SOUTHERN UTAH TRIP
Rosemary Santana Cooney and Patrick Louis Cooney
round trip in a clockwise direction in southern Utah with a dip into northern Arizona and back to St. George. Start and finish from Las Vegas, Nevada.
US 15 going northeast from Las Vegas to St. George.
Rt. 9 heading east on a side trip to Zion National Park.
Rt. 9 heading west back to US 15 from the side trip to Zion National Park.
Rt 17 head northwest on shortcut to US 15.
US. 15 northeast to Konob Canyon (n.w. section of Zion National Park); northeast to Cedar City.
Rt. 14 southeast to Cedar Breaks National Monument; Long Valley Junction.
Rt. 89 northeast through Hatch and junction with Rt. 12.
Rt. 12 southeast to side trip to Bryce Canyon National Park.
Rt. 12 Northeast from side trip through Cannonville, Henriville, Escalante State Park, Boulder, to Torrey.
Rt. 24 west to Capitol Reef National Park, through Caineville and to Hanksville and junction with Rt. 95.
Rt. 95 southeast to Hite Overlook, Natural Bridges National Monument; west to junction with Rt. 191.
Rt. 191 north to stay in Blanding for the night.
Rt. 191 south through White Mesa and then southwest to Bluff and junction with Rt. 163.
Rt. 163 southwest to Valley of the Gods, Mexican Hat and then to Monument Valley entrance road into Arizona and Monument Valley.
Rt. 163 southwest from Monument Valley to Kayenta and junction with Rt. 160.
Rt. 160 southwest to Navajo National Monument and then the junction with Rt. 98 at Mesa View.
Rt. 98 northwest through Kalibeto, on to Navajo Mountain Scenic Road to Page to junction with Route 89.
Rt. 89 north to Glen Canyon Dam and then northwest back into southern Utah; through Big Water; west to Kanab; northwest to turnoff for Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park; onto Mount Carmel Junction and junction with Rt. 9.
Rt. 9 west to eastern entrance to Zion National Park; southwest to Springdale; west to Hurricane and junction with US 15.
US 15 southwest back to Las Vegas.
Note: The best way to view the photos is in a dimly lit room. The glare of light hitting the monitor distorts the colors.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Left the house around 4:30 a.m. Easy drive to long term parking.
We got off on time. No delays.
They had films on the flight. Cefe watched the films. One was 27 dresses with Katharine Hiegel. We had seen it the night before the flight. The other movie was "Easy Money" with Queen Latifah and Dianne Keaton.
It was a five hour flight. And it seemed really long too. I was glad to get off the plane.
In Las Vegas; it was 103 degrees and very hazy. At Hertz we got a 2009 Toyota Camry. It only had 29 miles on the odometer.
We took US 15 north toward southwestern Utah. Nevada is really brown, brown, brown. I couldnít see any vegetation in the all brown mountains. We joked that no wonder gambling and prostitution are legal given that the environment is so bleak. There is nothing really beautiful to look at. Rosemary added: "And itís dusty."
We did see the Joshua tress which dot the landscape in places. Joshua tress are an indicator species of the Mojave desert. At times the speed limit was 75 miles per hour.
The Virgin River Canyon was great. It starts out as a really narrow slot and later gradually opens up wide. We stopped a few times for photographs. It was tough for Rosemary to take pictures since the winds were just too strong.
In Arizona we stopped for a mountain picture. Then came the Arizona Strip Lands Public Land. The Virgin River runs through it. Stopped by the Virgin River. Exit 18 Cedar Pocket. Mile marker 17.
We stopped at the Virgin River Canyon Recreation Area. We see the creosote bush now with fuzzy balls of seeds on a plant with yellow flowers. Sign: Jedediah Smith describes the Gambelís Quail. We took pictures of the Joshua trees. There is a brome grass (Bromus sp.) here.
Stopped just beyond mile 19 marker.
In Utah we got off US 15 at Exit 16 for Route 9 before mile 3 marker. Passed by the Quail State Park. We saw a lot of tumbleweeds blowing across the road. There are a lot of these plants growing along the road sides.
We stopped at a place known as La Verkin Overlook which was at mile marker 15. We took some flower pictures.
Before mile marker 25, we made a road stop. There are trees on reddish mountain.
From Rockville, we followed the signs at Bridge Street to Grafton Cemetery where we took photos of the cemetery. On the way back to Rockville, took a picture of the one-lane bride over the Virgin River of the west side and then the east side.
We stayed at Best Western in Springdale and right now we are eating next-door at the Sports Grille. I find listening to sports on television a little annoying while eating. But Cefe was watching.
After dinner we took our showers and went to bed.Route 15 Las Vegas to Virgin River Canyon Photos
Route 9 La Verkin Overlook to Rockville
Wednesday. May 21, 2008.
Rosemary got me up at 6:40 Utah time. She says itís supposed to be thirty degrees colder today than yesterday. We did not have breakfast. Got water and Cefe got four diet cokes at the Canyon Tire Food Mart Shell station.
We arrived at Zion National Park just before 8 a.m. We buy an annual park pass for $80.00 that will get us into any National Park or National Monument without paying the entrance fee. It is good up to the last day of May of 2009. So we can use it even for next year.
We park the car at the visitorís center. They have a great gift shop and so we bought a few souvenirs and books on other National Parks in the area. We take the park shuttle. The shuttle began in the year 2000. These are propane buses, much more fuel efficient than gasoline-driven buses.
