Zion National Park RV Trip – One AWESOME Canyon!

October 2016 – Zion National Park in Utah is filled with towering rock formations that rise up alongside the Virgin River. It’s located in the heart of National Parks country, just 70 miles from Bryce Canyon National Park, 70 miles from Cedar Breaks National Monument and 110 miles from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

RV Camping on an RV trip to Zion National Park in Utah

Zion National Park is a fantastic destination for an RV trip

The views in Zion Canyon are utterly breathtaking.

View of Zion Canyon Zion National Park Utah RV trip

Zion Canyon view – spectacular!

We had visited Zion National Park before, both in a tent and also with our first full-time RV. But each of those visits had been more of a survey trip than an in depth immersion. This time we took our time exploring.

The Watchman Zion National Park Utah

The Watchman at sunset

There are many ways to enjoy Zion National Park. One of the most fun ways to get an introduction is to walk along the Pa’rus Trail that goes alongside the Virgin River right from the Visitors Center.

Hiking Pa'rus Trail Zion National Park Utah

We walked the Pa’rus Trail and crossed several bridges over the Virgin River

This is a popular trail both for walking (including dog walking) and for riding bikes as well.

Bike Pa'rus Trail Zion National Park Utah

Biking is a great way to get an overview of Zion National Park, especially on the Pa’rus Trail

We took our bikes on it one day and saw some fabulous views.

Bicycling Pa'rus Trail Zion National Park Utah

Cycling the Pa’rus Trail

Biking in Zion Canyon Zion National Park Utah

Pa’rus Trail – What a ride!

Rock pinnacles thrust up from the earth on all sides, and the trees were changing colors here and there in the cool October air.

The Watchman Zion National Park Utah

The Watchman in fall color.

We saw some little critters. A bird flitted between the branches of a tree and a ground squirrel paused to have a look at us.

Bird at Zion National Park Utah


Ground Squirrel Zion National Park Utah


The main road through the park is the 9 mile long Zion Canyon Scenic Drive which dead ends in the heart of the main canyon. Cars are restricted on much of this road and are forbidden for the last half of it from Spring to Fall, making it absolutely fabulous for a bike ride.

Bike Zion Canyon Scenic Drive Zion National Park Utah

Cycling Zion Canyon Scenic Drive into the heart of Zion’s main canyon: Zion Canyon

Cyclists share this road with both chartered tour buses and the Park’s free shuttle buses, but the buses are infrequent enough that for most of the ride we had the entire road to ourselves. Awesome!

Cycling Zion Canyon Scenic Drive Zion National Park Utah

We LOVED riding our bikes on Zion Canyon Scenic Drive

The erosive power of the Virgin River is responsible for Zion Canyon, and the stunning scenic drive runs alongside it.

Virgin River Zion Canyon Zion National Park Utah

The Virgin River cuts between the rock walls.

The Virgin River is shallow and filled with small rocks in some places.

Virgin River Zion National Park Utah


As we got deeper and deeper into Zion Canyon, the towering rock walls closed in all around us.

Virgin River Zion Canyon Zion National Park Utah RV trip

Tall cliffs and magical light in Zion Canyon

The canyon walls grew steeper and steeper, rising up around us on all sides as we approached the end of the road.

Bike Zion Canyon Scenic Drive Zion National Park Utah

Views everywhere

Early in the morning, much of Zion Canyon was in shade because the rock walls are so high.

Zion Canyon RV trip Zion National Park Utah

Light and shadow change all day long on Zion’s cliffs.

But later in the day the sun rose high enough to light it up. As the sun traversed the sky, the walls on one side of the canyon were lit first. Then they became shaded and the walls on the other side lit up.

Zion Canyon Scenic Drive Zion National Park Utah

A gorgeous view from Zion Canyon Scenic Drive.

Amazingly, Zion Canyon National Park has a brewpub right outside the park. After a day of sightseeing, no one had to twist our arms to join the other happy tourists and find a table with a view to quaff a pint!

Zion Brewery Zion National Park Utah

What a great way to unwind after a day of sightseeing.

Zion Canyon Brewing Company Zion National Park Utah

A brew with a view!

In the late afternoon we watched the full moon rise through the sunset.

