Tag Archives: #houstonstrailsend

7 Days 7 National Parks … RED ROCKS TOUR 2017

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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.

Buckskin Gulch

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”.

 

10 Pounds in a 1 Pound Sack

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For more than 30 years Sweetie’s cousins fly from Pennsylvania to Idaho, to fish and hunt. Since I met them I’ve waxed poetic of red rocks, ponderosa and piñon pines, petroglyphs, and pictographs, the spirit and ancientness of southern Utah, and northern Arizona. Almost my FAVORITE place on earth …. so far.  We’ve encouraged, begged, wheedled, teased, and guilted them to come and experience another part of the west … and this year, in fact in 4 weeks, a couple of them are taking us up on our invitation to come face to face with God’s watercolor box.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnticipation! Planning for an extended road trip is always exciting, don’t you think? Sweetie warns me that I always try to put 10 pounds in a 1 pound sack when I’m planning … I admit, I generally do. Though I am getting better … well, at least I’m trying.

This is exactly a road trip … to taste, to feel spirit and solitude, to breathe ancientness so that it plants seeds so deep they will have to come again and again.

We’re packing the Micro Minnie Winnie campbox  that we acquired last fall … it’ll be it’s long distance break in trip. Which reminds me we have to give it a name, maybe on this trip it’ll let us know what it is.  The cousins are renting a Cruise America RV (little) and we’re hitting the highway for this 10 day road trip.

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Camp-Box Supreme Everything we need … nothing more, nothing less

In a nutshell: Boise to Salt Lake City where we’ll meet up with the cousins, then down to Moab (Arches & Canyonland National Parks), then Bluff  (Cedar Mesa and Hovenweep National Monument). We’ll drive through Monument Valley (yeah John Wayne and John Ford!) on our way to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. After the enormous expanse of that canyon we’ll head north and walk, hike, climb and work ourselves down through Wire Pass (a coooool small, slot canyon which connects to the longer Buckskin Gulch canyon). We’ll work our way west through Kanab (stopping always at Houston’s Trail’s End for chicken fried steak) then on toward Zion National Park.  To complete the circle we’ll wend our way through small towns Utah to I-15 and head north for an evening and a morning in SLC before sliding home to Boise.

It makes me breathless just thinking about it …  10 pounds in a 1 pound sack? What do you think?

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*Links are for your convenience if you want to know more about the places I’m wandering to. I receive no compensation for any links I put in my posts.

Feeding My Red Rock Addiction

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Hello from Southern Utah. I am a red rock loving, open spaces, sage brush and sand, Ponderosa pine, small town loving addict. One can hardly imagine what will be found at the end of the long (often boring landscaped drive) from Boise down the main arteries of I-84 then I-15.  But I know… red rocks. When we took the exit toward Panquitch my heart started beating faster …

At Dawn's First Light

At Dawn’s First Light

This morning I’m sitting in a fabulous VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) discovered by Greg’s sister & brother-in-law (Paula & Jim) located not too far up the Alton, Utah turn off from Highway 89 … watching the sunrise over the pine topped mountains and the upper reaches of Bryce Canyon in absolute silence. My soul is sucking in the beauty of God’s creations and I am soooo at peace.

We left home a few days ago … breaking up the 9 hour road trip with an overnighter with my beautiful Daughter No. 1 and her fab family … then headed south after a yumm breakfast at One Man Band Diner in Lehi, Utah.  We met up with Sweetie’s sister just inside the entrance to Bryce Canyon where they’d been biking all day and decided to take the short drive into Panquitch for dinner at Cowboy’s Smokehouse Cafe. Their smoked meats and country  gravy bring us back here time after time. We had plenty of time to enjoy the atmosphere before heading back to ‘Bryce’ to participate in the ‘full moon hike into the canyon’ lottery.

Moon rise over Bryce Canyon

Moon rise over Bryce Canyon

Of course we won the lottery … The full moon light hike down the Fairyland Trail in Bryce Canyon only fueled my red rock addiction. For a spot in the full moon guided,  super secret location until your number is picked,  hike show up at the Bryce Canyon Lodge at 4 p.m. with your hiking shoes … they actually check the tread on the soles to ensure you won’t slide off the trail in the dark. We had smiles when our party of 6’s number was drawn.

Somewhere along Wire Pass Trail

Somewhere along Wire Pass Trail

Yesterday it was SLOT CANYON time!! Taking the 38 mile road trip east of Kanab on Highway 89 to the turn off at White House Rock Road to sloooowwwly drive the 8 miles over a fairly rutted dirt road we finally reached the Wire Pass Trailhead . This is a spectacular and fairly easy slot canyon hike with some petroglyphs low on the right hand side of the canyon wall … just before the open T junction and not too far out of the first slot canyon. Take a right at the T for miles more awe inspiring slots to enjoy.

FYI …  About a quarter mile into the first canyon there is a climb over a rock and down about an 8-9 foot drop, that with care is easily maneuvered …  the caveat being if you are short it is much harder to leverage yourself back up (says the short girls Karen & Paula).

After a 6 mile hike, and the hour or so drive back into Kanab we were all looking forward to sustenance … Sweetie and I took our Kanab-newbie family to the only place we ever stop to eat in Kanab which is at Houston’s Trails End restaurant for their Chicken Fried Steak dinner (always go for the famous favorite).

Today its off to Moab … Arches National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park, and a couple of Canyonland’s hikes.

Stay tuned.