Made it … Finally, yea Wyoming

Almost 10 hours of driving today. We decided to do a heads down motor to get to Jackson Wy. Today and then spend a couple of days here. I’m toast right now.

It was a long drive but once again a pretty one. As we motored north we kept to the road lesser traveled with only a couple stints of highway. This made the trip longer but as usual, better. The landscape changed as we went further north. Through northern Utah, there were many farms and ranches in the lush valleys. When we got to Wyoming, holy cow ( no pun intended) the ranches turned into huge cattle ranges with hundreds and hundreds of cattle. These ranches are in the 10s of thousands of acres. This is not to mention the free range areas. During today’s drive we saw thousands of head of cattle.

Going through Park City, Utah we could see up in the mountains all the ski chalets of the rich and famous. It’s amazing how much money was there. Of course those were the ones we could see. I can only imagine what the really secluded, private ones look like.

Well, as usual, look at Mahgrit’s post with all the pictures. We are over 2,500 pictures right now. There are a lot of duplicates but we will take care of them before you come for a few days to see them ;-).

Park-o-Rama

Day 34: Sunday, June 2, 2013
Start: Bryce Canyon City, UT
End: Richfield, UT
Miles Driven Today: 215
Total Miles: 4,992

Today was a scenic motor day. We decided to take the longer loop on Route 12 and Route 24 through Escalante and made some detours as well. It was another day of unbelievable views and quiet roads. Just our speed!

Wel left Bryce and were immediately blown away by a change in landscape. We entered the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument area (quite a large area) and were hit by a lovely open road and the beginning of our driving adventure.

Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument

Entry to the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument

We saw a sign for Kodachrome State Park, and we had to go. Who wouldn’t go to a park named Kodachrome? Right after the turn-off for the park, we saw a visitor’s center for Escalante. We stopped, chatted with the Ranger about both Escalante and Kodachrome, and motored on.

While Escalante was mainly made of a buff-colored stone, Kodachrome returned us to the iron-rich soil that we saw in Zion and Bryce. Deep terra cotta stonescapes surrounded us in this dramatic park. It was more a camping and hiking park, so our visit was short. But even on the main roads, we could see the bright beauty of this area…the reason for the park’s name. I would imagine that the landscape’s imagery changes dramatically throughout the day…it would be great to see.

Kodachrome State Park

Kodachrome State Park

Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument

Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument

Incredible vista in Escalante National Monument

Incredible vista in Escalante National Monument (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Escalante Vista

Escalante Vista

Route 12 wound in and out of Escalante, skirting into and out of the Dixie National Forest. It was a stark contrast of deep, lush greens and stark desert landscapes. We loved it. The changes in altitude and temperature were equally dramatic. At one point, we were at 9,800 feet; the temperature in Richfield was almost 30 degrees more than at the summit in Dixie National Forest.

Aspens in Dixie National Forest

Aspens in Dixie National Forest

We loved this route. Desert, deep red canyons, lush groves of Aspen, rich floral meadows, wide grazing land…it was all on our route.

The road less travelled

The road less travelled (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

At the intersection of Route 12 and Route 24 in Torrey, we took yet another detour to Capitol Reef National Park just a few miles East of the intersection. Once again, we were thrown into a canyon with thick walls of iron-rich red cliffs and dramatic stone formations. We went a few miles in to the visitor’s center and then took a bit of the scenic drive. However, we wanted to reach our destination at a reasonable hour, so we left and motored back West. Given what we saw on the way TO the park…we saw much of the majesty of this area.

Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park

Open road to Capitol Reef

Open road to Capitol Reef

We reached Richfield and our modest overnight accommodations and are now safely and comfortably settled for the night. Tomorrow, we’re driving all the way to Jackson, Wyoming. We’ll stay a couple of nights there so we can spend a full day exploring the Tetons. We then will go up to Yellowstone!

For you Jasmine and Juliet fans, the girls are doing GREAT. One of the things I’ve been noticing is the interaction between Jasmine and Juliet. Jasmine is starting to cuddle more with Juliet. In the car, on the bed, and in the crate, these two are together 24 x 7…it was bound to happen. Juliet’s assertiveness is also changing the alpha dynamics. I’m not sure which dog is alpha (they tend to go back and forth). I do know that at the end of this, the dogs will be a little better bonded. Buddies? Maybe not today, but I’m hopeful.

Pals

Pals?

Wandering north towards Wyoming

Left Bryce this morning, heading towards Yellowstone. As per usual, we took the road less traveled, through Escalante. Once again the scenery was fantastic. It seems everywhere we go, we see nothing but fabulous ever changing scenery. None is really more beautiful than the other but it is just different.

We stopped to talk to the ranger as we went into Kodachrome State Park. He told us that the trip through Escalante would be great. He didn’t lie. As I said we took the back way and went right through the middle of Escalante National Monument. We were up and down constantly from about 5,000 feet to a high of 9,900 feet in elevation. All the while driving through fantastic colors on the mesas. We went across the summit of one Mesa on a two lane road with no shoulder and a sheer drop on both sides of the road. Mahgrit had a problem with this section of the drive. She could not look out the window and had to look at the floor. Also, as we were going up and down the mountains, the temperature changed up and down by about 30 degrees, cold up on the Mesa and hot down in the valley.