Full moon Zion National Park Utah


Full moon Zion National Park Utah


Zion Canyon is essentially an enormous (and enormously beautiful) box canyon, i.e., a dead end. And Zion National Park is immensely popular. A ranger told me 4 million people had already visited the Park in 2016 when we got there in October.

So, getting all these people in and out of the box canyon is no small trick. Zion National Park has done an amazing job of handling the traffic and the crowds.

For starters, car traffic is highly restricted for all but the Winter season. The parking lot at the Visitor Center fills as early as 8:00 a.m. during the peak season between Spring and Fall.

RV Parking Zion National Park Utah

Forget about parking at the Visitors Center after 8:00 a.m.
Luckily, there is parking in the town of Springdale, especially at the south end of town.

There are two excellent free shuttle systems to ferry people around both the town of Springdale and Zion National Park.

The Springdale Shuttle takes visitors through town and runs all the way to the Zion National Park entrance and visitors center.

The Zion Canyon Shuttle takes visitors from there all the way through the National Park to the end of the box canyon (which is also the start of the very popular Narrows hike).

Shuttle Bus Zion Canyon Scenic Drive Zion National Park Utah

Free Shuttle Buses
The Zion Canyon shuttle (at bus stop #3 above) is efficient and easy to use.
A different shuttle — the Springdale Shuttle — serves the town of Springdale where you can park.
So… Park in town, take the Springdale Line to the Canyon Line which goes into the Park

There are about 9 stops on each route, and each one takes about 40-45 minutes end to end.

Passengers on the Zion Canyon Shuttle get to hear an interesting recording that tells all about the park, both its natural history and its human history. We took both shuttles quite a few times during our stay, visiting various overlooks and doing various hikes, and we found it easy and convenient.

Cars can drive into the park as far as the turn-off onto Route 9 East that goes through the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel. People staying at Zion Canyon Lodge, which is beyond that point, can get a pass to drive as far as the lodge and park their cars there. However, during the peak season when the shuttle runs (Spring to Fall), all cars are forbidden beyond the Lodge. During the Winter, the shuttle runs only on holidays, and at that time cars are allowed to drive the full length of Zion Canyon Scenic Drive.

Anyone entering the canyon with a big dually truck like ours, or towing a trailer or driving a motorhome, will be informed that their vehicle will require a pilot to go through the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel on Route 9. There is a fee for this, as traffic in both directions has to be stopped. Years ago, we went through the Zion-Mt Carmel tunnel and drove the wild switchbacks of Route 9 in a minivan, and the drive is out of this world. So, if you have a car, do it!!

South Campground camping Zion National Park Utah

South Campground is right next to the Pa’rus Trail

There are two campgrounds that can accommodate small to mid-size RVs. Both are close to the Park entrance. South Campground is, ironically, the more northerly of the two. Watchman Campground is the more southerly one!

During our stay in October, the leaves were just beginning to change into their autumn colors. The peak for fall color is generally around the first week of November.

Fall color The Watchman Zion National Park Utah

Fall colors peak at Zion in the first week of November (this photo is late October)

RV trip Zion National Park Utah


Zion National Park is a world class destination and we absolutely loved our stay this year! We’ll have more blog posts from our time there. In the meantime, we’ve got lots of links below to help you plan your visit.

Zion Canyon RV camping Zion National Park Utah

Zion National Park is an incredible destination

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Moraine Lake – Crown Jewel of Banff National Park

May 2016 – While Lake Louise may be the heart of Banff National Park in Canada, Moraine Lake is its crown jewel. During our stay in this glorious part of the Canadian Rockies, we visited Moraine Lake several times.

Moraine Lake Banff National Park Alberta Canada

Moraine Lake is without doubt the crown jewel of Banff National Park!

If you do a Google search for Banff National Park and click on “Images,” almost every image is of Moraine Lake. It is such a beloved spot that the iconic view of the lake from the moraine rock pile on its northern shore was on the back of the Canadian $20 bill for ages.

Moraine Lake Canada 20 dollar bill

Moraine Lake was on the back of the $20 bill in Canada.

For much of our stay in Lake Louise, the road to Moraine Lake was closed to motor vehicles. However, it was open to cyclists, and we enjoyed a fabulous 18 mile round trip bike ride to the lake and back.

