National Park


North Rim – Grand Canyon

This one has definitely been on my Bucket List. With a half-dozen trips to the South Rim I, like most Grand Canyon National Park visitors, had never been to the North Rim. We normally travel to the Canyon in late winter or early spring when the road into the north side is under several feet of snow. Visitor services at Grand Canyon Lodge are provided from mid-May to mid-October.

 

 

Many Canyon afficiandos profess a preference for the North Rim. First, the number of visitors is a small percentage of those at the South Rim creating a less hectic environment. The elevation on the north is more than 1000 feet higher than on the south and temperatures are generally more moderate.

 

Grand Canyon Lodge sits right on the rim, east and west terraces are ideal locations for photography, rest after a hike or just putting your feet up and watching the changing light.

 

Because our trip was planned at the last minute lodging in the park was not available , we made a day trip from Kanab, Utah – 80 miles one-way. In addition to gawking and taking lots of photos we walked out to Bright Angel Point, and made the 23-mile drive and 1-mile walk out to Cape Royal with a side trip to Imperial Point. After a light deli takeout dinner enjoyed on the terrace it was time to head back to Kanab. Check!

 

Note to self: Next time plan ahead and book two nights in one of the rim-side cabins to fully appreciate a North Rim experience.

Kolob Canyon

Zion National Park

 

Motorist speeding down I-15 in southern Utah have no hint what’s in store if they take Exit 40. The spectacular Kolob Canyon in the northwest section of Zion National Park lies just minutes from the busy Interstate. After checking in at the Visitor Center (fee required) motorist follow a five-mile scenic drive ascending over 1000 feet in elevation to Timber Creek Overlook. Hikers find numerous trailheads for adventures into the narrow valleys of finger canyons.

 

 

Rounding a curve within the first mile the view of massive red Navajo Sandstone cliffs is simply a hint of things to come.

 

 

Frequent turnouts, many with interpretive signs, provide a place to ponder nature’s wonders or photograph the stunning scenery. Although the return is on the same road views appear different coming from the other direction.

 

 

Horse Ranch Mountain, the park’s highest peak, is found in this section of the park. Depending on the source Kolob Arch is either the longest or second longest freestanding arch in the world. Kolob Arch can be reached from the trailhead at Lee’s Pass (about 2/3 of the way up the scenic road). The hike is 7 miles, one-way, following LaVerkin Creek into the Kolob Wilderness.

 

 

 

Kolob comes from Mormon scripture meaning “residence closest to heaven”. Who would have guessed it was so close to I-15′s Exit 40?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day of Surprises

While traveling from Moab to Torrey, Utah we encountered several pleasant surprises.

 

Somewhere I’d seen a brief reference to a river museum in Green River. We stopped at the John Wesley Powell River History Museum expecting to have a quick look/see. We left 1 1/2 hours later. Our introduction came via a 20 minute film, Journey into the Great Unknown, which chronicles Powell’s first voyage from Green River, Wyoming through the Grand Canyon. The extremely well done film with surround sound and presented in a comfortable theater was worth the price of admission. In addition to river related exhibits there’s an art gallery featuring the work of Utah artists, dinoaurs including one that was found just miles from the museum, the River Runners hall of Fame and museum store. Appropriately, the museum sits on the banks of Green River.

 

While exploring the Fruita Historic District in Capital Reef National Park we found that in the heritage homestead Gifford House they sold fresh-baked pies and scones. An unusual feature in a National Park. At a shaded picnic table we eagerly dug into a mixed berry crumb-top pie for two. Excellent!

 

Without knowing anything about the restaurant we chose Cafe Diablo for dinner. The imaginative menu was a surprise but the real surprises came with the extraordinary artistic presentations and inspired culinary creations. Attentive and friendly service added to the enjoyment. We learned that Cafe Diablo has an international reputation and following. Who would have guessed you could  find something like this in a town with a population of 182 in the middle of Utah? Surprise!

 

 

A day of pleasant surprises!

