From Lake Powell we headed south to meet friends in Sedona for the weekend, so we had 2 days in which to wander, chill and move ourselves 4 hours on down the road. Hey Doug, did you know the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is only 2 hours from here? Squirrel!
Just when you think you’ve had enough of red rock photos, we’re here for you! We’re off to the other end of Lake Powell (recall our first encounter with the lake was 200 miles north in Hite). Although the reservoir level remains relatively low, there’s plenty of lake left for the marinas near Page, Arizona to flourish.
Zion (pronounced ‘ZY-in’ by locals, not ‘ZY-on’) National Park is the most superlative of the National Parks we visited so far. It has the tallest and most dramatic cliffs, soaring 2,500 feet from the Zion Canyon floor. The most innocently named Virgin River continues to flow through the canyon years (ok, millions…) after carving those cliffs. Zion has the largest number of scenic roads with four providing views into the park’s most beautiful areas. The main road through the Zion Canyon features the largest fleet of tandem buses we’ve seen. Zion has the greatest number of elated day hikers anywhere (despite a limited number of day hikes available within the canyon).
Our friend Kat, who works for the National Park Service, told us that she believes Squaw Flats Campground in the Needles District of Canyonlands NP is the most beautiful campground. Apparently, others think so too – it’s typically booked solid 6 months in advance. As non-planners, advance reservations don’t work too well for us, but we’re becoming skilled at snagging cancellations. We scored big! While waiting for our site to open up we got to explore an unplanned, interesting loop back from Capitol Reef – I called it the ‘space between‘ – then we were able to spend a weekend at Squaw Flats. And we agree with Kat – best campground views yet!
One of our goals was to explore the space between – between the National Parks. Toward that end, we stopped by a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) office and made one ranger’s day. We asked about maps, roads and campsites in the area between the NPs, mostly managed by the BLM. She was beaming! She went on to tell us all of her favorite places, potential road closures, and where campsites are plentiful or scarce.
Capitol Reef National Park is the most remote of the Southern Utah parks. Unique geological movements created a 100-mile wrinkle in the earth’s surface the eventually eroded into an angled reef surrounded by various shapes, sizes and colors of crazy rock formations. The unique movements also enabled the Fremont River to run year-round, creating the basis for settlement. The soil, climate and isolation were perfect for fruit orchards. Fruita, the remains of the historical town within Capitol Reef, is literally and figuratively an oasis in the desert.
Canyonlands National Park is a vast and quiet place compared to Arches. It’s divided into 3 distinct districts: Island in the Sky, Needles, and the Maze. The latter can only be accessed by jeeps and off-road vehicles, so we won’t be visiting the Maze. We did visit Island in the Sky during our stay in Moab.
Arches National Park is known for its arches – over 2,000 of them!
Last October in Memphis at the Blues Guitar Unleashed (BGU) Live gathering, several of us jammers stayed at the Tom Sawyer Mississippi River Campground in West Memphis, Arkansas. Among that crew were Michael (known as Stringbreaker on the BGU forum) and his wife, Kat. Michael and Kat live in Moab and they told us we should stop by if we were ever passing through there. Ding ding ding!
Continue reading “Jamming with Stringbreaker”
This is our first visit to Utah canyon country, and likely not our last. It’s magical! And we’ve only just begun…