Utah has been on my bucket list forever … from my Mom’s favorite national park, Bryce National Park … to Zion and all points in between. I must admit that learning to make survival fire and surviving multiple snow storms was not exactly on the agenda, but our travels are never predictable.
Sharing a month with our sailboat cruising friends started by setting up camp in Snow Canyon State Park, just north of St George, UT.
Snow Canyon is an often overlooked state park surrounded by ancient lava flows and red Navajo sandstone. A perfect spot to provision for our planned adventures to Zion National Park, Grand Canyon and Bryce National Park. Little did I know how challenging provisioning in Utah’s canyon country can be! Glad we took advantage of Costco in St George!
After Zion, we paid the obligatory visit to the Grand Canyon … after all, we’d never seen the Grand Canyon, and how could a trip west be complete without seeing the biggest hole in the country?
With the weather predicted to turn cold, in search of somewhere with a lower elevation, we chose Kodachrome State Park as a base to visit a wide variety of nearby places.
Firelight after dinner had us having fun with camera images — here David is arguing with himself. Not exactly a crystal clear image, but lots of fun playing with the camera…
And one day Doug decided it would be a useful survival skill to learn to make fire, and the boys made lots of smoke… where there’s smoke there’s fire, and the first and only ember landed on Doug’s pants, setting everyone into a laughing fit. Luckily it didn’t actually catch fire.
Our first day at Bryce Canyon wasn’t exactly as I had imagined … a near blizzard precluded much of a view, but this guy was standing guard over the canyon.
But on a clear day you can see forever and we took advantage of a few hours of good weather to hike to the bottom and up again a few miles later. Amazing to walk at the bottom of the hoodoos!
But before we finished hiking back to the rim, it started snowing again! What’s with the weather? The Kodachrome Park Ranger told us it was sunny and warm February and March … now in late April, Doug & Rayene are living in an igloo? Luckily our Lance camper provided a warm snug place for all of us for a few nights.
After Kodachrome, we moved to the more climate friendly Capitol Reef National Park, Fruita Campground. I can see why the Mormon Pioneers settled here and enjoyed the mild Fremont River Valley climate. It was markedly warmer and more comfortable than the previous two campgrounds. Plus a BIG bonus!
Piping hot homemade cinnamon rolls each morning at 8:15… David & I only indulged twice, but there was a crowd every morning and the first come first serve Fruita Campground was full by mid-day every day – think it’s a coincidence?
As a penalty for all those cinnamon rolls (and hot fresh fruit pies as well), we were “forced” to do some remarkable hiking. Capitol Reef National Park wasn’t on my “must visit” national parks, but I’m really glad we spent a week — and could have easily spent 10 days, but as usual, ran out of time.
On to Durango, where we rendezvoused with one of David’s US Coast Guard buddies … that he hadn’t seen in 45 years. We had a great time, despite Steve trying to kill me with Hogs Back Mountain — “just an easy 20 minute walk to the top” — yeah right! Another day we drove via the Million Dollar Road to Ouray, nestled high in the mountains. Along the way we detoured off onto dirt roads to find lonely abandoned gold mines.
We attempted to ride the famous narrow gauge Durango to Silverton Steam Train, but fate intervened and there was a rockslide that destroyed the track the night before … so we rode halfway and turned around returning to Durango. I love riding trains!
After Durango, a blizzard forced us to detour the long way around to Denver, rather than attempting to pull the Lance camper over the 10,000 foot plus Wolf Creek Pass in the snow. Not a safe idea. Visiting Billy, we hiked and enjoyed time together.
Unfortunately our 6th snow day of the trip made us decide to head back to Illinois where the weather had been in the 70’s & 80’s the entire time we were exploring the West … a fact that David never lets me forget…. keep in mind, he couldn’t wear his shorts in the snow….
Stay tuned for much more — individual posts on the best hikes, the best campgrounds, what we enjoyed, out of the way places we didn’t expect to explore… Cheers! Jan