Goblin Valley State Park Utah – One Gigantic Playground!

April 2018 – Goblin Valley State Park in Utah is a filled with exotic red rock formations known as “hoodoos” that look for all the world like little people, martians and goblins, and it is a favorite with kids and families because it is one gigantic playground.

RV camping Goblin Valley State Park Utah-min

Goblin Valley is a great place for a family camping trip!

We visited Goblin Valley during our first year of full-time RVing eleven years ago and absolutely loved it. The campground is nestled into a huge rock formation that has cathedral-like buttresses, and tents and RVs tuck into these alcoves for a snug night’s sleep.

RV camping Goblin Valley State Park Utah-min

11 years ago we visited Goblin Valley State Park as new full-timers in our 27′ travel trailer and loved it!

It is located a little away from the concentration of red rock beauty in southern Utah but is an easy detour from I-70 when you’re heading east-west between Utah and Colorado. However, our travels hadn’t taken us in that direction since our first visit in 2007 (blog post here). When we pulled into the area we stopped and let our new pup Buddy out, and we all soaked in the dramatic scenery — just gorgeous!

Goblin Valley State Park Utah Puppy's view-min

Buddy checks out the fabulous scenery.

There are wonderful trails to hike or bike on.

Mountain biking Goblin Valley State Park Utah-min

What a place to ride!

The most famous and iconic part of Goblin Valley State Park is the Valley of the Goblins amphitheater where all the hoodoos stand in a tight huddle, but we decided to do the Goblin’s Lair hike before venturing into the valley of hoodoos.

Welcoming Committee Three Sisters Goblin Valley State Park Utah RV trip-min

The Greeters welcomed us to Goblin Valley State Park.
They are also known as the Three Judges, the Three Kings or the Three Sisters!

The Goblin’s Lair hike shares a trail with the Carmel Canyon hike until the two trails fork and the path to Goblin’s Lair takes a right to go around the outside of the hoodoo amphitheater. Here the land is wide open and vast, carved by the massive earth moving forces of Nature, wind and water.

A 24-hour hair whipping wind storm had just swept through Goblin Valley, and the dust had been swirling so thickly in the air we had to stay inside for an entire day while our trailer got sandblasted.

When we finally ventured out on the Goblin’s Lair hike the next day, the air was so heavy with dust you could taste it on your tongue and feel it on your lips.

So, we didn’t have the iconic bright blue sky and crisp colors that set off the red rocks in famously dramatic fashion, but the whole atmosphere was wonderfully ghostly and ghoulish.

Beginning Carmel Canyon  and Goblin's Lair Hike Goblin Valley State Park Utah RV trip-min

With dust providing a ghoulish haze, hikers head out on the hike to Goblin’s Lair.

The trail has several promontories that are fun to walk out on.

Carmel Canyon  and Goblin's Lair Trail Goblin Valley State Park Utah RV trip-min

The scenery dwarfs us.

Carmel Canyon Trail Hike Goblin Valley State Park Utah RV trip-min

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The best way to see Goblin Valley is with kids. Since we didn’t have any kids or grandkids with us, we were delighted to find ourselves sharing the trail with a bunch of families both ahead of us and behind us.

It was Spring Break for the local Utah schools and all of Goblin Valley was teeming with kids. As we started down the trail we heard them excitedly running around and calling out to each other. “Sand, wonderful sand!” one boy said as he scooped up a huge handful of soft pink sand worthy of the best tropical beach and let it fly.

Hiking to Goblin's Lair on Carmel Canyon Goblin Valley State Park Utah RV trip-min

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Solitary boulders stood here and there.

Carmel Canyon and Goblin's Lair Hike views Goblin Valley State Park Utah RV trip

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We stopped to trade selfies with some other hikers and then began the ascent up towards Goblin’s Lair.

Selfie Goblin Valley State Park Utah RV trip-min

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Goblin's Lair Hike Goblin Valley State Park Utah RV trip-min

Hiking up to Goblin’s Lair

There is a bit of a scramble in the last part of the climb to Goblin’s Lair, but all the grandmas and grandpas made it while their grandkids cheered them on from the top.

Goblin's Lair Hike Goblin Valley State Park Utah RV trip-min

Looking down at hikers scrambling up to Goblin’s Lair

The lair itself is a big cave, and smart hikers who have read the literature before they start hiking bring flashlights with them. Those of us who just saw the sign “Goblin’s Lair” in the parking lot and started hiking right away ’cause it sounded cool arrived at the cave without one!

The crowd at the cave entrance was sizeable. More people kept scrambling up the trail behind us, and we all kept shifting positions perched on the craggy rocks at the top to make room for the new arrivals. Mark and Buddy slithered to the front and took a peek in the cave and said “Wow!” and then we started back down to make room for others coming up.

We took our time hiking back and saw people peering down at us from the towering red rock cliffs. They had climbed up on the cliffs from the crowd of hoodoos on the other side in the Valley of the Goblins.

Carmel Canyon Hike Goblin Valley State Park Utah RV trip-min

A hiker on the edge of the Valley of the Goblins looks down at us.

