Zion National Park: Zion Lodge

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

When visiting Zion National Park, we stayed in the Watchman building of Zion Lodge. These were reasonably priced accommodations with a rustic motel vibe and common areas in each building with fireplaces, seating and board games.

The convenience of being inside the park made staying here worthwhile…there are long lines to get from Springdale to the Visitors Center each morning and then more lines to board the shuttles since no cars are allowed on the park drive.

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The original lodge was built in 1924, but had to be rebuilt quickly after a fire in 1966 destroyed it. Remodeled in the nineties, it was restored to its appearance from the twenties, but it lacks the charm and grandeur of other classic park lodges. Convenience and the breathtaking surroundings are what make it.

Location: Springdale, Utah

Designation: National Park

Date designated/established: 11/19/1919

Date of my visit: April 2017

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Zion National Park: Kolob Canyon 5-Mile Drive

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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We began our exploration of Zion National Park in the quieter Kolob Canyon section. Kolob Canyon is accessed by a separate entrance in the Northwestern corner of the park.

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We first stopped at the visitors center for our park pass and perused the gift shop. Then we started our climb up the five-mile scenic drive. This is the only paved road on this side of the park and it does not connect with the main section in the south.

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There were few cars on the drive so we were able to drive slowly and enjoy the scenery. We pulled over at several stops along the way to get out and take pictures of the 2000-foot cliff walls lining the canyon.

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After about a half mile, the drive culminates at the Kolob Canyon Viewpoint which is also the trail head for the Timber Creek Overlook Trail.

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Zion Park Posts:

  • Kolob Canyon Section
  • Zion National Park
  • Kolob Canyon 5-mile Drive
  • Timber Creek Overlook Trail (Coming Soon)
  • Emerald Pools (Coming Soon)
  • Canyoneering (Coming Soon)
  • Hidden Canyon (Coming Soon)
  • Scout Lookout (Coming Soon)
  • Angel’s Landing (Coming Soon)
  • Pa’Rus Trail (Coming Soon)

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Location: 3752 E Kolob Canyon Rd, New Harmony, UT

Designation: National Park

Date designated/established: 11/19/1919

Date of my visit: April 9, 2017

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Capitol Reef National Park: Panorama Point

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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We’d had a full day in Capitol Reef National Park, having begun our tour before dawn to watch the sun rise in Cathedral Valley. As we headed towards the park exit at the end of the day, we made one more stop at Panorama Point.

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If you are driving east on Route 24, the parking lot for Panorama Point is the first one after you pass the park entrance. Everyone stops here, so it can be crowded.

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The short rock trail takes you from the parking lot to the top of a plateau where there are 360-degree views of the park. There are some educational displays up there about the pure air quality in the park that contributes to the amazing views.

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From this vantage point, it’s easier to visualize the waterpocket fold as a reef, or barrier to travel. The rocky spine of the fold stretches on as far as the eye can see.

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Capitol Reef posts:

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Location: Wayne, Utah

Designation: National Park

Date designation declared: 12/18/1971

Date of my visit: 4/13/2017

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Capitol Reef National Park: Scenic Drive

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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After our hike to Hickman Bridge, we drove back to the Visitor Center where we perused the displays about the park’s geological history. The rock formations in the park are sedimentary…loose matter that has settled in layers and has compressed into rock. Each layer is from a different period of the Earth’s history.

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Next we continued on the service road past the Visitor Center to the Gifford Homestead. The Giffords were the last residents of Fruita and sold their property to the NPS in 1969.

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The NPS and the Capitol Reef Natural History Association maintain a working farm on the homestead site with a store that sells baked goods.

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We admired the horses and then got back on the road to begin the Scenic Drive. Just past the Gifford barn is the entrance to the drive with a lock box for the fee charged to drive the road. This is the only section of the park where there is an entrance fee and it is on the honor system.

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The drive itself is five miles out and back and is indeed quite scenic. We were there towards the end of the day and there weren’t any other cars on the road with us.

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We stopped at a few points to take photos. There are trail heads all along the road worthy of exploration, but we will have to save that for a future visit.

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Capitol Reef posts:

  • Cathedral Valley
  • Goblin Valley State Park
  • Hickman Bridge
  • Scenic Drive
  • Panorama Point

Location: Wayne, Utah

Designation: National Park

Date designation declared: 12/18/1971

Date of my visit: 4/13/2017

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Goblin Valley State Park

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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While on the way back from a guided tour of Cathedral Valley in Capitol Reef National Park, we stopped at Goblin Valley State Park. In Utah, the State Parks are every bit as spectacular as the National Parks, with fewer crowds.

