Zion, Bryce and 4 other Utah National Parks
Part 3 of our Utah trip April 3rd until June 17th 2018 Utah National parks
We continued our journey from the West side of Zion National Park having stayed for many days at Kolob Lake/reservoir at the end of ther Kolob Terrace Road. Well worth the drive as long as you intend staying for several days. Next we went to the main part of Zion and then once the weathet had improved onto Bryce National Park, Canyonlands National park, Glen Canyon National Park, Grand Staircase National Park and finally in this section to Capital Reef National Park
On arrival the town Springdale outside of Zion where they want everyone to leave their vehicles and get the free bus in, charges $20 everywhere (this is before the entrance fee) ! Even if you park for the launderette, you pay $20. There is restricted RV parking as well if you can find the signs! Not impressed with this place and a horrible tourist trap.
We drove into the park and found the very limited RV parking inside was full of other vehicles as usual but we found a space in a small hidden overflow car park. We were surprised to be able to get a single night camping in the group camp site – more than adequate.
When we had planned this trip originally, the second camp site was just turn up on a first come, first served basis. But a month ago, they changed it to bookings only which we did not know … and put it up to $30 a night for no hook ups! Extortionate!. Not only that but we had rain for the only time the next morning. Humph!
This is the bridge opposite the lodge at Zion Nation Park for the walk to the Emerald Falls and pools. Hardly any water when we got there.
The river walk at Zion with cold cold water of about 45F. We had a great walk to end the day and then go back on the Zion bus wet to the campsite. You need a walking stick to balance with all the rocks in the water (Alan used a natural tree one!)
We were generally a bit disappointed with Zion Canyon itself as you can only see from inside the the canyon – you need to be able to stand back to see it properly. Most of the overlooks and walks could not be done without more time and strenuous walks to the top.
Travelling East from Zion National Park or coming in from the East you have to use the Mount Carmel Tunnel. There is a charge for being over 8ft 6″ wide as they use a convoy system that allows you to drive in the middle of the road through the tunnel. $18 allows you two transits in 7 days.
Yep Flat Eric navigating in the tunnel making sure we stayed in the middle for height clearance.
The drive still in the park on the East side of the tunnel is very dramatic with very different rock formations.
This formation of water and wind causing a chequer board erosion is unusual and on the East side road Zion.
Time to say goodbye.
The first available free camping is on BLM land to the East of Zion at Mount Carmel Junction. We tried the top of the hill outside but decided we did not want to push in amongst others and found one down by the river – a great spot – until later in the evening when people decided to take up every space going. Fortunately as usual we had parked to maximise our space with mozzie tent, bike and solar panels 🙂
The worst thing was a local hotel hired out off road vehicles so were there a lot of these going past all the time
The main BLM track just past us went through a river crossing and it was great place for kids to play just up the stream where a mini dam (for irrigation water.) provided a nice pool.
The rock shop with waterfall if you look carefully. There are so many beautiful rocks around all over the US it is just as well we had to fly back each time, overwise Colleen would have filled a vehicle up every single time 🙂
Having waited for the snow to clear at Bryce we left Mount Carmel Junction and headed North to Scenic Route 12. Going through yet another area of Dixie National Forest before entering Brycet. The local National Forest campsite did not open for another week though and there was no dispersed camping.
Road tunnels in the forest.
We had managed to book a single night at Bryce canyon a couple of days ago.
As we had seen in other parks there are those who cannot walk and need to do the mule/horse guided trails. Apart from being very steep and near the edge in places (the horse must be very docile) the horse paths were separate and we felt did not see the best route anyway.
First impression and it has become our favourite park. What you see here is where we walked down to the bottom and back another way on the Garden Path.
Hoodoos. Bryce is full of them … and the only park to have them.
Some of us do not have to bend down in the foot tunnels!
The easy way to walk the footpaths and help others with a cheery smile.
Queen Victoria Hoodoo in the Garden when you get down lower and look up.(Some of these Hoodoo have been named with great imagination!)
This is the path back out having walked along the bottom of part of the canyon. Ha! A cinch!
Made it back!
Yet again we have found that Sunset Point and Sunrise Point have been named with even more imagination. Pure fantasy. How can it be possible for them to be on the same side of the canyon and only 20 minutes walk away?
The Amphitheatre Bryce National Park which is near Sunrise Point but unless you go a long way elsewhere you will not see the sunrise on it properly.
Twice a day there is a bus tour to the farthest Northern part of the park which you can be booked ahead on the telephone. Flat Eric’s friend was the bus driver and tour guide, April (Born on 1st May). She was really great even though the cow jokes started to get a bit thin …
Back onto Scenic route 12 and all the BLM land around here requires a free permit to camp. The biggest problem was that we wanted to know what a place looked like before and if suitable for our 30ft RV we got a permit. So we ended up going into a small part of the forest that was on the road just before Escalante. We saw sometimes one vehicle a day and it it was the Forest Ranger vehicle anyway at times. Great quiet spot relax.
The boys looking out for the forest turn off.
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area covers Lake Powel and due to the size of the lake you keep going in and out of it. All the surrounding areas are managed by BLM (Bureau of Land Management of the Forest service.
Long bike ride on the tracks from our forest campsite to this trailhead. The mountain above we had been looking at from our Bryce bus tour a few days ago in the far distance. The track had 3 fallen trees on it, one of which would need a chain saw to clear to get a big rig around.
Near the top end of Lake Powell – the water is at a one of its lowest ever heights. See the concrete strip to the far right half way up. That was a marine launch ramp, umm there is no water.
lat Eric checking out the Monument sign. The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is where they consider the land has risen North from the Grand Canyon to form a staircase effect millions of years ago.
Utah is Mormon territory and their explorers are the ones who opened the country up. They got this one wrong though! The people of Cedar …. were told to start a new community down at the Colorado river – what is now the other side of Lake Powell. It took over 6 months and at the end they had to hand cut down through the rocks above the Colorado to reach it. See top centre photo on the right. An incredible story of endurance by them.
As a footnote we could not understand why we did not see Mormon churches until we realised they are called the Church of The Latter Day Saints.
The quote on says it all. Understatement of the century!
“Before we left our homes we were told that the country had been explored, and that the road was feasible. But now we found that someone has been mistaken.”
Samuel Rowley, member of the Hole-in-the-Rock Expedition (San Juan Mission).
Capital Reef National Park at the top of scenic drive 12.
OK so someone has a more outrageous bike than Rowdy..
We took Rowdy off the RV at the Visitors’ Centre at Capital Reef and drove down the scenic drive. Not very impressed with it. Possibly our least favourite park so far.