USA - Utah (2) - Zion & Bryce NP + Salt Lake City

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April 28th 2017
Published: April 28th 2017
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Tuesday 25thApril 2017 Page to Panguitch 194 miles

Left Page about 8.15am and crossed the Utah border 10 minutes later so it then became 9.25am!

Parked up on Hwy 89 just after Mile 19 to do the Toadstool walk! Lovely to see all the spring flowers and the trail wended its way up wards towards the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument following the route of a water course, until we reached the plateau. Had a wander around the ‘toadstools’ and then back in the car for the fairly boring drive to Zion NP.

Zion National Park is a little oasis amongst the desert – well, it’s actually a BIG oasis amongst the desert! Its so vast and the few hours we had to explore just wasn’t going to be enough. The drive down through the gorge is quite amazing and unlike any of the NP’s we had seen so far. It was full of trees, massive sandstone rocks of white and red, a couple of tunnels, one over a mile long!. The scenery was breathtaking!

We got to the bottom of the gorge about 12.00 but there was no parking to be had. The brochure recommended parking in Springdale but didn’t mention there was a cost of $20.00. We turned around and eventually got parked in the overflow carpark just before the campsite at the bottom. We learnt later that there was parking at the Museum and also at Grand Junction and the shuttle bus can be picked up at any of these places for the trip up the gorge.

Straight onto a shuttle bus and went to the end of the gorge to walk the riverside trail and have some lunch. Lots of birds and butterflies, the River Virgin in full spate, crashing over the rocks, huge rocks 4000ft high and deciduous trees with their spring green leaves. At the end of the walk it then goes into ‘The Narrows’ which you are usually able to walk up but it was closed as the river was running too high!

Got the shuttle bus back down to The Grotto and walked to Zion Lodge, spotting some deer on the way and then caught the shuttle back to the Visitor Centre where we walked part of the Pa’rus trail back to the car.

Then had to drive back up through the gorge, through the tunnels, out of the National Park and back to Hwy 89 where we headed towards Panguitch. Passed some vivid red rock formations advertising Bryce Canyon – wow – cant wait for tomorrow!! (Color Country Motel)

26th April 2017 Pangwitch (Bryce Canyon) 97 miles

The day started badly with a long conversation with 3 trying to get the mobile wifi unit working! Time was ticking on, so we decided to leave it until we had more time this evening to try and sort out.

It was about a 15 mile drive back to Bryce Canyon, and the day that had started with a clear blue sky was beginning to cloud over. Got some lovely photos driving along Red Canyon but by the time we had got to Bryce it was cloudy! Ah well!

After the visitors centre, we drove to Sunset Point for a walk to Sunrise Point and the start of the Queens Garden Trail…that went downwards and downwards in amongst the Hoodoo’s – the tall thin spires of limestone eroded by snow and rain. It was a beautiful walk and the sun came out, with blue sky -it was magic!

Completed the Queens Garden Walk which finishes with a rock that looks like Queen Victoria and then continued walking downwards to the valley floor on the Navajo Loop Trail. Walked along the bottom of the gorge for a while and then started the climb back up. After about ¼ mile the trail became blocked with a landslide – if only we had read the blue post it note at the bottom!! Apparentley the rock fall only happened on the 20th April so obviously not cleared yet! Not sure how they are going to clear it as it’s a massive chunk of rock!!

Back down to the valley floor again and took the Two Bridges trail which wended its way upwards and then the trail zig-zagged sharply upwards. At the ‘top’ it then meandered and zig-zagged again but it was a wonderful walk and took us about 3hrs. We didn’t rush it!!

Drove out to Inspiration Point, Paria View, Bryce Point and then out to Rainbow Point stopping at various view points along the way. The earlier cloud had disappeared so it was good to see the difference when then sun shone!

We were going to drive north for a couple of hours, but decided we would stay in Pangwitch another night, and have a driving day tomorrow. Thought we would get a Motel nearer the centre and booked in at the Adobe Sands Motel. Big Mistake!! The first room we were given looked like a junk yard inside and had no fridge, the 2nd room – well, it had a small fridge but was dirty, the wallpaper was not nice, the paint was old, it was all dark wood, old style TV that had a terrible picture, One armchair with wood peeling, stained carpet, two large full rubbish bins outside our door – I could go on!!! Anyhow, we decided to go back to where we spent last night and left A·dobe Sands on not very friendly terms where the woman said we would still have to pay!! I don’t think so!!! Went to Kenny Rays for a meal again and told her of the bad experience, which was lucky as she worked in the Courts or something and said they would be very interested!! (Color Country Motel)

Thursday 27th April 2017 Pangwitch to Riverdale, Salt Lake City 360 miles

It rained a lot overnight, heavy rain and when we left the Motel at 7.45am it was still raining and cloudy, but after about ½ hour the sun came out and we were treated mostly to a day of sun. A few cloudy bits and a few snow flurries but all in all, not a bad day!

We wended our way up through the valley on Hwy 89, with the snow covered mountains either side, passing though some oldish towns. Mt Pleasant looked a good place to stop but we pressed on to Salt Lake City getting there about lunchtime.

Stopped at the Visitors Centre by the State Building, and the girl kindly said we could leave our car there. So we walked down to Temple Square – it was lovely! Salt Lake City appears to be a very affluent city so all the houses and gardens have been well kept but the flowers around and in Temple Square were beautiful. Masses of tulips and pansys and other bedding plants gave a profusion of colour. The Square itself was full of Churches and we had a quick peer into the Tabernacle, where a girl explained that no-one is allowed to visit the Temple as it is the Holy of Holies, and you have to prepare for the visit!! Salt Lake Temple was built between 1853 and 1893 and is a splendid building standing in the middle of the Square.

It was only a quick visit to Salt Lake City and we then got back on the I70 and went to Antelope Island State Park which was wonderful! The island is joined to the mainland by a causeway and is 15 miles long and 4.5 miles wide at its widest point. Twelve bison were introduced in 1893 and were the foundation for the herd of about 100 animals today. Pronghorn Antelope, native to Utah are small deer like animals, and roam the island freely There are also Mule deer, Big horn sheep, coyotes, bobcats and over 250 species of birds. Four – six million birds feed and nest actually on the Salt Lake.

Well, we saw some bison, and a few deer, not sure if they were Pronghorn antelope, probably not! Also heard and saw loads of yellow-breasted Western Meadowlarks singing their hearts out , as well as some wading birds that we hadn’t seen before. Got some fantastic photos of Salt Lake City and the Lake with the snowy mountains and enjoyed the wild ruggedness and the peace and quiet, especially after the chaos and stress of Interstate 15 (mostly 5 lanes @ 70- 80 mph !! )

Had a slight mishap on the way to the Motel – Chris took $300 out of the ATM on his cancelled card – and got $300.00 which meant that the CC had not been cancelled. Another long conversation with Halifax who admitted it was an oversight and the CC has now been cancelled. Lets hope no transactions have gone through after the 22nd – apart from Chris’ $300.00!!! (Motel 6 Riverdale)

Additional photos below
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30th April 2017

Zion & Bryce NPs
Beautiful pics of an extraordinary part of the World. Keep 'em coming.

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