Calf Creek Falls Saturday, Jun 15 2019 

Lower Calf Creek Falls

Lower Calf Creek Falls

We drove east on Scenic Byway 12, Utah’s first All-American Road, into the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument on Saturday, day 14. We stopped at the Escalante Interagency Visitor Center where we looked at exhibits and watched an informative video on the research projects occurring within this first National Monument to be administered by the Bureau of Land Management. We also picked up a Calf Creek Falls Trail Guide. Calf Creek Falls is one of the most well-known and unique features in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The trail follows Calf Creek over uneven surfaces with loose sand and rocky patches. This out and back six-mile hike starts at an elevation of 5,300 feet and gains 500 feet. We were surprised at how crowded the trail was given how few vehicles we encountered on the highway. Once we arrived at the 126-foot-high spring fed lower falls we could appreciate why so many wanted to take advantage of its refreshing water. A beautiful waterfall reached by hiking through colorful cliffs on a trail bounded by multiple colorful wildflowers.

On Sunday, day 15, we headed back to Prescott from Cannonville. It was a long day, but without incident. We enjoyed great adventures over the past two weeks, but it is great to be home.

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Bryce Canyon National Park Hikes Friday, Jun 14 2019 

Water Canyon Waterfal

Water Canyon Waterfall

After lunch in our RV on Thursday and a swim, we hiked the Bryce Canyon National Park Mossy Cave Trail that we had hiked nine years ago. The Tropic Ditch and its waterfall were much fuller this year. In 1892, after two years of hard work with primitive tools, this canal brought water to the semi-arid valley below it. It continues to serve this purpose.

On Friday morning, day 13, we entered Bryce Canyon National Park and found a parking space in the Sunrise Point parking lot. We hiked the 0.8-mile Queen’s Garden Trail which descends 320 feet. A rock formation seen from the garden looks like Queen Victoria. Great views! When we returned to the rim, we walked a half mile to Sunset Point where we heard a ranger talk about hoodoo geology.

Queen's Garden Trail

Queen’s Garden Trail

After a buffet lunch at Ruby’s Inn, we stopped at the Tropic Museum & Heritage Center. We learned that Scottish born Ebenezer Bryce at age 17 converted to Mormonism and moved to Utah where he married Mary Ann Price in 1854. Settling near Tropic in 1874, he built a road to harvest timber that locals started calling Bryce’s Canyon. In 1880, they moved to Arizona, but his name was immortalized when Bryce Canyon became a National Monument in 1923 and a National Park in 1928.

Kodachrome Basin State Park Friday, Jun 14 2019 

Angel's Palace Trail

Angel’s Palace Trail

We visited Kodachrome Basin State Park on Thursday, day 12. In 1948 a National Geographic Society expedition traveled through this area and called it “Kodachrome Flat.” The state of Utah acquired the land in 1963 and received permission from the Eastman Kodak Company to use the word “Kodachrome.” We hiked the 1.5-mile Angel’s Palace Trail which rose 150 feet with good views. I walked the half-mile Kodachrome Nature Trail. “Look deep, deep into nature,” according to an Albert Einstein quotation sign found along the trail, “and then you will understand everything better.” We also explored most of the Grand Parade Trail which winds its way across the floor of Kodachrome Basin.

Bryce Canyon National Park Scenic Drive Friday, Jun 14 2019 

Natural Bridge

Natural Bridge

We drove from Baker, Nevada to Cannonville, Utah on Wednesday, day 11. For the first eighty miles we encountered only nine other vehicles. Later, we waited in backed up traffic for twenty-five minutes in Red Canyon because road work limited travel to one lane. After setting up camp, we visited the Bryce Canyon National Park Visitor Center. We circled through the Center’s informative exhibit before watching a 22-minute film. Then we drove the 18-mile scenic drive where we made the following stops to admire the unique scenery in this national park: Rainbow Point (elevation 9115), Black Birch Canyon (8750), Ponderosa Point (8904), Agua Canyon (8800), Natural Bridge (8627), Farview Point (8819), and Swamp Canyon. We liked perusing the gift store offerings while waiting for a dinner table. We had not remembered visiting the Bryce Canyon Lodge during our last visit eight years ago.

