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Quick Stops: fast, fascinating, fun, funky!

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Blazing Winter Sunset

If you follow our posts, you’re already familiar with Quick Stops. Quick Stops are designed to give a nod to locations to which we can’t devote an entire post. The destinations are completely random and totally fun.

Just get in the car and we will be on our way!

First Stop: By Bridge

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Where in the world is it?

By Bridge is located in Moab, Utah. It is a pedestrian bridge that spans the Colorado River.

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Looking upstream at the Colorado River from By Bridge

Second stop: Gruene, Texas

Jordan's 2007 pix 231Gruene (pronunced green), is home to the famous Gruene Hall. Built in 1878, this 6,000 square foot dance hall and saloon has hosted and launched the careers of a multitude of musicians. It is the oldest dance hall in Texas.

Where in the world is it?

Gruene is about an hour southwest of Austin, off of I-35. The town of Gruene was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. In 1979, the city of New Braunfels annexed Gruene which has become a popular tourist destination.

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Once the home of the son of the founder of Gruene, this beautiful building is now the Gruene Mansion Inn
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The Guadalupe River at Gruene, Texas

It’s a fact, Jack!

More than 50 movies have been filmed in and around Moab, including City Slickers II, Con Air, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Thelma and Louise to name a few. One movie, Michael, starring John Travolta, was filmed in Gruene. In the movie, John Travolta’s character, Michael, danced at Gruene Hall. Additionally, both towns sit on the banks of rivers that empty into gulfs. The Colorado River runs for 1,450 miles to its mouth at the Gulf of California, and the Guadalupe River runs 230 miles to its mouth at the Gulf of Mexico. And now you know…

That does it for this week. Thank you for joining us! Come back next week for another exciting post. You never know where we are going to take you! Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quick Stops: fast, fascinating, fun, funky!

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Pelicans on a river

If you follow our posts, you’re already familiar with Quick Stops. Quick Stops are designed to give a nod to locations to which we can’t devote an entire post. The destinations are completely random and totally fun.

Just get in the car and we will be on our way!

First Stop: Hovenweep National Monument

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Where in the world is it?

Hovenweep straddles the state line between the southeastern corner of Utah and southwestern corner of Colorado. It abuts Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.

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Twin Towers

Hovenweep National Monument protects six ancient villages that are spread throughout the monument’s desolate terrain. Although the area was inhabited by ancient pueblo-dwelling farmers from about 500 AD, the park’s masonry buildings date from about 1200 to 1300 AD. Nobody knows exactly what the towers at Hovenweep were used for, but there are many theories, such as observatories, fortresses, storage structures, or religious buildings. It is estimated that 2,500 people once inhabited the area.

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Eroded Boulder

It is said that the Zuni, Pueblo, and Hopi tribes are descendants of the ancient Hovenweep Puebloans. Hovenweep is a Ute word that means “deserted valley”.

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Stronghold House

Second Stop: Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park

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Where in the world is it?

It is in North Platte, Nebraska.

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Buffalo Bill Cody was probably the first world-renowned super star. An epic showman, his traveling Wild West shows ran from 1883 to 1915 and drew thousands of spectators in the US and around the world. The show was so big that it took two trains of fifty cars each to transport the performers, animals, supplies, and props for the extravaganza. Scout’s Rest Ranch was his part-time home. His ranch near Cody, Wyoming was “home”.

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This is the ranch house. Scout’s Rest Ranch is on the National Register of Historic Places.

It’s a fact, Jack!

William Cody was nicknamed Buffalo Bill, probably because of the large number of buffalo he killed. As a young man, he had been employed by a railroad to hunt and kill buffalo in order to feed the men who were building the train tracks. Buffalo Bill was a friend of General George A. Custer. Custer led his cavalrymen into battle against an allied group of Native American tribes at The Battle of Little Bighorn aka The Great Sioux War of 1876, which took place in Montana. Contrary to popular belief, the celebrated Lakota Sioux chief, Sitting Bull, did not fight in the battle, though he had an earlier vision of his people winning the battle. Sitting Bull’s vision and encouragement helped to spur the Native American warriors into defeating Custer and his men. Years later, Sitting Bull was hired to be a performer in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. He was paid $50.00 per week to ride around the arena during the opening of each show. And now you know…

That does it for this week. Thank you for joining us! Be sure to come back next week for another exciting post. You never know where we are going to take you! Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye 

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

 

 

Quick Stops: fast, fascinating, fun, funky!

