Left for Canyonlands National Park at 7:10 P.M. Central Standard Time (CST) on the nose.
Making good time - in Kansas City area in just over 3 hours.
Stopped for gas next to the football and baseball stadiums.
Driving under the Convention Center in Kansas City always impresses me.
Topeka area by Midnight - continuing on.
Next stop for gas at Fort Hayes, KS approximately 3AM CST.
Gain one hour near Colby, KS as we enter Mountain Standard Time (4:30AM CST = 3:30AM MST)
Stopped for gas again at Limon, CO. at just before daylight. This is always a stretch for gas.
Drove though Denver and did not stop at REI as usual.
Next stop was at Grizzly Creek in Glenwood Canyon Recreation Area. I was simply too tired to continue driving. Eric took over after a brief stop at the facilities. This is a wonderful area and I would love to ride the bike trail through this incredible canyon.
Eric drove till the next gas stop and I tried to relax and rest as much as possible.
Left Grand Junction around 10:30 A.M. MST with myself at the wheel.
The goal was to be in Moab, UT by noon.
Decided to take Hwy 128 thru Castle Valley. This is an awesome drive. It starts out rather weak but after you descend into the Colorado River gorge the drive is impressive all the way to Moab. Unfortunately this route added at least 30 or more minutes to the drive time. Noticed a lot of good BLM campsites next to the Colorado Rive
Drove straight to Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands N. P. after intersecting Hwy 191.just north of Moab - it’s 45 minutes by car - stopped at Island in the Sky visitors center briefly. Beautiful scenery along this drive - a lot of massive white rounded Navajo and some extremely dark reddish brown Wingate sandstone.
Continued on to Willow Flat campground. Unfortunately we were approximately an hour late. All sites were taken. It was around 1:30 PM. I think you need to be here before noon during spring break to guarantee a site.
On to the Green River Overlook 1/4 mile from Willow Flats campground. This is one of the great views in the west. I took the remainder of my 200 ASA Sensia and we left for the visitors center for some advice on where we might camp for the next two days.
Rangers at visitors center called Dead Horse State Park and found out that they had 5 sites left I bought a gallon of water and we left for Dead Horse. It’s about 25 miles away.
Weather was mostly cloudy with good sun and somewhat cool. Great light and clouds for photography.
Arrived Dead Horse – paid entry fee $7.00 and on the visitors center. The visitors center was an interesting building – actually two buildings joined by an open breeze-way. Paid for two nights $22.00 at the visitors center.
Found an empty site and set up the tent. I am starting to feel a little glazed over by now. If it wasn’t for the excitement of the trip I would have fallen asleep several hours ago.
Decided not to visit Delicate Arch today because it’s a 45-minute drive one way and another 45-minute forced march uphill to the arch. I didn’t think I had enough energy left. It was still daylight 3:45PM and I didn’t want to turn in for the day so we went to Upheaval Dome. From Dead Horse it’s only about 40 minutes one way to Upheaval on a paved road.
Walked quarter mile trail up through the rocks to the overlook at Upheaval Dome. This is a kind of weird looking area. I think you need to walk around it to get a sense for the scale. Either it was so big I couldn’t see the entire thing or I was looking right at it the entire time, simply not sure. We took a few photos in good light and returned.
Back to camp now and it’s dark - getting very cold - I mean very cold and windy.
Warmed scalloped potatoes. Brought two large batches of scalloped potatoes for this trip. We also ate cold turkey and some dinner rolls. It wasn’t too bad.
Turned in at 8:30 PM - very tired
Cold and very windy all night. Snowing also - more like sleet than snow.
Got up and it was cold as hell outside - a fairly thick layer of ice and frost on everything.
Fixed some coffee and had a couple of blueberry muffins.
When the sun finally hit the campsite, things warmed up
Left campground to check out the park - put a lot of weight in tent so it would not blow away in the still fairly strong winds. Last night I thought the tent was going to be blown down.
To Dead Horse State Park Overlook - very impressive - from here Canyonlands looks like the Grand Canyon – but it has a very chocolate color. This is a famous view I have seen in magazines and photographic books. I noticed some kind of retention ponds in the northern end of the canyon below. They are terraced down the canyon. This is rather disturbing because it ruins an otherwise incredible 180 degree view. A literal eyesore. I cannot discern their size from here but I suspect they are huge. The sky is overcast this morning and the La Sal Mountains to the east are obscured completely by cloud cover. Not the best for photography. However, it’s still spectacular.
