Easier to reach petroglyphs on a boulder at the bottom

Angel's Window at Cape Royal

Teri and Dick "on the rock" above the Bright Angel trail

Amazing views everywhere

Teri and Dick show off their Thousand Mile Challenge shirts 

Landscape Arch in the mist

Unexpected hail on the road as we drove out of the park

Ancient tufa high above Mono Lake

Looking east over Tenaya Lake and the mountains beyond

 

Grand Canyon & Arches National Park

  

Links to Photos, related links, and More Travel Reports at bottom

  

Valley of Fire     Grand Canyon     On the Road     Arches Day 1 & 2

About the Arches     Canyonlands National Park     Arches Day 3     The Road to Tonopah

Eastern Sierra Stopover     Yosemite via Tioga Pass

   

In November of 2014 I mentioned to my daughter Teri that I would like to go to Arches National Park, and hike to Delicate Arch one more time while I still can.

Within a week she had made a reservation for us at the Red Cliffs Lodge, on Highway 128 outside Moab. We got to talking about other places we could go on the trip, and I mentioned my visit to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in 2003. She then made reservations for a cabin at the canyon, and our big trip was planned.

 

At the time it was a long ways into the future. But time has a way of passing quickly, and after eleven months of anticipation, our departure date arrived on Monday, October 12. Teri came over VERY early, I loaded my stuff in her car, and we got on the road a little before 6 a.m. Since I've traveled most of the route over a dozen times since I retired, and written about it at least that many, I'll just briefly state that we went south on California 99, east on CA 58, and northeast on I-15, through Las Vegas, en route to Mesquite NV for an overnight stop.

Our route ran close to a place I've visited twice, Nevada's first state park, the Valley of Fire. I had not considered a detour to this location, because it would add at least two hours to our total first day travel time. However, as we approached the Nevada-California state line, it was barely noon, so I mentioned the possibility, and Teri enthusiastically agreed.

North of Las Vegas we left I-15 on Valley of Fire Highway and drove through rugged desert country to the park. This is a land of red, white and tan sandstone cliffs, small canyons, and fascinating rock formations. Our first stop was down a side road to Atlotl Rock, where there are a number of petroglyphs, said to date back 9,000 years. The main section is reached by a metal stairway, and we made the climb. After viewing the art and climbing back down, we walked around the rock and spotted other artwork just above ground level at the back of the formation.

We drove on to Arch Rock, a small arch in the sandstone right beside the road. We walked around this rock also, but went only a short distance, with the temperature of 94 degrees discouraging extensive hiking.

Beyond this was Rainbow Vista, where multi-color layers in the rock show the evolution of the terrain. We walked a few hundred yards on a path into the terrain here, finding some unique rock shapes and examples of erosion.

Our final stop on the side road was a parking lot where we had an expansive view of the surrounding desert floor, rocks, cliffs, and hardy drought-tolerant plant life, as well as some interesting ridges in the rock floor of the area.

We returned to the main road and stopped at the visitor center, a very nice facility with photos and an explanation of how the area was formed. Our final stop was at Elephant Rock, which is best described by this photo. It was about a quarter mile on a trail that ended right at the road above where we were parked. You could see the formation from your car, but there is nowhere to stop, and of course, the exercise of hiking is part of our reason for traveling.

Our visit was enhanced by the sightings of two lizards, and Teri was duly impressed with the Valley of Fire, and glad we had the time to add this extra location to our itinerary.

We drove out of the park, then back to I-15 on Nevada Highway 169, a road that goes up the Moapa River Valley, through Overton and Logandale. The latter is the location of a bluegrass festival I attended in 2002 and 2003, when I made my previous visits to the park. Along this section of our trip we were lucky enough to see a roadrunner, the first one I had spotted for about ten years.

From the highway 169 junction with I-15, it was less than 30 miles to our stopping place, the Virgin River Lodge in Mesquite, right on the Arizona border. This was just a quick overnight stop, so once we got checked in, we did not leave the motel room. Teri had brought food for the entire trip, and we had a light supper. We got a fairly early start the next day, with our target being Grand Canyon Lodge on the North Rim.

 

Just east of Mesquite, I-15 goes across the northwest corner of Arizona for about 30 miles before entering Utah. In this section you approach a range of mountains. Just as you are trying to figure out whether the highway goes around them or over them, you enter the deep, narrow gorge of the Virgin River. High rocky cliffs tower above the road, and you get glimpses of the river many feet below the road.

We stopped here to take a few photos, then continued into Utah and a short distance past St. George. From here our route was Utah Highways 9 and 59, Arizona Highway 389, and then US 89A from the town of Fredonia. From this point the road climbs up to the Kaibab Plateau, with the scenery changing from sagebrush and other desert shrubs to juniper and piñon pine, then to ponderosa pine and finally firs and spruce after entering the park. The elevation change is from around 4,600 at Fredonia to 7,800 along the roads on the Plateau.

At an elevation of 6,700 feet, we stopped at the LeFevre Overlook. From here we could look back to the north at the area of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, with multi-colored rock cliffs spread across the landscape for many miles. These layers of sandstone and other rock are part of the southern end of the Colorado Plateau.

Next to the parking lot, several Navajo women had set up tables and were selling jewelry. In many such locations this activity is carried out in defiance of signs prohibiting it, but at LeFevre Overlook  it's a legal, licensed activity. Teri picked out several items for herself and for gifts.

We stopped at Jacob Lake and went into the US Forest Service visitor center and the store, where I was able to find a cuddly stuffed coyote for my great grandson Jack's first birthday gift. From there we took the Grand Canyon Highway, which ends at the edge of the North Rim. This road goes through some very scenic areas, although one section was distressing due the scars from a large forest fire that has left many trees as standing, burnt sticks.

On the other hand, we passed meadows, brown for fall, lined with golden aspen trees, and several miles that I dubbed "the million-mullein highway," due to vast numbers of this tall plant, which seems to grow at every elevation in every state.

When we entered the park itself, the trees became larger, with spruce and fir dominating. The rim is slightly lower than the high point of the highway, so the area surrounding the lodge is ponderosa forest, giving way to piñon and juniper just below the rim.

Once we arrived at the lodge area, we found a parking spot, then walked down the Bright Angel Trail, a paved path that goes down about 100 feet below the rim, out to a point with a view of the canyon on three sides. The trail is only a half mile, although the final return approach is fairly steep. It connects with the Transept Trail, which follows the rim for about a mile and a half, and ends at the campground. Along this trail right below the lodge are two short side trails that go down steps to vista points that are out from the rim a short distance, and we went to both of these, but did not walk the entire Transept Trail at any time.

The facility offers rooms in the main lodge (VERY expensive), and several different size cabins. Teri had reserved one of the smaller cabins, the only thing available at the time, even though she called ten months in advance (!). These are quite small but very nice, log construction chinked with concrete. I'm pretty certain they are pre-fab, since constructing them on-site would have been a nightmare. Even so, assembling had to be a challenge, with everything located on a gentle slope with trees everywhere.

There was no refrigerator or cooking facilities, but Teri had brought ice chests, a camp stove, and a folding table to cook on outside. This didn't work out - while cooking on the second evening, we were informed that absolutely NO outside fires of any kind were permitted, a National Park rule.

We had warm beef stroganoff, picking out the still too chewy noodles, and ordered a pizza the next night.

One of the attractions of the Kaibab Plateau is a rare species of squirrel, which evolved differently from its relatives due to the isolation of the area. The Kaibab squirrel has tufted ears and a white tail. We were lucky enough to see one the first evening, watching as he ran around the area near our cabin, then up a ponderosa to enjoy a snack of pine stems.

We also saw another one three different times. On our last morning he posed on the porch of the cabin directly across from ours, ran up a tree with a nut, came back down and got a drink from a seep that ran out from a leaking pipe, then went right past our feet and up another tree.

Speaking of animal life, we saw other species of squirrels and chipmunks, bats, and five deer meandering through the cabins

After supper the first night, near sunset, we went out to the vista point below the lodge. Throughout the day, the colors of the rock change as the sun moves across the sky, and sunset is an especially nice time. The lodge has a patio on the edge of the rim, as well as a lounge inside and slightly higher, with large windows, and many people were enjoying the end of the day from these locations.


October 14, our first full day at the canyon, we visited what I call "the peninsulas." Because of the higher elevation and greater snowfall, the side canyons on the north rim have been cut back much deeper than on the south, creating long, narrow points of land perpendicular to the main canyon. From the lodge we drove back the Grand Canyon Highway three miles, then five miles on a road that goes mostly to the east, and another three miles to Point Imperial, the highest viewpoint on the rim at 8,803 feet. You can also take a ten mile trail that starts near the lodge, and continues on past the point for many miles. We went out the short path to the edge, and also walked a short distance on the long trail, getting a slightly different angle on things.

