Kanab, Utah

Kanab, Utah

With no reservations or idea where we would stop, we left Zion on October 9, 2017, taking Highway 89 south from Mt. Carmel Junction. Kanab looked like a nice little city as we drove into town, and it would be a good jumping off point for North Rim Grand Canyon. All we had to do was find a place to set up the fifth wheel.

The first park we tried was booked solid for the month. Back toward town, we passed Hitch-N-Post. Although a sign on the street said they had no RV sites, we stopped and asked anyway. Good luck was shining on us that day. A cancellation had come through a few minutes before.

 Coral Pink Sand Dunes

After situating the rig beside one of the cabins, a short drive to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park was in order. The Dunes became a state park in 1963 providing off-road enthusiasts a place to play. On the look out for the dunes, we drove through areas where juniper, pinyon pine, and Gambel oak were rooted in a soil of beige to pink sand. At an elevation of nearly 6,000 feet, even ponderosa pines are found within the park boundaries.

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Pink Coral Dunes

The dunes, formed by wind carrying away eroded Navajo sandstone, are believed to be 10,000 to 15,000 years old. The grains of sand have to be the right size to travel the distance from the mountains or plateaus, not too large and not too small.

We walked out onto the observation boardwalk near the visitor center and watched hikers trekking across the ridge and ATVs roaming around with their whip flags flying. It looked like fun, if not a bit dangerous. I would sure hate to see an ATV crest a dune ridge and encounter one of the hikers.

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Coral Pink Sand Dunes
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Footsteps Across Ripples

The park includes a campground with 22 spaces, each with a loop drive to provide plenty of parking for RVs and trailers loaded with off-highway vehicles (OHVs). With the convenience of trails leading from the campsites to the dunes and restrooms and showers for the campers to rinse sand off after a day of riding, this campground has it all for avid off-road adventurers.

North Rim – Grand Canyon

The next day we drove 80 miles south of Kanab to North Rim Grand Canyon National Park. We were lucky to have arrived when we did because the lodge and campground were set to close for the winter in four days.

We drove through beautiful forests and meadows noting the aspen had already lost their leaves.

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One of the Meadows on the Drive to North Rim

Although North Rim is advertised as the quieter side of the canyon, a campground-full sign sat outside the check-in kiosk and the visitor center and the lodge was teeming with tourists.

We walked around the visitor center and lodge gawking at the view through the panes of glass. On the patio, visitors gathered around a ranger who gave a talk about the Grand Canyon geology.

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Grand Canyon Lodge Patio
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Dining Room at the Lodge
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Lobby Area

Then we ventured out along Bright Angel Point Trail for some spectacular views.

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Are you coming?

I squinted to see if I could make out any of the facilities along the south rim. Even with my 300 mm zoom lens, I could not see anything. I guess the 11.5-mile distance from rim to rim was too far to see such details.

The skies were clear enough, however, to see the San Francisco Peaks popping their heads up across the canyon 64 miles away.

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Looking South Toward San Francisco Peaks

Sitting on the ledge with feet dangling seemed to be a favorite pastime for some visitors. I guess they wanted some alone time.

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Couple on a Ledge
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Canyon Foothills
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Southwest View
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View Toward the East from Bright Angel Point

It seemed as though I could see the depth of the canyon better from the north vantage point. The views from the South Rim are also spectacular, but I think I like the views from the North rim better. They seemed more dramatic somehow. Perhaps the angle of the light created a sense of depth that I never experienced from the perspective of the South Rim.

The North Rim is a place I would like to return to someday to spend more time, assuming we could manage to obtain a reservation.  I’d like to hike down into the canyon on the North Kaibab Trail.

On our way back to Kanab, the Vermillion Cliffs came into view. Another place we will need to return to. There are several photos on the internet of swirling rock formations at the monument I’d love to see in person.

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Vermillion Cliffs

Join us next week as we hang out in Flagstaff, Arizona, for a few days.

Safe Travels

Zion National Park

Day 13 of our fall tour, October 6, 2017, time to pack up, hook up, and move on down the road. Around lunchtime, we pulled into Hi-Road Campground, formerly Zion RV Campground, in Mt. Carmel, Utah, for a three-night stay. Trees dressed in yellow, gold, and orange, signaled fall’s arrival on the east side of Zion National Park, Utah’s First National Park.

