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Spring Break 2016- Grand Canyon and Zion - Lots of pics!

BigDanSBigDanS Senior MemberPosts: 6,992 Senior Member
We left Miami on a direct flight on American Airlines at 7 AM and were in Las Vegas at 9:30 AM. It's been 25 years since I have been to Vegas and what a change! The kid , now 12 and looking 15, and wanting to be 21, wanted her picture in front of this store.

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The airport has gotten huge! It used to be I would get a rental car right in the airport and drive directly to the strip. Now you have to take a shuttle 15 minutes away just to get a car. It took about 2 hours to get our luggage, and car sorted out and on the road. We stopped at Lake Mead and the Hoover dam on the way.

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Again things have changed. Used to be you could drive over the dam and back onto the highway. Now it is $10 just to park in a closer lot to see over the dam. We didn't have a lot of time, so we snapped a few pics and headed out. It's all about money. I saw the dam in its entirety for free in 30 minutes 25 years ago. Now you could spend four hours and $100 easy.

We left to head out through the desert of northern Arizona to the Grand Canyon. Time is weird there. Las Vegas is on Pacific time. Arizona is on Mountain time but does not observe daylight savings. Utah to the north is on mountain time and daylight savings. It was 9:30 AM when we landed, took two hours to get out of the airport, about 1 hour to the Hoover Dam. The dam is on the time line, so one side was 1 PM ( Nevada ) the other side 3 PM ( Arizona.)

We arrived at the Grand Canyon just after the visitor center closed, plus with the time change, just at sunset, around 6:30 PM. We stayed at the Yavapi Lodge, inside the park and it was excellent. It's so darn busy during Spring Break, we had to book 8 months earlier just to get a room. We woke to clear mornings and our first day was a bike tour. We have National Park passports, so we got them stamped and headed out to Mather Point for our first view and we weren't disappointed.

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Mornings were clear and crisp , about 40 F and afternoons warmed up to 65 F or so. The bike tour was a great choice. We came from sea level and the Grand Canyon South Rim is about 7000 feet in altitude. The bike shop took a group of us to an area west of the main hotel, the El Tovar and associated shops. It was a three hour tour / orientation for us and mostly down hill. Near the end we got a little too close to the edge...

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We returned to the Visitors Center / bike rental and they let us keep our bikes for the rest of the day, so we traveled "uphill" to the east and saw more of the canyon rim.

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There were several places that we turned off, and the bike ride was modestly exerting. Actually excellent acclimatization for lowlanders like us. We returned our bikes at 4 PM and called it a full day. Staying in the park has its pluses and minuses. You get a jump on the day and are first to most of the early morning things. There is no waiting in the morning lines to get into the park and you have first access to most trails. The downside is the limited number of places to eat.

We woke early and headed to a hike into the Canyon, the South Kaibab Trail. Many of the trails in the Canyon go from rim to rim, but for us lowlanders, we decided to attempt a moderate hike to Cedar Ridge. The views are great, but it is downhill in and uphill the entire way back. We descended about 1100 feet in 1.5 miles, then had to hike it back. Carrying water and food and emergency supplies, it was a challenge! Here is a view of the trail leading down to Cedar Ridge. On the left side of the picture you can see my wife and daughter heading down one of the switch backs:

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More to come...
"A patriot is mocked, scorned and hated; yet when his cause succeeds, all men will join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot." Mark Twain
Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.... now who's bringing the hot wings? :jester:

Replies

  • BigDanSBigDanS Senior Member Posts: 6,992 Senior Member
    We were really happy to get to our stopping point at Cedar Ridge...

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    After a one hour break, we headed uphill back to the car. This was THE challenge of the trip, 1100 feet elevation change in 1.5 miles with way too much stuff on my back, my second day at altitude. Don't do this. However, the views were amazing!

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    Our daughter has been earning "Junior Ranger" badges at the National Parks over the past 5 years. So far she has achieved 19 total badges and patches. She earned her Grand Canyon badge and Junior Paleontologist badges, and we headed out early the next day, physically exhausted from the climb the day before. It was our last full day in the park, so we spent it tourist style, going to the various museums and exhibits in the main area. The wind had picked up and we were seeing gusts of 30 - 40 MPH and temps were down a bit. It was crowded like Disney World. Here is a view from the South Rim near the El Tovar Hotel with our model Jiana sporting her white hooded vest and Junior Ranger badges:

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    We headed east to the Desert Tower and Museum, a four story observation tower built by Mary Colter. A neat place on the east end of the south rim near the east end entrance. It was decorated with lots of Hopi and Navajo styled art and excellent views. Plenty of stores and tourist crap to buy or eat. I liked this mural on the main wall lower level. It is about 8 feet across:

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    This place was setup for artists, and had several mirrors that reflected images of the landscape with filtered light. It makes for more color in a washed out bright light. Here is a picture of the Canyon utilizing one of these photo mirrors from the Tower:

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    Our last stop was at Hopi Point before heading out to our next stop, Zion National Park. A great view, and after staring at it for four days I was glad to move on....

