So Long Bryce Canyon… Hello Moab and Everything In Between!

Today was a very long 300 mile day, and I probably averaged 20 pictures per mile. 

We were out the door at sunrise.  We walked along the Bryce Canyon Rim Trail to see the glowing Hoodoos once again.  I ventured down the Queen’s Garden Trail and hiked part of the Peekaboo Trail toward the bottom of the canyon. The trail surface was very smooth and full of switchbacks, which made it easy going.

cimg6913

There are no boulders in the way or rocks to hop, unlike the New England trails which head straight up the mountains.  

cimg6982Just after the junction of the two trails there are three small tunnels that allow you to pass through the Hoodoos. 

cimg6992

This was the most enchanting trail.  Everything was perfectly still and you couldn’t hear a sound.  No wind, no people, not even a bird chirping.

cimg6997

Around 10:00, we checked out of the cabin and headed east on Route 12.  This goes right across the northern end of the park which provided gorgeous views. This route is a designated US Scenic Byway (it’s not just a “state” thing).  The route weaves in and out of the Dixie National Forest and the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Forest.  Every 10 minutes the scenery dramatically changed, from pine covered mountains, canyons full of hoodoos, and landscapes that looked like the Badlands of South Dakota. There was even a “controlled burn” forest fire. We stopped at a visitor center in Cannonville to get the passport stamp and to mail postcards.  At the post office, it seemed like we were the only customers that day.  The building served as the Post office, Town Hall and Health Clinic rolled into one. There’s nothing better than a postmistress who can multi-task.

About 35 miles later, the Ranger at the Escalante Visitor Center recommended a place called Georgie’s for lunch. You can’t miss this place. The building was bright yellow, with a multi-colored picket fence and an enormous Tee-Pee in the front yard. We pulled into the gravel lot on the side and could see right in the back door.  Georgie herself bounded down the steps and suggested some other places, as she was closed for the day.  Monday was her baking and delivery day.

We drove another 10+ miles and saw a sign on the side of a hill identifying the Kiva Koffee House, which incidentally was recommended by Georgie.  We entered the driveway and initially couldn’t tell where the building was.  When we got out of the car and walked down the stairs, we could see the crescent shaped building that was built into the side of a cliff under the parking lot.  It had the most awesome view of the multi-colored cliffs on all three sides. 

cimg7040

cimg7049

It had a very limited menu, but it was great to sit down and take in the remarkable view.  A soft-spoken bohemian woman took our order and lunch arrived. 

At Torrey, Utah, we took a left on Highway 24 and stopped at the County Visitor’s Center.  I received a lot of great advice here on the area from the woman working behind the desk.  Back in the car, we approached spectacular Capitol Reef National Park within 10 minutes.  We stopped at the National Park visitors center for the 3rd and final passport stamp of the day.  We drove along the 10-mile scenic road following the “water pocket fold” which is an enormous 100 mile long crevass that cuts through the park and beyond. 

cimg7091

It looks like the Earth decided to flip inside out and then turn to stone.  After 10 miles, the pavement ended and we continued on the gravel for another mile, as recommended by the woman at the Torrey Visitors Center.  This is where the most dramatic scenery could be found although the road was a little rough.  Yolanda from Fox Rental would not be happy if she knew what challenges we put the Dodge Charger though on this road.  There were a few bumps and several vengeful tumbleweeds rearing their talons as we made our way this area. (If that car can survive a gunshot wound, it can certainly survive a few pot holes and dried out old bushes.)

cimg7078

The fruit orchards planted along the river by the Mormon pioneers are another interesting feature of Capitol Reef.  The National Park Service maintains the orchards and historic buildings.  The area along the river was an oasis of green fruit trees against an arid and unforgiving landscape. 

cimg7096

We continued on scenic route 24 all the way to Hanksville, passing a few tiny towns. Fortunately we hadn’t planned to spend the night along here anyway, as it looked pretty desolate. We then headed north on Route 24 and you could see the road straight ahead stretching for miles.  This was a big change from the twisting 150-mile long Escalante roller coaster we had spent the majority of the day traveling.

We took Hwy 70 East to 191 South to Moab, passing the entrances to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.  We’ll visit those parks tomorrow.

We found a hotel in Moab and then went downtown to an Italian restaurant. 

Today was a very long and extremely rewarding day.  I highly recommend a trip on these scenic roads to anyone, as they are truly unforgettable.

Check out the links below for more information:

Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument

Capitol Reef National Park – information about the Waterpocket Fold, the early mormon settlers in Fruita, and flash floods.

Welcome to Utah

Click here to read about tomorrow: our final day in Utah and our journey into Colorado.

Advertisements

The URI to TrackBack this entry is: https://swroadtrip.wordpress.com/2009/04/27/so-long-bryce-hello-moab-and-everything-in-between/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Ah your trip brings back memories…moab what a great little town. Watch out for the hippies in the tie died shirts. They drive jeeps with big wheels and they are out there to prove their manhood. Watch out for dennys ..if you want true mexican food you will find it there. Just yell out green card..you will see some action


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: