Tag Archives: View

Western Adventure, Day XXIII – Utah at Zion National Park

Zion National Park

Zion National Park

Another nice day in UT. We headed southwest to Zion National Park. If it wasn’t for our wonderful navigator for the day (me), we would have been in Zion much sooner. I sent us on a scenic drive through Dixie National Park on Highway 14 to Cedar City. We spent a lot of time on the road. Oops! All was not lost though. We did get to spend a bit of time at the top of the pass on Highway 14 in the snow at Navajo Lake. At this time, UT was still at 200% on snow totals for the year. Much of the pass was entrenched in deep snow. The dogs and kids loved it.

Interestingly, on this road there were numerous lava fields with no apparent volcano. Our curiosity was solved when we saw signage explaining that at numerous locations in the Dixie there have been recent (in the last 1500 years or so) lava fields formed from lava just coming out of the ground.

In Cedar City, we found a tasty Mexican food restaurant and a health food store that carried goat cheese. Yeah! We were so close to the north entrance of Zion called Kolob Canyon, we headed there first. The entrance is also the exit… a dead end. Not many people were at the this entrance. I imagine most wouldn’t take the time to come here for only a short 15 mile drive. But the views… wow! Most of the views didn’t look real. The roadway was paved neatly in the same color as the rock. Gorgeous.

The South entrance was significantly different from the North. Where you can drive yourself in the North, at the South you have to park and take a shuttle up the canyon. The shuttle is free with your park pass. There were steep cliffs on each side of the South Entrance with the Canyon floor having enough room for a road, the river and a bit of land here and there. Conveniently the bus stops almost everywhere along the way up to the final stop of Temple of Sinawava. At the Temple, there was a nice paved 1.5 mile walk up to the Narrows, which we walked. The trail was full of wildlife.

The Narrows is probably the most famous of trails here. It is the trail that leads into the canyon on the river. Since the river was flowing about 6500 cubic feet per second, the Narrows was closed. Normally it runs under 70. According to the bus driver, he said it flows at the rate of 15 to 50 in the summer. Did you know that last December they had the worst flooding on record? The Virgin River was flowing through the valley at over 60,000 cubic feet per second. It was the first time they had to close the park for flooding.

Returning to the bus stop, after walking the trail, we discovered tons of people. We didn’t feel like waiting for the bus, so we headed down the road on foot. Oddly the canyon got foggier as we walked, and then we came upon our empty bus stopped. The shuttle driver told us a large amount of rock fell right in front of him. He said it was the first time in his twelve years to happen. The boulders were the size of three man rock and there were white marks on the ledges above marking the path the rocks took as they fell.

The driver wouldn’t let us continue on foot, nor did we want to. So we got on the bus and headed back to the truck since it was getting dark. Our last goal of the day was to drive the one mile long tunnel. We managed to get back to the trailer by 11pm. Long day.

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Western Adventure, Day XXII, Arizona to Utah at Bryce Canyon with Dirt Bikes

What a dirt bike opportunity! Photo in front of a National Park

What a dirt bike opportunity! Photo in front of a National Park

We survived the winds and headed north to Utah. Our goal was to get to Bryce Canyon City. There’s the Ruby RV Park located just outside the National park and it has motorcycle trails all around it. After getting settled, we got the bikes out and rode around to explore the surrounding area. One of the trails took us right up to the Bryce Canyon National Park rim.

Where Monument Valley was terracotta in color, Bryce was peach, orange and white. Beautiful. We found the Bryce Canyon entrance sign. So we stopped by and got our photo in front of the sign with the bikes. Now that was cool!

Have to share a funny story. Nathan popped a wheelie across the park entry road right in front of a Sheriff. Then he proceeded to make a turn right in front of him in the parking lot. We all thought we were going to be ticketed. Lucky for us, the Sheriff just kept driving on. It’s okay to ride on the roadway in Utah, as long as, you are geared up. Thank goodness! Tomorrow we plan on heading down to Zion National Park.

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Western Adventure, Day XX – Arizona at Navajo Bridge and North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Newest bridge is on the right

Newest bridge is on the right

A bright, lightly winded day in AZ today. We had planned on taking a tour through the lower Antelope Canyon on the Navajo Reservation. Little did we know it would cost so darn much to enter the canyon to only have one hour to take photos and explore.

Since we didn’t have enough cash, we decided to change our plans and travel to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We never did plan on seeing the GC this trip, but Mike asked if we could find the time he would love to. So today, it is…

Our first stop on the way was the Navajo Bridge which extends over the Marble Canyon and Colorado River. There are two bridges there now. One is the original built in the 1920s and the other was just completed in the late 90s.

The old bridge is now just a foot bridge. I did make it mid span and turned back. As usual, my troublemaker, Nathan, was busy trying to freak me out.

This was a great place to stop. The gift shop was excellent: Lots of good books, art and helpful people. The architecture was beautiful. The staff recommended we stop by the Glen Canyon Park on this side of Marble Canyon.

Wow! We felt like we had stepped onto another world, like planet Mars. The terrain was nothing we have ever seen before. One rock was so huge, it remiinded us of the Jawas Transporter from Star Wars. It may be hard to tell in the photos, but some of the rocks were over 30 feet in diameter on little pedestals.

