Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Zion, Bryce ... and More!

We rolled into St George, Utah for what we thought would be a four day visit. Our site at Sand Hollow State Park gave us welcome peace and quiet compared to what we had just left in Las Vegas.

Since Doug had noticed some overheating issues on our way out of the Mojave Desert, he made an appointment to have the Wildebeest evaluated at a local shop, Kristi Diesel. The benefit of towing a car meant that we could still explore the area while the RV was being worked on.

And explore we did! Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks were on our radar. So when the repair job took a couple days longer than expected, we were fortunate to be able to explore even "more" beauty in the area.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park was located two and a half hours away from us ... road trip time! We took the longer but more scenic route going there and the faster I-15 route back home. The longer route involves slow driving through a portion of Zion National Park,

... but the beautiful cliffs towering above the road

... and the unique mountain tunnels definitely had made up for the extra road time.

Bryce Canyon National Park consists of one main road that leads from the Visitor Center and along the ridge overlooking the canyon. Along the 18 mile stretch, there are a number of turn-offs that provide spectacular canyon views and access to hiking trails.

Natural Bridge

So, while it is possible to "see" Bryce via the car, we found the true essence of the park was found by taking one of those hiking trails down into the canyon.

We decided to hike the Queens/Navajo Combination Loop that we accessed from Sunset Point.

It took us through some "keyholes" and got us up close and personal with the "hoodoos". Hoodoos, the odd-shaped rocks left standing by the forces of erosion, make Bryce Canyon so unique.

Of course, what goes down, must go up again ... but we felt that this three mile hike was the best way to really experience Bryce's beauty.

Some more Bryce beauty ...

Doug works his "HDR" photoshop magic on this
Bryce Canyon view.

I'm naming this "Kitty" HooDoo ...
What would your name for it be?

Upper view of the "Amphitheater" that we hiked down into.

Zion National Park

Located 45 minutes to an hour away from us were the three entrances that lead into different parts of Zion National Park.

The Kolob Canyon entrance is right off I-15 and is much less busy than the main entrance to Zion. Because of the easier access, we visited and hiked this area a couple of times. Driving up Kolob Canyon Road took us to Timber Creek Overlook Trail and a beautiful view of the valley below.

Hikes along Taylor Creek Trail and La Verkin Creek Trail lead us

... along and through picturesque creek beds that helped form the area.

A few days later we took the Kolob Terrace Road which is another quiet access point to Zion hiking and scenery. Although twisty and steep at times, it was a great way to see ...

shy Zion inhabitants,

eagles "fishing" in the Kolob Reservoir,
... and panoramic views!
"I'll take the picture, Doug. You just keep your eyes on the road!"

On the way down, we stopped off at Left Fork Trailhead and took a short hike that produced more amazing views of ...

blooming cacti,

California Fuchsia,
... and a serene canyon and creek bed below.

The main entrance of Zion begins near just past the town of Springdale, Utah. This area tends to be the most popular with visitors. Great numbers of tourists descend upon the one narrow road leading into Zion Canyon.

For safety reasons, this road is closed to private cars from March through November and accessible only via the Zion Shuttle Bus. So we parked our car by the Visitor Center and took the narrated trip to the end of the canyon road. A short hike along the paved Riverside Walk brought us to the Narrows.

Usually one can hike along the river further back into the canyon area known as the Narrows, but Doug is out of luck this spring as the massive amount of melting snow is swelling the riverbank making the trail impassable.

Unique rock sculptures
left behind by park visitors.

During our shuttle ride back, we got off at The Grotto to access one of the many hiking trails along the canyon. We not only escaped the throngs of people, but we also got much better views of the rock formations then is possible when riding the shuttle bus.

On our way out of Zion, we happened upon Zion Canyon Brew Pub. Operating under the stricter liquor laws of Utah, the brewers' creative juices are a bit limited. 

But even Doug could enjoy a mediocre beer on a deck with this kind of view!

Meanwhile, back at the RV repair shop one thing was leading to another ... forcing us to "cool our jets" for a few "more" days. We are so grateful that we were in such a beautiful area that we could mellow out and enjoy!

We took time to explore Snow Canyon State Park with its petrified sand dunes,

... lava caves,

... and narrow canyons.

On Thursday we found ourselves "homeless" as they had the Wildebeest a bit torn apart in order to work on its exhaust manifold. So, after finding a hotel room that was larger than our current "home", Doug treated me to a little local "culture".

It was opening night for "Annie Get Your Gun" at Brigham's Playhouse. We both agreed that the musical and acting talent was ...

... right on target!

Friday afternoon we were starting to make tentative plans if we have to be in this area over the weekend ... Maybe a quick Grand Canyon visit??!! But the dedicated and skillful mechanics at Kristi Diesel had the Wildebeest all shaped up by closing time on Friday.

So it was time to pack up our gear,

... break out of jail,

... do "last call" at the saloon,

... and hit the road running (get it ... road-runner??!!)

Good-bye, southwestern United States, it has been a "more" delightful winter than we ever imagined it could be!

Until next time ... delight in how much "more" surrounds you ... and enjoy the adventures in your life!
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  1. Another "plans set in Jello" adventure! How fortunate that both beautiful--loved your photos!--parks were within road trip distance! I hope the Wildebeest is now good for another 10,000 miles. Safe travels back to Minnesota

    1. Flexibility in travel plans is always good ... Spring weather can range from sunshine to blizzards and everything in between, so Doug was looking at the forecasts and fortunately stayed ahead of the rain/snow.

      Bryce is about 2 1/2 hours from Zion, so it does make a feasible day trip, albeit, a long one. Bryce is also small enough to do in one day, but there is also some longer hikes that could have kept us happy for longer if we had camped near there.

      As you well know, there is always something that needs fixing when you live in an RV. But, (fingers crossed) everything is working well now.

      Loved hearing about your visit to Charleston. So much history and beauty! Hope to get there next year! Safe travels!