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View of Canyon from Campsite

Although Zion’s visitors’ center was only twenty miles from our site, it took at least an hour to make it to the canyon bottom by way of a twisty-turny road with slow speed limits, hairpin curves, and a delay to enter one of the tunnels.

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Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway

The scenery along the way was the silver lining, however, consisting of sandstone slickrock, Checkerboard Mesa, and cliffs that towered 2,000 feet from the valley floor.

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Sandstone Slick Rock
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Checkerboard Mesa
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Red Cliffs of Zion

We stopped in at the visitors’ center, picked up pamphlets and information, and then drove out of the west entrance and into the town of Springdale, which looked nothing like we remembered from twenty years ago when we last visited.Construction of the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway and one-mile tunnel, which took two years and ten months to complete, was dedicated and opened on July 3, 1930. The highway was the last link in the Grand Circle Tour of Zion, Bryce, and Grand Canyon National Parks.

The construction crew blasted gallery windows into the cliff face above Pine Creek Canyon to gain access to the interior of the mountain so the crew could carve out space to create the tunnel. The windows were also used to remove the rock debris and supplied ventilation and lighting. In 1937, the entire tunnel was lined with concrete.

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One of the Tunnel Gallery Windows

One-way traffic control is required for large vehicles traveling through the tunnel. The park charges $15.00 for a permit in addition to the park entrance fee for vehicles 7 feet 10 inches in width and/or 11 feet 4 inches in height, or larger.

We remembered driving our truck to all the sights along Zion Canyon Scenic Drive in the 1990s. Now a shuttle is the only way to get around unless you’re staying at Zion Lodge. During peak hours the shuttles fill up with standing room only, so it is wise to arrive at the visitors’ center before 9:00 am, even in the offseason. There is also parking in Springdale, but when we drove through, everything looked pretty parked up.

The next day, we rode the shuttle to Zion Lodge in search of a cup of coffee only to find a long line. “How about the dining room?” We arrived about a half hour before the buffet ended and noted only a few people seated at tables. “This shouldn’t take too long.” We decided to go ahead and order breakfast with our coffee since we planned on taking a hike. We waited for our food as we sipped our steaming cups of coffee. Then we waited, and waited, and waited some more. Oh well, we had a nice view of a park-like grassy area with large trees. When our eggs benedict arrived my eggs were overcooked and Jon’s were undercooked. The long wait and the mix of cook on our eggs must have been a sign that the concessionaire reduced the employee headcount after the peak season.

With our bellies full, we walked across the road to the trailheads for the Lower and Upper Emerald Pools. Most of the trails were easy going except for the large boulders we had to navigate and the slippery rocks near the Upper Pools.

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Bridge Over River
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Towering Cliffs
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Hanging Garden
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Falls at Hanging Garden
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Trail Narrowed in Spots
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Lower Pools
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Upper Pools
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Typical View from Lower and Upper Pools

We connected with the Kayenta Trail, which took us along the river toward the Grotto where picnic tables huddled under large trees and restrooms were a welcome sight.

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Kayenta Trail Along Virgin River
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Virgin River

Then we continued on to the lodge where we picked up the shuttle for the ride to the Zion Human History Museum. We sat on the back patio eating our lunch of tuna sandwiches and apples and enjoyed the views while we waited to listen to the geological ranger talk.

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View from Museum Patio
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View from Museum Patio
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View from Museum Patio
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More Views

Zion is part of the Colorado Plateau and the second step of the Grand Staircase with geological layers at the top of Zion consisting of the layers we saw at the bottom of Bryce: Carmel Formation, Navajo Sandstone, Kayenta Formation, and Kaibab Formations. It was interesting to learn that rain flows through the porous Navajo sandstone until it reaches the Kaibab Formation of limestone and siltstone, which is not porous and blocks the water so that it seeps through the sides of the cliffs. This sounded similar to how water seeps through the basalt in Idaho to find its way to the Snake River.

On Sunday, we woke up early again and rode the shuttle to the Temple of Sinawava to take the Riverside Walk. It didn’t look anything like what I remembered from when we were there before. Perhaps this was because of flash floods that had occurred during that time.

