Tag Archives: Utah

Zion National Park

So. Zion National Park. We’d heard rave reviews about this park – and it certainly was beautiful!
I wanted to give you a taste of this beautiful park, but since I think maybe you’re getting a little tired of rock pictures, I thought I’d go with a slightly different angle. So while there may still be some rock pictures in this post, there will always be at least something else going on!
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Hardly a rock in view! We saw lots of wonderful wildflowers in this park. It was fun collecting pictures of them!
One of the hikes we took was the Emerald Pool hike. Oooooo – beautiful waterfalls!
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And this park was much greener than the other parks on our Rock Tour. Probably because this nice river – the Virgin River – ran through the middle of it!
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We also took the Riverside Hike – which was along side the (you guessed it) river. This hike eventually leads to the Narrows which you then get to hike through by actually hiking in the river. Since the water was still flowing pretty hard and the water temperature was about 47 degrees, the Narrows hike was closed. But it didn’t stop some folks from having a good time in the water –
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(She made it to the rock, but we didn’t wait to see if she made it back. That might have been tricky!)
And speaking of people “playing” on the rocks –
Can you find the two people rock climbing in this picture? Ca-rA-zy!
Here are more flowers – probably not wild, but I do love these cactus flowers :).
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Although there was lots to like about Zion, the very best part of it was that we shared it with some good friends. We were delighted to be able to connect with some dear SOWER friends that we hadn’t seen in several years! It was great fun hiking and visiting and looking at rocks with them!
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Stan and Carlie – thanks for joining us and making it such a special day!

We drove back to our campground in a round about way to check out Cedar Breaks National Monument. We had heard was a beautiful spot and were considering stopping there (with the rig) once we started heading west to our SOWER project. We’re glad we did a test run. Not only was the “scenic” drive it was on was not really suited for RV driving, but the park itself hadn’t even opened for the season. (Though we could have skied in if we had wanted to!)
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It wasn’t even plowed out!
But we did enjoy a beautiful sunset –
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So glad we did that test run!

Stay tuned – one park to go
Bryce Canyon!

Capitol Reef National Park

We didn’t have too long of a drive Sunday morning to get to our next Rock Tour destination – Capitol Reef National Park. But the ride certainly was interesting getting there!
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We did get an early start – when you’re parked in a rest stop, it’s pretty much a get up and go kind of morning!
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Are those crazy colors, or what?
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Just when I thought I knew what to expect (like more rocks) as we pulled into Capitol Reef NP, the scenery changed to this –
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and we driving through orchards and green trees. What?????
This national park is an interesting mix of major geological activity and historic settlements. Now I didn’t know anything about Capitol Reef, did you? The reef refers to “The Waterpocket Fold, a 100-mile long wrinkle in the earth’s crust known as a monocline, [that] extends from nearby Thousand Lakes Mountain to the Colorado River (now Lake Powell). ” The Capitol part refers to rock formations that someone (on the park naming committee, I suppose) thought looked like the capitol building in Washington, DC.
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And historically, this was the home to early Mormon settlers who had a small but thriving community here. They planted orchards, grew vegetables, and helped develop transportation routes through the “fold”. There are only a few buildings left, but many of the orchards are still intact, and producing!
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In fact, our campground was right in the midst of one of them!
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We started out with the scenic drive, took in a couple of hikes, and then I tried very hard to “catch” the sunset.
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How crazy are those striped rocks?
Our main hike was to The Tanks – natural basins that collect rain water. The hike started town Capitol Gorge Wash
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and then climbed to the tanks –
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Gary did a little extra exploring and found two more tanks, and a natural bridge.
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Very cool.
Another high point along this narrow canyon trail is the “Pioneer Register”. Now that is acutally just another name for old graffiti – but as they, perspective is everything!
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Those names were really quite high –
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and we were duly impressed!
Others were definitely a little less neatly recorded!
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And the cursive – now that was impressive!
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But the drive continued…..
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We did find some additional graffiti – again, this was pretty special stuff (and trust me, we had lots of help finding it!)
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And then there was the sunset adventure. Seems that even though the sunset was at 8:15, when you are driving through these big rocks, it actually happens much earlier. SO, while I didn’t get any shots of the sun actually setting, I did enjoy the beautiful light of the setting sun on the west facing rocks-
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But for all of my mad dash down the scenic highway to capture that sunset, I think my favorite shot was right as I got out of the truck back at the campground –
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So even though Capitol Reef might not be one of the Big Parks (like the Grand Canyon or Bryce), it still was a good stop. There were lots of great hiking trails and enough history thrown is so we weren’t O-D-ing on rocks!
And speaking of history –
Since today was mainly a travel day (and we even managed to travel through those snowy mountains!), after we got settled in our campground we decided to check out a national monument that had NOTHING TO DO WITH ROCKS. Yep, it was quite the nice change of pace.
Let me introduce you to the Pipe Spring National Monument, located back in Arizona on the Paiute Indian Reservation. This was originally a fort-home for a Mormon Tithe Farm. (Well, originally it was the homeland of the Paiutes, but the main focus here was the working farm.) There was an interesting guided tour of the house and a self guided tour of the grounds. I think this is a pretty new joint endeavor for the Paiutes and the Federal Government and we found it totally interesting!
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Tomorrow we are meeting up with some SOWER friends we haven’t seen in several years at Zion National Park. We’re excited about the park (we’ve heard really great things about this park), and we’re excited about seeing these dear friends. The friend connection was an unexpected blessing!
But now, I have to get some sleep! I sense there is hiking in my near future!