Along the road to the high point, we went though another fire scarred area, which I believe dates from about 2001.

We retraced our route from Point Imperial to a road that goes 15 miles to Cape Royal, with a number of viewpoint stops along the way. We made all the stops, some of which required only a short walk from the parking area. At Roosevelt Point there is a trail of about a half mile to the farthest point, but the longest "hike" was at the end of the road at Cape Royal. As we started down this road I told Teri we should stop at each point we came to, ending with Cape Royal. She asked why not do it the other way, but I just said, "wait and see." She agreed with me that Cape Royal provided one of the best views on the north rim, and was a fitting climax to the day.

Probably in second place was Valhalla Overlook, where you can see the Colorado River. Back from the rim a short distance are the ruins of Indian dwellings that were occupied during the summer months; in the winter the natives descended to the river to avoid the worst of the winter weather.

Although the individual sections we walked were mostly fairly short, we managed a total of 3.3 miles for the day, helping me to a record total for the month and moving Teri that much closer to her thousand mile goal. It also gave us a good appetite for our pizza supper that evening.

The first night, when we were out at sunset, we noticed quite a few stars coming out as soon as it started to get dark, so on the second night we waited until full darkness and went out on the trail below the lodge. We immediately had an amazing view of the Milky Way, and walking a short distance from the lodge got us away from most ambient light. We lay down on the rock and enjoyed the best star view I've seen in  a number of years.

For our final day there we had planned to hike part way down the North Kaibab Trail. This goes to the bottom of the canyon, but only people who are crazy or in extremely good physical condition attempt to go down and back in a day. There are several "official" turnaround points, and we planned to go Coconino Overlook, a round trip hike of one and a half miles, with an elevation change of 800 feet each way.

However, by the time we got up, I was feeling the effects of the previous days' activities, and decided to let Teri do the hike on her own, while I stayed around the village. I have referred to Grand Canyon Lodge, but the area also includes a visitor center (operated by the National Park Service), a post office, and a number of commercial facilities - a gift shop, upscale restaurant, coffee shop/bar, cafe with pizza and sandwiches, and a general store with groceries and camping supplies.

Although I went into the gift shop and visitor center, my main activities were reading and photography. In addition to the Nikon Coolpix camera that I take on all trips, I had brought my larger Canon SLR with a telephoto zoom lens. I took this and my tripod down to the vista point near the lodge and took a number of photos, then moved down the trail a ways for a different angle. I was attempting the mandatory "Dick on the Rock" photo, but having trouble getting into position before the self-timer went off, when a very nice lady offered to take the picture for me.

On my second photo walk a young man named Lance volunteered for the same task, although his aim was a little off and Teri and I went to the same location later that day, again getting help from a fellow tourist who operated the camera, doing a better job.

I also met an interesting pair of hikers at the upper end of the Bright Angel Trail, a man and his 83-year old mother, who had just taken up hiking. She was wishing aloud that she had brought her hiking poles and we discussed the benefits of these tools, and she vowed to always have them with her on future walks.

Meanwhile, hiking solo Teri was able to go to the second stopping point on the Kaibab Trail, the Supai Tunnel, a four mile round trip hike with an elevation change of 1,450 feet. She had a great time and took some nice photos, and learned a few things. She is planning to hike to the bottom in 2016, spend several days there, and hike back out. Although she has been running, hiking and walking far more than I do to get in shape, she reported that she needs a lot more training to manage the uphill hike. She also ended her hike with just a few drops of water left, although she took close to a gallon - and this in the relatively cool fall season.

Through this day the weather had been clear and warm, with bright blue skies. Rain was predicted  for Friday, October 16, our departure day, and clouds began rolling in during the night. We had got as much packed as possible the night before, so we just had to do last minute stuff in the morning. While we were taking things to the car, a few drops of rain started to fall. We got everything loaded and said a reluctant goodbye to the canyon. Everyone there had to do the same thing that day - it was the final day before all facilities closed for the winter, since the plateau gets around six feet of snow.

 

As far as Kanab, we drove back along the same route we'd traveled to the park. Here we stayed on US 89, which took us all the way to I-70. I had driven much of this route, but the section from Kanab to the junction with Utah 14 was new to me. All of it was scenic, with typical Colorado Plateau features - canyons, mesas, sandstone of various colors, and sage brush. We crossed the Virgin River twice, at Mt. Carmel and Orderville.

A bit farther north, the road follows the Sevier River, which flows north, makes a loop after crossing the interstate, and flows south and slightly west into a lake near Delta Utah, about 30 miles west of I-70 on US50.

There are a number of scenic viewpoint stops on I-70, mostly in the "no services available" stretch between Utah Highway 10 and US 191. We stopped at most of them. These areas are similar to what we saw and would see in and near the national parks, but each is somewhat different and each offers something new to enjoy.

Where 191 comes in from the north near Green River, Utah, it is contiguous with I-70 for about 25 miles, then heads south to Moab, the final leg of our journey. Besides the parks, the Moab area offers opportunities for off road vehicles and bicycling, and fans of all these choices seemed to be arriving in Moab at the same time we did - Friday night at 5:30. Although the road to our final stop went east from 191 before entering Moab proper, we needed gas, so we drove slowly about a half mile to the first available station and took care of that.

Back up the road, we turned east at the Colorado River on Utah 128, heading for Red Cliffs Lodge, 14 miles up the canyon. Every bit of the way is through a deep gorge, with red and white sandstone cliffs and many dramatic rock formations. The area around the lodge was more of the same, looking like the perfect setting for a western movie. In fact, the ranch where the lodge is located and the surrounding country figured in many films, and somewhere close by is the cliff where Thelma and Louise took their flying leap.

Our accommodations here were much more comfortable than the cabin at Grand Canyon - a large living room/kitchen, two bedrooms, patio facing the river, and a kitchen with a microwave and small refrigerator. Still no cooking allowed, but the patio provided enough privacy in case we wanted to fire up the camp stove (I am NOT admitting that we did).

We were also delighted to see a herd of horses in a large pasture across the ranch road from us. They were sometimes shut in a corral at night, but during the week we got several good looks and some photos.

 

We got settled in, unpacked our luggage, and enjoyed the view from the patio, before getting to bed at an early hour. As the date for our trip approached we had been looking at the web site for the parks, and saw a warning for Arches that parking lots fill up early and there are long lines at the entrance station. In addition, the trailhead parking lot for the iconic Delicate Arch would be closing for repairs on Monday for several weeks. Therefore, we needed to make that hike Saturday or Sunday, and getting there early would be a good idea.

We got up early, had breakfast, and drove the 20 miles to the park, then a few more to the Delicate Arch trailhead. The main parking lot was about half full, and an overflow lot was empty, but we were happy to be on the trail around 8:30. The trail, which I had hiked in 2002, is about a mile and a half, mostly uphill, but not very steep. The first part goes up over a ridge, then down and across a wash, and back up. After the first half, much of the trail is on sandstone, with rock cairns marking the way. There are endless amazing views along the way, so we took it easy, took lots of photos, and arrived at the arch after about 90 minutes.

Delicate Arch is familiar to many from its appearance on Utah's license plates and as the official logo for the National Park Service early in this century. It is perched on the edge of a cliff, with an inverted cone shaped bowl next to it. There are no other named arches nearby, but there are plenty of amazing sandstone formations, especially along a wash that runs on the "back" side of the arch, opposite the trail approach.

We probably spent at least an hour there, taking pictures, getting our photos taken with the arch, taking pictures for others so the entire group could be in the photo, and walking around the area. It's fairly easy to walk around from where the trail comes in to the arch. All of the walking area is solid sandstone, slightly tilted in spots, and usually fairly narrow. We went to the arch and under it, but there were people going to the far side and down below, places where Teri and I did not feel comfortable walking. We had wonderful views from the places we did go.

Eventually we had to take a last look, and start back down the trail. Although we saw a lot of people on the trail going up, and there were several dozen at the arch at any one time, the real crowds were going up the trail as we went down. When we were able to get a view of the parking lot from above, the wisdom of our early departure was revealed - both the main lot and the overflow lot were essentially full.

The road to the parking lot continues on another half mile or so to a place where the arch can be seen without hiking. There is a half mile trail up to a ridge directly across from the arch, but we were not ready for anymore walking. Instead we took the 700 foot trail that leads to the view, and got our final look at the centerpiece of Arches National Park.

