Pat & John's Fall 2016 Trip Bryce Canyon, Zion and Capitol Reef National Parks

Twenty years ago we planned a spring vacation trip to the Utah/Arizona area with Megan. It was primarily a sightseeing trip and we wanted to see as much as possible in the week, so we only had a day or two at each location. We went Jeeping in Moab, attended Easter sunrise service in Arches National Park and headed to Four Corners area so we could put hands and feet in four different states at once. From there we headed to Canyonlands and the Grand Canyon; we saw part of them through clouds and mist. Then things went bad. We drove to Bryce Canyon National Park and found the park filled with clouds. Couldn't see anything at all. Road to Zion National Park was washed out so we couldn't get there either. So, twenty years later Pat and I are going back to Bryce and Zion. This time the primary focus :-) will be photography. Need material for Camera Club and Christmas calendar.

Our plan is to fly into Las Vegas, drive to Zion Canyon, Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef National Parks with side trips to Grand Staircase-Escalante and Goblin Valley before flying home a week later.

Our trip started Monday afternoon. We dropped Summit and Tuckerman off at Karla's and headed to Dover to get the bus to Boston.

We arrived at Las Vegas and after an hour process of getting our rental car we headed off to Springdale, Utah at the entrance to Zion Natural Park.

Off to Zion

Sunrise photo shoot.

After breakfast we took the shuttle into the Canyon and took a few hikes.

Ready for shooting
Reflections in the Virgin River
Our Hiking Buddy
Weeping Wall
Hikers getting ready to enter The Narrows

At the end of the day we had early dinner at Zion Canyon Brewing Company. Out this evening for a sunset shoot of The Watchman, an iconic Zion scene.

The Watchman overlooking the Virgin River

Up early this morning (Thursday) for a sunrise shoot at the Court of the Patriarchs; three peaks named Issac, Abraham and Jacob.

First light hits the peak.

After breakfast we headed out on our way to Bryce Canyon. Just outside of Springdale we visited the ghost town of Grafton. Only a few buildings, but nice photo location.

Grafton Ghost Town

Look closely and see a ghost
Entering Hoodoo country
Our home in Bryce Canyon country

We arrived at Bryce Canyon and explored the various points of interest.

Natural Bridge
I guess there were more
Sun breaks above the ridge line

Up early for sunrise shoot of the canyon. The light makes the lighter portions of the hoodoos almost appear transparent.

Today we hiked down into the canyon on the Queen's Garden and Navajo Loop trails.

Starting the hike
Where we're headed
What she's painting
Looks like a fist
Entering the Queen's Garden
Queen's Garden trees and hoodoos
Reach for the sky
Been there done that
Almost there
Even with the hoodoo tops
Earned it

This evening was the full moon, so we hoped to get some shots of the hoodoos illuminated by the moon. No go.

Today we leave Bryce Canyon and head along Scenic Route 12 to Torrey. Our first stop was Kodachrome Basin. Many unique formations called chimneys.

We continued east on Scenic Route 12. That's its name, and it is well deserved. We entered the Grand Staircase-Escalante region. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM). Outstanding views that are hard to capture effectively.

This is a three section panoramic image; you can see where the overlaps are

Above is the view that can be seen from Head of the Rock Overlook on SR12.

Some of the formations as we entered GSENM

We took the Burr Trail off SR12 in Boulder on our way to Capitol Reef. In the image below you can see the Burr Switchback as it descends from the ridge to canyon floor.

We just reached Capitol Reef at the end of day. We tour it tomorrow.

Capitol Reef gets its name from the long rock formations that look like marine reefs and the white rock formations that look like the US Capitol dome.

Capitol Dome
One of the reef formations
More reefs

We drove down a dirt road to the start of Capitol Gorge.

Dirt road ends in a parking lot where the trail begins
Looking gorges 😀
Some of the formations, called "pockets" in the Waterpocket Fold formation
Along the gorge is a section called the Pioneer Register. Travelers wrote their names on the canyon wall.
Navajo Dome and Utah juniper
Another dirt road we drove
What the road is like
Cassidy Arch. Supposedly Butch Cassidy hid out in there.
Surface of walls keeps peeling away, creating arch formations
Formation called The Golden Throne. Setting sun lights in a golden color
Created By
John Hoffman

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