Monthly Archives: September 2015

September 18, 2015 Flagstaff and Phoenix, AZ

It was hard to leave Page with beautiful Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and Monument Valley.  What a gorgeous area of Arizona!!  The weather was really hot so we decided to spend five days in Flagstaff, which at an elevation of almost 7,000 feet was going to be cooler.

We thought we would just hang out in Flagstaff and enjoy the weather, but there turned out to be more to do than we expected.

A short drive from our campground was Wupatki National Monument, Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument and Walnut Canyon National Monument.

IMG_1364Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument is a 2,200 square mile volcanic field with more than 400 cinder cones.  Sunset Crater is the youngest volcano in the area, having exploded in 1065 AD.  Because it was pretty hot and we had already experienced a lot of lava fields at Craters of the Moon in Idaho and in Hawaii, we didn’t spend a lot of time here.  We saw a movie at the Visitors Center and we found a really cool geocache.  The geocache was located inside an extinct fumerole (an opening in the earth’s crust which emits steam and gases).  Since the fumerole was extinct it was no longer emitting steam and gases, but I was still surprised Bill jumped down into the fumerole to find this geocache.  Really, Bill??!!IMG_1362IMG_1361

IMG_1360Within Wupatki National Monument are 800 ruins, the homes and villages of the Sinagua and Ancient Puebloans.  These ancient people felt the warning tremors before the volcano erupted in 1065 AD.  The lava flows forced them to vacate the land they had cultivated for over 400 years, and they moved to Wupatki and Walnut Canyon.  Here they lived for another 100 years before moving to other areas of the Colorado plateau.  The agricultural potential of the area actually improved after the eruption because the thin layer of ash absorbed moisture and helped prevent evaporation in the hot, dry landscape.  By 1250 AD the pueblos in Wupatki stood empty.  While there we walked a paved trail which took us up close to several dwellings.IMG_1352IMG_1353IMG_1355IMG_1358

In the early nineteenth century settlers and visitors to the Flagstaff area explored the Wupatki and Sunset Crater National Monuments, looting the area for souvenirs and damaging the landscape.  In 1928 filmmakers planned to use explosives at Sunset Crater to create a landslide for filming.  This led to a public outcry and a push to preserve the area.  In 1930 President Herbert Hoover established Sunset Crater National Monument as part of the national park system.  Wupatki had already been designated a national monument in 1924 after extensive looting of the dwellings.

IMG_1365I think our favorite trip was to nearby Walnut Canyon National Monument.  Here there are dwellings sheltered by overhanging cliffs inhabited here in Walnut Canyon for over 800 years.  The people, known as Sinagua, meaning without water in Spanish, lived by farming, hunting deer and small game, and gathering plants.  It is amazing how they were able to turn this dry land into a homeland.  It is not known why they left, perhaps due to a severe drought.  It is thought they traveled southeast and assimilated into the Hopi culture.

In the 1880’s the railroad brought souvenir hunters to the region, and like Wupatki and Sunset Crater,  looting and destruction of the area caused alarm and dismay.  In 1915 Walnut Canyon was protected as a national monument.IMG_20150921_113003IMG_20150921_105715PANO_20150921_120825

We intended to only walk the Rim Trail around the top of the canyon which would have given us a distant view of the cliff dwellings.  The day was cloudy and cooler, so we decided to walk the Island Trail which was listed as a strenuous trail mostly because of the 240 steps each way which would take us closer to some of the cliff dwellings.  As it turned out it was more moderate than strenuous and we found the walk pleasant and very informative.IMG_20150921_115331IMG_20150921_110159IMG_20150921_111032IMG_20150921_112243IMG_20150921_111259IMG_20150921_112607

We left Flagstaff and drove to Phoenix and our elevation dropped 6,000 feet.  Boy could we feel a difference in temperature!!  Now the temperature climbed to 111 degrees during the day.  After several days of this, the local weatherman said it was going to be cooler with temperatures “only” around 100 degrees.  We were practically the only ones in the campground resort.  The snowbirds will not be arriving for at least another month.

