Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Utah Rocks! October, 2016

Sunrise at Bryce Canyon
Wow!  Susann and I and Chica tent-trailered it through southern Utah's five national parks: Arches,  Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce, and Zion, from October 9 to the 20th, with some side trips along the way to Deadhorse Point State Park and Natural Bridges National Monument. We didn't make it to the Grand Canyon, leaving that for another trip. I can't really say which park I enjoyed the most, as I loved Arches, Bryce, and Zion, but for different reasons. Zion was perhaps the most spectacular, but also the busiest, and most regulated. Overall, though, we'd have to say that Utah rocks!

Wow! The wonders never cease in Arches, do they?
Yes, Arches National Park is awe-inspiring, with over 2000 arches formed out of the sandstone.

And there were other interesting rock formations, such as Balanced Rock,

and numerous pinnacles, such as the one these climbers were scaling.

We downloaded the National Parks' Ap for Arches and Canyonlands, and enjoyed our "personal" guide to the park as we drove the scenic road. It was GPS enabled, and our guide "knew" just where we were on the drive.

My favourite part of Arches, though, was hiking through "Devils Garden," with its numerous arches and "primitive trail." I started at dawn,and thus saw few people until I returned.

From Arches, we drove to Dead Horse Point State Park, where we enjoyed the views of the Colorado River 2000' below. And since dogs are allowed in the state parks, we could take Chica.


And from Dead Horse Point, we toured the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park for an afternoon. Canyons indeed!

I don't want to get too close to the edge!

Canyonlands has an arch, too. 

Next, we headed for Capitol Reef National Park, stopping at Natural Bridges National Monument along the way. Since I didn't see signs forbidding dogs, I took Chica along for the hike.

Next stop was Capitol Reef, and there we drove the 57-mile Cathedral Valley loop, and although it was fascinating, we found it long and tiring (6 hours!). It started out with the exciting "River Ford," made easier for us because this SUV was getting ready to cross as we approached, and they had just seen a Jeep drive across.

This isn't as bad as I thought it was going to be!

A rough road indeed, with several "washes" such as this, many even deeper. 

The next day, I made a short hike up the Chimney Rock Trail in Capitol Reef.

Wow! What a view!

From Capitol Reef, we drove scenic Byway 12, enjoying the fall colours in Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument.

And then we reached Bryce Canyon, and marvelled at the red rock spires and horseshoe-shaped amphitheatres.

Looks like a fairy story land, doesn't it?!

The 3 Gossips 

I enjoyed the hike through Peekaboo Trail and Queen's Garden. Parts of the trails were shared with equestrians, making for "ripe" trails, but scenic photos.

Lastly, we journeyed to Zion, camping at the beautiful Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort, with beautiful trails, but a 45 minute drive from the Zion Visitor Center. I drove into the park the first day we were there. Spring to fall, the scenic drive is open only to shuttle buses (free and frequent!),  and I took the bus to the trailhead for "Angels Landing Trail," a 5.4 mile "strenuous" hike. It runs along a narrow rock fin with "dizzying drop-offs culminating in a view high above Zion Canyon."

Yes, it is a concrete pathway for a good part of it, with numerous switchbacks. 

Oh, I'm glad these chains are here!

Look at the shuttle buses way down below!

That's quite the drop-off!

Look at all the people coming up now! I'm sure glad I started early.

The end of Angels Landing Trail.
The next day, Susann and I drove into the park (leaving Chica back in our tent trailer) and took the shuttle up the valley. First we walked along the "Riverside Walk," and the cool morning air kept us moving briskly as we walked along the Virgin River.

At the top of the walk, many people were heading up "The Narrows," a wade/swim up the canyon. Next time!

Then we headed to "Weeping Rock Trail."

and then to Lower, Middle, and Upper Emerald Pools, marveling at the view along the way.

On the way to the pools. 

The Lower Emerald Pool. 

The amphitheater at the Upper Pool. 

Our last night at Zion, I headed out for a sunset photoshoot, driving up a rough road to near the top of nearby Clear Creek Hill.


I drove up past the vacant house in the center of the photo.

I parked, and hurried along a road, hoping I wouldn't lose the light. I took several shots facing southwest,

 and then scrambled across rocks so that I could catch more of the setting sun, and I wasn't disappointed!

By then, it was getting dark, and I started to hurry back, without a flashlight, because my batteries had died. Then, I realised that Chica wasn't following me, but I could hear her bell tinkling. She was off chasing something, in the near dark! I frantically called her, and finally, after what seemed an eternity, I collared her, and reached the truck just as I lost the light.

Driving down the road, however, was more difficult than I'd anticipated, as there was a fork in the road that I hadn't noticed on the way up. I took the left one, and after a short while I thought "this isn't the way I came up!" But, I was following the power lines that I had noticed in the afternoon, so I thought I would be okay. And after about 10 more minutes, I came to a "Private - No Trespassing" sign, a sign I hadn't seen on my way up. Luckily the gate wasn't locked!

The next day, we were packing up, getting ready to leave. Chica's bed was in the back seat, and "her" door and the driver's door were both open. She chose to sit in the driver's seat. Anxious to get home I guess!

I wanna go home!
And yes, we were anxious to get home, too, although once back on the "wet coast," we missed the sunshine of the Utah rocks.