Great Basin National Park Tuesday, Jun 11 2019 

Great Basin National Park Visitor Center

Great Basin National Park Visitor Center

We drove from Richfield to Baker, Nevada on Sunday, day 8. Most of the last hundred miles was desolate with sage brush on both sides of a straight road. Before leaving Utah, we entered the Snake Mountain Range. After crossing the Nevada border, we were awed with snow-capped mountains including Pyramid Peak at an elevation of 11,926 feet and Jeff Davis Peak at 12,771 feet. We later learned that 13,063-foot Wheeler Peak hides behind Jeff Davis Peak. We arrived early enough to visit the Great Basin National Park Visitor Center after setting up camp. We learned that well-known explorer and one of Arizona’s territorial governors, John Charles Fremont, named this area the Great Basin. We also learned that the Great Basin Desert is “cold” because its high elevations experience freezing winter temperatures. The Fremont Indians were farming the area after 1100. George W. Baker, for whom this city of 68 current inhabitants was named, was a cattle rancher in 1895. After becoming a national monument in 1922, Great Basin was recognized as a national park in 1986. We walked the 0.3-mile Mountain View Nature Trail from the Lehman Caves exit to the Rhodes Cabin.

Lehman Caves

Lehman Caves

On Monday morning, day 9, we toured the Lehman Caves which has a year-round 50-degree temperature. In 1939, a new tunnel entrance opened. Our comprehensive one-and-a-half-hour tour visited the following rooms: Music, Lodge, Inscription, West, and Talus. Then, we took the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive to the Mather Overlook at an elevation above 9,000 feet and where the road is presently closed. The vegetation changed from sagebrush to pinyon pines and juniper to Curleaf Mountain Mahogany to white fir, Douglas fir, and ponderosa pine. Great views of Jeff Davis and Wheeler Peaks. Stephen Tyng Mather (1867-1930), the first director of the Park Service, is well worth remembering for his lasting contributions. We learned that in the 1880s there was an effort to create an aqueduct to divert water from Lehman Creek to Osceola, eighteen miles away. It wasn’t cost effective. We only hiked 0.3 miles on the Osceola Ditch Trail before encountering Lehman Creek flooding the trail. After lunch, we drove to the Baker Creek Trailhead where we attempted the Baker Creek Loop Trail. The trailhead elevation is 8,000 feet. The hike rose at least 870 feet that resulted in us crossing some snow. We believe the mileage is greater than the 1.6 miles on signage at the bridge crossing Baker Creek. We negotiated the bridge that crossed the raging stream but decided to turnaround because the trail kept going up. We probably hiked closer to 5 miles rather than 3.1miles. We liked the wildflowers near the beginning of the trail and enjoyed the sound of the water throughout this hike.

Antique Car

Antique Car

On Tuesday morning, day 10, we drove to the Grey Cliffs Picnic Area and hiked part of the Pole Canyon Trail. This hike started at about 7,000 feet and followed the creek on a steady uphill incline decorated with colorful wildflowers. The start of the trail crossed an excellent bridge. As we approached the one-mile mark we jumped across the creek. Within a short distance we encountered another creek crossing at which point we decided to return to our car. On our return to our campsite, we stopped at the Ranching Exhibit where I took picture of a rusted out classic vehicle. After lunch we drove to the Strawberry Creek Trailheads through the remains of a fire recovery area. We hiked part of the Sage Steppe Loop Trail and part of the Osceola Cut-off Trail. We later learned that the Strawberry Fire was the result of lightning. It was discovered on August 8, 2016 and contained 11 days later. It burned 4,714 acres, 60% within the Great Basin National Park and 38% in the Ely District of the Bureau of Land Management. One firefighter lost his life when a tree fell on him. Lots to do at Great Basin National Park.