There are seven stops along the way. We begin with descriptions of the stops and incorporate information given by the driver,
The first stop is Human History with small exhibits on geology, plants, and humans.
The second stop is Canyon Junction. There is access to the Virgin River and a 1.7 mile trail along the river back to the Visitorís Center.
Stop 3. The Court of the Patriarchs. These are the highest sandstone cliffs in the world. The plateau was raised up between 10 to 12 million years ago and then gradually cut down by the Virgin River. In 1995 there was a terrific rock slide at Zion.
In 1916, a Methodist minister, Mr. Fisher, named the three peaks here Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. There is a fourth column named Mt. Moroni.
We come to a section of the national park where the canyon flattens out. Some 8,000 years ago, the Sentinel Slide occurred which blocked up the river and formed a lake.
Stop 4. The Zion Lodge. Here one can take a 1.2 mile round trip up to the lower pool, or a 2.0 mile walk up to the middle or a 2.5 mile walk up to the upper pool. Saw a mule deer. Nearby the lodge one can go on horseback rides.
Stop 5. The Grotto. This is a picnic area. Nearby is Heapís Canyon where settlers lived. The red rock building here is the first Zionís Visitorís Center. One can walk up to Angelís Landing. It is not a hike for people who are afraid of heights. It is five miles round trip.
Stop 6. Weeping Rock. We pass by Angelís Landing. It is a neat place with shorter trails of 20 to 30 minutes. There is water dripping from the walls of hanging gardens.
Stop 7. Big Bend. There are no trails here. There is, however, a view of Angelís Landing and Big Ben. There is the Great White Throne and the Organ with pipe-like columns. Rock climbers like this stop.
Stop 8. Temple of Sinawava. We get off at the last of the stop - the Temple of Sinawava - in order to walk The Riverwalk. We see the yellow rocket flowers of Princess Plume. An hour walk round-trip will take you through many beautiful spots, but not all the way to the Narrows. There is always a potential of flash floods here and there are signs giving the walkers advice about how to survive in the case of flash floods. The Virgin River goes along the whole length of the canyon.
Sinawava is the creator associated with the coyote. At 9:30 a.m. Rosemary takes pictures of the river. There is a lot of box elder (Acer negundo) and Cottonwood (Populus sp.) here by the river. We also saw Equisetum hyemale.
There is a little swamp area along the walk. There are some plants that remind me of our eastern water cress. There is orange sand along the trail.
We reach the hanging gardens. What a treat! We really enjoyed finding and photographing the flowers. We find the Yellow Columbine in bloom. There is also a maiden-hair fern here with its black fragile stems. Snails can be found on the wet walls. The sandstone walls are wet. Poison ivy is here.
At the Big Bend Stop, Rosemary takes pictures of a mountain climber.
It is a beautiful day, especially compared to the hot day yesterday.
We skip the Weeping Rock Stop. We see beautiful flowers in bloom on an Acacia tree and the red flowers of a cactus.
At the Grotto stop Rosemary takes pictures of the first Visitorís Center which is now abandoned. She also takes pictures of the pedestrian bridge over the Virgin River. Find the dandelion is bloom.
The Lodge is our next stop. There is a nice gift store at the Lodge. We bought some more souvenirs. There is a children's tour lining up to take a hike.
Court of the Patriarchs stop. Took pictures of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Mt. Moroni.
The last stop we explored is the Human History museum. We did not like the museum. They have a few interesting exhibits at the museum, but they are too few of them and they are too small go give much information. They do have an elk skin dress and an exhibit on the use of plants by the Native Americans in the area.
Back at the gift shop at the Visitorís Center. We bought books about parks, jigsaw puzzles, magnet pictures of the parks for the refrigerator back home and a shot glass for Zion National Park.
Leaving the area, Cefe tells us that he likes the shuttle ride and commentary and the high mountains. Moreover, he liked the great orange colors in the mountains. Rosemary says that she liked everything. I enjoyed the Riverside Walk by the Virgin River and especially the hanging gardens at the last stop of the tour.
After seeing the southern part of the Zion National Park we head back on Route 9 for lunch at Wendyís. But we took a short-cut back to US 15 by turning right onto Route 17 which takes one on a pretty road through Toquerville. So we ended up not eating lunch at all.
We drive to Kolob Canyon off of US 15, another section of Zion National Park. There are a lot of stops along a five mile driver. By this time it is rainy and cold periodically. There were some great views in the area. Especially liked the long distance view of beautifully green meadows in the far distance.
After Kolob we head to Cedar City on US 15. We stay at the Best Western Town and Country.Zion National Park: Visitor's Center & Temple of Sinawava
Zion National Park: Big Bend to MuseumKolob Canyons
Thursday. May 22, 2008.
We had breakfast at McDonalds. We stop on Route 14 heading east as we just get started on it at a Semi-Truck turnaround. There is a monument of an old grist stone here to honor an old grist mill here known as the Cedar Co-op Mill established in 1876. Here also is the muddy Paria River which looks more like a creek. Take pictures of some white cliffs along the road. Between 11 and 12 mile markers we enter the Dixie National Forest, the first of many sections of the Dixie National Forest in the area. Stop to take a picture of a snow-capped mountain. There are lots of firs and spruces in the area.
