10 States, 4,435 miles, 4 National Parks, 16 days
After spending several days at the canyon – with elk roaming right outside our window – we were ready to head on down the road for the next park. I will say right now that I could actually stay at the Grand Canyon for a year and still not run out of things to paint, but it was, after all, a family vacation.
We headed back out the east entrance and north on 89 towards Zion national park. Saw some amazing scenery that actually reminded us of the Badlands in South Dakota. Crossed the tip of Lake Powell and entered Utah.
This was very different scenery. The valleys were so lush and surrounded with red cliffs. We picked up Utah 9 at Mt. Carmel which took us into Zion national park on our way to Springdale. Spectacular scenery, even with a lot of traffic due to some road work.
The town of Springdale reminded me a lot of Sedona, Arizona, as you’re looking up at the red rocks instead of down into a big hole as at the Grand Canyon. Luckily, they have free buses (like the GC) which take you up and down the main road and back to the park. There you get out, go into the park, and get on the free park buses. All so organized.
The Virgin River runs right through the park and behind our hotel. Pretty fast river and wouldn’t want to hang around during monsoon season. The ride through the park was informative with many stops to get off and on. The first day we just rode through but the second day we got off and did some hiking. The dry air and lower altitude made for a very pleasant visit.
After a few days, we headed up the road towards Moab and our last stop at Arches National Park. On the way, we had a huge breakfast in Hurricane, Utah at The Stagecoach Inn. Then a little more shopping at the favorite big box store.
The scenery along the way was once again beautiful with many landscape features. I kept running down the battery in my camera and phone.
I must say that we were not impressed with Moab. It just seemed another tourist town with overpriced everything. The motel we stayed at which touted scenic view rooms was rustic to be kind. The view was of a chain link fence three feet from our window and the room was minuscule. Just goes to show you not to believe everything you read on the internet when you’re making reservations. In fact, we decided to leave a day early (they, of course, never refunded the second night).
After a quick breakfast the next morning, we left to auto-tour Arches. Again, fantastic scenery. However, the granddaughter by that time was getting restless. When we urged her to look at the views, she complained, “ just more rocks.” Ha ha. So glad that we got a very early start for the park that day as by the time we left, the line of cars to get into it was very long.
Then home again, home again. A long ride home on I-70. Left Utah and started climbing the Rockies in Colorado. Still snow in Vail and beyond. The temperature dropped to 45 degrees. Bumper to bumper traffic for miles. Just people who had gone to the mountains for the weekend and were heading home on Sunday afternoon. Our hotel room never felt so good.
Left early the next morning and ended up in Lawrence, Kansas. Miles and miles of giant wind farms. And the final day home where we caught I-64 in St. Louis. Crossed the swollen Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.
Interestingly enough, we had no rain at all until we reached the Indiana border.
It’s great to be home but we haven’t caught up with things on the farm. Taming the garden, the lawn and weeds. Repairing the drive which was in danger of washing away due to the torrential rains while we were gone. But we are left with many great memories to last a lifetime.
These are the stats.
- Colin Fletcher The Man Who Walked Through Time
- John Steinbeck Travels with Charlie. I read this years ago so it was wonderful to revisit.
- Edward Abbey Desert Solitare: A Season in the Wilderness. This gave me a different perspective on the national park, especially Arches.
- Plus a few Kindle downloads for good measure.
- Granddaughter read at least a dozen books. And husband was into westerns.
Best roads: Utah and eastern Colorado.
Worst roads: Oil fields of Texas and New Mexico
Best food: just about everywhere but especially Sprindale, Utah.
Best parks: ALL of them! So great to see this wonderful country and what belongs to the American people.
Photos taken: 1500+, two phones and a camera
That’s it for now. I may take a short break from my beach series of paintings and work on some Western paintings, while the scenery is still fresh.