Driving back out to the park entrance, we stopped at Panorama Point, where we had a view into the Salt Valley, which runs across several miles of the park, as well as a distant look at Balanced Rock. Continuing on out the road, we stopped briefly at this dramatic rock formation, but decided to wait till another day to take the trail around it.

We made two more stops. At Petrified Dunes Vista you look over an expanse of rounded sand dunes that have been cemented together over the years, but our attention was drawn by the great wall of sandstone that parallels the road for a mile or two opposite the dunes. Finally we pulled into the parking lot at Park Avenue. Here rock formations give the impression of a row of buildings perched on a wall of sandstone that runs down into a valley. There are also other fantastic formations in the area, and a one-mile hiking trail down the valley.

When we neared the park entrance, we stopped at the visitor center to read information and see displays relating to the history and geology of the region. I also added an Arches National Park shirt to my excessive collection of t-shirts.

It should be noted that, while there were plenty of people and cars in the park, we found a parking place everywhere we went, and the lines at the entrance station were only three or four cars long.

That night there were a few sprinkles, but it was nice the next day. We still had four days in this area, with plans for two more visits to Arches, and one to Canyonlands. Activities for the fourth day were left open, which worked out well. The terrible act of setting an alarm during vacation, our early start, and a fairly strenuous hike convinced us to spend the next day around the lodge. The property is quite large, and we did a couple of good walks, although nothing that could be called a hike. When we first went out, we saw raccoon tracks in the dirt right next to the cabin, but we never saw the perpetrators. 

We read, napped, watched the river, and just generally enjoyed our surroundings. On one of our walks we visited the movie museum at the lodge. This is an excellent facility, with photos and information about movies filmed in the area. The museum focuses on all of southeastern Utah and the Four Corners area, which includes Monument Valley, famed director John Ford's favorite location. Displays include a number of original movie posters, including Stagecoach, the film that made John Wayne a star.

Late in the afternoon Teri realized she needed to get a new supply of the decongestant she is using, something that can be purchased over the counter, but only at a pharmacy, so we drove into Moab. It turned out that neither of the town's two pharmacies is open on Sunday, so we got some groceries, and did some souvenir shopping. Teri got t-shirts for her husband Tim, and son Mikie; I got shirts for my great grandsons Colton and Jack.

We returned to the lodge, where Teri fixed a delicious fajita dinner. We had rain going to and coming from town, and not long after our return we stepped outside to discover a rainbow over the sandstone cliffs.

The next day was our day to see as many of the arches and other features as we could, but limiting ourselves to short hikes. This was no problem, since the Windows Section offers four major named arches, all visible from the road, but all better enjoyed by taking the short trails that give you a closer look. In addition, the road beyond the turnoff to Delicate Arch has another three short trails to significant arches.

 

About The Arches: At this point I'd like to digress and offer some general comments about arches, and mention some of the more significant ones. With the greatest concentration of natural stone arches in the world, Arches National Park contains over 2,000 arches. Needless to say, no visitor sees all of them, and even if you were willing and able to hike over every foot of the park, you could easily miss some of them.

In the past there was discussion over what constituted an arch, and whether an opening was an arch, a bridge, a window, or just a hole in the rock. A definition was established - an arch must be at least three feet in any one direction. With no requirement as to width, there are some very narrow arches where you have to put your eye right up to the rock to see light through them.

Natural bridges are formed by water, and span a current or former waterway. There's no official definition for windows, but the term often defines an arch high up in a narrow fin of rock, or an opening that frames a particular scene.

With someone to drive and someone to look around at the scenery, Teri and I saw a number of arches that I had not noticed when I drove past them on my previous visits. We also saw most of the major named arches in the park. Delicate Arch is probably the best known, and it's certainly scenic, but we enjoyed some others just as much. Delicate Arch is kind of off by itself, with only a few small nameless arches nearby.

In the Windows Area there are several major arches: North and South Window, Turret Arch, and Double Arch. You can see all these arches driving by in a car, but taking the short trails for a close-up look is very much  worth the effort. There are several other nameless lesser arches visible in this location.

Along the road beyond the turnoff to Delicate Arch are three major arches, one visible from the road, and all reached via short trails. We visited all three, Sandstone, Broken, and Skyline Arch. Demonstrating that the earth is not a finished product, the latter arch doubled in size in 1940 when tons of rock fell from one side of the existing opening.

On the Devil's Garden Trail, which starts from the end of the road, you can see the longest arch in the park, Landscape Arch, a rather thin span the length of a football field. Side trails off the main path lead to Tunnel Arch, Pine Tree Arch, Navajo Arch, and Partition Arch. The latter can be seen at an angle from the trail near Landscape Arch. The trail also leads to Double O and Private Arches, which we did not visit and which I have never seen. Landscape Arch also has had recent rock falls since 1990, one of them witnessed and photographed. Along the trail to Double O is the remains of Wall Arch, which was standing when I visited in 2002 and 2004, but which collapsed several years ago.

One of the best arches is also one of the most difficult to get to, requiring a drive of about seven miles on a rough dirt road, and a three mile round trip hike. I made the journey to Tower Arch in 2002, but we did not have the time or the inclination to take Teri's Toyota Avalon on that road.

Our first stop on Monday was the Windows Section, about a mile off the main road. In our advance research we had learned that part of the parking lot in this location is closed for repairs, so finding a parking place could be a problem. It turned out that there were people coming and going all the time, and we soon found a spot right next to the Double Arch Trail. Double Arch is one of four (or maybe two of five) named arches in this area, and the trail to it offers views of at least two other arches. The trail is short, and the arch is spectacular, two huge, adjacent openings with very thick, sturdy-looking rock. (Appearances mean nothing when time and water do their work, however).

To the west side of the trail is a series of huge rock formations known as Parade of the Elephants, and they live up to their name in appearance. There is a small arch in this formation, and another nameless one to the east of Double Arch.

You can walk up to and into the arches, depending on how much rock scrambling you are willing to do. Teri went well into the first arch, and I got very close and took pictures.

After returning to the parking area, we took a trail that goes uphill from the lower lot to the upper, and walked on the trail that goes to Turret Arch and the Windows. Turret Arch has a small tower as part of the rock formation, and also a small companion arch. I had never walked up this part of the trail, so I enjoyed my closest look ever at this arch.

The trail then goes up to the South Window, and again we went inside, despite some worrisome cracks in the rock that have so far held up through all my visits. The Windows are two somewhat symmetrical openings, about fifty feet apart, in a large sandstone wall. From a distance they look somewhat like a pair of glasses, giving them the alternate name of The Spectacles.

A trail goes all the way around the Windows, but we skipped that and took the trail that returns to the parking lot. There's a side trail to North Window, but we also skipped that one.

Driving back to the main road we noticed a small arch high up in the wall to the west, Pothole Arch. I had not seen it before, and we didn't stop then, but we did make a quick visit there our last day.

Continuing into the park, we discovered that the road to the Delicate Arch area was closed due to flooding along the road. On Saturday we had driven through two areas where water flows across that road, but at that time there was no problem. The trailhead parking lot had closed that day for repairs, but the flooding meant that for several days visitors could not even drive to the view point.

Looking at the park map I had noticed an arch I had not seen before, Sand Dune Arch. It's not visible until you get right by it, but the trail is a short walk from the parking lot. Along about this time Teri became a fan of fins, tall, thin slabs of rock that appear in various locations throughout the park. The walk to Sand Dune was a narrow passage between two large fins, and the arch itself is set back in an alcove.

Sand Dune is on a short side trail, and the main route goes about a half mile to Broken Arch. As the park literature points out, it's not really broken, but does have a big notch at the top. This trail was mostly through a flat area covered in sage brush and other small desert vegetation, but the last few hundred feet went through some nice rock formations, and down across a wash. The trail continues through the arch and on to the park's only campground, but we returned the way we came. I had been to Broken Arch, but had forgotten how nice the overall setting was, and we both enjoyed this hike.

This left us with one more arch stop for the day. Skyline Arch is visible from the road, and I had never walked the half mile trail up to the arch. Seeing it up close, I realized that this arch is much more impressive when you are standing next to it. It is located high up in the top part of a large sandstone wall, with a sheer cliff of 50 feet or more below the arch. Piled at the base of the cliff are the huge rock chunks that fell from it in 1940.

After this walk, we turned the car back toward the park entrance, making one more stop, at Balanced Rock. This fantastic formation is 128 feet high, with a 55 foot high boulder perched on a small pedestal. It looks ready to fall any day, and indeed, a small version of it nearby collapsed years ago. It would be good to avoid this location when it does fall - the boulder weighs in the neighborhood of 3,500 tons. There is a nice trail that goes all the way around the rock, and from one side it looks a lot more solid than the other.