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    Next stop... Zion National Park,
    "A patriot is mocked, scorned and hated; yet when his cause succeeds, all men will join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot." Mark Twain
    Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.... now who's bringing the hot wings? :jester:
  • Big ChiefBig Chief Senior Member Posts: 32,995 Senior Member
    Nice pics.........be careful not to jump off by accident.........I wouldn't get that close at my age.
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
  • Six-GunSix-Gun Senior Member Posts: 8,155 Senior Member
    Dan -

    You have picked some of my favorite places in this country to go and visit. I have been to the Grand Canyon quite a few times now and it never gets old. Zion is amazing and I know that you guys will love it. If you get lucky, you'll get a glimpse of the bighorn sheep within the park boundary, or the wild bison that roam nearby.
    Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,429 Senior Member
    I've been to the South Rim a couple of times. The Grand Canyon truly is one of the wonders of the world. I enjoyed camping close to a scenic view on the South Rim, I don't remember what it was called. That was in 1993 when my first wife and my kids went out to see my oldest son graduate from Navy Boot Camp in San Diego. We camped all the way until we got to Las Vegas. That was our families most famed vacation. It was awesome.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • Big ChiefBig Chief Senior Member Posts: 32,995 Senior Member
    "....If you get lucky, you'll get a glimpse of the bighorn sheep within the park boundary, or the wild bison that roam nearby"". Sixgun

    Ha , other tourist probably looking at the wildlife thinking how pretty and you two probably scheming ways to to try and shoot one on a hunt and trying to figure out what rifle you could take one down with and what distance..............

    Great scenery.
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
  • BigDanSBigDanS Senior Member Posts: 6,992 Senior Member
    We headed out of the park's east exit on our way to Zion National Park. It is about a 4 hour drive through some incredible country and the Navajo Indian Reservation. We traveled Route 89 through the Vermilion Cliffs area where the winds were howling! 40 MPH and sand storms. We stopped for the occasional sandwich or snack from our stash and got caught in this dust storm:

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    We crossed through the Kaibab Natioanl Forest and summit-ed around 8000 ft elevation where we saw snow flurries, then crossed into Utah where we gained an hour of time. We were still too late to hit the visitors center.

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    The drive into Zion from the East Entrance is truly incredible! We entered just before sunset. First you pass through the Checkerboard Mesa area which is wondrous, and then you enter a tunnel out of the Navajo sandstone one mile long, that opens into the valley of Zion:


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    This is a shot through the car window...

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    We stayed at the Zion Lodge, inside the park. Again, to get a room, we booked it in August 2015 and had to pay for it then, to stay in March 2016. It was worth it!!! It is the only hotel inside the park and we had one of the best experiences I have ever enjoyed. Here is the view from our room...

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    Again, spring break was extremely busy in this park. Zion is one of the worlds best rock climbing areas and has several famous hikes including Angels Landing ( a 1500 ft ascent ) and The Narrows a hike through a slot canyon and river. We decided with our physical abilities and the crowds to do neither. Our first day was a visit to the Visitors Center of Zion, and get our Daughter Jiana her Junior Ranger materials. We decided to do "The Watchman" trail, a hike that left from the visitor center and climbed about 450 feet in elevation and about 2.5 miles long. Zion is different than the Grand Canyon in that all hikes start in the valley "up hill " and return down hill. Lots of exertion in the first part of the hike, less coming down. The Indian Paintbrush was in bloom...

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    We made it to the top in an hour or so for a great view of the bottom of the Zion Canyon:

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    There were some great flowers in bloom in the desert, as we had recently had some spring rains:

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    Up canyon we found some deer, and turkeys...

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    We made several hikes, but two were special; Hidden Canyon and the River Walk / Narrows Entrance.

    The Hidden Canyon requires you to climb up a trail about 1000 ft in elevation to a narrow slot canyon. It was in the 40's and in the shade . The trail climbs steeply with great views, then enters a slot canyon no more than 50 feet wide with walls hundreds of feet high:

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    After scrambling over and under obstacles it leads to an arch. All of the sandstone in the area has been carved out by water over millions of years:

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    You could clearly see the effects of erosion and flash floods in the canyon. We headed down for a big dinner at the hotel restaurant that night and slept like rocks.

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    More to come...
    "A patriot is mocked, scorned and hated; yet when his cause succeeds, all men will join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot." Mark Twain
    Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.... now who's bringing the hot wings? :jester:
  • Six-GunSix-Gun Senior Member Posts: 8,155 Senior Member
    Big Chief wrote: »
    "....If you get lucky, you'll get a glimpse of the bighorn sheep within the park boundary, or the wild bison that roam nearby"". Sixgun

    Ha , other tourist probably looking at the wildlife thinking how pretty and you two probably scheming ways to to try and shoot one on a hunt and trying to figure out what rifle you could take one down with and what distance..............