We did find access to the river. The dog got to get their feet wet only. The river was too fast for them to swim in.

Heading to GC, the most amazing thing happened to us… we found trees. Old, large pine trees… The kids and I had not realized how long it had been since we had been in the woods. Tears glistened in my eyes at the sight. As the Badlands was spiritual for Zachary, the trees were for Nathan.

The first thing Nathan did, getting out of the truck, was to lay on the ground… then he went and hugged a tree. So emotional for him. He spent a good amount of time off on his own, just enjoying the trees and such. When he was ready, he returned with a big, refreshed smile on his face. He also informed us he did not want to go back to the desert. Trees only for him.

I took over 500 photos. It was windy. It averaged 20 mph with gust over 40. So a lot of our photos have flying hair and wind filled coats. At times, we would have to stop and just hang on until the wind slowed, so we would not get blow off the the trail. Mike was a crazy guy in some of the photos… hanging off the edge and such.

We stopped at the Visitor Center for a bite to eat. Did you know there are cabins available right next to the canyon? What a vacation it would be to see the sun rise and set over the canyon right from your front porch.

We left the main visitor area and drove down a road that called us. We found a lookout that was fantastic called Point Imperial. As the sun started to set, we took off and drove to the Condor release site in the Vermillion Valley. We had hoped to catch sight of this bird with over an eight feet wind span. No such luck. But we did watch the sun set in the valley before we headed back to the trailer.

A high wind advisory for tomorrow?! Yikes! 40 to 70 mph. How much wind does it take to blow over a trailer? We discovered it would be best to stay put and hold tight for day before leaving AZ for Utah (UT).

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Western Adventure, Day XIX – Arizona at Monument Valley and Lake Powell

Monument Valley

Monument Valley… what can one say? It is hard to describe. It’s an experience. I read somewhere, the photos can’t capture the life enriching sight you see with your own eyes. So true. After the sun completely rose, we gained access to the valley and drove the sixteen mile trek. What a bumpy ride! The views were gripping and the colors rich. Majestic is a good word to describe Monument Valley.

The one part I thought was quite beautiful was the little trees. I called them burning bushes because they look like they are on fire… ambered… After a great drive through the valley and lots of pictures, we hooked up the trailer and headed to Glen Canyon. It was nice, uneventful drive.. for once. 🙂

To our surprise Lake Powell is azurite blue in color that only intensifies as the sun sets. We did go to the lake and played in the water for about two hours. The water was frigid. It was fun though. The dogs swam until they could do no more. The boys made sand castles. Briana and Mike ran up and down the beach. I hung out in the water. What a great way to cool down and relax.

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Western Adventure, Day VIII – South Dakota at Needles and Mystic



Since this was our last day in SD, we decided to go to Needles in Custer State Park and then rock hound at the location the rock shop in Keystone had suggested we go. In the morning, Mike and the kids took a small break in the morning for Zachary to play with his RC monster truck. While the two of them were doing that. Nathan and Briana found some friends… a couple of horses.

Needles is renowned for some of the best climbing in the nation. Mike told me it’s a climber’s paradise in the Black Hills. The drive up to the top was a narrow road full of skinny tunnels carved out of the granite hillsides. At the top of the Needles pass, the kids and Mike had a great time climbing around on the rocks. A local climber was quick to come over and state Briana needed to be harnessed up. He went back to his car to see if he had a harness her size. Unfortunately, he didn’t. He had planned, of course with our permission, to scale the wall, hook up and let her climb to her content. He made sure to tell me to get her geared up and climbing. He liked her enthusiasm and desire to climb.

Mike used to climb before we met. I’m not much for heights, or better yet for the idea of hitting the ground. He did find good climbers in the kids. Maybe he can gear them up and take them up to Unicorn by Mt Rainier. I will take care of the lunch and take photos. The area was spectacular with all the granite needles and spires that abounded the landscape.

My favorite part of the day was the drive back down. Wahoo! What a blast! Highly recommended. The Peter Norbeck roadway is a must drive for anyone who loves to wind up and down narrow roadways. I had so much fun. If I had known about that road earlier in the week, we would’ve drove it a few more times.

From the Peter Norbeck Road, we headed up a small road toward a town called Mystic. We were told there was a mine with huge sludge piles full of rocks to collect. Sadly, we were led astray. It was a neat area, but no rocks. About two miles up, we came to a gate. The car in front of us had gotten through. Darn! Why not us? Then Mike came up with a brilliant idea. He had recognized he gate mechanism as the same on his mom’s gate. Since we had her remote, we pressed the button and wala! the gate opened.

We thought for sure we would find the sludge piles, but no, all we found were a bunch of vacation homes and a creek. Poo! But at least we won’t wonder what we might have missed if we didn’t get through the gate. Word to the wise, make sure you reprogram your gate to a special code if you don’t want the Zimmers coming through. Ha!

We made it back to town late, but early enough to have a nice dinner at Desperados. We got to hear about a few ghost stories and a few places to visit the next time we come back. And come back to SD, we will!

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