A Travellerspoint blog

RV Day 14-15

Bryce Canyon 14-15 April 2015

On 14 April we leave Virgin through Zion NP and a one vehicle 2.5k tunnel and head to our next destination: Bryce Canyon. By late mid-morning we have reached scenic byway 12 and are well on our way. As we drive toward Bryce we pass through Red Canyon, a small unassuming canyon 3.2k outside Bryce. Red Canyon is made of vermilion coloured rock formations and stands of ponderosa pines and acts like a sentinel to Bryce Canyon. We expect that this is our first glimpse of the hoo doos and fantastic spires we can expect to see in Bryce as Red Canyon beckons us with its similar red rock landscape. 20150414_Red_Canyon__1_.jpg

We arrive at Bryce Canyon around lunch, grab a bite to eat in the RV before heading into the Visitor Centre. Our plan is to see some of the park today and come back tomorrow for some short hikes. We’ve managed to find ourselves in cold weather yet again and I’m guessing the temperature outside is in the single digits and the wind is slowly starting to pick up. We jump back into the RV and start toward our first view point: the Natural Bridge. Bryce Canyon’s serene vistas are deceptive and the landscape is never static. The Natural Bridge is a sight to see and a hint of what is to come. Our next two stops for a look are Agua and Ponderosa Canyon before we decide that we should head straight to the top view point of Rainbow Point (9115ft above sea level). We make this decision, one because the viewpoints are on the left hand side and entering them on the way down will make it easier to park and two we figure the highest most point in the park will help orient us to the whole area. So up to Rainbow Point we drive. By now the winds have really picked up and the RV is swaying a little on the narrow road. Not to mention the sky is starting to look a little eerie in the distance. We get to the top of the 29k drive and put on an extra layer of clothing. Wait! We don’t have an extra layer of clothing in addition to the 3 we already have on…..we left our ski jackets in Boulder.

We quickly jump out of the RV and by ‘we’, I mean me and Nick – Alyssa is too smart to get out and get cold(er). The view is worth it. Here at 9115ft, we surround ourselves with the beauty of Bryce Canyon National Park and lose ourselves in the brightly coloured yellow, orange and red hoo doos, stunning spires and spectacular scenery.

As we jump back into the RV we notice the ranger stopping cars at the entrance to the parking area. Wonder what that is all about? We drive down and pull over at our next viewpoints Blackbirch Canyon, Farview Point, Piracy Point and Swamp Canyon. The shifting sun arcing across the sky hidden occasionally by the rising cloud slowly alters the hues and shadows over the land. This dynamic, mesmerizing place is like no other we have seen.

When we get to the bottom there is an ominous cloud structure in the sky that is no longer in the distance but directly over us and the wind is almost pushing small trees into a horizontal position. Not to mention the RV getting shoved from side to side in the wind. They have closed the road to all traffic. Are they trying to tell us something? The only viewpoints we can reach now are Sunset, Sunrise, Bryce and Inspiration Point. We decide to make the right hand turn and drive to Sunrise Point to see where we will do our first hike from tomorrow; we can always come back tomorrow to do Bryce and Inspiration Points anyway.

We leave the park around 4ish and head to Cannonville (population 162 + 3 intrepid Aussie travelers) to book into a KOA for two nights. Cannonville was a 20 minute drive down from Bryce and toward the bottom of some mountains. Certainly a lower elevation than Bryce.

But wait….Is that snow? Well yes it is readers, it is snow! And I’m not talking about in the distance and isolated to the mountains, I’m talking about right outside our front door. Brrrr!

On Wednesday 15 April we wake up (blowing frosties again) and yes ladies and gentlemen it snowed overnight. Here and at Bryce Canyon.

Back to Bryce Canyon we go with the building anticipation that the snow will just make it look even more remarkable. We get to Bryce and decide to head straight to Bryce Point for our first look this morning. Amazing and such a great view of the canyon. Nick and I were awed by the fantastic views and thought this spot probably represented the unique aspects of this canyon. That was until we got to Inspiration Point. I made Alyssa get out and come with us for this one. I’m glad I did. The views were absolutely awesome and we got to see some enormously impressive and truly stunning landscape that is surreal, dreamlike and almost supernatural.

It is snowing now, so hiking is out of the question. Or is it? I turn to Nick and say ‘we can’t come this far without a little hike into the canyon.’ Lys is again the sensible one of the three and opts to remain in the RV. Nick and I make the descent from Sunrise Point down the Queens Garden Trail (3k round trip) to see Queen Victoria at the end of a short spur. Had it not been for the freezing temperatures Nick and I could have stood for hours and just breathed in the mysterious blend of rock and colour. Warm yellows, oranges and reds radiated from the deeply pigmented walls as scatterings of light illuminated the spires the deeper into the canyon we went. There is a sense of magic to the spellbinding scenery and as we continued on our little hike it felt like we were entering an enchanting realm of fairies, sprites and elves. I was expecting at any moment to see dragonflies and fireflies appear from behind the hoo doos that started to dwarf us as we continued into the intricate landscape along a narrow path. I’m only sorry we didn’t make Alyssa come on this hike because she would have absolutely loved it. Nick and I both agree though that we would like to come back to Bryce (in warmer weather) and spend a week or two doing all the hikes. A most memorable and magical experience.

