Sunday, April 29, 2012

Bryce, Zion, and Vegas, Baby! Day 6

Today is Day 6 of our trip west, Tuesday April 10th, and the first full day in Zion National Park. As mentioned at the end of the last post, we rode the shuttle through the whole park last night.  Visitors who are sleeping in the Zion Lodge (as we are) may drive their cars into the park but no one else can.  Now that I can see the park, I can understand why.

This park is essential one long road between enormous canyons of rock.  There is very little space and you ride the shuttle from one point to the next in order to explore the approachable.  Some hikes are insane (like Angels Landing) and each year people die in this park from being stupid. 

We began this day with our second horse/mule ride of the trip.  Today we are lucky enough to get the half-day ride in Zion.  Our trail guides were Angie and Dion and our mounts were Charlie (a horse for Denice) and Fancy (a mule for me).  Unlike Bryce, where we rode behind the guide, today we are second to last in line and eat dust the entire ride.  Seriously, we were covered in dust the entire ride, including the camera.  Maybe the hint should have been that we were on the Sand Beach Trail.  I kept the camera under my jacket most of the trip to try to protect it.  But, I still took these photos:

In the afternoon, we made a fateful decision.  We could have done some hiking but instead we decided to do our auto tour today.  (Tomorrow it is going to rain but you will have to wait for that story).  We first drove to the Zion Museum to watch the movie about the park.  I cannot emphasize how quickly the walls of the canyon rise up around the lodge, the museum and the road.  At one point, when I could not understand the height, a ranger told me the canyon I was standing next to rose as tall as a one hundred story building and that was the front canyon behind which were even taller ones.

Then we drove to the highly recommended Kolob National Park, the northwestern neighbor to Zion that comes highly recommended in the tour books as beautiful and less traveled than the big park.  Lastly, we drove up a very remote road called Kolob Reservoir Road that proved to be everything that we wanted.  

Because the first night our lodge food proved to be--well, lodge food--we decided to eat in Rockville (just south of the park) at The Spotted Dog, an elegant restaurant in a town full of good food and fine art galleries.  

For all the photos from this, visit my Flickr site at

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Bryce, Zion and Vegas, Baby! Day 5

On Day 5, Monday, April 9th, as we left Bryce Canyon, we wanted to finish our car tour of Highway 63 and the overviews that we did not do on the 8th.  Our first stop this day was Inspiration Point where we say this:

Our next overview was Fairyland Point.  

It is always our pleasure to take the "back roads" anywhere we can and today we decided to take a scenic route from Bryce to Zion.  We left Bryce and headed north to Panguitch.  We had a breakfast brunch at Ruby's Inn and then wandered across the street to irritate the horses waiting to go on a trail ride.  

As we left Bryce on Highway 12 heading towards Panguitch, we came across two pronghorn along side the highway eating.  I turned the car around, parked on the side, and got out to take some photos.  

You know how all the ranger stuff says, "Don't approach the animals?"  Well, this might be the reason why. 

 These two doofus pronghorns decided to start head butting each other about twenty feet in front of me while I was standing outside the rental.  I just kept hitting the shutter hoping that some picture would work out and the next thing I know these two streak across the highway right into traffic.  Man, I was just glad they decided not to head butt me while I was standing there.  

In Panguitch, we shopped at the Garfield Thrift Shop (where I bought a granny doll for assemblage), Bronco Bobbi's (for arts and crafts) and  the Cowboy Collectibles Store (which had antiques and cowboy related stuff). At the Store we met a dog who could carry three tennis balls around in his mouth at the same time plus he rolled onto his back and balanced one of the balls above his head between his paws.

Yup, a proud Panguitchian moment. This guy probably has his own Facebook page.  

We left Panguitch with the intent of taking the back woods roads all the way to Zion from Bryce.  Turning off of Hwy 143 on Hwy 148, at approximately 10,000 feet up, we discovered this about 100 yards down the road:

Hmmm...this is something you think locals might put a sign up about.  Later, at lunch at Hermie's Drive-In in Cedar City (where we ate the enormous Hermie Burger), the locals told us this road does not often get plowed until June 1st.  

That night, we made it to Zion in time to ride the shuttle from one end of the park to the other.  Then it was a meal in the lodge and off to bed, dreaming of a new park and new adventures for tomorrow.  

For all the photos from this, visit my Flickr site at

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bryce, Zion and Vegas, Baby! Day 4

On Sunday, April 8th, we were up in the morning and driving to Bryce Point when we came across this mule deer herd.  The are quite tame and have no fear of humans. 

Denice and I got the idea that we could walk Peekaboo Trail by starting downhill from Bryce Point, deep into the canyon.  The reason that we thought this was a good idea was because we would only have to worry about walking uphill at the end of the trail when we returned to Bryce Point.

I am here to testify that on Peekaboo Trail, no matter which way you walk on the loop, it is all uphill.  Yup, all uphill. Never down.  I have no idea how this is possible but we always were walking up hill.  Both of us were blowin' half way through this hike and we really bit off more than we could do.  This hike took us five hours and although we had drinks we did not bring lunch, which might have helped. 

This part is the bad news.  The trail that we are going to walk on, including the snow and ice, can be viewed from this picture.  This picture also shows how far down we are going to be walking and this is just the connector trail to Peekaboo from Bryce Point.  Yikes!

The good news is we saw all of this:

Despite the physical struggles (and the snow) of a five hour hike, we were both glad that we had the chance to see this wonderous scenery, like none other that we have seen.  Amazing.

After lunch, we decided to take it easy and drive the Highway 63 through the park from the southern points back to the lodge road in the north.  We started at Rainbow Point as the afternoon sun begins to set.

Next it was on to Black Birch Canyon to see more snow still nestled in the valleys.

On to Ponderosa Canyon with no sighting of Adam, Hoss or Joe.  But we did see this.

On to Agua Canyon where the only water was more evidence of frozen snow.

Then on to the Natural Bridge.

At Farview Point, we were met one of many spirit ravens who guide us on every vacation we go on.  Of course, this spirit raven appeared to be more interested in his own thing, but we understood.

Paria View founds us looking at this.

That night we had another great meal in the Lodge (prime rib for me and another round of buffalo stew for Denice) and spent our last night in our room in Bryce.

For all the photos from this, visit my Flickr site at