After a few peaceful nights in Kanab it was time for us to move further west and check out Zion. We found a campsite on Campendium, called the Hurricane Cliffs Recreation Area. They have them grouped by site number. Each site has a fire pit, which we did not use and enough space between neighbors that it made for a peaceful week. When we arrived at the trailhead we knew we needed to scout it out. We dropped the trailer to scout out our site, man are we glad we did. The road on the way back to the sites from the trailhead (it is a mountain bike mecca) was fine, gravel but fairly decent but the roads to the campsites were horrible, rutted and actually painful. Not to mention that you can’t really see where the next site is, so it must be driven and also there is no good place to turn around. We found our site after about an hour of driving on the horrible roads and went back and got the camper to bring it back there. I would not have even considered it had we not been planning on staying for a while. Also, they said if it rained it made the roads worse, so when the rain came we just stayed home. The first weekend we were there was a mountain bike race. Sadly for us while we enjoyed our time there we did not take our bikes off the back of the camper. Maybe next time, while the road in sucked it was a great place to stay. We stayed 11 nights. We got water from Maverick in La Verkin and emptied our tanks when we left. Also, we got propane filled at Tractor Supply in Hurricane as we also did laundry and went grocery shopping. Between Hurricane and St. George we were able to get everything we needed and La Verkin for water and dump. The sunsets were amazing as were the stars at night, I also got to fly my new drone around the area for a birdseye view. While there was wind almost everyday, there was one day of nothing but rain and cold, we just stayed home and got some work done and enjoyed the relaxation of doing nothing.
Speaking of Hurricane, it is a quant western town. When leaving the campground heading further west after going down this twisty, turny road you end in the town of Hurricane, after you turn right of that road it takes you to the road that leads to Zion in one direction and to St. George in the other. Hurricane is located in Washington County, Utah. It was first settled in 1896 and received its name after a wind storm blew the top of a buggy, the rider of the buggy said it felt like a Hurricane. I can tell you while we were there the winds rarely stopped. Fun fact that Hurricane is pronounced by the locals as “Her-ah”kun”. The town was established by Brigham Young for agricultural purposes and it once had a large peach and apricot orchard. The tound has parks and trails galore. We hiked on part of the Hurricane Canal and Canal Trail . The Hurricane Canal trail was built over 11 years, from 1893-1904 by pick and shovel. The canal is empty but in 2000 speical interest groups came together to preserve it and reconstruct it to stand a tribute to the early settlers. Hurricane is the home to Sand Hollow and Quail Creek State Parks. While we were there we did not go to either, but maybe on our return trip.
While we were there we also went to St. George, which is a bigger cowboy town. We were able to get our second vaccine in St. George but probably could have gotten it in Hurricane as well. Anyway we are glad it is done.
The first day after getting all set up we headed into Zion National Park to get acquainted and make our plans for the next few days. Of course dogs are only allowed on a few trails but they are allowed to ride in the car. So after arriving in the park after 3 p.m. we decided to do the scenic drive. Zion has a north, a south and east entrance in the main part of the park. As we were coming from Hurricane we entered from the South, going through the towns of La Verkin, Virgin and then Springdale. Springdale had a Gatlinburg vibe to it. Very crowded and very touristy. Getting there after 3 we were pretty much assured that going through the gate we would be able to get a parking spot. We stopped at the Visitor’s Center, got our passport book stamped and grabbed any available maps and hit the road to do the scenic drive. The road is twisty/turny and steep and goes through a really cool tunnel. The highlights include rock formation, towers, hilltops and the tunnel. If you are too tall you must make arrangements to go through the tunnel and also pay an additional $15.00 so that the Rangers can stop traffic on either end. The tunnel was open in 1930. It has a series of windows in it, to let in light and views. It was used as a place of dumping grounds for tunnel debris. So with information in hand we were ready to “tackle” Zion and get the most out of it while in the area.
