It was a pretty long (and desolate, but beautiful) drive from Moab. I actually set a new record, there is a sign on I-70 that there are no services for 110 miles. My previous record was coming through eastern Wyoming ten years ago with my buddy Justin Mercer where there was a 70 mile stretch on I-80 without services. Luckily it was the usual divided highway that everyone knows as an interstate, there were places in Wyoming and Kansas on that previous trip where the interstate went to a two lane highway(I haven’t see that on this trip at all)! It was quite a mountainous drive on I-70 and I hope to come back and do some boondocking in that area. It seems like you might really be able to get away from other people 😉
Anyways since it was late we missed going to the BLM visitors center in Cannonville. Luckily we had picked out an area in the Days End Directory. You just continue south past the BLM visitors center on main street for ~2.5 miles and then turn onto a good gravel road called Yellow Creek. However when we got there you could see where a number of pullouts had been but they were not usable anymore. A little further down the road we were able to find a spot but I’m still not 100% sure that it wasn’t private land. We were in for a great sunset though(check out the pictures).
The next day we went to the BLM visitors center because you need a free permit to camp in that particular area. When we got there the ranger(BLM people are called rangers too, right?) informed us that it may rain and that the road can get real sloppy if it does and we could be stuck till it dries back out. That didn’t sound good so we went in search of another spot, this time scouting without the trailer since we’d already dropped it. We ended up choosing a spot off of FR117 a few miles outside of Bryce Canyon, there were a number of good spots for any size rig along here. If we were to do it again I would have went a bit further up and taken the second left, there was a sweet spot about 0.25 mile up that road, also suitable for any size rig. As a plus this area was not in that red clay and would be just fine to drive on if we got rain(We didn’t).
Once we got situated we decided to go ahead on to Bryce Canyon National Park. For whatever reason Victoria wasn’t expecting it to be as spectacular as the previous National Parks. However it ended up being her favorite. The views from the rim are simply spectacular and the hiking is very easy. The trails down into the canyon are moderately difficult but you feel like you’re on another planet hiking among the Hoodoos. Victoria said she felt like a goldfish in a fish tank, lol. An interesting fact about Bryce Canyon is that it’s not actually a canyon, it’s a series of giant natural amphitheaters along the Paunsaugunt Plateau. Either way, it sure is unique.
The next day we went to Kodachrome Basin State Park. They have 10 or 15 miles of fairly easy hiking with both spectacular views and geology (as usual for around here). Lucky for Marilyn since it was a state park she was allowed on the trails so she could get some exercise after sitting around all day after we were at the National Park. There are 67 large “Sand Pipes” plus a short slot canyon. The slot canyon made a fantastic place to eat lunch. It was roasting outside but in the canyon not only was it shaded but it was also damp and cool. An interesting fact about Kodachrome Basin State Park is that after it was named the state changed it to Chimney Rock State Park because they were worried about Kodak suing them. However a few years later they were able to change it back after Kodak gave them permission to use the name of their famous film. The name was fitting because the colors here were just amazing, the red and white of the rock, the green of the plants, and the blue of the sky all combined into a shocking display of color.
The last park we visited was Escalante State Park. It was about an hour drive from where we were camped but Victoria had been dying to see a petrified forest since we set out from Jacksonville. The hike was fairly short and easy but there was plenty of petrified wood to see. Make sure you do the second loop, it’s steeper but it also has the majority of the petrified wood. The variety of colors contained in the petrified wood is amazing. It was quite hot out while we were hiking and it was great to be able to jump into the lake afterwards. They had an interesting display in the visitors center filled with letters and pieces of petrified rock that they had taken and then sent back because it brought them bad luck. It apparently did it’s job and kept Victoria, a rockhound, from trying to take any home, lol.
Utah is an amazing state with an amazing variety of scenic landscapes. No where else has such a concentration of National Parks, 5 all within an hour or two of each other. On top of that most of the land around the National Parks is also public land providing an amazing array of places to hike and camp. We’ll be back here for sure!