Moraine Lake Bike Ride View Lake Louise Bnaff

The view over the handlebars!

The snow was still thick in certain areas, and Mark noticed someone had drawn a heart in the snow and put their initials in it. He made a slight modification to those initials so they would be “M + M.” Sweet!

Moraine Lake Bike Ride Lake Louise Banff National Park Canada

There was still a lot of snow along the road to Moraine Lake when we rode there on our bicycles.

The bike ride to Moraine Lake is very popular, especially in the pre-season when bikes have the entire road to themselves.

Tandem bicycle Moraine Lake Louise Banff National Park Alberta Canada

There’s a bit of a climb heading to the lake, but what a view to ride towards!

When we got to the lake we found hundreds of logs lying on the ground. Even though we were in cycling clothes, we scrambled all over the place on the shore to get photos and enjoy the views that were all ours for the moment.

Moraine Lake Bike Ride Banff National Park Alberta Canada

When we first got to Moraine Lake on our bikes, we were the only ones there.

Cyclist at Moraine Lake Banff National Park Canada

Woo hoo!!

The lake was extremely low. It was so low that a floating dock in front of the Moraine Lake Lodge was sitting on the ground.

Moraine Lake Dry lakebed Lake Louise Banff

The water level in the lake was low enough that a summertime float was sitting on the ground.

Luckily, there was still plenty of lake to enjoy. I crawled up on the huge pile of rocks to get a bird’s eye view. Wow!!

Moraine Lake Banff National Park Lake Louise Canada

What a view!

Our bike ride to Moraine Lake was one we will never forget.

Bike Ride Moraine Lake at Lake Louise Banff National Park Canada

What a fantastic ride this was.

On the return trip from Moraine Lake to Lake Louise, after an initial climb, we had a fantastic, screaming descent. I was surprised to look on my bike computer afterwards and see I’d hit 40.5 mph. Not bad for just coasting on a mountain bike! (But not quite as zippy as when Mark and I hit 64.5 mph on our tandem descending a steep hill in Texas years ago!).

Bicycle computer 40.5 mph riding at Moraine Lake Banff National Park

Not too shabby for a mountain bike.

The road to Moraine Lake was finally opened to motor vehicles in the last week of May, and we drove up there early one morning to catch a sunrise.

Sunrise Moraine Lake at Lake Louise Banff National Park

The first glimpse of sunrise at Moraine Lake.

The pink and orange hues of the mountain peaks reflected beautifully in the lake below.

Dawn Moraine Lake at Lake Louise Banff National Park

Reflections at daybreak.

As we were leaving, we noticed a nearly full moon between the peaks.

Moon at dawn Moraine Lake Banff National Park Canada

There was a cool moon too!

Full moon at Moraine Lake Banff National Park Canada

Moraine Lake deserves many return visits, and we couldn’t stay away.

Cycling Lake Moraine Banff National Park Alberta Canada

What a place to ride a bike!

Both cyclists and motor vehicles of all kinds drive up from Lake Louise all day long. It’s an okay road for a small RV, but I wouldn’t take anything much bigger than a short Class C because the parking lot at the lake gets crowded.

RV travel Moraine Lake Banff National Park Alberta Canada

RVing in the Canadian Rockies – Wow Wow Wow!

There is a terrific viewing area right next to the parking lot called the “Rock Pile.” When we had come by bike, we didn’t see it, and I had scrambled all over the slippery rock pile. But when we came by car, we saw the trail right by the bathrooms and joined the throngs of people that were walking on the easy and short paths and staircases in and around the rocks.

Rock stairs Moraine Lake Banff National Park

On our first visit, we had no idea there were stairs up onto the rock pile for the best lake views.

Everyone wants to see “The View” at Moraine Lake, and no wonder, it is gorgeous! But this is also a place where you can slip away from the crowd a bit, find a comfy seat on a rock, and take in other views around the lake.

Relaxing at Moraine Lake near Lake Louise Banff NP Alberta Canada

Mark took a little time out away from the crowds.

Snow clouds Moraine Lake Banff National Park

And how great it is to kick back and gaze at this view high above!

We both savored our time at Moraine Lake, and I wandered away from the rim too.