    Great scenery.
    Oh, I know better when it comes to those two! You MIGHT get a bighorn tag sometime in your walking years, but a bison tag in Utah may require two lifetimes to draw!
    Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 17,617 Senior Member
    Six-Gun wrote: »
    Oh, I know better when it comes to those two! You MIGHT get a bighorn tag sometime in your walking years, but a bison tag in Utah may require two lifetimes to draw!

    Yep...those are once in a lifetime permits (or were when I lived there) and residents get preference...
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • BigDanSBigDanS Senior Member Posts: 6,992 Senior Member
    The next two days we spent recovering from our 1000 ft ascent into the Hidden Canyon and did mostly low land stuff. There is an excellent free tram the takes visitors to various spots to avoid car traffic. This is a formation called " The Three Patriarchs"

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    Lots of squirrels:

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    We hiked to the entrance of The Narrows, a river walk that leads to a slot canyon:

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    We headed out the following day, in absolutely perfect weather:

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    Our trip back to Vegas gave us a lot of time. We left the Zion Lodge at noon and didn't have to catch our flight until 10:00 PM We gained an hour going into Nevada, so we had 11 hours to make a three hour trip. Outside the main Zion park is an extension that is not visited a lot, the Kolob Canyons. We traveled north about 45 minutes once we left the park to get there.

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    Really a worthwhile add on to a trip there. The 5 mile road trip ends in a 1 mile loop trail / hike that overlooks the plain leading to the east end of the Grand Canyon plain. On the trip back we got to cross from Utah, through Arizona to Nevada through the Mojave Desert. This was an absolutely WOW road trip I highly recommend to anyone in the span of one hour, if you leave Utah at 2 PM, your time changes back one hour in Arizona, to forward two hours in Nevada. The top of the road elevation starts around 5000 feet and ends in Las Vegas around 1500 ft.

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    Here is a Joshua tree in the Mojave with my model, Jiana, making it look good....

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    This is only a sample of the hundreds of pictures and videos. All of these were shot on my iPhone 6s plus... yep, just my iPhone!

    We boarded our red eye flight back to Miami exhausted but also satisfied. We slept all day Sunday :yawn:

    One of our best Spring Break trips, ever.

    D
    "A patriot is mocked, scorned and hated; yet when his cause succeeds, all men will join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot." Mark Twain
    Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.... now who's bringing the hot wings? :jester:
  • NNNN Senior Member Posts: 24,954 Senior Member
    Great pics of a fun time
  • bhl2506bhl2506 Senior Member Posts: 1,984 Senior Member
    Awesome pics! Thanks for sharing. Looks like you and your family had a great time.
    Refusing to conform to the left wing mantra of political correctness by insisting on telling the truth does not make you a loud mouth.
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 25,762 Senior Member
    Cool pics!

    Took the family there several years ago. Awesome place.
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • BAMAAKBAMAAK Senior Member Posts: 4,484 Senior Member
    Wow, great photos and looks like a great time. I miss living in the west.
    "He only earns his freedom and his life Who takes them every day by storm."

    -- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German writer and politician
  • bobbyrlf3bobbyrlf3 Senior Member Posts: 2,571 Senior Member
    I'm green with envy....
    Knowledge is essential to living freely and fully; understanding gives knowledge purpose and strength; wisdom is combining the two and applying them appropriately in words and actions.
  • CHIRO1989CHIRO1989 Senior Member Posts: 13,436 Senior Member
    Why is it 12 y/o girls know how to "pose", my boys would have at least one of them with their fingers in their nose, cool trip and photos, thanks:up:
    I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn away from their ways and live. Eze 33:11
  • ojrojr Senior Member Posts: 1,189 Senior Member
    Wow , that is some breath-taking scenery you have there.
    The flight was uneventful, which is what one wants when one is transporting an Elephant.
     Reuters, Dec 2020.
  • waipapa13waipapa13 Senior Member Posts: 883 Senior Member
    That is an awesome trip! I love seeing pics of the West like yours, it looks almost fantastical to someone thats grown up and lived all their life in the sub-tropics, just an amazing place and good on you for making that trip happen, those memories will stick with your family forever I'm sure.
  • ilove22silove22s Senior Member Posts: 1,467 Senior Member
    looks like you all had alot of fun.

    It still amazes me how diverse the earth is - no matter where you go.

    when i was there many many years ago, it made me feel insignificant compared to how long it took to make those canyons.

    just think about it....just running water did all that.
    The ears never lie.

    - Don Burt
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