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Restaurant in Provincetown, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

If you follow our posts, you’re already familiar with Quick Stops. Quick Stops are designed to give a nod to locations to which we can’t devote an entire post. The destinations are completely random and totally fun.

Just get in the car and we’ll be on our way!

First Stop: Mexican Hat (Utah)

Where in the world is it?

It’s in southeastern Utah, and it really is a town. We heard that the town’s population is 31, but that might be a stretch. So why in the world would anyone name a town Mexican Hat? Well… ↓

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Surprise! It’s named after this rock formation near the town.

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This surreal mountain scene is also near Mexican Hat. Reminds us of Southwestern Native American pottery! Isn’t it amazing?

Second Stop: Idaho Falls (Idaho)

Where in the world is it?

The city of Idaho Falls, Idaho is in the southeastern portion of the state. The Snake River runs through the city and that’s what creates the “falls” of Idaho Falls.

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Below is a picture of the spire of the Latter Day Saints Temple in Idaho Falls all lit up at night. We think it’s an architectural work of art.

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It’s a fact, Jack!

Mexican Hat is located in the state of Utah, and so is the Great Salt Lake. Utah is derived from a Ute word meaning “people of the mountains”. No fish live in the Great Salt Lake. And now you know…

That does it for this week. Thank you for joining us! Come back next week for another exciting post. You never know where we are going to take you! If you like our Quick Stops posts, leave us a message and let us know we should keep doing them. If you don’t like them, tell us that, too. Until the next trip…

Travel save, travel smart, and we will see you down the road!

Mike and Kellye 

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Get Ready and Four Let’s Go to Capitol Reef National Park

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  • Website: Capitol Reef National Park.
  • Cost: $15.00 per vehicle.
  • Accommodations in the park: RV and tent camping. Backcountry camping allowed with a permit.
  • Great park for hiking, biking, and climbing.
  • Lodging, additional camping, and groceries available in Torrey, Utah – 11 miles west of the west park entrance.
  • Restaurants available in Torrey. *Recommended: Slackers – good burgers!
  • When to go to Capitol Reef: Anytime. We recommend May or September.

The interesting terrain at Capitol Reef National Park was created by a 90-mile long wrinkle in the earth called a waterpocket fold. The picture below was taken from a high point on Highway 12 looking toward Capitol Reef (mid-background).

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Getting There

From Bryce Canyon National Park, take Highway 12 (recommended scenic route through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument) east toward Escalante, Utah, then north to Highway 24 through Torrey, Utah to the park’s entrance. Travel tip: use extreme caution on Highway 12 through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. There are twists, turns, and high points on the two lane road with no guardrails in some places, however, the scenery is spectacular and very worth taking the route. Drive time between Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef: 2.5 hours, or,

From Salt Lake City (closest major airport city), take I-15 south to Scipio, Utah. At Scipio, take US Highway 50 to US Highway 89 to Richfield, Utah then Highway 24 south(east) through Torrey, Utah and the park’s entrance. Drive time between Salt Lake City and Capitol Reef National Park: 3.5 hours.

Travel tip: if you are continuing on to Moab, Utah, top off your gas tank in Torrey before entering the park. The closest gas station (in Hanksville) is an hour east.

Destination: Capitol Reef National Park

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Stop in at the visitor center for information about the park. Then continue on Highway 24 to Fruita, Utah, which is the site of an old settlement that is now contained inside the park. Did you know that the original orchards planted by settlers in this area remain in Capital Reef today? The orchards are open to the public during the picking seasons. Check the park’s website for details about how and when the fruits can be harvested.

At Fruita, stop in at the Gifford House Museum and Store, check out the Fruita Schoolhouse, and don’t forget to take a few pictures of the Gifford Barn; it’s a classic!

The Fruita historic area is a great place for a leisurely stroll and a picnic. There is a campground here, too.

