Not long after we crossed the boundary into Zion National Park in southwest Utah, I realized I had a problem. Every turn in the road, every twist of the head would bring into focus another amazingly colourful rock bluff or hill; or an interestingly-shaped stone pillar. Within a mile or so of our drive through the park I had taken dozens of photos. Now, in the age of digital imagery this is not a major problem, since you don’t have to pay to get them printed, but it did create a great deal of photos to go through and choose what to keep. This too, is not a big problem if you are at home with all the time in the world to go through them, but back in 2013 I was not writing a blog, I was posting each day’s photos on Photobucket in the evenings for family and friends at home. Which, with hundreds of photos to go through in the hotel each evening made for some late nights, or skipped uploads. Not a big deal except for my CDO tendencies. However, having decided to go back to our trips (before 2014 when I began my blog) and write about them, I encountered the ‘so-many-photos’ problem once again. I have tried to scale down the pics, but I am very aware there are still many photos in this blog – as there will be in the posts about all of the National Parks we visited in southern Utah. I apologize in advance. Feel free to scroll through them quickly. I loved all the colours and lines and shapes so, to me, every photo I have selected is interesting. You don’t have to fake the same interest. I will never know the difference; and I wouldn’t blame you anyway. Checkerboard Mesa
We drove the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway from the east entrance into the center of the southern part of the park and then went north on the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. In the summer months the Scenic Drive must be taken by shuttle buss, but because we were there so early in the season we were able to drive the 10 km (6.2 miles). The beginning of the trail – up the rock face. Thank goodness for handrails.From the first turn on the trail we could look back to the road and the tunnel we would be going through once we completed our hike to the Pine Creek Canyon Overlook.
The route is not for the faint-of-heart.You have to admit, the view from the overlook is worth the hike. (The image above is a vertical stitch – I took about five photos vertically because the view was so deep, and then stitched them together. You really get a sense of the length of the valley and the height of the surrounding cliffs.)The trail has some roughly-defined sections. I would not want to tackle this bit if it was wet.
Once we were back down we headed through the long tunnel and up the many switchbacks to the Scenic Drive junction.
Our first stop along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive was the Court of the Patriarchs. From left to right; Mt Abraham, Mt. Isaac and Mt. Jacob. To be continued….
We left Grand Canyon through the East Entrance Station and headed up Highway 89 towards Kanab in Southwest Utah. Not too far along the road we came to the Navajo Nation Gorge. The band has a huge craft market in the parking lot during the summer, but since it was still early spring there were only a few vendors set up. The walk along the gorge was hair-raising: a very uneven and rugged trail right along the edge of a VERY LONG drop. If you look closely at the photo above you can just make out the muddy water of the Colorado River cutting through the gorge. Layers, and layers, and layers of cut-away rock. Whatever you do, do not go past the railings along the path. It is a long, long way down.I wondered quite often during those days at the Grand Canyon, and again at the Navajo Gorge, “What on earth did the first scouts think when they encountered these massive slices in the earth?” It must have been very daunting to try find a way around them in such a dry and barren land.
Highway 89 North takes you through the Painted Desert, a section of very aptly named hills and bluffs. Multi-layer ribbons of colour in rock. Totally cool! After crossing the Colorado, the road climbed the Vermilion Cliffs We were driving along, and came around a corner and off to the side of the road was a huge wide space where lived “The Cliff Dwellers.” Some of these massive boulders are the size of a tiny house. We pulled over at an historical marker commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Domínguez–Escalante expedition, which was a Spanish journey of exploration conducted by two Franciscan priests, Atanasio Domínguez and Silvestre Vélez de Escalante (for whom Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is named), to find an overland route from Santa Fe, New Mexico to their Roman Catholic mission in Monterey, on the coast of northern California. Domínguez, Vélez de Escalante, and Bernardo de Miera y Pacheco, acting as the expedition’s cartographer, traveled with ten men from Santa Fe through many unexplored portions of the American West, including present-day western Colorado, Utah, and northern Arizona.
I have no idea what all the numbers on this bluff refer to. Might be interesting to check it out.
We spent the night in Kanab, just outside the boundary of Zion National Park.
When we returned to San Diego after our cool and wet cruise to the Hawai’ian Islands we headed up the old coast road through all the little oceanfront towns, one blending into the next, and spent the night with our friends in LA that we were unable to visit on our way south. The next day we drove across California to Kingman, Arizona. Then we headed east via a section of Route 66 through Seligman. We arrived at the Grand Canyon in plenty of time to spend most of the day seeing the sights. We entered through the South Entrance Station, parked at the Visitor’s Center, and walked over to Mather Point. Yavapai Point was further down the same trail so we wandered over. It is quite amazing how different the canyon and the rock formations look from one spot to another. I kept thinking, during the day; enough photos already, but I still never quit. I guess I was just warming up for the parks in southern Utah. This little guy was obviously used to people being close by. We went back to the car and drove to the end of the road past the Village and then walked the canyon rim trail to the end at Hermit’s Rest.For the crazy and intrepid, there is a trail to the bottom of the canyon. The sun was getting low by the time we reached Pima Point.One of many sets of white water on the Colorado River.We met a lovely tawny Great Dane at Pima Point. He was a cuddler.
At Hermit’s Rest there is a small hut that, in the summer, hosts a snack bar. There is a shuttle bus, the only vehicle allowed on the Rim Trail, that will take you back to the parking lot. We were happy to hop aboard. We picked up the car, drove to our hotel and settled in for the night.
John, for some reason, felt the need to do an ‘infinity shot’ in the hotel bathroom….
We took a couple of days off and rested in the condo then spent two days walking the Las Vegas Strip. We went down one side of the strip one day and the other side the next. We checked out almost every casino/hotel/resort, and in the process wore out our poor feet. The Strip is LONG. Caesar’s Palace is huge! The complex covers several blocks. What’s not to like about a diamond encrusted horse?The inner garden at the Bellagio has changing themes. When we were there it was the Chinese Year of the Snake so the garden had lovely floral Chinese children and a Junk and a big snake with lucky coins.
New York, New York, from the outside, looks like a multi-building street. They also have a fun-looking roller coaster than encircles the complex. No expense is spared on these gambling, shopping, hotel, concert venues.
I was disappointed with the interior of Excalibur. I expected it to be lavishly decorated in a knight’s theme, but, other than the main hallway entrance the rest was pretty subdued, and without much in the way of knights or princesses in towers. I love the outside though.Excalibur was as far as we walked down the one side. The Strip is longer still, but the large casinos stop about here. There are more located in other areas around Vegas, but the main, well-known ones line the Strip. The next day we walked the other side.