Capitol Reef National Park

We are staying in a small town called Torrey, UT.   There was even a Torrey Pines Inn just a stone’s throw away.  (not the one in La Jolla)

Really, Really Windy here!   We headed out toward the Reef on Saturday morning, hit the visitor center for a map and suggestion on where we could take the pups.   There are a  few dirt trails to drive the car a few miles into the canyons. If you go, drive down them.  It’s an awesome drive between the towering cliffs.   But don’t if it looks like any rain may come.  Those places would be a wall O water as they get very narrow near the bottoms.  And one is called the Grand Wash…  nuff said.

We started out with the trails near the river while it was still cool, and it turned out to have lots of shade trees.   There was a lot of a plant that looked like poison oak to me, so we kept the pups and ourselves clear of that.   Beautiful walk with orchards on one side and a small river on the other.  Dusty even got to see some horses up close on the neighboring property!   Visited the Gifford house on the walk back and they were selling little pies and ice cream and gifts.  It was too early in the morning for those, but it was a cool place to visit.   Lots of trees and picnic tables in the shade.

Our first stop was the Capitol Gorge at the end of the Scenic Drive.   We drove down that dirt road in Kathy’s SUV.  She was worried, but there were sedans doing it.    Basically it’s well maintained but pretty bumpy,  no washboard thankfully.   It’s very worth the harsh ride as the view is incredible.  I think it was just a couple of miles to the bottom.

On the way back I turned off on the Grand Wash dirt road.  There was a radioactive sign at the beginning. Thank god we are not planning on more kids!

It was a much shorter road but more rough than the Grand Gorge road.   More cool scenery.  I attempted to record great videos out the sunroof on both drives, but for some reason they are sideways and I am not able to correct that,  and they are too difficult to watch that way.   On the way back to Scenic Drive I was told emphatically “No more dirt roads”.

We headed out of the park after getting back to pavement, then headed east on the highway toward the petroglyph stop.  They were very cool once someone pointed out where they were.   The sign made them look 20′ tall,  they were closer to 20″ tall.   Very cool, but not as impressive as I thought they would be.

 

The Incredible drive from Hatch to Torrey UT along US Senic Highway 12.

The day starts out as a usual travel day.   Pack everything,  hook up the TOAD,  bring in the slides and dump the leveling jacks.   Turn on the TPMS and the VmSpc monitor.   Start the motor to air up the brakes and suspension.

Then head out on the hiway!     We travel up 89 to Highway 12, and about 5 miles in there are two tunnels carved out of the red rock just past Red Canyon.   The height says 13’4″ so we should be good.   They are round-topped, short tunnels, so it’s anyone’s guess which part is 13’4″   I tend to move over to the middle on those type of tunnels, but today there was a large semi  truck coming the other way, so I gulped and stayed to the right.  Got thru both without a scratch,  not even the antennas scraped.

We passed by the turnoff to Bryce and motored on.    The scenery on that road is second to none.  We passed thru the Grand Staircase and a few very small towns on the 120-mile drive.    Then just as you think you’ve seen it all, we come into a huge gorge with steep windy switchbacks.   The view was incredible, but not really for me.   Going down I had the Jake and the brakes on maybe doing 25 mph and it seemed like it was too fast.   It was right near Calf Creek.   Going out the other side the views were even more spectacular, but again I couldn’t look around and also had to man the tranny to keep the engine in its prime RPM’s so we don’t overheat in those 10 percent steep uphill grades.   [The spectacular thing about the views is it changed from the incredible red hills like in Kanab, to whitish versions of that with rounded hoodoos, then valley views, and then when we climbed into the mountains up to 9,800 feet, it was like you were in the forest with all the pines and birch trees!]

Not long after that we were on the top o’ the world on a narrow ridge… did i say narrow…  maybe 3 feet on each side of the road to an amazing dropoff.   Being up high in an RV and trying not to see what was right next to me was a white-knuckle experience for both of us.   No room for error on that road.  [It was extra scary to have Bill driving when he is afraid of heights.  Most of the shear dropoffs during the drive were on my side, which made me nervous, but this was on both!]

After that the rest of the ride into Torrey seemed uneventful.  But there were plenty more 10% j grades ahead both up and down to go.

Our next stop was about 50′ before the end of Route 12 and a very nice campground.   Nice view of a large meadow with cows and horses.  The boys are loving it here.  Not sure how they have so much lush grass.   Crazy windy though!!  [Baxter and Dusty love seeing the cows.   Baxter barks at them just like when he sees them on TV :)]

Second Day @ Bryce Canyon National Park.