PicsArt_10-08-06.54.23While in Phoenix we did drive into the downtown area on a Sunday to see the state capitol building.  We found some geocaches including one at the Liberty Bell located on the capitol grounds.  This Liberty Bell is identical in dimensions and tone to the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.  The bell is one of 53 cast in France in 1950 and given to the United States government by several copper mining companies. PicsArt_10-08-06.58.20 It is dedicated to us, free citizens in a free country.  Every September the Bell is moved to Gilbert, Arizona where it is displayed as part of Constitution Week.  Close to the capitol grounds we found Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza where there are many memorials honoring important people in Arizona history as well as memorializing wars and significant historical events.  We found a geocache at the USS Arizona anchor (see our post of the USS Arizona memorial).   The 16,000 pound anchor was part of the ship which was bombed and sank during the attack on Pearl Harbor.  The ship still lies at the bottom of Pearl Harbor.  In the plaza is also the USS Arizona signal mast and gun barrel.  Inside the capitol museum is a superstructure salvaged from the ship and the US flag which flew on the battleship when it sank.PicsArt_10-08-06.55.00PicsArt_10-08-07.00.19

Next we head to Yuma, Arizona for a few days before we begin our slow trek back east.

September 17, 2015 Monument Valley, Utah

IMG_1333There is so much to see and do in Page, Arizona.  Before we left we had one last thing  to do.  We wanted to visit Monument Valley and Valley of the Gods in Utah.  We had contemplated taking the RV there and camping for several days but the heat and some changes in our schedule convinced us it was best to make it a long day trip from Page.   And a long day it was with about a three hour drive each way.IMG_1345IMG_1336IMG_1341IMG_1290IMG_1295IMG_1296IMG_1343

IMG_1351Monument Valley is on Navajo land and part of the Navajo Tribal Park which was established in 1958 to preserve the environment.  Monument Valley sits at 5,564 feet above sea level and is 91,696 acres in Arizona and Utah.  The height of the monuments, natural structures created by erosion, range from 100 to 1,500 feet tall.  There was a fee to enter the park and make the 17 mile loop drive.  The road of sand and dirt was in really bad shape making it almost necessary to have 4 wheel drive vehicle.  Monument Valley was made famous in many western movies, TV shows and commercials including Stagecoach (1939), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), How the West Was Won (1962), Easy Rider (1968), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Back to the Future III (1990), Forest Gump (1994), The Lone Ranger (2013), Breaking Bad (TV) and Dr Who (TV) just to name a few.  John Wayne called Monument Valley “God’s Treasure”.


Mexican Hat

We also drove to area of Utah called Valley of the Gods with similar sandstone formations to Monument Valley but on a smaller scale.  This land is public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management and did not require a fee. This too involved a loop drive on a dirt and sand road with less than ideal conditions to say the least.  We had downloaded a map ahead of time which led us to various named formations.  Sometimes it was very easy to see how the formation received its name, while others took an imagination we didn’t seem to have.IMG_1306IMG_1308


Woman Sitting on Her Bathtub


Hen on a Nest




Seven Sailors with Flat Hats

IMG_1315Bill found a geocache in the rocks amid some sagebrush.  I stayed behind and took pictures.  The truth is I was terrified of possible snakes.IMG_1318IMG_1329

IMG_20150917_173850On the way home we stopped to find another geocache and saw John Wayne’s cabin (Captain Nathan Brittles) that was used as part of the set of his movie She Wore a Yellow Ribbon.

It was a full and tiring day.  We have certainly loved our time in Page.  Between Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Glen Canyon Dam on beautiful Lake Powell and Monument Valley, Page is a place we look forward to visiting again.