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Trail to Temple of Sinawava

Ferns and other plant life clung to the red cliffs and trees grew near the river. We watched people prepare for the walk across the icy water. Some of them wore rented water tennis shoes and long pants that swished with each step. Other people only wore shorts, t-shirts, and normal walking shoes. I remembered years ago when we crossed the river in water socks on a sunny day with our children in tow. Bundled up in jackets, Jon and I weren’t about to venture into the rush of water this time.

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The Makings of a Future Arch
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Ferns Cling to Rock Cliffs
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The Crossing

Our next stop was Weeping Rock. This was a short steep hike with lots of trees, shrubs, ferns and a few remaining wildflowers. Water oozed from the overhang and gently dripped like rain on us.

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Along Weeping Rock Trail
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Late Blooming Wildflower
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View from Weeping Rock
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Plants Cling to Sandstone Cliff

These climbers came into view while we waited for the shuttle at Weeping Rock.

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Climbers on the Rock Cliffs

We thought we had been transported to Disneyland when we returned to the visitors’ center. Crammed under a shade structure, the line for the shuttle snaked back and forth through ropes and continued around the buildings toward the parking lot.

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Wait. What. Is this Disneyland?
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Coming and Going

We were glad we were on our way out of the park rather than arriving.

If we make it back to Zion, we will plan ahead and find a spot for our trailer on the west side of the park to avoid driving the hour on the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway each day. The prospect of catching the shuttle in Springdale would also be a benefit.

The next day we headed south with no reservations, taking our chances that somewhere an RV site with our name on it would appear. Stay tuned to see where we hung our hats.

Discover Dinosaur Tracks and Parowan Gap Petroglyphs

The promise of dinosaur tracks, petroglyphs, lower elevation and, best of all, warmer weather within an hour from Panguitch was a welcome surprise after the freezing temperatures of Cedar Breaks.

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Dinosaur Tracks

We headed east from Interstate 15 on Gap Road through ranches and farms, and then passed Little Salt Lake until we came to Highway 130 where we turned right. A few miles later, the road veered left toward the Red Hills and we came to a parking lot with interpretive panels and interesting rock formations. Metal markers like the one in the photo below marked the spots where the footprints could be found.

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Hadrosaurs, or duck-billed dinosaurs, left the tracks some 65 to 75 million years ago when they stepped in mud. Pebbles and sand filled the footprints left by the dinos and later turned into rock. Erosion over millions of years revealed the tracks for us to see today.

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Dinosaur Print
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Dinosaur Print

This area is strewn with a number of different types of rocks such as river rock, volcanic ash, and large boulders, which looked like someone had rolled a bunch of smaller rocks and cement together like a giant snowball.

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A River Ran Through Here
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Wind Swept Boulder
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Archway
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Bear Boulder
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Rock Encrusted Snowball Boulder
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Nooks and Crannies
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Robot Dinosaur?

Parowan Gap offers climbers up to 26 different climbing routes to follow. Looking around at all the fallen rock, I sure wouldn’t want to hang from a rope and trust that the cliff would not give way. But rock climbing is something I’ve never done, so who am I to say what’s safe or not?

Parowan Gap Petroglyphs

Continuing on Highway 130 a short distance we found a nicer parking area with pavement, shade structures, picnic tables, and pit toilets. The cliffs at Parowan Gap display a great number of petroglyphs that tell stories of the early people who inhabited or traveled through the area. If we only had a translator app on our phones to decipher the figures.

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Parowan Gap Petroglyphs

Included on the National Register of Historic Places in 1969, it is a wonder that the figures created a thousand years ago or more have survived destruction by people of more recent generations. I could have stood for hours gazing up at the etchings on the cliff walls trying to decipher their meaning.

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Parowan Gap Petroglyphs

Did the Fremont and Southern Paiute cultures leave them as works of art, religious significance, or tales of bravery and danger?

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Parowan Gap Petroglyphs

Some people may even suggest the figures depict alien beings that visited earth before modern times.

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Parowan Gap Petroglyphs

Do they represent family history, hunting and gathering trips, sources of water, travel routes?

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Parowan Gap Petroglyphs and Newer Initials

People in the 1800s and 1900s also recorded their passage through the gap. I wonder who H.S.H. or Hyatt and Leo Rosko were, where they came from, and where they were going in 1882 and 1947. Did  D. C. fancy himself a pirate or maybe the design refers to an early motorcycle gang?

