Another birthday and turning 37 what better place to spend it with the family somewhere I have wanted to visit for 15 years. Zion is a natural treasure and should be on your list to visit a few times in your lifetime.
Driving up to Springdale, UT is like entering the Grand Canyon from the bottom. Stretch your neck as you will be looking up a lot.
We chose to stay at the SPRINGHILL SUITES SPRINGDALE ZION NATIONAL PARK. Why we chose this hotel was for the extra space and location. The room featured a living room and kitchen area where we could prepare all our food and snacks for the day. Also the laundry room was a bonus as we were on a 3 week trip.
After entering Zion with our National Park Member Pass, you have 2 choices. Up into the tunnels or low along the river. Park Info.
We chose the low river for sunset after checking into the hotel. We had the entire park to ourselves only finding grazing deer in the grasslands.
Winter gets chilly after sunset so bring warm clothes.
We got back to the hotel and Lily decided to place an order for some local Thai Food at Thai Sapa for my birthday dinner. Springdale also has some great small and local grocery stores for supplies.
THE NEXT DAY
Chilly December frost covered the Atlas at first light. The days warms once the sun pops over into the canyons.
If you don’t have little kids, Zion features some of the most rewarding hiking trials in North America. It also has one of the highest rated dangerous trails due to the risk of falling off a cliff. Angels Landing has been recorded as one of the most dangerous public hikes in the United States. The top of the trail peaks off at a plateau, which is more than 1,000 feet high. But the most dangerous part of the hike involves a skinny land-bridge with a metal chain for guidance.
Important to Know
Zion has extremely limited amounts of parking. Most of the year you will need to ride the shuttle bus or bike in. The only time of year the bus is not running is around Christmas time Dec-Jan. Even in the off season with found areas the road was closed because of maximum capacity. Zion Bus Info. My tip, bring a electric bike to explorer the lowland canyons. I hate standing in long lines.
With natural beauty also comes natures unpredictability. The Narrows closes when the flow rate is over 150 cubic feet per second (CFS), or during spring snowmelt. The Narrows also closes when a Flash Flood Warning is issued by the National Weather Service, and remains closed for two hours after the warning is lifted. Check the weather before you head into a narrow canyon. Flash floods are always possible. View Current Conditions.
The entrance has a nice place to pull off and take some photos with the sign.
The campgrounds right when you enter the park is where to stop first. 360 views, river walks and open grasslands make for some great lunch spots.
If you continue on the main road it will take you on the elevated route to the top of the park. Take the time to stop at all the viewing points as every corner offers something different.
The tunnels are narrow and if you have an RV or Trailer you are required to pay a small fee so the rangers can close one side for you to pass through.
At the top of the park in the winter has snow! This was Lily first time seeing it and she quickly froze those little hands.
Easy hiking trails that are well maintained allow hikes on all levels to enjoy. Once you reach the true narrows you will need some water boots and suit to continue. You can rent those in town for a small fee and is recommended.
After the long day the kids eyes get heavy the the chill from the sun setting kicks in.
Hands down we will be back to Zion. We did not get to hike all the way back into the narrows giving us a good reason to return when the kids get older.
Living in California but growing up in Colorado my mind often thinks about all the great times of the past. One of those is my love of the Mountains. Ski and snow shoeing in the winter and hiking, camping and off roading in the summer. Spring bloom and snow run off made for some great water crossing while fall colors transform the forest. Building a vehicle that is able to handle year round conditions is a must. I built a Jeep for Jeepn’ once and it was a 2000 Jeep Cherokee 4×4.
Colorado has endless trials of all levels but one close to home and enjoyable year round was the Middle St. Vrain Trail. Trail Info
The Middle St. Vrain Trail is a 6.2 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Lyons, Colorado that features beautiful wild flowers and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, running, camping, and ohv/off road driving and is best used from May until October.
Jeep clubs are always some of the best guys in the industry. Doing a trail run monthly is a must.
If you even owned a Cherokee you know in the hotter days to watch that temp gauge. Before Mishimoto the popped hood and short stops kept it cool.
It had a Rubicon Express lift maybe a 4″ with a CB radio and some used tires off my Dads Wrangler.
Spring time is the for river and lake crossings. It’s rare to see all those snorkel intakes being put to practical use these days.
Trail days can be long and bouncy so it’s always a good idea to bring some company.
The happiness of not breaking anything that day. A great watch are those YouTube Tow Guy channels rescuing rigs.
It’s been over 10 years since living in Colorado and a day does not go by I’m not thinking about it.
