We spent a lot of time in Utah, and did a lot of things there. Following Glendale, we were going to visit the town of Escalante, but realized that the RV would have a tough time getting through the mountainous, windy road to get there. So we improvised, and spent the week in Circleville. It’s ok if you haven’t heard of it. Although if you have, it was probably regarding the famous outlaw Butch Cassidy. Cassidy spent his childhood in Circleville, and we were able to visit his home. It wasn’t much, especially considering he had 12 siblings!
Something that made Circleville memorable for all of us was the RV park owners, Mr. Glen and Mrs. Tanja. They’re very hard working folks, and they were extremely nice to all of us. Mrs. Tanja even arranged for two girls down the road from us to bring their pony for Nate to ride! Circleville RV Park will always hold a place in our hearts.
While we were staying in Glendale, our plan was to rent a UTV for a day. However, I had been fighting a stomach illness and we were unable to go. Circleville was a reasonable distance from Glendale, so we decided to rent the UTV while staying there. This was an incredible outing that we all enjoyed. We drove on back trails to Peekaboo Canyon, an amazing slot canyon accessible only by foot or UTVs. The 18 mile in-and-out trail was great for all of us, and we really enjoyed the experience.
Also while in Circleville, we took the day to travel Scenic Byway 12. Scenic Byway 12 is a 123 mile byway that begins at Capitol Reef National Park, and ends at Bryce Canyon National Park. It cuts through Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Dixie National Forest, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, and a whole lot more! We were able to see Native American pueblos at Anasazi State Park, snow covered mountains, petrified wood, and lots of breathtaking views of the surrounding area.
We did a lot while staying in Circleville, and we thoroughly enjoyed our whole experience there. However our time in Torrey was also highly enjoyable. Torrey is only 10 miles away from Capitol Reef National Park, so beauty surrounded us. Capitol Reef is known for its towering red cliffs and monoliths. We loved the entire thing. One hike that we did was called “Hickman’s Bridge”. It was here that we were able to get some awe-inspiring looks at a natural arch. We really enjoyed our views at the end. Another incredible hike was one that led us through a dry creek bed, and up to what were called “tanks”. These tanks were pools of water on a hill. This was pretty cool, especially since you could climb around in that area.
Something that was not as near to our RV park, but was totally worth the drive was Goblin Valley State Park. Goblin Valley gets it’s name from the hundreds of boulders in the state park that are stacked on each other, giving them a look of little “goblins”. It’s slightly difficult to picture this in your head, so look at the pictures for a better image. We all really liked climbing on these rocks, playing hide-and-seek, and enjoying the beauty of it all. I’d definitely recommend this State Park.
We had a blast while in Torrey, and really liked Capitol Reef and Goblin Valley. Heading to Grand Junction, Colorado was a strange transition. For more details, stay tuned!
Welcome to Stories Behind the Pictures: Part 3! This picture was taken only a few days ago at a rodeo we visited in Jackson, Wyoming. In this particular photo is a cowboy attempting to survive the ferocity of a bucking bronco. This was one of multiple events in the rodeo, which included bucking broncos- bare back and saddled, bucking bulls, calf roping and barrel racing. For the bucking bronco competition, the rider comes out of the gate on the horse, and attempts to hold on for 8 seconds, while keeping one hand in the air (without touching any other part of his body or the horses) and attempting to look professional while he's at it. This particular rider made it through the 8 seconds. You can see in the picture that he was at 6.61 seconds (see top right corner). We really enjoyed the rodeo, and would recommend the Jackson Hole Rodeo if you ever go to Jackson, Wyoming!
Our time in Utah has been great, and it's time for a recap. Starting off, we visited St. George. This was our last stop in what I call "civilization" for quite a while. By "civilization", I mean that the town/city has a Chick-Fil-A and a Walmart nearby. And St. George definitely met these two criteria. It was here that we visited our first of the "Big 5" National Parks. Zion National Park is known for its towering cliffs and mountains, and we definitely saw a lot of that! However, looking back at all of the 5 Utah National Parks, Zion was our least favorite, and here's why: Crowds. We arrived at the visitor's center to board a bus to go into the heart of Zion, we found ourselves waiting in a 1.5 hour line. Our after-shuttle-bus experience was still great. We ate lunch by a creek, hiked to a waterfall, and enjoyed some amazing scenery! If you don't already know, Zion is known for its sheer rock faces and mountainous terrain.