This ended our third day in this area, with a visit to nearby Canyonlands National Park and another good hike in Arches still on our schedule.

That evening we were treated to a very loud thunderstorm, with the crash of thunder following lightning flashes by just a few seconds. Later in the night it was clear with a bright moon, but lightning flashes were visible down the Colorado River canyon. The storm by that time was far enough away that no thunder could be heard.

Over the several days that we stayed at Red Cliffs Lodge, we noticed almost daily changes in the river. On Monday night it was running higher and the water was noticeably brown. On Tuesday morning the flow was the same, but it was less brown. A tributary that comes in from the north, possibly Courthouse Wash, was flowing more this morning that at any previous time.

 

The best rain effects were yet to come, but first was our trip into Canyonlands National Park. Located west of Arches across US Highway 191, Canyonlands is divided into three major areas, Island in the Sky, the Needles, and the Maze. Getting from one to the other requires leaving the park and driving up to 100 miles. The Maze is mostly inaccessible except by 4-wheel drive. The most frequently visited section is Island in the Sky, which is approached via Utah Highway 313. Traveling this route, there is a change in elevation from around 4,000 to 6,000 feet.

For many miles the road goes through Bureau of Land Management territory, which includes a campground, and some nice views of sandstone cliffs and other formations. The most dramatic are The Monitor and the Merrimac, two large buttes that resemble the famous Civil War ships. There's a viewpoint with a restroom where you can get a good look at these. We were south of the formations; there are bike trails in the vicinity which start off US 191 on the north side.

The road through the park runs across a long, semi-level plateau flanked by the Colorado and Green Rivers. Along the way are a number of places to stop and enjoy views into the canyons below, but only one place where you can actually see a river.

When you come to a viewpoint into the terrain below the south side of the plateau, you look down on another level of flat territory about 1,200 feet below, with canyons cut into it that go down still another 2,000 feet or so. Across from the visitor center the view includes a look at Shafer Trail, a 4-wheel drive road that descends through a series of dizzying switchbacks to the plateau below. This route was built during uranium mining days in the 1950s, and is now used by hikers, bikers, and 4-wheel drive vehicles. Down on the lower plateau it joins the White Rim Road, which is level much of the way, and winds through the park for about 100 miles. This route also dates from uranium prospecting days.

The next stop for us beyond this was the trail to Mesa Arch. This trail goes a half mile out to a nice arch right on the edge of the cliff. It may not be as impressive as some of  the formations in its sister park to the east, but its location and the view through it into the canyon make it stand out. We were fortunate enough to be there when a ranger was leading a group of kids on the hike, and she pointed out another arch in a rock formation in the canyon.

Just past Mesa Arch a side road goes five miles out to a viewpoint and trail head. We went on this road just a short distance and turned left on another road that goes to Green River Overlook, the only place you can see the river from close to the road. The view down to the next level here is fairly dramatic and you can see sections of the river. Like the Colorado, it was actually brown.

Back at the junction, we continued to the end of the main road, another eight miles to Grand View Point Overlook. As if nature had saved the best for last, this is the most striking vista in the Island in the Sky. We looked down 1,300 feet to the White Rim, a hard layer of white sandstone that forms a sharply defined rim above the next canyon, known as Monument Basin. Within the canyon, vertical fractures in the sandstone have caused the rocks to erode into steep-sided walls, columns and pinnacles.

While we were enjoying the view here, we started seeing lightning, with dark clouds off to the west. It became cooler and windy, and by the time we reached the car, it had started sprinkling. We were ready for lunch, which we wisely ate in the car. I had to get out to get something from the trunk, and by this time the wind was blowing the rain nearly sideways. I got back in with my left side wet and my right side still dry.

A couple parked next to us, put on rain jackets, and went out toward the vista. They were back within five minutes, jumping in the car immediately without taking off their rain gear. Another couple arrived and did the same thing, returning to their car even faster.

Our trip home brought us some sights and experiences we never expected and gave us an appreciation for good luck and timing. Along the road there were puddles and swampy areas in many locations. The rainfall had been heavy enough that normally dry washes along the way were flowing, including one that poured over the rocks in a small waterfall, and one that dropped over rocks on one side, then ran through a culvert, hit a rock, and shot up into the air higher than the road surface.

A little farther along we stopped at a vista for Shafer Canyon, where we noticed a waterfall coming over a cliff nearby, about 50 feet high. After we drove past the visitor center and out of the park, we started seeing something white along the road, which we though might be hail. With no traffic behind us, Teri stopped the car, and we saw that it was indeed patches of hail by the edge of the road and in the grass nearby. A mile or so farther on we came over a hill, and before us the entire roadway had a layer of hail, with two tracks worn in it by cars that had gone out ahead of us. There were tracks on the inbound lane also, but much less well defined, since it was late in the day, and the storm had probably caused visitors to turn back.

Our enjoyment of weather phenomena was not over. When we approached Moab we drove into town to fill the gas tank. Near the north end of the city there was a heavy flow of reddish water across the road, not deep enough to stop traffic, but causing everyone to slow down and proceed with caution.

Since the entire 14-mile route up the Colorado River canyon to our lodge is lined with cliffs, we were on the lookout for more waterfalls, and we were not disappointed. We saw at least three waterfalls, including one that hit a rock platform half way up the cliff, forming an upper and lower fall. This one also ran from the base of the cliff toward the road and over another small cascade. All of these falls were gone when we drove out the next morning, so once again we profited from good luck and good timing. By the lodge, the river was running brown and higher than ever.

 

The next day, our last before starting home, we had two goals: Hike the Devil's Garden Trail at least to Landscape Arch, and see everything we had missed the previous days. It was threatening rain when we got up, and we had rain or sprinkles driving into the park. The trail we wanted starts at the end of the road, and goes near a number of arches. Taking the entire trail, including all spur trails to points of interest and the primitive loop trail would have been a 7.2 mile round trip. Although the .8 mile stretch to Landscape Arch is relatively level and easy, the loop trail requires hiking on "narrow ledges with rocky surface hiking and scrambling on slickrock." In addition, it is hard to follow in places. We had no intention of attempting this adventure.

It was still sprinkling when we started our hike, but we had our ponchos, and were undaunted. It was also very cool, and I wanted to put my hands in the pockets of my poncho. I was carrying only one hiking pole, so I was able to have one warm hand at a time.

The rain diminished to a mist, and after we had been hiking for a while, Teri said, "There it is - I hope this mist clears." I looked and did not see the arch, and thought that she was mistaken, but as we went on, it became barely visible through the mist. She explained that she saw it briefly, then it disappeared.

Despite the poor visibility, we took photos from various angles, and agreed with several other hikers that the conditions created a special kind of atmosphere. After we had been in the area for a while, the arch became more and more visible, and by the time we left the area, we had a clear view.

We were also able to see a double opening in the rock a ways beyond Landscape, and looking at the map we determined that this was Partition Arch, which can be seen close up by taking one of the spur trails beyond where we turned back. I visited this arch as well as Navajo Arch on a separate spur trail in 2002.

I had wanted to continue on the trail at least to the location of Wall Arch, which had collapsed since my last visit in 2004. However, we had trouble finding the trail, and it went up a difficult route on the rock. Sandstone becomes very slick when wet, and neither of us were comfortable trying to continue beyond that point.

By this time the rain had stopped, so we took off our ponchos, and enjoyed a snack while resting. About half way between the trailhead and Landscape Arch, a side trail goes to two other arches, and we visited both of them. Tunnel Arch is fairly small, but the rock it goes through is thick, making it one of the deeper arches and no doubt giving rise to the name. There is another smaller arch nearby, which we named Little Tunnel Arch, because it goes through the same thick wall.

A little farther on is Pine Tree Arch, so named because there are several trees growing under it, including piñon and juniper. Across from this arch is a high rock fin, adding to the beauty of the area. At the start of the trail we had noticed what appeared to be an arch in the rocks east of the trail, and we realized on our return that we had got a preview of Pine Tree Arch. We also realized that Tunnel Arch went through a wall that ran along the main trail, and we looked for it on the way out. We could see the opening, but could not see through at that point, so it would not stand out as an arch if you had not made the trip to view it from the other side.

Throughout the hike, the arches are only a small part of the fantastic landscape we enjoyed. There are fins, towers, spires and many more fascinating formations.

