Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Observation Point Hike

Falling into a hole between big storms, my week at Zion was clear and warm in the afternoons; perfect for this year's big hike: Observation Point.  (The Subway is so on my list,  but I think I need to find a 'guided hike' for that one).

It's four miles and 2000 feet elevation gain up to Observation Point.  Proof:

The fork in the trail to the right goes to Hidden Canyon and to the left is the Observation Point trail.

The cottonwoods along the river had not started to turn; maples along the trail had great color all ready.

The drainage makes a sharp turn creating this cool 'natural' sidewalk.

Not much farther is Echo and other unnamed 'slot' canyons.  My gps did not like the slot canyons.
The signals bounced off the walls adding a good four miles to my hike!

It's a hard climb, but doable, and the rewards are pretty fantastic.....

Past this 'first peek", it's another 3/4 or so of a mile around the side of the mountain to Observation Point.  (That's Angel's Landing on the right side in the middle).

The following series of shots are all of the trail going back down the mountain. I have to tell you I enjoyed the trail more than the actual point.  It's surly my favorite in Zion. (But remember I haven't seen the Subway yet!).

Ending with some more pretty colors.....

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Perfect Camp at Zion

It didn't take me long to learn that the best camping spots in Zion were on the outside of the Watchman B loop and that I needed to make my reservations six months out to get one of those sites. B 27 had been on the books for many months when I finally arrived.  They are big sites to accommodate big rigs,  with my van I can jockey it around to park sideways creating a very private space with my double doors opening to the table and the view of Watchman.  It's just about perfect! I had that shot, but it's lost now so this one will have to do.....

During my visit I did one big hike, Observation Point, one long downtown walk, several shorter hikes, some Christmas shopping,  and many hours just sitting in camp soaking up the mountains. Almost every evening was a gorgeous sunset; several looked like Thomas Moran paintings.

It's pretty hard to snap a good shot of the Temple of Sinawava (at least with my cameras) at the far end of the canyon.  From down river a ways it's almost possible to get the whole thing.

But then there are the iconic Fremont Cottonwood trees framed by a background of the red cliffs to make me happy again.

Saving the Observation Pt pics for another post.

Leaving Zion is always sad; so  leave early and you will get to see the sunrise on the mountains behind the Visitors Center!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Valley of Fire Overnight

Always on the look out for routes around big cities, I thought I would drive via Henderson to skirt Las Vegas completely.  It sure didn't save any time, and it was a little spooky as I was kinda short on gas, but the views were amazing.  Not sure I would do it again though......

One day I will plan for an extended stay at Valley of Fire.  As an overnighter, though, one can always count on a spectacular sunset.   (Note to travelers:  first come first serve, and always many empty spaces in past, not this time as it was Saturday night!)

And for today's bonus.....a great horned owl landed on the rocks above my camp!  She stayed for the longest time and then swooped off in pursuit of dinner.