The valleys went from scrub brush to lush, grassy green the further north we went. We began to see larger and larger herds of cattle on the pastures until we came across one pasture where we could not count the cattle because there were so many.

Tomorrow is a push day. We will be doing some heavy driving because we want to get to Yellowstone before the weekend craziness.

Bryce Canyon

Had too much trouble with the network here so I didn’t post.

Iiiimmmm back.

As you already know, from Mahgrit’s post, we had a great drive yesterday, finding spots we never knew existed. The little turn off through the Dixie National Forest was a beautiful and relaxing drive. Ya, relaxing, like we are so stressed out. 😉

The landscape here in Utah once again is different. Not more or less beautiful but just different. It is obvious there is more water available here. Green valleys and cattle farms are more prevalent here.

Bryce Canyon is a sight almost beyond description. Multicolored monuments to nature cut and shaped by water. Just like the Grand Canyon and Zion, Bryce needs to be seen to be appreciated.

The pictures on Mahgrit’s postattempt to reflect what we have seen. And, what have we seen; an elk ranch, a bison ranch, mule deer, prong horn deer, a mountain goat, all close up and personal.

Today at Bryce, we climbed up to 9,300 feet ( well really drove most of the way and walked up the last few hundred. No, really we did some serious up hill walking. At this altitude it was kind of walk three steps, puff, walk three steps, pant, etc.

Tomorrow it is off to Escalante.

Bryce Canyon Beauty

Day 33: Saturday, June 1, 2013
Visited: Bryce Canyon National Park

This is our third National Park in a week. We are in awe of all this country has to offer, all the wild and beautiful places that still exist and are being preserved for generations to come.

Today’s visit to Bryce Canyon was as good as could be. We got up early and took the first shuttle into the park. It was quiet and almost empty. The morning was bright and cool. Perfect.

The first shuttle stop was at Bryce Canyon. The bus let us off, and within a few steps, we had reached this magnificent vista. According to the park info, Bryce Canyon is not technically a canyon since it was not carved by running water; instead, the canyon was made by rainwater eroding the stone and, over time, making this unique landscape. I do have to say that I took about a hundred photos today. You can thank me for only publishing a few of them… 😉

Tom and Mahgrit at Bryce Point

Tom and Mahgrit at Bryce Point

Magnificent Vista at Bryce Canyon

Magnificent Vista at Bryce Canyon

Unusual Bryce Canyon strata called Hoodoos

Unusual Bryce Canyon strata called Hoodoos (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

We took the bus to each of the stops and checked out the different canyons and views. I especially liked Inspiration Point.

Hoodoos everywhere at Inspiration Point

Hoodoos everywhere at Inspiration Point

This Hoodoo reminded us of an alien. Could it have been an alien race that carved these canyons? Nah…

Hoodoo or Alien?

Hoodoo or Alien?

We walked along the canyon rim trail from one of the points, Sunset Point, to the next vista, Sunrise point. In between, we visited the lodge. It had great, rustic cabins that were just steps away from the canyon rim. I’d love to stay at one of these someday! The lodge house itself was the original lodge put up by a family that now seems to have the monopoly on lodging and restaurants at Bryce Canyon City.

Bryce Canyon Lodge

Bryce Canyon Lodge

After touring the park through the shuttle system, we went back to the hotel and picked up the car (and the pups). We drove out to Rainbow Point, the furthest driving point in the park, and had a picnic lunch. We then stopped at all the vistas on the way back to the hotel. This part of the park is not served by the shuttle system. However, the shuttle gave us a great overview of the park and allowed us to determine how busy the park was (not) and if we’d have issues driving to different points. We spent the rest of the time exploring on our own. What was surprising was the contrast between the vast forests and the dramatic canyons. Both the Grand Canyon and Zion were less densely rich in forest, while Bryce was a mix of the two. Hence today’s open road.

Today's open road to Rainbow Point

Today’s open road to Rainbow Point

There were more great strata at the different vista points, including this great Natural Bridge.

Natural Bridge - Bryce Canyon

Natural Bridge – Bryce Canyon

We saw a lot of ground squirrels and birds in the park, but our most dramatic encounter with nature was the Pronghorn Antelope that were grazing by the side of the road. We stopped and I got out of the car to take this picture. It didn’t phase the antelope one bit.

Pronghorn Antelope on the roadside

Pronghorn Antelope on the roadside

I do have to say that three National Parks in a week is a lot. By the end of the day’s sightseeing, I was getting a bit jaded. “Oh yeah, another breathtakingly beautiful vista. Click.”

Oh the places you will go...

Oh the places you will go… (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

After a hard day of sight-seeing, we had some down time. I did a little artwork, while Tom and Jasmine surfed Facebook and then took a well-deserved nap.

Tom and Jasmine check out Facebook

Tom and Jasmine check out Facebook

All that sight-seeing makes everyone sleepy

All that sight-seeing makes everyone sleepy

Tomorrow, we start heading North towards Yellowstone. However, we are going to take the scenic route. At this point, is there any other route but scenic?