We find a beautiful overlook. We go through a beautiful canyon. We have been ascending into snow covered areas for sometime now.
Around 8:40 a.m. we reach the Visitorís Center at Cedar Breaks National Monument on Route 148. The fee hut is not manned. The signs say that the season opens June 1. But we decide to take a look around. Point Supreme is at elevation 10,350.
We walk over to what proves to be the rim of a huge hole in the ground, known as an amphitheatre, full of all kinds of hoodoos (strange columns of sandstone with a top of a harder rock that prevents erosion of the rock below, leaving a strange shaped column of sandstone) It is pretty impressive! From the Visitorís Center we drive to the nearby Sunset View. Then we finish with a visit to the Chessmen Ridge Overlook.
I really liked the area. It was covered with snow which made me think of Christmas. It just left me with a nice inner feeling. Beautiful area.
We return to Route 14 and stop before mile 19 marker for a picture of a meadow. We stop for some pictures of Navajo Lake, which has no open outlet. In 1931 they built a dike across the lake. Before reaching mile marker 26 we see lava rock with snow on them. We stop in Hatch at Philips 66 station for a break.
From Rt. 89 heading north we get onto Route 12. We stop at an official pullout for Red Canyon. Stop at the Red Canyon Visitorís Center. They have some blue columbine in bloom. We go through a tunnel and then quickly through another tunnel in Red Canyon. Red Canyon petered out a mile marker 7. The area is 7,777 feet high.
Mile 13.5 is Route 63 to Bryce Canyon. A man stopped traffic in both directions and we soon saw why. Horses, being chased by a truck, were going to cross the road. Stop at the Visitorís Center. We go to the Lodge. At the General Store we ate lunch. We had hot dogs. We tried to see some prairie dogs at the meadows. But it was just too cold for them to be out and about.
At Bryce Point we see a 135 degree view. It is beautiful but it is snowing now and clouds are coming in on us. There are hoodoos all over the place. Drove to Inspiration Point at an elevation of 8,100 feet. The Manzanita is in bloom. Then we head down many miles down to see Rainbow Point. Next stop was Black Birch Canyon at 8,750 feet. There are far fewer hoodoos here. Rosemary found a small hole in the sandstone wall of hoodoos.
I mentioned to Rosemary that I was getting a little tired of seeing hoods, but she only says: "You can never have too many hoodoo pictures." Hey, the light has to be right. She takes five pictures of a raven who cooperated nicely.
At 3:45 p.m. we see the Natural Bridge. Very impressive arch. The elevation is 8,627 feet.
We drove back out of Bryce Canyon National Park to the very nearby Best Western: Rubyís Inn. The place is very big. It has a number of separate Lodges as well as the Main Lodge. Cefe is in the Ponderosa Lodge, while we are in the Main Lodge. And there are a lot of visitors at the place. More people than we had seen at any earlier time. We ate at the Best Westernís Cowboyís Buffet and Steak House. We all had filet mignon for dinner. And everyone was happy with it.
Rosemary rated the day a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10. Cefe said it was a 9 out of 10. I rated the visit to Cedar Brake a 10, but the one to Bryce a 7 because I had seen one too many hoodoos. We bought some more souvenirs at the gift shop at Rubyís Inn.Route 14 & Cedar Breaks National Monument
Dixie National Forest's Red Canyon and Begin Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park Continued
Friday, May 23, 2008.
The car was covered with a bit of snow. We had no ice scraper so we had to turn the car on and use the defrosters both rear and front. Nothing was open in the area so we started driving east on Route 12. We stopped at 7:13 a.m. for a photo of a big open area before mile 16.
At mile marker 21 we reach the town of Tropic. At another road stop, before mile marker 24, we see mountain virtually surround us front, side and back. We reach Cannonville at mile marker 25. We stop at the Sinclair gas station just as we turned right onto a paved road with sign indicating Kodachrome Basin State Park. We bought some groceries there and then sat and ate them.
Half a block down the road to Kodachrome Basin State Park we see the sign for the Visitorís Center for the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Rosemary takes a few pictures of the Center.
On the road to Kodachrome we see the meeting place for the Pass Canyon Trail Rides people. We also see some horse riders and donkeys pulling a wagon with a few passengers. It is a nine mile drive to the Visitorís Center.
The Visitor Center is adobe colored. There are lots of small mountains around the area. Only a couple of people are here. On the park road, Rosemary takes some pictures of orange cliffs on the left. White mountains are in the background. The hoodoos here look smaller in height but fatter in width than those we found elsewhere. We saw a jack rabbit.
Pass the start of the Panorama Hiking Trail. We then pass the Trailhead Station Camper Store. Farther along the road we see hoodoos that look more like those at Bryce. We see some western cottontail rabbits. At the end of the short road we find the start of the Eagleís View Trail.
We take a short walk on a nature trail. They have a number of plants labeled including Utah juniper (Juniperus osteosperma); Big Sage Brush (Artemisia tridentata); grasses holding the soil together; red sandstone knoll with pot holes where less resistant rocks in the sandstone erode away faster than the surrounding stone; Lead Bush or Buffalo Berry (Shepherdia sp.); Pinyon Pine (Pinus edulis); mud formation; Indian rice grass (none present); Sodium leaching leaving whites dots on the red sandstone; Four-winged Salt Brush (dead); porcupines eating the bark of some trees; Snakeweed (gone); Princess Plume; a large chimney shaped sandstone column; Rabbit Brush (Chrysothamus nauseosus); a future chimney rock structure; Yucca; dead juniper; and Mormon Tea (Ephedra viridis) with lots of jointed stems.