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Gifford Barn

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Take Scenic Drive south of Fruita for scenery and views of the waterpocket fold, or continue on Highway 24 east through the park. There are several places to pull out. We enjoyed seeing the petroglyphs. Parking is available in this area and there are easy trails/boardwalk to allow ample viewing of these ancient wonders.

Of course, the scenery is what we went to Capitol Reef to see, and it didn’t disappoint. Below are some of our favorite shots.

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We are quite fond of red rocks, and no, they never get old!

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Interesting Formations and Beautiful Colors

This park is where we first learned about desert varnish. The “varnish”, from minerals and metals in the rock turns the rock into a work of art. Isn’t nature amazing?

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This cliff face looks painted, but it’s not. It is just that pretty, although, the photo does not do justice to the actual view. The petroglyphs pictured above were high up on this wall.

IMG_2268Travel tip: Capitol Reef has miles and miles of hiking trails for day hikers of all skill levels. There are also many options for backcountry hiking and backpacking. Just remember that this is the desert and it can get extremely hot during the day. Take more water than you think you will need.IMG_2223We hope you enjoyed our short overview of Capitol Reef National Park. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get as much traffic or publicity as some of the other Utah national parks, but a short or long visit to Capitol Reef will be well worth you time. Leave a comment below and tell us about your trip. We love hearing from you. Until next time…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

 

Three Get Ready and Four Let’s Go to Monument Valley Tribal Park

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  • Website: Monument Valley Tribal Park
  • Cost: $20.00 per car, up to four people
  • Visitor center
  • Tribal owned hotel and restaurant in the park (Arizona)
  • Campground in the park
  • Privately owned lodge and restaurant in the park (Utah)
  • Additional hotels and restaurants in Kayenta, Arizona
  • Hiking
  • Guided tours
  • Scenic drive
  • When to go: anytime

Iconic. That is the word that comes to mind when seeing Monument Valley for the first time. At least it was for us. This spectacular park sits within the boundaries of the Navajo Nation in southern Utah and northern Arizona. It is not a national park service park, as some believe. It is a tribal park of the Navajo Nation. Many movies have been filmed at Monument Valley because the scenery epitomizes the American West.

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Getting There

Our trip is going to start from Page, Arizona, which has a small regional airport.

From Page, take Highway 98 east to US Highway 160. At US Highway 160, take US Highway 163 northeast to Kayenta, Arizona. Continue east to the park entrance near the Arizona-Utah border. Drive time: 2.25 hours.

*Recommended hotel in Page: Hampton Inn

*Recommended restaurant in Page: El Tapatio – 25 S Lake Powell Blvd.

Destination: Monument Valley Tribal Park

Our trip to Monument Valley was on the highway (US Highway 163 and US Highway 160) because we arrived when the visitor center was closing. This is a park that we will definitely return to in order to see and do everything it has to offer. However, a lot of the beauty of the park can be seen from the road. We will let the pictures speak for themselves…

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Awe-inspiring Agathla Peak near Kayenta, Arizona
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Owl Rock near Kayenta, Arizona
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West Mitten Butte, Monument Valley
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He posed as if he knew he belonged in the picture!

The tallest butte in Monument Valley rises approximately 1,000 feet above the valley floor. The colors are incredible, and, no, we never get tired of seeing red rocks!

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Setting Hen
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Beautiful Butte
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Monument Valley Vista

⇒Side trip: Valley of the Gods. On Highway 163, about seven miles north of Mexican Hat, Utah. Drive time between Monument Valley and Valley of the Gods: 1 hour. Fantastic scenery all the way, so the drive is worth the time!

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Valley of the Gods

Travel tip: Valley of the Gods is located on Bureau of Land Management property. The roads are graded dirt and there are no facilities. Take plenty of water, and prepare for the weather.

Bonus stop: Alhambra Rock. Located just a few miles south of Mexican Hat, Utah, this is a can’t-miss photo op.

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Alhambra Rock

Thank you for joining us on our virtual tour of Monument Valley. We hope that we have inspired you to venture off on your own road trip through this magical place. Please become an e-mail follower so you never miss a post. We would love to hear from you, so leave us a comment about your own trips. We are going leave this post with one last view of the fantastic formations in Monument Valley.