Snow and solitude Goblin Valley State Park Utah RV trip-min

Solitude in the red rocks with snow in the distance.

The hike is three miles round trip, and even though the sun was filtered through the dust in the air, it was getting warm. So, one of us found a bit of cool shade under a rock and took a break.

Resting during Goblin's Lair Hike Goblin Valley State Park Utah RV trip-min

Buddy takes a load off in the shade.

Carmel Canyon hike Goblin Valley State Park Utah RV trip-min

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The Valley of the Goblins is the main attraction at Goblin Valley State Park, and you can look down into it from many overlooks at the parking lot before you head on in.

Valley of the Goblins hike Goblin Valley State Park Utah RV trip-min

Valley of the Goblins with snowy peaks in the distance.

Valley of the Goblins amphitheater Goblin Valley State Park Utah RV trip-min

Hoodoos stand cheek-by-jowel in the Valley of the Goblins inviting kids of all ages to climb on them.

There is no real hiking trail, just a million goblins standing together waiting for kids to come and play on them.

Valley of the Goblins Goblin Valley State Park Utah RV trip-min

There’s no specific trail in Valley of he Goblins — you can just run anywhere have a ball!

Kids giant playground Goblin Valley State Park Utah RV trip-min

Goblin Valley is a fabulous natural playground.

The shrieks of excitement from the kids as they climbed up to the tops and yelled to their friends and parents down below was infectious.

Valley of the Goblins playground Goblin Valley State Park

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Goblin Valley State Park Utah Giant Playground for kids-min

There were kids all over the rocks — how fun!

Even kids of the canine variety were having fun climbing the hoodoos in Goblin Valley!

Dog's giant playground Goblin Valley State Park Utah RV trip-min

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The last time we were here we hunted for recognizable shapes among the hoodoos and found space ships and martians and turtles and ducks. That’s the fun of this place. It’s a natural playground for kids of all ages. Your imagination is set free and you can run and climb as much as you want.

Or, you can just take photos, and we got a kick out of that too.

Valley of the Goblins at Goblin Valley State Park-min

Out in the middle of it all a hiker captures the scene on his cell phone.

Families hike Valley of the Goblins Goblin Valley State Park Utah RV trip-min

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Photography playground Goblin Valley State Park Utah RV trip-min

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Goblin Valley is a very fun place to get creative with a camera.

Triangle window Goblin Valley State Park Utah RV trip-min

A triangular window.

Chess pieces Goblin Valley State Park Utah RV Trip-min

Chess pieces.

Goblin Valley State Park is a Utah treasure that would easily be declared a National Park if it were located in a less scenic state, and we’ll definitely be back again.

RV camping Goblin Valley State Park Utah-min

Coming back to Goblin Valley after all these years was a blast!

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Lower Calf Creek Falls Hike – Grand Staircase Escalante Nat’l Monument

September 2016 – Scenic Byway 12 in Utah is an All American Road that makes for a truly spectacular RV adventure. There are lots of sidetrips and things to do along the way, and one that we just loved was the hike to Lower Calf Creek Falls in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.

Waterfall Lower Calf Creek Falls Grand Staircase Escalante Utah

The waterfall at Lower Calf Creek Falls

This is an easy 6 mile roundtrip hike that can be very hot at midday, so we started just as the trail was beginning to get light enough to see.

Trail to Lower Calf Creek Falls Grand Staircase Escalante Utah

We began our hike very early.

The Lower Calf Creek Falls Trail goes along Calf Creek. After passing through areas where very thick and tall underbrush not only surrounded us but rose above us on all sides, the trail emerged alongside a fabulous rock wall that was naturally striped with desert varnish.

Hiking to Lower Calf Creek Falls Grand Staircase Escalante Utah

Enormous cliffs covered with the vertical striping of “desert varnish”

Gradually, in places, the sun began to rise, and we found ourselves amid beautiful red rock formations.

Hike to Lower Calf Creek Falls Grand Staircase Escalante Utah

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The trail cut across open grasslands.

Hiking trail to Lower Calf Creek Falls Grand Staircase Escalante Utah

Sun and shadow on Lower Calf Creek Falls.

And then it wandered across wide flat expanses of red rocks.

Lower Calf Creek Falls Grand Staircase Escalante Utah Hike

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Birds were singing in the underbrush down by the creek, and at our feet we saw little lizards scurrying around.

Lizard Lower Calf Creek Falls Grand Staircase Escalante Utah

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The canyon walls surrounding Calf Creek towered above us, and a lush valley of thick green vegetation grew along the banks of the creek.

Hike Lower Calf Creek Falls Grand Staircase Escalante Utah

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Finally, after three miles of walking, we emerged at Lower Calf Creek Falls.

Waterfall Lower Calf Creek Falls Grand Staircase Escalante Utah

Lower Calf Creek Falls, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.

This is a fabulous waterfall that plunges straight down from a notch in the cliffs above, forming a narrow vertical stream of water.