Back on Route 12 past mile marker 40 are dirt brown mountains. Just past mile marker 41 we find a sign: summit 7,600 feet. Past mile marker 51 we see some mountain in which the local Native American established their granaries. We also took some pictures of the nearby river.
After mile marker 57 we turn onto Wide Hollow Reservoir Road for Escalante Petrified Wood State Park. At the Visitor Center we see a sign that says the route to the petrified wood is moderate to strenuous with steep and uneven surfaces. In addition, it is hailing a bit. So we decide not to hike the State Park. We see the nearby lake, which is pretty big. A number of canoes are stored by the lake.
Ate at a Subway sub shop. It is the last day of school for the kidís today and there are a lot of people at the sub shop. For such a small town, it seems strange to have such long lines at the Subway eatery.
Just past mile marker 69, we see a huge open area with a 180 degree view and with no towns in the picture. On a clear day, it is said you can see forever.
Scenic pull-out past mile marker 72. Boynton Overlook provides good views. Later we cross the Escalante River. At mile marker 76 the road is very winding. Passed mile marker 77 there is another wide open view. At a scenic pull-out there are 180 degree views from both sides of the road.
The Hogsback section of the road was a bit frightening. The Civilian Conservation Corps completed the road June 21, 1940. At mile marker 79 there is a sheer drop-off on both sides of the narrow road.
Just beyond mile marker 83 we find Hellís Backbone Road.
At mile marker 84 we reach Boulder, Utah. Further on there is a big open area surrounded by mountains. There are 90 degree views. At mile marker 86 is the Burr Trail. We come to three buildings: the Burr Trail Trading Post, the Burr Trail Grill and Hellís Backbone Grill.
Just beyond mile marker 87 is the Anasazi Indian State Park across from Poleís Place Motel, Gift Shop and Eatery. The Visitor presents some information on the Anasazis and their settlement part of which has been archeologically excavated.
Before mile marker 88 we reach the Dixie National Forest again. At mile 93 we are ascending to an elevation of 8,000 feet. There is some snow on the ground. There are also a lot of Quaking Aspen. By mile marker 97 snow covers the ground. At mile marker 98 we descend on a very winding road. Some of the scenic overlooks are covered with snow and not available. We reach a sign for summit at 9,600 feet. At mile marker 103 we are still descending. We top to take a picture. We see red cliffs in the distance on our right (east). There are still lots of Quaking Aspen and the ground is covered with snow. Around mile marker 108 we see snow-covered mountain to the far right (the igneous-rock Henry Mountains).
At Larb Hollow is a scenic pull-off. The big lakes of Lower Bowns Reservoir appears in the distance. A sign indicates that there has been a mistletoe problem here. The plant has been deliberately eliminated.
In the area the Dixie National Forest goes north from Boulder to just south of the town of Grover. Mount Ellen, part of the Henry Mountains, is snow covered. At mile marker 111 is a sign for Wayne County. The ground is no longer snow-covered. Nearby is the Single Tree Campground. At mile marker 112 are some very nice red cliff views. At mile marker 115 we leave the Dixie National Forest. More red cliff views at mile marker 117 trough 119. We stop for photos of red cliffs near mile marker 120.
We reach the junction with routes 12 and 24. Route 24 leads left one mile to Torrey. We stop at Texaco for gas. The Dayís Inn is right at the conjunction of Routes 12 and 24 on Route 24. Lava rocks are seen right outside our roomís window. The motel is some seven or so miles from Capitol Reef National Park. So we are poised to see the National Park early the next morning.
We ate at the Capitol Reef Cafť. The food was good and the waitress very friendly.Kodachrome Basin State Park
Route 12 Tropic to Escalante Petrified Forest State Park
Route 12 On a Clear Day You Can See Forever Overlook to Boulder
Route 12 Dixie National Forest to Wayne County
Saturday, May 24, 2008.
We get breakfast sandwiches at Castle Rock Coffee and Candy next-door to the Dayís Inn. We then head east on Route 24 to Capitol Reef National Park.
At mile marker 70 we stop to take pictures of some red cliffs near 330 North Street on the left side of the road. We also stopped at mile marker 72.
Before mile marker 75 is Orientation Pull-out. We turned right and at a T-intersection we went right and stopped at a circular parking area. Rosemary took some pictures of the area. We then went onto the road that was the left side road of the T-intersection. We took some pictures of a very deep canyon. Sulphur Creek is some 800 feet below the rim. I took the pictures standing on the edge of the canyon rim because my wife is a bit afraid of heights.
Past mile marker 76 we took pictures of the mountain-shaded Chimney Rock.
Just past mile marker 79 is the Visitorís Center of Capitol Reef National Park. Near the Center Rosemary took pictures of a stream across from an old blacksmith shop. Driving on the park road we cross over the Fremont River and past the Gifford Farmhouse and the Cohab Canyon Trail. Pass by a campground and stop at the fee station. (Didnít pay because we explained we had the annual park pass.)
The ride in the park is 20 miles round trip. In a beautiful valley between cliffs of red and with lots of chocolate mounds.
