USA Honeymoon 2010 – 3. Bryce, Zion, Vegas, Death Valley

Day 7 – Page to Bryce Canyon - Photos

After another sugary breakfast in the hotel, we set off over Glen Canyon Dam to Bryce Canyon National Park.

View into Glen Canyon of the float trip boats

This was a pleasant drive into Utah on scenic roads, and soon we were back up at 8000 feet elevation and at Bryce Canyon.

We went to the visitors centre, and then to the main Canyon car park for a walk along the rim and then down into the Queen’s Garden and up Wall Street.

Bryce Canyon from rim

 

Part way down

 

Further down

Wall Street. Dangerous in cold weather due to falling rocks...

Bryce point

Bryce Canyon is a National Park that can be visitied in an afternoon. After our walk and visiting some viewing points, we thought we had seen what we wanted to, and an incoming thunder storm confirmed our decision to head to the Purple Sage Motel in Panguitch. This was a friendly, clean, and inexpensive motel, and on the owner’s recommendation we drove to nearby Hatch for a very good steak dinner.

Day 8 – Zion National Park - Photos

We had an early start to drive to Zion National Park , before the motel owners were up, so we locked the keys in the room and hoped they were fine with that.

It is a very nice approach to Zion from this direction, past the Checkerboard Mesa and then through a long tunnel to emerge in the main valley.

Checkerboard Mesa

We then went to the visitors centre, picked up the park information newsletter, and headed straight for the biggest / toughtest day walk, the 2000+ foot ascent to Observation Point.

A shuttle bus took us down the valley. They run regularly and are very good, it keeps the valley free from too many cars, and we started our ascent up winding paths and through high-up canyons.

Canyon part-way up

View from Observation point - we started down at the valley floor!

 

Switchback path at the start of the ascent

We had been caught in a thunder storm on the way up, with impressive thunder bouncing around the valley. The rain stopped by the time we were 1/2 way back down, but despite a GoreTex jacket, I was very wet.

Wet

We caughy the shuttle bus to the centre of the valley and visited the stables to book a Mule ride the next day. We then returned to the car park and drove into Springdale, the gateway town to Zion, which is very close to the park entrance, and checked into the Desert Pearl Inn.

This is an excellent hotel. We had booked a King Room with a river view and we weren’t dissapointed. The room was lovely, well furnished and equiped with top quality furnishings and a good kitchenette.

View from our balcony

We went into the pool and hot tub area, which was very pleasant, and had a chat with some other guests at the hotel. It was nice being warm in the hot tub while it was raining lightly.

Dinner was a short walk into Springdale at Oscar’s Cafe for some very good burgers and real ales.

┬áDay 9 – Zion National Park - Photos

Following a breakfast of toasted muffins / cream cheese which we had bought in a little supermarket the evening before, we headed back into the park for our Mule riding.

This was excellent fun, and we were glad we had chosen the longer ride rather than the short taster session. Our mules were very easy to ride (for non-riders like ourselves), and were a great way to view the scenery with our experienced guide, Bob, who seemed to be every bit the authentic cowboy.

Mule Riding - Group of 4 plus Bob

View from a Mule

 

Naomi & Bob

After the ride we headed back to our room for a while, and then back into the park to visit The Narrows at the head of the Canyon. Due to the recent rain the water level was quite high and wading up the narrows wasn’t really an option, but it was a pleasant and flat walk.

Canyon narrowing...

 

View up the entrance to the narrows

View from Hot Tub

After some time in the hot tub, we tidied up and then walked into Springdale for a good pizza and some beers at The Flying Monkey.

┬áDay 10 – Zion to Death Valley - Photos

After some early morning hot-tub use and swimming, we had breakfast in our room and then set off for Death Valley National Park – via Las Vegas.

Breakfast on the balcony

Our route to Death Valley should have skirted around the North of Vegas, but we decided to head onto the Strip for the sole purpose of visiting the Wynn buffet for a second time.

We had no problems getting to the Wynn and parking, and the buffet was every bit as good as before.

Assorted mains for me, breakfast for Naomi

Decorated seating area

Leaving the Wynn we had our first (and only) slight navigational error of the trip, and ended up following a heading through suburbs of Vegas to get back to the interstate having misses the proper junction.

The rest of the drive to Death Valley was easy, and as we descended into the valley we kept passing silent motorbikes whose owners were adopting streamlined positions. We passed this chap and stopped to take a photo. I spoke to them in the car park later that day and showed them some photos. It turns out they were a classic motorbike club, and were freewheeling all the way from the top of Dante’s View down to the Furnace Creek Ranch (a vertical distance of 5689 feet, 1734 metres).

Speedy freewheeling

On arrival at Furnace Creek Ranch we weren’t that impressed with the room. It was ok, but certainly not special.

We headed up to Zabriskie Point for sunset, of which we caught the very end.

Zabriskie point view

Zabriskie point view

Back at Furnace Creek, there was a long wait for dinner (captive audience), so we bought some snacks from the shop. This wasn’t a great success, with a bottle of truly terrible Gallo wine. I don’t like being places where there is no choice for dinner.

 

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