Happy camper Moraine Lake at Lake Louise Alberta Canada

Sometimes it’s most satisfying to stop dashing here and there and just to sit down and look around.

I looked up and saw the crests of the mountains were filled with beautiful patterns.

Patterns in the Rocky Mountains Moraine Lake Banff Lake Louise

Wonderful patterns in the mountains around Moraine Lake

We discovered the rock pile at the north end of the lake is filled with savvy little chipmunks. These guys are adorable little beggars (buggers) who are anything but shy.

Chipmunk at Moraine Lake Banff National Park Lake Louise

Smart little chipmunks live in the rock pile and keep an eye out for free food.

Their main focus is seeing who’s got what kind of snacks to share. Sometimes they get lucky and can have lunch with a view.

Chipmunk at Moraine Lake near Lake Louise Alberta Canada

Sneaking a snack with a fabulous view!

The views at Moraine Lake drew us back again and again.

Boulders at Moraine Lake Banff National Park Canada

Moraine Lake is truly exquisite.

Even when the scenic overlook is filled with people who have turned their backs to the view while they worship the selfie god, it is still a spectacular place to be.

Moraine Lake at Lake Louise Banff National Park Alberta Canada

Worshipping the selfie god – what a great place to do it!

If you take your RV to Lake Louise, a visit to Moraine Lake is an absolute must.

In the pre-season, the car-free bike ride is truly exhilarating and you’ll find the lake very peaceful and quiet when you get there. But even in the busier season when the road and parking lot are loaded with cars, and people are crammed in everywhere, it is still a beautiful drive with utterly breathtaking views.

Moraine Lake Lake Louise Banff National Park Alberta Canada

Moraine Lake – Sensational!!

There’s more info about Moraine Lake in the links below…

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Florence, AZ – Few Tourists & Lots of Soul!

February, 2015 – Florence, Arizona, is a historic small town situated about halfway between Phoenix and Tucson. One of the prettiest old buildings in the center of this town is the old courthouse. Its steeple can be seen peeking above the rooftops on the streets of the historic district, and when I saw the full moon rising behind it, I feverishly ran around in front of the building to line up the perfect photo.

“Can we help you?” An old guy standing with his friend on the steps of the courthouse yelled out to me.

“Oh…no — It’s the moon — it’s gonna make a great picture — with the courthouse and the lights…” I yelled back, waving my arms and sounding like a crazy woman.

He looked at me like I was out of my mind and nodded slowly.

Florence Arizona Courthouse with full moon

By the light of the moon – the courthouse in Florence Arizona

Just then, another crazed photo junkie came running out of the nowhere, his iPhone held high. He gestured towards the sky and the courthouse and yelled, “Are you doing what I’m doing?”

“Yes!” I laughed, and for the next few minutes we had a merry old time taking pics of the stately courthouse as the moon silently made its course into the sky. When our shutter clicks finally slowed down, he began telling me all about the beautiful cactus sightings he’d had while cruising around the desert in his jeep that afternoon.

His girlfriend suddenly appeared, and started telling me how much she loved this courthouse. “It has so much character!” She said.

Saguaro cactus balancing a full moon

A saguaro cactus delicately holds the moon…

They sounded like such tourists. I just had to ask where they were from. I was sure it would be Minnesota or Alberta or some other cold place very far away up north.

“I was born and raised in Phoenix,” The fellow grinned at me. “But now I live in Florence.” He wrapped his arm around his girlfriend. “Brenda grew up here in Florence.”

Florence Historic District

And that’s what made me fall in love with this town during our weeklong stay. It’s not the history, even though almost every building in town has a historic plaque on it, and many buildings are very cool adobe with massively thick walls. And it’s not the quaint main street, because, in fact, the main street of historic Florence is frighteningly deserted and not at all quaint at the moment. Almost every storefront sports a “For Lease” sign, and only a tiny handful are actually open for business.

Florence Arizona historic main street

Main Street

Nope. It is the spirit of the folks that live there that make Florence unique. They just love their special corner of Arizona, and we had one surprise and fun encounter with the locals after another!

The old Florence Hotel building stands tall and proud on the main street of town. In one corner of the building there is a little fudge shop which looks like it would be a trendy coffee bistro in any other touristy American town. When I asked about the coffee, though, the gal behind the counter shook her head. “We don’t have fancy coffee. We just have plain coffee. It’s a dollar a cup.”

