SOUTHERN UTAH #2
Route through Utah…
Utah continues to put on a show for us. My take away is southern Utah is a must see and highly recommend it. This blog covers our time in Natural Bridges National Monument and the National Parks of Capitol Reef, Bryce and Zion. The duration is nine days covering just over 400 miles from Canyonlands to Zion. You may have heard about the heavy unprecedented rains in Utah. It was during our time here that the heavy rains hit with considerable property damage and loss of life.
NATURAL BRIDGES NATIONAL MONUMENT
Natural Bridges National Monument was on our way to Capitol Reef. We spent less than a half day and saw the three bridges: Sipapu, Kachina and Owachomo. The ranger at the visitor center referred to them as bridge one, two and three knowing I would soon forget the names. You can view them from a lookout or there are hiking trails down to each one. Our time was limited and so was the hiking so we took the easy way out most of the time. It was a nice lunch stop for us with a chance to learn more about natural bridges and arches.
There is a nice nine mile drive through the park with impressive views.
CAPITOL REEF NATIONAL PARK
Next stop was Capitol Reef National Park. It was very wet when we arrived and many of the trails were closed. The first hike was the Hickman Bridge trail. It was a fun hike with lots of people as most everyone was looking to keep their feet dry too. The bridge was fun. By the way the main difference between a bridge and an arch is a bridge is created by running water and an Arch is created from erosion. A bridge tends to look man-made. But an arch can be a bridge if it looks man made so I was always confused. The area has many old orchards now run by the park service and there were lots of signs with U-Pick with plenty of action from the visitors.
There was also a scenic drive and of course there are pictures. The drive was enjoyable, a bit on the rough side at the end. There is also a historic farm but it looked more like a tourist trap…as the clerk told us she had sold all 16 dozen of her fruit pies that day.
UTAH HIGHWAY 12
An unexpected adventure was the trip to Bryce on Highway 12. Highly recommend this drive as the views along with long-range vistas are downright impressive. As you would expect there are lots of twists, turns and switchbacks to keep the driving interesting.
BRYCE NATIONAL PARK
We spent three days at Bryce, again just the right amount of time for us. Our park routine continues with a big hike, some shorter ones and taking in the scenic drive. Many of the trails were closed due to the rain and rock slides. They all opened up the day we left. At the end of the day I think Bryce may be our favorite park.
Our main hike was the Fairyland Canyon Trail an eight mile loop.
If you want to see Hoodoos up close and personal then this is the hike for you. The extraordinary formations would blow you away. The long views left you breathless and wondering what comes next… This is a hike I would do again.
What can I say…the drive is just as impressive as the hiking experience?
ZION NATIONAL PARK
This park is amazing. Even though there were lots of people and you had to use a shuttle to get around, it was a great experience. We allocated four days for this park and it was the perfect amount of time. Our RV camp site was at the park’s Watchman’s campground. Great place to hang our hat with nice views plus it was close to everything. You could walk to downtown Springdale where there was plenty to do…they even had a micro-brewery…
The tunnel coming in from the East is over a mile long. Our rig was oversized so we had to go through single file of course we were not the only ones. There was a rock slide the day left and we heard the tunnel was closed for three days. Luckily we headed out west when we left.
Our first hike was the Narrows. There is a pave one mile trail that connects with an in the river seven mile trail. We only did the first part as the “in the river” part looked too aggressive for us after all the rain.
He did other trails along the river and some up on the side of canyon. We chose not to do the very famous Angel Landing trail due to my fear of heights.
The shuttle was the only way to get around. For the most part if was a good experience and we soon learned how to use it to our advantage.
Our big hike at Zion was to Observation Point. We got an early start to beat the heat. It was a 2,100 ft climb and eight miles long. The trail was fairly smooth which make it easier. At the end of the day we were impressed by how well we did. I think all the previous hikes prepped us for this one.
Of course there are lots of pictures. We will talk about this hike for a long time…it may even become a favorite as time marches on…
We did a hike up to Weeping Rock to see the hanging gardens. The gardens along the Narrows River trail were better in my opinion. The water flowing through the slits in the rocks was the most interesting part.
Our final hike was the Watchman Mountain Trail.
This is a very nice hike with lots of climbing and plenty of switchbacks. The views were worth the climb. Overall Zion was a nice capstone adventure for Utah adventure. We are now heading to the Gulf Coast. It will take us a couple of weeks to get there. My plan is to do a final recap once we get back to the winter home base.
Larry and Jan