A Secret Cathedral at the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

We had one last detour before our final destination of the magnificent Zion National Park.

Our goal was to pack in as many sights as we could on our ten-day trip.

We were up early for a short hike to a lookout at Lake Powell.

Glen Canyon Dam.lakepowell

Lake Powell, with hardly any water in the middle of this drought.lakepowell3 Beautiful cliffs.lakepowell1

Back on the road, we turned off the main highway and set out on a dusty, bumpy, red-dirt path barely wide enough for one vehicle — more like a wagon train trail — several miles off the main road to a trailhead that would lead to an amazing slot canyon hike.

The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, at 1.7 million acres, dominates southern Utah.

It’s unique in that it is the first monument to be administered by the Bureau of Land Management, rather than the National Park Service.

The Grand Staircase is a geological formation spanning eons of time and is a territory of multicolored cliffs, plateaus, mesas, buttes, pinnacles, slot canyons, and world-class paleontological sites..

After hiking for about and hour or so, clambering up and out of narrow and shady slot canyons that seemed to go on forever, passing a random cow or two, the “cathedral” emerged in a open space bathed in sunlight.

It was really, really, really, REALLY special. Words can’t describe it and my pics don’t do justice to its beauty.vermillioncliffscathedral

I don’t know why it’s “secret” except that a couple of experienced hikers we chatted with at the trailhead shared a few of the highlights of the area and cautioned us not to be TOO specific when we talked about where we were to avoid it becoming overcrowded. vermillioncliffs vermillioncliffs1 vermillioncliffs2 Spectacular. WOW.vermillioncliffs4 This is supposed to be one of the longest slot canyon hikes in the country, if not THE longest. We hiked for about three hours in, a six-mile round trip.vermillioncliffs5 vermillioncliffs6 ME! vermillioncliffsme Vermillioncliffs10 Vermillioncliffs11 vermillioncliffs12

Next stop, ZION!

P.S. And don’t ask, there’s no way I’m telling the exact coordinates. Only tugboat man knows exactly where we were 🙂

 

Wandering to Zion…Part Two

Wandering to Zion, Day One: Princess Rosebud and her Tugboat Man
Part One and a Half…Wandering to Zion
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We were meandering; taking our sweet time getting to our ultimate destination of Zion National Park.  Zion was so crowded that we figured it was the perfect excuse to explore lesser known parks.

That’s how we roll, me and my tugboat man. This was the most relaxed road trip we’ve embarked upon; no stress or pressure — no deadline.

Moving on, literally…we left Payson, Arizona and drove to Tonto Natural Bridge State Park. We hiked to the largest travertine bridge in the world — 183 feet high with a tunnel width of 150 feet and length of 400 feet.

There was a bit of scary, slippery rock scrambling with a moderately steep drop; not one of my favorite things to do, but the view was worth it.

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Our next stop was the nearly 700 year-old Salado cave dwellings at Tonto National Monument. To get to them, there’s a steep but paved one-mile round-trip trail that ascends 350 feet to the Lower Cave Dwelling.

Built in the early 14th century, this village was part of a vast multi-cultural network that extended from the Four Corners region to Northern Mexico. While remnants of thousands of similar villages dot the Southwest, this well-preserved building represents one of the last Salido cliff dwellings. Local springs provided water for Paleo-Indians who lived here over 10,500 years ago.

There was so much to see and be amazed by —

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t am so in LOVE with Saguaro cactus — those arms that dot the landscape all over Arizona. We don’t have that variety of cactus in SoCal. I got a package of seeds and hope they sprout.

Saguaro cactus

Along the road, whenever we saw something that looked cool, we’d stop and follow a trail or hike to a monument or a site.

OldHouseAZ

It began to get late and we couldn’t find a campground again so we stayed at a Howard Johnson in Holbrook, Arizona. There was a quaint little Italian restaurant in walking distance with great pizza and decent chianti.

I’m not overly fond of hotels — I always make hub check for bugs and bring my own sanitizer — but it’s nice to take a shower and wash off the dust at the end of a long day. I don’t care if it’s a a five-star hotel, either. Have you seen those TV shows that expose the dirt and germs? So much ick, right?

Side note: Only in California do all public restrooms provide seat protectors. There needs to be a Federal law that make seat protectors mandatory. I HATE going all old school with toilet paper lining the seat — but I NEED that barrier between me and the rest of the world

Next time, Part Three of Wandering to Zion with Princess Rosebud and her Tugboat Man.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wandering To Zion

FINALLY, my tugboat man recovered from his bout with the flu and we’re packed and ready to leave early Sunday morning on a road trip to Zion National Park

It’s a place we’ve always wanted to visit — hopefully we’ll get to more than one park –have you seen all the TV commercials about Utah’s Mighty Five?

Utah’s five national parks have it all. See unique soaring spires, towering pinnacles, sandstone canyons, and intricately eroded arches of sculptured stone.

I’d love to camp and hike at Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park, too, and we’ll be try to include at least a couple days at Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona.

We might stay at a hotel or a lodge for a night, especially since the weather calls for night temps in the 30s and the possibility of rain.

It’s been a while since we’ve gone off the grid for a while; I’m really looking forward to beautiful country and some long, rigorous hikes.

Wearing my Chanel sunglasses to pop a squat in the desert; always fashion forward no matter where I go, that’s the way I roll.

Yay for adventures!

panoZION