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H.S.H 1882 and D. C. 1938, or is it 1939?
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Leo Rosko Markings

Red Canyon Visitor Center USDA Forest Service

Our last day in the area was a short jaunt to the red cliffs and hoodoos at the Red Canyon Visitor Center off Highway 12, the route to Bryce Canyon National Park.

 

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Red Canyon Visitor Center

 

With picnic tables, plenty of parking, and several miles of hikes, the visitor center was a great place to spend an afternoon getting up close and personal with the hoodoos and totems as well as the Ponderosa, bristlecone, and limber pines.

 

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Cabin Once Used by Rangers

 

We managed to get a good work out in and gaze out at some awesome views by connecting the Pink Ledges (an interpretive trail), Hoodoo, and Birdseye trails with a portion of the 8.6-mile non-motorized Red Canyon Bicycle path, which parallels Route 12 through the canyon.

 

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Grab a Pamphlet at the Visitor’s Center
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Do You See a Ninja Turtle?
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Fairy Castles
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Totem Hoodoos
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Butterfly on Mitten Thumb or Heart?

 

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Biscuit with a Bumper Boat on Top?

At about our halfway mark, we took advantage of a bench to take in the spectacular views of the valley below.

 

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Red Canyon Hike Resting Bench
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View from Resting Bench
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View of Red Cliffs and Pine Trees
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How’d that Camel Get Down There?
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Highway 12 and Bike Path Through Red Canyon

 

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Hoodoos Reaching for the Sky

Just as the traffic below had receded into white noise, this drone succeeded in drowning out the chattering birds, scurrying squirrels, and windblown leaves and pine needles. It flew around for about ten minutes and left, a little too long for my comfort level. Too bad the pilot could not have taken the time to enjoy the wonders of Red Canyon in person. To experience a place in person is so much better than watching it fly by on an LCD screen.

 

 

 

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Annoying Drone

The Red Canyon hills were just as magnificent from across the road as they were when we walked along the trail.

 

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Red Canyon Hills

 

Although we could have stayed for another week, our time in Bryce Canyon and Panguitch had come to a close and Zion or bust became our mantra on October 6, 2017. Stay tuned for more adventure.

Safe Travels

 

 

 

Panguitch, Utah, and Cedar Breaks National Monument

We enjoyed a short thirty-minute drive to our new base camp at Hitch-N-Post in Panguitch, Utah, on October 2, 2017.

Panguitch, Utah

Panguitch is a western town settled by Mormons in the 1860s and 1870s where several historic buildings line the main street. Unfortunately, many of the shops had already closed for the season when we visited. Too bad, I really wanted to go into the fabric store.

 

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Hitch-N-Post Campground

 

Panguitch holds annual events that include the Quilt Walk Festival and Panguitch Valley Balloon Rally, which are both held in June. What’s a Quilt Walk? The festival commemorates the action of seven men who saved the first settlement from starvation. The story details the new settlers challenge during their first winter when snow blocked supply routes, crops froze, and the people grew hungry. Seven men volunteered to journey over the mountain to secure flour. They used quilts to cover the surface of deep snow since wagons could not navigate the trail. By placing the quilts on the snow they could safely walk across. When they reached the end of one quilt they placed another one down before retrieving the first. Something to think about if I’m ever stuck in the snow somewhere.

 

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Farm Nestled at the Foot of Red Rock Cliffs South of Town

 

Panguitch served as a good home base for visiting Panguitch Lake, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Red Canyon State Park,  and the Parowan Gap Rock Art and Dinosaur Tracks.

Cedar Breaks National Monument

We started our day with a hearty breakfast of plate-sized buttermilk pancakes so fluffy they measured almost a half inch thick. The Hitch-N-Post owner had raved about the wonderful buttermilk pancakes served at Kenny Rays. The two pancakes I ordered was way too much to eat. Had I known, I would have only ordered one.

The drive to Cedar Breaks National Monument took us to Panguitch Lake where we stopped for a little leaf peeping.

