Utah's National Parks, September & October 2014 - Under Development

The Natural Wonders of Utah's Canyons:  Bryce, Zion and the Grand Canyon, a Road Scholar Program...  and then we head off on our own to explore the rest of Utah's Red Rock Country.

Map of Southern Utah and its Parks.

Click on the map above to see a larger version.  (Google Maps)

We began our adventure on September 20 with a long drive to Saint George, located in the south-east corner of Utah, via Las Vegas on Interstate 15.  Saint George sits in a red-rock lined canyon at the western edge of the Colorado Plateau, a region that spans large parts of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico.  The geology of the Colorado Plateau is what created the unique landscapes that inspired the creation of the six national parks, two state parks and a national monument that we visited on this trip.

And this trip is indeed one of geological discovery.  Please refer to the map on the left for a diagram of our adventure.  And in the paragraphs immediately below please click on the links to websites that contain more information than most people want to know about the referenced state and national parks.

Jump to the pictures!

Saint George is the place to begin an exploration of Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks.  Besides its unique location, it is a small but modern city with all the amenities to prepare for an adventure.  Road Scholar manages a modest motel called the College Inn that used to be a women's dorm near Dixie State University.  Road Scholar maintains its regional headquarters in the College Inn and manages all their programs to the local national parks from there.

Our Road Scholar program began with a visit to Snow Canyon State Park, located just north of town, for a warm up hike and an introduction to the local geology, and the Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm, located in the south-east side of Saint George, where well preserved dinosaur tracks and fossils were discovered in 2000.  The next day we drove to Zion National Park where we hiked a couple of more challenging trails before returning to the College Inn in the evening.  We then drove to Bryce Canyon National Park for a day of hiking and then drove on to spend the night in Kanab, Utah.  Kanab is a sad little town, but was well located for our next destination, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon which we visited the next day.  While driving to Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon we passed through the western side of the Grand Staircase National Monument.  We returned once more to Saint George and ended our most excellent Road Scholar adventure.

Road Scholar allowed us to stay an additional day to rest and catch up on our laundry, and then we headed off to Moab, Utah via scenic State Highway 12 and a night in Torrey in the way of a break.  While on Highway 12, we drove over the most spectacular lithified sand dunes in a constant and heavy rain and before crossing Boulder Pass where it snowed on us, before descending to Torrey where we spent the night.  Due to the poor weather, to my shame, I didn't attempt any photography.  The landscape, however, was magnificent.  We will be driving this road again someday, hopefully in fair weather.  From Torrey we drove to Moab, taking a break to visit Capitol Reef National Park.

Like Saint George, Moab is a modest city but with all the amenities for adventuring, and is well placed in south-east Utah to visit Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Dead Horse Point State Park.  We spent a day each in the two national parks.  We visited Dead Horse Point State Park the day we drove to Canyonlands; they are really part of the same geological formation created by the confluence of the Colorado and Green Rivers.

From Moab we returned home through Salt Lake City and Interstate 80 across the breadth of Nevada to Virginia City.  From there we drove home on October 4.  Over 2000 miles, 6 national parks, two state parks, and one national monument in two weeks.

Please enjoy the pictures below.  To see the full image, click on a thumbnail.  To navigate through the images, click on NEXT or PREV to move to the next image or to go back.

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