Jul. 19th, 2008

Mary at the Tattoo Shop )

This morning we took the shuttle bus -- the only way to get around Zion National Park (cars are not permitted past the lodge, or even to the lodge without a permit) -- into the Virgin River canyon to the Temple of Sinawava, where the river narrows until it can easily be walked across in good weather. We didn't wade into the water, but we saw several weeping rocks and small waterfalls coming down the tall rocks of the canyon beyond Angels Landing. There were bushy-tailed squirrels and little lizards scampering across the dirt path in front of us. After we hiked back, we went to the park visitor's center and drove around some of the other scenic points before stopping for lunch at the nature center (which sadly was closed). Then we drove to the Kolob Canyons in a different section of the park, where thicker pine forests cover the "finger canyons" of the Colorado Plateau. On the way out of Zion we stopped at some crystal shops and at a little Utah Department of Agriculture ranch with elk, bison, and horned cattle.

Then we drove to Cedar Breaks, an enormous stone amphitheater filled with spires and arches of many colors -- black volcanic rock, gray ash, reddish iron bands, yellow sandstone, and dozens of wildflowers and trees among the flats. The Indian paintbrush, cinquefoil, blue columbine and daisy-type flowers were all in bloom in the grasslands of the plateau. After a quick stop for groceries, we then headed on to Bryce Canyon National Park, which is even more spectacular than the other two. We hiked up to Sunrise Point and down to Bryce Point to see the enormous arches and towers of colored rock and the hoodoos -- spectacular eroded columns of stone where the top is often wider than the bottom. Within a few minutes of driving into the park, we began to see deer eating the grass, though we have not yet seen the endangered Utah prairie dogs that live only here. We are staying in the lodge, though, so hopefully we will see some on Saturday!


Zion, Cedar Breaks, and Bryce )


Saturday after spending the day in Bryce we will drive to Kodachrome State Park and maybe Petrified Forest State Park and the Anasazi ruins, though those might wait till Sunday on the way to Arches and Canyonlands.

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