Honestly, neither one of us expected to be blown away as we were by this park. It was amazing to look up at the msssive sandstone cliffs of cream, pink and red and the bright blue sky. It was truly amazing and made realize how small we really are on the world. We knew we wanted to do at least a few hikes in the park and one that we were supposed to recreate the picture for a friend. So this meant that we knew we would have to come back without the pup. Since being on the road our get up and go early usually means leaving home at 10.00 a.m. One morning we did that and headed to the north entrance (Kolob Canyon) of Zion to try and do a hike or two. The main hike we picked out was Taylor Creek Trail. Which would take us to an old homestead. Arriving in the late morning, the Park Ranger advised us that it was pretty crowded up there but enjoy the scenic drive anyway. So we set out on the Kolob Canyon Road and went to the Kolob Canyons Viewpoint (where the Timber Crrek Overlook Trail is), as there was no parking at the Taylor Creek Trail . We did the short 1 mile hike which was a nice little hike that as the name implies offered amazing views. After we got back it was after lunch so we were able to score a parking spot on the trail, but being that it was late in the day we decided that we would only go as far as the homestead, which was a couple miles in. I loved this hike, we had 12 stream crossings (we counted on the way back), had amazing views, and honestly since we were in the desert for so long it was nice to be among the trees. We wish we would have had the time to do the whole hike. There was nothing scary for me on this trail, which is saying something. On the way home we were able to secure a shuttle ticket for the next day. Part of the park the only way to get to some of the trails, the lodge is by shuttle. It cost $2.00 and was reservable via Rec.gov. Anyway after parking 2 miles away from the door, as parking was full, and paying $15.00 for parking, we hopped on a bus/shuttle in Springdale. The shuttle bus driver dropped us at a walkin gate at the park. It was kind of cool to walk into the park. We hopped on the shuttle and it took us to the Lodge. The shuttle runs part of the year and the only way to the area is by shuttle as no personal vehicles are allowed, unless staying at the Lodge After getting off the shuttle we went upstairs and had a sit down lunch that we both agree wKas one of the few really good meals we had since leaving St. Pete. Afteward, again, it was late in the day, we decided that we would go and hike Lower Emerald Pool. It’s about 1.2 miles round trip. While the views were great, the trail was nice and the views from the trail were amazing, it honestly was not my favorite. The crowds were thick and no one knows what trail etiquette is, and the view at the “pool” left much to be desired. I did get some great pics out of it.
A few days later we headed back to “recreate” the picture, on the Canyon Overlook trail. It is listed as moderate. It is located on the other side of the tunnel. It is only 1 mile. We headed up the steep steps (that aren’t really steps, just more rocks” with a handrail. We got up around the bend at the top of the steps and it is shear rock. I was freaking out by this point. We walked a little further and saw the next steep incline that had a railing on it, but there was no railing to hold on to to get to that point. Mike continued up to try and recreate the tree picture, I stayed where I was. He came back down because he said there would be no way I would do it and it was really sketchy beyond this point, and when he says it’s sketchy, it’s sketchy. When he got back to me, he talked me into heading back down, I was having a full on panic attack and was crying by the time we got down. After we got back through the tunnel we went back down to the Visitor’s Center and headed out on the Watchman Trail which is also rated as moderate. This trail was not so bad, we did however turn around as we it was getting late and if we would have completed it we would have been hiking back in the dark. It was a nice trail again the views were amazing.
Our last time in the park occurred the day after our second Covid shot. We didn’t want to do anything too strenuous or leave Eris at home again, so we did the scenic drive called Kolob Terrace Road. Honestly, the word “scenic” is an understatement. The road winds in and out of Zion three times. It has all kinds of trails off of it. The road itself ends at Kolob Reservoir at the elevation of 8118 feet. There was snow up there and we made snowmen, and like I said in my Instagram post, don’t judge we are from Florida after all. We also did the West Rim Road which has an overlook at 7890 feet, has a great campground, which was still closed.
So that is it of our time in the Zion area. We had a great visit and someday we shall return.
I hear that some people are freaked out about the camping season and reservations. While we are in the west and BLM is plentiful and we might be more concerned if we were in the east about not having reseravations, I can tell you we like to travel by winging it. We don’t know where we are going or how long we are staying. Take Hurricane for instance we had no idea that we would be there for 11 nights, 12 days. That’s crazy long for us. We usually last a few days and then we are heading to a different locatation to check out something new. So we call our style of traveling as free wheeling. Now that’s not to say we don’t ever make reservations because we do, we started off with reservations in Florida (duh, winter in Florida, made 1 year ahead of time needed), Mississippi, probably didn’t need to be made but did to be on the safe side, and then NOLA, which again we made 1 year ahead of time because we were there for Mardi Gras (which obviously didn’t happen). We are meeting friends in Washington state, no reservations needed. We have reservations in Yellowstone and Grand Tetons for the end of August and beginning of September and then our last reservations is in Savannah for a half marathon that we are signed up for. After we left Hurricane we headed to Nevada because we saw something that looked cool and wanted to see, (next week’s blog), and we just made sure we get to a first come first serve campground before 1 p.m. I prefer before lunch. So far this plan has not failed us yet, sometimes we don’t really know where we will be heading until the day before. For apps to help find our camping spot my number one is Campendium, then I will check the Dyrt but mostly Campendium. I hit directions on the location in the app and then I copy them and put them in RV Life/Trip Wizard right into the RV Safe GPS and we are ready to go. Anyway, don’t let not having reservations stop you from getting out there, just do it, it is so worth it.
Our favorite addition to our home on wheels is the security of knowing when we do leave Eris behind (rare but happens) our newly installed Waggle Pet Monitor works well. Has an internal backup battery but runs of of the camper’s 12 volt system and alerts us if the temperature and/or humidity goes out of our preset safe range. It gives us peace of mind that when on those rare occassions that Eris’ environment is being safely monitored. It took us a while to get it dialed in as while we were on one of our scenic drive we kept getting low humidity warnings. We both looked at each other and said so, low humidity is bad, anyway Mike fixed the settings so that the humidity can go down to zero.
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Keep on exploring, discovering and dreaming, catch you next week,
Hope, Mike and Eris