September 15, 2015 Page, Arizona Part 2

PANO_20150915_140001After our Antelope Canyon tour we drove over to the trailhead to Horseshoe Bend.  We had seen pictures of this beautiful place and it was another place high on our list to visit.  Though not a long hike, this wasn’t an easy hike since it was a hot day and involved a steep climb up, then down a sandy hill and a steep climb up the hill back to the car.  Horseshoe Bend is a horseshoe shaped turn of the Colorado River.  Once you reach the end of the trail you are standing on a rocky overlook 4,200 feet above sea level.  IMG_20150915_135944IMG_20150915_135927The Colorado River is 3,200 feet above sea level so there was a dizzying 1,000 foot drop from the viewpoint to the water below.  With the rocky ledges and no handrails or fencing, it made me more than a little nervous.  IMG_20150915_140210I was definitely out of my comfort zone and Bill had to encourage me to smile for this picture.  Do you see the fear on my face?   Bill wasn’t fazed by the height or the drop.  Horseshoe Bend is a beautiful place but I was glad to get back to the car.IMG_20150915_140535

A video for you:

IMG_20150915_123250We also visited the Glen Canyon Dam, which was started in 1957 and didn’t reach full capacity until 1980.  Lake Powell reaches a depth of over 500 feet and is capable of producing 1,320,000 kilowatts of electricity.  The Dam serves as a major water source for a number of states.
Lake Powell is 186 miles long with over 2,000 miles of shoreline, more than the west coast of the United States.  It has over 90 canyons with five rivers feeding into Lake Powell.  Major John Wesley Powell led an expedition into the area in the summer of 1869, exploring the area now known as Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area on his way to exploring the Grand Canyon.IMG_20150915_125333IMG_20150915_123043IMG_20150915_123621

IMG_1273We are also including pictures of the Navajo Bridge, a lovely bridge we crossed on our way to Page from Jacob Lake several days ago.IMG_1281IMG_1275IMG_1280IMG_1277

September 15, 2015 Antelope Canyon, Page, AZ

We left delightfully cool Jacob Lake at an elevation of almost 8,000 feet and drove to Page, Arizona which at an elevation of 4,300 feet was definitely warmer.  This is a touristy town due to its proximity to such attractions as the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon and Glen Canyon Dam.

20150915_114545Our main reason for camping here was to see Antelope Canyon, a slot canyon and one of the most photographed places in the world.  We had seen pictures and were really excited about visiting the canyon.  We booked our tour over a month in advance.  Antelope Canyon is located on Navajo land, the largest and most populous Indian reservation in the country.  In order to see Antelope Canyon you must have a Navajo guide with you.


Irene our guide

The night before our tour we had thunderstorms and very heavy rain throughout the evening and night.  We knew because of the danger of flash floods in the canyon our tour would be canceled if the rain did not stop.  Sadly before going to bed we heard on the news about flash flooding that killed several hikers in Zion National Park and the small town of Hildale on the Utah/Arizona border.  We had recently been in Zion and had passed through Hildale on our way to Jacob Lake a week earlier.  Though we felt our campground location was safe, it was still somewhat unnerving to hear the pounding rain well into the night.

The day of our tour we awoke to sunny blue skies, a perfect day for a canyon tour.  We drove to where we would be transported into the canyon.  Before getting in the back of the pickup truck we were treated to a traditional Navajo rope dance.  IMG_20150915_101818IMG_20150915_101815IMG_20150915_101724We then climbed on the back of a truck which had seating for fourteen.  The couple sitting next to us was from Winchester Virginia and their granddaughter is attending JMU, my alma mater.  It is rare to meet someone from Virginia so it was a delight for me!  We have noticed that especially in the fall when  U.S. children are back in school, the number of foreign tourists seem to rise to the point that we often hear more foreign language being spoken than English in campgrounds, parks and trails.  On our Antelope Canyon tour we also had tourists from Canada, France and Italy.


These are the pickup trucks used by our tour company. The opening of the canyon is in the background.

