Utah--Kabab and back to Grand Canyon North Rim AR
Trip Start Apr 16, 2009
32Trip End Jul 12, 2009
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Writing this on the way to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, trying to stay awake. Spent the last three days in Kanab, Utah:
DAY 37, Friday, May 22--.The first day we got to our campsite early enough to head out to the Visitor's Center of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. A "national monument" here in the West is not what you would think of as a monument; it is a land area set aside to be preserved in its original state for education, research, or recreational use by the public. Grand Staircase-Escalante gets its name from the multiple layers of rock that erode in places like staircases rising from the Grand Canyon. It is 1.9 million acres here in Utah and we never heard of it till we rode by the Visitor Center. The "stairsteps" are vermillion, chocolate, pink, white and more. Kanab sits on the chocolate layer. We drove one road that threaded through both the park and private land to see the "White Cliffs". Gorgeous white sandstone on top of pink. We passed by the remains of the TV set of Gunsmoke (anyone under 50 won't know what I' m talking about).
DAY 38, Saturday, May 23--We planned our trip to Zion National Park well, except we didn't plan for rain. Friday night it started raining hard and continued throughout Saturday morning, so we figured the weather wouldn't even let us see the mountaintops, so why be frustrated? It cleared off in the afternoon, so rather than wasting the day, we went out to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. The sand dunes are formed when the wind finds a notch between two mountains and the Venturi effect of the wind erodes the soft sandstone. There was a nature trail there with signs explaining the ever-changing dunes and the plant and animals that live at various levels along the dunes. The conditions were perfect to be walking on the dunes: cloudy, a little breeze, sand packed by the rains earlier in the night and day. Under those conditions, it was fun to be walking in sand dunes. In the evening, we visited the Crescent Moon Theater, an old restored movie theater, famous for its western movies. The small city of Kanab, Utah is called the "Hollywood of the West" because of all the western movies filmed in the area. The Parry Lodge near the theater provided the lodging for stars in the westerns, such as Ronald Reagan. We heard a singer Pete Kartsounes sing along with a special guest. Pete is one of the Top 10 finalists for the Troubadour category in the Telluride Blue Grass Festival in June. All his music was original songs. We wish him luck; he is worthy.
Day 39, Sunday, May 24--The weather improved, so we headed to Zion National Park. A Mormon first named the Park for the word meaning the Promised Land or Heaven, as we would think of it. At Zion, you see the mountains from the canyon floor; this contrasts with the Grand Canyon, at which you see the mountains from the canyon rim. Our planning paid off; we efficiently navigated the park, sidestepping for the most part the throngs of Memorial Day weekend crowds. Hiking was fun there; we successfully navigated all the "Easy" trails. Being very adventurous, we plan to go back to conquer Angel's Landing after a trip to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. To be continued . . .
Day 40, Monday, Memorial Day, May 25--The North Rim of the Grand Canyon was different from the South Rim, having a higher elevation by 1,000'. To get to the rim from Kanab, UT or anywhere else you travel through the Kaibab National Forest of mixed evergreens and quaking aspen; it looks more like Canada than Southwest U.S. This reminds us of Smokey the Bear territory, and actually, there were huge areas evidencing past forest fires. The first stop was the historic Grand Canyon Lodge (built in the 1920's and rebuilt 1932 after a fire), think dark wooden beams, leather furniture, historic photos). From its Sun Room, guests have seen Bright Angel Canyon just as it is since the lodge's construction. We took the "easy" (NOT!) trail to Bright Angel Point for magnificent views, but, hey, you can walk right off the edge as these places. From the North Rim, it seems the canyon is much closer and colors more intense. It is generally less crowded because it's so far to get to it. It was 90 miles from our travel trailer in Kanab to the Cape Royal Point (23 miles from the lodge), the area recommended for the best views. In fact, out here in the West, everything seems a lot bigger and places seem a lot further apart. Lunch was at Cape Royal at Wedding Point, where we tried to nap but it was too cold and windy at about 56 degrees when the sun went behind the clouds. We hiked another 1/2 mile trail to Angel's Window, a highlight-check out the picture.