Summer Road Trip

September 2019

We picked up a rental car at the Las Vegas ariport, stopped just long enough to buy snacks, then took I-15 toward southen Utah. Our last stop was 1050 miles down the road in Montrose, Colorado. We spent the night in or near four National Parks and visited four other parks or monuments along the way.

These photos are organized chronologically from the begining of our trip. With a few exceptions, the photos from each park are in chronological order.

You can also view all the photos on the page in slideshow mode.

Zion Canyon National Park

We enjoyed two nights at Zion, staying at the excellent Cliffrose Lodge, just outside the park’s entrance in Springdale, Utah.

Bubbling Water

The Park Service says that that Pa'rus is the Paiute word for "bubbling water."

The Virgin River in Zion canyon, seen from a bridge on the Pa'rus trail.

Zion National Park, Utah

More Details…

Biking Zion

The Pa'rus trail is a wide, paved walking and bicycling trail connecting the park's south, pedestrian, entrance with Canyon Junction (as far as most cars can drive into the canyon). It meanders along the Virgin river, crossing it several times. By taking the trail into the canyon bicyclists can avoid almost all automobile traffic.

Zion National Park, Utah

More Details…

Late Afternoon

The Virgin River in Zion canyon, seen from a bridge on the Pa'rus trail.

Zion National Park, Utah

More Details…

The Canyon at Night

The view just steps from our room's back patio, along the Virgin River and close to the park's south entrance.

Zion National Park, Utah

More Details…

Hiking the Narrows

At the end of the road in Zion canyon the shutttle stops at the Temple of Sinewava and the only way to venture further up the canyon is on foot. When the short paved trail ends, you hike in the Virgin river.

The River is the Trail

Heidi in the Virgin River.

The Narrows, Zion National Park, Utah

More Details…

Twists & Turns

As you travel up the river you end up crossing several times. The view draws to to find out what's beyond the next bend.

The Narrows, Zion National Park, Utah

More Details…

Cool Crossing

The day we hiked the Narrows it was hot in Springdale and the lower canyon: tempertures in the mid-to-high 90s F (35 C and above). The river water was cool and soothing. The depths we waded varied from ankle deep in most places to nearly waist high in a narrower sections. This photo shows Heidi crossing where the water ran a little more rapidly over some rocks. This is the closest we saw to what you'd call "white water." Hikers must be very careful to monitor the weather report and avoid the Narrows if there is any chance of flash flooding. We hiked in the morning when the Park Service's offical warning was that flash floods were "possible." That evening it did rain.

The Narrows, Zion National Park, Utah

More Details…

Canyon as Kaleidoscope

Water seeping down a shadowed canyon wall reflects the bright red rock, blue sky and lush greens around the next bend.

The Narrows, Zion National Park, Utah

More Details…

We Shall Return

Hiking the Narrows was one of the highlights of our trip.

The Narrows, Zion National Park, Utah

More Details…

Bryce Canyon National Park

The next two nights we slept in the historic Bryce Canyon Lodge, in the park and a short walk from the rim of the canyon. Bryce is of course famous for the number and desity of its hoodoos, the clay and rock pilliars produced by erosion at the edge of the plateau.

Erosion Up Close

Tiny, BB-sized, channels where water has run down the sides of a hoodoo, along the Navajo Loop trail.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

More Details…

The Queen

The Queen's Garden trail from the rim down into the hoodoos is named for this formation, said to resemble Queen Victoria.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

More Details…

Waking up at Bryce

The best thing about staying in the lodge is the eight minute walk to sunrise point.

Cedar Breaks National Monument

Cedar Breaks is about 57 miles west of Bryce Canyon National park, with a rim over 2000 feet higher: 10,350 feet above sea level at the visitors center. There is a nice, short nature hike in the gnarled alpine forest crowning the rim.

Smoulder

Small wildfire, caused by a lighting strike, smoulders bewlow the bluffs.

Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

More Details…

Red Canyon

We stopped at Red Canyon on the way back to Bryce from Cedar Breaks. It’s not far from Bryce and worth a stop to marvel at the deep red rocks and wander around a few short trails near the visitors center.