I remember walking onto the track for the first time back in 2011. The newly created Global Rallycross Series finally arrives to the US on a national venue stage with big names and major factory sponsorship support like Ford, Subaru, Dodge, Hyundai and later VW. Looking over Irwindale Speedway, it was completely transformed. The normally paved infield was now covered in tons of dirt and gravel. High banking, high speed turns lead into hairpin transition zones where anything loose like bumpers would get ripped off or even worse a tire becoming debeaded. I will never forget having my face planted on a telephoto lens and leaning a fast lesson not to be standing in a gravel exit zone as golf ball size rocks go flying past my head. Luckily I was standing behind a barrier wall to duck behind.
At the center of everything were two giant mounds elevated to launch drivers across a 70 foot gap. Timing, direction and speed were everything. Too much or not enough throttle would cause a bone crushing impact to the inside landing pad or overshooting tilting the car forward kissing goodby to most of the front end.
The big jump came in two forms, dirt and metal and it loved to eat rally cars for breakfast.
With something new means someone would have to go first. If memory serves me right Tanner Foust was that driver. With the entire paddock, series organizers and fire crews watching, Tanner makes the right hand turn, lines up center and floors it. Liftoff! A sudden silence and strong tension comes over every. Even goosebumps form on my arms watching it. Will he make it?!?
He had just enough but it was not a reinsuring speed at that. Afterwords the drivers debated the optimal speed you need to be at as you approach the takeoff ramp. Hesitation, over correction, nervousness, and bumper to bumper racing was going to make this the series fatal attraction.
Later that day, the infamous jump would claim its first victim. Jimmy Keeney and his 2006 Subaru WRX STI would be that driver. Scary for all, not having enough speed caused a belly flop effect catapulting him end over end.
Checkout the full accident.
Watching a driver slowly exit is a tense moment for all but Jimmy was able to rebuild and return to GRC Seattle later that season.
Over shooting the landing was a common issue at each event as well. With front engine weight and the excessive air time, nose planting the front caused intercoolers to fold and chassis to break. I captured this first hand in 2012 at the SEMA GRC event in Las Vegas.
Luckily, most heats would result in little damage and exciting racing. The starts with 4 to 10 cars antilag launch control engaged was always my favorite.
One of the most infamous wrecks happened in 2012 at the X Games Los Angeles practice session. With the introduction of a steel ramp, the concept of a consistent, portable jump quickly turned into one of the worst moments of the whole series.
With no protective material at the edge of the ramp that would absorb a portion of the kinetic energy, Toomas Heikkinen came up short resulting in a sharp 70mph to 0mph impact dropping the vehicle into the gap upside down and into flames. You can feel the impact and watch as his team rushes to Toomas aid with no protective equipment on.
A special story mention goes out to Dave Mirra. I’ll never forget the bumpers flying off over jumps and the complete determination to race to the checker that Dave brought to the series. When Dave was on track it just made everything more exciting to watch. I’m sure Dave is still driving the wheels off of every Subaru from above.
As I was only involved in the first two season of the Global Rallycross, a ton of memories and lifetime friendships were formed.
If you have a story about being at a rallycross event, leave your adventure in the comments below.
Just look at it. I’m in the middle of nowhere. No traffic, no crowds, is that fresh air? Did we arrive on Mars?
Far from it. We are in paradise. Every time I go back it’s better than the last time. This is why Moab, UT is a sacred land to the Natives, Travelers, Explorers and yes the Jeepers.
For the first time I got to share it with the family.
Moab is just a half days drive from SoCal. With this past winters lockdown again in 2020, it was time to get the family out of the house and get some fresh air while being remote. Plus, I had never been here in the winter time and even one greater, never been inside the Arches National Park. So we packed up our 2020 Volkswagen Atlas CrossSport and headed out making this my third trip here.
We arrived late in the day just in time for the sunset. Right before entering the town you cross the Colorado River. Slow moving, it’s a great place to camp next too, fish or have a picnic. Off-road and hiking trails surround it allowing for every viewpoint and bend to explorer. Tip – Moab at night makes for amazing star gazing. Just head out of town and watch for shooting stars. Capture the milky way with a long exposure camera.
In the middle of town are a few grocery stores. Head over to get stocked up on food and drinks for the week.
Where to Stay?
You have tons of options on places to stay. You can get a camping permit and go off grid. Pull in your fifth wheel to a local campground. Or stay at the ever expanding resorts. Here are our two favorite places to stay when visiting.
Homewood Suites by Hilton Moab – Downtown and close to everything with a full kitchen we like to stay at the Homewood Suites by Hilton Moab. Super friendly staff and modern amenities.
St. Danes Cabins & Campground Moab – If you want something more rustic, unique and support small businesses we suggest St. Danes Cabins & Campground Moab.
With winter being the off season for many resorts we checked into the Homewood Suites by Hilton and the kids could not wait to jump into the indoor pool.