While staying in St. George, I also got to go on a "hike" with Nate near our campground. I put quotation marks on the word hike because we were technically trekking in wild woods without a trail. Our reason for this hike was because I wanted to film some scenes in the woods. So Nate and I followed a creek down about a third of a mile, climbing down rock ledges and trying to keep the filming equipment from falling in the creek. Finally we came to where we realized the dreadful (ok, not dreadful), truth: We'd have to cross the creek without a bridge/log. After searching for the best place to cross, I jumped in and ferried Nate and our filming equipment across. We did get some good filming in for sure. I'll remember this experience for a while, and I believe Nate will too.
Another truly spectacular experience we had in St. George was going to Snow Canyon. This is a state park that's lesser known, but still very appealing and unique. It was here that we were able to hike to see where settlers in the 1800s wrote their names on rock in axle grease. After this, we hiked to some caves where Nate and I enjoyed exploring around. There was one cave that we decided not to go into because we didn't have flashlights. It appeared (by the description on the sign) to go for a long while underground! On this hike was where we saw our first wild gila monster. If you don't know what a gila monster is, it's a very large, poisonous lizard. As we were hiking, my mom suddenly called out to me, I looked down, and quickly jumped back. The gila monster was just walking along only 3 feet away from us! Something else that we enjoyed doing was rock scrambling, especially at a slot canyon that was in Snow Canyon. Snow Canyon State Park truly had it all.
St. George was a source of yet another great place to go to: Pioneer Park. Pioneer Park is truly a natural playground. It's full of rock slopes, holes, crevices and even a slot canyon! We had a really fun time on this outing, and I definitely enjoyed the entire experience.
After staying in St. George, we traveled to Glendale. It was here that we went to Bryce Canyon National Park for the first time. Each of the National Parks is very unique. Bryce Canyon was no exception. It's known for its hoodoos. Hoodoos are tall spire like natural structures that are the product of erosion. And Bryce Canyon is full of them! We hiked about halfway into the canyon, and enjoyed some awesome scenery. Sadly, the rain prevented us from doing much more sightseeing, but what we did see was definitely breathtaking.
While in Glendale, my mom and I got the chance to go back to Zion from the other side. It was here that we were able to enjoy a lot more of Zion, because significantly less people visit the other side. We did a few hikes, and even witnessed a small herd of bighorn sheep crossing the road less than 30 feet in front of us! We definitely liked that side of Zion much better than the other side.
Another experience that we really enjoyed doing while staying in Glendale was visiting the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. Many posts ago I recounted our adventures at White Sands National Park. That was really fun, but Coral Pink Sand Dunes trumps all of the dunes in White Sands. We rented sleds from the state park and waked to a (again, this is a Merchant family estimate), 100 foot tall sand dune, and enjoyed sledding down it for a few hours!
We spent Easter in Glendale. Because it is a small town, we had to look further out to find a church. Finally, we found one about 40 minutes north of us in a place called Duck Creek Village. It's important that I say north, because of what I'm about to tell you. We left Glendale in 60 degree weather, and arrived in Duck Creek Village in 29 degree weather, with a frozen lake and at least a foot and a half of snow. Check out the drastic change in the pictures below. We were astounded. It was here that we visited Aunt Sue's Chalet after the service, and to learn more about it, go back a few posts ago to "Stories Behind the Pictures: Part 2".
Utah is a truly remarkable state, and we've really enjoyed being in it. And really, it just keeps getting better and better. Stay tuned for Utah Rocks: Part 2!
When I left off, we were exiting California. This was as far west as we would be going, and we've since started our "return trip". We headed into Nevada, where we only had one stop. Henderson, Nevada is about a half hour from Las Vegas. Before everyone gets worked up about this, I'm going to say that we never once (we meaning any of the family) stepped foot in Vegas. We drove fairly close, but no, we had no lost (or gained) money from Vegas.
Now that I've cleared that up, I'll tell you what we did do. About 10 minutes down the road from our RV park was Hoover Dam. Hoover Dam is truly an engineering marvel. It helps power multiple states with its power, and holds back a massive amount of water. We walked out on the dam and the bridge, and got to see the dam from Nevada and Arizona. Both the bridge and dam really are amazing structures.
Another highlight to our time in Nevada was when we found a bike trail that was not far from our RV park. Just off the trail was a "dirt bike" course that we enjoyed riding on a lot. We enjoyed jumping and zooming on the course.
Our time in Nevada was definitely fun, and we'd have liked to stay longer. But our time is running short, so we headed for Utah! To be continued...
Will is 14, and enjoys running track, writing,