We’re Baaaack! If you were wondering whether I had truly packed too much into our southern Utah/northern Arizona red rock road trip … the answer is Nope! I surprised myself that the sack was just big enough and not too full. It is possible to smorgasbord a little bit here and a little bit there and taste some of the wonders of my favorite part of the world … whetting the appetite for more, and more, and more. Of course, the more and more is for another adventure. It always comes down to too little time and soooo much to do, see, learn & experience.
So, after planning, mapping, and anticipating this 8 day adventure (not counting the going there and getting home days) I can recommend this Itinerary with the caveat that in my experience, going to a National Park after Memorial Day is only for the strong of heart and crowd loving. That said, even two weeks before the official start of the summer travel season the National Parks, camp sites, view points, restaurants, and highways were FILLED. It was a shocker to my system.
We officially started our road trip from American Fork Utah when we met up with the cousins from PA , driving their rented from Salt Lake City RV America motor home. On to Moab, Utah where we arrived to find EVERY campground full, every side track FULL, and finally found an unpopulated gravel pit 10-12 miles down SR 313 toward Dead Horse Point, off of a side road. I’m not kidding, any area that would accommodate a tent, a car, a trailer or RV was taken. So beware.
Delicate Arch … there is Always someone beneath it. Sigh.
Arches National Park, by 9 am was almost bumper to bumper to the Delicate Arch parking lot. The hike to the arch is worth the effort. Honestly! In the evening Dead Horse Point, showed off the river and canyons with joy. Albeit with cold wind and gray clouds making us hurry more than usual. I was murmuring outloud that I wished the sun would come out and put the canyon walls on display. Someone took ‘offense’ at my remarks, saying something like This is Beautiful … what more could you want? If you’ve never seen a golden sunset on red rock walls and reflecting from the ribbon of river wound through the country below … well, you can want more than flat light.
Island in the Sky never fails to inspire the heart and soul and the walk along the rim shows wonders yet to explore (next time). Then off to Bluff, Utah … pioneer history, Hovenweep … ancient history, Butler Wash … even more ancient history, then Monument Valley … John Wayne history (think Nathan Biddles in the 1949 movie, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon), and onto the southern route to the Grand Canyon.
Monument Valley: We didn’t see Forrest Gump, but did see a group of Japanese kids recreating the iconic scene!
We turned onto a Kaibab National Forest road about 8 miles from the south entrance and found a grand camping site. Then the wind and rains came.
It’s May … not Elk Camp in the Fall!!
Here were are, in ski hats and winter coats (we could have been at fall elk camp it was so cold). In fact, the next morning traveling toward the gate at the south entrance to the park there was SNOW on the ground. Not just a skiff, but large patches. And I was into layers of jackets and a coat to stay warm.
What can I say about the Grand Canyon that isn’t a cliche? It’s is an experience everyone should aspire to behold. Photographs, paintings, watercolors, mixed media interpretations just can’t open the heart to its immensity and timelessness.
Packing up that afternoon we were again on the road through Cameron AZ toward the Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument where we arrived too late for a camp spot at the Stateline campground near the Wire Pass Trailhead … so morning found us waking up in the trail head parking lot, along with several others.
The hike into Wire Pass and a right turn into Buckskin Gulch slot canyon(s) is always a wonderland of experiences … and this one was no exception. The usual drop over the rock at the mouth of the first slot was made much harder from last fall’s rainstorms which washed out the landing area … the drop was far greater than the last visit. Getting back up was accomplished only because we arrived at the same time folks were starting the drop. A big push from below, a huge tug from above … no skinned knees, but it was a blessing ‘fer shur’.
The last stage of the trip, a night in Kanab, dinner at Houston’s Trails End, and some sand scraping before the final day at Zion National Park. Description? ZOO, it was a ZOO! There were so many people and cars, trucks, motorcycles, trailers, RVs, bicycles and hikers that I went into sensory overload. We hit the road north early and stayed the night camped at my mom’s in Orem, which was a smile on my heart.
Last night of the trip found us in Salt Lake City, at the Little America Motor Lodge … ah, a long hot shower, dinner with some of the Utah fam and Sunday morning to sit in the historic Tabernacle at Temple Square and listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (for FREE)! Wonderful.
I slept most of the way home to Boise. So, chalk up another 2100 plus mile road trip that’d I’d take again in a heart beat and stick around a few areas a while longer … that stick around a while longer is already added to “The List”.