Thursday, October 18, 2018

Back in Zion Country


We left Thompson, Utah on Friday heading southwest on I-70, one of the most scenic parts of any interstate we’ve driven. A lunch break at the San Rafael Swell viewing area felt like it could be a national park.

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I-70 cuts through the reef just past the rest area.

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We stopped for the night in Joseph, UT at the Flying U Country Store and RV Park, just a gravel lot behind the convenience store, $20 for full hookups. Only a few other RVs came in for the night, surprising since it was Friday.

Flying U RV Park, Joseph, UT

Went for a walk around the very small town and found a paved bike trail near the RV park, which took us out through some pretty farm land.

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That evening we found out that our good friend Suzanne was at a different RV park just 6 miles away, so she stopped by for a visit before we left on Saturday morning. Three hours later we could have talked for three more, but we were anxious to move on due to high wind warnings on our route, and to escape the lows in the 20s in the Joseph area. It’s always surprising how many times we run into people we know in places we would never expect.

Arriving in Virgin on Saturday, we were a bit concerned about finding a dispersed campsite, but even though there were more RVs in the area than we’ve ever seen, one of our favorite spots was open.

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The predicted strong winds began blowing early Sunday morning and were not letting up for another 24 hours, so we decided to kill a few hours at the movie theater in Hurricane, where we saw First Man, a great film about the life of astronaut Neil Armstrong.

While we were gone Mark and Bobbie arrived and parked a mile or so down the road. Their favorite campsite has been blocked off, and they spoke with a local who said that the BLM is planning to restrict this area to camping in a certain number of designated sites only. Sadly this may be our last time coming here.

On Monday we took a hike on the Chinle Trail, starting near a subdivision in Springdale and entering the Zion Wilderness. Because it’s outside of Zion Canyon the national park crowds don’t hike there. We saw four other people during our 9 mile trek. Except for the start of the trail through the subdivision it’s a fairly level trail.

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Chris arrived while we were out and managed to get a site near us where someone had just left. Our group is a little smaller this year and we miss our other friends who have shared hikes and happy hours with us here over the years.

On Tuesday we had some errands to run in St. George and Hurricane, so we stopped at the Anytime Fitness on our way home for a workout and shower. After that it was dinner out at River Rock Roasting Company in La Verkin, which started as a coffee shop but has expanded into a very busy restaurant. None of us had ever eaten dinner there but they now serve pizza and beer, so it sounded like a good place to celebrate Jim’s birthday.

He doesn’t look a day older.

Chris, Mark, Jim and Bobbie, after we ate all of our excellent pizza. They even have cashew “cheese” for us vegans. We will be going back again before we leave.

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Yesterday Mark suggested a hike in one of the many canyons on the east side of Zion past the tunnels. Jim had some computer stuff he wanted to do so he passed, but I jumped at the chance for some red rock scrambling.

After driving through bumper to bumper traffic in the park and waiting for RVs coming through the tunnel, we arrived at a parking pull-out just before a big horn sheep jam.

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It was amazing watching them jump off this cliff right down onto the road.

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Although we only hiked about four miles, we spent over four hours playing in the red rock and taking way too many photos.

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Up and down we went over slick rock, sand, and through some occasional brush with no real destination in mind. This is my favorite kind of hiking, although not having done it for a year it took me a little while to “trust my shoes” on the steep sections.

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Chris’s big find.

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The vastness is mind-boggling.

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We started with temps in the upper 40s and wind, then went from cold to hot and back, with a few raindrops sprinkled in. We saw one other group of eight, who gave us an idea for a future trek in the same area. What a wonderful hike, although I’m not sure I even know where we were, since I was just along for the ride.

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I went a little crazy with photos, but have to add a few more from Jim’s walk from our site while we were gone. It’s all good around here.

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Muddy Virgin River.                                                               A tall dark stranger.

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14 comments:

  1. Love that country and have for years now.

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  2. Wow!!! What amazing pictures. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Beautiful photos of one of my favorite states.

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  4. Stunning, as always! You can't go wrong in that area, especially bushwacking away from the crowds!

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  5. Outstanding photos! I would have taken that many too. Enjoy that beautiful scenery.

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  6. The photos are outstanding, and the scenery is breathtakingly beautiful. I would love to hike around there. This looks like the view from my train trip this past summer from Sacramento to the east coast!

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  7. Such a sharp contrast coming from those Canadian snowy mountains to just chilling SW redrock. Love ALL the photos. Have missed that country this year.

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  8. Happy Birthday Jim! How great to meet up with Suzanne and Mark and Bobbie. The hike looks fabulous from your wonderful pictures. Seriously WOW!! Red rock, so beautiful! Sorry to hear BLM is going to squeeze campers and may force you to stop coming there. Is that what happens when RVing and especially Full timing gets too darn popular? Just heard about a TV series - the kiss of death IMO.

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  9. Happy belated birthday, Jim. You don’t look a day older! 😁
    You made me want to get back to Utah so badly! Love your photos. Keep enjoying the good life.

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  10. Wonderful pics!! It looks like you were in a big playground of slick rock, and the red against the bright blue skies is always a favorite.

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  11. Hiking on the east side of Zion is so much fun. It is so nice that people don't know about the area and you can avoid the crowds. Your photos are beautiful. I'm glad the sheep came out for you:) Sweet that Suzanne was in the area at least for one night.

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  12. Happy belated birthday Jim! Can't think of a more beautiful spot to celebrate another year of retired life. Thanks for all the stunning photography!

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