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The Stagecoach, Rabbit and Bear, Castle Butte, and the King on his Throne

Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

 

 

Three Get Ready and Four Let’s Go to Arches National Park

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  • Website: Arches National Park.
  • Cost: $30.00 per car.
  • Lodging in the park: one campground for RV and tent camping. Reservations accepted.
  • Accommodations and restaurants outside the park in Moab, Utah.
  • Hiking and backpacking trails in the park.
  • When to go: Anytime.

The crowds at Arches during the summer months are certainly a testament to the park’s popularity. But what’s not to like? Rock formations, incredible arches, gorgeous scenery, and the park’s location, bordering the Colorado River near Moab, Utah… Well, it doesn’t get much better than that! There truly is nothing else like Arches. You’re going to love this park, so let’s hit the road!

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Arches National Park

Arches is located approximately:

350 miles from Denver, Colorado230 miles from Salt Lake City, Utah110 miles from Grand Junction, Colorado

This trip starts from Grand Junction, Colorado because it is the most scenic route. Grand Junction has a regional airport supporting three major carriers, as well as several regional airlines. The closest major airport city is Salt Lake City. If you are traveling from Capitol Reef National Park, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered, too.

Getting There

*Recommended hotels in Grand Junction: Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express.

*Recommended restaurant in Grand Junction: El Tapatio – 1145 North Ave. Our favorite Mexican food anywhere — and we’re from Texas! (The El Tapatio in Page, Arizona is just as good.) The restaurants are family owned, and they have excellent service. Muy Bueno!

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Colorado River Along Highway 128

(Recommended route) From Grand Junction, take I-70 west across the Utah border to Highway 128. Take Highway 128 south toward Moab. This is an incredibly scenic route. Allow time to stop for (hundreds of) photo ops as the road follows the Colorado River all the way to Moab. Travel tip: the speed limit on I-70 in Utah is 80 mph. Drive time between Grand Junction, Colorado and Moab, Utah: depends on how many stops are made, but approximately 3 hours. Highway 128 is approximately 41 miles long.

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Colorado National Monument

Bonus stop: Colorado National Monument. Enter the park at the Grand Junction entrance, then take Rim Rock Drive for 23 miles of spectacular rock formations, spires, and deep canyons. Lots of pull outs and photo ops. Informative visitor center near the Fruita entrance. Hiking, biking, climbing, backpacking, and camping available. Here’s a link: Colorado National Monument. 

Exit Colorado National Monument at Fruita, Colorado and continue on I-70 west toward the Utah state line and then the Highway 128 exit. Drive time between Fruita and Moab: 2 hours. 

For those traveling from Capitol Reef National Park, stay on Highway 24 via Hanksville, Utah, and continue on Highway 24 to I-70. Take I-70 east to Highway 191 south to Arches and Moab. Drive time from Capitol Reef National Park to Arches National Park: 2 hours. Travel tip: top off your gas tank in Hanksville. The next available gas and other services will be in Green River which is approximately 60 miles through desert terrain.

*Recommended hotel in Moab: Holiday Inn Express.

Campgrounds and RV parks are available in Moab. We have heard that they fill up quickly, so advance reservations are highly suggested.

*Recommended restaurants in Moab: Zax Restaurant – 96 S Main St., and Pasta Jay’s – 4 S Main St.

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*Recommended tour company in Moab: Canyonlands by Night & Day. This company offers a full menu of adventures in the Moab area. We highly recommend the Sound and Light Show tour, which includes dinner (good food, by the way) followed by an evening boat ride on the Colorado River. Learn the history of the area and see the sights in the river canyon. Here’s a link to the website: Canyonlands by Night & Day

Destination: Arches National Park

Get ready for some jaw dropping sights!

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Window Wonders
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Magnificent Monoliths

Take your time driving through the park. Stop at the pull outs to read about the formations/arches and learn about how the features in this park were formed.

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Delicate Arch(es)
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Gorgeous Landscapes

Plan to spend a few days in Moab. There is another spectacular national park, Canyonlands, right next door, along with a scenic state park. You won’t want to miss either of those parks. (Stay tuned – we will be covering those in another post.)