At stop nine on the road are picnic tables and a restroom. Nearby is Plesant Creek and Capitol Gorge. Here also is Eph Hanks Tower.
At stop ten is Tapestry Wall. We pass through a narrow passage between big red walls of stone. It was a bit claustrophobic here. Reach another very narrow canyon where the walls are full of holes . There are lots and lots of holes in the sandstone. A little later the canyon becomes much wider. We finally reach the end of the narrow road. Here there are picnic tables on a patio in the shade of roof over the patio. One can walk from the parking area at elevation 5,400 feet. It is two miles to the Base of Golden Throne at elevation 6,500. One can also reach Petroglyphs Narrows, Pioneer Register (signatures on sandstone walls) and Tanks (water areas). On the way back we took a picture of a huge rock with holes that looks like a jack-a-lantern.
Leaving the park Visitorís Center we return to Route 24. We drive through the Waterpocket Fold from near mile marker 85 to mile marker 87. Mile marker 88 is the sign for the eastern end/start of Capital Reef National Park. Across Route 24 is the Notom-Bullfrog Road leading to the Henry Mountains.
At mile marker 106 we enter a canyon. Past 106 there is a good view of the eastern side of the Henry Mountains. At mile marker 108 is flat shrub desert. At mile marker 116 is another Henry Mountains access road.
It is a real treat to get a long straight road with little traffic. At mile marker 116 the traffic is still very light.
We are now on Route 95. We stop for a picture of sage brush and a mesa with Henry Mountains behind. Later we found out the name of the mesa is Little Egypt. Mile marker 30 is red cliff canyon with five curves and a dried up creek bed. Reach Hog Spring Rest Area just beyond mile marker 33. We are still in the red cliff canyon.
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area appears at mile marker 36.
Past mile marker 40 on North Wash we look down a greenish colored river. Past mile marker 41 is the viewing area known as the Hite Overlook. Walking over to the rim of the Colorado River Canyon and looking down we see the river down below. It is a beautiful sight. The River has been widened and is now known as part of Lake Powell. The different shades of green of the plants in the river and the marsh were just gorgeous. Some of the prettiest greens I have ever seen in my life. The river runs through a red cliff canyon. From the overlook the bridge, known as Hite Crossing, over the Colorado can be seen.
We leave Hite Overlook and begin to descend. Rosemary takes a picture of the bridge framed between rock formations on right and left.
At mile marker 45 is a bridge over the Dirty Devil River. Stopped to take pictures from the bridge. Near mile 47 we reach the bridge over the Colorado River. Take pictures.
Near mile marker 53 is the Farley Canyon Access to Lake Powell. Near mile marker 54 we leave the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. There is a big wide open area on the left and red cliffs all around.
Around mile marker 71 is Fry Canyon with one building. There are lots of small canyons in the area. At mile marker 76 is Cheese Box Butte.
Near mile marker 91 is a left turn for Natural Bridges National Monument. It is a drive of four miles to the Visitorís Center. The monument is Utahís first National Monument. The Center has some labeled plants typical of the area including Gambel oak, Manzanita and Snakeweed.
We take the drive around the area where there are three large natural bridges. We stop at Sipapu Bridge. There is a huge hole in the ground with rocks formations of various shapes. Next stop was at Sipapu Bridge Trailhead. No natural bridge here but an interesting area. We go see the other two natural bridges, Kachina and Owachomo, and then leave the area.
At mile 97 the elevation is 7110 feet. At mile marker 100 we see trees. At mile 101 is Mule Canyon Indian Ruins. At marker 108 the road starts climbing up and up . There is a narrow red cliff pass at 108 mile marker. At marker 110 is Butler Wash Indian Ruins. Near marker 115 is the South Cottonwood National Forest. At mile marker 121 is the junction with Route 191.
We finally reach the town of Blanding. We stay at the Super 8 Motel just before Comfort Inn. Across the street are Family Dollar, Clarkís Market; and ALCO discount store. Nearby is the Old Tymer Restaurant.
We ate at the A&W root beer fast food place attached to a gas station.Route 24 Before and After Capitol Reef Scenic Drive
Capitol Reef National Park Scenic Drive
Route 95 Before and After Hite Overlook
Sunday, May 25, 2008.
Stopped at the Shell Station to get breakfast from the mini-mart. We started the trip around mile marker 50 or so of Route 191. The numbers go down as one travels south. We stopped at mile marker 28 for pictures of the bluffs. At mile marker 27 there is a narrow canyon with reddish walls that the road goes through. Stopped for a photo in the canyon. The canyon is in shadows. We are very close to the town of Bluff.
In Bluff at the corner of Main Street and 5th East Street we stop to take a look at Fort Bluff, settled by the Mormons. There is a list of the Hole-in-the-Rock pioneers who settled the town. Cefe said it was interesting. We say the same.
At mile marker 25 is the bridge over San Juan River. Before mile marker 41 we pass a left turn for Rt. 191. We continue straight on Route 163. At mile marker 40 we pass through a yellow road cut.
At mile 24 we make a right turn into the East Entrance of the Valley of the Gods just before reaching Mexican Hat. Near the entrance is a map of the sites along the road and their distance from this point.
