10 days tour in NM, AZ, UT and CO

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Sagebrush
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Re: 10 days tour in NM, AZ, UT and CO

Post #31 by Sagebrush » Wed Feb 15, 2017 12:59 pm

I've been busy lately so haven't had much inclination to add to this thread but its raining today, all day, so I thought I'd add to the possibilities.

Within an easy drive from Page, AZ lies Kanab, UT. I mention this because its a great little town to stay in while visiting two of my favorite National Parks, Zion and Bryce Canyon. First up is Bryce Canyon https://www.nps.gov/brca/index.htm. Bryce Canyon isn't a canyon at all but an eroded ridge perched on the edge of a broad valley. The erosion over the millennia has created unique and spectacular columnar structures called Hoodoos.

In 2007 we visited Bryce for the first time on a motorcycle trip and rode the main road along the ridge top and stopped at various overlooks for a look see. By doing this we completely missed the vast area of the Hoodoos which lie behind the Lodge. On last year's trip we were determined to view the Hoodoos. We allocated an entire day to hiking among the fairy tale like structures. We arrived at the Lodge from Kanab around 9am and on the advise of one of the park employees we hiked down the Queen's Garden trail and up the Navajo Trail. Her reasoning was that the Navajo trail is very steep and its hard on the knees to walk down it. So off we went, along the ridge there is the Rim trail which doesn't descend into the hoodoos but gives you a birds eye view of them. All the trails down into the hoodoos begin somewhere along the rim trail.

Views from the Rim Trail near the Queen's Garden trail head:

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The beginning of the Queen's Garden Trail:

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Images from the Queens' Garden Trail:

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Queens Garden has its steep areas as well:

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Not far from the junction of Queen's Garden and the Navajo Trail is an area where you can sit on a log and have a snack. This is in the Queens Garden where a hoodoo resembles Queen Victoria in a long gown. For some reason I didn't get a picture of this particular hoodoo.

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If you do sit still for awhile and have a snack you will get a visit from this guy or one of his buddies. Supreme moochers all.

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The bottom of the Navajo Trail is wooded and offers some shade:

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Views along the Navajo Trail:

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The park employee said the Navajo Trial was steep and she wasn't kidding:

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Could this be the top?

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It wasn't but from this point the ascent became a little more gentle.

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This hoodoo is called Thor's Hammer.

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Nearing the top:

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Whatever else you do in the Southwest on your trip make sure you visit Bryce and walk the Hoodoos. We started around 9am and were back to the Lodge close to 2pm where we partook of the wonderful lunch buffet in the dining room of the lodge. After visiting the gift shop we had plenty of time to get back to Kanab before we were ready for dinner.
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Re: 10 days tour in NM, AZ, UT and CO

Post #32 by Sugs » Wed Feb 15, 2017 1:06 pm

Yep, Bryce is a beautiful place, I was there about 15 years ago so your pictures brought back memories of being in those same spots on the trail. Thanks for sharing!
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Re: 10 days tour in NM, AZ, UT and CO

Post #33 by sparkyrasmus » Wed Feb 15, 2017 1:22 pm

Beautiful! Now we'll all want to go there. When's the best weather again?
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Re: 10 days tour in NM, AZ, UT and CO

Post #34 by Sagebrush » Wed Feb 15, 2017 3:32 pm

sparkyrasmus wrote:Beautiful! Now we'll all want to go there. When's the best weather again?


As far as I'm concerned May before it gets hot. April will probably be OK as long as you dress in layers.
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Re: 10 days tour in NM, AZ, UT and CO

Post #35 by RAT » Wed Feb 15, 2017 9:17 pm

Spectacular

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Re: 10 days tour in NM, AZ, UT and CO

Post #36 by sunnbobb » Thu Feb 16, 2017 12:54 am

Great pics Dean, appreciate the work to put this together. Great to view in winter, looking through my internet windshield.
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Re: 10 days tour in NM, AZ, UT and CO

Post #37 by Whiskerfish » Fri Feb 17, 2017 10:10 am

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Re: 10 days tour in NM, AZ, UT and CO