In the back of the truck were two long benches, back to back.  Two thirds of the road was unpaved, and the heavy rain the night before cut down on the dust but left some washes in the road, making for quite a bumpy ride.  We had read beforehand that there could be sand falling inside the canyon so we picked up a couple of bandanas at the store the day before to protect our nose and mouth if needed.IMG_20150915_11292420150915_114740


This shape is “Lincoln’s Nose”

Antelope Canyon, even though we had seen pictures, far exceeded our expectations in its beauty.  The entrance was rather unimpressive but once inside all we could say over and over was “WOW!” We had an excellent Navajo guide who showed us the best places and angles to take pictures.  There are a lot of people who visit the canyon each day and she kept us all moving and in our group since it was hard not to linger and marvel at the beauty before us.  In some places the canyon was very narrow, less than three feet wide.  It was formed by the erosion of Navajo sandstone, primarily due to flash flooding.  Rainwater, especially during IMG_20150915_10471120150915_105146IMG_20150915_10493820150915_10502320150915_105058IMG_20150915_105040IMG_20150915_105159IMG_20150915_10531620150915_105939IMG_20150915_105414IMG_20150915_11002720150915_112653IMG_20150915_110411IMG_20150915_114351IMG_20150915_114408IMG_20150915_114421monsoon season, runs into the basin above the slot canyon and then picks up speed as it rushes into the narrow passageways.  Over time the passageways eroded away making the corridors deeper and smoothing hard edges into beautifuil shapes in the rock.  Our guide pointed out ways the floor of the canyon had changed just since yesterday from the heavy rains the previous night.  The canyon is only about an eighth of a mile long but we stopped to take so many pictures it seemed longer.  We came out the other side and regrouped and then walked back through the canyon again, this time much faster since we had hopefully gotten most of our pictures on the way through the first time.  By now it was near high noon and the sun was beginning to shine down into the canyon.  Our guide threw sand up in the air so we could capture some sunbeams.


In the middle of this picture is a sunbeam


In the middle of this picture is a sunbeam


The other end of the canyon

Too quickly we climbed back onto the truck for the trip back.  This was an awesome experience and we would like to visit Antelope Canyon again someday.20150915_113524

September 7, 2015 North Rim Grand Canyon NP

On Labor Day we sadly left our campsite in Hurricane, Utah and drove to Jacob Lake, Arizona.  Jacob Lake is a tiny unincorporated community named after Mormon explorer Jacob Hamblin.  The town is known as the “Gateway to the Grand Canyon” because the town is at the starting point of Route 67, the only paved road leading to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park.  Jacob Lake strangely does not have a lake but it does have an inn and a gas station.  The closest post office is over 30 miles away.  The only campground anywhere near the North Rim with full hookups is in Jacob Lake which is our reason for camping here.
We had planned on dry camping a few days in the North Rim of the Grand Canyon but their campground was full so we decided to stay at Jacob Lake.  We were a little nervous about the campground because it had mixed reviews.  But no worries as got settled in the midst of tall pine trees in the Kaibab National Forest and were still able to get satellite TV and good Verizon coverage.  Best of all, since our elevation here is over 7,000 feet, the temperature was at least ten degrees cooler than Utah.  One night it got down to 39 degrees but it warmed up quickly in the morning with the sun.
IMG_1229Our main reason for stopping in this remote area of Arizona was to visit the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  We visited the South Rim back in May.  The two Rims are very different.  The South Rim gets many more tourists and is much more commercialized with lodges and several campgrounds, a large general store, and several restaurants and gift shops.  The North Rim gets 15% of the IMG_1260IMG_1234number of tourists as the South Rim. As the crow flies only ten miles separate the two Rims, however the trip by road is over 200 miles.  The South Rim is mainly desert while the North Rim is heavily forested with pine, spruce and fir.  The North Rim is 1,200 feet higher in elevation and has a longer winter season with an average of twelve feet of snow per year compared with five feet on the South Rim. There is one lodge called the Grand Canyon Lodge, a very small Visitors Center, one gas station and limited food service.
We drove from our campground to the North Rim and immediately upon entering the park we saw a herd of bison.IMG_1230IMG_1231
IMG_1237We drove the scenic road stopping at various viewpoints along the way, including Point Imperial, the highest point in the park at 8,803 feet.  IMG_1240