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Panguitch Lake Known for Great Trout Fishing
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Resort at Panguitch Lake
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Golden Aspen Among the Pines

With all that sunshine, why did my face feel like it was on fire? It must have been the icy wind at 10,000 feet. It was a good thing we put our heavy coats in the truck when we left in the morning, but goosebumps still peppered my legs. They warmed up some when I stood next to the huge fireplace blazing away in the visitor center, at least for the few minutes we were indoors.

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Yikes! That Wind is Cold.

The geological story of Cedar Breaks is similar to Bryce. Cedar Breaks sits between the Colorado Plateau and the Basin and Range province of western Utah. Earthquakes along the Hurricane Fault lowered the west side where Cedar City is located at 5,800 feet and raised Cedar Breaks on the east side to an elevation of 10,350. The amphitheater spans three miles and is 2,000 feet deep.

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Cedar Breaks Amphitheater and Valley Below

Freeze-thaw action sculpts the formations by splitting and breaking away the rock.

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Closer View of the Amphitheater

Then erosion from wind, snowmelt, and rain (mixed with a bit of acid) work their magic on the rock to continue shaping it into the magnificent creations we see today.

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Can’t Get Enough of the Red Rock Fins

Knowing these forces that began millions of years ago are still at work make me realize that what I see today may look a little different in one, five, or ten years from now.

Navajo Lake, Lava Flows, and Brian Head

Along the drive we ran across Navajo Lake. The lake, formed by a prehistoric lava flow dam, offers camping, fishing, boating, and swimming. I thought it interesting that water travels from the bottom of the lake through a network of lava tubes until the water reappears as creeks and streams. This is very similar to the relationship of Craters of the Moon and the Snake River in Idaho.

 

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Navajo Lake

Aspen groves populate around the lava fields east of Cedar Breaks.

 

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Aspen Among Lava Rock Field

I don’t think I had ever come across black aspen leaves before. It’s not like the leaves are spotted by a fungus, it looks like the whole leaf has turned black. Is this a natural occurrence or is this a severe infestation of the tree?

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Black Aspen Leaves

 

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View of the Plateaus

We also took a drive up to Brian Head. On the other side of the mountain are several ski resorts, a sign that this is a winter playground as well as a place to visit during the rest of the year. I hope they receive plenty of snow this coming winter.

 

 

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Brian Head

Looking up at Brian Head, I was reminded that I always wanted to try cross-country skiing. I’m just not sure about the cold weather or how I might handle such a physically demanding sport at an elevation of 9,800 feet.

Join us next week when we take a hike through Red Canyon State Park and gaze at the Parowan Gap Rock Art and Dinosaur Tracks.

 

Safe Travels

 

 

 

 

 

Kodachrome Basin State Park

Kodachrome Basin State Park

We noticed Kodachrome Basin State Park on our area map and decided to drive out to take a look. After visiting Bryce, it was difficult to imagine anything as spectacular. Boy, were we wrong. Just driving along the road was evidence enough that we were entering a special place.

 

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Kodachrome Basin State Park

 

Kodachrome became a state park in 1963. At an elevation of 5,800 feet, it is an easier place to visit for people who cannot tolerate the higher altitudes of Bryce Canyon.

The layered sandstone hills and sedimentary pipes that range from six to 170 feet in height reveal the geological formations that began 180 million years ago.

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The Carmel Formation, noted by the white striations in the red colored cliffs at lower levels, forms the base. The red sandstone, along with gypsum, shale, quartz, and clay, makes up the Entrada Formation. The white to tan portions of the cliffs are from the Henrieville Sandstone deposited toward the end of the Jurassic Period.

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The Dakota and Tropic Shale Formations top the previous layers. A sea that covered much of the interior of North America deposited this layer 95 million years ago. Geologists haven’t quite yet agreed on how the spires were formed, but there are three theories that attempt to explain their creation. You can be read about them here on Wikipedia if your interest is piqued.

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Another Sandstone Hill

Since then, wind, rain, and earthquakes have left their marks on the cliffs and monolith shapes we see today.

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Indigenous Woman Wrapped in a Shawl
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The Priest

There are several trails in the park ranging from easy to strenuous. We only had time for the 0.5-mile nature trail, which included informational panels on the plants, animals, and geology. This trail is also ADA accessible.