On to Grandview Point Overlook. This area is big, it’s a 40 plus mile drive from Dead Horse to Grandview. A beautiful drive on the way. This plateau has a lot of sagebrush with a slightly purple cast growing in off orange colored sand.
Unfortunately it’s storming to the east with some very dark clouds moving north to south. I can now see why they call the jeep trail that follows the perimeter of the canyon below the White Rim Trail. An obvious white sandstone rim surrounds the edges of all the canyons. Again you can’ t help but notice the very chocolate color of the canyons. The light is bad but I took an entire roll of film here. Maybe some good storm shots.
Back to the Green River Overlook after stopping at a couple of other great viewpoints along the way. We spent at least an hour here walking along the edge of the canyon west of the actual Overlook. I accidentally scared a huge bird out of it’s nest in the cliff face just below us. I think it was an eagle.
Back north now toward the visitor’s center and stopped at the Schaffer Trail Overlook. Could see a dirt road switch-backing down the canyon walls and disappearing into the distance on the canyon floor. I decided I would try to drive this trail. I had read that in good weather it’s passable by a car with average clearance. Unfortunately the weather doesn’t look good.
Drove the park road to the junction of the Schaffer Trail and started to skirt the canyon walls for about two miles slowly descending. At this point the trail simply drops like a rock to the canyon below in a series of about a dozen switchbacks. This section of the road was rough in a few places but passable. After descending the canyon walls we traveled approximately one mile on the canyon floor and arrived at a T-junction where a sign indicated “Moab 31 miles”. I took the left turn to Moab and immediately started to descend a twisting and turning wash that provides the roadbed downward into a second canyon. This road was rough and if wet would be impassable by car. I took my time and stopped to take photos. This route eventually deposited us onto an open platform adjacent to a several hundred-foot drop-off to the Colorado River. We are now almost directly below the Dead Horse State Park Overlook. This is an awesome area, towering dark reddish colored sandstone on my left, a rolling and generally upward tilting gravel plain under my feet and on my right a shear 500’ drop into the meandering Colorado River below. At about this point you leave the National Park and are on BLM land.
Continuing on for several miles we eventually started to approach the retaining ponds I had noticed earlier in the day from Dead Horse State Park 2,500 feet above. These things are not ponds, they are huge, much more like small lakes. I would guess that each lake was about a little over one square mile. They are used as evaporation basins in conjunction with a potash mine inside this canyon. We drove through and around this potash operation and transitioned onto a paved highway next to the Colorado River. This road turned out to be Hwy 279.
Hwy 279 runs for about 20 miles toward Moab and terminates into Hwy 191 just a few miles north from Moab. This is a good road with campsites and trails into the slickrock all along its course. There were also a few groups of rock climbers scaling some of the sheer sandstone cliffs just next to the road.
Traveling The Shaeffer Trail road has been a very good adventure and one I wouldn’t hesitate to do again. I want a jeep with good clearance.
We drove into Moab and I parked the car along the west side of the main street next to a photographer’s studio and gallery. I had heard of this photographer, “Tom Till”, so we went into his gallery and I bought a softbound book of some of his work.
To a little coffee shop for some coffee and a piece of pie. I was pretty tired from a very harrowing drive on the Shaffer Trail so I took a break for about half and hour and looked at my new book.
Spotted a Wendy’s on the way out of town so we stopped and had a Spicy Chicken sandwich and fries.
Forty-five miles later we were back in camp. Again starting to get cold. Basically both very tired from a good day. All of this incredible scenery simply wears you down. Canyonlands needs a solid week minimum to really enjoy. Turned in around 8:30 PM.
Up at 7:00 AM - very cold outside - not as bad a previous day.
Fixed coffee and had a couple of blueberry muffins.
Broke camp and headed for Mesa Arch. It’s approximately 30 miles from Dead Horse and near the Green River Overlook.
At Mesa Arch for approximately 30 minutes. This is a very good place with a famous view.
Back to visitor’s center and bought another gallon of water. There is no water on this plateau. It has to be carried in by tanker
Left Island in the Sky visitors center for Arches National Park. It’s just 45 miles away.
Drove straight to Delicate Arch parking lot. The drive through the park is really impressive.
