“Just like the rubber turning on the ground, always lost and nowhere bound” – Chris Stapleton
Miles Traveled: 483.6
Just a quick note before I jump into the post for today – I did update my previous post with the pictures from Joshua Tree and an update on the evening in Vegas. Make sure to check it out!
Ok – back to business!
I left Vegas first thing in the morning, stopped to top off the tank about 30 minutes outside of Vegas so I could avoid paying the ‘Vegas Premium’ on the gas! I stocked up on ice and water, grabbed a sub from Subway for lunch and dinner later, and packed up the cooler. I drove about 3 hours to Zion National Park, and drove through some incredible landscape. Gone are the days in the dull, flat desert…I have located mountains and canyons now! Really nice drive for the morning as I headed to my first stop.
Now, I have been to Zion National Park, and I remember it fairly well. It was one of my favorites to-date and was part of the family Grand Canyon road trip when I was much younger (I’m pretty sure it was the summer of 1995, but I may be a year off – I think that’s the correct timing though). So I was excited to go back to the park today, as I am sure I didn’t fully appreciate it when I was younger.
Well – I have never seen such a circus at a National Park! Geeze Louise. There were people everywhere – it was packed. Cars were parked in any available ‘space’ along the side of the road through the little town just before the park! Crazy. I pretended like I didn’t notice the “Park Lot at Visitor Center Full” sign and drove up to the Gate and Fee Area. I officially broke even today on my Annual Membership Park Pass (an $80 pass) as I handed over my Park pass versus $30 to enter the park. Pretty sure that’s at least one thing that has changed since 1995! I lucked out and quickly found a spot in the parking lot, swung by the visitor center, and trudged over to the park shuttles. So this is quite different than I remember – there were no shuttles last time I was here. The road isn’t open to vehicles all the way to the back of the park, so you have to take the shuttle to get to the different trailheads. How scenic. I supposed I could have walked all the way back, but I only had a few hours to spend in the park before heading to the next stop of the day. I don’t care for crowds. I certainly don’t care to be packed into a little shuttle with said crowd. But, I went with it and enjoyed several hours in the very busy park. I took a couple of hikes in Zion to get to some of the better picture spots and to log some miles in the ole hikin’ boots. Excellent hiking in Zion. The trails were crowded, but I could for the most part keep my own pace. It was a beautiful day in the park and hot (shocking, I know). I even saw some wildlife – a couple of mule deer, some plump squirrels, and a big buck laying down in the shade. I’m glad I was able to see the park before it became on the verge of being over-crowded; it is still quite a beautiful place though and it was nice to pay it another visit.
My next stop was Bryce Canyon National Park, and while only technically 55 miles away, is a bit of a scenic, 2 hour drive from Zion. As I was approaching Bryce Canyon, the skies darkened and they opened up. I was driving through a deluge on the windy mountain roads. There was not a break in the storm in sight. At one point I thought I might just call it on Bryce (after all, I have been there before on that same trip I mentioned earlier) and head to the hotel in Green River, UT. I decided not to because I know the weather can often change fairly quickly in the desert. So I kept on my current route and headed for Bryce Canyon hopeful that that storm would pass.
It was still pouring when I arrived at the park, so hiking was out of the question. I opted to drive to the end of the park road (18 miles one way) and just see how the adventure progressed. As I made it down the 18 miles, the sun was beginning to break through to the west. It was still raining off an on, and it was getting chilly (low temp was about 53 degrees – at about 9300 feet in elevation). So the fleece made it’s first appearance of the road trip today, with the occasional protection of the rain jacket! Yay for the fleece! The sun finally broke through over the canyon as it began to set – and it was possibly one of the most incredible sights I have ever seen. Picture dark stormy sky, sun hitting the canyon walls, and a rainbow on the horizon. Sounds fake doesn’t it. It was ridiculously awesome. I stayed at the park about an hour longer than planned – but to me, that’s just not something you drive away from! Perfect timing and my patience paid off today (yes I have some….something about being away from Corporate America for this long has me regaining my patience lol)! The pictures don’t even begin to do it justice.
After leaving the park, I headed 3.5 hours to Green River, UT, where I finally arrived at my hotel about 11:00pm my time. The most eventful part of this drive would have been the unfortunate incident involving a bird and the Jeep – which was unintentional on my part. It was quite sad (and startling). May that little birdie rest in peace…
Jeep 1 – Bird 0
With one of the longest days of the road trip in the books, I wrote up my blog, and decided to tend to the pictures tomorrow so I could get some sleep.
Until next time…