Southwest – Day 15

Leaving Zion National Park

Southwest USA

Retirement Trip

September 2019

29 Days – 6,500 Miles – 19 States

7 National Parks

Several State Parks – 6,000+ Photos

1 Trillion Insects Squished by Car Windshield

 From 108 Degrees to Snow

From 282 Feet Below Sea Level to 12,000+ Feet

Bison, Elk, Prairie Dogs, Lizards, Wild Horses

Elvis, Aliens, John Wayne Westerns

Walking In The Footsteps of Forrest Gump

And More! 


Entering Grand Canyon North Rim

Zion National Park to Kanab, Utah and

Grand Canyon North Rim

Kanab is pronounced:  kuh-NABB   (Thank you, Katlin!)

We left Zion NP this morning and headed south to explore the Grand Canyon North Rim.
 
Since we visited Zion NP yesterday, we are ahead of schedule.  Today, we decided to drive to our next hotel in Kanab, Utah
which is only about 60 miles from Zion NP. From there, we would continue south for an hour to explore the Grand Canyon North Rim. 
 It’s a beautiful, sunny day so let’s go!
 
We awoke to find the full moon setting over the nearby cliffs of Zion NP just before sunrise. 
After breakfast, we packed the car and started toward the entrance of Zion NP.
Rt 9 actually goes through the park and exits the east side on the way to Kanab.
First, we must go through the morning rush at the gate.  It didn’t take too long, though.
Soon, we were driving through the park.  One of the shuttle buses can be seen ahead.
After Canyon Junction (#3 on the shuttle map from yesterday), we turn onto the
Zion – Mt Carmel Highway through the eastern half of the park.
As incredible as the scenery was yesterday in the canyon,
this part of the park was maybe even nicer!
The Zion – Mt Carmel Highway curves its way up between incredible rock formations.
Around every curve was a new vista!
 
Climbing to 5,000 feet elevation.

 
As we gained altitude, the drop-offs along the roadside became higher and higher.
That “curb” of rocks is all that keeps you from rolling down the cliff. 
Beth was not very happy about that.
One of several panoramic vistas we passed that morning driving through the eastern half of Zion NP.
The variety of colors was accentuated by the morning sun.
Soon, we were at the line waiting to go through the Zion – Mt Carmel Tunnel, a 1.1-mile-long tunnel through solid rock.
Traffic is limited to alternating one-way since it is too narrow to allow RVs to pass by each other.
Now it’s our turn to go. 
Hard to get a good photo, but this is an opening caused by a collapsed roof in the tunnel over 50 years ago.

Once we were through the tunnel, I wanted to park and walk out to the canyon overlook, but the few parking spots were full and lines were waiting.

We decided we have already seen plenty and it was time to move on. 

Everywhere you look, there were interesting colors and patterns.
Again, geologists must feel like kids in a candy store.
So many different types of formations and colors.
Nearing the east entrance to Zion NP and the scenery just keeps coming!
And yet another breathtaking view.
I could spend a month just photographing the east half of the park. 
Some sturdy yucca plants on the hillside.
Stopping to get a closer look at some roadside flowers.
These red flowers were growing out of a crack in the rocks.
So were these bright yellow flowers.
We noticed these stacks of  rocks that appear to be naturally-occurring formations similar to small hoodoos.
A hoodoo is defined as a column or pinnacle of weathered rock.  They can be anywhere from 5 – 150 feet tall.
Hoodoos form when a hard “cap” protects the softer rock underneath from weather and water erosion.
More flora on the hillsides.
If you look high on the mountain and to the left, you will see an opening.
See the next photo for a description and close-up.
There are dozens of “Blind Arches” at Zion NP and other parks throughout the Southwest. 
 We saw several at Arches NP (coming up in about 4 days).
 
A Blind Arch is an arch of rock still attached to the rock face.
As we neared the east entrance, we noticed some of the mountains were more gray colored than red.
We stopped at an overlook to check out this Checkerboard Mesa formation. 
View of the Checkerboard Mesa rock formation.
Close-up.
Soon, we were at the east entrance/exit. 
We really enjoyed the drive through the eastern half of Zion NP this morning! Hope you did, too!

After leaving Zion National Park, we headed east on Rt 9 then south on

Rt 89 to Kanab, Utah to our next hotel.

It’s less than an hour from here.

Once we left Zion NP, the landscape quickly changed from rocky cliffs to flat plains.
Quite a change in scenery over the last hour. 
This is Rt 89 somewhere north of Kanab.

KANAB, UTAH

Just north of the Arizona/Utah border is the town of Kanab.   (Remember:  kuh-NABB?)
We checked in early and unloaded a few things before heading to the Grand Canyon North Rim.
This is the view from our hotel window. 

