By Felicia Farnsworth

Last week I encouraged you to get out and see the surrounding national and state parks near Union Springs, and I elaborated on my vacation with my parents. When I left off, our travels had taken us to surprise my sister, Tiffiny, and her six children with a visit.

They were expecting my parents but not me, making the visit much better. On our first day together, we were able to experience the falls of Idaho Falls, as well as the Japanese Friendship Garden. Both attractions are located on the Snake River. On our second day, she took us to the city of Lava Hot Springs, Idaho, where we relaxed in hot springs ranging from 102° to 112°. I was a little leary about being there. If you'll remember, in my last article, I explained how I feared volcanos.

Well, here I was again in another caldera, and this time I was basking in its natural hot springs, hence the name Lava Hot Springs. It was a much-needed relaxing experience. To sit there in a natural hot spring with mountains as far as the eye could see. On our third day with my sister, we visited Yellowstone Bear World in Rigby, Idaho. If you are ever in the vicinity and get a chance to go, it's pricey but well worth it. This drive-through park is filled with elk, bison, moose, deer, and mountain goats, and the main attraction is grizzly bears and black bears. They also have a place for the yearling bears. One of the attractions allows you to feed the bears from an eight-foot-tall tour bus. During the early spring, you can bottle feed a bear cub.

Later that day, we all got together and went to Russ Freeman Park in Idaho Falls for family pictures. It was nice to have the family together; however, the Snake River water that buts up to the park was very cold for this southerner.

We said our goodbyes to my sister and her family and continued our journey, which took us through Salt Lake City, Utah, on our way to Bryce Canyon National Park in Bryce, Utah.

Before getting to Bryce Canyon, we first had to go through Red Canyon National Park, filled with the most vibrant red hills and rock formations you could ever imagine. Bryce Canyon wasn't too far away, and once we arrived, I expected to see it immediately; however, from the main highway, you would never know the beauty that would lie ahead. With the highest peak at an elevation of 9115 feet, they had appropriately named it Rainbow Point. Once the clouds cleared, we saw the most spectacular rainbow, which seemed to have come directly from the clouds.

This park is not an actual canyon; it's a collection of giant natural amphitheaters along the eastern side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. With a series of natural bridges, caves, and mountainsides as far as the eye can see. The park also had elk, deer, bison, and bears. The amphitheater has several different colors and rock formations, making for a magnificent wonder of beauty to behold.

My regrets were not having a jacket with me because it dropped to 45°, not doing it sooner, and being out of shape. I definitely got my exercise in at this park. After exiting, we made our way to Zion National Park, located in the southern part of Utah in Springdale, but I'll have to tell you more about that next week.

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