We came back the next morning to see the rest of the park.   Another perfect day for hiking, but today was mostly driving out to the end of the road at Rainbow Point.

We read about Fairyland Point, which is a turnoff before you get to the park entrance.   I’m glad we found the turnoff and it was another pretty vista!  Bryce is a pretty amazing park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After Fairyland we drove over to Inspiration and Bryce Points, then we were off to Rainbow Point for a picnic lunch in the shade of a large Douglass fir.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s quite a nice drive out to the end, about 18 miles or so with lots of viewpoints along the way to stop and gawk.  I think we are all hoodoo’d out!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red Canyon

On our way over to Bryce we stopped at the Red Canyon visitor center and found out the pups can walk on all the trails.   The ranger gave me a map with the two best trails marked.    As it was late in the afternoon and fairly hot we left and headed for Bryce.

The following morning we got to Red Canyon while it was still in the high 60’s, perfect for hiking the hills.   It’s a gorgeous place. The color of the rocks and the Hoodoo’s were spectacular.  We walked around one of the trails to see them up close.  Boy, the altitude really makes a difference in walking up and downhill!

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Trip up to Panguitch then over to Bryce Canyon for a short hike with the pups.

We are staying just outside a small town called Hatch, UT,   the Riverside RV Ranch.   There is actually a river,  but we were told by the guy on the phone those riverfront sites didn’t have hookups.   Turns out only some of them just have water and no electricity and sewer,   but a few empty spots did have all but sewer.   Oh, well, live and learn.

We got in early in the afternoon so we set up and headed up to Panguitch to see the quilt walk.  I  had been told it was the second largest event in Garfield County, so how could we not go!  We spied lots of quilts but not many people were around to admire them.   Some pretty cool architecture in that little town.

After a quick “drive by” we headed for Bryce,  stopped by Red Canyon visitor center,  then off to Bryce Canyon National Park.

We had done some research and headed for Sunrise Point to walk with the pups over to Sunset Point.   Beautiful walk on the canyon rim.   The views are again spectacular.   It was a warm afternoon so we headed back to the RV for happy hour.   Turns out Hatch is in a dry county..  oh, well.  Good thing I found the only place that had just recently gotten a beer license!

 

North Rim of the Grand Canyon

It’s truly a long drive from the South Rim to the North Rim, roughly about 5 hours.   We traveled to Kanab Utah as a base camp for Zion and the North Rim,  then drove down to the North Rim from there.  It was about a 2-hour easy drive.   On the way down we saw a large fire in our path.   Turns out it was a prescribed fire and it was just to leeward of the road we were on.   I had Kathy film it on the way back so you could see it was a big area and right up to the road.  After we moved past the fire we noticed lots of what appeared to be hundreds of haystacks of pine branches and leaves.  It looked like someone had trimmed off the bottom 10-20 feet of branches on every pine tree.  I guess that is why that fire did not look like it burned any trees.  Which seemed amazing to me as pine trees go up like roman candles in the forests of San Diego.

Not far after the miles of hay stacks we came to a burned out section of forest. We were truly out in the sticks.

 

 

 

On the way probably a few miles before the park entrance, we spotted maybe 50 buffalo by the side of the road.   No fence anywhere to be seen  here, boys and girls.

 

After getting thru the entrance gate, it’s still 12 miles to the Rim.   One of our neighbors at our Kanab park had told us about a few great spots we didn’t want to miss (many thanks, Tom)  so we drove there first:   Angels Window,  Point Royal,  Point Roosevelt and Imperial Point.   We first drove to Imperial Point.  It’s at 8,800 feet, and you notice the thinner air as you walk up the steps.   It was an amazing view,  and turns out it was just a start to many amazing views that afternoon.    We kicked back with some lunch at one of the picnic tables in the shade.   BTW,  it was 20 degrees cooler at the Rim than in Kanab.

Next was Roosevelt Point,  another breathtaking view.  It’s amazing there are no crowds like the South Rim, probably due to its remoteness.   I think the scenery from the North Rim is much prettier than the South Rim.  But then again,  just my opinion.   It was a short stop and take a few pictures and head toward the main event.

Another short drive on the windy road and we were in a parking lot for Angels Window and Point Royal.    Two spectacular places,  just a short hike from the parking lot that was 3/4 empty.

