|This may be the smallest campground we have stayed at, only 8 spots, but the location in Mount Carmel, UT is just perfect for us and the setting is great. We arrived early afternoon as our trip was only about 150 miles, so decided to take a short run up to Cedar Breaks National Monument which was about 40 miles away but all of those miles appeared to be straight up. We ended up at over 10000 feet looking down on a beautiful scene of sandstone cliffs and pines and aspens in the distance. It was a great way to spend the afternoon.
In the morning we headed over to Zion National Park which was about 25 miles from our campground and checked in at the visitor’s center before heading out on their shuttle bus to do our touring. They instituted the shuttle bus system about 10 years ago to avoid the massive traffic jams and growing air pollution which were plaguing the park. It works like a charm, with the shuttles running every 7 minutes and each one stopping at 9 locations. You can just ride, get off wherever you want, or hike from one stop to the next and get on there. There is even a short shuttle to the town just outside the park if you wish to shop or find something to eat. We rode up to the end of the canyon and took the easy 1 mile walk to the place where the river bank disappears and to continue into the canyon you have to wade in the river. Seeing as we had one pair of shoes with us we decided to pass on that endeavor. So we walked back down and got the shuttle down to the lodge for a nice outside lunch, and then hiked up to the Emerald Pool and on to the next shuttle stop at the grotto. All in all we did about 3 ½ miles which we both really enjoyed. We have missed doing much walking as our lungs did not cooperate much while we were at almost 9000 feet in Colorado.
So we boarded the shuttle for the ride back to the parking lot and headed back toward the campground. The shortest route when we leave here to head down to Las Vegas is through Zion, and I’m glad we had a chance to check the road out before we headed that way with Otto. There is one tunnel that is over a mile long and 13’1” in the center. So we would have to pay $15 for an escort through the tunnel due to our height and width, but they also limit the length to 50’. Otto is 40’, then there is the tow bar, and then the car. So we would have to unhook and drive both vehicles. Then there are about 6 switchbacks that did not look at all inviting to maneuver Otto through as the rock walls come right to the edge of the pavement. We will add about 50 miles to our trip by going the long way, but at least we will get there in one piece.
On our trip back through the park on our ride home, we actually came across a herd of big horned sheep. We have been wanting to see these beautiful creatures in the wild ever since we started this journey, and were amazed to see about a dozen of them near the bottom of the ledges right near the road. So after our nice hikes, beautiful scenery, and getting to see the sheep, we decided it was really a great day and we made the right choice to come this way.
The following morning we headed about 60 miles north and east to Bryce Canyon National Park. Bryce is much smaller than Zion and the main difference is that you are at the top looking down rather than looking up from the bottom of the canyon. Again it was a beautiful day, but I think we missed doing the hiking which we did at Zion. The elevation at Bryce ranges from 8000-9000 feet, and we can really tell the difference as soon as there is a hill to climb. The main attraction at Bryce is the “hoodoos”, pinnacles of sandstone eroded by water and wind over millions of years to form some fascinating shapes. Coming down from the park we passed through Red Canyon which is part of Dixie National Forest and also has some great scenery. I have included quite a few pictures and you don’t even have to know where they were all taken; the sandstone mountains, and cliffs, and ledges, and “hoodoos” are all just amazing to see and enjoy. Knowing how they were formed and when is kind of secondary to me, but we do always take the time to see the videos at the visitor centers which explain the geology of the areas we visit. It is also interesting to learn that people have lived in these canyons for thousands of years, mostly farming, until they were driven out by floods, drought, fire, or other people.
We are pretty much done with our touring for a while. We head from here down to Las Vegas, then to Lake Havasu in Arizona, back to Palm Springs for another doctor appointment, and then on to El Centro to park Otto for a couple of months. Time to get back to work I guess.