Our camping spot this week wasn’t all that great (and the internet was terrible), but it was very conveniently located just a few miles from Zion National Park. We would make 3 evening trips there during the week for some hiking.
On Monday night we took our first hike in Zion:
We didn’t have much time — it was a quick hike — but it gave us a feel for the park and what we might do later in the week.
We continue to make use of the shuttle services at these National Parks to get to different trailheads. They’re free, readily available, and they allow us to see so much more of the park in less time.
The east section of Zion has spectacular “slickrock” formations that we enjoyed climbing:
We were excited to see desert big horned sheep on the side of a nearby hill as we finished our hike on Tuesday:
…and then one by the side of the road as we drove out of the park:
On Wednesday, we got an earlier start so we could spend more time doing a longer hike.
It was a very hot day (the girls were grumbling) but when we reached the so-called “hidden canyon” it felt like an air-conditioned room. Ohh it felt so good!
Heading out of the canyon:
Stopping at an overlook:
By Friday, Amy was ready for more scenic surroundings. We broke camp after lunch and drove to Red Canyon in Dixie National Forest, UT. There were no hookups at this campground, but it was beautiful and quiet. We went for a little hike that evening to watch the sunset.
On the way back, we ran into a park ranger who had a couple telescopes set up:
It wasn’t quite dark yet, but he had this big one pointing at and tracking with the moon. The detail was amazing.
Later that night Amy and Em went back to do more stargazing with the telescopes. Carrie and Natalie stayed back at the RV and painted their toenails:
On Saturday, we drove into Bryce Canyon National Park for some all-day hiking:
I loved this place. The rock formations were incredible.
A mid-day popsicle/ice-cream break:
…and then back to hiking:
Just when I think I’ve “seen it all” with these national parks, we find ourselves in a completely new setting, amazed by the geological diversity of this country.
Amy and Nat making their contributions to the multitude of cairns:
It was hot, dry and dusty; we were so dirty by the end the day just from walking. It was showers for everyone that night.
On our way up from the canyon at the end of the afternoon:
I love how the sunlight reflects off the canyon walls and makes everything all orange-y:
I was hoping to get a spectacular shot of the canyon “amphitheater” but the lighting was all wrong. Still a great view for dinner though:
I figured the lighting would be better at sunrise, so we broke camp early this morning and drove back to Bryce. The girls kept sleeping, Amy went for a sunrise run, and I got the shot I was hoping for. (Click the image for a larger view)
After we were done at Bryce Canyon, we stopped at a nearby RV wash that we noticed yesterday:
The RV needed a wash bad. The bug guts were piling up.
The girls continued to (try to) sleep well into late morning as we drove. They had done a lot of hard hiking lately, and school is out now, so they’ve earned it:
I was very excited to reach the Bonneville Salt Flats of Utah today. It’s just one of those godforsaken areas of the planet that I find fascinating and beautiful.
The Bonneville Salt Flats is where every land speed record has been set (the current record is over 600 mph!). Since there was nothing around to run into, we let the girls take turns driving the RV.
Then we hopped in the Scion and set an Arnold family land speed record! The girls squealed with delight when we hit 100mph. It was very fun!
[A special note to grandparents: The Bonneville Salt Flats is a vast expanse of completely flat, hardened salt. You can't even see where it ends due to the curvature of the earth. There were no other people, cars or objects of any kind anywhere in the area. We drove our couple-mile stretch -- a straight line -- twice at more reasonable speeds just to make sure it was ok. Only then did I unleash the 4-cylinder fury of the Scion xB.]
We were going to boondock in a truckstop parking lot tonight, but we decided to “splurge” on slightly nicer accommodations of a KOA in West Wendover, NV.
Tomorrow we’ll head to Salt Lake City and settle there for the week.