Hustling out on the trail before sunrise had ensured that when we got to Calf Creek Falls we were the only people there.

Waterfall of Lower Calf Creek Falls Grand Staircase Escalante Utah

The waterfall plunges into a pool at its base.

So we did the thing you just have to do in scenic places these days and we got a selfie!

Lower Calf Creek Falls Grand Staircase Escalante Utah

Towering canyon walls and their waterfall embrace us on the sandy beach.

How fabulous it was to have the entire place to ourselves and to be able to play with the waterfall’s reflections in pools and puddles along the sandy beach.

Lower Calf Creek Falls Grand Staircase Escalante Utah

Reflections…

Lower Calf Creek Falls Grand Staircase Escalante Utah

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Gradually, the sun rose higher in the sky, lighting the upper parts of waterfall and the rocky walls.

Waterfall reflection Lower Calf Creek Falls Grand Staircase Escalante Utah

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Sunrise on Waterfall Lower Calf Creek Falls Grand Staircase Escalante Utah

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And then bright sunshine lit up the entire waterfall and we stepped back into the shadows of the natural arch formed by trees over the creek downstream.

Shadows Lower Calf Creek Falls Grand Staircase Escalante Utah

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As the sun shone brighter and brighter, gradually illuminating the trees that seemed to be kneeling in reverence at the base of this magnificent waterfall, hikers began to trickle in from the trail. What an incredible view greeted them!

Sunshine waterfall Lower Calf Creek Falls Grand Staircase Escalante Utah

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Eventually, we were ready to hike back out again, and we began to traverse the slabs of red rocks.

Hike to Lower Calf Creek Falls Grand Staircase Escalante Utah

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The scenery was exotic…

Red rocks Lower Calf Creek Falls Grand Staircase Escalante Utah

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And we were joined on the trail by lots of other hikers.

Hikers Lower Calf Creek Falls Trail Grand Staircase Escalante Utah

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We noticed beautiful wildflowers growing here and there. Some were trailside down by our feet…

Wildflowers Lower Calf Creek Falls Grand Staircase Escalante Utah

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And others looked out across the lush creek valley at the enormous cliffs on the other side.

Wildflowers hike Lower Calf Creek Falls Grand Staircase Escalante Utah

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For RVers that have an RV with a strong engine, an RV trip on Utah’s Scenic Byway 12 is an absolute must, along with a hike to Lower Calf Creek Falls.

RV campground Lower Calf Creek Falls Grand Staircase Escalante Utah

Calf Creek campground has some very cool campsites in the red rocks.

The BLM’s Calf Creek Campground is a fabulous place to camp for small and medium sized RVs. Bigger RVs can find a nice spot to stay in RV parks that are in the towns along the way. There are links below.

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Bryce Canyon National Park – Fairyland Trail – A Beautiful Hike!

September 2016 – Bryce Canyon National Park knocked our socks off at the main overlooks of Inspiration Point and the Rim Trail, where we shared our awe with thousands of other visitors. But a foray out onto the Fairyland Trail from Fairyland Point gave us a wonderful feeling of solitude and peace.

Hoodoos Fairyland Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

Looking down at Fairyland from the rim of Bryce Canyon

Driving into Bryce Canyon National Park, Fairyland Trail is the very first left-hand turn-off, and it comes up quickly, right after the Bryce Canyon National Park entrance sign and before the fee station.

Dawn Fairyland Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

Spires in Fairyland Canyon.

During our visit, one of the reasons this trail may have been so little visited is that there was no sign at the turn-off for people driving into the Park!! We zipped right by it on our first drive in.

Flowers at Fairyland Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

Wildflowers at sunrise.

We first visited the Fairyland Trail in the wee hours of the night to do some star gazing. It was an incredible experience that was both eerie and awe-inspiring.

After navigating the trail with flashlights in the pitch dark, it was quite an eye-opener to hike the Fairyland Trail by day and see what it actually looked like, minus the stars!

Fairyland Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

The beginning of the trail leading down into Fairyland Canyon

At the outset, the Fairyland Trail promptly descends into the depths of Bryce Canyon, and we walked between delightful spires and hoodoos that rose up around us.

Hike Fairyland Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

Hikers slip between the hoodoos as they descend into Fairyland.

After a few twists and turns, the views opened up with rows of hoodoos close at hand and cliffs in the distance.

Hike at Fairyland Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

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Turret formations Fairyland Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

White and pink pinnacles.

Hiking Fairyland Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

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The far south end of Bryce Canyon at Rainbow Point is home to a collection of ancient Bristlecone Pines. However, a few of these gnarly trees reach out over the Fairyland Trail too!

Bristlecone Pine on Fairyland Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

A Bristlecone Pine defies gravity and hangs out over the hiking trail.
What a way to spend a few centuries!

Bristlecone Pine Fairyland Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

Hanging on by a thread!

We started our hike shortly after sunrise, and we were utterly alone on the trail for the first two hours.

Fairyland Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

The trail snakes its way through Fairyland Canyon.