Hiked up the massive slickrock slab to the great bowl of Delicate Arch. Good light for photograpy, but unfortunately the La Sal Mountains are buried in clouds.
We spent at least three hours here just walking around,looking and taking photos. One of the great places in the world. When the mountains are visible it’s one of the great views in the world.
Back to the car and on to Moab. Stopped at Wendy’s and Spicy Chicken sandwich to go.
Aimed the car toward Capitol Reef National Park. Three plus hours away.
Took Hwy 191 to Interstate 70 to Hwy 24.
Stopped at Green River for gas. They have a John Wesley Powell museum in this small town.
Cannot help but wonder why they do not protect the San Raphael Swell. I think this tilted rock is absolutely incredible.
Stopped at Goblin Valley State Park. This park is twenty miles into the heart of the San Raphael Desert. Fantastic melted looking rock formations. Looks like a gigantic twenty-acre children’s playground. The rocks aren’t that big, probably 5’ to 30’ in height and dark tan in color. We almost decided to camp here, but would have been the only people in the entire park. There were no attendants and no trees. Probably would be as hot as hell in the summer, but it’s a neat place and totally unique.
Arrived at Capitol Reef National Park campground just before nightfall. It was cold and a there was a lot of dampness in the air.
I filled out the site tag and placed $20.00 in the envelope and dropped it off at the pay station. Two nights in a beautiful national park for $20.00 dollars - not bad.
Set up the tent and warmed some scalloped potatoes. There are only half-dozen muffins left of the four-dozen muffins that I made for this trip. We have plenty of potatoes left. Still some turkey.
Capitol Reef has the cleanest toilets in any National Park I have camped. They were also warm and had paper towels.
Tired, turned in for evening at 9:30 PM. Canyonlands and Delicate Arch wore us out.
Very cold outside during the night. Below 30 degrees, but felt even colder because of high humidity. It had just rained and the ground was damp. Actually, the grass was damp. They had very nicely maintained grass in the campgrounds.
Up fairly early, around 7:00 AM.
Eric was a little slow to get up today. Trip fatigue.
Left campgrounds for the Notom-Bullfrog Road. Wanted to leave early before the ground would thaw. I was concerned that the recent rain may have softened the road. If I can get to the Burr Trail before the ground thaws I will not have any trouble.
Because I would like to climb Mt Ellen in the Henry Mountains I decided to take a side trip on a back-road to McMillan Springs campground. After about 10 miles southbound into the Notom-Bullfrog Road I took another back-road eastbound into the foothills of the Henry Mountains. We managed about 14 miles into this road before I called it quits. I crossed 3 washes with water in my little Escort but the 4th wash was more than I cared to risk. I think I could have made it but it would have been very interesting. We lost about 2 1/2 hours on this little side trip. It was a pretty cool road though - it climbed a mesa, passed through a narrow canyon, climbed another mesa and continued onto a large open rolling plain close to the mountains – Apple-Blossom Flats. The road intersections are not marked and I took a wrong turn even with the Delorme Utah Gazetteer.
Back on the Notom-Bullfrog southbound and no real problems. Some spots were rough with ruts from trucks driving through in very wet conditions. You just avoid the ruts.
Stopped at Cedar Mesa Campgrounds. This is primitive campground but a good base for a backpacking trip into the heart of Capitol Reef. The roads in the campground are very deeply rutted.
Stopped to climb a monocline that parallels the road and is simply wild looking. It is green and maroon stripped and about 100’ high at it’s highest point. It is composed of some kind of clay and looks like a badlands formation. On top of this continuous clay ridge are fairly large rocks. This formation runs right down the middle of Strike Valley for many miles.
The weather was again not cooperating. To my great disappointment the Henry Mountains to the east were buried in cloud cover. Somewhat overcast skies did not provide very good light for photography.
Arrived at junction of the Notom-Bullfrog and the Burr Trail. Climbed the Burr Trail switchbacks and drove the car to the parking area for Upper Muley Twist Canyon. This parking area is for vehicles that cannot negotiate the three mile jeep trail which leads to the Strike Valley Overlook.
Tried to drive the jeep trail to the overlook but unless you don’t need a muffler you can forget this in an average car. I made it less than a tenth of a mile before I hit large rocks.