This formation is known as Battleship

IMG_1242We especially liked Angels Window at Cape Royal where we walked the short trail that took us over the top of Angels Window to a spectacular viewpoint.  We were able to see the Colorado River from this viewpoint. There were several really nice short trails that took us to beautiful views of the canyon.IMG_1246IMG_1248IMG_1250IMG_1263IMG_1257IMG_1259IMG_1253IMG_1243
On the drive home we saw so many deer we soon lost count.  Sometimes they were standing right on the side of the road, poised as if waiting to jump in front of us.  It made for a somewhat nerve wracking trip home.
IMG_20150911_170802One day we did some geocaching in the Jacob Lake area.  One geocache was really unusual.  It was high in a tree with a string hanging down.  When you pulled the string a tape measure unrolled with the container holding the log sheet for us to sign.  Some people placing geocaches are IMG_20150911_155557really creative, making for really fun finds! I told Bill his sunhat hat looked really dorky so he showed me a couple other ways he could wear it.  What do you think?


Sailor Bill


Cisco Kid!

IMG_20150911_161236Bill noticed a squirrel with a long white tail running around the campground.  We saw another one at the North Rim.  This kind of squirrel is only found in this part of Arizona!IMG_1236IMG_1266IMG_1268
We really enjoyed our time in the Jacob Lake and North Rim area.  Our last day at Jacob Lake we had a thunderstorm that included enough hail to coat the car and roads like looked more like snow.  The temperature dropped over twenty degrees in less than an hour.  IMG_20150913_160206IMG_20150913_160233Regardless, the weather was delightful at Jacob Lake and a big relief after the Utah heat.   Unfortunately we are headed back into hot weather since our next location is at a much lower elevation in Arizona.

SEPT 4, 2015 Zion N.P. Part 2

IMG_20150905_090614One of the rangers suggested a hike on one of the trails in a quieter more tranquil area of the  park.  We set out early to beat the heat and after reaching the community of Virgin we drove the steep Kolob Terrace Road to an elevation of 7,000 feet.  At that elevation the air sure felt cooler early in the morning!  From there we hiked the Wildcat Canyon Trail to the Northgate Peaks Trail, a lovely tranquil hike that took us to a beautiful view of the Kolob Plateau.IMG_20150905_101756IMG_20150905_101851IMG_20150905_101903IMG_20150905_102235IMG_20150905_102429

We then decided to drive to the north entrance to Zion N.P. to take the scenic drive past spectacular canyons and red rocks to the Kolob Canyons Viewpoint.  The views from the top and along the drive were amazing.IMG_20150905_132249IMG_20150905_132818IMG_20150905_132823IMG_20150905_132828IMG_20150905_134036PANO_20150905_134707

The next day we rested and decided to go see the new Mission Impossible movie which we really enjoyed.  Sadly this was our last day in Utah after over a month of amazing  national parks and breathtaking scenery.  Utah far exceeded our expectations and we can’t wait to return in the future!

Everything in Zion takes life from the scarce waters of the Virgin River which over time has helped shape the landscape of the park.  As in other Utah national parks, there are signs everywhere warning of the possibility and danger of flash flooding in the narrow canyons.  Visitors are warned to keep a close eye on the weather as storms far away can produce flash floods in the park.  At the trailhead of the Riverwalk Trail we took yesterday there was a sign indicating what the likelihood of flash flooding was in the park for the day.  The signs are similar to Smoky the Bear signs you might have seen indicating fire danger, except these signs warned of flash floods.   The sign for yesterday indicated the moderate “Flash Flooding Possible” warning. This was especially important for those hiking into The Narrows where flash flooding is especially life threatening.  Every year there are visitors to the Utah parks killed due to falls from cliffs and flash floods.