When we got back to the car and were taking off our packs, we were visited by the Free Sandwich Man. Actually it was someone who was with a bus carrying a group of students from a university in St. George. They had two large sandwiches from a Moab bakery that no one wanted, and we were happy to accept them. We realized that they were bigger than we could eat, so we split one. Soon three young men came along starting their hike and Teri said we could give them the second sandwich. It turned out that they had come out with nothing but water, and were already realizing their mistake, so they were delighted to receive the sandwich. Of course, we realized without discussing it that it would be a small portion divided among three 20-somethings.

After finishing our free lunch, we started back out of the park, with a couple of stops planned. The first one was at the Fiery Furnace. This is an area of tangled and twisted rock formations, narrow passages, and pinnacles. The complexity of this area is best explained by the fact that foot travel in the area is limited to a ranger-led hike, with advance registration required. However, you can walk a short trail to an overlook with a good view. Along the way some park visitors with lots of time have constructed tiny arches using rocks from the area. One mini-arch even had a smaller arch on top of it.

Next we went down the Windows road a short distance to Pothole Arch. This small feature is high up on the cliff and hard to see and photograph.

South and slightly east of the park is a high mountain range, the La Sal Mountains. These are visible from many places in both Arches, Canyonlands, and the surrounding area, and they can be seen through Delicate Arch, a scene that has been photographed countless times. Due to the clouds we had most days, we never had a good view of the La Sals, although we were able to see parts of them all the time. We could see that the highest peaks, reaching up to 12,700 feet, had snow when we arrived, and the snow was down lower the last day after the storms.

Our final stop was along the Great Wall, a series of sandstone cliffs that rise 50 to 100 feet above the surrounding terrain, along the north side of the road between Balanced Rock and Courthouse Wash. We found a place where we could park and walk over to the cliff via sandstone and washes. Off-trail travel is limited to rock and washes because of the cryptobiotic soil which occurs in many places in this region. This consists of microscopic bacteria that bind grains of sand together, making a stable location for algae, moss and fungi to grow. This soil traps water and provides a safe place for seedlings to get a start. If the soil is disturbed by feet or anything else, it takes 50 to 100 years to recover.

We wandered around at the base of the cliff, where Teri gathered and photographed some interesting rock specimens. Heading down the road again, we stopped to photograph a formation known as The Penguins. Here we had a view of US 191 and the park entrance road. We then made another stop at the Visitor Center, since Teri wanted to make a last-minute purchase. I took our final photos in Arches National Park, of the road and cliffs above the center, after which we headed for Red Cliffs Lodge. As we drove along the river, we noticed that it was running higher than it had been in the morning, as runoff upstream along the tributaries had made its way to the canyon.

That evening we got everything packed except what we needed in the morning, and made preparations for our homeward trip. Since we had added an unscheduled stop at the beginning of our adventure, Teri suggested we do the same on the way home, and spend a day at June Lake in the eastern Sierra, one of her favorite spots. We decided to make a long drive on Thursday, all the way to Tonopah, NV, a little over 500 miles. Then we would have a fairly short run into eastern California. The next day we would return home through Yosemite via Tioga Pass.

We reversed our direction on US 191, and decided to stop for gas and a bathroom break at a mini-mart where we came to I-70. I went inside while Teri started to operate the  pump, but when I came out, she was on her way in and said, "I didn't get gas." Suspecting the reason, I took at look at the pump -  $4.72 per gallon! It's not far in any of three directions to towns with normal prices, so this place is taking advantage of those who foolishly let their tank get too low at the wrong time. Fortunately, we had plenty of gas to get to Green River and beyond.

The next part of our trip was a repeat of the section of I-70 that we had traveled eastward. I drove this section so that Teri could better enjoy the views along the way. In the most scenic area there are vista points on both sides of the highway, and we stopped at all but one of them. The first one we came to is one of the most impressive - the San Rafael Reef. Briefly this is the steep edge of an uplift, the San Rafael Swell, a line of steep "shark tooth" sandstone hills. The geology of the area is explained very well and briefly here.

We made stops at several other places, all of them providing delightful and dramatic views. At one of them some Navajo ladies were selling jewelry, so Teri added a few more items to her collection.

Where I-70 turns southwest toward I-15 and the US89 junction where we had joined it previously, we turned north on US 50 at Salina, UT. From here 50 goes northwest, joins and is contiguous with I-15 southbound for a few miles, then heads west across Utah and into Nevada. Along this route we were once again following the Sevier River, where it turns west and south after its long northward run. It ends in the Sevier Lake southwest of Delta UT, after providing irrigation for this agricultural region.

At Delta US 50 is joined by US 6 and both roads are contiguous into eastern Nevada, where US 50 goes northwest at Ely and US 6 continues mainly westward. Although we did not have the type of dramatic scenery in western Utah and Nevada that we had enjoyed on the Colorado Plateau, we still appreciated what there was to see.

This country is the Great Basin, and is marked by "basin and range" topography, with the roads going up over mountain passes, usually around 6,000 feet, then down across nearly level basins where the road may be perfectly straight for 15 miles. Highway 50 is known as "the loneliest road in America," but Highway 6 must surely be a close second; it is not unusual to travel ten miles without seeing another vehicle.

There is also a serious shortage of towns and services. We had just passed Ely when I noticed that Teri's fuel range display showed 150 miles, and saw a sign indicating that the mileage to Tonopah was slightly more. Having driven this route several times, I did not think there was any place to get gas till Tonopah, so we went back a mile or two and gassed up at Ely. This proved wise; there are only two "towns" on the map, and they proved to be nothing but place names without any businesses.

We enjoyed the trip, driving through piñon and juniper forest in the mountain passes, and sage brush and other small plants in the basins. Along the way we saw a number of free range horses, which I assume to be the wild mustangs that are found in Nevada. We also had a good look at a coyote who crossed the road in front of us, then turned to check us out as we went by. At one point where the road descends from a pass, there is a section of irrigated farm land, which included a large grassy field with at least 20 deer grazing. Apparently they do not realize that they are a browsing animal who should be feeding on brush.

We had rain some of the time, with some spectacular clouds late in the day. Eventually we arrived in Tonopah, an old mining town, got checked into our motel, and enjoyed an excellent Mexican dinner at El Marques.

 

The next day we had a relatively short drive to June Lake in the eastern Sierra. Shortly after entering California, we left US 6 and took California 120. This route goes through the tiny towns of Benton and Benton Hot Springs, climbs up through an area with rugged rock formations, and enters a pure ponderosa forest, before dropping down near Mono Lake and connecting with US 395.

Our destination, the village of June Lake, is located on CA highway 158, known as the June Lake Loop, which goes east from 395 just north of the 120 junction, runs into the mountains and past several lakes, then comes back out to 395 about 10 miles farther south.

But before going that way, we first made a stop at the Mono Lake Basin Visitor Center in Lee Vining. After looking around inside, we walked toward the lake on a paved trail. It soon became dirt, then we found ourselves walking through the sage brush on small game trails. We had hoped to get to the shore of the lake, but when we came out on an overlook with the lake in sight, we could see it was a very long way yet, so we took pictures, enjoyed the view of the tufa and the lake's islands, and started back up the hill. Along the way we saw three deer, very close up, as well as a cottontail rabbit.

Tufa develops under water, and the formations next to the lake were exposed when the water level dropped after source streams were diverted to Los Angels in the middle 20th century. In addition to these relatively recent formations, there are some examples of tufa dating from the last ice age, when Mono Lake was five times bigger than today. The drop in the water level left these remnants exposed, high up the slope from the beach-side tufa of today.

Heading south and on to the June Lake Loop, we stopped briefly at Grand Lake and Silver Lake and walked around a bit, enjoying the view of aspens turning to gold up on the mountain side. After we got checked into the Whispering Pines Motel, we drove the short distance to the main part of town and had a good dinner at a local restaurant.

After that we took a real hike, on the Fern Lake Trail. We went only a short distance, about six tenths of a mile, with a 600 foot elevation gain. Going up we saw four deer, and along the way we had a good view of Silver Lake with the mountains above it and the forest of evergreens and aspens.

After our hike we had planned to visit the local ice cream parlor, since we hadn't indulged in our favorite dessert any time on the trip. Unfortunately it was closed, so we made do with a visit to the grocery store. There we each chose a pint of our favorite Hagen-Daze flavor, and went back to the motel to eat it. On the way we took the road that goes all the way around June lake, where we saw another green field being grazed by about 15 deer.

The fact that fall was well underway and that we were up in the mountains was brought home strongly the next morning when we awoke to a low temperature of 32 degrees.

 

We ate breakfast in the room, and got our stuff loaded in the car for the final leg of our journey home. We had already checked to make sure that Tioga Pass over the Sierra was open. It rises to nearly 11,000 feet, and there was indeed some snow around for several miles up and over the pass, but it was sunny and the road was clear.