The hike along this jeep trail is actually pretty awesome. You can climb onto slickrock in places or just observe the incredible rock formations. There are at least four impressive arches along the way. We eventually made it to the Strike Valley Overlook and the view is 180 degrees from north to east to south. You are about 750’ above Strike Valley and have a north-south edge on view of Capitol Reef. Looking east are the limestone colored Tarantula Mesas with the Henry Mountains just beyond. I took at least 1 1/2 rolls of film and have taken all the photos on this trip with my camera set at f-22 on a tripod. The light wasn’t the best because of a storm moving in from the north. We stayed at the overlook about a half an hour and hiked non-stop back to the car.
Westbound on the Burr Trail to Boulder UT. It’s 30 miles from Upper Muley Twist Canyon to Boulder and I saw no cars - only a cowboy on horseback herding cattle.
I stopped at the first open diner in Boulder. This is not a large town and more like a crossroads. The diner is a local operation and was expensive but very good.
The route we chose to take us back to the Capital Reef N.P. campground creates a huge loop drive that will consume most of a day. Hwy 12 northbound skirts Boulder Mountain and then drops down to Torrey, UT
There was a lot of snow on Boulder Mountain and it was slow driving.
Arrived Torrey, UT at the junction of Hwy 12 and Hwy 24. Stopped briefly at a convenience store and noticed my driver side rear tire was almost flat. The attendant gave me directions to a local mechanic. I finally found his home after a couple of misses. He indicated that he didn’t fix tires but recommended a Sinclair station in Bicknell, UT about 5 miles north on Hwy 24. I drove back to the convenience center and put more air in the tire. It was a slow leak and I decided to simply try to drive the 12 miles to Capitol Reef and fix the tire the next day. We made it without any trouble.
Another cold night but not a bad as the previous. I am starting to sleep in my coat. It seems to work. Our sleeping bags are 15 degree mummy bags but they need help in cold damp weather.
Up just after 7 AM and fixed coffee. All muffins are gone now.
Broke camp and had to fill tire with air. I always carry a portable air compressor.
Drove carefully 17 miles on Hwy 24 to Bicknell, UT and had tire plugged. A small sharp stone had pierced the tire. Repair cost $8.00 and I bought another $8.00 groceries.
Started for Bryce Canyon National Park. It’s about a 2 1/2 hour drive non-stop but considering this route passes some of the most scenic territory in Utah I expected it to take most of the day. Good light today.
Drove over Boulder Mountain again going southbound this time. The overlooks on Boulder Mountain are generally southeast. This means that the light will not be good in the morning for photography because you must look into the sun.
Stopped at a couple of overlooks along the “Hogback”. The “Hogback” is a several mile long narrow sandstone ridge that Scenic Highway 12 traverses near Calf Creek State Park. Good views down into the drainage on both sides of the road. The west side views are into the Calf Creek drainage.
Stopped at the great “Byerly Overlook”. One of the best in the west. You can see up to 80 miles in a 180 degree panorama of nothing but white slickrock in the fore and mid-ground and mountains in the background.
Stopped at the BLM Escalante Visitors Center. Picked up a new map of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and a lot of other literature. Also bought another softbound book “Stone Silence” of Colorado Plateau photographs by Linde Waidhofer.
Stopped at the “Blues Overlook”. Another great spot with impressive views of Powell Point and the Escalante Plateau. Taking a lot of photos - the light is very good and nice clouds.
Decided to check out Kodachrome Basin State Park. This park is on the paved portion of Cottonwood Canyon Road and is accessed at Cannonville, UT. It’s about 10 miles to the campground from Cannonville.
After checking out the campground we decided to stay at Kodachrome instead of driving way up in the cold air to Bryce Canyon N.P. Not very many other campers and they have showers. We are in real need of a shower by now.
Decided to drive to Bryce for sunset photos. Arrived at the park in a little over half an hour. Bryce is at 8000’ elevation and we had to climb 3500’ from Kodachome basin. We drove straight to Bryce Point Overlook. What can you say about Bryce other than this place is fantastic. We had fairly good light at first but it was getting late. By the time we got to Sunset Point the sun was disappearing below the horizon.
Left the park and on to Ruby’s Inn for dinner. This is a very good place to stay and eat. Unfortunately the restaurant is a little expensive in my opinion. We relaxed and had a good meal and bought another shaker of Utah natural mineral salt. Oddly enough, we were seated next to a fellow traveling with two women from France we had bumped into at the “Hogback”. I remembered them because they were playing their car radio loudly while I was trying to enjoy the view down into Calf Creek.