Florence Arizona Historic District and Florence Hotel

The historic district — the Florence Hotel is on the right

Well, the truth is, it is specially brewed one cup at a time, and it was one of the tastiest cups of coffee I’ve had in ages!

As we prowled around the old Florence Hotel building, we found some photos of the building as it looked in its heydey at the turn of the last century. Other than the clothes on the people and the cars parked out front, it didn’t really look all that different!

Arizona Florence Hotel 1910

The Florence hotel in 1910

Late one afternoon we were out for a walk, and we heard live music coming from one of the town buildings. We heard a saxaphone and a little band playing “Summertime…and the livin’ is easy.” We walked closer and saw a big sign that said “Event.” Just inside a gate, we saw a cluster of people milling around along with three musicians making music on a porch, and there was a table covered with a table cloth where a woman was seling beer.

Aha!! This deserved an even closer look!

We passed a sign that said “McFarland State Historic Park,” and since this was a public place, we decided to go right on in! Beers in hand, we started mingling with the group, and we quickly discovered this was a monthly gathering for the community (held the first Thursday of every month). Someone handed us tickets for a raffle, and then suddenly everyone began standing up to introduce themselve and their businesses.

Florence Hotel back porch

Historic Florence Arizona flower box


When our turn came, we exchanged surprised glances and then blurted out the truth — we were travelers visiting Florence for a while, and when we saw the beer and heard the music, we just had to check out the party! That got a laugh, but we were warmly welcomed, and everyone came up afterwards and wanted to make sure we knew about all the various fun things there were to do around their town.

All the town merchants were at this gathering, from the manager of the local McDonalds to the folks from the hair salon to a couple of realtors. The band member who had been playing the stand-up bass turned out to be from the local historical museum, and she invited us to come by the next day. What a lucky break that was. The museum is a bit south of town, not near the historic district, and we might have missed it otherwise!!

1860 Antiques sign

Tourists, boutiques and trendy bistros are rare in Florence
but if you see this antique shop, do at least stop and feed the cat!

The museum has a huge array of intriguing artifacts, and the first things that caught our eye was the furniture made of saguaro cactus ribs. Those towering Arizona cacti that have their arms held eternally aloft are actually a melon-like material inside with a ribbed structure that gives the cactus its shape. This furniture turned out to be a very creative use of those ribs!

Saguaro cactus furniture

This furniture is made of saguaro cactus ribs!

Florence is home to the Arizona State Prison (Yuma’s Arizona Territorial Prison — the “Hell Hole of the West” — was moved to Florence from Yuma in 1908), and there is a grisly display of the various implements used to end the lives of the worst criminals over the years. A series of rope nooses fill a wall of glass cases, and inside each noose is the mug shot of a prisoner who was hanged.

Eventually, hangings gave way to death by gas, and in front of these nooses is the double chair that a pair of murderous brothers sat in when they were gassed. I wasn’t surprised that criminals were killed by gas in the 1930’s, but I was surprised to see that that method was used into the 1960’s.

Nooses and gas chamber chair in Florence Arizona

Capital punishment: nooses and a gas chamber chair.
There are grim instructions nearby for how to turn the gas valves on and off!

On a much lighter note, Florence was also home to the artist that penned the comic strip Gordo, and lots of comic books and mementos of his are on display.

We also saw a more benevolent use of gas in the form of an antique gas heater. I was amused that it was about the same size and shape as our little vent-free propane heater in our RV!

Comic strip Gordo

The creator of the comic strip “Gordo” lived in Florence

Antique gas heater

An antique gas heater — not so different than ours!

And if seeing the predecessor to our little gas heater weren’t enough, we also got a glimpse of the original 1-gallon wash-up technique that predated the 2-gallon showers we take in our RV today. Rather than a fancy shower wand and electrically pumped hot water, however, this early method consisted of a large ceramic pitcher and a basin.

Ahhhh the good old days!!

Antique tub and shower

The original 1-gallon shower…

Florence Arizona church

A church in Florence

So, if you are roaming around central Arizona in your RV looking for a place that has some heart and soul and some interesting history, check out Florence. Just don’t be fooled by the vacancies on Main Street. Looks are only skin deep!

