Utah Rocks! Part Two

11/6/15  It was a cold morning at Goblin Valley State Park as we had coffee and packed up to leave.  Fortunately, the bathrooms are heated and hot water was available.  We much prefer the facilities at state parks to the ones in the federal parks.  The trade-off is the costs at the state parks are more expensive.

We said farewell to Miles and Aaron and wished them well on their adventures.  We backtracked through Hanksville and headed west to Capitol Reef, a scenic 37-mile drive.  It’s difficult to find a road in southern Utah that isn’t scenic!

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Arriving in Capitol Reef National Park, we were treated to more “oohs” and “ahhs”.

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After settling in at the campground, we went off to do several short  hikes to the Petroglyphs, Sunset Point, and the Gooseneck Overlook.

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After the hikes, we returned to the campground and prepared Spicy Thai chicken wraps for dinner and turned on the Propex – still cold.  After drifting off to sleep under the down, we were awakened around 11:30 p.m. by the sound of yelling, doors slamming, and raucous laughter.  Three cars pulled into the spot across from us and 8 or 9 people got out and commenced to party–until 1:00 a.m.

11/7 Up at 0600 for coffee and packing up – 39 degrees inside the bus this morning. Noted the partiers from the night before were either asleep on the ground, in various small tents, or hanging out the back of a pickup camper.  CU sticker indicated college students – just a “wild” guess.

We drove west into Torrey for gas and food and then took Scenic Highway 12 south on the way to Bryce Canyon.  What a gorgeous drive – there was snow in the higher elevations.  We stopped in Boulder to visit Anasazi State Park, ruins and museum.

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It is impossible to capture the scale and beauty of the drive on Highway 12.  At times you find the road crosses a narrow neck of land between two canyons.   We stopped in Escalante and had a great burger lunch at the Circle D restaurant.

Checking the weather, we discovered that Bryce Canyon National Park was expecting 16 degree temps, so we opted to spend the night 2000 ft. lower at Kodachrome Basin State Park, which is beautiful in its own right – and has hot showers to boot.

We picked a camp site and then went off to hike to Shakespeare’s Arch. “Blow, blow, thou winter wind! Thou art not so unkind as man’s ingratitude.”  Yes, it was 4 layers cold.  

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Back in camp, a planning meeting ensued.  We were growing weary of the cold and decided to spend the next day at Bryce and then camp at Zion which is at lower elevation and is warmer – then head south!  The three-week delay in starting the trip has resulted in much colder temperatures than anticipated.

11/8 Left Kodachrome and drove the short uphill distance to Bryce.  It was 21 degrees and windy as we hiked the rim trails.  The cold and the number of European tourists coming behind us in buses kept us moving at a fast pace.  We apologize for posting so many pictures.  It’s just insanely picturesque.

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Hmm, how did that bus picture get in there?  Never miss an opportunity to post a bus pic.  This one was in the Sunset View parking lot.

After a few hours at Bryce, we headed for warmer temps and lower elevation – with a quick stop when Larry saw the sign that said “Soup and Pie” at Bryce Canyon Pines just west of the park.  A quick lunch complete with coconut cream pie, and we were on our way.

Another scenic drive on the way to Zion National Park.  How come Utah gets all the gorgeous scenery and parks?  We need to petition Oklahoma for one of our own.

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Arriving in Zion on Highway 9, we entered the 1.1 mile-long Zion tunnel.  If you are claustrophobic, you might wish to find an alternate route into the park.  There is no “light at the end of the tunnel” until you are nearly at the end as there are several turns inside.  Oversized vehicles require stopping traffic from one direction so that the larger vehicle can travel down the middle of the curved-ceiling tunnel.  Exiting the tunnel, the road switchbacks steeply down to the canyon floor below.  Just another scenic wonder.

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April through October are said to be pretty crazy here and camp sites require reservations, but this was November and we were fortunate to get one of only a few available sites.  After popping the top, we walked across the bridge to a brew pub for dinner and watched the Broncos lose to the Colts.

Back to the bus and we noticed a young couple camped in the site next to us.  They had no previous camping experience at all and didn’t know how to set up their tent.  They borrowed a hammer from us and with the help of the camp host and Lar, they managed to get set up.  Ah, youth.  They’ll figure it out.

Breakfast the next morning – fresh coffee and cinnamon rolls right out of the camp oven.  Life is good.

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The temps were somewhat warmer but still required layers for hiking.

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We drove up-canyon planning to do more hikes but all the trailhead parking lots were full – in November.  The shuttle buses had quit running the day we came in, so we settled for hikes from camp.  Although spending less time in southern Utah than we had planned, we truly enjoyed all it had to show us.  Now on to warmer climes.

4 thoughts on “Utah Rocks! Part Two

  1. Maggie, I have to chime in an second your comments on Hwy 12. What incredible variety of geology through there! And I’m trying to figure out if I would trade you the 100+ degree weather I encountered in that entire area in September for the cold you are dealing with. Don’t think so 🙂

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