Back at Kodachrome and made use of the very nice showers in the Restroom facility. We had the showers to ourselves and since we hadn’t really cleaned up for almost a week we stayed in for about half an hour each. I felt a little guilty about the waste of water.
It was a great evening, a slight breeze and light jacket weather. We made a small fire and enjoyed this for maybe an hour and a half. Turned in at 11 PM.
Up at just after sunrise - warmest morning of the entire trip.
Took a brief walk around campground which is completely encircled by a bluff about 300’ high. There is also this incredibly realistic looking phallic rock formation. This thing is so blatant it’s hard to believe.
Bumped into a park ranger and asked her about the condition of Cottonwood Canyon Road. She indicated that it shouldn’t be a major problem negotiating this road if I was careful to avoid the ruts and a few possible wet areas.
Broke camp and headed south on Cottonwood Canyon Road. This road is like the Notom-Bullfrog road in that it is dirt and clay and no place to be if it is raining. Apparently what happens is that the clay gets wet and fills your tire treads and you simply have no traction. This road is around 45 miles long and cuts across the middle of the new National Monument. The road was pretty rough in places - mostly from ruts and it is like a roller coaster in the area that follows the base of the “Cockscomb”. The area is completely untouched with the exception of a power line. I was trying to find a spur road that climbs the Cockscomb.
The Cockscomb is a steeply tilted sandstone formation around 1000’ high that runs for one-hundred miles north to south. From what I have read this spur road is very steep. I missed the turn initially and decided to go back and try locating it again. Eventually found the turn off and the road almost immediately starts to switchback up the Cockscomb. The actual turns at the switchbacks were stepper than the straight stretches. This road has sections that literally drop off 200’ on either side of a single lane. It was really wild but it was also fun. I drove almost to the pass but was stopped by large embedded rocks. I had to work to get the car turned around.
We left the car only a quarter mile from the pass. At the pass we walked onto the east or backside of the Cockscomb and hiked through a basically flat area of scrub brush and juniper trees. The goal was to get to the high point of the Cockscomb because it offers a 360 degree view. After a short walk we started straight up the steep slope of this rock formation to ridgeline and were treated with incredible views to the west. After a quarter mile walk north along this jagged ridgeline we reached the high point. This is an awesome and strange landscape. Mostly massive white slickrock sandstone formations in the near distance but in the far distance southwest the rock is very deep red. I can see right into Hackberry Canyon. There is also a humongous rounded slickrock formation that is very yellow in color just south of Hackberry Canyon. Stayed on top for around half an hour - took a roll and a half of film. We decided to walk back to the car by downclimbing the west side of the ridgeline and traversing south. We bushwacked through an almost stair-step route with the massive overhangs of the Cockscomb overhead all the way back to the pass.
Back at the car and headed downhill on this wild road. Downhill was not as bad as uphill. The Escort has performed very well and I am impressed with this little car’s toughness. If it had better ground clearance it would be a jeep.
I am a little low on gas and took a calculated risk when we left Kodachrome this morning. We are back on Cottonwood Canyon Road and heading south at about 25 MPH. We drove at least 20 more miles south on this gravel/dirt road which follows the Paria River and then climbs a low plateau as it heads southeast before it intersects Hwy 89. I have less than 1/8th of a tank of gas.
Now east 30 miles to Page, AZ for gas. Glen Canyon is the closet thing in scale to the Grand Canyon. This place is big. I could see Page clearly and the Canyon walls all around, thought I was there, and then saw a sign indicating Page in nine miles. The Navajo powerplant sets on a rock shelf high above Page and you can see it belching steam and smoke long before you see Page. I also noticed Lake Powell had a 20’ deep bathtub ring, not sure why.
Bought gas in Page and took a quick lunch break at McDonalds.
Stopped at the BLM Paria Visitors Center on the way back toward Zion National Park. The attendant was not in a good mood. I thought I had secured a hiking permit into Coyotte Buttes and was anxious to verify the fact. I left on this trip before the permit came in the mail. I asked the agent if he had anything to do with the hiking permits and he indicated that he did. I asked if my name was on the list for April 4 and he indicated that it was not. I told him I had just driven Cottonwood Canyon Road. I’m not sure he believed me because he was hostile as hell and he told me the road was closed. I told him I didn’t know it was closed and had no serious problems driving it. He asked how I got through the washouts and I told him there were no washouts. Then I asked him about another back road I wanted to try. He said, “You don’t want to drive Winter Road, it’s nothing but junk like you see outside this window for 30 miles.” I got the idea the guy was having a PMS attack so I found a 7.5 quad of Lower Hackberry Canyon and left. I was pretty disappointed about not having the permit.