0.5 Seven Sailors
1.5 Sitting Hen Butte
5.0 Battleship Rock
5.7 Rooster Butte (rear view)
7.0 Castle Butte
Balanced Rock/Lady in a Tub
15.5 Valley of God Bread and Breakfast place
16.0 reach Utah 261
At 7.5 the road is rough going up and down. There are many rough spots in the road with rises that one cannot see which blinds the driver to what is ahead. The earth is red here. Rosemary was fascinated by exposed rock formations that look like water from a distance.
Leaving Valley of the Gods, we are on Route 261. Below mile one of Rt 261 is Rt 316. There is a sign for Gooseneck State Park. The road in is 3.4 miles long. There are several blind spot rises on the road. In the Park the San Juan River makes three U-turns. The place looks like a small Grand Canyon but not as deep.
It is one mile to the junction with Route 163. Mexican Hat is four miles away. Kayenta is 48 miles away. Just south of mile marker 24 is the sombrero-shaped Mexican Hat Rock for which the town was named. One can get close to the rock formation by turning left or one can take pictures, as Rosemary did, from a pull-out on the right side of the road.
Mexican Hat has a couple of motels. Not far outside of town, at mile marker 21, a bridge crosses over the San Juan River amidst red cliffs. After crossing the river, the Navajo reservation begins. The area continues with lots of red cliffs.
At mile 13 the ground is orange colored.
At mile marker 10 took pictures of far off Monument Valley after going around a bend in the road. Many of the forms look like big spires placed on a mountain base.
At mile marker 06 we note that the area looks a little hazy. Down to mile marker 0, very close to the Arizona border, we turn into the Navajo Visitor Center (four miles in from the main road). We pay a fee of $5.00 per person. The young people in the booth were very friendly. We stopped at the Trading Post. From here you have a beautiful view of the famous Monument Valley seen in so many Western movies. Rosemary gets busy shopping. The place is very busy with lots of cars and people.
We thought erroneously that Monument Valley is mostly in Utah, but it turns out that only the first part of the entrance road is in that state. The vast majority of the Valley is in Arizona.
One can take a tour of the place on a ride on a truck or a shuttle. We decide to drive the loop trail with our rented car. None of the guide books warned us about the condition of the roads. The roads at the Valley of the Gods are better than the roads at Monument Valley. The long entrance to the loop section of the trail was very slow going. There were lots of exposed flat rocks that we had to drive over. At times I was driving below 10 miles per hour. But there were also many long sections where the driving was relatively easy.
At 1.8 miles we see John Ford Point named after the famous director of Western movies many of which starred John Wayne.
At mile 2.5 we saw the Three Sisters.
Mile 4.1, the Hubb, a little plug looking rock formation. Rosemary had to walk down the road 0.1 of a mile to get a better photo. Contrast this with the huge Thunderbird Mesa at point #6. Took another photo of the Hubb at 4.4 miles.
Took photos at Totem Pole (Wi-bei-chi) at 5.4 miles.
Huge Spear Head Mesa.
At stop #10, there is a view of formations in the distance framed by the narrow viewpoint between large rock formations. This is called the Window. Nearby is point number 11 which is called the Thumb.
At 8.1 miles Rosemary stops to take a picture of a foal at Dinah Trail Rides Daily Scenic Horseback Tour for experienced and beginner riders. Four friendly dogs rush up to Rosemary looking for handouts.
Leaving Monument Valley and entering Arizona we see mile marker 416 on Route 163.
About 30 miles from the Arizona border we reach Kayenta and the Holiday Inn there, just around the corner of the junction of the terminus/start of Route 163 and Route 160. We are still on the Navajo Reservation. I learned this when we went to eat at the motelís restaurant. All the waitresses are Navajo or at least dressed as such. The three of us tried the Navajo fry bread and everyone agreed it was very good. The waitress told us that "we" just eat it with salt. But you can eat it as a desert with powdered sugar and/or honey. I ate several pieces with the powdered sugar. Excellent. The food was good and plentiful. Rosemary and I had Mexican food and Cefe had a pasta dish. The service was also very good.From North of Bluff to Monument Valley
Fort Bluff and Valley of the Gods
Monday, May 26, 2008.
We ate breakfast at the Holiday Inn restaurant. We were pleased again.
We start the drive on Route 160 heading south at mile marker 392.
The elevation at mile marker 387 is 6,000 feet. Stopped to take photos at mile marker 382.
Before mile marker 374 we turn off for the Navajo National Monument. We travel 9.0 miles on Route 564 to the Visitor Center. On the way, we pass by Tsegi Overlook. Rosemary says we will come back for it. There was no fee at the place. We walk out the back to beautiful views of the area. We walk the 1.0 mile round trip on the paved Sandal Trail. They have a number of the common plants labeled. The forest is Pinyon Pine and Juniper. The walking is made easy by quite a few short wooden bridges. At the end of the trail are informative signs and a bench with a rain protective roof over it.
Some of the plants we saw included Narrow-leaved Yucca; Cliff Rose; Broadleaf Yucca; Douglas Pine, Quaking Aspen, Mormon Tea; Pinyon Pine; Utah Juniper, Prickly Pear Cactus, Roundleaf Buffaloberry; and Big Sage Brush.
Back at the Visitor Center area we took a look at the small sweat lodge; the Hogan (an Indian dwelling); and an old Mormon wagon. Rosemary visits the Navajo Fine Jewelry and Collectibles store attached to the Visitorís Center. On the way out we stop at the Tsegi Overlook over Fir Canyon.