IMG_20150905_123925It is believed but not documented as fact that the Virgin River was named by Spanish Catholic missionaries in honor of the Virgin Mary.  Others say it was named for Thomas Virgin, a member of the first American party to see it in 1826.  John Fremont, an explorer and mapmaker named it after Thomas Virgin.  This seems to be the more historically documented explanation though my research found more references to it being named for the Virgin Mary.  The 162 mile river runs through parts of Utah, Arizona and Nevada.  The North Fork of the river begins north of Zion at Cascade Falls which comes out of a cave near Navajo Lake, elevation 9,000 feet. The north and east forks of the Virgin River run through Zion National Park and empties into Lake Mead which then empties into the Colorado River.  The Colorado River then empties into the Gulf of California/Sea of Cortez.  The Virgin River was designated Utah’s first wild and scenic river.

SEPT 3, 2015 Zion National Park, Utah

Our last national park in Utah is Zion National Park.  We stayed about thirty minutes from the park in the town of Hurricane, a larger town than previous towns with a Walmart, restaurants  and a movie theater.  Unfortunately we were back in hot weather with no shade at our campsite so we shortened our stay from seven to four nights.

Legend has it the town was named one windy day in the 1860’s by Mormon leader Erastus Snow when a gust of wind blew the top off his buggy.  He said it was a hurricane and decided to name the area Hurricane Hill.  Because of Hurricane’s 2,000 acres of excellent farmland, orchards and vineyards, this area is nicknamed “The Fruit Basket of Southern Utah”.  While we were there they had their annual “Peach Days”, a local celebration with street vendors, farmers markets and fireworks.

IMG_20150904_131220-1Zion National Park was first designated a national monument in 1909 by President William Howard Taft and later became a national park in 1919.  Zion was named by Isaac Behunin, the first permanent European-American settler in the canyon.  Behunin built a one room log cabin in the canyon in 1861.  Behunin said, “A man can worship God among these great cathedrals as well as in any man-made-church this is Zion”.

Zion is known for having some of the most scenic canyon views in the United States with high plateaus, narrow, deep sandstone canyons with 2,000 feet high walls in some places, and huge rock towers and mesas.IMG_1202IMG_20150904_110815IMG_1208IMG_1209IMG_1215IMG_1216

IMG_1206One of the park’s most impressive construction projects and considered an engineering marvel is the 1.1 mile tunnel which was blasted through solid sandstone between 1927 and 1930.  A really neat feature of the tunnel are lookout galleries cut like windows into the tunnel rock so drivers can have views of the canyon as they drive through the tunnel.  There is no stopping allowed in the tunnel so it was hard to get good IMG_1228IMG_1224pictures of the canyon from the windows.  We drove the twelve mile scenic Zion-Mt Carmel Highway which took us up six steep switchbacks and through the tunnel to the east side of the park.  We stopped at various overlooks including one of a large checkerboard mesa, a naturally sculpted rock art.  The horizontal lines are evidence of ancient sand dunes and the vertical lines are from erosion due to rain and melting snow.IMG_1214IMG_1219

In May, 2000 the park began operating a mandatory shuttle bus on the 6.5 mile long Zion Canyon Scenic Drive in one part of the park, making this part of the park accessible by shuttle bus only.  We rode the bus and found it very enjoyable with enough buses running so there was never a long wait.  Our only complaint would be the windows on the bus only partially opened making it really hard to take pictures from the bus windows.  The park instituted the mandatory shuttle bus to

  • eliminate air and noise pollution
  • eliminate visitor stress from traffic backups and limited parking spaces
  • to preserve the area and vegetation from being damaged and eroded by cars parked on the road shoulders

Research shows that 150 years of farming, grazing and recreation has changed Zion’s environment.  The park is working to restore some of the ecological diversity in the park.

Unlike Bryce Canyon where you had to hike down to the canyon, in Zion you are actually driving in the canyon with steep sandstone walls around you.IMG_20150904_110117IMG_20150904_114605IMG_20150904_115408IMG_20150904_143200IMG_20150904_143541IMG_20150904_144425

We rode the shuttle to the last stop, the Temple of Sinawava, a huge natural amphitheater which is the narrowest part of the canyon accessible by vehicle.