Posted by V3USA 16:44 Comments (0)

RV day 11 - 13

Zion National Park

Zion National Park in South West Utah was established in 1919 but its origins date back millions of years as the Virgin river has carved its way through the Navajo sandstone to form what we now see as the Zion cliffs. The name Zion was termed by the Mormon pioneers who saw these sculptured rocks as the natural temples of God and named it after the celestial city.

Our first visit to Zion was to the Kolob Canyon, quite a distance from the usual entrance and Visitor Centre. This 5 mile scenic drive climbs past the spectacular Hurricane cliffs and red rocks that form the Kolob Canyon. A couple of long hikes are available, however we chose the mile round trip on the Finger Canyons trail which provides the best sights of the canyon from atop the 2,000 feet high cliffs.

Our second day was a drive through small town of Springdale to the main entrance and Visitor Centre. We decided to catch the free shuttle bus for the 6 mile scenic drive that follows the Virgin river. The final stop is the Temple of Sinawava, the gateway to the Narrows and we walked the 2 mile round trip where the narrows truly begin and water shoes are required. Back on the shuttle to Weeping Rock, a short hike that leads you behind a curtain of water showering from the ceiling of an alcove. The water permeates through the sandstone until it hits shale and then seeps through the rock more than 1,000 years after falling as rain on the plateau above. Our final stop was on the paved walkway to the Emerald pools and waterfalls, a natural rock basin fed by small streams.

The third day had planned to be in Zion again, however due to some issues with the RV that started on day 2, we were advised to drive to the town of Hurricane (20 minutes drive away) to get some repairs to the stove cabinet that had detached from the wall of the RV. The service centre took all of 2 minutes to deduct that it could not be fixed so we where advised to drive to Las Vegas (150 miles away in the complete opposite direction of intended travel) to arrange a replacement RV. Sounds good in theory, though upon arrival they indicate it was not crucial to be repaired and they decide to try and re-attach the cabinet. The whole process took about 15 minutes. Pity we had driven 2 hours to get to Vegas for something that apparently didn't need to get repaired and now have to drive another 2 hours back to our RV park. A couple of complaints are made and the rental company will apparently refund us 2 nights of RV hire. NOT a happy day.

Anyways, our last day was a travel day towards Bryce Canyon on the Zion and Mt Carmel highway through a one way, mile long tunnel that was completed in 1930. The magnificent Checkerboard Mesa is on the other side of the tunnel and is much worth the effort driving uphill in the gas guzzling motorhome.

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20150412 Zion NP (20)


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20150412 Zion NP (24)


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Posted by V3USA 08:46 Comments (0)

RV Day 10

10 April 2015

Whilst today was only a driving day, it goes without saying that we got to see some of the most spectacular scenery we have ever seen. This morning we left Page, AZ and chose to travel along Route 89A in Arizona, which is notable for its scenic value, toward Virgin (just outside Zion, Utah). Arizona Highway 89A takes you through Grand Canyon country and Navajo land in the northern part of Arizona. Today we saw Navajo Bridge which is a bridge that crosses the Colorado River at Marble Canyon. We also saw the Vermilion Cliffs, colourful cliffs that provide not only incredible scenery for the drive, but a multitude of beautiful colours. We also got to see Cliff Dwellers Lodge. These consist of several fallen boulders at the foot of the desolate Vermilion Cliffs and some innovative White settlers decided to build around the boulders on this site (some 50 years ago) and named it Cliff Dwellers Lodge.
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Posted by V3USA 18:21 Comments (1)

RV Day 9

9 April 2015

We've only ever seen pictures of Monument Valley, but it's quite amazing to see in real life. Capturing the sheer scale of Monument Valley in a photo poses as big a challenge as capturing the colours and light of the Grand Canyon and Death Valley. Monument Valley's monolithic chocolate-red buttes and colossal, colourful mesas have starred in countless movies and TV shows and the most famous formations are visible from the highway. It was spectacular scenery from the moment we left in the morning till we stopped to rest in the evening. This is truly an awesome and amazing place. The sights and vistas here represent some of the finest landscape images of the rugged west and certainly conjure up images of old cowboy and indian television shows.
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Posted by V3USA 17:59 Comments (0)

RV Day 8

8 April 2015

Today we left Cortez and drove to Mesa Verde. Mesa Verde is a World Heritage Site where you can see how Pueblo people lived atop the mesas and in the cliff dwellings. We got to see the Spruce Tree House, the Square Tower House and the Cliff Palace. At the Spruce Tree House we got to climb down a ladder and stand in what we think was a ceremonial chamber. Later on in the day on our way to Bluff in Utah, we stopped to get a photo at the Four Corners Monument, which is where you can be in four different states at one time: Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. Last night I showed Mum a mountain that looked like a sleeping Indian. We later found out that the mountain is called Sleeping Ute Mountain.
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Posted by V3USA 17:40 Comments (0)

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