Utah South #2

SOUTHERN UTAH #2

Route through Utah…

Map of our Utah journey

Map of our Utah journey

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 between Canyonlands and Bryce

Natural Bridges National Monument between Canyonlands and Bryce

Natural Bridges - Arch number one - Fun view

Natural Bridges – Arch number one – Fun view

Natural Bridges - Arch is down under - Arch Number two

Natural Bridges – Arch is down under – Arch Number two

Natural Bridges - Arch number three - View from up above

Natural Bridges – Arch number three – View from up above

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.

Natural Bridges drive

Natural Bridges drive

Natural Bridges drive

Natural Bridges drive

There is a nice nine mile drive through the park with impressive views.

CAPITOL REEF NATIONAL PARK

Capital Reef National Park

Capital Reef National Park

Capitol Reef - Hickman Bridge Trail - Note all the rocks from the Boulder Volcano

Capitol Reef – Hickman Bridge Trail – Note all the rocks from the Boulder Volcano

Hickman Bridge

Hickman Bridge

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.

Capitol Reef drive view - Note the black rocks from the volcano

Capitol Reef drive view – Note the black rocks from the volcano

Capitol Reef drive

Capitol Reef drive

Great view along the Capitol Reef drive

Great view along the Capitol Reef drive

Arch along the Capitol Reef drive

Arch along the Capitol Reef drive

More Capitol Reef National Park

More Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef drive - note the haze from the California fires

Capitol Reef drive – note the haze from the California fires

Red rock and cloudy skies makes for a nice photograph

Red rock and cloudy skies makes for a nice photograph

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

Utah Highway 12...the rain kept coming and going along the way

Utah Highway 12…the rain kept coming and going along the way

Highway 12 has switch backs too!

Highway 12 has switch backs too!

Highway 12...the rain clears by the end of the journey...

Highway 12…the rain clears by the end of the journey…

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

Bryce Canyon National Park - A personal favorite

Bryce Canyon National Park – A personal favorite

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.

Fairyland Canyon hike - best hike to date...the breathtaking views never stop

Fairyland Canyon hike – best hike to date…the breathtaking views never stop

Our main hike was the Fairyland Canyon Trail an eight mile loop.

Fairyland hike - the Bryce Canyon Hoodoos...

Fairyland hike – the Bryce Canyon Hoodoos…

Hoodoos were center stage all through this hike

Hoodoos were center stage all through this hike

Hoodoos are everywhere

Hoodoos are everywhere

They come in all colors

They come in all colors

The trees line up nicely...

The trees line up nicely…

The trail went up and down...this is a nice view from below

The trail went up and down…this is a nice view from below

The sun made these Hoodoos pop

The sun made these Hoodoos pop

Stand alone Hoodoo

Stand alone Hoodoo

I liked the orange in the foreground on this one

I liked the orange in the foreground on this one

This one was taken as I knelt on the ground shooting up

This one was taken as I knelt on the ground shooting up

Not sure if this is a bridge or and arch, yes there is a difference

Not sure if this is a bridge or and arch, yes there is a difference

Interesting formations...the Native Americans thought the Hoodoos were bad people cast in stone...

Interesting formations…the Native Americans thought the Hoodoos were bad people cast in stone…

Yes, the colors kept changing as we make our way around the Fairyland Trail

Yes, the colors kept changing as we make our way around the Fairyland Trail

This one was out there all by itself

This one was out there all by itself

Hope you like red rock...if you do you will like Utah!

Hope you like red rock…if you do you will like Utah!

Last shot on the trail before lunch...

Last shot on the trail before lunch…

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.

Bryce Park drive

Bryce Park drive

Bryce Canyon drive...many trails closed due to rock slides the day we were there

Bryce Canyon drive…many trails closed due to rock slides the day we were there

The park drive took us a half day...we had to stop at all the lookouts

The park drive took us a half day…we had to stop at all the lookouts

Bryce Canyon drive

Bryce Canyon drive

Bridge along the canyon drive

Bridge along the canyon drive

This was an awesome view which loses a lot in a photo

This was an awesome view which loses a lot in a photo

More Bryce Canyon drive...still lots of color

More Bryce Canyon drive…still lots of color

Looking down on the Hoodoos from the overlook

Looking down on the Hoodoos from the overlook

Lots going on in this shot...

