May 14th, 2019
Las Vegas, Nevada
Having been to a variety of national parks during our two-week vacation, here are our takeaways:
Arches National Park — Skip it
There are arches to see in pretty much every single national park in Utah. The only thing that's unique about Arches National Park is the density; it's got the most arches in one concentrated area. On the downside, it's also got an enormous number of tourists in that same area. Keep in mind, however, that an arch is an arch. You've seen one, well, you get the idea.
Canyonlands National Park — Don't miss it
Unlike Arches National Park, this national park is large and expansive and offers much of the same geologic wonders as the better-known parks. It's even got an arch as its iconic image.
Capitol Reef National Park — Take it or leave it
Like Canyonlands, this national park draws far fewer visitors than the bigger names, e.g. Arches. The scenery looks a lot like Canyonlands, and so if you're heading in the right direction and have the time, then stop and see it. But, don't make a special trip just to see Capitol Reef.
Bryce Canyon National Park — Don't miss it
This park is quite popular and deservedly so. Whereas most of the other parks offer substantially the same geologic formations (canyons, mesas, buttes), Bryce Canyon offers something unique with their hoodoo amphitheaters.
Zion National Park — Don't miss it
Even more so than Bryce Canyon, this park is very popular given its proximity to Las Vegas — two hours from downtown Las Vegas to Zion — and its extraordinary beauty. You will definitely run into crowds during the high season, like we did, but it is worth putting up with those crowds. The park introduced a mandatory shuttle service 20 years ago that provides access to the major sites in the park. For those of you who have the stamina, make sure to hike Angel's Landing. For those of us with a little less oomph, hit Weeping Rock instead. The latter offered my favorite vista of the entire vacation.
Grand Canyon West — Skip it
The west rim of the canyon isn't part of the national park. Even though we knew that going in, we were disappointed with what the Hualapai Tribe had to offer. Also skip the south rim of the national park. We didn't go there, but that's because we were lucky enough to be warned ahead of time. The north rim is the place to be.
Here are some of the photos we took on our last day of vacation.
May 12th-13th, 2019
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Photos, Day 12
Photos, Day 13
May 9th-11th, 2019
Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, Utah
It is hard to comprehend the time required to create the geologic formations that we've visited over the last 11 days. Using very round numbers, it takes approximately 10 million years to make a substantial change in the landscape, like carving a canyon with a river. If a single human lifetime is around 75 years, that lifetime covers 0.00075% of that carving time. Or looking at it a different way, 133,000 generations of humans will have come and gone during that carving time.
Can you comprehend these numbers? I definitely cannot and, honestly, I find it quite unsettling.
Photos, Day 9
Photos, Day 10
Photos, Day 11
May 8th, 2019
Zion National Park, Utah
Zion National Park
Humans first began to inhabit the region now known as Zion National Park around 8,000 years ago, with the Mormons showing up in the late 1850s. In 1909, President William Howard Taft named the area Mukuntuweap National Monument in order to protect the canyon from development. In 1918, upon the creation of the National Park Service, the acting director of this new agency proposed renaming the area as Zion National Monument because:
"The name change played to a prevalent bias of the time. Many believed that Spanish and Indian names would deter visitors who, if they could not pronounce the name of a place, might not bother to visit it. The new name, Zion, had greater appeal to an ethnocentric audience."
Finally, in 1919, the monument was elevated in status to Zion National Park by President Woodrow Wilson.
Zion is the fourth most-visited national park in the United States. What are the first three (in order, of course)?
Here are some of the photos we took today.
May 6th-7th, 2019
On Day 6, we checked out of the Moab Valley Inn and headed southwest for Torrey, Utah. Our destination for the night was the Skyridge Inn, an award-winning bed and breakfast located near the entrance to Capitol Reef National Park. After checking in, and with an ounce of energy remaining, we headed off to Sunset Point. Situated right near the entrance to the park, Sunset Point is a wonderful location from which to watch the sun set.
In a stroke of luck, the best room at the Skyridge Inn was available for the evening, so the proprietor upgraded us to that room at no cost to us. With our own personal hot tub outside the room, it was a beautiful spot to take in the unspoiled landscape.
On Day 7, we reluctantly left our master suite at the Skyridge Inn, toured Capitol Reef National Park and then down-scaled a bit to the T Lazy 7 Ranch cabins in Torrey, Utah. There is nothing much to speak of in Torrey — and I mean nothing — but it is conveniently located between Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks, our destinations for the next few days.
Chris Barber is an English bandleader and trombonist. He's been performing since the 1950s, right up through at least 2017. For the record, Alison cannot stand his music, or any jazz for that matter. I, however, love it and can easily listen to it all day.
Here are some of the photos we took yesterday and today.
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