Action Feist

Utah Scenic Byways 12 & 24

Leaving Bryce, we spent most of a day driving to Moab, Utah. Our route took two highways designated as scenic byways by the state of Utah and passing through two other national parks or monuments. Utah state highway 12 passes through part of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. At its east end is a junction with Utah state highway 24, which passes through Capitol Reef National Park.

There is a lot to see and photograph along these two roads… and we drove past most of it without stopping. In retrospect, I wish I’d taken some more photographs to show the changing landscape, but sometimes on a road trip, you just need to motor on.

The Kiva Koffeehous along Utah's scenicy byway 12 in the Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monument.

Utah Highway 12, Utah

More Details…

The view from Kiva Koffeehous along Utah's scenicy byway 12 in the Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monument.

Utah Highway 12, Utah

More Details…

Arches National Park

We reached Moab late in the afternoon. After settling in at our hotel and having a nice dinner, we vetured into the park, hoping to see the sunset. We were just a little too late. We stopped at the La Sal Mountains Viewpoint, sat on the hot red rocks and watched the stars come out in the twilight.

It’s always good to look around in a national park and not always at the huge rock or monument in front of you. There was an electical storm going on to the south. I tried for a long time to photograph the lightning, but it was pretty far away and my timing was off (bad luck). I made one exposure might make some sense with a little explaination.

Looking south from the La Sal Mountains viewpoint after sundown, a long exposure reveals light pollution from the city of Moab and captures a flash of lighting in distant storm clouds.

La Sal Mountains Viewpoint, Arches National Park, Utah

More Details…

At the begining of our full day at Arches, we set off in the morning intending to hike the “primitive trail” in the Devils Garden beginning when the main trail ends near Landscape Arch. We were a little intimidated by the steep “slickrock” on the trail and wary of the weather. The sunny morning had turned dark and ominous by the time we got to Landscape Arch. Turns out we were correct to be cautions–a hard rain started a few minutes later, and we scrambled back to our car. We waited out the squal driving to some other viewpoints and settled for enjoying the short easy hikes out at the Windows and–my favorite spot that day–Double Arch.

Rainstorm

Watching weather pass through the park.

Arches National Park, Moab, Utah

More Details…

All Clear

By the time we'd scrambled up the rocks and were sitting under Double Arch, we enjoyed clear skies and bright sun again.

Arches National Park, Moab, Utah

More Details…

Mesa Verde National Park

As we left Moab, Utah and Arches I knew we were again leaving behind sights we didn’t take time to see this trip. Including, of course, Canyonlands National Park, which we didn’t visit at all. We headed into Colorado knowing we were getting close to the end of the road and would be spending only one more night inside a park at Mesa Verde National Park in southwest Colorado.

People of the Ancesntral Pueblean culture made Mesa Verde home for over 700 years, from the year 600 to 1300. To put that in perspective relative to United States history, English colonizers arrived at Jamestown, Virginia in 1607, a mere 412 years ago. You could say all the other parks we visited were, basically, pretty piles of rocks and holes in the ground where you can obseve and marvel at change (erosion mostly) on the geologtic scale of millions and billions of years. The landscape here is beautiful in its own way, but the marvels are archeological. The scope of history is human-scale, yet it still feels vast and humbling.

Cliff Palace

Mesa Top Sites

Moon, Cloud & Stars

There was a big moon and some cloud cover on our night on the mesa.

Square Tower House

Wildfire Areas

There have been several wildfires in the park.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Our last stop was Montrose, Colorado, where we spent a few days relazing with Heidi’s family before flying home to Seattle. We had time to vist one more national park: Black Canyon of the Gunnison, just outside Montrose. The canyon is a deep, ragged slash in the earth dug by the Gunnison River for two million years. It was an interesting bookend opposite Zion Canyon. Where the walls of Zion glow a rosy red, the crags at Black Canyon slice, dice and swallow the light.

It was very windy when we visited Black Canyon. Note that the trusty green cap Heidi wore for most of our trip is missing from photo on the right of her with her auunt Kiely.