On our first full day out west, we woke up early so we could go pick up our rental car from Hertz at the airport. We took a short Uber ride, and when we arrived we had no wait to pick up the car!
We rented a Nissan, Sentra for one week, which only cost us $260. The car worked out nicely for us because it came with unlimited miles and was great on gas mileage. We racked up over 1,500 miles on this trip so the unlimited miles was a huge plus! The only thing we wished that we could have changed, was the size. It didn’t offer a ton of space for our things, but we made it work. We would’ve loved something bigger and with four wheel drive for Taylor’s dirt road adventures.
Once we got our car, we headed toward Zion National Park (While of course stopping for coffee). The views on the way were breathtaking and made the two hour drive fly by!
Once we arrived in Zion, we immediately bought an annual pass for all National Parks. Without the pass, it’s around $30 per park you enter, depending on the popularity. During our trip, we would be visiting 6 different parks, so it made total sense to purchase the annual pass for $80. Not only did we get our money’s worth for this trip, but we have all year to use it too!
We stopped at the visitors center to check out the maps and pick which trail we wanted to hike. We ended up choosing Angel’s Landing, which is one of the most popular hikes.
This ended up being the most strenuous hike we did during the entire trip. Not only was it our first day in the desert, but the altitude was so high, that it made it 10x harder. We would NOT recommend this hike for anyone with small children, injuries, or a fear of heights.
When you’re hiking to the top, you are constantly on an incline for several miles. There is nothing flat about this trail. We really had to push each other to make it to the top. Taylor said that we didn’t have a place to stay that night, so we were slightly pressed for time, but it was so hard not to take a water break every 10 minutes.
The picture below shows some of the switchbacks that you would have to climb. It was such a heartbreaker to turn a corner and see what you had to climb next, knowing you would need to zig-zag your way up there.
But by conquering the climbs, it resulted in every plateau offering a breathtaking view of the park below!
When we thought we made it to the top, we looked up and realized we still had about another hour to go. From where we stood, it was another 1.1 miles to the top! The hike was hard enough making it to where we stood, but the climb to angel’s landing included a very narrow path with only a loose chain to keep you from falling off a 1000 foot drop. No thank you!
At some points, the trail was only 3 feet wide! I wasn’t keen on heights, so Taylor agreed and said we should start heading back down the mountain. This should’ve been my first clue that he had other plans for the evening. On any normal day, he would’ve really dragged me up that hill.
At some moments, going down proved to be a little scarier than hiking up!
Pictured below is the same picture as earlier, except this time we were standing at the top! It was so relieving to look down rather than up.
The trail took us about 2+ hours total! Once we reached the bottom, we got back in the car and headed to our next destination.
Taylor told me that we were going to Arches National Park and stopping for dinner along the way. I kept asking him if we were going the right way, but since I am the most directionally challenged person I know, I just assumed we were headed towards Arches. The drive was soooo long and I began to panic that we wouldn’t be able to find a place to camp. Taylor remind confident we would find something (probably hint number 2 for him having other plans for the day).
After driving for what seemed like forever, we came to a little park entrance and I was very confused because I knew we weren’t in Arches. Then, Taylor told me, “Surprise!! We’re at the Grand Canyon!” I was super shocked because Taylor has never successfully surprised me with anything. I can usually figure him out.
At this point, I immediately started asking a million questions, and he told me that he had booked a room at the Grand Canyon Lodge (North Rim) with dinner reservations at 9.
The Lodge was absolutely beautiful and one of the coolest places we’ve visited. Not only were the views incredible, but everything was cozy and quiet. The lodge is only open from May 15 through October 15 because it’s almost impossible to get to once the colder weather arrives. It’s such a popular destination, that you have to make your reservations a year in advance. They open the dates for the following year every July. Taylor got really lucky because he called several times a week to see if anyone had cancelled. Finally, they told him that there was an opening for July 4, which was perfect!!
After checking in, we walked around and explored before getting ready for dinner. If you don’t want to stay in the lodge, you can book one of these cute cabins! Some even have porches with rocking chairs.
Once we put all of our luggage in our room, we showered and changed for dinner. Taylor assured me that the dinner would be fancy since it was held in the lodge, so we both needed to dress nicely.
We had some time before our reservation, so we decided to watch the sunset over the canyon.
Towards the end of the sunset, Taylor asked a young couple if they would mind taking our picture in front of the canyon. What I didn’t know, was that he had asked them to keep taking photos because he was about to propose.
After they took our photo, Tay immediately got down on one knee and asked me to marry him!!
I was so happy and surprised and could not stop staring at the ring he pulled out!!
We were so overjoyed and could hardly focus the rest of the night at dinner! Taylor put so much thought and effort into making the entire day and night special. We will never forget that moment and we will definitely be returning to the Grand Canyon Lodge for years to come!
Thank you for all the love and encouragement!! ❤
Ps dinner was amazing in the Grand Canyon Lodge restaurant and it was such a nice atmosphere in the rustic lodge!