 

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Red Sandstone and Snag
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View from Kodachrome Basin State Park

 

The state park would be a good place to spend a few nights so we could explore more. I have a feeling, though, that reservations are difficult to obtain.

A few miles from the park’s entrance, we came across an alternative to the Kodachrome campgrounds.

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Bryce Luxury Camping Near Kodachrome Basin State Park

How about a luxury tent complete with chairs, table, barbecue, and fire pit? Select a site with neighbors close by.

 

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Luxury Tent Camping

 

Or opt for one with a bit more privacy.

 

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Great Views from Luxury Campsite

 

Cannonville, Utah

On our way back to the trailer, we stopped off at the visitor center in Cannonville, Utah. Although they were not open, we wandered around outside where they have interpretive panels and displays.

 

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Cannonville, Utah,  Visitor Center Farming Display

 

 

 

This fence looked rickety to me, but apparently, a ripgut (interlocking) fence is said to be one the strongest for corraling livestock without the use of nails or baling wire.

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Ripgut Fence

A Little More of Bryce Canyon

 

Before we left Bryce, we attended a ranger talk at Rainbow Point. We drove into the park early to grab a parking spot before the lot filled. Thank goodness it was warmer than the first day we came out on our tour. The ranger talked about the geology and taught us how to distinguish among the white fir, bristlecone, limber, and ponderosa pine trees. I’m afraid I’ve forgotten this skill already.

 

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Snags are Left to Provide Shelter for Insects, Rodents, and Birds

 

He encouraged us to take a whiff of the cinnamon-colored bark of the mature ponderosa trees. They smelled like vanilla.

 

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Bark of a Ponderosa

 

This little squirrel was so busy munching on the pine cone that she, or he, ignored the group of people listening to the ranger impart tidbits about the green leaf manzanita.

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We stopped at a couple more overlooks on our way out of the park. This amphitheater reminded us of terracotta warriors.

 

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Terracotta Warriors

 

 

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Temple Cliff

 

After six nights at Ruby’s Inn and Campground, it was time to move on. But not too far away.  There was plenty more to see in the area.

Safe Travels

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park was our destination on September 24, 2017. The California hills along Interstate 5 south of Tracy sported their summer golden highlights. Bands of scorched earth, patches in places and acres in others, signaled that the California fire season had arrived. We made an overnight stop in Barstow at Shady Lane RV Camp. Its location away from the freeway was a better pick than the KOA at Calico Ghost Town where we had previously stayed.

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We selected Ruby’s Inn RV Park & Campground as our home for six nights. Ruby’s accommodates all types of travelers whether they need a motel experience, full hookups for an RV, a cabin, tipi, or tent site. The restaurant serves up delicious western grub and the store contains food items, camping equipment, clothing, and gifts. The convenient shuttle stops for the national park, one near the motel and the other near the RV park, were a bonus.

Our first venture into the park was on the Rainbow Point Shuttle Tour, included with admission to the park by reservation. Our driver, Jay Evans, regaled us with the history and geology of the park, information about the flora and fauna, stories about the people, and a few jokes during the 3.5-hour tour. The tour allowed us to acclimate to the change in elevation from sea level to 8,000 feet and to figure out the areas of the park we wanted to explore in more depth. What we didn’t acclimate to was the cold wind that cut through our thin pant legs. Why did I not pack my long johns?

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Our Tour Group Overlooking One of the Fourteen Amphitheaters of Hoodoos
Bryce Canyon became a national park in 1928 and is named after Ebenezer Bryce who was a Mormon pioneer. The canyon is best known for its long and narrow 56 square miles which contain unique geological formations of hoodoos, fins, windows, arches, domes, and pinnacles.

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View From Rainbow Point
While on the tour, Jay pointed out the names of some of the hoodoos we looked down on from the rim of the cliffs.

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The Hunter is Known for His Ear Muffs

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The Rabbit Or Bart Simpson?

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Natural Bridge

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Olympic Flame

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Kneeling Monk
Layers of silt, sand, and lime in beds that run up to 2,000 feet thick provided the base of sedimentary rock for Bryce Canyon. Erosion from wind, rain, and the freeze-thaw action, which causes fracturing, created the formations and continue their impact on the landscape. In addition, plant roots, and burrowing animals loosen the rocks and accelerate the erosion.

