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A May Alternative Trip! Holy Hare!!

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Holy Hare and Goodness Sakes!! What an alternative trip we were on!

We had signed up for the North Rim of the Grand Canyon with our friend Sam, and his wife Pat, and then found that the nights were expected to be in the low 30s for camping....And we were to camp there for 4 nights...Well that was a bit much for us, so we enjoyed the first day and night with them, and then headed on - no plans other than to stay at a lower elevation to camp in warmer nights...Curly and Devon joined us on this alternative, no planned, trip...


We started last Friday (I think!) by heading north, up through Page, AZ on the new 89T road. (89 temporary) From there we headed west on 89, heading towards Kanab, Utah.


Cool stuff along the way...





The coolest thing was we stopped in the BLM office at Big Water, and met one of those patheologists, or whatever they are called, who had actually discovered a new dinosaur...and they named it after him! A Nothronychus graffami! Big Water is at the base of the Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument, and there are all kinds of dinosaur bones in that area. Pretty cool!


Anyways, we stayed in Kanab for the night, before we planned on meeting up with Sam in Pipe Spring on Saturday. Funny, but we were all in Kanab that night, so enjoyed dinner and breakfast together before heading over to Pipe Spring on Saturday.


Pipe Spring is east of Colorado City, west of Fredonia, on the AZ strip. This spring was used by the Kaibab Piaute Indians, and a Morman rancher in the 1860s. The Morman rancher and his herdsmen were killed by Navajos, as they tried to recover some cattle that had been stolen by the Navajos. To retaliate, the Mormans killed off alot of the (unassuming and innocent) Piaute Indians, and then took over the spring and made it a tithing farm. Many Mormans paid their tithe with cattle, sheep, etc etc, and so the church collected them all here and made it a tithing farm. Twice a month they hauled some livestock, cheeses, etc to St. George.


The Winsor family agreed to manage the farm/ranch and built this home....It is called Winsor Castle...




Notice the telegraph pole in the foreground. They had girls who stayed here who's job it was to man the telegraph (on the table in the following pic) for 24 hours per day....




The spring water comes into the lower floor of the home/telegraph office.




After lunch, we head to Torroweap. This is towards the west end of the Grand Canyon National Park....65 miles of dirt road and rather remote, but Holy Hare! well worth the drive! (BTW in September they will be charging a $10 permit fee to go here)


The orange mallow are blooming pretty!




The old road grader by the Park entrance...


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There is a small campground at Torroweap....our campsite... (1 of 6 available)




After we set up camp, we head over to the rim. The campground is about 1 mile from the rim. Check out these pics!!! Oh my oh my!!



Steve checks out below...



It took alot of convincing, but I did get out to get this pic...



And don't lean back!



The next morning we head back to get more pics. Of fascination to me...The 60 miles of dirt road that we traveled to get here actually traverses through a valley that was full of lava beds. The lava had flowed down that valley and into the canyon, and blocked the canyon until the water worked its way through. This was like millions of years ago I think....But so very very cool to see 3 lava flows on the north rim that had dumped into the canyon...

The lava flows are identified by the black areas...



Below is the class 10 area known as the Lava Falls....According to Sam, it is the toughest, and largest drop, on the river....Note the rafts preparing to go over...



A cool old bridge on the way back to Pipe Spring....


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We said goodbye to Sam and company, who had rooms at the North Rim lodge, and we (Steve and me, Tim and Devon) head to Coral Pink Sands State Park that afternoon, where we have campsites. Nice campground, with showers! And the dunes are quite cool!!




That afternoon, we make plans for our trip the next day....

So on Monday (I think!) we head south through Rosy Canyon, to get back into AZ and the highway....



After topping off fuel in Colorado City, we head north on the Smithsonian Butte Trail...a national backway....

It is only 9 miles long, but returns us back into Utah....and its not long from there that we get our first view of Zion National Park! Also notice the valley below the mesa....This is the location of the old town of Grafton, and our next stop...




What a beautiful valley here just south of Zion National Park!



