/zebratunnel#overview
mile 12.0 Devils Garden – this is a picnic-style spot with rock formations to play on, as well as picnic tables, and the turn off is labeled so it is easy to find. It can get pretty windy here, but this is a great stop if you have kids. No hiking needed, just walk around through this giant rock garden.
mile 15-20 ish – this is where the dirt road starts getting less ‘nice’. Most cars are still fine up until this point.
mile 26.5 Peek-A-Boo & Spooky – These are the best slot canyons for families with young kids. They have enough technical aspects that they are fun, but they are short enough that they don’t tire kids out. I last hiked these canyons as a loop with my 2 year old niece who loved them. Three things to be aware of… first, the road after turning off the main Hole in the Rock Road and heading towards these slots is extremely bad. You ought to have a four-wheel drive vehicle and be comfortable in a really slant-y car in order to drive this. Second, in the spring and summer I’ve never seen any snakes in or near these slot canyons, but in the fall there are plenty of rattle snakes so be on the look out. Third, the loop for Peek-A-Boo and Spooky is best if taken by starting at Peek-A-Boo even though the entrance to Pee-A-Boo looks daunting. You may have to just lift your kids up the first part. You will recognize the start of Peek-A-Boo by the ‘steps’ carved out in the rock for your feet and hands to scramble up. Here are the hiking details for Peek-A-Boo and Spooky. Again, these are two of my favorite canyons and are great for families, as long as you don’t mind the long dirt road to get here. http://www.roadtripryan.com/go/t/utah/escalante/peekaboospookbrimeston#overview
Oh, one other thing to note, about halfway through Spooky you will come to, what seems like, a dead-end of rocks. Those rocks have been there a long time (at least a decade because they’ve been there every time I’ve gone). Just go to the left. You will duck under/through the tiny gap (my pot-bellied dad fit through so it isn’t TOO bad) in the rocks, and you will be in a mini rock cave. Once in the cave you will be helping each other get down a 5-6 foot slanted rock, then you are back to smooth sailing. Kids think this part if fun, adults often think they won’t fit, but there is much more room than you think, and the ‘drop’ is much shorter than it looks. Don’t try to go up and over, stay low and go through the ‘cave’.
Also at mile 26.5 is Brimstone Canyon. You will only want to do this if you are an experienced canyoneer-er, and don’t mind freezing and being in a very tight slot.
After you hike Peek-A-Boo and Spooky, you can start heading back towards Escalante, and return down those 26.5 miles of dirt road.
If you haven’t had enough hiking and want some more, I would definitely recommend doing Lower Calf Creek Falls which is just on the South side of Escalante, UT. This hike is decently long, but is often shaded (especially if you go in the second half of the day), and is largely flat. Bring bug spray to the falls. The hike should be fine, but certain times of year there are bugs galore at the base of the falls. The coolest thing about the falls, other than the large height of the drop, is the color of the lichen behind the falls. It creates this almost rainbow effect.
Camping on Hole in the Rock Road
Just as a time reference. This spring when I did this route with my husband, sister-in-law, brother-in-law and niece, we drove to Escalante at night, went about 8.3 miles up the dirt road to a road a little past the Zebra parking area, and camped. The next morning, we did Zebra (not Tunnel since Zebra had a lot of water, and Tunnel always has more water than Zebra), Devils Garden, Peek-A-Boo and Spooky all in 1 day. We did take our time at each stop, allowing even the little 2 year old to hike at her own pace a lot of the way. We finished Spooky as the sun was getting ready to set (this was spring, Feb, so the days were shorter). You can camp on Hole in the Rock road, just a few miles beyond Peek-A-Boo & Spooky. You’ll want to save Lower Calf Creek for the day before or day after Hole-in-the-Rock road, since you likely won’t have time for both. If you have older kids with you or you want to make a long weekend out of the road and have a good four-wheel-drive vehicle, you can continue up the road to a bunch arch hikes. We ended up going up to Broken Bow arch, which is around 36 miles on Hole-in-the-Rock road. Here is a map of the road, so you can see that there are lots of arches the further you get, but the road and hiking gets much more difficult.