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Fairyland Overlook Fin Hoodoos
We topped off our day at Ebenezer’s Barn & Grill for some old fashioned western fun, music, and cowboy chow. Members of the Bar G Wranglers, the evening’s entertainment, greeted the guests, escorted them to their seats, and made sure the diners followed the proper route through the chow line. Surprisingly, the food was delicious, the music great, and we enjoyed meeting the other couples at our table.

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Ebenezer’s Barn & Grill

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Jay Evans: Best Shuttle Bus Driver and Fastest Strumming Guitar Player
One day, we rode the shuttle to Sunset Point where we hiked the Navaho Loop Trail, connected with Queen’s Garden and came up out of the canyon at Sunrise Point.

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View from Sunset Point

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Navaho Trail Slot Canyon

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Looking Up at the Hoodoos

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Squirrel? Prairie Dog?

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Sorry Squirrel. No Feeding the Animals.

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Queen Victoria Standing on the Back of a Camel

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The Fortress

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Olympic Flame

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Queen’s Garden Trail

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Sunrise Point Queen’s Garden Trail

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Shipwreck Rock
 

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People on the Trail Below are Barely Visible

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Photographers Abound on the Trail

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The Sentinels
Not interested in a long steep hike? Take the Mossy Cave trail from Highway 12. The short walk follows the Tropic Ditch to a mossy cave and a waterfall. In 1890 and 1892, Mormon farmers, using picks and shovels, dug the ditch to bring water to the settlements around Tropic, Utah. Except for 2002 during the drought, the ditch has continued to carry irrigation water to the towns of Tropic and Cannonville.

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Mossy Cave

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Tropic Ditch Waterfall

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Tropic Ditch

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Hoodoos and Windows Along Mossy Cave Trail
Words and photos are not sufficient to portray the feelings that well up while walking among the hoodoos and gazing across the vistas. Bryce Canyon is a place to slow down, feel the sun on your back, breath in the fresh pine scent, hear the wind rustle through the pine needles and aspen leaves, and watch squirrels and lizards scurry around and raptors fly overhead. Oh, and don’t forget to look for queens, hunters, rabbits, Chinese terracotta soldiers, Scotty dogs, and whatever else you can make of the gazillion formations.

Safe Travels

Salt Lake City – Part II

Antelope Island State Park

Antelope Island, the largest of ten islands within the Great Salt Lake, was next on our list of places to visit while in Salt Lake City (SLC). A sign at the entrance gate announcing no refunds due to biting gnats almost caused us to make a U-turn and find something else to occupy our time. When the lady at the entrance booth assured us the rain had chased the gnats away, we drove on to the visitor center where another lady gave us a quick history and a few ideas of what to see.

This elk statue greeted us at the visitor center. I wish he had been real. The Davis County Causeway is to the left of the statue. It is the only road on and off the island.

 

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Antelope Greeter at Visitor Center

 

Our first stop was the Fielding Garr Ranch House where we spent an hour or so walking around the ranch buildings and grounds where historic farming equipment was stored.

 

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Fielding Garr Ranch House

 

The house served as the home of not only Fielding Garr, but later the managers that operated the ranch. The house is the oldest Anglo-built house in Utah still on its original foundation. Fielding Garr was the first permanent residence on the island in 1848.

Historic farm equipment was arranged around the barnyard with signs that told what they were and how they were used.

 

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Farm Equipment at Fielding Garr Ranch

 

Inside the barn, is a place where the ranchers sheared sheep. The stalls ran from the rear of the barn to the front. I’m not an expert at shearing sheep, but it looked like they were herded down the back side of the row, entered a shearing stall where their wool was removed, then exited the other end of the station. It must have been sweaty dirty work for the men who stood in the stalls shearing sheep after sheep for hours at a time.

Various tools and gear were arranged in the barn as if ready for use.

The ranch property presented views of the Wasatch Mountains across Buffalo Bay.

 

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Wasatch Mountains and Salt Lake City Across Buffalo Bay

 

We arrived on the island too late in the day to see all the wildlife that call the island home. A few bison congregated below the road near the marina as we approached the visitor center, but there was nowhere to pull off and snap a photo. The island supports a herd of 550-700, selling off the excess each year.  Other wildlife in the ecosystem includes pronghorn antelope, mule deer, bighorn sheep as well as coyotes, badgers, bobcats, owls, hawks, and falcons.  I did manage to capture a squadron of pelicans flying in formation.