We are slow hikers these days, because our cameras are very demanding, and they insist that we stop every few feet to take yet another photo! But we gradually passed through both wooded areas and beautiful open areas too.

Trees and walls Fairyland Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

The woods were thick in spots.

Red rock walls Fairyland Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

Red rock walls frame our view.

As we got deeper into the canyon, the pinnacles rose higher.

Hoodoos and trees Fairyland Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

Hoodoos clustered on one side of the trail.

Hoodoos and spires Fairyland Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

Towering spires…

The red rocks are mostly a burnt orange kind of hue, but in certain places we found a rainbow of sandstone colors.

Colorful hoodoos Fairyland Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

Shades of pink…

Pink orange hoodoos Fairyland Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

…and shades of yellow too

Finally we came across some other hikers on the trail. They were coming from the other trail head for Fairyland Trail near the center of Bryce Canyon and had been enjoying total solitude on their hike as well.

Fairyland Trail Hike Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

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The Fairyland Trail is an 8 mile loop with one trail head near Sunrise Point and North Campground in the heart of Bryce Canyon’s visitor area and the other trail head, where we started, by the Park entrance.

After following the Fairyland Trail through the canyon, you can return to your starting point by hiking on the Rim trail from one trail head to the other.

Hiking Fairyland Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

Hoo dat in da hoodoos?

Or, in the summertime when the free shuttle bus is running, you can leave your car (if you drive into the Park) at one trail head, hike the loop to the other trail head, and then catch the shuttle back to your parked car and skip hiking the Rim Trail portion.

Beautiful Fairyland Trail Hike Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

What a view.

Glowing hoodoos Fairyland Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

A little closer.

One of the things we found really intriguing on our hike was all the dead and denuded ponderosa pine trees. Each one had a fascinating twisted wood grain like a candy cane that was clearly visible without the bark on the tree.

It made me wonder if, when they were alive and growing, the trees loved their surroundings so much that they continually turned around and around so they could take in the views in every direction!

Spiral wood grain ponderosa pine Fairyland Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

Spiraling wood grain of a dead ponderosa pine tree.
Did it turn as it grew to see the views in every direction?

Hikers we met on the trail told us a tour guide had explained to them that Ponderosa pines spiral spontaneously and instantly when they are hit by lightning!

This sounded a little far-fetched to me, so I poked around online and discovered that the current theory of why the ponderosa pines have a twisting wood grain is actually because it helps distribute water across the full breadth of the tree. By spiraling as they grow, each root can supply water to the entire tree. If one root dies, the impact on the health of the tree is minimized.

In addition, the angle of the spiraling turn of the wood grain is such that the tree can be as supple as possible and bend without breaking as it withstands high winds and heavy snow.

If you enjoy mathematics and mechanics, here is an interesting paper from the University of Utah that explains the theory in lots of detail: Why Grain in Trees’ Trunks Spirals

Along with the twisted wood grain in the dead ponderosas, we were equally fascinated to find some Abstract Art on another tree trunk where some worms or bark beetles had etched an elaborate pattern.

Wood carving Fairyland Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

Nature’s wood carving is a work of art!

As we hiked and the sun rose higher, the red rock formations began to take on an ethereal glow.

Windows Fairyland Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

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We got down to the base level of the hoodoos, and the pinnacles soared to immense heights.

Size of scale Fairyland Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

A tree is dwarfed by a stone pinnacle.

Magic Fairyland Point Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

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Even though we had completed a good portion of the Fairyland Trail loop hike, we decided to turn around and retrace our steps. On our return trip, all of the views we had enjoyed all morning had a slightly different look now that we were in the light of midday.

Glowing spires Fairyland Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

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If you plan to take your RV to Bryce Canyon National Park and you have time to do some of the less visited hikes, Fairyland Trail is really rewarding, and early in the morning you will have the trail to yourself!

Hiking Fairyland Trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

Hikers on the Fairyland Trail.

There are links for planning an RV trip to Bryce Canyon below.

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The Crack at Wet Beaver Creek (Bell Trail Hike), Sedona, AZ

March 2016 – We really enjoyed mountain biking the Bell Rock Pathway during our RV travels to Sedona, Arizona, and one day we got chatting with young neighbors in an RV nearby about where the good mountain biking and hiking spots were around Sedona. They knew the area really well and asked if we’d ever been to The Crack at Wet Beaver.

Mark raised an eyebrow.

“No, no, not that!” They said. “It’s a really cool gorge on Wet Beaver Creek. It’s a great hike, and if you take your bathing suits you can swim there!”

Bell Trail Hike to Wet Beaver Creek The Crack Sedona Arizona

“The Crack” at Wet Beaver Creek

The next morning dawned sunny and warm, so we took off on the Bell Trail to hike into the Wet Beaver Creek Wilderness to find this infamous Crack.

Beginning Bell Trail Hike Sedona AZ

The beginning of the Bell Trail hike into the Wet Beaver Creek Wilderness goes through open grassland.

