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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Day 9: Zion NP (Leg: 0, Trip: 1,129.8)

Today we awoke and decided to do our trip to Bryce Canyon NP instead of tomorrow. The weather may include some rain tomorrow, so we wanted to go and scout out Bryce while we had good weather.

To get to Bryce Canyon, from where the RV is parked now, you have to go through Zion NP, out to highway 89 and up to highways 12 and 63. It is a distance of about 100 miles each way. When you go through Zion and don't go up the canyon on the shuttles like we did yesterday, you instead cross some exceptionally scenic areas and vistas. This part of the drive is fantastic and you can stop often at turnouts to take in the beauty of the surroundings.

This goes on for about 5-6 miles, then you come to an interesting tunnel. This tunnel is 1.2 miles long, has an impaired vertical clearance and has no lighting inside. So the sides of the tunnel feel like they are closing in on you. I took some video of the tunnel and will try to upload it to YouTube when I get a chance. If you want to take a vehicle taller than a car or short truck through the tunnel, you must stop at the tunnel entrance. Then after you pay $15, they will stop everyone from entering the tunnel. Once it is clear, you go through driving down the middle. Hopefully, you don't drift off to the side!

After you come out of the tunnel, you continue on Highway 9 until it meets 89 near a golf course. Then after about 60 miles or so, you turn on highway 12 and go 15 miles to highway 63.

While you are on highway 12, you will come to Red Canyon. (see Carol's blog for pictures of this). This canyon is a lot like Zion and Bryce, yet unique in its own way. You drive right through the canyon and come very close to the rocks and formations.

Following that you come to Ruby's Inn. This place is a stop that has everything.....gas, store, food, car repair, camping, etc. You name it, they have it. You can read the interesting story of the place by clicking here. We had lunch at Ruby's Inn and the food was pretty good. Then we drove into Bryce Canyon NP.

There are scenic lookouts all along one side of the road. We elected to bypass them to get the 15 miles to the end of the canyon and then work our way back stopping at each viewpoint. We must have made 8 or so stops, starting with Rainbow Point at the far end of the canyon.

As you can see, it is very high in this park and this is the highest point. Some of you may remember in 2005 that I had part of a lung removed, so breathing at high altitudes and getting enough oxygen is a problem. We were up over 8,000 feet for most of the day. I'd love to say it didn't bother me at all, but it did just a bit. But not enough to really impact the day.

Bryce is almost the opposite of Zion in some ways. In Zion, you are at the bottom of the canyon looking up and can hike up to the tops of some of the peaks. In Bryce, you are atop the ridges looking down and can hike down into the canyon. These are strenuous hikes and proper equipment is strongly advised by the rangers. We weren't up for these hikes, but you can see the beginnings of one of the trails in the picture above. Since the total drop on this trail looked to be 4,000 feet or so, I suspect not everyone goes all that far down as the hike up is a real killer.

This is a picture from the "Natural Bridge" view point looking at the Natural Bridge. The rock along the tops of these formations is very resistant to erosion, yet the underlying rock is not. So as the rock underneath erodes, arches and bridges like the above are formed. Eventually, all the underlying rock erodes and the bridge falls leaving the sides standing like columns. These columns are called Hoodoos.

In this picture you can see some hoodoos on the top of the formation. These aren't very tall, so are young, geologically speaking.

In this picture, you see rocks balanced precariously and it looks like it would not take much to make them fall. These formations are really impressive in person.

Here are a group of hoodoos. They are actually several hundred feet tall.

Here are two hoodoos, each about 70 feet tall. The early native Americans thought hoodoos were spirits of the ancient ones. It's not hard to see why.

I could have included a zillion other pictures of Zion, Red Canyon, and Bryce. Be sure to see Carol's blog at for more pictures and a different take on the days events.
We closed this day by having pizza at the Flying Monkey, just outside Zion NP. It was wood-fired and was both inexpensive and very good. If you are ever in town, I recommend it to you.

1 comment:

John Bardin said...

Dave & Carol,

Thank you for the virtual tour. Your pictures and descriptions allow me to visit, image, and learn about places I have yet to venture.

John Bardin