The next morning we had the whole day planned to enjoy the Arches National Park. Tip – purchase a National Park Pass for $80 giving you access to all parks nationwide for a year and support the conservation efforts.
The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage for generations to come.
If you have even been inside the park at peak spring or fall season, you know how packed the parking can get. But the winter time we had the entire park to ourselves. Every parking spot, turn off and hiking trail was empty allowing us to stop for every view and photo.
The park has so many unique and different geological features you will find something different to see and hike every time you go back. Jonathan loved the red rocks and the twisted pine trees. If you are limited on time, walking or our case two little kids, you have multiple options on arch locations for easy access just off the road or day hikes.
After the day and enjoying another sunset we headed back to town just 5 min from the park entrance.
Where to eat in Moab?
These are a few of my favorite places.
Moab Diner – Great for Breakfast and Lunch. Stop by and get a sack lunch if hitting the trails.
The Blu Pig – Blues, brews & bbq. Eat in or we love to get it to go and enjoy at a fire pit in the evenings.
Moab Brewery – It has the word Brewery in its name. You can’t go wrong.
Downtown – The downtown area has tons more great options like pizza and Thai Food.
Moab Coffee Roasters – Located in the middle of downtown and next to our hotel we enjoyed the ice coffee with expresso ice cubes.
The next day we headed to another scenic drive with lots of off-road trails along the south side of the Colorado River. If you stay on the main road this is an easy drive for all vehicle types as well. At the beginning you will find a building that is built into a cliff side and is a really cool spot to stop and take photos by.
Continuing on you enter another world. Massive cliff walls with rocks melting off them. Winding roads and rivers. If you love rock climbing this is the place. Come here in the spring time and you will find waterfalls and river crossings you can drive through.
You can see time carved into each and every wall.
Picnic spots for warmer weather but the kids are just as happy to play in the snow.
Depending on your vehicles capabilities this area offers levels 1-5 trails. Level 5 with snow is not advised and when the rocks have ice or even rain it can become super slick for all types of trails. Always best to wheel with friends.
With the kids beat and dinner time coming we head back into town for some R&R and pack to head home the next day.
The next morning we wakeup to it snowing. Jonathan absolutely is memorized as never seeing snow falling from the sky.
This trip was short and sweet. In the near future I will share some of my Easter Jeep Safari trips over the years. I have plenty of Jeeps rock crawling, roll-overs and amazing views to share.
I was absolutely thrilled to share this experience with my family. I hope we do our part in preserving this now so my kids can bring their kids back one day.
Until we see you next time Moab.
Like and comment below about your favorite time in Moab and recommend places you have to see when visiting here.
AJ at Movement Garage — Welcome back. Nothing feels familiar after 2020 except the love of family, the car life and our loyal fans and customers.
2020 was a wild rollercoaster at the shop in Anaheim. We rocketed to the moon with inventory and demand from our customers. We had over 300 seats, 250 steering wheels and hundreds of other performance parts in-stock.
Mid year the pandemic would rear its head with demand being so high we simply ran out of parts and availability kept becoming longer and longer. It went from a week, to a month, to 6 months, to the unknown when parts would arrive.
You stuck with us. Your understanding was helpful as we were upfront about the wait. But the wait became too long and too demanding. It was clear we had to do what was right and issue refunds and continue to offer advice and inventory checks.
August arrived and so did the end of our 2 year lease at our first retail shop. A hard choice was made to shutdown the store after we worked so hard to build it and continue online.
“We loved having a place for car guys and parts you can touch while giving tech advice”
What have we been doing?
After closing the retail shop we took the opportunity to do some traveling. We went on a massive family road trip up to San Francisco to Las Vegas to Zion National Park in Utah to Moab, UT, down to the Grand Canyon ending is Prescott, AZ.
I will post more on all our trips in the near future. Traveling is truly as large of a passion of mine as the automotive industry.
Over the past few years I have continued to do what I do best. Design and Marketing. We are currently providing our services to a handful of major brands designing new websites, designing vehicle wraps and other marketing services.
To take the next steps, movementgarage.com has shifted to more of our services, lifestyle and story telling. I don’t want to just be another online parts store so for the time being I am continuing to step away from selling performance parts. Does this mean never again? No. Having the vision to provide a place for car guys to gather, talk shop, see parts, get something to eat and drink while providing a space to chill and relax is still a possibility. But that won’t happen in the meantime for multiple industry and safety reasons.
We have some major things planned for 2021. New international trips, launching new things, blogging my experience and stories I have from years in the automotive industry and more. Heck, for those that know me I might even start a new art line or painting again.
Comment below as it would be great to hear how all you are doing.
Good stuff to come. See you guys soon.