The Bell Trail is named for Charles Bell who built the trail in 1932 for moving cattle, and a sign at the trailhead indicates it is still used for that purpose today. It is about 3.5 miles from the trailhead to The Crack. The trail goes deeper into the Wilderness, but we figured 7 miles out and back was plenty for one day.

At the beginning, we hiked through open grasslands and under a canopy of trees alongside Wet Beaver Creek. After about two miles, we came across a red rock cliff soaring into the sky with a tree on top.

Hiking the Bell Trail Hike Sedona AZ

A red rock cliff with a tree on top juts into the sky

For the next mile or so we walked through gorgeous red rock scenery as the trail hung onto the edges of bright orange hillsides and zig-zagged under exotic red rock formations.

Hiking Bell Trail Sedona Arizona

How’s that for a cool trail?!

We were hiking in the morning, and the sun felt good on our skin, but later in the day this desert landscape would become very hot.

Bell Trail Hike Sedona Arizona

Desert plants, like ocotillo cactus and prickly pear, abound.

We could hear the sound of rushing water ahead of us, and soon we saw the creek splashing noisily over river rocks to our right. What a nice spot for a picnic!

Bell Trail Hike to Wet Beaver Creek Sedona Arizona

We stopped for lunch in a quiet spot where the water rushed over river rocks.

The whole area was filled with leafless deciduous trees that must bring true magic to the landscape in the fall. And what a great spot to do some flowing water photography!

Bell Trail Wet Beaver Creek Sedona Arizona

Wet Beaver Creek polishes the rocks in its path.

We hiked just a little futher on and suddenly the landscape opened up to massive shelves of boulders stepping down to sheer cliffs that plunged into the water below. This was The Crack!

View Wet Beaver Creek The Crack Sedona Arizona

“The Crack” is like a red rock quarry with huge flat slabs of sandstone and water far below.

Our friends had described crystal clear water that was a lovely shade of blue, but the creek was running fast from the snow melt and had swelled so much that lots of debris had been stirred up as the water tumbled down from the mountains. The water was murky and filled with foam from the crashing waterfalls upstream.

This made for some neat slo-mo photos!

Swirls Wet Beaver Creek The Crack Sedona Arizona

The fast moving water from the snow melt created cool foam swirls

The Crack is a stunning spot that is so unexpected in the dry dusty desert.

Hike to Wet Beaver Creek The Crack Sedona AZ

The canyon walls were steep and the surface of the water was foamy!

The huge flat boulders are really inviting, and we scrambled around on them for quite a while.

Wet Beaver Creek The Crack Sedona AZ

I just love that tree growing out of the crack in the rocks.

Photography at Wet Beaver Creek The Crack

This little oasis was such a surprise after the dusty, dry hike to get here.

We had the place to ourselves. Other than the distant sound of rushing water, it was quiet and still.

Hike to Wet Beaver Creek The Crack Sedona Arizona

We had the place to ourselves…for the moment!

I ventured out onto a cool looking precipice hanging out over the water and Mark got my photo.

Diving platform Wet Beaver Creek The Crack Sedona Arizona

Little did I know that this is a favorite diving platform!

Suddenly, we heard voices coming down the trail. Two young couples appeared and set up beach towels right on that same rock precipice I’d been standing on and then stripped down to their bathing suits to get a tan.

“Are you going to jump in?” One girl in a bikini asked me.

I looked down at the murky water doubtfully. Diving into the its depths had not been on my agenda today!

Sunbathing Wet Beaver Creak The Crack Sedona Arizona

Sunbathers stretch out on the diving rock.

Then, I watched in amazement as she made her way down to a lower rock and jumped in. Brrr!! Then the other girl did the same.

“The water’s great!” They yelled out to me.

Well, I was happier taking photos of them than swimming, so I let them have all the fun in the water while I stayed warm and dry on shore.

They debated jumping off the rock precipice where they’d laid their beach towels, but because they couldn’t see the bottom — which they said you usually can — they decided not to. You never know what kind of submerged log might be lurking just below the surface.

Flying leap Wet Beaver Creek The Crack Sedona AZ

The water was too murky to dive from the upper rock, but this intrepid gal jumped in from lower down.

The bathing beauties climbed out of the water using a rope that someone had secured in the rock, and they settled in on their beach towels for a while.

We left them and began to make our way back along Bell Trail. The trail had gotten really busy, and we were amazed that the silence of the early morning was completely gone now, shattered by the continual voices and footsteps of other hikers making their way to The Crack on this warm Friday afternoon.

A snort and a whinny up ahead alerted us to horseback riders coming down the trail. What a neat sighting at the end of a very enjoyable hike.

Horseback riding Bell Trail Sedona Arizona

A pair of horseback riders greeted us on the trail going back.

If you spend some time in Sedona, whether you travel there by RV or some other means, a hike on Bell Trail to The Crack at Wet Beaver Creek is a really nice change of pace. More info and links below.

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Paria Rimrocks “Toadstools” Hike to A Hidden Canyon!

Fields of wildflowers in Southern Utah

OMG – When we’re not looking, we come across a gorgeous field
of wildflowers bursting with color!