It's a short but steep climb from Lee Vining to the pass, with great scenery along the way. We stopped briefly at Ellery Lake, a man-made lake for hydroelectric production that takes advantage of the steep grade to send water down a 3,740 foot penstock, with an elevation drop of 1,659.

At this point there was snow very close on the slopes above the lake, and soon we had snow right by the road, as well as on the roof of the stone building at the entrance station. From here the road passes through Tuolumne Meadows, where we had the unusual sight of no people and no cars, all facilities being closed for the season.

Past the broad meadows and domes in this area is one of the best vista points in Yosemite National Park, Olmsted Point. Here you have a view down the Tenaya Creek Canyon toward Yosemite Valley, with a different angle on Half Dome at 8,800 feet, and 9,900 foot Cloud's Rest directly across the canyon. On a previous stop here Teri had discovered a trail that leads away from the main observation point by the road, to an open spot on the granite where you get a good look east at Tenaya Lake and the mountains above it, and another different look at Half Dome. A trial that goes all the way to the valley branches off from this path.

From this point on we drove the rest of the way on the Tioga Pass and Big Oak Flat Roads down to Yosemite, then toward home on Highway 41. We made only a couple of rest stops and couple of looking around stops, plus lunch. The main vista stop was above the Wawona Tunnel, where you can see the major features of the valley. We also had a view across the Merced River canyon of the last section of the Big Oak Flat Road where it goes through a series of short tunnels just before reaching bottom.

We stopped in Wawona and laid out our picnic lunch on a table right beside the South Fork of the Merced River, where we had our final wildlife sighting, a grey squirrel busily preparing for winter. We also visited and walked across the old covered bridge there which dates back to pioneer days in the late 19th century. From that point it was only about 90 more minutes before we pulled up in front of my condo to complete our 13-day journey.

One of the things we learned was the benefit of having two drivers. I have driven through most of the places we went, but was always the only driver. As a passenger, I was able to look around, study rock formations, take a look up a canyon, and generally see a lot more than I had before. To give Teri the same opportunity, I drove out the Colorado River route and into Arches one day, half the Canyonlands drive, and through the most scenic part of our homeward trip through central Utah.

Now we have a long list of other places we'd like to visit. Hopefully I'll be writing about those some day.

--Dick Estel, November 2015

 

Photos (Click to enlarge; pictures open in new window) 

 Valley of Fire     Grand Canyon     I-70 Eastbound     Arches Day 1

Red Cliffs Lodge & Colorado River     Arches Day 2     Canyonlands     Arches Day 3

Heading West     June Lake, Mono Lake & Yosemite

Arches Slide Show

 

Valley of Fire & Traveling to Grand Canyon

Atlotl Rock with stairs and viewing platform

Petroglyphs on the rock Easier to reach petroglyphs on a boulder at the bottom

Atlotl Rock with stairs and viewing platform

Petroglyphs on the rock Easier to reach petroglyphs on a boulder at the bottom
      
Teri enjoys her first visit to the Valley of Fire Fascinating shapes This black coating is called desert varnish
Teri enjoys her first visit to the Valley of Fire Fascinating shapes

This black coating is called desert varnish

     
Natural Arch We loved these round "pancake stack" rocks Rugged sandstone formations
Natural Arch

We loved these round "pancake stack" rocks

Rugged sandstone formations
      
A hot place to hike Desert life in death Strange ridges in rock on floor of the desert
A hot place to hike Desert life in death

Strange ridges in rock on floor of the desert

   
Elephant Rock Virgin River by I-15 in Arizona Cliffs above the river
Elephant Rock Virgin River by I-15 in Arizona Cliffs above the river
      
   White and red sandstone along White Domes Road
White and red sandstone along White Domes Road
   
The Grand Staircase-Escalante area from LeFevre Overlook on US 89
The Grand Staircase-Escalante area from LeFevre Overlook on US 89
  
Grand Canyon  
There were miles of mulleins along US89 on the Kaibab Plateau Meadow and aspens between Jacob Lake and the canyon The Grand Canyon at Bright Angel Point
There were miles of mulleins along US89 on the Kaibab Plateau Meadow and aspens between Jacob Lake and the canyon

The Grand Canyon at Bright Angel Point

   
Cliff in the side canyon east of Bright Angel Trail Visitors above the end of the trail Grand Canyon Lodge, perched on the edge of the rim
Cliff in the side canyon east of Bright Angel Trail Visitors above the end of the trail Grand Canyon Lodge, perched on the edge of the rim
   
Dead piñon pine Fall gold Scrub oaks provide a bright contrast against the green
Dead piñon pine Fall gold Scrub oaks provide a bright contrast against the green
   
Cliffs beside Bright Angel Trail Our home at the Grand Canyon Deer in the cabin area
Cliffs beside Bright Angel Trail Our home at the Grand Canyon Deer in the cabin area
  
Views at Point Imperial, highest point on the North Rim 1 Views at Point Imperial, highest point on the North Rim 2 Views at Point Imperial, highest point on the North Rim 3
Views at Point Imperial, highest point on the North Rim
   
Sand dune in the canyon Aspen against the dark evergreens We walked a short distance on this trail from Point Imperial
Sand dune in the canyon Aspen against the dark evergreens We walked a short distance on this trail from Point Imperial
   
Views along the Ken Patrick Trail 1 Views along the Ken Patrick Trail 2 Views along the Ken Patrick Trail 3
Views along the Ken Patrick Trail
    
Panorama from Vista Encantada
Panorama from Vista Encantada
Red-capped formation at Roosevelt Point Teri near the end of the Roosevelt Point Trail A cool-looking sandstone formation with a pedestal

Red-capped formation at Roosevelt Point 

Teri near the end of the Roosevelt Point Trail

A cool-looking sandstone formation with a pedestal
  
Plant specimens along the rim 1 Plant specimens along the rim 2 Plant specimens along the rim 3
Plant specimens along the rim
   
Colorado River from Valhalla Overlook Squared off formations at Valhalla Another view from Valhalla
Colorado River from Valhalla Overlook Squared off formations at Valhalla Another view from Valhalla
   
Indian dwelling ruins at Valhalla Overlook Angel's Window at Cape Royal Teri poses in front of  Angel's Window

Indian dwelling ruins at Valhalla Overlook

Angel's Window at Cape Royal

Teri poses in front of  Angel's Window

   
A multi-trunk juniper Peeking over the edge Dramatic view at Cape Royal
A multi-trunk juniper Peeking over the edge Dramatic view at Cape Royal
The North Kaibab Trail runs down this canyon Looking up at formations below the rim A steep, rugged trail

The North Kaibab Trail runs down this canyon

Looking up at formations below the rim

A steep, rugged trail
      
Teri enjoys her first hike below the rim Canyon view from Bright Angel Point Trail Another view from the trail

Teri enjoys her first hike below the rim

Canyon view from Bright Angel Point Trail

Another view from the trail
      
Time and water have scooped out this remarkable formation The rare white-tailed Kaibab squirrel Teri and Dick "on the rock" above the Bright Angel trail
Time and water have scooped out this remarkable formation

The rare white-tailed Kaibab squirrel

Teri and Dick "on the rock" above the Bright Angel trail
   
One of the vista points below the lodge An educational t-shirt Rugged junipers are common all around the area

One of the vista points below the lodge

An educational bandana Rugged junipers are common all around the area
      
Cliffs in the side canyon that contains the North Kaibab Trail
Cliffs in the side canyon that contains the North Kaibab Trail
  
Along I-70 Eastbound
White sandstone at the Castle Valley Vista Point Teri's first visit to this area Amazing views everywhere
White sandstone at the Castle Valley Vista Point Teri's first visit to this area Amazing views everywhere
      
Dead juniper and white sandstone Butte across from Castle Valley Vista Point I-70 through the San Rafael Reef

Dead juniper and white sandstone

Butte across from Castle Valley Vista Point

I-70 through the San Rafael Reef
      
A small section of the San Rafael Reef
A small section of the San Rafael Reef
 
Arches Day 1
Cabin at Wolfe Ranch Overhanging cliff along the Delicate Arch Trail A section of the trail
Cabin at Wolfe Ranch Overhanging cliff along the Delicate Arch Trail A section of the trail
   
Teri, right around the corner from her first view of the arch The crown jewel of the park: Delicate Arch Teri and Dick show off their Thousand Mile Challenge shirts 
Teri, right around the corner from her first view of the arch The crown jewel of the park: Delicate Arch Teri and Dick show off their Thousand Mile Challenge shirts 
   
