BRYCE, THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACE IN THE WORLD
|BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK|
We left the Oregon Coast on a 1,200 mile journey to Bryce Canyon NP as our daughter, Bryce, was planning to join us for a visit to Bryce and Zion National Parks. On our way we stopped at Lava Beds National Monument, California and Virginia City, Nevada. Lava Beds was loaded with heaps lava tubes which were open to the public and offered numerous opportunities, of which I took copious advantage of, to whack your head as you ventured into these dark caves. Virginia City was a uniquely preserved cowboy town famous for its silver and gold mines. We spent an enjoyable day walking the streets of this western town and even toured one of the former gold mines. It was a cool experience.
After we were done with Virginia City we departed from Carson City, Nevada and headed east on Route 50. RT 50 traverses Nevada from California to Utah and, in 1986, was dubbed by Life Magazine as the "loneliest highway in America." Once you left Carson City the highway got lonely pretty quickly as it penetrated the vast Nevada desert for almost 400 miles. Nancy and I both felt that although the highway was empty, the desert was quite beautiful with muti-colored sagebrush and not-so-distant views of impressive brown mountains. Believe it or not, the State of Nevada is going to send me a certificate for completing the RT 50 journey.
Just before leaving Nevada and entering Utah we visited Great Basin NP. This beautiful park is the least visited national park in the lower 48. Also, according the park officials, it is one of the darkest places on earth. As a result the evening astronomy program was incredible. Were able to view distant galaxies, blue stars, red giants, and Saturn with its rings as clear as a bell. For me the highlight was climbing Mount Wheeler. The trail up Wheeler is a 4.5 mile one-way trek gaining over 3,000 feet to the peak at 13,063 feet. For somebody from Connecticut to jump into a hike over 13,000' was quite an experience. I experienced the lightheadedness associated with this altitude which was a good thing because, had I been in my right mind, I may have turned back as the temperatures plummeted and steady gale force winds with frequent gusts almost knocked me over on this narrow trail with steep drop-offs. Whew!
|Wheeler Peak. The last mile along the ridge is a doozy!|
From Great Basin we made it to Bryce! After getting setup in a campsite we had to travel 4 hours, one-way, to collect our Bryce from the airport in Las Vegas. Once we finally planted ourselves and our Bryce in Bryce we had a blast. Bryce and I took a lengthy hike into the hoodoos, we had dinner in Bryce Canyon Lodge, we roasted marshmallows over a campfire, and the 3 of us took a 1/2 day horse ride along one of Bryce's trails into the hoodoos. The scenery in this park is truly special and, when combined with Zion National Park, ranks with the "must see" national parks.
|Bryce Canyon NP|
|Bryce Canyon NP|
|I never get tired of looking at pics of Bryce.|
|Entering the tunnel with Nancy and Bryce |
taking the photo from the car. C-R-U-N-C-H!
Zion presents spectacle at every turn in the road. It is comprised of massive white and red canyon walls, towering 2,000-3,000 feet high with multiple striations making the geology unique as well as beautiful. For Bryce and me the highlight was a 1/2 day hike up "The Narrows" in the Virgin River. The Virgin River drains the Zion highlands and passes through a narrow slot canyon before entering the floor of Zion canyon. The hike involves walking upstream, mostly in water that can get chest deep, in a slot canyon which at times seems no wider 20', with canyon walls exceeding 2,000' in height. This is an incredible hike in some of the most beautiful scenery imaginable. Needlees to say, while everybody seemed to gingerly work their way along the river, Bryce and I fearlessly plowed our way through the rocks and rapids. This allowed us to get a lot further up the river than the crowd while getting soaked as our route selection was not always the wisest choice. The end result--we were laughing and splashing around like children throughout the entire journey. This has to be one of the best day hikes in the USA.
|Zion National Park|
|Bryce walking the rapids and heading for a dunking!|
|"The Narrows" of the Virgin River.|
|Checkerboard Mesa in Zion's highlands.|