First, it was so overcrowded. There were reports that the gates would open at 8AM with a line on the highway and if you were more than 100 cars past that line, you wouldn't get in. The gate is almost an hour from hour house. Who wants to drive all that way and get turned away?
Second, we kept reading that you need a high clearance vehicle to get back there. It's 14 miles on a bumpy dirt road. I thought about renting something, but since we'd need it so early in the day and wouldn't get home until a rental place is closed, we'd need it for 2 days. Trucks rent for about $100 a day. Is $200 worth it?
Well, a few things changed. The National Park Service implemented a permit system. You buy a permit for the area you want to park and you get a spot. That simple. Nice! I also read and saw several videos that showed you can get back there with a little car, you just have to go slow over really bumpy parts. So, we went for it in our van!
But, let me back up here. Our friends, The Sutton's, have thought about going with us too. Now, with the permit system, they were in! So, Dakri and I were planning the trip and this weekend was the best time, so I thought we should surprise David for his 45th birthday, which is Sunday. So, we bought the permits and I emailed his coworked and boss. I arranged for him to get the day off. And his coworker scheduled a fake meeting with him, so he wouldn't schedule anything that he couldn't cancel.
The Sutton family new, some other friends of ours new, actually, almost 20 people knew and somehow nobody slipped to David. He got home from work Thursday night and we told him he had to open a gift early. It was a Go Pro. Then, I told him we are going to use it tomorrow when we go to.... and the kids all yelled FOSSIL CREEK! He was like what? But, I'm working... It was a great surprise. I was so glad to finally be able to tell him. I was spinning little lies over lies and it's just exhausting not to be honest.
We booked our permit at the Waterfall trail, which is the closest to the big waterfall. I'm going to be making notes throughout this as I know I won't remember the next time we go. We got the the gate at about 8:30, and started our way down the 14 mile road. It was bumpy, but doable. We went about 12 miles per hour the whole way, so it took some time. But, it was worth it!
Once you park, you have a mile hike to get to the falls. We wore regular sneakers/hiking shoes down instead of water shoes and were really glad we did. It was bumpy, rocky and sandy and it would've been awful with open toed water shoes. Not to mention when they are soaking wet on the way back. We also got out or big Grand Canyon backpack and piled everything in there. I did not bring my good camera. Just my phone and the Go Pro. We also packed to the falls, plenty of water, trail mix, apples and other snacks. As well as a few towels, goggles for the kids and a few blow up inner tubes. And some trash bags to carry trash out. Nobody likes litter bugs, and we could see litter here and there. Sad, some people have such a disregard for nature.
It was about a 25 minute walk back, and we finally reached the falls!
Here are a few videos:
Here we are behind the waterfall. There was room for about 5 people and that was it. We all snuggled in.
Noah got cold after the waterfall and had to sit out. The water flows from the spring year round at a constant 72 degrees. They call it a warm spring instead of a hot spring. 72 felt great when it's 100 outside.
Then, we just swam around.
The current was so strong near the fall that you could swim with all your might and not go anywhere.
When we got there, about 10 other people were there. After about an hour, there was probably close to 100. So, we left. Too many people. But, this is where it would've been better to get to the gate right at 8:00. You'd have a little more time at the falls alone.
The hike out was HOT! Almost 100 degrees out.
We stopped to wet hats along the way and Ben wanted to soak his head. We could've just jumped in again, but it was a process to get shoes and socks back on. A spare set of socks is a good idea too. If one gets wet, hiking would not be fun.
Dakri and I had never been here and with the permit system, we decided to take a chance and book a second permit. They are only $6. You can only park where you buy your permit and we knew we wouldn't want to hang at the waterfall area once it got packed. So, we took a chance and booked at another area. The rangers were posting orange stickers on cars all day, saying they'd be towed, etc. So, you have to have a permit for the area you want. When we tried to book a second permit, it wouldn't let us since we already had a reservation, so we created an account in our husbands name and booked a second one. And we are so glad we did....
We found this beautiful area and it was just us for the entire afternoon. We had packed a lunch and left it in the car, and this was only a 2 minute walk from the car, so we could just bring everything down to the creek and enjoy the day. We had a few small inner tubes, but some bigger ones would've been good to just lay and enjoy. This was the Homestead parking area. Next time, we'd probably book at the Fossil Creek Bridge parking area, just to explore that area. But, this was super nice too.
Here's pictures from our afternoon...
And a 60 second walk down the trail and we found a rope swing.
Noah and I walked back and he's just the cutest little thing. I love him and his little Nemo tube.
I jumped in the water by mistake with my tank top on, so I just swam in it. Whatever.
Here's a video of our time there:
It was a great day trip and David enjoyed the start to his birthday weekend!