We drove from Moab to Glendale UT today and set up camp at Bauer RV Park. This park was a much needed respite for us. Even though it was still in UT, this park was about 10 degrees cooler than Moab and had mature trees throughout the park. Our spot had several trees surrounding it, which we were so appreciative of after Moab. We did some grocery shopping and I discovered I love these grapefruit chewy candies. Yum! We took a rest day the next day and took some time for picture editing, relaxing, and some cooking.
On day 3 we visited iconic Bryce Canyon National Park. The park is known for its beautiful hoodoos, which are bulbous columns of eroded limestone pillars. Unlike most rock formations that are formed by flowing water, the hoodoos at Bryce are formed by frost-wedging. This is when water seeps into the cracks of thin rock walls, freezes and expands. Temperatures in Bryce can swing 40 degrees in a day, dropping temperatures to below freezing at night and thawing again during the day. This constant expansion and contraction enlarges cracks in the wall, which creates holes, or ‘windows’, in the rock. The tops of these holes are dissolved by rain, leaving the spires we see today. The neat thing about Bryce Canyon is it’s always in motion. Environmental forces are forever changing the landscape, so that in another million years it may offer a completely different view. Another neat thing about these parks is that they are all part of what’s called ‘The Grand Staircase’. The staircase starts at Bryce Canyon and stair-steps its way down to Zion canyon, Vermillion Cliffs, the Kaibab Plateau (Grand Canyon’s north rim), ending at the Grand Canyon. This staircase is the world’s most complete sequence of sedimentary rock, recounting history of 525 million years. Usually the ‘staircase’ is interrupted in some way, be it by earthquakes, plate shifts, or glacial movement. Not so with the Grand Staircase. There are very few gaps in its history, which is what makes this so cool.
My high school best friend met us at the Park. She lives with her partner in Salt Lake City and traveled down to visit. We met up earlier in the trip while we were in Grand Tetons. It’s been several years since we’ve seen each other, so a second visit was nice to have. We ventured into Bryce Canyon National Park today and hiked the Queen’s Garden and Navajo Loop. The hike starts at the Sunset Point Overlook, which offered a beautiful vista of the canyons. The trail took us along the rim of the canyon for a bit before taking us down into the canyon! The trail made long switchbacks as we descended into the canyon. It was such a neat way to reach the canyon floor. We tacked on an additional trail to the hike, which brought us further into the canyon floor. There was promise of a river but it was completely dried up when we arrived. (I was a little sad about that one. It was hot and I was looking forward to a quick dip!) The trail was made up of the most unusual substrate. It wasn’t quite sand and wasn’t quite chalk, it was somewhere in between. It left all four of us quite dusty, which I have to admit was pretty fun! We had a steep ascent left to climb our way back out of the canyon. All in all, it was a fun day of exploring in Bryce!
We met back up with our friends today and drove into Zion National Park. We were met with HOARDS of people. We weren’t expecting the kind of crowds we saw. Honestly, it reminded me of Disney World in the summer. To top it off, the main areas of the park were accessible only by shuttle, which you needed prior reservations for. I was very hesitant to ride on anything public, especially with the number of people in the park. Also, we didn’t have reservations, so there was that. 🙂 We visited the visitor’s center and learned there were a number of trails closed, including the Subway Trail and Virgin River trail (algae bloom). We discussed and thought it best to head back out of the park towards the entrance. On our way in, we went through a pretty awesome tunnel that has ‘windows’ in the side of the tunnel! Every now and then you could get a peek of a different park feature. I loved it! The tunnel created a lot of traffic in the park because they closed it to one lane. One side had to wait for the flow of traffic from the other side to stop before being granted passage to cross. (We figured this was because people like to slow down to look out the windows and veer out of their lane in the process. Keeping one way traffic was probably a good call :)) We headed to the West Route Canal Trail near the east entrance to start a hike. Surprisingly, there were hardly any people there! Everyone must have been further in the park. The trail revealed the most amazing rock features. from large depressions in the rock face creating ‘hot tubs’, to large marbled boulders mysteriously placed about. There were also slot canyons, which are tall narrow canyons that almost enclosed you as you walk deeper into the canyon. Our hike ended when we came across a rather large treer blocking our path in the canyon. We sent a scout to see if we could continue the hike using a different route but reports came back that it was a bit treacherous ahead, so we all headed back. We all ended a wonderful day together with a dinner picnic outside at the campground and a late night viewing of the comet Neowise! (*Bryce Canyon NP has a designation of a Dark Sky park. That means it’s one of the darkest places on Earth, perfect for stargazing.)
The next day we drove into Dixie National Forest, which is near both Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks. We took a short hike to a waterfall that cascades down into the canyon. It was a hot day, so the spray from the waterfall at the end of the hike was very welcome. As we got back to the parking lot of the waterfall hike, we noticed a spot on the area map that said “ice caves”. It being the middle of summer, we more certainly had to investigate. The drive brought us past private acreage with sheep. There were many baby sheep, so we slowed to watch them for a bit. The ice caves ended up being a cave! It went down about 20 feet and trapped the snow and cold air from the winter down in its chambers. There was an entrance of sorts with an old looking rope to help you down. You could also climb down, which we all elected to do seeing as the rope looked like it had seen better days. The info boards near the cave stated that the cave was used by settlers as a way to store meat and other foods. The cave stays in the 30’s F, even in the summer! Pretty cool. After the ice cave we drove over to Lake Navajo to sit by the shores and enjoy the view. We put the kayak in and paddled around for a bit before calling it a day. It was great to catch up with friends and enjoy some pretty beautiful places together. ‘Til next time!
Our friends headed out today, so we continued our adventure solo. We did a neat local hike in to a slot canyon in Orderville UT. The route to the trailhead took us through neighborhoods. It must be pretty neat to have all of this in your backyard. The trail was called Red Hollow Trail. It was sandy and about 2 miles or so. The canyon slowly started to narrow until it funneled us into a pretty narrow canyon. It’s pretty incredible to think that water played a part in the carving of the rock to create these beautiful swirling shapes in the rock. We walked until we met a bee colony! They were everywhere, so that was our queue to turn around and head back… quickly. I had been missing my HIIT sessions, so I felt the urge to pick up a big rock and do some weighted squats and bicep curls. I’m looking forward to getting my little home gym back but until then a little improvising is necessary!
Our last day in Utah brought us back to Dixie National Forest. There are beautiful red rocks in Dixie that rival those of Zion and Bryce! We hiked the Golden Wall Trail, which ended up being an awesome hike. The trail took us high up on the ledge of the rock faces. We hiked along giant red rocks and towering hoodoos. There were beautiful vistas of red, tan, white, orange and pink hoodoos, along with neat side hikes that brought us to additional overlooks. There was a lot of uphill on this hike but it was great exercise and a ton of fun. We were pleasantly surprised by this one!
And that does it! Our adventure in Utah is complete. We’re on to Arizona next with a short stop at Lake Powell along the way.