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Archive for the month “May, 2016”

Zion National Park

We made the unfortunate decision to drive into Zion National Park on a Sunday. We left Bryce about 9:30am and arrived at the east entrance around 11am. Traffic was heavy. Looking at a map, we determined that many of the desirable viewpoints in the park were accessible only by the shuttle bus, so we decided to go directly to a parking area and get on a bus. The first obstacle we encountered was getting through the 1.1-mile tunnel near the east entrance. Because it was carved out of a mountain in the 1930s and is fairly narrow, a limited numbers of cars and campers are allowed to go through at a time.  That means that you must wait in a line near the entrance for a time to enter to be made available.  After that 20-30 minute wait, we were through the tunnel and on our way. But, the problem was that the traffic volume in the park was heavy and slow, and when we got to the Visitors Center, no parking was available. We kept moving, never finding parking even in the overflow lots. We never saw more than we could see from the car and a few busy pullouts along the way. We exited through the south entrance, turned around and re-entered, once again waiting to go through the tunnel on the other end and back to Bryce Canyon Lodge. One interesting tidbit.  The roads in the park are colored asphalt, the red color of the rocks in Utah. You can see that in the first photo.

ZNP 13

That said, Zion is a beautiful park.  Unlike Bryce Canyon, you are down among the cliffs.  They are close to you and you are constantly looking up at them.  We regret not being able to go on the shuttle to less accessible areas of the park, but my photos, many of them from the car, will tell you what’s there and how disappointed we were not to see more.  Enjoy.

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Bryce Canyon National Park, Day 2

Each of Utah’s Mighty Five National Parks is unique in its own way. Bryce Canyon has a rim around which you can walk the canyon, or you can hike or go by horseback down into the canyon. We stayed at the rim on all our visits. The characteristic feature of Bryce Canyon is the Hoodoos. These formations are eroded out of the cliffs where rows of narrow walls form, called fins. With frost cracking the fins and creating windows, eventually the tops collapse and a column is left behind.  Additional impact by rain sculpts these pillars into spires called Hoodoos. Some of the Hoodoos look like people gathering to me.  In one photo you will see rows of Hoodoos, and my husband told me he thought they looked like people in church pews. Look in one of these photos for what I thought looked like an adobe village, with Hoodoos standing in a group on the right.

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I went out for sunrise at Bryce. When I first got to the rim, I thought I was alone there. But soon I heard male voices talking, even though I never saw them. Gradually more and more people arrived, and I had conversations with several of them. There was serious cloud cover, which can sometimes make a sunrise very special. This sunrise was not spectacular, and many left soon after the light rose over the canyon. I hung on for a bit longer, but it didn’t pay any dividends. However, I loved being there at that time of day.

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The scenic drive takes you out into the plateau where there is vegetation and a very different look. There are many short hikes along the drive to overlooks with different viewpoints of the canyon. Along that drive we saw evidence of a serious fire, which I learned had occurred last July 2015. Regeneration had begun on the floor of the forest,  but many trees were black and bare.

 

BCNP Day 2-12BCNP Day 2-5

 

Bryce Canyon is at an elevation of over 8000 feet, and on the third morning there, I began to experience “Mountain Sickness.” We had been advised early in our planning to drink plenty of water when we were at higher elevations, and we had been doing that for the four days on the road getting to Bryce. But, my symptoms persisted until we left the park and got below 6000 feet. Light-headedness, loss of appetite and nausea, and poor balance all impacted my enjoyment of the park. Fortunately, it reached its “peak” (if you’ll pardon the pun) on the last day, so I was able to enjoy the rim walks and the scenic drive before it hit.

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Bryce Canyon National Park

I’ve just returned from a wonderful trip out west.  Our primary goal was to see The Mighty Five National Parks of Utah.  We met that goal and more. As a tribute to this year’s 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service, I will show you images from each of the Mighty Five, plus a bonus park, but they will come one blog post at a time.

Our first park stop was Bryce Canyon National Park, where we stayed in a room in the lodge on park property. At check-in, I was told that we had a second floor room with no elevators, and I groaned.  She said, “You have a really great room. All you have to do is walk outside and after a short hike you will be at the rim.”  I didn’t know what to expect, but she was right. It was a really great room. We had a balcony that looked out toward the rim and we could see people walking on the path. We left the building and started up a slight incline through the trees. Near the end of the trail, we could see two guys standing on the edge, one with a camera.

What we saw next took our breath away.  There was the canyon, practically at our back door.

BCNP 3

Everywhere we looked there were spectacular sights. This was late afternoon, and as we walked on the rim, the clouds got heavier and darker.  We never had rain, but in the distance it was apparent someone was getting it. Day Two at Bryce will include sunrise photos and once again some late afternoon shots.  Stay tuned.

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