Lots going on in this shot…

Over 500 shots at Bryce, it was hard to pick the best without going into overload...

Over 500 shots at Bryce, it was hard to pick the best without going into overload…

Ok, I give the last shot at Bryce...

Ok, I give the last shot at Bryce…

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…

Zion tunnel over a mile long...rock slide closed it for three days the day we left

Zion tunnel over a mile long…rock slide closed it for three days the day we left

Zion tunnel

Zion tunnel

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.

Narrows Trail on/in the Virgin River -  trail was up the middle...yes you get wet feet without the proper shoes

Narrows Trail on/in the Virgin River – trail was up the middle…yes you get wet feet without the proper shoes

Narrows River Trail - hanging gardens

Narrows River Trail – hanging gardens

Narrows trail

Narrows trail

Narrows is a popular trail...lots of rock to dodge!

Narrows is a popular trail…lots of rock to dodge!

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.

River canyon is awesome and gets much narrower upstream

River canyon is awesome and gets much narrower upstream

Emerald pools trail....above the river

Emerald pools trail….above the river

Emerald Pools trail - Many water falls to cool you down...yes it was very hot there!

Emerald Pools trail – Many water falls to cool you down…yes it was very hot there!

Zion Three Patriarchs peaks

Zion Three Patriarchs peaks

Hike along the river near the museum...you can bike on this one too!

Hike along the river near the museum…you can bike on this one too!

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.

Shuttle view...no cars allowed on the scenic drive

Shuttle view…no cars allowed on the scenic drive

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.

Observation Point Hike...we hike up another 2,100 ft...did good for Seventy Somethings...

Observation Point Hike…we hike up another 2,100 ft…did good for Seventy Somethings…

Observation Point HIke - Part of the trail was through a wash

Observation Point HIke – Part of the trail was through a wash

Love hiking through the splits...

Love hiking through the splits…

Very friendly Long Horn Sheep...there was a herd of twenty or so...

Very friendly Long Horn Sheep…there was a herd of twenty or so…

Observation Point Trail went up for over six miles

Observation Point Trail went up for over six miles

Jan made it to the top still smiling...

Jan made it to the top still smiling…

The sky help make this shot interesting

The sky help make this shot interesting

Nice group at the top...lots of nice conversations plus there is always a willing hiker ready to take over your camera...

Nice group at the top…lots of nice conversations plus there is always a willing hiker ready to take over your camera…

Cooled down and ready to make the desent...

Cooled down and ready to make the desent…

Observation Point Trail on the way down

Observation Point Trail on the way down

Observation Point Trail - always changing

Observation Point Trail – always changing

We started early...more sun on the way back down

We started early…more sun on the way back down

Another wash picture

Another wash picture

Observation Point Trail...looking down at the trail  switchbacks heading back to the shuttle

Observation Point Trail…looking down at the trail switchbacks heading back to the shuttle

Observation Point Trail - Overlooking the Virgin River

Observation Point Trail – Overlooking the Virgin River

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…

Weeping Rock Trail...lots of hanging gardens here

Weeping Rock Trail…lots of hanging gardens here

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.

Watchman Trail - at the top looking down on Springdale and the Visitor Center

Watchman Trail – at the top looking down on Springdale and the Visitor Center

Watchman Mountain Hike

Watchman Mountain Hike

Watchman Mountain Trail - Interesting landscape

Watchman Mountain Trail – Interesting landscape

Watchman Mountain Trail

Watchman Mountain Trail

Watchman trail start and ends at the river...took off my shoes and soaked my feet in the cold water at the end...

Watchman trail start and ends at the river…took off my shoes and soaked my feet in the cold water at the end…

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.

God Bless,

Larry and Jan

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