October 6, 2017 Zion NP to Bryce Canyon NP

Our cell phone service and wi-fi connection were horrible in Zion and I got behind on my blog. Finally, I was able to catch up today.

It was 9:40 before we left the campground because it was quite cool at 50 degrees this morning and windy. We were moving kind of slowly and dreading going outside to close up. We would not be taking Highway 9 today which would be the shortest and most logical way to go. It is the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway –a 12 mile scenic highway which connects the South and East entrances of the park. From Zion, the road travels up steep switchbacks, through the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel, and emerges on the east side of the park. The tunnel was built in the 1920s when larger vehicles were less common. Vehicles 11’4″ tall and taller, or 7’10” wide and wider require one-lane traffic control through the tunnel. Nearly all RVs, buses, trailers, 5th wheels, campers, and boats require traffic control. If you require traffic control, they stop traffic so you can go through the tunnel alone and it requires a $15 fee. It wasn’t the fee that turned us off, it was the switchbacks and hairpin turns. Parts of Highway 9 are also 15 mph. Instead, we took Highway 59//389/89 south around the outside of the park which took us a little longer and 35 miles further, but it avoided the tunnel delay and switchbacks. We left Utah and entered into Arizona for awhile and then back into Utah again. Our drive was scenic through small towns along the East Virgin River. We drove out of the canyon where the road seemed to go on forever.

We had mountains on one side of us and then flat lands stretching out ahead of us. Plants along the road showed signs of fall with their yellow hues.

Going through Kanab, we saw these very unusual, soft looking trees lining the street that we had never seen before.

We started to see more shades of white and pink in the rock formations.

These rock formations we saw around Moon House Ruins. Moon House is a little known 13th century Anasazi (or “ancestral Puebloan”) ruin in southeast Utah. We passed it so quickly that I didn’t get a good look at it, but we’ll go back that way on our way out and we’ll be able to see it again.

The road climbed through the mountains to the high country where the topography changed to pine forests and deciduous trees that were changing into their fall foliage.

The hillsides were ablaze with color.

In the high country, the vistas were phenomenal. 

We turned onto Highway 12–a scenic highway through Red Canyon. I can see where it gets its name of Red Canyon.

We got some great previews of some of Bryce Canyon’s rock formations before we actually entered the park boundary.

We passed through 2 tunnels carved out of rocks.

We reached the top of the bluffs with an elevation of 7777 ft. There was a lot of RV traffic on the drive today. Everyone seemed to be moving between Zion and Bryce. We arrived at our campground for the next 4 days, Ruby’s RV Park and Campground, at 12:30.

The temp was a cool 51 degrees, so we had to put on a few more clothes. A true Floridian is one who wears a fleece, long pants, and sandals. We checked in and got set up in our campsite, #229 in the brand new section of the park with spacious sites, that includes a huge section of grass and a rocky area where the fire pit was located.

Campers kept pouring in all afternoon and the place started to fill up.

Auggie enjoyed the grassy area right away. 

We got settled in and turned on the fireplace to take the chill out. Soon the solar gain from the sun coming through the windows took over and we could turn it off. We were nice and toasty all afternoon. I took advantage of the extra time to do some laundry and Bob got some alone time to decompress after the drive. We made some plans for our visit here in Bryce and relaxed until dinner. It cooled off quickly as the sun went down. We’ll need an extra blanket on the bed tonight! Bob spotted some deer leaving the protection of the woods and heading for the lake not far from our campsite. Auggie and I took a walk to see if we could get a better look. Sure enough, I counted a herd of about 12–a mixture of does and fawns. What a treat to see so many at once!

We got back and warmed up by the fireplace while watching some TV. The moon has been full, so seeing the stars is a little more difficult, but they were out there in abundance. This is one of the darkest places we’ve been to, so the star-gazing should be excellent. We’ll try again tomorrow night!

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