There were very few stations we could get on the car radio. We picked up the Tuba City, Western Navajo station. We were listening and two women were talking about giving thanks to their predecessors. And to the 150 million killed in 400 years. Rosemary changed the station saying "propaganda", but I wanted to hear more about the ways the Navajo thought about their situation and people. After all, the broadcast is not for tourists passing through the area.
From mile marker 374 we drive the 12.5 miles to Route 98. There are wide open spaces between mountain chains here. The sign says Page is 65 miles. We pass into Coccino County at mile marker 352, some 9.3 miles from the junction with Route 98. Big Sage Brush is everywhere with some Pinyon-Juniper tree vegetation.
At mile marker 345 there are a lot more trees and fewer Big Sage Brush plants. The elevation is 6,687 feet.
We stop at a scenic view pull-out at mile marker 343. Mile marker 335 is in an area filled with grasses in clumps. Before mile maker 333 the road passes Kaibeto Wash. At 325 are wavy rocks.
Between mile markers 311 to 309 is an area of big mesas in the background with open foreground.
Around mile marker 305 the elevation is 5,000 feet. At mile 301 we pass by the Navajo Generating Station. Three large chimney spew white smoke into the air. Before mile marker 299 we see sign for Page. In the area is Antelope Point and Antelope Wash.
At mile marker 297 there is a really long mesa ridge. We turn right onto Route 89. At mile marker 296 the elevation is 4,300 feet.
We reach the Glen Canyon Dam at mile marker 549. There are a lot of tourists at the Dam. You have to go through a security check at the Carl Hayden Visitor Center. From the Visitor Center there are great views of the dam. We are 700 feet above the Colorado River. The dam holds back a lot of water. It is quite impressive and Iím glad we stopped.
At mile marker 556 is the turnoff for Greenhaven. After this mile marker we reach a "Welcome to Utah" sign. Before reaching mile marker 3 we see the sign for the start/end of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. At mile 5 we reach the town of Big Water. Here there are a lot of boat servicing firms. Past mile 5 on Route 89 we see yellow mountains with back and gray colors at the bottom behind the Cowboy Motel. At mile 7 we pass by another Visitor Center for the Grand Staircase. We cross over the Paria River. We bear to the left to go around a mountain at mile marker 24. At 25 there is a narrow passage between rock formations. Reach Houserock Valley before mile marker 26. Then we comes across a long line of mountains on our right. There are lots of mountains and narrow passes for 3 to 3 miles.
We stop just past mile marker 30 to stop to see the Paria Movie set and the Pahreah Ghost Town. The signs let us know that some vandals burned down the movie set in 2006. But we decide to go down the road anyway in the hopes of seeing the ghost town. After about five miles or so we reach the area that once had the movie set. There are a couple of picnic tables and grills. We can see burned pieces of wood and cinders at the sight of the two reconstructed pieces of the movie set.
The sandstone mountains are really interesting. There is a great deal of seemingly light green rock. I am so curious that I decide to stop and see if it is really green or just due the light reflection or to a lichen of some sort. I find that the light green formations are really very crumbly dried-up clumps of brown mud. It is the reflection of the light that makes the formations appear green.
Our guide book told us to continue on to the Ghost Town by heading down to the Paria River. But we found that to be a hard task. There are a lot of side roads which was confusing. Not long after passing the fenced-in cemetery, the roads became just too sandy. We could not risk getting stuck in the sand, so we abandoned our attempt to find the ghost town. The trip was worth it, however, because of the many beautiful colors on the rock mountains and other rock formations. The most beautiful chenile formation we saw was located here. Some of the mountains look like they are covered by a velvet cloth of a greenish-brown color. Upon closer inspection it is dried up, hard mud clumps. On the way back we notice the green color was also found at many places on and along the road itself.
Back on the highway, around mile marker 43/44 the elevation is 5,690 feet. We reach the town of Kanab where we stayed at the Best Western Red Hills Motel. They have a lot of motels here. We ate dinner at Grandma Tinaís Cafť. The food was very tasty. We had the very yummy turtle caramel ice cream cake for desert.Navajo National Monument
Route 98 & Glen Canyon DamRoute 89 & Pahreah Town Site
Tuesday, May 27, 2008.
We start our trip at mile marker 65 on Route 89. Zion National Park is 30 miles away. At mile marker 68 we pass over Kanab Creek. The road is very winding. Reach Kanab Canyon at mile marker 69. There are lots of close mountains nearby the road. At mile 70 is Moqui Cave. At mile marker 75 there are big mesas on the right. The summit elevation at mile 76 is 6,100 feet. Get a beautiful view at mile 77.
At 12.2 miles from Kanab we turn off for Coral Pink Sand Dune State Park. We make the 12 mile drive to the Visitor Center. There are mesas on three sides of us. We stop to pay the $6.00 fee with the self-pay envelopes. The Visitor Center does not open until 9 a.m. so we proceed on. A short distance from the Visitor Center we turn right and a short drive brings us to a viewing station for the sand dunes. A short walk brings you to the viewing platform above the sand. You can see the dunes from here, but in the morning they just look orange to me. We talk to a camping couple from East Texas and they tell us that in the afternoon the sand dunes take on a pink color. We came too early for the coral pink color.