 

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Pelicans in Flight

 

We checked out the campgrounds for future reference. All campgrounds are barren and primitive with no water or electricity and vault toilets. Bridger Bay Campground was the nicest with shade pavilions, picnic tables, concrete pads, and drive through loops.  Trees had been planted near some of the sites, but they weren’t big enough to provide any relief from the scorching sun. The water looked crystal clear and as blue as the sky toward the west.

 

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Salt Lake, Bridger  Bay Campground.

 

The lady at the visitor center recommended hiking up Buffalo Ridge because of its beautiful view. We started out with no problem but as we ventured higher up the hill, we had to swat a few gnats away. They weren’t too bad so we continued. Then the gnats increased with each inch in elevation until we flapped our arms and brushed our heads to keep the gnats off. When a family coming down the trail told us the gnats were even worse at the top, we turned around. No view is worth bites by gnats who laugh at any amount of DEET a person might douse on themselves. I still managed to capture a few views from higher elevations out of reach of the gnats.

 

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View of Lake Looking Southeast
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View of Park Road and Towns Across Buffalo Bay

 

Park City

It was wonderful weather on our final day in SLC for a trip to Park City. No gnats, no wind, and no rain, only sunshine with high temps reaching 70 in Park City and 80 in SLC. The beautiful drive through green mountains populated with pines was reminiscent of many other mountain resorts we have visited. Although Park City seemed a bit more city-like than other resort communities with their newly paved streets, gutters, and restored historic buildings. This is probably due to Park City hosting the Sundance Film Festival each year and the Winter Olympics in 2002. Our favorite part of any town is always the main street and Park City doesn’t disappoint with its restored historic buildings.

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Park City, Utah Street View

We passed one historic building undergoing significant foundation work. Other buildings were new construction in a modern style that looked like stacked rectangular boxes.

 

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Historic Park City Business Buildings

 

 

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Historic Park City Residences

 

 

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Modern Looking Building

 

The silver mining town flourished from the 1860s until 1950 when it became a virtual ghost town. In an effort to save their town, the remaining miners developed a ski resort, which opened in 1963. A population of 8,000 supports the nearly 4 million tourists that visit each year. Main Street is home to 64 Victorian buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

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Egyptian Theater Originally Built in 1926

 

We stepped into Shirt Off My Back to purchase T-shirts. Southwest Indian Traders had a large selection of magnets and ornaments with Park City engraved on them. And Sock City sold colorful and funny socks for humans of any age. A dish of gelato inside La Niche Gourmet and Gifts was a cool treat after walking the streets.

We must have arrived before the crowds because, by the time our feet grew tired, we had to side step visitors walking toward us or dodge dogs tugging leashes attached to their owners. We took a break at Bridges where they served up a tasty pork sandwich and salad. I must have been hungry because I ate the whole thing even though there was too much bread, wilted lettuce, and tomatoes with a few spots of skin that had taken on the look of crepe paper.

Revived from our lunch we joined the crowds and made our way back to the truck. I thought the green balls hanging outside on one building were interesting. Then I saw another business with red balls, and another with orange balls. Do the balls have a connection? Just decoration? Some significance? Does anyone know?

A little park next to the public restrooms is dedicated to the mining industry that built the town. A plaque placed by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 2000 tells the story of the Elmco Rocker Shovel Loader, Model 12B patented on October 25, 1938. It was the “first successful device to replace human labor in removing the rubble resulting from blasting in underground hard-rock mines.”

 

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Elmco Rocker Shovel Loader

 

Every new technology has the potential to displace workers. I wonder how many humans lost their jobs when the loader arrived at the mine.

Returning to our RV site, we found ourselves surrounded by new neighbors, again. Each morning there was a mass exodus of motorhomes, travel trailers, and fifth wheels leaving the RV park, and each evening the spots filled up again. We occasionally stay only one night in a spot, too, even though we prefer longer stays. After four nights in Salt Lake City, it was time to make progress toward the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Next stop? Rawlins and Douglas, Wyoming.

Safe Travels