Richfield, UT Saturday, Jun 8 2019 

On Wednesday, day 4 of our June adventure, we drove from Kanab to Richfield, Utah on Highway 89, a beautiful, scenic road. Other drivers were pleased that this two-lane highway offers many passing lanes. We stopped for lunch just beyond Marysville at Hoovers Rest Area where Deer Creek flows into the Sevier River. Nice shaded picnic table surrounded by jagged rocks. From Richfield snow-capped mountains are evident.

Court of Ceremonies Trail Vista

Court of Ceremonies Trail Vista

On Thursday, day 5, we stopped at the Richfield Visitor Center for information about the area. The Center proudly displays early frisbees from its inventor local resident Walt Morrison. Based on their recommendations, we visited the Fremont Indian State Park and Museum. A short film described the Fremont people and how the village at Five Finger Ridge was discovered during construction of Interstate 70. Artifacts excavated from this village are on display in the museum. We learned that the Fremont Indians were agriculturists who lived here from about 400 to 1300. From the museum we hiked the Parade of Rock Art and the Court of Ceremonies Trails. We looked at the Pit House replica and granary. Then, we crossed the fast flowing, muddy Clear Creek to see the Cave of a Hundred Hands. There are 31 handprints that are reddish/orange, ox-blood red, and mustard orange. The pictograph of Indian Blanket can be seen half-way up a cliff across I70. We used our binoculars to examine Newspaper Rock. According to an interpretive sign: “The cliff face has 191 rock art panels, with 81 pictographs (painted onto the stone), and 1,083 petroglyphs (carved, pecked or chipped into the stone).”

Cove Fort

Cove Fort

In the afternoon we toured Cove Fort. The Church of the Latter-Day Saints currently employs 23 volunteer couples for tour guides and other duties. At the request of Brigham Young, in 1867 Ira Hinckley built this 100-foot square, 18 feet high fort with black volcanic rock and dark limestone. It was a communications hub with a telegraph office and daily stop for two different stagecoach lines until the 1890s when it was first leased out and later sold. In 1989, the Hinckley family purchased the fort and donated it back to the Church. The artifacts and restored buildings give current visitors a glimpse at life in an earlier era.

Capitol Gorge Trail

Capitol Gorge Trail

We drove to Capital Reef National Park on Friday, day 5. Capitol Reef National Monument was established in 1937 and became a national park in 1971. We arrived at the Visitor’s Center in time to hear a geologist give background on the park’s geological formation. On our last visit in 2011 the eight-mile scenic drive road was closed. On this visit we drove to the end of this road, including a 2.4-mile unpaved extension, and hiked the one-mile Capitol Gorge Trail. We passed the Pioneer Register but did not take the side trip to the Tanks. After a picnic lunch, we hiked part of the Great Wash Trail. We didn’t expect to be walking in as much sun. Also, the riverbed wasn’t too dry. Nevertheless, our Capitol Reef National Park visit awed us with its dramatic, colorful cliffs.

We returned to Fremont Indian State Park on Saturday, day 7, where we hiked the two-mile Hidden Secrets Trail. We especially enjoyed the colorful wildflowers. The park was busier than our previous visit, including a Fremont Indian family preparing fry bread over a sagebrush fire. Other primitive skill volunteers assisted visitors in making pottery and beadwork. An artisan crafted arrowheads and other Indian style artifacts which were available for sale. Young people could try their hand in using an atlatl. Then, we hiked part of the Centennial Trail which follows Clear Creek. More muddy water was rushing than during our stop two days ago. We looked at the Bernard Branson two room cabin in the Centennial Picnic Grounds. Originally located in Junction, Utah, it was their two-room home from 1903-1953. The original homestead in this area dating from the 1880s to the 1970s was a 160-acre farm by Joseph Lott.

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