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Moab has just about every outdoor adventure sport imaginable! From skydiving to hot air ballooning, the sky is the limit, and Moab is a mountain biking mecca. Off-roading is super popular, and there are several outfitters in town that can arrange almost anything you want to do. There is plenty of shopping on Main Street, and for those who like tourist traps, there’s one of those, too. Quirky Hole N The Rock is worth a quick stop for a souvenir or two. It’s on Highway 191, 12 miles south of Moab. Kids will love this place!

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We hope your trip to Arches National Park is as spectacular as the scenery! Please leave us a comment and tell us about your favorite road trip destinations, or tell us about your trip to Arches. We want to hear from you. Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

 

 

 

 

 

Three Get Ready and Four Let’s Go to Bryce Canyon National Park

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  • Website: Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Cost: $35.00 per car.
  • Accommodations: RV and tent camping in the park, and Bryce Canyon Lodge.
  • Hotel and additional RV camping just outside the park entrance.
  • Park shuttle available from April through October (not mandatory as in Zion).
  • Dining available at Bryce Canyon Lodge.
  • When to go: we recommend June through mid-September.

Bryce Canyon is undeniably one of the jewels in the crown of the National Park System. The breathtaking scenery leaves most who view it speechless. All we could say when we got to Inspiration Point was, “Wow!”, and it took a few minutes before another word was uttered by either of us. Every stop in the park is incredibly impressive, so let’s go!

Getting There

From Zion National Park, take Highway 9 east to US Highway 89 north toward Panguitch, Utah. Travel tip: when traveling in or with an RV, check with Zion National Park before attempting Highway 9 east out of the park. The Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel, which lies between the east park entrance and the south park entrance, may or may not accommodate your vehicle/trailer. The park has special regulations/fees for RVs traveling this road.

Turn right (east) on to Highway 12 (Scenic Byway 12 – All American Road, and it lives up to its name for all 121 miles!) Drive time between Zion and Bryce Canyon: 1.5 hours.

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Tunnel on Highway 12 – All American Road

From Salt Lake City, take I-15 south to Cedar City: Drive time between Salt Lake City and Cedar City: 3.5 hours. At Cedar City, take Highway 14 east toward Cedar Breaks National Monument. Bonus stop: Cedar Breaks National Monument. Deep canyon featuring gorgeous red rock formations and hoodoos. The perfect prelude to Bryce Canyon. Here’s a link: Cedar Breaks National Monument. Continue on Highway 14 east to US Highway 89. Take US Highway 89 north to Highway 12 (Scenic Byway 12 – All American Road) and turn right (east) to Bryce Canyon. Drive time between Cedar City and Bryce Canyon: 1.5 hours.

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Bonus stop: Red Canyon Visitor Center. Hiking, biking, camping, and picnicking here. Another prelude to what Bryce Canyon holds in store. Great place for a rest stop or a picnic, plus some great photo ops.

 

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Formations at Red Canyon

Suggested accommodations in the area: Ruby’s Inn at the entrance to Bryce Canyon. Here’s a link: Ruby’s Inn. There is also camping available and a small grocery store near Ruby’s Inn. Days Inn in Panguitch. Here’s a link: Days Inn, Panguitch, Utah. Campgrounds available in Panguitch. Drive time between Panguitch and Bryce Canyon: 30 minutes.

Suggested restaurant in Panguitch: The Original Kenny Rays – 80 N Main St.

*Recommended restaurant in Panguitch: Cowboy’s Smokehouse – 95 North Main.

Destination: Bryce Canyon National Park

From Highway 12, turn right (south) on to Highway 63 to the park entrance. Stop at the visitor center for park information, then continue on Highway 63 south. The park road is 18 miles long with stops for each “canyon” and “point” in the park. Rim Trail from Sunrise Point to Sunset Point to Inspiration Point is a popular hike. Inspiration Point sits at an elevation of 8100 feet.

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View from Inspiration Point

Continuing along the road, stop at all of the pull outs (there are at least 14 of them) for different views and formations. As far as we know, there is nothing else in the world like Bryce Canyon, and you will want to see it all. Outstanding photo ops at every stop! Here are a few of ours:

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There is a wonderful picnic area and overlook at Rainbow Point, which is the last stop on the park road. Rainbow Point sits at an elevation of 9100 feet. Travel tip: dress in layers, as temperatures in the higher elevations may be much cooler than at lower elevations.