Teri and a hardy juniper Massive shapes above the wash east of Delicate Arch The basin next to the arch
Teri and a hardy juniper Massive shapes above the wash east of Delicate Arch The basin next to the arch
   
A few people on the trail Park Avenue The canyon below Park Avenue
A few people on the trail Park Avenue The canyon below Park Avenue
   
A balanced pillar The LaSal Mountains were partly hidden all the time we were there Amid all the sandstone, an unexpected quartz boulder
A balanced pillar The La Sal Mountains were partly hidden all during our visit Amid all the sandstone, an unexpected quartz boulder
     
Massive sandstone shapes and an arch east of Delicate Arch
Massive sandstone shapes and an arch east of Delicate Arch
  
The "bench," rock shapes, and slope just above Delicate Arch
   
Delicate Arch from the vista point - note the people on the horizon to the left
Delicate Arch from the vista point - note the people on the horizon to the left
    
Balanced Rock and nearby formations
Balanced Rock and nearby formations
      
At the Ranch - Red Cliffs Lodge & Colorado River
Sheer cliff above the river by Red Cliffs Ranch Rainbow over the ranch That's Teri's car in front of our cabin
Sheer cliff above the river by Red Cliffs Lodge Rainbow over the ranch

That's Teri's car in front of our cabin

   
Cabins, corral fence, and Utah's magnificent scenery Buttes across the highway from the lodge The river from our patio
Cabins, corral fence, and Utah's magnificent scenery Buttes across the highway from the lodge The river from our patio
   
The Movie Museum honors John Wayne and John Ford Formations along Highway 128 between Moab and the lodge

A raccoon visited the flower bed next to our cabin

The Movie Museum honors John Wayne and John Ford Formations along Highway 128 between Moab and the lodge
   
Horses at Red Cliffs Lodge
Horses at Red Cliffs Lodge
   
One-day wonder - runoff waterfall in Colorado River Canyon 1 One-day wonder - runoff waterfall in Colorado River Canyon 2 One-day wonder - runoff waterfall in Colorado River Canyon 3

Perfect timing allowed us to see these one-day wonders - runoff waterfalls in the Colorado River Canyon along Utah Highway 128 between Moab and our lodge

     
Arches Day 2
The Three Gossips Courthouse Wash area Teri approaches Turret Arch
The Three Gossips Courthouse Wash area Teri approaches Turret Arch
      
The powerful and dramatic Double Arch, in the Windows Section
The powerful and dramatic Double Arch, in the Windows Section
   
Parade of the Elephants
Parade of the Elephants
   
Towers in the Windows Section
Towers in the Windows Section
   
A closer view of Double Arch The Windows AKA the Spectacles Teri in front of South Window
A closer view of Double Arch The Windows AKA the Spectacles Teri in front of South Window
  
Sand Dune Arch Teri mimics the arch with a yoga position Coming out the narrow pathway that leads to Sand Dune Arch
Sand Dune Arch

Teri mimics the arch with a yoga position

Coming out the narrow pathway that leads to Sand Dune Arch
      
In between the fins near Sand Dune Arch Formation near the Broken Arch Trail Not really broken, but badly cracked

In between the fins near Sand Dune Arch

Formation near the Broken Arch Trail

Not really broken, but badly cracked

   
Broken Arch and adjacent sandstone formations
Broken Arch and adjacent sandstone formations
   
Skyline Arch Rocks that fell from Skyline Arch in 1940, doubling its size Balanced Rock
Skyline Arch

Rocks that fell from Skyline Arch in 1940, doubling its size

Balanced Rock
   
The upper boulder accounts for 55 feet of the total 128 feet Dick and Teri at Balanced Rock View across to the Windows Section; Turret Arch in the middle

The upper boulder accounts for 55 feet of the total 128 feet

Dick and Teri at Balanced Rock View across to the Windows Section; Turret Arch in the middle
         
Canyonlands National Park
The Monitor and the Merrimac On the road to Canyonlands Shafer Trail
The Monitor and the Merrimac On the road to Canyonlands Shafer Trail
   
Another section of the trail White Rim Road, 1200 feet below the plateau Mesa Arch
Another section of the trail White Rim Road, 1200 feet below the plateau Mesa Arch
      
View through the arch Close to the edge Another small arch in the canyon below Mesa Arch
View through the arch Close to the edge

Another small arch in the canyon below Mesa Arch

      
Cryptobiotic soil along the Mesa Arch trail The Green River Vegetation at Green River Overlook

Cryptobiotic soil along the Mesa Arch trail

The Green River

Vegetation at Green River Overlook

   
Formation at the Green River Overlook
Formation at the Green River Overlook
   
The White Rim from Grand View Point
The White Rim from Grand View Point
   
Another view of the White Rim and Monument Basin
Another view of the White Rim and Monument Basin
   
Monument Basin Temporary runoff waterfall in Canyonlands Park Unexpected hail on the road as we drove out of the park
Monument Basin Temporary runoff waterfall in Canyonlands Park Unexpected hail on the road as we drove out of the park
   
Arches Day 3
Near the beginning of Devil's Garden Trail Landscape Arch in the mist And a clearer view
Near the beginning of Devil's Garden Trail Landscape Arch in the mist And a clearer view
   
Another misty, mysterious view
Another misty, mysterious view
   
Partition Arch Tunnel Arch Another view, with small nameless arch to the left
Partition Arch Tunnel Arch

Another view, with small nameless arch to the left

      
Ravens were constant companions during our trip Some of what "grows" in the Devil's Garden Pine Tree Arch
Ravens were constant companions during our trip Some of what "grows" in the Devil's Garden Pine Tree Arch
      
Mikie in 2004 Teri in 2015 Beginning of the Devil's Garden Trail
Like son, like mother: Mikie in 2004; Teri in 2015

Beginning of the Devil's Garden Trail

     
Sandstone panorama from Devil's Garden Trail
Sandstone panorama from Devil's Garden Trail
Fins near the trailhead Rounded sandstone formations In this area someone built a dozen small man-made arches
Fins near the trailhead Rounded sandstone formations In this area someone built a dozen small man-made arches
      
Teri and a mini-arch View at the Fiery Furnace Runoff created this instant canyon, with 12-inch "cliffs"
Teri and a mini-arch View at the Fiery Furnace Runoff created this instant canyon, with 12-inch "cliffs"
      
Another view in the Fiery Furnace area
Another view in the Fiery Furnace area
   
We hiked cross-country to this striking formation Teri and Dick at the base of the cliff Teri resisted the temptation to take this specimen home
We hiked cross-country to this striking formation

Teri and Dick at the base of the cliff

Teri resisted the temptation to take this specimen home
       
Panoramic view at Courthouse Wash
Panoramic view at Courthouse Wash
   
Round sandstone boulders amid the sage brush The Penguins keep watch just above the visitor center US 191, the road into Arches, and the Moab Valley

Round sandstone boulders amid the sage brush

The Penguins keep watch just above the visitor center

US 191, the road into Arches, and the Moab Valley

    
Heading West
San Rafael Reef from the East Ghost Rock Canyon at Ghost Rock area
San Rafael Reef from the East Ghost Rock Canyon at Ghost Rock area
      
View from Ghost Rocks West Vista
View from Ghost Rocks West Vista
   
View at Eagle Canyon Vista
View at Eagle Canyon Vista
   
Mullein sculpture Rain and clouds over Nevada Clouds along US Highway 6
Mullein sculpture Rain and clouds over Nevada Clouds along US Highway 6
     
Mono Lake, June Lake and Yosemite
Sierra peak and ponderosa forest Eastern Sierra Nevada Red plants south of Mono Lake

Sierra peak and ponderosa forest

Eastern Sierra Nevada Red plants south of Mono Lake
   
Sierra Nevada panorama from Highway 120 near US 395
Sierra Nevada panorama from Highway 120 near US 395
  
Teri wanted to take this obsidian specimen home Ancient tufa high above Mono Lake Mono Lake
Teri wanted to take this obsidian specimen home

Ancient tufa high above Mono Lake

Mono Lake
   
Newer tufa exposed during 20th century diversion of water Deer in the sage brush Who's watching whom?
Newer tufa exposed during 20th century diversion of water Deer in the sage brush Who's watching whom?
   