The old school house and meeting room in the old town of Grafton Utah....



We head on, and cross this cool old, original 1924 bridge, into Rockville...Zion Park in the pic...


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As per our plan from the day before, we opted to skip driving into Zion, and instead head up the Kolob Backway...This paved road heads up the west side of Zion....

The road actually crosses in and out of the park.....



We are awed by the colors and volumes of cacti blooming in this old burnt out area....




A look into Zion on its west side...



The road cuts across the top section of the park...



The road runs now across the north edge of the park...We decide to check out the Lava Point campground and look out....OH MY!!! Looking into Zion and across its tops....



The road now turns to dirt and heads north, towards Cedar City. According to the one vehicle that we saw out there that day, they had just cleared the 5-6 foot of snow last week. We are at 9000 ft elevation, and decide this must be a fall trip!




As per our plan, we head east on Utah 14, and plan on driving to Orderville and to a lower elevation for warmer climes!


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We spent that night in a (prior) KOA Kabin...the winds were strong and we didn't find much in the way of setting up our tents that night. We make plans for the next day!


We get up the next morning, and head out on dirt, over to Afton Utah, and the Great Western Trail, that cuts south across the Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument. A look north from the Great Western TRail....to view the Pink Cliffs (in the far distance, which is in and adjacent to Bryce National Park) and the gray cliffs in front of them.




We then travel along the White Cliffs and spot Mollie's Nipple off in the distance...a future trip!




And then another look back once more upon those Pink Cliffs. They call this part of the Great Western Trail, the Sand Road...and for good reason. We travel on sand for over 10 miles....






WE travel along the White Cliffs...



Goodness, now we drop down the Vermillion Cliffs!




This pic is for you Jim!



We get back to Highway 89, and head over to the trail on the west side of the Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness and Monument. We find a Utah back trail and take it, only to soon be awed by the view! This is the Vermillion Wilderness. The canyon cut in the center of the pic is the Paria River Canyon



Oh my Goodness! The pics simply do not do this justice! The west side of the Vermillion Wilderness!



We stay at StateLine campground, literally on the state line, and this is our sunset view!




The next morning, as we travel the trail that will go down the west side of the wilderness/monument, we find the West Bench Pueblo...



There are pottery shards all over this place, and we place a few on the rocks



One last stop before lunch, at the condor release area....



Marble Canyon below as we cross it near Lees Ferry...



We stop at Lees Ferry for our lunch break



A view of the Vermillion Cliffs as we leave Lees Ferry and head south....


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We head south for home on Wednesday, but then encounter the fire smoke from the Slide Fire...So while Tim and Devon decide to push on for home, we decide to head west to the Grand Canyon south....



The cut of the Little Colorado River.....This would be cool to see, although its on Navajo Reservation...



We go into the Grand Canyon National Park, on the south rim, east side...The Watch Tower...



And the quite Awesome view! Notice the saddle in the far distance, at about 11.30 in the middle of the picture...We had just seen this (Saddle MOuntain Wilderness area) from the north side just a few hours ago!



And the shadows looking west...



We decide to watch the sunset at Grandview Point...





The next morning, the smoke literally pours into the canyon...



A stop at the Indian pueblo at Tusayan..



In addition to the 3 elk we had already seen, we see these doe resting...



A final view of the canyon... Still smoky, but not as bad....



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Because of the elevations on the Kolob Trail (north of Zion) and the large number of aspen trees here, and the scrub oak on the Sand Road, we think this trip will be perfect for a fall trip! And we are so excited to see as much cool stuff as we did, but it really did whet our appetite to see so much more!!! Watch for a future trip in these areas!!!


Tim and Devon and Steve can add so much more to this report! I tried to abbreviate the report, but its hard with so much glorious out there!!


smiles, ladybug

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Cool report!



So. Utah has to be one of the most beautiful parts of our world.



Thanks for sharing.





Larry K.

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Thanks, beautiful pictures and great trip report.

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What a cool trip! Thanks for sharing!

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