We took the short nature walk through the sandy area. It is not long, but the walking at times is difficult because you are walking on sand. The trail is marked by informative small signs along the way. You walk from sign to sign. Some of the vegetation included Gambel Oak, Mormon Tea, Big Sage Brush, Rabbitbrush, Kanab Yucca (Yucca kanabensis), Big Sandreed (Calamavilfa gigantea), Rough Mulesears (Wyethia scabra attenuata), and Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa). One of the signs tells us that the Park contains the only major dune field that supports Ponderosa Pine.
We get back to the parking area. We sit down on the picnic tables under a roof and empty the sand from our shoes. The park was much better than I thought it would be. But there were no off-road vehicles when we were there. It was peaceful and quiet.
On the way out we stopped at the Visitor Center. The Center is small and does not have much to see. However, they had a great topographical map of the area through which we had traveled. Also interesting was the collection of sand from the different deserts. The sands are really quite different with lots of different colors. You can use a stereoscope to examine some of the sand grains close up.
Back on the road. At mile 78 we reach the top of a hill and begin descending. There are lots of mountains around with some pretty green areas. At mile marker 80 there is a big descent. Near mile marker 81 we cross the Virgin River.
Mount Carmel Junction is just beyond mile 81. We stopped at a Chevron station for their food mart. They have another Best Western motel here (Best Western: Thunderbird Lodge), some 3.8 miles from the Coral Pink Sand Dune State Park we turn left at Mount Carmel Junction to pick up Route 9 heading to Zion National Park.
The first mile marker we see on Route 9 is mile 56. At mile 53 there is a broad valley with lots of trees. Before mile marker 48 we come to the Zion Mountain Resort. The attraction here is a few buffalos in a very large fenced-in meadow. There is a motel her with a gift shop. Nearby is the Buffalo Grill.
Before mile marker 45 we come to the Village of Many Nations with quite a few large teepees. After mile 45 we reach the eastern entrance to Zion National Park. One hundred yards down the road from the entrance station we stop at the pull-out for views of Checkerboard Mesa. The Mesa is crisscrossed with horizontal and vertical lines. It looks like there are two checkerboard mesa here.
Proceeding west we go through a lot of narrow passes. The area is absolutely beautiful. The road is very winding. At 16.6 miles on our odometer we drive through a small tunnel. . Rosemary took pictures of both sides of the tunnel.
Now we reach the huge tunnel. There are two lanes in the tunnel, but only one line of cars is allowed through at a time. We waited for our turn to drive through the tunnel. It is really dark in the tunnel except where they have a few windows or side openings that lets light into the interior.
Out of the tunnel we really start descending fast. We do this by a number of switchbacks. I counted six U-turn curves. We took some pictures from the pull-outs along the road. At 24.1 miles on our odometer we left Zion National Park from the west entrance. Now we are traveling on roads that we previously drove on at the start of the vacation. Pass Coal Pits Wash.
We have lunch in Hurricane (pronounced HUR-ri-kun) at a Burger King attached to the Chevron Station. A short drive from here takes us to US 15 and we start south for Las Vegas.
We drove to Las Vegas. Cefe was excited about seeing the famous Strip (on Las Vegas Boulevard). He said he went through Las Vegas on a bus trip either going to or coming back from California. The traffic was heavy on the Strip, but we were surprised how well we moved. The Strip is long and filled with casinos and hotels. Rosemary took a lot of pictures from the car. We enjoyed the slow pace of the traffic because it allowed us to gawk all the more. The most interesting to us was the New York, New York building. It has towers made to look like the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building and one of the now gone World Trade Center Buildings. They also have models of the Statute of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge.
An interesting feature of the Strip are the many huge "television" screens presenting information about the acts appearing at the various casinos. On this day we saw advertisements for Cher, Bette Mitler and Carrot Top. And there are a lot of advertisements for very sexy shows. We went back and forth on the Strip and then stopped briefly at the Worldís Largest Gift Shop for some souvenirs.
We went to the Best Western near the airport and checked in. At the motel the clerk recommended Blueberry Hill Restaurant which reminded us of our diners in New York. The food was good. From here we tried to drive to the Rent a Car Center. Man was that a nightmare. We had a good map of Las Vegas but could not find that place. We got very exasperated going back and forth. Finally, almost by mistake, Rosemary spotted a sign for the George Crockett (?) Rent-a-Car Center which I had never heard of. Luckily this was the place. We can only say that the rental companies need better directions and maps and the city nears better signage.
Took the shuttle to the airport and from there we had to take a taxi back to the Best Western motel. (Their shuttle service stops after 7 p.m.) The cost of the taxi was $9.30 plus more with the tip.Coral Pink Dune State Park
East Entrance to Zion National Park
The Strip in Las Vegas
Wednesday, May 28, 2008.
Flying Into and Out of Las Vegas
I enjoyed the vacation but am glad to be going back home. I was also looking forward to writing up the trip journal and seeing Rosemaryís photographs. Then it will take a long time for Rosemary to put the photos on our websites.
The flight back only took four hours. And this time I watched the movies to help the time pass faster. We did not get to see the finish of the second movie Sabrina.
It was a relative easy drive back over the George Washington Bridge and back to our house in Westchester County.
My Favorite Southern Utah Photos
This selection was much harder than New Mexico. Utah was FAB - U - LOUS!
Return to Trips out West
Return to the Main Menu for the Vernon Johns Organization