May, 2014 – All spring we had deliberately searched for wildflowers in Arizona, using the excellent book Wild Arizona as a guide.

We had driven down crazy back roads and hiked into the hinterlands, stalking these colorful little beauties.

We had found lots of pretty flowers scattered here and there, but the vast fields of color we’d hoped for never materialized. Continue reading

Wire Pass Trail – Slot Canyon Hiking!

Wire Pass Slot Canyon view from outside

The slot canyon is barely visible from the outside.

May, 2014 – The beautiful red rocks and views of Sedona, Arizona, are utterly enchanting, but the exotic Vermillion Cliffs two hundred miles north lured us away.

We have driven past the fantastically colored rock walls along routes 89 and 89A between Page, Arizona, and Kanab, Utah, many times in the past.

However, this time we stopped for a while to explore the area in a little more depth. Continue reading

Sedona Reflections on the West Fork Trail

West Fork hike Sedona AZ

Beautiful reflections on the West Fork Trail

May, 2014 – Sedona, Arizona, is an outdoor lover’s paradise.  Not only were we thrilled (and challenged) by the wonderful mountain biking in the area, but the hiking was incredible too.

The only problem we had was figuring out which hikes to do! Continue reading

Sedona – Mountain biking in the red rocks!

Mountain bikes at Bell Rock Oak Creek AZ

Ready to Ride!!

May, 2014 – Sedona, Arizona, is a mountain biking mecca, and our friend Marcel, whom we met during our winter stay in Phoenix, and who inspired us to take up this sport, was eager to get us out on the trails.

The mountain biking in Sedona is scenic, dramatic and thrilling — but we soon found out that it is far from easy!

There is only one trail in the main system of in-town trails — the Bell Rock Pathway — that is truly for beginners, and we happily rode up and down that 3.5 mile path many times. Continue reading

Red Canyon Utah is an Overlooked Treasure

RV blog post - Red Canyon, Utah, is easy to miss, but  the hiking trails, bike path, hoodoos and spectacular views worthy of an extended stay.

Red Canyon Tunnel

Red Canyon, Utah, bike path.

Bike path through Red Canyon

Red Canyon, Utah, bike path.

The bike path is almost 9 miles long.

Red Canyon, Utah, bike path. Camped outside Red Canyon, Utah. Afternoon rainbow outside Bryce Canyon, Utah

Afternoon rainbow.

Morning visitors outside Bryce Canyon, Utah

Early morning visitor.

Red Canyon visitors center, Utah.

View from the Red Canyon visitors center.

Red Canyon hoodoos.

Hoodoos.

Red Canyon peekaboo arch.

A peephole on Pink Ledges Trail.

Views on Pink Ledges Trail, Red Canyon, Utah.

Burnt orange and forest green

backed by blue sky are the

colors of Red Canyon

Views on Pink Ledges Trail, Red Canyon, Utah.

Pink Ledges Trail.

Hoodoos on Pink Ledges Trail, Red Canyon, Utah. A storm approaches on Pink Ledges Trail, Red Canyon, Utah.

Storms roll in every afternoon.

Hoodoos on Pink Ledges Trail, Red Canyon, Utah remind us of Easter Island heads.

Utah's red rock answer to

Easter Island.

Bryce Canyon Rim Run - 5 miles of racing fun.

Bryce Canyon

Rim Run.

Wildflower at Red Canyon, Utah. Hikers headed to Bryce Canyon.

Ken and Marcia Powers,

exceptional long distance hikers.

The scenic road through Red Canyon, Utah.

The road through Red Canyon.

Bird's Eye View Trail in Red Canyon, Utah. Bird's Eye View Trail in Red Canyon, Utah.

Bird's Eye View Trail.

Hoodoos on Bird's Eye View Trail in Red Canyon, Utah. Tunnel Trail in Red Canyon, Utah.

Tunnel Trail.

Horses on the Red Canyon bike path, Utah. Mormon hand-cart in Panguitch, Utah.

Mormon hand-cart in Panguitch.

Quilt Walk Statue in Panguitch, Utah.

Mark helps commemorate the Quilt Walk.

Downtown Panguitch, Utah.

Downtown Panguitch.

Historic brick pioneer homestead, Panguitch, UT

Historic brick pioneer

homestead.

Cowboy Cafe Steakhouse -- a historic jail ? -- in Panguitch, UT

Perhaps the site of the

infamous jail.

Ebenezer Bryce's cabin in Tropic, Utah.

Home of Ebenezer Bryce, of "Bryce's Canyon."

Storms approach Arches Trail in Red Canyon, Utah.

Storms approach Arches Trail.

The first big arch along Arches Trail in Red Canyon, UT

Our one and only arch sighting.

Red Canyon, Utah

Late August, 2011 - We were on a roll uncovering the many gems that make up

America's finest crown jewels in Southern Utah.  Leaving Cedar Breaks, we pointed

the truck down the hill towards Red Canyon.  Most people on this road are headed to

the more famous Bryce Canyon National Park which lies just a little further on, and few

are aware that their path will cut right through the fabulous rock formations of Red

Canyon on their way there.  It's amusing to watch the steady stream of international

tourists flying through this five mile stretch of road, because as soon as they get into

Red Canyon the car windows fly open and heads pop out as the driver swerves into

the nearest pullout.  It is that beautiful.