Angels Window is very cool.  It’s a big rock that juts out into the canyon and has a large hole under it.   You walk over it via a narrow, maybe 36″ wide rock-way.    After Angels, I walked out to Point Royal, just another few hundred feet further on the trail.

Most amazing short hikes I have been on.   I will let the pictures show you what it looked like.

 

 

Zion National Park.. Amazing Zion!

After seeing Zion for the first time, I think “it” should be called “the Grand Canyon.”  Much more spectacular than the real Grand Canyon, and that’s pretty spectacular.    Zion was utterly the most beautiful place I have ever seen. (so far)

We started out early (for us) so we might find a parking spot near the visitor center.   Glad we did,  as we got one of the last spots!   Otherwise you need to take a shuttle bus from a town just west of the park, and dogs aren’t allowed on that, which is basically a show stopper for us.   The only trail in Zion that allows dogs is the Pa’rus trail which is paved and meanders along the Virgin River for 1.7 miles, so our pups’ little legs received a 3.4 mile workout.  It’s mostly flat but it was warm and there wasn’t much shade.   But the views were out of this world.  This is a place to come and hike around a few days!

The drive into the park from the east side and down to the visitor center is awe inspiring.   The views from the roadway are incredible,  truly breathtaking…  And there is a mile-long tunnel carved out of a mountain that is 11′ tall on the sides and 13′ in the middle.   I was very happy to NOT be driving the motor home this day as it’s over 12’7″ tall.   They allow you to drive them thru, but you have to pay $15 for the privilege as they stop traffic from coming the other way so you can gingerly drive down the middle of the tunnel.   My antennas stick up about a foot higher than everything else, probably 14′ off the ground, and would have been making a godawful racket if we went thru there.   That tunnel was very long and had turns in it.  Adding to its uniqueness was it was completely dark in there.   Prior to you going thru it, a ranger slows you and checks to make sure you aren’t wearing sunglasses.   There are a few small portals to the outside that give you a short but sweet view of the canyon below as you pass by.   A lot of very large motor homes and buses went by as we were waiting in line to go back thru that tunnel when we were leaving.

 

Traveling from the Canyon to Kanab

We got on the road around 9 am on Thursday heading for Kanab UT.  Driving back eastward on I-40 toward Flagstaff on a gloriously blue sky morning.   As the exit for highway 89 north toward Page approached, I noticed some dark clouds off in the distance.   In a little while we could see rain squalls under those clouds not far north of us and it appeared we were heading right at them.  And of course, we were.  It was a real gully washer as they say in the desert.   It was really great at washing all the smashed bugs off that large windshield.   That heavy rain only lasted about 5 or so miles, then it cleared right up and it was a beautiful and sunny day again.

Route 89 is an incredibly scenic road all  the way from Flagstaff to Kanab.   I had planned to stop for fuel at Mile Marker 498 (the only way to locate the Sinclair station)  Since we are pulling a different car, I had no idea what type of mileage we might get, and I didn’t want to run it all the way down by waiting till Kanab.   I pull into the station.   It has a 15′ clearance so we are all good.  There are 3 pump islands and at the last second I notice diesel is only on the first island.  I stop quickly and get out, only to find I am a foot too far for the hose to reach.   Backing up with a 4-wheel-down towed car (aka a  “toad”) you cannot back up.  I did back up for the foot I needed, and afterward had to go back and straighten out the steering wheels to put them straight again.  The gas pumps were the slowest I have ever experienced.  Even the dollar amount crawled.  When you have 100 gallons to put in, it really makes a difference!

There is a short stretch of “wonderment” a few miles before you get to Page Az where you go up into a tight mountain pass.   The road is carved out of the brightest reds, pinks and white rocks I have ever seen.  Unfortunately we didn’t know it was coming up or we would have been ready with the camera, all we could get was one final cut prior to reaching the summit and its all one color and Kathy’s iPhone camera didn’t do that photo justice.  (there was no where to pull over,  it was a very narrow passage with a sheer drop on one side and towering walls on the other.

Just prior to that spectacular section of road, we saw a McDonald’s sign saying RV parking.   Well,  Kathy decided we were stopping at a McDonald’s.. why, because they have RV parking.   Nuff Said.   Turns out the RV parking was one way in and out and not enough room for our size rig to get out.    I had to disconnect the toad, do a K turn, and then Kathy had to drive it till we found a wide spot in the road, which turned out to be our next stop.

