A girl's trip to remember

Spending time in the outdoors with your girlfriends is so much fun! My friends and I have taken many trips together, but our time in Utah was probably one of my favorites.

By: Angie Vasquez + Save to a List

We prepared for six months, researching places we each wanted to visit. We created a folder that held an expense sheet, packing list, and various photos of places we’d like to go to in Utah.

We chose three places that we wanted to see: Arches National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park, and Cecret Lake in the Wasatch National Forest. We also wanted to have different sleeping experiences and chose to tent camp, stay in a yurt, and in the city in an Airbnb.

First Stop: Arches National Park

Photo: Angie Vasquez

After we picked up our rental car, we headed straight to REI to grab our camping gear and drive toward Arches National Park. The deep red rocks surrounded us as we drove south for the next four hours. It felt like we were in an old western movie passing by old churches with the clear skies in the background. Wildlife roamed freely.

We arrived at Arches National Park that evening to dark blue skies as tons of stars began to show. We put up our tents in the dark not knowing the true beauty of the land we were privileged to camp on.

The next day, we woke up in awe of the scenery and decided to hike the Devil's Garden trail. We started on the trail together and then separated because a couple of us wanted to go to higher elevations. We met up afterward at our campsite where there had been a sandstorm. 

Our tents were flipped upside down and full of the red sand. We literally had to turn the tents inside out and shake them as best we could. I'm still finding sand in my gear years later! 

That night, we camped under a full moon and watched the stars. It was so amazing! The next day, we packed up and made our way into Provo where we loaded up on groceries for our next stop and used the community showers to wash off some of the infamous red sand.

Next stop: Dead Horse Point State Park

Photo: Angie Vasquez

Dead Horse State Park is located between Arches and Canyon Lands National parks. Here, we stayed in a yurt at the edge of the park. We cooked dinner on the gas grill and took a short evening walk behind the yurt. It was a beautiful clear night and a couple of us slept out under the stars on the back patio. 

The next day, we woke up early to watch the sunrise over the Colorado River and before enjoying an early morning hike. The five-mile Dead Horse Rim loop took us from the east to the west rim of the Colorado River Canyon. We saw beautiful landscapes and deep reds and orange sand structures with specks of green from the trees contained inside the mountains. It was a perfect picture.

Stop three: Salt Lake City

Photo: Angie Vasquez

This time we stayed right outside of Salt Lake City in an Airbnb and just relaxed, washed our clothes, and showered. We decided we wanted to do a little sightseeing, so we headed to the highway and ended up at Bonneville Salt Flats located west of SLC. 

This was a really special place because the old dried salt bed lake is huge! We walked and danced on the flats like little girls at an amusement park. As we started back toward the city, we took a wrong turn and ended up in Nevada. We found the cutest little hole-in-the-wall Mexican food restaurant to eat lunch at before driving back to Salt Lake City.

The Wildfires

The temperatures that September were in the 80's and unusually warm. Wildfires started because the mountain sides were so dry. We watched patches of weeds catch fire before our eyes. It was like nothing I'd seen before. 

Nature does what it needs to protect itself, and unfortunately, fire can be very destructive. The earth can't catch a break from human imprints. This made me think about land stewardship and how indigenous people took care of the lands so well that they didn't worry about the climate like we do today.

The indigenous tribes had much respect for fires and used them as a way to cultivate the land by improving the places where they’d hunt. They used the smoke to gather herds of wildlife such as the bison to create better chances for hunting prey. 

Some tribes set fire to the land to clear undergrowth, giving the landscape a chance for renewal. This technique helped prevent mega-fires like the ones we're seeing today due to large amounts of underbrush.

When the Europeans made their way to the United States, they were scared of fires because the native tribes knew how to use fire and smoke to their advantage during wartime. 

The Europeans also did not understand the use of fire to better the lands. As the settlers began colonizing from east to west pushing the Native American tribes out of their territories, many of the cultural burning traditions of the indigenous nations changed or were lost.

I don’t understand why the U.S. isn't following indigenous fire practices or turning to indigenous people for assistance in managing wildfires. We are selfish to have taken Native lands and be so prideful as to not allow them to teach us the ways of stewardship that respect our Earth.

The last adventure

Photo: Angie Vasquez

Our last outdoor adventure took us to Cecret Lake in the Wasatch National Forest. The trail was located about an hour from Salt Lake City in the town of Alta. The terrain was much different from the red rocks we’d hiked earlier in the trip. 

We were engulfed in a forest of Douglas fir, spruce, birch, and aspen trees. Those with deciduous leaves were gently changing color signifying fall on the horizon. 

We kept our eyes out for moose as we climbed up switchbacks but we didn't see any, of course! We could see rock climbers in the distance scaling the mountainside. As the elevation increased, the scenery was mesmerizing.

We finally made our way to the top of our hike where there was a crystal clear blue lake. We strolled around the water as far as we could. Then, we sat and ate lunch while we reminisced about the trip in all its glory. We headed down the mountain and to our Airbnb to pack for the trip home. Our girl’s trip was a success!

Photo: Angie Vasquez

The time I spent with my outdoor sisters was amazing. We planned and stayed within everyone’s budget. If you're going to plan a girl's trip, I suggest putting together a spreadsheet that includes your airfare, car rental, gear (if you need to rent gear), food (restaurants), and accommodations. 

Next, put together a list that has what activities everyone is interested in such as kayaking, hiking, camping, etc. I’ve found the best trips are when no one is forced to do an activity they aren’t interested in. 

If one person doesn't want to do a particular adventure, it’s okay. They may want a rest day or time to be alone. It’s important to give them their space. 

With a little trip preparation, you can create memories that last forever and make friends who become family…sisters! There's nothing better than having an outdoor family to spend time and explore with. So, what city will your friends be exploring for your next girl’s trip?

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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