We did that too, years ago.  And just like

everyone else, each time we have been back to

Bryce we've breezed through Red Canyon

without sticking around long enough to see it up

close.  All we had ever seen was the fantastic

paved bike path that weaves through the canyon

walls for almost 9 miles of spectacular riding.

Years ago we had ridden this

path when the bright blue

lupines were in bloom, but

this year we came later in the

season and the color

trimming the red rock views

was bright yellow.

There is a delightful little

campground in Red

Canyon where we had

camped in a tent long

ago.  It was there, in the

rain (which comes every

afternoon in July and

August), that we decided to get a trailer.  While we were shivering and running around

looking for indoor activities during the rain, we saw people kicking back in their RVs as

snug as little bugs in rugs.  Within two weeks of returning to Phoenix we had purchased

our first pop-up tent trailer and pickup truck.

This time we found a spot to

camp nearby and watched

the afternoon monsoon

clouds build and swirl  The

sky would go from bright blue

in the morning to almost

black in the afternoon, and then

huge raindrops would fall.

Sometimes we were blessed with

a rainbow.

One morning we woke to the

sound of cows mooing, and a small herd walked into a

corral nearby and hung out for a while, as if they were

waiting for the rancher and his truck to show up and take

them to market.

Red Canyon boasts many hiking trails, but some of

the best are short ones right outside the visitor

center.

Pink Ledges Trail took us on a winding, narrow path

partway up the canyon walls.  It led us back into a

vivid red backdrop of craggy rocks decorated with

rich green trees and then wound back out again

towards some hoodoos.

As usual, a storm was gathering in the

distance, and the sky got darker and

darker.  The hoodoos -- humanlike,

almost sculpted rock formations --

resembled the giant heads of Easter

Island.  But these were not crafted by

human hands and they glowed a rich

burnt orange.

We had found it extremely challenging to keep up any

kind of fitness regimen on the boat last winter, and as

soon as we got back to Phoenix, Mark had started

running everyday.  I was a little slower to get going,

but by the time we got to Red Canyon I had put my

running shoes on a few times.

Mark found out there was a 5 mile race at Bryce

Canyon, and before I had a chance to say, "How far?,"

there I was at the start line.  Luckily, the beginning of

the course wound along the edge of Bryce Canyon,

keeping my mind happily occupied with the views.  But when the route turned

away from the rim into the woods and continued uphill for over a mile all I could

think was, "Why did we start this exercise program at an altitude of 8,400 feet?"

Thrilled to have survived the race, we were

inspired to keep training.  One day I ran past

a couple walking down the road with walking

sticks and serious looking backpacks.  There

was nothing up the road for at least 30 miles,

so I had to stop running and find out where they had come from.  It

turns out they had walked 60 miles in the past three days to launch a

two month walking adventure.  They planned to hike through Bryce

Canyon into Utah's canyon country towards Page, Arizona where they

would arrive around Halloween.  Taking a breather at our trailer, they

told us their names were Ken and Marcia Powers and we discovered

they are celebrated hikers who have hiked not only the entire

Appalachian Trail and Pacific

Crest Trail but were the first

people to hike the entire cross-

country American Discovery Trail in one continuous hike

(it took 8 months).  They have done all this since they

retired 11 years ago.  "We didn't want to just sit at home,"

Marcia said.  They have logged thousands of miles of

other long distance hikes, and they chronicle their

adventures at http://www.GottaWalk.com.

We continued ticking off the short hikes around Red

Canyon, very self-conscious now that they were all just a

measly mile or so.  But they were spectacular.  The Bird's

Eye View hike goes up around the backside of the canyon

and the Tunnel Trail Hike follows a series of switchbacks

up a steep hill until it deposits you at a fantastic viewpoint

overlooking one of the tunnels spanning the main road.

Taking a break from the red rocks, we

ventured into the nearby town of

Panguitch.  A small city park

celebrates the town's mormon pioneer

history, and a hand-cart in the park

reminded us that whole groups of

people of all ages, some pulling hand-

carts, walked across this country

years ago to settle Utah.

Those pioneers were tough folk.  In 1864 the new mormon settlers in Panguitch

were starving, and seven men set out to cross the snow-covered mountains to

get supplies from Parowan some 40 miles away over a steep pass.  Unable to

make progress in the deep snow, they threw out a quilt and gathered on it to

pray.  Noticing the quilt supported their weight in the soft snow, they began

laying quilts out ahead and walking across them.  Amazingly, they walked all the

way to Parowan and back this way, lugging heavy loads of flour with them on

the return trip.  Mark decided to help out the commemorative Quit Walk statue

with his quilt.