Thick adobe walls in Florence Arizona

Thick adobe walls…


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Dancing in the Moonlight

When we settled into our current camping spot in the Tonto National Forest in Arizona, I noticed a pair of saguaro cacti high up on a hill that appeared to be dancing together. Every morning the sunrise has turned the sky pink all around them, and every afternoon the sun has lit them with a golden glow as they’ve enjoyed an eternal moment of bliss together. I’ve been meaning to get their photo, but inspiration didn’t strike until last night.

I was buried in some indoor project when Mark suddenly looked out the window and said, “Look at that!”

The full moon was just starting to rise behind the pair. I rushed outside and caught them just as the big silver moon framed their romantic embrace.

Dancing in the Moonlight

Dancing in the Moonlight

When I came inside to download my photos, I wanted to give this one a special name. I knew there was some phrase about dancing and the moon that would fit the photo perfectly, but couldn’t quite find it. I did a Google search and came up with a few that were close: By the Light of the Silvery Moon, which was a clasic Doris Day song from the 1950’s, and Moondance, which was a 1970 hit from Van Morrison. But neither of these quite fit the lighthearted and free spirit of these two dancers that were caught up in their own private world on the top of this hill.

Then, finally, I found it — the classic 1973 song by King Harvest:

Bisti Badlands NM – Mysterious rocks and an alien egg factory!

Bisti Badlands hiking in the wash

Hiking into the remote and mysterious Bisti Badlands.

Late September, 2012 – One of the great things about hanging out with the photography pros at Nasim Mansurov’s Colorado Landscape Photography Workshop was that they knew where the cool places were to take pictures.  Nasim suggested we check out the Bisti Badlands in New Mexico where there are all kinds of rock formations, hoodoos and some mysterious alien looking “eggs.”

Bisti Badlands New Mexico Hiking through the rock formations

We hiked on ridges and in valleys

This is a very remote place, 36 miles south of Farmington, New Mexico, and when you get here after miles and miles of boring flat land, it is a wonder to behold.  Even more startling for us, though, was having an Indian on a spotted Appaloosa horse ride up to our campsite to chat with us.  His name was Nelson, and I suspect his first language was Navajo, as he spoke English with an unusual accent.  He had been out rounding up a miscreant brahma bull that had wandered away when his nephew accidentally left the paddock gate open.

Bisti Badlands New Mexico lots of colors in the rocks and Teepees

The colors vary from one neighborhood to the next.

Tourists from all over the world make their way to Bisti Badlands, and Nelson has met folks from Europe, Asia, and all the states.  It is a wilderness area, so there are no signs and no trail markers, and too often hese tourists wind up on his ranch, quite lost.  The rather baffling maps from the BLM office make it look easy to find your way, but they quickly prove almost useless once you start hiking.

Bisti Badlands New Mexico Indian on an Appaloosa Horse

An Indian visits our campsite on his spotted Appaloosa horse “Oreo”

Just last week Nelson had rescued a Japanese family that saw the light on in his house near midnight.  They knocked on his door seeking refuge from the cold, scary desert night.  He brought them back to their car in the morning.  “Don’t they see the movement of the sun, or watch the moon?” He asked us, shaking his head in disbelief.  Then he spurred his horse and cantered down the road in a cloud of dust, his faithful dogs following.

Bisti Badlands New Mexico hoodoos

Exotic hoodoos surrounded us.

Wow.  That was right out of the movies!!

Bisti Badlands Alice in Wonderland furniture

Mark finds himself a little table.



We ventured into the badlands armed with a compass, binoculars, a good sense of the sun’s path, a bunch of food and water, and our cameras.  The “egg factory” is a collection of rocks that look like aliens hatching out of their eggs, and finding it was our ultimate goal (as it is for most travelers here).  But the rock formations and desert colors we saw on the way were just as inspiring.

Bisti Badlands New Mexico Alice in Wonderland hoodoos

Obama and Romney should pontificate a bit out here!!

We hiked for hours, following first one wash and then another, climbing up and over tall pyramid shaped rocks and skirting around the bottoms.  Over the years visitors have given the different groups of rock formations names:  The Wings, Alice in Wonderland, The Teepees, etc.  Spread out over several square miles, you only know you’ve arrived in a particular neighborhood when the rock formations look like the names they’ve been granted.

