Well, what a day. Not too many miles, but we sure did see some sights.
It started with a short run down I15 to Kolob Canyon. It is part of Zion National Park. This small part of the park has a drive-through in and out with some spectacular views. The many walls mostly face west so it would be better to be there in the afternoon, but that big storm put paid to that. Nevertheless it was a spectacular start to the day.
Then back on to the highway and turn off on to Hwy 9 to take us in to Zion Park proper. This is an amazing park, all sandstone walls and canyons. The colours reminded us a lot of our King's Canyon in Central Australia, but much much bigger. Naturally enough I suppose as this landscape is much younger than Australia, which has been mostly worn down to a nub. The canyon is so popular, about 2.5 million visitors per year, that they had to shut down the road up the canyon to regular traffic in 1996. However they run free shuttle buses which make several stops up the canyon. You can get off and on as much as you like at the various attractions and walking track starting points.
We spent most of the morning doing just this and it was a great time for us. Naturally, we didn't do any of the long walks or climbs. We are wearing riding boots, not walking boots. There was enough to keep us happy within short distance of the shuttles.
Then we returned to Springdale, the little town just outside the park, which services the tourists with accommodation, RV parks, shops and restaurants. We had lunch at Blondie's Diner, which has elk, bison, and cows with incredibly long horns in the back yard. Sit down and read the menu. Hamburgers, elk burgers, buffalo burgers. Hmmm. Well the three other wusses ordered chicken or shrimp salads, but I ordered an elk burger. I did ask quietly though, as the elk were just behind us. It was nice - very little fat - slightly different from beef. The salads, apparently were very good too, but too huge to get through.
Then it was back up in to the park to travel through the allowable road, which included a 1.1 mile tunnel through the mountain. After that we did another walk for a mile or so to an overlook of most of the canyon. Another one of those WOW moments.
Back to the bikes and we headed for Ruby's Inn and Bryce Canyon. Ruby's Inn is a Best Western motel - but it is huge. There must be several hundred people staying here tonight, including several busloads. With nine separate buildings, each the size of a regular motel, plus restaurants, shops and several pools, it is a small town in itself. As we pulled up outside, so did a very nice Sunburst Orange GoldWing. It was Dave (WingNutZZ) who has been in contact with John for some time and has given us some good advice for this trip. He has ridden down from his home in Colorado to join us for a couple of days. Should be fun.
We took lots of pictures today, here's just a few of them:
|Kolob Canyon view|
|Riding in Kolob Canyon|
|For the truck fans - 26 wheels - three trailers|
|Careful how you park that bus!|
|A storm threatens the range behind us|
|A few locals at Zion carpark|
|MMbear has found a new mate|
|The Virgin River runs through Zion Canyon|
|These three towers are named after biblical characters.|
|Same ones, without the models|
|Road into the canyon narrows near the top.|
|High walls are much bigger than we are used to.|
|There are two climbers on this wall. The white speck in the second groove from the right is their equipment bag. Apparently it takes two days to climb this face. Hard work if you ask me.|
|The walk up to this ledge is a popular one.|
|As far as the shuttles go, two rock spires stand within a large circle of rock wall.|
|This is one of the shuttles. The second bit is a trailer.|
|How's that for a pair of horns. That's a bison in the background.|
|All-American elk burger|
|The road up to the tunnel|
|A big rock arch is carved into the wall.|
|The road exits the tunnel in the background as we walk to the top of the above arch.|
|MMbear came with us, of course|
|John and Kaz|
|J & K at the overlook.|
|Charleen and MM take in the view|
|Looking down into Zion|
|A small herd of bison. There is a buffalo burger shop nearby.|
|A small rocky bit was quite spactacular in the afternoon sun|
|Nicely carved shapes|
|This carved shape is man-made, I think.|
|A nice pair of Wings|
|Dave's Sunburst orange beauty.|