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View from Rainbow Point

Click the website link at the top of the page for details about hiking in Bryce Canyon. We liked the Mossy Cave Trail. The trailhead is on Highway 12 east of the park entrance. The trail runs along a shallow stream to a small waterfall. There is no shade on this trail, so come prepared if the weather is hot.

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Along Mossy Cave Trail
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Waterfall at Mossy Cave Trail

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⇒Side trip: Kodachrome Basin State Park. Take Highway 12 toward Tropic, Utah, and then Cannonville, Utah, and follow the road to the park. Drive time: between Bryce Canyon and Kodachrome Basin: 30 minutes.

  • Cost: $8.00 per vehicle
  • RV and tent camping available
  • Bunkhouses available

Drive through the park on paved and unpaved roads for views of the rock formations, or get up close and personal with the park’s features by hiking the easy trails.

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Above and below: spectacular scenery at Kodachrome Basin State Park.
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Some believe that the tower or pinnacle formations, such as the one above, are ancient thermal features, or parts of ancient springs, or geysers, perhaps. Whatever they are, they are interesting formations that probably can’t be seen anywhere else.

 

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View from Highway 12 near Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

When leaving Kodachrome Basin or Bryce Canyon, take Highway 12 east toward Escalante, Utah and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Travel tip: Use extreme caution on Highway 12 through Grand Staircase-Escalante. There are twists, turns, and high points on the two lane road with no guardrails in some places. The scenery is spectacular and very worth the road trip. Continue north to Highway 24 east and Capitol Reef National Park or,

Take Highway 12 west back toward Panguich and then north on Highway 89 to Highway 20 west to I-15 and back to Salt Lake City.

Bryce Canyon is one of the parks that everyone should get to experience. We hope that you enjoy your visit there as much as we enjoyed ours. Please drop us a note below and tell us about your trip to Bryce Canyon, or any other trip, for that matter. We would love to hear from you.

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018

 

Three Get Ready and Four Let’s Go to Zion National Park

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  • Website link: Zion National Park.
  • Cost: $35.00 per car.
  • Accommodation in the park: Zion Lodge.
  • Restaurant and seasonal cafe at Zion Lodge.
  • Three campgrounds in the park.
  • Shuttle. (Mandatory in Zion Canyon from spring through fall.)
  • Additional lodging/camping in many locations outside the park.
  • When to go: Anytime. We like September.

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Ahh…Zion! One of the most popular national parks, and one of our favorites. From finding peaceful solitude, to hiking, climbing, canyoneering, backpacking, or simply enjoying the beautiful scenery, Zion has something for everyone. It is also one of five national parks in Utah. So, depending on how much time you have, a visit to Zion could lead to visits to Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, and Arches National Parks. Don’t worry if you don’t catch all of them on this trip. We’re going to cover them all in future posts.

Zion National Park is approximately:

308 miles from Salt Lake City, Utah427 miles from Los Angeles, California377 miles from Phoenix, Arizona — 159 miles from Las Vegas, Nevada

The closest city with a major airport is obvious. So pack your bag, stash some cash in your pocket, and get ready for a ride ’cause we’re headin’ to Vegas, baby!

Getting There

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Almost everyone has their favorite hotel in Las Vegas, but because we love staying on The Strip — and we are always looking for a bargain, these are our favorites:

*Recommended hotels in Las Vegas: Monte Carlo, New York New York, and Luxor.

There are many other hotels on and off The Srip, as well as downtown options. RV campsites are also available in the city. Travel tip: choose a hotel that has free parking.

*Recommended splurge restaurants in Las Vegas: Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House at the MGM Grand – 3799 S Las Vegas Blvd., and The Buffet at Wynn at the Wynn Las Vegas – 3131 S Las Vegas Blvd.

*Recommended theme-type restaurants in Las Vegas: Margaritaville – 3555 S Las Vegas Blvd., and Hard Rock Cafe – 3771 S Las Vegas Blvd.

*Recommended fast food: In-N-Out Burger – 3545 S Las Vegas Blvd.