GRAND CANYON – NORTH RIM

Less than an hour south of Kanab, the access road (Alt Rt 89) for the Grand Canyon North Rim turns off to the right.
Alt Rt 89 goes through the grassy meadows and forests of Kaibab National Forest.
Alt Rt 89 is a nice, relaxing drive south toward the Grand Canyon North Rim.
In less than an hour, we were at the gate to the park.
We have a lifetime pass, so entry into all of the National Parks is covered.
Just past the entry point, this sign warns us to watch for bison.
This is the second time on this trip we’ve seen a sign like this!
We didn’t have to wait long.  
Just a few miles down the road, we came upon this herd of bison grazing and resting in a field.
They sure keep the grass mowed short – compared to the grassy fields before the entry gate.
Lots of young calves means the herd will continue to thrive. However, in just a short time, winter will set in.  
Because this area is at 8,000-feet elevation, winters here are long and harsh.
In fact, the road into the North Rim is not even plowed and opened until mid-May. 
Remember this map from the South Rim (Day 11)?  On that day, we explored the area circled in yellow.
Today, we enter from the top of the photo and come down to the 3 red circles. 
First, we visit the upper right circle is Point Imperial, the highest overlook on the Grand Canyon.
Next, we will visit Cape Royal to the lower right.
Then, we will finish up at the Visitor Center and Bright Angel Point to the middle left.

POINT IMPERIAL

Just before reaching the Visitor Center, we turn east on the road to Point Imperial and Cape Royal.

From the parking lot, we walked out the short path to the overlook at Point Imperial.
At over 1,000 feet higher than the overlooks at the South Rim, this is the “high point” of our trip — but not for long.
Sign at Point Imperial overlook.
Over 10 Washington Monuments deep! 
Panorama of Point Imperial overlook.
View to the northeast from Point Imperial overlook.
This old guy kept getting in front of the camera. 
Panorama looking east from the Point Imperial overlook.

Point Imperial overlook, facing northeast.

Next, we drove south about 15 miles to the Cape Royal overlook.

Beth’s quick reflexes got her this photo out of the car window of a wild turkey along the road to Cape Royal.

ANGELS’ WINDOW

We drove to the parking lot at the end of the road near Cape Royal.  
From there, it’s a 10-minute walk down this interesting path.
One of the overlooks on this path is Angels’ Window.   Why is it called that?
Look closely at the arch on the far right.  In certain places, you can look through the opening
and see the Colorado River below.
Quick geology lesson.  (We both learned a lot about geology on this trip!)
We walked over to the point where you can see the Colorado River through the opening. 
You can also see people on the overlook along the top of the rock.
There is a path out to an overlook on Angels’ Window, but it is quite narrow and there are
3,000-4,000 foot drop-offs on each side. 
This give you a little better perspective of the narrow path and high drop-offs.
This is the view down from the overlook.  
Reminds me of the old Road Runner and Coyote cartoons. 
Looking east from Angels’ Window, you can see the Colorado River and the incredible colors of the distant cliffs.
Interesting story about how the river used to have so much red sediment in it,
they said it was too thick to drink and too thin to plow.
Now, the Glen Canyon Dam upstream allows the sediment to settle, making the river much more clear.
However, this means the river is eroding the riverbanks and not building them up with deposits. 
As we approached Cape Royal overlook, we enjoyed this view to the east.
We’ve reached the Cape Royal overlook.  Elevation is 7,865 feet. 
View south/southeast from Cape Royal.  (See next photo for notes)
Vishnu Temple is to the left of center, and Wotan’s Throne is to the right.
This sign at Cape Royal explains the reasoning behind the rock names.
At Cape Royal overlook. 
There were many of these Pinyon Pine trees along the path back to the car.
(See next photo for notes)
Notes about the previous photo.

NORTH RIM LODGE AND BRIGHT ANGEL POINT

Our last stop at the Grand Canyon North Rim was the Visitor Center

and the Bright Angel Point overlook.

With only a fraction of the number of visitors as the South Rim, it is much slower-paced here on the North Rim.
We even found a parking spot right away.  And – we got a second stamp on our National Parks Passport book! 
 
As we were walking up to the Visitor Center, I noticed this marker on the patio outside.
Grand Canyon Lodge overlooks the Grand Canyon. 
The Grand Canyon Lodge also rents out cabins, but they are sold out almost a year ahead.
Walking down the path to the Bright Angel Point overlook. 
In the far distance is the South Rim overlook we visited last week.
Bright Angel Point overlook.  
That old guy’s jumping in front of the camera again!
I chased off the old man, so here is an unobstructed view from Bright Angel Point overlook.
Whew!   Time for a rest with a view! 
There is no shortage of benches with great views around here!

BACK TO KANAB

Although we have to backtrack an hour to the hotel, we are now a day ahead of schedule.

On our way back to Kanab, we were treated to this amazing sunset view of the
Grand Staircase red cliffs at the LeFevre Overlook.
This sign has notes on the previous photo. 
Just like yesterday, here we are entering Utah. (Again, and not for the last time…..)
When we got everything dropped off in the hotel room, we walked across the street to 
Peekaboo Canyon Wood Fired  Kitchen for a pizza as recommended by Katlin.  (Thanks!) 
We split a pizza and a local brew.  Both were great. 
 

Soon, we were back in the room getting ready for tomorrow’s drive to Kayenta, Arizona –

passing through the Vermillion Cliffs and Marble Canyon areas.

Hope you enjoyed riding with us today.  See you tomorrow! 

Mileage Today:  247 Miles

Trip Total:   3,634 Miles

PROCEED TO DAY 16 – KANAB, UTAH TO KAYENTA, ARIZONA VIA VERMILLION CLIFFS AND MARBLE CANYON

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