Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sunday Travel Photo #22: Zion, Utah

I visited 3 remaining national parks (Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef and Canyonlands) in Utah during Thanksgiving weekend and I have completed the visits to all 5 parks in Utah.  I have never written about Zion before so I chose this destination for this week's Sunday Travel Photo.  Zion is my second favorite national park is Utah (Arches is my favorite).
Zion National Park.  Utah.  Summber 2012Z
Zion National Park Overview

The Virgin River has gnawed through native sandstone to create the incredible scenery found in Zion Canyon.  Hiking at Zion National Park is suitable for all ages.  More adventurous or strenuous hikes include Angles Landing and The Narrows.  No matter what type of hike you are looking for, you are sure to find it at Zion National Park.

Attractions at Zion National Park

Zion Canyon
Zion Canyon is the main destination for most visitors.  Private vehicles are not allowed to drive into Zion Canyon during the busy season.  A convenient (and free) shuttle bus loops through the canyon, stopping at all popular attractions.

Zion's Kolob Canyons
The northern Kolob Canyons section is accessible off I-15, 18 miles south of Cedar City.  Kolob Canyons features all the impressive geology, natural arches, waterfalls and intensive colors that define Zion National Park, yet welcomes significantly fewer visitors through its gates.
Visitors to the area will enjoy the half-day visit to Kanarraville Falls.  Be prepared to get your feet wet and walk carefully on the trail once you do.

Zion's Kolob Terrace
The Kolob Terrace area includes the central portion of Zion National Park.  It is located northeast of the town of Virgin, off of Hwy 9.  The road runs from the town of Virgin up to Kolob Reservoir.
The paved road offers a very scenic drive into the mountains, through lush forest, with classic Zion scenery all along the way.  The Terrace rise to over 8000 feet in elevation and the road is steep and windy.

How to Get to Zion National Park

From the North: Take I-15 South, past Beaver.  Exit on Hwy 20.  Follow US-89 to Mount Carmel Junction.  Take SR-9 to Zion's east entrance.
From Arizona: Take US-89A through Fredonia, AZ and Kanab, UT.  Follow US-89 to Mount Carmel Junction.  Take SR-9 to the east park entrance.
From the South: Take I-15 north.  Take exit 16 and travel through Hurricane to LaVerkin.  Continue on SR-9 to the south entrance of the park.  SR-9 through Zion National Park is always open and is also called the Zion-Mt. Carmel Hwy.

"The mountains are calling and I must go." -John Muir.

Saturday, November 29, 2014


Grandview Point.  Island in the Sky.  Canyonlands.

Canyonlands National Park is one among the United States National Parks.  It is located in Utah's canyon country.  Though Canyonlands and Arches National Park are so close to each other, they are very very different.  The remarkable geology of Canyonlands is the foundation of Canyonlands ecology.  It was declared a National Park in the year of 1964 covering an area of 257,640 acres of land.  The congress however has increased its coverage to 337,598 acres of land.

Canyonlands is a very large national park.  It's almost impossible to hit all attractions on the same day as you can access from one district to another within the park.  You have to drive all the way back to the North entrance which is over 30 miles away from Grandview, another 30 miles to Moab and then more driving to get in to West or South entrance.  There are hours of driving required in order to cover this huge national park.  And I was only able to spend a few hours before driving back to Las Vegas on the same day.  

Island in the Sky

There are 4 districts (Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze and the Rivers) in Canyonlands National Park and I was only able to visit one of them.  However, I learned about the other districts at the visitor's center and I'll write a bit about them as well.

Island in the sky District
This is one of the 4 districts in the park.   At this district, there is an amazing view of the much of the Canyonlands.  It is located in the north section of the park.  At this district, you can also have an overlook of the Green River and River Colorado.

Upheaval Dome
This is an unusual trail that is located northern part of the park.  It can be reached through a short but very strenuous walking trail.

Needles District
It is located in southeast region of the park.  There are some spectacular views from this point.  The district is mainly made of walking trails.  The trails are very interesting and one an spend full day in this district alone.

Chesler Park
This is a small park located in the heart of needles district.  It is popular due to the sandstone formation that surrounds it.

Chocolate Drops
Chocolate drops are located in the Maze district of Canyonland.  It was formed by a series of sandstone mesas.

Horseshoe Canyon
This is where you will find some of the most significant rocks in North America.  The rocks are well designed through natural formation.

On my way back from Moab to Vegas

Navajo Art

Black Dragon Canyon on I-70

Snowflakes on my window
Driving back to Vegas

I drove over a thousand miles in this trip.  It was crazy awesome!

As of today, Nov 29th, I have visited all 5 Utah National parks: Arches, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef and Canyonlands.  Total 27 US National Parks and counting!

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.  Live the life you have imagined." -Henry David Thoreau

Friday, November 28, 2014

Capitol Reef

Happy Black Friday!  Americans spent $13 billions today?  Well, tomorrow is Small Business Saturday.  If you have AMEX cards, register here and support the local tomorrow.  Today's destination is Capitol Reef National Park.  I was driving and hiking at Capitol Reef National Park on black Friday.  No shopping mall here.

Capitol Reef National Park is a United States National Park found in Utah's Canyon country.  It is encompassed within 378 square miles containing mainly sandstone canyons, ridges, buttes and monoliths.  The park was primarily formed to protect the natural features.  It became a United States National Park in 1971 from being a national monument previously.

Hiking Trail to Hikman Bridge

Hiking Trail to Hikman Bridge

Hiking Trail to Hikman Bridge

Hiking Trail to Hikman Bridge

Hiking Trail to Hikman Bridge

Hickman Bridge
Hickman Bridge is a natural bridge (arch) found in the park which I highly recommend.  Visitors of the park must pass through this bridge to feel it.  Take a loop trail and go under the bridge.  Hiking is not too easy unless you're wearing hiking boots.  The rocks are a bit slippery.  It is just one mile a way from entrance - 2 mile (round trip) hike.

Hikman Bridge

Historic District
Fruita was settled by Mormon pioneers in the 1880's.  Productive orchards still border the Fremont River and Sulphur Creek.  A one-room schoolhouse, farmhouse and blacksmith shop evoke the spirit of earlier times.

Fruita Schoolhouse

You do need a car to visit Capitol Reef National Park.  The park does not have a bus or shuttle service inside.  Take US Highway 24 towards Hanksville.  Stay on Highway 24 for 95 miles and you will reach the visitor center.  

Chimney Rock

Road to Moab, my next stop.

Devil Canyon on I-70

As of today, Nov 28th, I have visited and explored 26 National Parks.  One more tomorrow before heading back to Las Vegas.

"Believe you can and you're halfway there."  -Theodore Roosevelt