A Travellerspoint blog

October 2019

Utah National Parks

Zion to Salt Lake City

sunny 60 °F

Today we drove the 280 some miles from Zion to the Salt Lake City airport, from which we will fly out in the morning. Still hungry for some visual stimulation from Nature's bounty, we stopped at a small part of Zion National Park called Kolob Canyons. The part of the park has some great scenery, is easily accessible from Exit 40 on I-15 and is far from the madding crowd. The Kolob Canyons, tucked into the northwest corner of Zion National Park, is the park’s best-kept secret. A half-dozen finger canyons drain west from a high plateau, offering Zion Canyon’s spectacular red-rock scenery, breathtaking views, and rainbow-tinted cliffs but no crowds. Instead, the Kolob Canyons area is a place of solitude, wilderness, and empty trails. For some peace and quiet and great hikes, this is the place to go!


Up next----the Christmas markets of Austria and German along the Danube aboard AMAMagna in December.

Posted by rpickett 16:28 Archived in USA Tagged lake city to salt zion Comments (0)

Utah National Parks

Zion National Park

sunny 65 °F

Today featured our adventure into Zion National Park, the last stop on this trip. A prominent feature of the 229-square-mile (590 km2) park is Zion Canyon, which is 15 miles (24 km) long and up to 2,640 ft (800 m) deep. The canyon walls are reddish and tan-colored Navajo Sandstone eroded by the North Fork of the Virgin River. The lowest point in the park is 3,666 ft (1,117 m) at Coalpits Wash and the highest peak is 8,726 ft (2,660 m) at Horse Ranch Mountain. Located at the junction of the Colorado Plateau, Great Basin, and Mojave Desert regions, the park has a unique geography and a variety of life zones that allow for unusual plant and animal diversity. Numerous plant species as well as 289 species of birds, 75 mammals (including 19 species of bat), and 32 reptiles inhabit the park's four life zones: desert, riparian, woodland, and coniferous forest. Zion National Park includes mountains, canyons, buttes, mesas, monoliths, rivers, slot canyons, and natural arches. Human habitation of the area started about 8,000 years ago with small family groups of Native Americans, one of which was the semi-nomadic Basketmaker Anasazi (c. 300 CE). Subsequently, the Virgin Anasazi culture (c. 500) and the Parowan Fremont group developed as the Basketmakers settled in permanent communities. Both groups moved away by 1300 and were replaced by the Parrusits and several other Southern Paiute subtribes.

Zion is unique in the Utah parks in that you have to use their shuttle system as parking within the park is very limited and the scenic drive can only be accessed by shuttle. If you stay in Springdale, which is ideal, you can take the town shuttle directly from your hotel to the Park Visitors Center, and from there, board the Park Shuttles to the nine stops within the park. This is what we did and it worked well. You end up talking to some very interesting people both on the bus and on the trail. Unless you intend on doing some intense hiking, you can cover the park in one day and thoroughly enjoy it! We boarded the town bus about 9:15am, which allows you to watch the sun penetrate the canyon,

The Utah National Parks are truly spectacular - worth every minute. Our country is geographically spectacular. These parks are a testament to that.


Posted by rpickett 16:50 Archived in USA Tagged park national zion Comments (0)

Utah National Parks

Bryce Canyon to Zion

sunny 36 °F

Today our only goal was to drive from Bryce Canyon to Springdale Utah, where we will spend all day at Zion National Park on Tuesday. After we checked out of the hotel, we went back in to Bryce to look at Fairyland Canyon, which we had intentionally skipped yesterday. After that stop, we ventured into the Dixie National Forest, climbed to 10,500 feet and visited Cedar Breaks National Monument. Cedar Breaks is a natural amphitheater, stretching across 3 miles (4.8 km), with a depth of over 2,000 feet (610 m). The elevation of the rim of the amphitheater is over 10,000 feet (3,000 m) above sea level. The viewpoints were chilly as the temperature was in the mid thirties and the wind was gusting up the canyon to near 50 mph. The Monument Visitor Center was closed for the season, but the views were great. It was then on to Zion.


Posted by rpickett 14:58 Archived in USA Tagged to zion bryce Comments (0)

Utah National Parks

Bryce Canyon

sunny 39 °F

Today we took the ranch roads through the high mesa ranch land to Bryce Canyon. It was 28 Degrees F as we traveled past the summit and there was a dusting of snow until we descended into a valley.

We arrived at Bryce about 11:15 and decided to find a parking spot at Sunset Overview (somewhat of a challenge even in the off season) and hike the Navajo Loop, perhaps the most famous hike in the park, but well worth it. As a benchmark, we were at 8000 feet and the temperature was only 39 with a vigorous wind!

The major feature of the park is Bryce Canyon, which despite its name, is not a canyon, but a collection of giant natural amphitheaters along the eastern side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. Bryce is distinctive due to geological structures called hoodoos, formed by frost weathering and stream erosion of the river and lake bed sedimentary rocks. The red, orange, and white colors of the rocks provide spectacular views for park visitors. Bryce Canyon National Park is much smaller, and sits at a much higher elevation than nearby Zion National Park. The rim at Bryce varies from 8,000 to 9,000 feet (2,400 to 2,700 m). The Bryce Canyon area was settled by Mormon pioneers in the 1850s and was named after Ebenezer Bryce, who homesteaded in the area in 1874. The area around Bryce Canyon was originally designated as a national monument by President Warren G. Harding in 1923 and was re-designated as a national park by Congress in 1928. The park covers 35,835 acres.

For me, this park is more impressive than the Grand Canyon, but they are both off the geologic and photographic scale! Pictures do not do justice.


Posted by rpickett 16:51 Archived in USA Tagged canyon bryce Comments (0)

Utah National Parks

Capital Reef National Park

sunny 66 °F

Today we traveled the 210 miles from Kayenta, Arizona to Capital Reef National Park. We chose some back roads which provided some superb views and crossed the Colorado at the back waters of Lake Powell.


We then entered Capital Reef National Park. Partially in Wayne County, Utah, the area was originally named "Wayne Wonderland" in the 1920s by local boosters Ephraim P. Pectol and Joseph S. Hickman. Capitol Reef National Park was designated a national monument on August 2, 1937, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to protect the area's colorful canyons, ridges, buttes, and monoliths; however, it was not until 1950 that the area officially opened to the public. Road access was improved in 1962 with the construction of State Route 24 through the Fremont River Canyon. After a sandwich, we took a nice 2 mile hike through Capital Canyon, which is at the end of the "Scenic Drive".


Posted by rpickett 16:16 Archived in USA Tagged park national capital reef Comments (0)

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