Friday, March 11, 2016

2015 RV Adventures - Part 3

In the spring of 2015, when we were planning the year's RV adventures, we told friends and acquaintances we would be headed west. Nearly everyone said, "You must visit Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park." As directed by vox populi, we put those southern Utah attractions on our must-see list. To say that photos and words cannot adequately capture the depth and majesty of those vibrant locations is an understatement. However, here is some of both, submitted for your approval. (You can see a full-screen display of any image by clicking on it. To return to the blog text, click the white X in the upper right of the photo frame.)

Zion has many hiking trails, with physical effort ranging from easy to strenuous. We took many hikes over the course of several days. In late summer, hiking early in the day when the weather is cool and taking lots of water makes for a pleasant experience.

View during a morning hike in Zion, along the north fork of the Virgin River

You can see the Virgin River looks more like a creek. Its water meandered gently downstream. Yet along the river throughout the park, there were numerous signs warning hikers of sudden flash flood danger, and the need to be mindful of that potentially deadly threat. The gist of the advice was: Check the forecast, be alert, and do not let the tranquil trickle of water lull you into a false sense of security.

Thankfully, the weather was benign during our visit. The day after we left Zion, there was a sudden burst of heavy rain that turned the Virgin River into a raging torrent, sweeping several people who were walking along it (miles beyond the park) to their death!

The trails in Zion allow hikers to explore the area at various altitudes. We enjoyed the view from higher up.

Janet takes in the scenery along the Watchman trail in Zion

A dead end in Zion

Looking up along the Emerald Pool trail in Zion

Our next stop was Bryce Canyon National Park, about 75 miles northeast of Zion.

Whereas Zion situates the visitor at the bottom of a deep canyon looking up, Bryce gives the visitor the opposite experience: Being at the top of a deep canyon looking down.

A natural bridge in Bryce Canyon

Columns of weathered rock, known as "hoodoos", in Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon hoodoos shrouded in fog

Unfortunately, it was chilly and quite rainy during the two days we were at Bryce, so we did not have a chance to hike there. On the plus side, we stayed at a campground that was just outside the entrance to the park. Adjacent to the campground was a stop for regularly-scheduled shuttle buses that take visitors on a long road through the park, with many scenic stops along the way. The buses are driven by bonafide tour guides. Our bus had a guide who gave a fun, lively, informative presentation throughout the ride. (It turns out our driver moonlighted as a performer at a western show right across the street from our campground. We saw him play guitar and sing in the show. Lucky for us, he didn't quit his day job!)

At one point while we were in the park, the clouds parted briefly, the fog lifted, and we were treated to this breathtaking view:

On a not so clear day, you can still see for many miles!

By the way, one of the benefits of being a young geezer is that U.S. citizens and permanent residents age 62 or older can buy a National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands senior pass for $10. The lifetime pass gives the pass holder and up to three additional adults per vehicle no-cost access to federal parks and lands that charge an entrance fee. In the three years we've had the pass, we've saved big bucks.

Our next adventure would take us to Mesa, Arizona. Much of the trip was along route 89, which goes through Page, Arizona. Page is just below the Utah-Arizona border, at the middle of the state. As one heads south of Page on 89, the rocky land becomes more desolate.

Our rig on Route 89, about 10 miles south of Page, Arizona

Hey, there goes a road runner scooting by. "Meep-meep!" Good thing I carry a full compliment of Acme products.

A little further down the road, I took this panorama. (Be sure to click on it to get a full-screen view.)

Panoramic view from route 89, about 12 miles south of Page, Arizona

We had a leisurely drive toward Mesa, thanks to frequent stops to oohh and ahhh at our surroundings.

Scenic overlook on Route 89, about 23 miles south of Page, Arizona

Located in the middle of nowhere, this would definitely be a bad place to have a breakdown, and fortunately, we didn't have one.

Coming up next: A death-defying drive to Mesa, Arizona to have an "organic" experience!