Bisti Badlands New Mexico searching for the cracked eggs

Mark scans the horizon for the eggs

Bisti Badlands New Mexico Collared Lizard

This lizard wasn’t lost!

We came across a group of rock formations that looked like furniture.  A perfect little table and a podium were fun to pose with.




But where in the world were those crazy eggs?  They were supposed to be about two miles into the badlands area, along a wash that branched southeast.  Well, there were lots of washes, and they branched all over the place.  We saw lizards scampering along the desert floor.  Surely they knew exactly how things were laid out in this vast barren place.

Bisti Badlands Rock Formations

Well, the eggs aren’t here, but this is cool!

Bisti Badlands New Mexico Wings

Winged things.

Bisti Badlands New Mexico Flying Saucer

A flying saucer!







We found ourselves in another area of formations that had flat roofs, or wings.  These hoodoos were otherworldly.  One even looked like a flying saucer.  Some of the flat tops were detachable and could be lifted off.

Bisti Badlands New Mexico Pyramids

Mark stands at the base of a pyramid

Continuing on, we wandered between tall pyramid shaped formations that were decorated with fantastic horizontal stripes.  They stood just a hundred feet or so high, and were easy to scramble up onto for a birds-eye view.

Bisti Badlands New Mexico colorful black and red pyramids

The colors change to black and red

The landscape changed from shades of white and yellow to shades of red and black.  It was all quite beautiful and exotic.  But the eggs were nowhere to be found.

Bisti Badlands bird

Bisti Badlands New Mexico searching for the egg factory

“North is that way!”

We returned to our campsite and studied the BLM map once again.  Maybe they would turn up on a second day’s quest.  We headed out again the next day and this time recognized many of the landmarks and had a much better sense of where we were.  “North is that way,” Mark said at one point.  He had a photo of the eggs from the BLM and now we knew what they would look like if we found them:  small egg-like rocks backed by white eroded cliffs.

Bisti Badlands New Mexico cracked eggs

Two of the elusive alien eggs

Finally we found them and whooped and hollered in triumph.

Bisti Badlands New Mexico the black boobs

The black boobs – important landmarks!

In the end, they are actually very easy to find.  There are GPS coordinates available on the web, but here is an easy landmark-based way to get there:


Follow the fence on the left side of the parking lot into the badlands.  When the fence takes its second sharp 90 degree turn to the left, look straight ahead in the direction you’ve been walking, and look for two black “boobs.”

Bisti Badlands New Mexico the egg factory

Mark sits among the eggs

Walk towards them.  As you approach them, walk around the leftmost one (the further one), leaving it on your right, and continue on to the black topped white cliffs in the distance.  The little collection of eggs is right there in front of the cliffs.

Bisti Badlands New Mexico egg factory

The best light for these guys is dawn and dusk

Bisti Badlands New Mexico cracked eggs

Bisti Badlands New Mexico egg factory

We had arrived at the eggs in the glare of midday, but who cares?

Bisti Badlands New Mexico the egg factory

In a softer light at dusk

Bisti Badlands New Mexico the eggs

An alien rises up out of its shell!

Bisti Badlands New Mexico the eggs at dusk












We felt like successful Explorers!  The following afternoon we returned to the eggs a second time to capture them in the softer light of sunset.

Bisti Badlands New Mexico egg factory light painting

A full moon rises behind the eggs

There were a few other photographers with us, and we all had very a funny moment when we suddenly noticed the full moon rising opposite the setting sun.  All the cameras and tripods turned around in one motion!

Bisti Badlands New Mexico Cracked Eggs light painting

Light painting on the eggs

We hung out as the sky darkened, and we played with a new photography technique Mark had learned:  light painting.  Using a flashlight, we “painted” the eggs with light and used long exposures to get a wonderfully eerie effect.

This was the last of our RV travels before we returned to Phoenix to visit friends and family. Then it was time to store the trailer and board a plane to Mexico where our sailboat Groovy waited for us in a slip down south in Marina Chiapas.

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We returned to Bisti Badlands in the spring of 2017:

Alien Eggs in Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness (Bisti Badlands) New Mexico

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