Checking in from Cedar City, Utah …
On our way out of California, our path once again crossed the Mohave Desert, somewhat north of my walking path. Wasn’t quite so hot this time because we passed under the continual threat of thunderstorms. We caught the edge of several storms and had to ease our way across a couple of flood washes that had crossed the road. Crossing Nevada, we again were lucky to stay basically ahead of the worst of some serious storms. We heard the next day that flash floods had swamped parts of Las Vegas right along the path we had passed just a short time earlier. Even so, it was no fun out-running storms and negotiating Las Vegas traffic in an RV pulling a little car.
After bisecting Nevada, we crossed a little 40 mile section of the most northwestern corner of Arizona. This stretch of road runs through the Virgin River Canyon which is an amazing winding path cut through steep and severe mountain peaks. The combination of nature’s work and human engineering makes a breath-taking ride. The Canyon was, however, just a prelude to the wonders of the Utah landscape that lay before us.
On Wednesday, we headed about 100 miles off path to visit the beautiful and unique Bryce Canyon National Park (BCNP). (Couldn’t help thinking that would have been about five days of walking.) On the way, we got a taste of what was coming as we passed through the Red Canyon which lives up to its name with spectacular red rock formations including a couple of rock arches over the road. Admission to BCNP was a whopping $25, but we got in free with our National Parks Seniors Pass. Finally, some advantage to getting older. Even at the full price, Bryce Canyon would be a bargain. The rim of the canyon, which is about 18 miles long, rises from 6,000 to over 9,100 feet in elevation. It looks down on a vista that is unlike any other—complex, rich and colorful. The floor of the canyon is littered with limestone towers called “hoodoos,” pinnacle or odd-shaped rocks left standing after erosion over eons of time ate away the adjacent formations. Most canyons are created by flowing water. Bryce Canyon and its hoodoos are an exception. Naturally acidic rainwater dissolved the limestone walls into strange shapes while the freezing and thawing of snow and ice helped sculpt the hoodoos. Every color seemed to be represented from white through every earth tone to purple. A favorite sight was the “Natural Bridge” which is actually an arch etched in the limestone. Brenda describes the hoodoos as looking like huge candles that melted with wax running down the sides. The view was unique in every direction with each point on the canyon rim offering a different perspective. Brenda, Zuzu and I even walked about a half a mile down into the canyon for a close-up of the hoodoos. The walk was worth the effort, but the climb back was challenging.
Riding out of the park, we saw a sizable mule deer buck and several pronghorns, including one grazing very near our car. We learned that the pronghorns are mistakenly called antelopes, but their closest genetic relative is actually the African giraffe. We did not see the bears and mountain lines that also roam the park but are thankfully more reclusive.
Be sure to check out our photos of Bryce Canyon. Only a few of the best are shown since we took over 250 shots. Not only is Bryce Canyon National Park beautiful, but it also has its place in romantic Western history since it was a frequent hideout of the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang led by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Be sure to include BCNP on your list my must-sees across American and allow a day or more to take in the gorgeous views.
Next destination for us is Yellowstone. Stay tuned.