Back to the car and after about 25 miles westbound I drove into snow. We drove to Zion N.P. in snow all the way. It’s only a little over 2 hours from Page to Zion N.P.
The steep cliffs in Zion N.P.were really beautiful with this dusting of very wet snow. Unfortunately, there was so much fog that you couldn’t see the top of the canyon walls. We drove the park road back to the narrows and stopped to look at Angel’s Landing - it was buried in fog at the top. We stopped at the Visitors Center and got a very gloomy weather report for the next three days. The ranger advised against hiking any of the high exposed trails because of ice. We drove to the campground and considering the dismal weather there were quite a few people camped. We almost pitched the tent and then I finally agreed with Eric that this was pretty lousy, besides the ground was very wet. We turned around and started back to Page, AZ again disappointed. Zion National Park is an incredible place and deserves a solid week or two at a minimum.
Stopped at Kanab, UT to top off the gas tank. I was not really sure what we were doing. I was considering driving on to the Grand Canyon. We decided because of the distance to simply stay in a motel in Page, AZ.
Dark when we arrived back in Page. Stayed in the same Best Western that we stayed in three years ago.
Dinner at a local pizza place. Back to motel - very tired - turned in after watching the weather channel for a while.
Up late and left motel at 11 AM - $52.00
Decided to hike “Wirepass” to “Buckskin Gulch” and take “House Rock Valley Road” to “Lee’s Ferry”. Then on to the Grand Canyon for two nights.
Stopped at McDonalds for Breakfast in Page, AZ.
Stopped again at the Paria Visitors Center to check on Coyote Buttes hiking permit and I am still not on their list.
Drove to Wire Pass Trailhead. Paid $5.00 each for the hike. Was a little windy outside but there was very good light and some clouds.
Hiked the wash to the narrows and on to Buckskin Gulch. This is an easy and very good hike. I noticed the main path into Coyote Buttes was a quarter mile plus into the wash. The total distance for the round trip is around three miles.
Left Wire Pass and continued south on House Rock ValleyRoad. This is a gravel/dirt road normal car speed will be around 25 MPH. The road becomes washboard toward the junction with Hwy 89A. Great views of Coyotte Buttes and later the Vermillion Cliffs on the east side of the road.
Took Hwy 89A to Lee’s Ferry. This area is definitely impressive. It is ringed with high cliffs all around in various colors from deep chocolate to obviously vermillion. I found the hike out point on the Whitehouse to Lee’s Ferry Paria River backpacking trip. Also found the confluence of the Paria River and the Colorado River. The campground at Lee’s Ferry does not look too inviting because it is up on a flat pad bulldozed from the surrounding bench without any shade.
On to the Grand Canyon National Park on Hwy 89. The “Echo Cliffs” run for sixty miles along the left side of this highway as you are traveling south. They appear to range from 200’ to 400’ high and a fairly colorful. Lee’s Ferry to the Grand Canyon is one-hundred-twenty plus miles.
It’s $20.00 to enter the Grand Canyon now. I had a National Parks pass and broke even on it’s cost when we entered Zion National Park.
Stopped briefly at the Desert View overlook. This canyon is truly impressive!
Drove on to Mather Campground and as I suspected it was not full. Few people brave the cold weather to camp at this time of year at the south rim of Grand Canyon N.P. It’s almost 7000’ above sea level and gets very, very cold. There was more snow on the ground this year than four years ago. We found a good campsite near the shower and laundry facility. The ground was soft and wet from melting snow.
On to Yavapai Cafeteria for dinner. We spent quite a bit of time and money here four years ago and it was good to go back. It had not changed one bit. Still pretty expensive too.
Left the cafeteria around 9 PM and basically went back to the campsite and turned in. It was starting to get very cold.
Extremely cold during the night. I slept with my shirt, long johns, socks, stocking cap, and coat on and it was still not the best. The ground below was damp and it’s tough to get warm sleeping on wet and cold ground. We had a ground cloth, the tent floor, a closed cell foam pad and an open cell foam pad and the damp still got through.