Post #38 by sgwilly » Fri Feb 17, 2017 10:36 am

This past summer I took my family on an RV trip from NC to the southwest for a circuit of many of these same areas. I off loaded our 5th wheel trailer in the parking lot next to the Bryce visitor center to do the 2.5 hour drive on the overlook road. When we got back, someone had squeezed their car up under my hitch. I sat in that parking lot for 3 hours waiting for them to return - no words were exchanged when they returned but they would not make eye contact with me. Good thing as I had a quite a stare going on. I might have vaporized them if they looked up. So I missed out on the Navaho trail hike that my family went on. Nice pics though.
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Re: 10 days tour in NM, AZ, UT and CO

Post #39 by Sagebrush » Mon Feb 20, 2017 12:14 pm

A few miles east of Bryce Canyon NP is Zion NP https://www.nps.gov/zion/index.htm. If you decide to stay in Kanab, UT then Zion is an easy drive. We've been to Zion a couple of times the first time we entered from the east on Highway 9 in the afternoon with the setting sun ahead of us and all the wondrous features in shadow. On our second trip we entered via the same route but in the morning with the sun behind us and everything lit up by the morning light. The difference (literally) was day and night. The ride into Zion is like driving through a fairyland. Unfortunately to take the time to stop at every pull off and take pictures would have taken all day. This is one time I wish I had a GoPro camera set up to take a picture every few seconds as we drove in. I'm sure it would have made a wonderful time lapse video.

Once you reach the visitors center at the western end of the park you can take a shuttle bus up into the canyon formed by the Virgin River. You can walk along established trails the entire way if you wish but being able to skip ahead to the more interesting areas and then get out and walk is great.

This is Checkerboard Mesa one of the better known formations along highway nine east of the Virgin River valley.

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Views of Zion from the trail along the Virgin River, most of these pictures are from the most northern 1/3 of the valley. The unique thing about Zion as opposed to the Grand Canyon is that you are in the floor of the canyon and looking up.

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Ground Squirrels are everywhere:

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The Ravens are used to human activity.

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The northern most point of the trail comes to where the Virgin River emerges between two sheer canyon walls. You can continue up the river by crossing it several times. You will need a good walking stick to help maintain your balance among the boulder laden bottom of the river and specialized hiking boots that can handle being submerged and give good traction on all the slippery rocks. I crossed it barefoot at this point the first time we visited but it was extremely slow going and it was treacherous, although folks that were properly equipped didn't seem to have much trouble at all.

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If you take highway 9 west out of the park and go to the the town of Virgin the Kolob road or sometimes called the Kolob Reservoir Rd. runs north along the western perimeter of Zion NP skipping in and out of private land and the national park. The pavement ends at the Kolob Reservoir but the gravel road continues north to UT-14 near Cedar City. We went as far as the reservoir and turned around. This road climbs from the desert to the more alpine area north of Zion NP. It also borders the Navajo sandstone formations and open ranch land with a little ancient volcanic lava flow thrown in.

Images from the Kolob Rd.

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Re: 10 days tour in NM, AZ, UT and CO

Post #40 by RAT » Mon Feb 20, 2017 12:19 pm

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Re: 10 days tour in NM, AZ, UT and CO

Post #41 by sparkyrasmus » Mon Feb 20, 2017 1:51 pm

WOW!
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Re: 10 days tour in NM, AZ, UT and CO

Post #42 by sgwilly » Mon Feb 20, 2017 2:52 pm

Apologies for the pic links - finally got it right.

Ok, I can add some to Zion (finally, I've done something Sagebrush hasn't!). I've been to Zion 3 times - each visit gets longer and that should tell you something. Twice on bikes, last summer as an RV camper. Thee most stunning place I've been to in the US. If you can make the time, stay and do some hikes. Here's one of the best websites I found when researching http://www.citrusmilo.com/zionguide/.

Last summer we did Observation Point which takes you from the bottom of the canyon floor to the very tip-top. It's an all-day thing and you better bring a LOT of water. Simply stunning views. You have to get out at dawn to fit it in.

