Join me on five days of adventure, leisure and fun under the Vermillion Cliffs to really get away from it all. Let me share with you some of the best-kept secrets where you will enjoy truly spectacular scenery up close and personal. The magic of the Colorado Plateau will change you and recharge your physical, emotional and spiritual batteries; you will leave with a priceless treasure and a new attitude.
Day 1: (Typically a Monday) Departure from Salt Lake City at 7 AM, heading south on to the super-scenic Hwy 12 (according to the Nat. Geographic one of the top ten scenic backroads in N America) to visit Capitol Reef N. P. (lunch break in an orchard under red cliffs, frequented in winter by a large heard of deer). After lunch we continue on Hwy 12 with elevation of 5,000-9,000 feet (1500-2700 m) across the Grand Staircase N.M.and the Escalante River toward Bryce Canyon, and down Hwy 89 along the Grand Staircase on to Kanab, the Willows-town of Western movie fame. After arrival, we settle into a nice motel, enjoy a tasty dinner and get to know some of the colorful ‘ranchers versus Indians’ lore along with life music. The total driving time should be approx. 6-8 h.
Day 2: Early morning we will head out to Zion National Park and visit the Subway canyon. The distance one way up the N Fork creek is 5 miles (8 km) of moderate difficulty. Elevation gain/loss is about 1,000 feet/300m. We will enjoy a hearty picnic lunch on a sand bench under an enormous overhang just below the Subway portal and soak in the immensity of this vertical salmon-colored gorge. On the way back we will visit a hidden pool under a triple waterfall below a basalt pipe-organ cliff and wade, splash or swim, weather permitting. Should we be lucky, we might see a water ouzel dive into the pool and feed the little ones behind a waterfall and/or ogle the pastel splendor of hundreds of blooming Elephant ear cacti. We camp under Ponderosa pines just a short drive up the Kolob-road, swap stories, have dinner and sing around a campfire.
Day 3: An easy hike along the Wild Cat trail to the N Guardian Angel above the Subway to enjoy great vistas of the Zion’s cliffs and a peek into the abyss below. Another tasteful and healthy picnic lunch to maintain the stamina will be provided. After lunch we drive down to the main canyon, visit the Narrows, the Visitor Center and Springdale for souvenirs. Then we drive out Eastbound through the tunnel on Hwy 9 while enjoying the vistas and then camp under tall Ponderosa pines just outside the Coral Pink Sand Dunes. Another relaxing evening under the starry southern sky awaits us with dinner, music and friendship.
Day 4: An AM visit to the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park for hiking, playing, and optional ATV riding. We will enjoy a peaceful lunch by a desert spring in a Ponderosa grove. Then we head to Johnson canyon and the Old Paria to visit the Movie Set and play ‘cowboys and Injuns’ under the Vermillion Cliffs. Since the 1920’ some 700 movies have shot here starring Tom Mix, Gary Cooper, John ‘Duke’ Wayne, and many others. Late afternoon we head Eastbound on Hwy 89 toward Lake Powell and camp in the vast Paria river/Buckskin Gulch area in a spectacular setting, enjoying the immense solitude and the sweeping vistas.
Day 5: (Typically a Friday) Early morning we set out to visit the surrealistic Wave (hiking distance one way about 3 miles-5 km) including a hike to the small arch right above it with breathtaking vistas across this mind-boggling landscape. We head back right after lunch in order to arrive back in Kanab in the early afternoon for the last souvenirs and saying ‘au revoir’ to this amazing area. One doesn’t say ‘good-bye’ to this magnificent region; you’ll see that the ‘desert-bug’ will get under your skin and into your heart for many more happy returns as it happened to me.
Return to SLC via Hwy 89 and I-15; arrival around 7PM.
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