The group next to us moved into their car during the night and slept with the heater running.
Up the next morning and a good layer of frost on everything.
Cloudless sky and when the sun came up things warmed very quickly.
To Yavapai Cafeteria for a very good breakfast.
Took $60.00 dollars from checking account at ATM machine.
Paid camping fee for 2 nights $24.00
Drove to Visitor’s Center. Can no longer drive to the West Rim. Had to take a shuttle.
We took a shuttle bus from the Visitor’s Center to Grand Canyon Village. Then picked up another shuttle to Hermit’s Rest. We got off the shuttle and walked for a while along the rim. It was a beautiful sunny day. Stopped at Powell Point and paid respects to John Wesley Powell’s memorial. Made a point of stopping at an overlook called ”The Abyss” that I remembered from our previous visit.
Eventually arrived at Hermit’s Rest. Inside I was amazed at the incredible fireplace. I did not remember it from our first visit four years ago. The fireplace is on a level one or two steps above the main entrance and sets in a deep niche created by a half dome of stone that completes the wall beyond a twelve foot high masonry arch. Incredible iron fireplace standards flank the hearth with overlarge chairs providing seats close by the fire. Very impressive.
I was so impressed with the fireplace at Hermit’s Rest that I bought a softbound book about the architect Mary Colter.
Spent about an hour here and took several shots of the outside of the building.
Rode a shuttle that was noisy as hell and smelled like diesel fuel, eight miles back to Grand Canyon Village. We explored Grand Canyon Village and checked out the lobby of the EL Tovar Hotel then returned to the Visitor’s Center by shuttle. Coincidentally, I spotted the French guy with the two women again. They must be doing the Grand Circle Tour. On the way back I noted the backcountry office that is now housed in a new heavy timber building modeled after a train station.
Picked up the car at Visitor’s Center and drove to Yavapai Cafeteria for dinner.
Bought some wood at Babbit’s General Store and returned to camp. Had a little campfire and relaxed for about three hours. I don’t do campfires typically but sometimes it’s pretty sweet. Turned in at 11 PM. Cold but not as bad as previous night.
Up and cold but not too bad.
Broke camp and tent bottom was very wet and sandy.
Back to Yavapai Cafeteria for breakfast.
To ATM machine for another $60.00
Left heading straight south on Hwy 180 for Flagstaff, AZ.
Took approximately two hours to drive to downtown Flagstaff. Stopped at the Flagstaff’s visitors center briefly to pick up some general literature on the area. I could live in Flagstaff. It’s a good place.
Left Flagstaff and on to Walnut Canyon National Monument. This national monument is approximately ten miles east of Flagstaff on Interstate 40. We briefly checked out the Visitor’s Center and walked down into the bottom of the canyon. It’s about 300’ feet deep and contains hundreds of small stone cliff dwellings.
Just a few miles east from Walnut Canyon on I-40 as you look south you can see the rim of Meteor Crater. If I had more energy and time I would have stopped at the crater.
Basically drove eastbound all day.
Eric drove from Grants AZ to just east of Albuquerque, NM. - a little over two hours. I really appreciate help driving because it gets very old.
As we passed Petrified Forest National Park I could see Pilot Rock. Pilot Rock is a backpacking goal for another trip.
Eventually made it to Tucumcari, NM where we stayed in an Econo Lodge for the night.
Left Tucumcari, NM at 11 AM
Stopped at a McDonald’s for breakfast. What can I say - it’s fast and their coffee is decent.
Back on Central Standard time at the New Mexico/Texas border.
Basically drove all the way to Kirkwood.
I noticed that there is a lot of farms around Amarillo, Texas. They also have this incredible wind turbine at an agricultural research station. It must be 100’ tall and looked just like the mast on Kevin Kostner’s boat in “Waterworld”. I think this design responds to wind in any direction.
Eric drove between Amarillo, TX and Oklahoma City, OK. He was stopped for speeding by an Oklahoma State Highway patrolman in Oklahoma City. He was so rattled that he killed the car trying to stop. The Patrolman gave him a warning.
Started to get dark between Tulsa, OK and Joplin, MO. This area is very pleasant and almost park-like.
Eric drove again from just past Joplin, MO to Rolla, MO.
We arrived back at 1:30 AM CST.