||We drove from Las Vegas through St. George to Zion. We were lucky enough to have
reservations at the lodge in the heart of the valley. When we stepped out of our door in
the morning the valley walls loomed above us. Dinner was in the park restaurant, which was
excellent. Too many bugs for us to eat outside on the deck, but that's the ticket if you
can. We also spent time just laying on our backs on the grass looking up at the peaks of
the valley poking into the sky. We walked up the canyon in thigh deep water for almost
five miles before turning back.
|Then it was on to Bryce Canyon. We had to stay just outside of the park, the only
accommodations inside are camp sites. The hotel had been billed as beautiful with a view of
the red cliffs; called Red Cliff Inn. Turned out to be motel 6 genre with an outdoor
swimming pool enclosed by a sheet metal garden house. We swam and listened to the rattle
of the corrugated fiberglass walls. The wind blew like the devil. The park itself is an
excellent trip. We hiked down into the hoodoos for hours.
||The drive to Moab was a long slow rise from one plateau to another. The geology here
is layers of sediments that range up to hundreds of feet thick. As we drove slowly up in
elevation the entire landscape would take on the color of the layer we were in. Then in a
small, short rise we would mount the next plateau and the scenery would immediately turn a
new color. Brown turns to ash gray, which gives way to Navajo red, then on to a rust and
white speckles. Sometimes we could see hills to our left or right that would show us the
next color layer to come. The road would rise slowly and we would watch the next color come
closer to the ground we were driving on. Then, suddenly, with a visual whoosh, we cross
into the layer and everywhere this new color has taken over. Wild.
||Canyonlands National Park is the upper canyon that the Colorado river carved out
before it carved the Grand Canyon. There were some spectacular lookout points. All of
which were deserted. In the picture to the left we were on Needles Overlook, a point 500
feet above an erosion shelf that itself was eroded another 700 feet to the river. The park
is like looking in the Grand Canyon without all the mountains in the middle of the canyon.
While out on this point the clouds started to gather and I started to get worried about a
forming lightening storm. If it hit we could hide under the park shelter, but it would be
a 100 yard run over open ground to our car. The lightening didn't come and we made it
easily back to the car before the rain started in earnest.
|And then in Moab we visited Arches National Park. While other places may have two or
three arches, this park has them everywhere you turn. And not just some small hole in a
cliff face, but arches big enough to put whole buildings under. In the photo at the right
look at the size of the people! Moab is a neat little town with micro breweries and sweet
small restaurants with outdoor seating. That night I woke about 4 AM to explosions of
dynamite going off. I have never been so close to lightening and thunder. No rumble of a
far off flash, here the light is coincident with a bang. Not a rumble, a bang. It was
louder than a gun going off in your hand. I put on a pair of shorts and stood under the
eave of the floor above to watch the show. A wonderful show of pure natural power in
This trip was filled with natural wonders. The Utah Handbook by Weir and Blake
is required reading. There were many places I haven't mentioned here, yet they were
spectacular too. Capital Reef National Park, unbelievable sights. A new highway has just
gone through and will bring more tourists and the inevitable change to the feeling of the
place. Already there are Super8 motels in some places where there used to be only a local
motel of 12 rooms along the side of the road.
These places made me realize that our own country side is incredible. I've traveled to
many exotic places in search of beautiful sights and awe inspiring views. Traveling
through southern Utah shows that this can all be found much closer to home.