Arches National Park

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Today we did Arches National Park. Well, maybe saying we “did” the park is a little of an over-statement. Let’s say we did some of Arches NP. I do think we hit the highlights, got in a couple of nice hikes, and was once again (of course) struck by the amazing beauty of this country.
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The park doesn’t just have arches, it also has some amazing rock formations. In the group above is the Three Gossips, the Sheep, and the Courthouse Towers. Can you figure out which is which (even though they are small!)?
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Those are the Petrified Dunes.
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This is Balanced Rock. We actually saw lots of examples of balancing rocks, but this one seemed to warrant the name.
And we did see plenty of the beautiful arches –
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The Cove Arch
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The South Window
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The South Window with perspective!
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This is the Double Arch.
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And this is NOT A TRAIL! There is this ancient,living dirt in the park (and all over the area) called cryptobiotic crust. And we had to be very careful not to step on it. This being a tourist is trickier than you think! Antique Dirt. Hmmmmmm.
But back to the sights –
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These are the North AND South Window arches.
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And that was the view as we completed our hike to those arches. Such expanse!
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The Double Arch
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More Expanse!
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The hike to the Delicate Arch viewpoint.
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And the view of the Delicate Arch – probably the most recognized arch in the park. It’s on many of the Utah license plates, and is the unofficial state symbol. We could have hiked all the way to the arch itself (like all those little people in the picture), but it was over 3 miles and according to the guide, considered “strenuous”. We decided that a good view was just fine with us!
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That hike was under mile, but still “moderatly strenuous” – and well worth it!
Our final arch of the day was the Landscape Arch –
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and that hike included this view –
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This was a lovely park!
And after a full day, we hooked up the truck and headed north.
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Isn’t it amazing how quickly the terrain changes out here?
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The road dead-ended at those mountains, which is where I70 passes by (E-W). We are actually situated on the top of the mesa to the left, parked in a nice rest stop. Tomorrow we hop onto the interstate for an exit or two west and then head south to Capitol Reef National Park.
The Rock Tour continues!
OH – one more interesting sight from our day at Arches –
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This is a German touring bus from a company called Rotel Tours. It’s a rolling hotel – get it, ROlling hoTEL! Here’s a link to their website where they describe the accomodations. Good thing they have lots of pictures, since it’s all in German. 🙂

Canyonland National Park

Our Rock Tour continued with a day at Canyonland National Park. And even though the sky wasn’t as bright and blue as I would have liked, and we kept our hats and gloves close at all times, it was a wonderful day. What a beautiful park, with lots to see and do! Hiking, biking, off-road vehicle exploring, tubing, rock climbing, you name it, if it’s an outdoor sport, you can probably find someway to do it here at Canyonland. We only had a day so we opted for a couple of short hikes, driving the park’s scenic roads and finishing the day off with an incredible 4 wheel drive!
Some of the beautiful vistas from our day –
Then there was the Shafer Trail – our 4×4 adventure!
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Yep, that’s the road!
I kept telling myself, this road was made for uranium trucks, this road was made for uranium trucks, this road was made for uranium trucks. And then I prayed that no one was coming UP the road.
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Ooooo – and the views as we decended into the canyon floor were amazing!
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That’s the Colorado River meandering through the canyon.
And that’s the other half of the “meander”.
Everywhere we looked there were more stunning rock formations.
And more beautiful views.
This body of water is part of a potash mine – it was a beautiful blue, quite unlike the red/brown color of the Colorado!
And of course, along with all of the wonderful rocks, I was also busy zoning in on any spot of color I could find. I love spring and all of the wildflowers in bloom!