My favorite part was going right past Lake Powell’s Glen Canyon dam and stopping by the visitor center… err, at least the parking lot for RV’s..   As soon as I fired the parking brake, it started to rain again, so I snapped a few pics and quickly reattached the car and got back inside to head for Kanab.

 

 

 

 

The road from Page to Kanab is more great scenery.

We arrived in Kanab late afternoon and found our campground.   It’s right smack in the middle of downtown, a very small downtown.  Two traffic lights was all I could see.    It looked nice, but there were a line of rental class C motor homes all the way out into the street.  I proceeded to follow them in and to my surprise right out the other side.   Turns out they didn’t have reservations and the place was full.    So I go back in,  this time noticing the office and checked in.   The owner told me those folks thought they had reservations for that night, but they were actually for the next night.

Turns out the owner of the campground is an IT nerd who had just installed Gigabit fiber and brand new Ubiquity meshed AC Picostations.   Man, is it blazingly fast, and he is very proud of that system.     Most of the parks we have visited have very poor WiFi.  Some places it didn’t work at all.

So this place let me download all my recorded shows from the home SageTV server in a few hours.   It was truly amazing after all the other experiences.

Long day of driving, glad to get settled in here.  Beautiful view of the red hills of Kanab!

Wandering around the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

We drove the car up to the visitor center and walked out to Mather Point,   What a view,  Every time I visit it’s like the first time.  It’s just that spectacular!

Had to take the obligatory pictures (like hundreds of others)   We got there before 11, but there were already a lot of people there, and after a bit of gawking we hiked toward Yavapai point and looked back.  It seemed a few tour buses must have just arrived and let off a large group of people!  After that it was our mission to get as far away from them as possible.   Walking  around the rim, there were beautiful views as far as you could see, different around every bend.   We even found a tiny place where you could see the Colorado River at the bottom and it looked so small.

Everyone wanted to pet the pups.   They were on their best behavior as they again were allowed on the trails on the south rim.   They were little troopers!  There were very few other dogs on the trails.

Kathy had checked and there was zero chance of rain, but maybe a mile or so down the trail it started to rain big drops.   We just paused under some trees and when it slowed down, we moved on down the trail.  After Yavapai there were very few people too.    Then I heard it,  thunder, and I realized pausing under trees was no longer a good idea.   It actually got down to 60, and being wet we headed away from the trail to the village looking for patio covers and lunch.   We  bought sandwiches at a deli and munched them outside under the covered roof.

Since we were cold and wet now,  (no rain gear due to zero chance of rain, ) I headed over to the bus stop to hitch a ride back to the car.  Pups are not allowed on the buses and it was raining a lot harder now.    I got even more wet getting out to the north forty where the car was parked and drove back and picked up my passengers.

(We had water for us and the dogs,  proper shoes to walk, but with sunny blue skies, didn’t bring our rain jackets, and our snacks were in the car.  Gloria has warned us about being prepared for anything, but who can carry it all?  I only had a visor and was wishing I had my hat when those big drops started!)

Kathy was aghast that after Baxter did his business on the trail and I was holding it in the poop bag, I then  decided to tie the duty bag to his harness.   (It was much too embarrassing to have that hanging off him.   Much better that I carry it.  🙂

 

We made it back safe and sound, but boy were we all tired!!!

Heading out of the heat and up to Williams AZ our base camp for the Grand Canyon

We took to the highway around 9am to beat the heat in Camp Verde.  It was supposed to be a really warm one there today.     It was a short trip up I-17 and over on I-40 to Williams,  just about an hour.   It was the low 70’s when we arrived.   Our campsite is at 6942 feet above sea level.   The highest summit on this leg was 7144 feet.   Lots of slow trucks along the way.   Williams was on the original route 66 and I-40 bypassed it about 2 or 3 miles north of downtown.   Lots of bars and gas stations, and believe it or not, there was a Safeway.    But only one barber shop and it was closed till June 1, the day we head for Kanab UT.

We are staying in a KOA,  lots of pine trees for shade,  pretty much all gravel driveways and campsites.   The most astonishing thing to me is they truck in all their water.  There is no well and they are outside of the city.    I found that out as i was checking in and there was a large round PSI gauge behind the counter.   When asked she told me about trucking in the water.  That must be expensive.   It seems like everyone out here trucks in their water.   We have this gorgeous view of the freeway out our front window if you have checked out the camera link.   But this place is really nice looking.   If only we were in the site reversed.