One the way up in the morning looking across the valley to The Organ. Angel's landing is behind the silhouetted branch.
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A slot canyon about 1/3 the way up. Myself and daughter Abbi.
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This is the view above the slot canyon
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As you ascend the canyon walls you pass through a number of rock strata - all the names of which I've forgotten - but the colors were remarkable.
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We're about 2/3rds the way up here and looking south along the Virgin river.
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Here's some of the most exposed sections of the trail in the top 1/4. Not bad at all really.
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Abbi at the top celebrating the fact that she got through those "exposed" switchbacks. She just about locked up there. No way am I taking her to Angel's Landing.
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Doing my best Capt. Jack at the top. That's The Organ in the bottom right of the view. Anglel's Landing is just off the right side. We're WAY above it. There's a bus down on the valley floor to give you some perspective.
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We also did the Narrows which is the hike Sagebrush talked about that was in the river. You definitely want to rent the shoes and walking stick - there are at least two outfitters in town that will get you set up. Again, you have to get out early if you want to see a lot. This is particularly popular on hot days as the temps in the narrows is about 25-30 f degrees cooler. Hence, the jackets on a 100 f degree day.
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Getting started
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There were moments on the way up that you could almost feel alone. Not so much on the way back as the crowds surged later in the day toward Disney-like proportions.
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We only went up a few miles that is accessible in a day hike from the canyon. Other's put on full wetsuits and drop in from the top for a full 12 hour day of canyoneering. Ropes and skill are required for that. That will have to wait for the next visit.
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Last edited by sgwilly on Thu Feb 23, 2017 9:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 10 days tour in NM, AZ, UT and CO

Post #43 by Sagebrush » Wed Feb 22, 2017 9:42 am

There are many little areas of interest outside of the National Parks. The drive from Page to Kanab is a relatively short one which left a little time for exploration. The first place we stopped was the trail from the pull off along US highway 89 for the Toadstools. https://www.visitutah.com/places-to-go/most-visited-parks/grand-staircase-escalante/grand-staircase-section/family/the-toadstools/ This is little more than a 1.6 mile round trip walk up a dry creek bed to some unusual formations. It wasn't spectacular but it was interesting and uncrowded, we practically had the place to ourselves.

The sign at the trail head.

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At the beginning our walk up the dry stream bed the valley was rather wide but soon narrowed.

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Soon the trail split and you could choose to climb the path that paralleled the stream bed or simply walk up the sandy stream bed itself. I chose the high road while my wife chose to follow the low road.

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After awhile from my elevated position I could see that Terrie was headed for a yet unseen by her roadblock.

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I thought she might have to retrace her steps in order to go back to where the stream bed and the path merged but she put on her big girl shoes and like a mountain goat climbed out of the little box canyon that she found herself in.

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Even though this was clearly desert there were a surprising number of wildflowers in bloom along the trail. Rugged plants all.

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Soon we were able to spot our objective in the distance.

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Finally there.

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From the elevated area of the Toadstools we were able to look back at the area we had come.

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And the rugged terrain ahead if we had chosen to continue on the trail past the toadstools.

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We got to Kanab with a couple of hours to kill despite our trip to the toadstools so we decided to visit Coral Pink Sands State Park http://stateparks.utah.gov/parks/coral-pink/. We got there towards evening and found the place relatively uncrowded. We didn't partake of the many activities offered at the park and just took in the dunes from the observation deck located near the visitors center.

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Re: 10 days tour in NM, AZ, UT and CO

Post #44 by Track T 2411 » Wed Feb 22, 2017 10:10 am

I'm loving this tour! Thanks so much for sharing!
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Re: 10 days tour in NM, AZ, UT and CO

Post #45 by Sagebrush » Thu Feb 23, 2017 8:21 am

You may find yourself traveling US-89A across Marble Canyon at Lee's Ferry like we did in 2006 on our way from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to the North Rim and on to Zion NP. http://leesferry.com/ The US-89A bridge that crosses the Colorado River lies at the foot of the Vermilion Cliffs National monument and provides a scenic overlook of the river and Marble Canyon. There is a dedicated pedestrian bridge with parking areas on either side so you do not have to contend with traffic while crossing the river.

The bridge

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Vermilion Cliffs

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Pedestrian bridge

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Marble Canyon, we happened to be there when a group of rafters passed below.

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