We have spent two weeks in a tiny little place with a campground, a post office, several stores/shops that are no longer open, and very nice residents. Glendale is in a bowl surrounded by mountains. There has been absolutely no cell phone signal and only weak Internet service, but the apple trees are blooming - there are so many that it smells wonderful, and the sounds of the animals - horses, burros, cows, and an alpaca, have provided a great setting. The weather has been beautiful although quite chilly in the beginning - one night it got down to 16 degrees. On Mother’s Day we had about the most “mixed” weather possible. It started sunny and rather pleasant. By bedtime there had been rain, snow, sleet, and strong winds. It kept cycling through those conditions all day. We were told it was “spring in Utah”.
The closest “town” is Kanab with the nickname “Little Hollywood”. Numerous westerns were filmed in this area, and the town is scattered with plaques picturing different actors/actresses and the movies they had filmed in/near Kanab. Westerns are not our area of expertise, but we did recognize James Garner and John Wayne. If you are in the area and so desire, you can visit the set of GUNSMOKE. There were probably plaques for the GUNSMOKE stars, but we didn’t see them.
Our trip to Glendale took us across the southern part of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. It covers 1.9 million acres of Utah [over 3,000 sq. miles]. We got to see the “Staircase” part that is made up of cliff/steps in shades of gray, chocolate, white, pink, and vermillion. Because there was so much to look at and so much beauty, the trip wasn’t boring . It was difficult deciding which pictures to include because they all came out well [even though taken through the windshield of a moving truck], and each shows different combinations of the various colors.
Our first “day trip” was to include Cedar Breaks National Monument which known for its huge, natural amphitheater which has been carved out of variegated pink sandstone. Literature said it didn’t open until late June but could be used for skiing and snow mobiling. I [Sue] assumed we could still get into the park but that the Visitors’ Center would be closed. Tony didn’t agree but humored me. To get there we had to take a twisty road that rose from about 5,000 ft above sea level to over 10,000 ft. Looking at the picture proves Tony correct. If you look closely at the picture, near the orange gate, you will see just the corner of a “ROAD CLOSED” sign. We didn’t see any weathered stone, but we certainly saw gorgeous white fields of snow.
The high altitude area had over 12 feet of snow this winter. The snow was interspersed with severe rain - they got 20 inches during the winter months when they normally only get 12 inches a year. Because of the extreme wet weather, there were fallen trees all along the road. It looked like a war zone. With the snow melting, they say over half is gone, there have been a lot of rock slides; the one pictured happened shortly before we got to that point. It seemed strange: in our travels we have passed hundreds of yellow warning signs for falling rocks and never seen a fallen rock. On this twisty, mountain road there wasn’t a single sign, but you had to be very careful going around corners because regularly there were small rocks in the road. We came to a spot where half of a lane had disappeared down the mountain and another where the guardrail and shoulder were hanging over the edge; there were no warning signs - just a few cones in the road. In places the snow was still almost as high as the rig. The icicles were beautiful. Fortunately the road was clear and dry and we were not pulling the RV - especially since we had to drive it twice.
Zion NP has two sections; you can’t move between them by vehicle. Kolob Canyons is the extreme northwest corner of the park . The cliffs and canyons are carved from red sandstone so have a very brilliant color. We took a little one mile hike to the overlook which gave a complete view of the entire canyon/cliff area. Another day we took the bike and went to the well known part of Zion NP. Getting there was a “thrilling” experience on the bike. You must go through a 1.1 mile tunnel with no lights in it. Occasionally there is a “window” to the outside, but the sudden brightness makes it even more difficult to see in the tunnel. Once out of the tunnel the road continues with numerous switch backs that take you to the bottom of the canyon; by the way, there are no guard rails! This park has a free shuttle you must use to get from one area to another. Since from the back of the bike all I see is the sheer drop-offs, I was more than happy to board the shuttle. At the north end of the canyon is a trail called Riverside Walk that takes you right along the edge of the Virgin River - it carved the canyon. Along the trail the canyon walls are close together. We took it and really were impressed with the power of the river since it was carrying so much runoff from the melting snow. At the end of Riverside Walk is the Narrows Trail. This was closed since you literally have to walk in the river to get between the canyon walls. We enjoyed this park mainly because we were at the bottom looking up at the steep walls and because we could get so close to the river. There was one very high water fall that appeared to come right out the side of a cliff. The park information says the waterfalls change daily and some can last for as short a time as a few minutes. We didn’t take the 5.5 mile West Rim Trail to Angels Landing although supposedly it is beautiful. The change in elevation is about 1,500 ft. There are warnings discouraging people with vertigo or that are uncomfortable with heights. It is narrow, with very steep drop-offs and once you‘ve climbed to the top, you must take it back down - there is no other option. A little detail we noticed was that whatever was used to make the “blacktop” for the roads through the canyons was red, so the roads really blend in with the surroundings. After visiting both sections of Zion we easily made the decision that if we ever come back, we will not bother to revisit Kolob Canyon. It doesn’t hold a candle to the main part of the park.
Now Bryce NP is a completely different experience. It ranges in elevation from about 7,700 ft. to over 9,100 ft. There was still a lot of snow; a trail we were planning on hiking still had 1 - 2 ft. of snow and was covered with downed trees. This park was formed by weathering resulting from the freezing and thawing of water in rock cracks - not a river. It results in an entirely different type of erosion. There are three stages in the formation of the unusual pinnacles. The first is fins. Then a hole [window] is weathered through the fin which causes an arch, then when the arch collapses the resulting pillars are called Hoodoos. The formations resulting from these Hoodoos are absolutely breath taking. We took the entire 18 mile road through the park and enjoyed all the overlooks and spectacular views. We hope to come back again, slightly later in the year, and enjoy the trails down to the bottom of some of the most numerous Hoodoos.
A very informative and moving excursion that wasn’t based on natural formations was to the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary www.bestfriends.org If you love animals and are ever in this area you need to visit the sanctuary. It is located on 3,800 acres surrounded by a 30,000 acre natural buffer in Angel Canyon. It was begun 27 years ago by 25 friends who wanted to establish a no kill sanctuary for unwanted animals. They now have approximately 1,800 animals a day including not only dogs and cats but also horses, rabbits, pot bellied pigs, and tropical birds. They specialize in animals with special needs or are rescued from major disasters. There was even a horse with a prosthetic leg! They rehabilitate as many as possible for adoption or else provide life-long comfort and care for those that aren’t adoptable. They depend heavily on volunteers; you can volunteer for as short a time as a few hours one day or daily for extended periods. They also want people to take animals out for “sleep overs” to acclimate them to home activities. We were very surprised at the size of the establishment and the care given the animals. They are housed in very small groups in immaculate conditions scattered throughout the 3,800 acres. The cats probably wouldn’t be any happier if adopted. The dogs we visited weren’t our type, but they were happy, well trained, and had excellent living conditions. If you are interested, please check the web site or send us a note. We will gladly share more about our experience. Donations made to this organization are definitely put to proper use. If we hadn’t been in an RV, we would probably given an 18 lb. cat named Smokey Jo a home. She loved Tony. We were told that on sleep-overs she prefers to sit in your lap and watch TV. She is a real lover.
Southern Utah is basically one huge National/Park/Monument and definitely a beautiful place to relax and spend some time. Fortunately we got to see all we had planned before cooler weather set in. Now we are off for a week in the Moab area. It is doubtful that it will be any warmer; we are just hoping there won’t be snow!