Visit this link for a 360 view video:

There we enjoyed the Riverside Walk which followed the Virgin River.  Along the way we saw rock walls with dripping springs and lush vegetation.  At the end of the trail you could enter the river and follow the river up to “The Narrows” where the canyon walls narrow in around you.  The ranger told us earlier that the water level up the river to the Narrows would go from your knees to your thighs to your waist before eventually reaching the Narrows.  Since the water temperature was 60 degrees and we did not have a change of clothes or shoes for the bus ride back to the car, we decided not to hike to the Narrows.IMG_20150904_150401IMG_20150904_150502IMG_20150904_151613

On the way back to the car we saw four climbers scaling the canyon wall.  They looked like tiny ants in the distance.

Tomorrow we plan to take a hike recommended to us by a ranger and take another scenic drive in another part of the park.

September 1, 21015 Bryce Canyon, Utah Part 2

IMG_20150901_092200We decided to take the most popular hike in Bryce Canyon, the Navajo Trail, with a side hike to Queen’s Garden.  As with other hikes we got up early to beat the heat.  The park newspaper suggested starting the hike at Sunrise Point and hiking clockwise.  After reading some reviews of the trail by other hikers who suggested going counterclockwise, we decided to take the advice of the hikers and we started at Sunset Point and ended at Sunrise Point.  According to hikers, this allows for you to descend on the steepest side of the trail and ascend out of the canyon on the side of the trail with a more gradual ascent.  This hike took us on a trail down into the canyon, a drop of 600 feet into what is referred to as “Wall Street” because the canyon walls close in around you like the tall buildings on Wall Street in New York.  The trail descended steeply and this part of the trail was narrow.IMG_20150901_091414IMG_20150901_091420IMG_20150901_091436IMG_20150901_092427IMG_20150901_092937IMG_20150901_093817

IMG_20150901_093957Once we walked through Wall Street it opened up into a larger area which surprised us with its green trees.  We saw a deer grazing on some foliage.  The tall trees amazed us.  We stood in awe of all the hoodoos and colorful canyon walls surrounding us.  It was hard not to snap pictures every few steps.IMG_20150901_094454IMG_20150901_094613IMG_20150901_095713IMG_20150901_095854IMG_20150901_101850IMG_20150901_104001IMG_20150901_105755

IMG_20150901_104014We saw many balanced rocks, windows and arches, including several narrow passageways.  It was fun to imagine the shapes of animals and people in the hoodoos, including E.T.

IMG_20150901_110230We took a small detour on the trail to Queen’s Garden where we saw a hoodoo which looked very much like a statue of Queen Victoria in London.  This hoodoo showed Queen Victoria facing backwards while riding a camel.  Can you see it?IMG_20150901_110204IMG_20150901_110325

IMG_20150901_114116We hiked the short distance back to the Navajo trailhead and continued on our way.  A thunderstorm the evening before had really cleared the air, giving us some amazing views as we made the climb out of the canyon.  Going down 600 feet sure was easier than coming up 600 feet!  The trail up was pretty steep in places and we were both glad when we reached the rim at Sunrise Point. We were glad we had taken the advice of the hikers because even though the climb out was steep and hard, hiking out the other direction would have definitely been harder. We hiked the distance back to our car parked at Sunset Point along the Rim Trail.  This part of Bryce Canyon National Park has a Rim Trail with beautiful canyon views from the top, similar to the Grand Canyon Rim Trail, but on a much smaller scale than the Grand Canyon.IMG_20150901_104857IMG_20150901_111152IMG_20150901_111744IMG_20150901_111946IMG_20150901_111518IMG_20150901_114627IMG_20150901_114843IMG_20150901_115301IMG_20150901_122105IMG_20150901_123316

In a couple days we will be leaving this area and heading to Zion National Park.  We have certainly enjoyed our time in Panguitch and Bryce Canyon.  The temperature has been pleasant with strong breezes in the afternoons.  We have had occasional evening thunderstorms with some small hail but nothing damaging.  Bryce Canyon National Park is our favorite Utah Park and we look forward to coming back some day!