Honestly, we’ve never had a bad meal anywhere in Las Vegas. And, as far as attractions go, there are way too many to list here. If this is your first trip to Las Vegas, we recommend that you check out the hotels/casinos on The Strip (aka Las Vegas Avenue). Each one has something different to see or do, and each one is worthy of a visit. Travel tip: take a picture at the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign – 5200 S Las Vegas Blvd. There is limited parking, and you will probably have to wait in line to get your shot, but it will be worth being able to say, “Been there, done that, got the picture to prove it!”

Now, on to Zion National Park…

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Beautiful Scenery Along I-15 North of Las Vegas

Take I-15 North toward Mesquite, Nevada and the Arizona state line. Bonus stop: Valley of Fire State Park. The park road is a Nevada Scenic Byway. See spectacular red rock formations and petroglyphs. RV and tent camping available. Drive time between Las Vegas and Valley of Fire State Park: 1 hour.

Continue on I-15 to St. George, Utah. Drive time between Las Vegas, Nevada and St. George, Utah: 2 hours. Travel tip: near the Arizona-Utah line, you will enter the Virgin River Gorge. This is a very scenic drive, but the road has some tight curves and hills. Traffic may be heavy and fast in this area. Use extreme caution.

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The St. George Utah Temple (LDS)

*Recommended hotel in St. George, Utah or Springdale, Utah: Hampton Inn. St. George is the closest large city to Zion, and Springdale is at the entrance of Zion. Travel tip: the closer you are to the park, the higher the hotel rates.

Many camping options are available in St. George, Hurricane, and Springdale.

Destination: Zion National Park

From I-15, take Highway 9 east toward Springdale, Utah and Zion National Park. We highly recommend getting to the park early in the morning. Parking can be difficult during peak tourist seasons and the parking lots fill quickly. Overflow parking is available in Springdale, and the Springdale Shuttle runs to and from the park. Hop-on hop-off shuttles inside the park run the length of Zion Canyon with nine different stops. We never waited longer than ten minutes for a shuttle in the park, however, we waited in line for almost an hour to get on one of the first shuttles of the day. Did we let that bother us? Absolutely not! The park was definitely worth the wait. Travel tip: carry a backpack with everything that you’re going to need for a full day in the park, including lunch, snacks, and plenty of water. Get ready to hike.

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View From the Visitor Center

Here are our favorites:

Riverside Walk. From the visitor center, take the shuttle all the way up the canyon to the Temple of Sinawava shuttle stop. This is where the Riverside Walk trail begins. The paved trail, which follows the Virgin River, is easy, and it is the gateway to The Narrows. (The Narrows is a nine mile hike in the river. This is a strenuous 7-9 hour hike, but it is one of the most popular at Zion. Check with the visitor center regarding river conditions before attempting The Narrows.) After Riverside Walk, you can work your way back down the canyon by hiking other trails (check out Weeping Rock Trail) or by taking the shuttle to the next stop.

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View of the river from Riverside Walk

The Grotto Trail to Zion Lodge. Super easy, one mile hike, and the scenery is so much more spectacular from a trail than from a vehicle. The shuttle stop at The Grotto is also the trailhead for Angels Landing, which is another of the most popular trails at Zion. Angels Landing Trail is long, strenuous, and not for everyone, but we hear that the views are incredible.

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At Zion Lodge

Lower Emerald Pools Trail. From The Grotto Trail, take the Lower Emerald Pool Trail. This trail is easy, and just a little over a mile long, although, there are some inclines along the the way. Return to The Grotto shuttle stop via Kayenta Trail (moderate, 1.5 miles) for great views of the Virgin River and Zion Canyon.

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Along Lower Emerald Pools Trail

 

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Behind a Small Waterfall at Lower Emerald Pool
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View of the Virgin River and Zion Canyon

4. Kolob Canyons Road. Visitor Center off of I-15. This is a nice, scenic drive after a day of hiking in Zion Canyon. Great hiking here, too, and less crowded.

IMG_2006 Obviously, we have barely scratched Zion’s surface. There are many additional hikes, short trails, a museum, ranger led programs, and much more available in the park. Zion is a place where you can (and should) find your own level of adventure. We hope you have a fantastic trip! Leave us a comment below, and let us know what made you fall in love with Zion. We would love to hear from you. Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye  

 

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018