This would be a third Sept trip to Southern Utah for us. We went in ’03 and ’04, and both of us had traveled throughout the Southwest in years past. So we know the area pretty well and planned this trip around a couple of things we really wanted to see and do. In both the ’03 and ’04 trips, our plans to hike into the Great Gallery in Canyonland’s Horseshoe Canyon had to be cancelled due to poor weather conditions. This trip we hoped to finally get there. We also wanted to spend a couple of nights at Bryce since we’ve both only done day hikes there in the past. More time in Capitol Reef was also important to us. We decided to skip Moab this trip and concentrate our time looking more closely at a smaller area.
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For more images from this trip without commentary go here: Utah 07 Pictures
From upstate NY, we got a great nonstop flight to Las Vegas getting in just past Noon on Thurs, Aug 30th. Our itinerary looked like this (at the time):
8/30 Arrive LV; head to Zion (cabin)
8/31 Camp at Bryce
9/1 Camp at Bryce
9/2 Camp in Grand Staircase Escalante area
9/3 Austin’s Torrey/Capitol Reef
9/4 Austin’s Torrey/CR
9/5 Grand Gallery; camp at Goblin’s
9/6 Boulder Mtn Lodge
9/7 Zion (cabin)
9/8 Fly out of LV – 4:45pm
We weren’t planning much in Zion but we hate Las Vegas and love Zion and Springdale so we always head right out. Smooth, non stop flight on Southwest arrived early. We quickly got our pile of luggage (camping gear), SUV from Dollar (great price) and headed north on 15. Before we were out of the city, we stopped for some water, ice, beer and snacks to fill the two soft, folding coolers we brought along. It was so incredibly hot – the car thermometer just kept creeping higher as we drove.
It took just less than three hours to get to Springdale. It was fun seeing this great little town again. We bought our Park Pass at the gate and headed into the Lodge. Our cabin wasn’t quite ready so we hit the Mean Bean in town for some fresh ground coffee for the camp stove. Also grabbed propane cylinders and some other items at Sol Market and headed back to check in.
The cabins were great; pricey considering some of the great places to stay in town, but it’s nice being in the park at night and at dawn and having the trails so accessible. Accomodations were quiet, comfy and you’re an easy walk from the lodge and dining. We had dinner at the lodge – roast pork loin for Peter, smoked trout salad w/prickly pear dressing for Sharon. Food was pretty good. Mojitos and margaritas were excellent. Pretty full from dinner, we took a walk on the nearby trail along the Virgin River. It was dark out but there was enough light to see the trail and the HUGE tarantula hanging out. It was a big one! But very cool to see.
We headed back to our cozy cabin and hit the sack – tired, full and so happy to be back in southern Utah.
Friday, Aug 31st – we’re always early risers; grab some strong coffee at the Lodge coffee bar that opens super early and walk around taking some pictures and looking up at those incredible canyon walls all around us. Lots of mule deer grazing along the river, horses all saddled up in the corral ready for a day trip. The morning was sunny and warm as we headed to town after packing up and checking out of our cabin.
We shared a delicious veggie breakfast wrap at the Gallery Café and grabbed two turkey guacamole wraps to save for lunch. Another small coffee-to-go from the Mean Bean and we’re headed east out of the park. This drive is always breathtaking, and we stop for plenty of photos as we head toward the tunnel.
A window cut in the wall of Zion Tunnel