Laura and Lee and Walt and Barb's
Red Rock Reconnaissance

April 26-May 5, 2003

Part 5

Sunday, May 4 - Bryce Canyon, Zion, Las Vegas

Tropic -> Bryce Canyon -> Zion -> Las Vegas, 266 miles

View from Sunrise Point
View from Sunrise Point
We had a very nice and filling breakfast - eggs cooked to order, pancakes, bacon, and fruit. We could see some fresh snow on the mountains from our windows! It was a chilly morning, though at least it looked like we'd get some sun.

After we packed the car we got on the road about 8:45 and drove back to Bryce to Sunrise Point. It wasn't actually sunrise, but the view from the point was just gorgeous with all of the oranges and pinks plus the fresh snow. As I mentioned before, pictures really don't capture it.

From there we took the Queen's Garden Trail down into the canyon, and then caught the Navajo Loop trail and came back up to the top at Sunset Point, then walked along the rim 1/2 mile back to Sunrise Point.

The sun was in and out of the clouds, but we still got some very nice light on the hoodoos:

View from the Queen's Garden Trail

Another view from the Queen's Garden Trail

Wall Street on the Navajo Loop Trail

And we took lots of pictures. Or maybe the same picture with lots of different cameras? :-)

Sunday Arch.jpg
Arch of the Day
Arch view of Bryce hoodoos
Oops...and I almost forgot the "Arch of the Day"...looking through an arch to an amphitheater of hoodoos on the other side.

Morning Light on Fairyland
The hike was 3.3 miles and took us 2 hours and 15 minutes. We stopped at the Fairyland viewpoint on the way out of the park for one last look...the sun was behind the clouds but we waited long enough for it to peek through - I'd say it was worth the wait, wouldn't you?

We had lunch at Ruby's Inn again - at the fast food place this time, and were on the road by about 1:00.

We drove back to I15 via Zion National Park - this was the only park where the ranger at the entrance station asked to see picture ID with our National Park Pass. We told him no one else had asked, and said we'd just come from Bryce, and he asked if the people at the entrance station had even bothered to say "hello" when we went through. Wow...seems to be some competition between those two - a little park sibling rivalry, maybe? :-)

There were even more changes in Zion than in Bryce, though. (I also visited Zion back in 1980.) The Visitor Center is a HUGE complex with multiple buildings, and we saw more people there than we'd seen the entire week. And there was that silver Xterra again!!!! It was already parked, so I guess technically this time we were stalking them rather than the other way around. :-) (And they were gone when we got out of the Visitor Center - that was the last time we saw the Xterra.)

One reason for Zion's large visitor complex is that access to the canyon itself is now restricted to shuttle buses (or people who are actually staying there) only. We didn't have time to go into the canyon - the trip into Zion was a little extra bonus - but we'll be making another trip to Bryce *and* Zion in the not-too-distant future, I'm sure. It's really not all that far from San Diego.

The Watchman

From there it wasn't too long until we were back on I15 again and out of Utah and back into the nothingness that is Nevada. We had reservations at the Paris hotel on the Las Vegas strip, though it took a while to get there...we couldn't believe how many people were out walking around on a Sunday evening! Once we got checked in Walt and Barb borrowed the Xterra and went to visit her sister's family - they live in a suburb of Vegas and her nephew's birthday was the day before. So our timing for being there worked out well! We'd planned to stay the night in Vegas anyways - there was No Way we were driving from Vegas to San Diego on a Sunday - I15 south turns into a 150 mile traffic jam, and a trip that should take 4.5 hours will take 8 or 9!

Lee and I showered and changed, found some dinner in the hotel, and then went out walking on the strip. I hadn't been to Vegas in quite a while, so most of the hotels were new to me. We saw New York, New York and the Monte Carlo, and arrived at the Bellagio not too long before the 8:00 fountain show. That was amazing...I loved it! We saw the 8:15 show also, then went into the Bellagio and saw the indoor garden area, then saw the 9:00 fountain show. After that we walked down to Caesar's Palace and walked around the shopping area. It was getting close to 10:00 by then and I was pretty tired (it was 11:00 for us, since we'd gained an hour when we left Utah) so we walked back to Paris - saw bits and pieces of one last fountain show. :-) We got dessert (a crepe for Lee, a piece of chocolate cake for me) and took it to our room, and then crashed.

Monday, May 5 - Home

Las Vegas -> San Diego, 324 miles, 4 hrs, 45 minutes

Arch of the Day
Arc de Triomphe, Paris Las Vegas
We met Walt and Barb for breakfast at the bakery in the hotel, and left Paris at 8:25. My "Arch for the Day" is the Arc de Triomphe at the hotel entrance...not a great picture since I was shooting into the sun, but you get the idea! I almost got an arch every day...just that one day between Capitol Reef and Escalante that I didn't see one.

Other than stopping for gas once we made a beeline for San Diego, and made good time - we dropped Walt and Barb off about 1:45, and we were home by 2:30.

It was a great trip!

Some Final Thoughts

Lee and Walt and hoodoos
Lee and Walt on Mossy Cave Trail, Bryce Canyon
In 10 days we couldn't possibly see as many things as we wanted to, but we did scout out places that we intend to go back to. We definitely want to spend some more time in the Moab area - there are lots of interesting things to do there - biking, river rafting, and of course more hiking in Arches National Park and Canyonlands. (We only saw maybe 25 of the over 2200 arches - still lots more to go! :-) )

We'd also like to return to Bryce and actually spend some *time* in Zion, but those parks are close enough to San Diego that we can travel there for an extended weekend. Seeing Bryce during the winter and doing some cross-country skiing along the rim sounds like fun.

Staying in the Bed and Breakfast places was an interesting experience, and we certainly got some really good sightseeing tips from a couple of our hosts. They all had VERY large and comfortable rooms - our only complaint was that none but the last one had any sort of a table. The breakfasts were good at all of them, but Tomahawk Inn in Moab had the best breakfasts in terms of quantity and variety. Those fresh muffins at Muley Twist were *very* nice, too. Bryce Point in Tropic and Muley Twist in Teasdale are tied for best view - we had nice views from our bedroom windows. I think Muley Twist gets the nod for having the nicest facility overall - it was beautifully decorated with wood floors, plush carpet in the rooms, and a lovely light and airy dining room. It *didn't* have a jacuzzi, though, which would have made it just about perfect!

I'm the queen of the arches!
Our new Camelbak packs were great - it made it so much easier to carry and drink water, and they had fairly sufficient room to carry the other things we normally have in a daypack.

Late April-early May was a very nice time to visit - we missed the spring break crowds (which probably would only have been an issue in Moab) but we had nice weather. It was cooler than I expected, especially in Bryce, but it sure beat the heat of summer. I would've liked a little more sun and blue skies when we were in Arches and Bryce, though.

The absence of people was a pleasant surprise - we're used to visiting parks like Yosemite and Sequoia which are extremely popular, with millions of visitors every year. There were some places we went where we were the only people, or where we saw less than a dozen. It was a nice change! It'll probably make Yosemite seem that much more crowded when we visit next month, though.

This time of year also meant that we saw LOTS of spring wildflowers, most of which were new to me. I had a great time taking photographs and going through the two wildflower books I bought to try to identify them. (I ended up with a few unknowns, but did pretty well.)

The Utterly Unique, Uproarious, Unruly, and Ultimately Unusual Utah Adventure of Tigger and Stitch
Utah Wildflowers
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Text and photographs copyright © 2003 by Laura Gilbreath. "Laura and arch" photo copyright © 2003 by Lee Zimmerman, used with permission. All rights reserved.

Laura Gilbreath
Last updated 5/23/03