Blazing aspen panorama
Blazing aspen panorama
  
A peaceful scene on Silver Lake Silver Lake from Fern Lake Trail Houses in hills above Silver Lake
A peaceful scene on Silver Lake Silver Lake from Fern Lake Trail Houses in hills above Silver Lake
   
Rugged crag viewed from Fern Lake Trail A typical section of the trail Aspen trunks at the trailhead

Rugged crag viewed from Fern Lake Trail

A typical section of the trail Aspen trunks at the trailhead
Ellery Lake, on the east side of Tioga Pass Snow on the mountains near Tioga Pass Snow on building at Tioga Pass Entrance Station

Ellery Lake, on the east side of Tioga Pass

Snow on the mountains near Tioga Pass

Snow on building at Tioga Pass Entrance Station
   
Half Dome from Olmsted Point Teri on the rock with Half Dome in the background Dick on the rock with Half Dome in the background
Half Dome from Olmsted Point Teri on the rock with Half Dome in the background Dick on the rock with Half Dome in the background
   
Looking east over Tenaya Lake and the mountains beyond Yosemite Valley view from above Wawona Tunnel Scar from a forest fire above the Merced River canyon
Looking east over Tenaya Lake and the mountains beyond

Yosemite Valley view from above Wawona Tunnel

Scar from a forest fire above the Merced River canyon
 
Related Links
   
Valley of Fire State Park Grand Canyon National Park Colorado Plateau
North Rim More about the North Rim Grand Canyon Lodge
Kaibab Plateau San Rafael Swell San Rafael Reef
Arches National Park Canyonlands National Park Moab Utah
Red Cliffs Lodge Markagunt High Plateau Scenic Byway (Highway 14) Wolfe Ranch
La Sal Mountains Shafer Trail Cryptobiotic Soil
Mono Lake Mono Lake Tufa Yosemite National Park
Tioga Pass Olmsted Point Photos Wawona Tunnel
Fascinating shapes

Dramatic view at Cape Royal

Views at Point Imperial, highest point on the North Rim 1

I-70 through the San Rafael Reef

The canyon below Park Avenue

The Penguins keep watch just above the visitor center

Monument Basin

Who's watching whom?

Aspen trunks at the trailhead

 

 

 

 
Travel Reports
   
Before 2002     2002     2003     2004     2005     2006     2007     2008

2009    2010    2011    2012     2013     2014     2015     2016     2017     Other

   
Before 2002
Early Trips Later Trips
Camping Trips Backpacking Trips
1961 Monterey Jazz Festival Bluegrass Odyssey
   
Multi-Year Compilations
Fresno Area Canal Walks Clovis Trail Walks
   
2002
Journey of 2002 (Ohio & Back) Logandale & Utah Parks 2002
   
2003
Arizona & Bluegrass on the River 2003 Grand Canyon & Logandale Bluegrass 2003
Parkfield & Huck Finn 2003 Early Frog Camps (2003-2005)
   
2004
Paso Robles & Parkfield 2004 Road Trip 2004 (Ohio & Back)
Bullhead City Bluegrass, Mesa, Superstition Bluegrass 2004 Bluegrass in the Foothills 2004
   
2005
Arizona-Southern California 2005 Huck Finn Bluegrass 2005
Morro Bay 2005 Stargazer Rock Camp 2005
Parkfield Bluegrass 2005    
   
2006
Huck Finn Bluegrass 2006 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2006
Rock Creek Non-Camp Stargazer Rock Camp 2006
Parkfield Bluegrass 2006 Oregon 2006
Bluegrass in the Foothills 2006    
   
2007
Bullhead City, Bakersfield, Joshua Tree 2007 Frog Camp 2007
Eastern Sierra Journey 2007 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2007
Stargazer Rock Camp 2007 Roundup #1
(Mother Lode; Kings Canyon, Yosemite)
Bluegrass in the Foothills 2007    
   
2008
Nevada-Arizona Hockey & Bluegrass 2008 Parkfield Bluegrass 2008
Frog Camp 2008 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2008
Stargazer Rock Camp 2008 Bluegrass in the Foothills 2008
Hobbs Grove Festival 2008     
   
2009
Roundup 2009
Las Vegas, Mariposa, Table Mountain, Orange County
Frog Camp 2009 Southern Journey 2009
Parkfield Bluegrass 2009 Stargazer Rock Camp 2009
Bluegrass Tour 2009
Brown Barn, Plymouth, Hobbs Grove
Hensley Lake Camp
   
2010
Mojave National Preserve & Havasu Bluegrass Roundup 2010
Hensley Reservoir, Mojave Preserve 2 & 3
Parkfield Bluegrass 2010 Lake Almanor & Mt. Lassen 2010
Las Vegas Expo Summergrass
    Brown Barn, Watsonville & Hobbs Grove
   
2011
Roundup 2011
Mariposa, Hensley, Table Mountain
Frog Camp 2011
Parkfield Bluegrass 2011 Frank, Pat, Dick & Ted's Excellent Adventure
Northern Coast Journey 2011 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2011
Good Old Fashioned Bluegrass Festival Chilkoot & Stargazer Rock Camp
Kings River & Brown Barn Bluegrass Festivals Hensley Camp 2011
    
2012 
Parkfield Bluegrass 2012 Four Squaw Leap Hikes
Northern Coast Journey 2012 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2012
Stargazer Rock Camp 2012 Bluegrass in the Foothills 2012
A 3-Event Weekend
Farmer's Market, Kings River Bluegrass, Antique Fair
2012 Las Vegas CAN AM Hockey Challenge
Fall Hikes
Finegold Trail; Bower Cave
Into Los Gatos Canyon
  
2013
Silver Stick Tournament - Canada Sierra Foothills - Winter 2013
Finegold Trailhead, Hensley Lake, San Joaquin Gorge
Death Valley - Alabama Hills - Whitney Portal Sierra Foothills - Spring 2013
San Joaquin Gorge Hike, Big Creek Drive
Parkfield Bluegrass 2013 Shaver Crossing Station & Big Creek
Lake Almanor & Caribou Crossroads Mono Hot Springs
Good Old Fashioned Bluegrass Festival A Wedding in Duluth
Sequoia Park Hiking Roundup 2013
Kings River Bluegrass, Buena Vista Peak Hike, Hensley Lake Camp, North Fork Mono Museum, White Rock Road, Hockey in Denver
     
2014
2014 Winter Hikes
Millerton South Bay Trail, Clovis Trail, Hite's Cove Trail
San Joaquin Gorge Campout
Colorado Springs Hockey Tournament Lake Havasu Bluegrass
2014 Spring Hikes
Stockton Creek Preserve, San Joaquin River Trail, San Joaquin Gorge, Millerton Lake, Sycamore Creek, Buena Vista Peak Again
NORCAL Hockey Playoffs and Santa Cruz Visit
Greeley Hill Road Trip Parkfield Bluegrass 2014
Journey of 2014 Journey of 2014 Photos
Nelder Grove Hikes 2014 Sentinel Dome Hike
2014 Fall & Winter Hikes
San Joaquin River Trail South & North, Red Rock Canyon Nevada, San Joaquin South Again
California Flat Campout
Snow Day with the  Upshaw's   
 
2015
Rambler Hikes 2015 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2015 Part 2
Adventures of 2015 - February to May
(Goofy Smith Flat, Coast Redwoods & Big Sur, Pine Flat, Finegold Trail, Edison Point Trail, Nelder Grove)
Adventures of 2015 - June to December
(Lewis Creek Trail, Kaiser Pass, Kaiser Pass Again, Taft Point, Kings River Bluegrass, Shaver Logging Road, San Joaquin River Trail, Lewis S Eaton Trail, San Joaquin River Gorge, Thanksgiving at the Gorge)
Lake Tahoe & Virginia City Parkfield Bluegrass 2015
Colorado Springs Cousin Convention 2015 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2015
Stargazer Rock Camp 2015 Grand Canyon & Arches National Parks
  
2016
Adventures of 2016 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2016 Page 1
Adventures of 2016 Part 2 Rambler Hikes 2016 Page 2
Adventures of 2016 Part 3 Rambler Hikes 2016 Page 3
Adventures of 2016 Part 4 A Pennsylvania Adventure
Adventures of 2016 Part 5 Parkfield Bluegrass 2016
Adventures of 2016 Part 6 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2016
Adventures of 2016 Part 7 Stargazer Rock Camp 2016
     
2017
Adventures of 2017 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2017 Page 1
Adventures of 2017 Part 2 Rambler Hikes 2017 Page 2
Adventures of 2017 Part 3 Rambler Hikes 2017 Page 3
Adventures of 2017 Part 4 Hiking and Hockey
Parkfield Bluegrass 2017 Stargazer Rock Camp 2017
Other
Fresno Area Canal Walks Clovis Trail Walks
Butch's Blog Walker Family Trips
Parkfield Earthquake Kim & Morgan Brown Trips & Photos
Travel Report Menu Estel Home Page
Photo Albums Slide Shows
Laurie Lewis' High Sierra Hikes Email
   
 

Updated December 22, 2015