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We were going to try to get to Arches National Park today too, but the dirt road adventure was a bit longer than we expected so we’ve moved Arches to tomorrow. Better get rested up – so many rocks, so little time!

A Twofer

That would be two days for the post of one!
Wednesday –
From our parking spot in Blanding, UT, we were able to check out Natural Bridges National Monument and the Valley of the Gods. Oh, and a couple of adventures in between!
But first, our early morning treat –
The full moon setting in the southwest sky –
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It was way early, and I have no idea what made me look out the bedroom window, but I’m certainly glad I did!
But on to the day…..
As is often the case in this journey of ours, the drive getting to the “destination” is filled with interesting and unusual sights.
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On Tuesday the rocks that we saw (Monument Valley) were tall and angular. This morning they looked like a mound of dough getting ready to be shaped into a loaf of bread!
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Our first stop on Wednesday was Natural Bridges National Monument
One of the nice things about a “National Monument” as opposed to a “National Park” is (usually anyway) that they are a nice manageable size. Natural Bridges had a lovely scenic drive that took us past the three beautiful examples of natural bridges.

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Each bridge had a short hike to the canyon floor, but I only did the last one (which is why the “close-up” shot is actually close up, and not just zoomed in!). It was a pretty hike, and I’m glad I made the trip!
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From there we were headed to the Valley of the Gods, a scenic drive through the high desert that is similar to Monument Valley. But to get there we had to go down the Moki Dugway. And before we got there, we had to go by the Muley Point – long dirt road to, well, Muley Point! Just the ticket!
We finally saw some of those “Open Range Cattle” that we keep seeing signs for –
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This one stared at us as we drove by –
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“Whaddya doin’ on my road?”
We weren’t certain what we would find when we got to the end of the road, but were delighted with the view. It was crazy windy that day so I didn’t take a lot of pictures, but wow – it was quite a sight!
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And on the way back –
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Can you see our friend waiting to see if we’re really leaving? 🙂
OK – the Moki Dugway
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So that’s the road – and Muley Point is the mesa just behind the road mesa. (Does that make any sense?)
It was a great drive – not nearly as nerve-racking as some we’ve been on, but lots of fun! And that led us to the Valley of the Gods.
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It was very similar to Monument Valley and it was free, so that was another bonus. Here’s a summary of our drive –
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They sure know how to “do rocks” around here!
Thursday –
Our destination for today was Moab – gateway to both Canyonland National Park and Arches National Park. As we set out we were pretty sure that the snow was going to stay up in the mountains,
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but by the time we hit the next town up the road, we knew we were in for a very interesting day – both weather-wise and also scenery-wise!
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As we approached the entrance to the Needles section of the Canyonlands NP, it was at least slowing down.
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But as we headed down the 34 mile entrance road (we left Lizzie at the turn off), we weren’t so sure that it wasn’t going to be a long drive for not much view.
But things definitely began to look up as we closed in on the park –
And as the skies began to clear….
See what I mean? And we hadn’t even entered the park yet!
There was hardly any snow once we got to the park lands, but the vistas continued to amaze us!
But as you can see, the blue sky was fast disappearing.
Yep, that’s Gary, heading back to the car to, you know, wait for me.
These are the Needles Formations, which this section of the park is named for. I think it looks like a city skyline. Very cool.
Oh, look! A challenging 4 Wheel drive road. Uh-oh.
Nope, we turned around and headed back. I guess between the fact that it was beginning to snow again and it was a pretty technical road (and gave you that impression right from the start), Gary decided that this wasn’t the day for that kind of adventure. Phew, I said in my heart!
The clouds did continue to roll in,
and by the time we got the truck hooked back up to Lizzie and were back on the road, the snow was back in full force.
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Blue sky peaked out before we pulled into Moab
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and even though it was cold, it was nice to get set-up without the weather complicating the process.
Tomorrow we head into the Island in the Sky section of Canyonland, and then hopefully over to Arches. We’ll see just how the day goes!
And so the Rock Tour continues!