 

Fantastic Formations

 

Today was a continual slideshow of fantastic formations – arches, buttes, canyons, bluffs, spires – the list goes on and on. The eyes and mind almost go on overload there’s so much more than one can imagine.

 

After a bit of shopping for supplies and a UV protection shirt we make Arches National Park our first stop to capture pictures of east facing formations. We’ve spent two evening photographing at sunset but some sites are much better morning shots. A stop at the visitor center also seems in order. Displays relate both the geological and human history of the Arches area. Attractive, roomy and well organized, the book store offers a wide variety of titles.

 

The Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands National Park was our next destination. Utah 313 traverses 25 miles of high desert from US191 north of Moab to the park boundaries. Near the entrance  we’re surprised to see a new visitor center since our last visit when the ranger facilities were in a trailer. We take advantage of a shaded picnic table for a bit of lunch.

 

From Island in the Sky we look down onto the White Rim and deeper into the rugged canyons of the Green and Colorado Rivers, ribbons of the rivers sometimes visible as they loop through the almost other-worldly geography.

 

Short walks and photograph fill the afternoon until we both determine the sun and heat has zapped our energies. We miss a visit to Mesa Arch and to Dead Horse Point State Park, from earlier visits we know they are worthy of our attention but the effort isn’t there today.

 

 

Dinner at Moab Brewery – We split a garden salad, a Jack Daniel Burger with slaw, Smoked Sausage Grill (Italian, brat and cajun spice) with sauerkraut, garlic red potatoes, sautéed fresh veggies served with their Brewery Stout Mustard. Bob skipped a beer in favor of their Moab brewed root beer. On the way out the door the case of house-made gelato was too tempting to pass up – I highly recommend the caramel candy bar, the best gelato I’ve ever tasted. A soothing end to a fantastic day!

 

Sonora Desert in Bloom

Spring brings new color and beauty to the Sonora Desert across Southern Arizona.

 

Special places to experience the desert in bloom:

 

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum – Tuscon

                        

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park - Superior

                        

Desert Botanical Gardens – Phoenix

 

                        

Saguaro National Park – Tucson

    East – Rincon Mountain District

    West – Tucson Mountain District

                        

Tohono Chul Park – Tucson

                       

Tucson Botanical Gardens – Tucson

                        

University of AZ Campus Arboretum – Tucson

Arizona

100 Years – 100 Reasons to Visit

Arizona celebrates 100 years of statehood in 2012. From the Grand Canyon to the Sonoran Desert, metropolitan Phoenix to the ghost  town of  Fairbanks the variety of scenery, activities and cultures offers hundreds of reasons to visit for everyone from extreme athlete to retirees.

 

 

Known as the Grand Canyon State, is there any better place to begin a tour of Arizona than Grand Canyon National Park? Whether you raft down the Colorado River, hike the South Kaibab Trail, peak over the rim at Grand Canyon Village or fly above it all with Grand Canyon Airlines the awe factor impresses.

 

In the days and weeks to come look for more reasons to visit Arizona during their centennial year.

GNP Sign

National Treasure

Glacier National Park at 100

 

The grandeur of Glacier National Park ranks as one of our valued national treasures.The natural wonders of peaks, lakes, forests. flora and fauna in northwestern Montana were set aside as a National Park in 1910. A century later thankful visitors can experience the park in a multitude of activities and awe-inspiring scenery.

Glacier Road Tunnel

In the coming days I’ll share photographs and useful details for planning a Glacier visit:Bear Grass

  • Lodging Overview
  • Glacier Park Lodge
  • Lake McDonald Lodge
  • Many Glacier Hotel
  • Prince of Wales Hotel
  • Going To The Sun Highway
  • Red Bus Tours
  • Boat Tours
  • Activities
  • Ranger Programs
  • Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park

Nearby: Boat on Many Glacier

  • Izaak Walton Inn, Essex
  • Polebridge Merchantile, Polebridge

Red Bus

 

 

 

Water and Moss

 

 

 

Many Glacier Lodge across Lake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lake from Prince of Wales Hotel

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