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Goblin Valley State Park features thousands of mushroom-shaped hoodoo rocks, referred to as “goblins.” Goblin Valley has as many of these hoodoos as Bryce National Park, but most of the ones we saw in Bryce were pointier.

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Our guide didn’t know we were huge Sci-Fi fans and so didn’t anticipate the sheer delight we experienced at finding ourselves in the middle of the alien planet that Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver and crew landed on in the movie Galaxy Quest.

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While we didn’t see any beryllium spheres, we did enjoy the paved roads into the park. The fees the state received for allowing the movie to be filmed there paid for the access road.

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We spent at least an hour walking among the bizarre formations. Hubby found one that looked like an Easter Island head, there was another with a cool window. We saw very few people the whole time we were there.

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Location: Goblin Valley Rd, Green River, UT 84525

Designation: State Park

Date designated or established: 8/24/1964

Date of my visit: 4/13/2017

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Capitol Reef National Park: Hickman Bridge

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.

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Having spent the morning exploring Cathedral Valley, we needed a short hike in the main section of Capitol Reef National Park after lunch. Two miles east of the visitor center, we parked in the lot for the Hickman Bridge trail head. From this lot, you can access the 2-mile round-trip hike to Hickman Bridge, as well as the 4.5-mile hike to Rim Overlook.

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The Hickman Bridge Trail is a pretty popular one because it’s fairly short and moderate. Most of the elevation gain of 400 feet is in the beginning of the trail with stairs carved into the rock and switchbacks. There is no shade, and even in April, it was a thirsty climb.

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The canyon views once you get to the midway point are great, with many unique rock formations in sight, like the Capitol Dome.

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As the trail started dipping down, we came to a small double natural bridge named after a 19th century Fruita homesteader,  Nels Johnson.

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After the Nels Johnson Bridges, the trail climbed again, winding around the 133 foot span of the Hickman Natural Bridge.

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The arch is the largest in the park and is named for Joe Hickman. Hickman, together with his brother in law, Ephraim Pectol, paved the way for Capitol Reef to become a National Park. The two men campaigned for the ‘Wayne Wonderland’ to be given protected status.

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In 1924, Hickman, as a state legislator, succeeded in having the area set aside as a state park. After the dedication ceremony, Hickman petitioned the federal government to designate the Wayne Wonderland National Monument, but he was killed in a boating accident shortly afterwards.

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Pectol took over and spent more than a decade working with the federal government, helping to survey the area. FDR created Capitol Reef National Monument in 1937. The monument was elevated to National Park status by Congress in 1971.

Capitol Reef posts:

  • Cathedral Valley
  • Goblin Valley State Park (Coming Soon)
  • Hickman Bridge
  • Scenic Drive (Coming Soon)
  • Panorama Point (Coming Soon)

Location: Wayne, Utah

Designation: National Park

Date designated or established: 12/18/1971

Date of my visit: 4/13/2017

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Top 10 Posts of 2018

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Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! As 2018 draws to a close, I’d like to do a year-in-review post. It’s been a great inaugural year here on the blog, with 113 posts, over 5000 visitors and over 600 people following along on the journey. I am grateful for and humbled by your support.

Here are the top ten most popular posts from 2018 (you can click on each title to go to the original post):

10: Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Clingman’s Dome (Tennessee/North Carolina)DSC05739

9: Montezuma Castle National Monument (Arizona)IMG_5657

8: Muir Woods National Monument (California)F-_2012_2012-08-11-San-Francisco_DSC02511

7: Crater Lake National Park – Garfield Peak (Oregon)Day7-IMG_6122

6: Bryce Canyon National Park (Utah)DSCN0953

5: Flathead National Forest – Whitefish Mountain (Montana)IMG_1677

4: Acadia National Park – Loop Road Highlights (Maine)IMG_1355

3: Acadia National Park – Jordan Pond and the Bubbles (Maine)2007_0527(009)

2: Glacier National Park – Running Eagle Falls (Montana)IMG_1792

And the most popular post of 2018….Capitol Reef National Park – Cathedral Valley (Utah)IMG_8712

Happy New Year everyone and here’s to happy exploring ahead for 2019!