The downtown

area of Panguitch

is listed on the National

Register of Historic Places, and

I had a walking tour map that

pointed out certain historic

homes and buildings.  The jail

intrigued me, but the location

on the map didn't correlate with

any buildings.

I began asking around, and

ended up on a wild goose chase as one shopkeeper sent me

to the next and I finally ended up with a group of little old white

haired ladies "who know all the history of this town."  My jail

query started quite a discussion among them, but not one was

sure where this jail was or might have been.  "It's down by your

house," one woman said.  "A jail by my house?  No, it was at

the other end of town…"  We were all laughing by the time I

left, but apparently this historic jail in this historic town had

slipped from historic memory.  Making one last stop at

Cowboy's Steakhouse Cafe on my way

out of town, the bartender said

thoughtfully, "Well, this building used to

be a jail.  I think what you're looking for

is right here."

An easier landmark to find was in the

town of Tropic in the opposite direction

past Bryce Canyon.  Back in the

mid-1870's, Ebenezer Bryce built a road through the woods leading to

a pink cliff canyon to make timber more accessible for the settlers of

the area.  The amphitheater of red rock at the end of his road became

known as "Bryce's Canyon," even though he moved to Arizona just a

few years later.  His wee home is on display in Tropic.  Poking our

heads inside the tiny door, I couldn't imagine what winters were like for

a real family of full-sized people living in such a dollhouse.

Ready for one last blast of red rocks, we checked out Arches Trail at

the edge of Red Canyon.  This trail boasts 15 arches, although a

couple completing the hike as we arrived said they had found only

five.  We charged up the path, quickly deciding that this was by far the

best hike of them all.  The path twists and turns as it climbs, and each

view is more enchanting than the last.  We spotted an arch and

rushed up to it just as a huge thunder-boomer rumbled and lightning

flashed in the distance.

In no time at all the sky went black.  We saw a cave in the distance

and hatched a plan to go hide in the cave until the rain ended.

What a terrific adventure that would be!  But we couldn't find a

path to the cave, so we ran back to the truck instead.

Unfortunately, the rain wasn't the kind that would blow over any

time soon, and we were leaving Red Canyon next day, so when

we drove away from Arches Trail we realized we were leaving

most of it for a future visit to Red Canyon.  But at least we now

know it is a hike that is well worth doing!

We hustled south along I-15 making stops for the Iron County Fair in Parowan, Utah and the Interbike bicycle trade show in Las

Vegas, Nevada, and we finally landed in Williams, Arizona on famous Route 66.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cedar Breaks National Monument in Utah – Better Than Bryce?

RV blog post - at Cedar Breaks National Monument  we found the sweeping views, soaring red rock pinnacles and spectacular wildflowers truly awe-inspiring.

Sweeping views at Cedar Breaks.

Stunning views at Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah Fluffy clouds at Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

Fluffy clouds drifted above us.

Beautiful vistas at Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

Happy campers.

Red rock views at Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah Red rock hoodoos and arches at Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

Red rock hoodoos with arches.

Spectra Point Trail, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

The trail winds through lush

greenery.

Columbine at Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

Columbines.

Red indian paintbrush wildflowers at Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

Indian paintbrush.

Chipmunk eating bluebells at Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

A chipmunk nibbles bluebells.

Indian paintbrush wildflowers wave at the view at Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah,

"Place where the rocks are sliding

down all the time."

Wildflowers and red rock views, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah Spectra Point, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

Spectra Point.

1,600 year old bristlecone pine tree, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

1,600 year old bristlecone pine tree.

gnarled old bristlecone pine tree, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

Gnarled old fellas.

Young fawn at Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

A young fawn looks up as we pass.

Chessmen overlook, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

Chessmen Overlook.

North View Overlook, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

North View Lookout.

Wildflowers, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

Cedar Breaks is known for

wildflowers.

Wild lavender daisies at Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah Bluebells, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah Lupine, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah Columbine, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah Lupines, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah Red Indian Paintbrush at Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah Purple daisies and pine cones at Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah Wildflowers, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah Redrock views through dead trees at Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

Redrocks through the trees.

Red rock vistas, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

Millions of years old, the canyon weathers all.

Stunning views at Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah Alpine Pond Loop Trail goes through thick lush green vegetation in Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

Thick green carpet on the Alpine Pond

Loop Trail.

Alpine Pond, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

Alpine Pond.

Nature's graffiti - worm-eaten wood - Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

Nature's graffiti.

The Upper Loop of the Alpine Pond Trail, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

The Upper Loop wanders through a meadow.

Colorful wildflowers, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

Colorful wildflowers.

Wild strawberry at Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

Wild strawberry.

Chessmen at Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

Last glimpse of the red rocks.

Reflections on the Alpine Pond Loop Trail at Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

Reflections on the Alpine Pond Trail.

Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

Mid-August, 2011 - Visiting Cedar Breaks National

Monument was the main reason we came to Dixie National

Forest but, sidetracked by caves and canyons, it took us a

while to get there.  Vastly overshadowed by nearby Zion,

Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon National Parks, a lot of

folks are like us and only hear about it from a ranger or

other traveler once they get to this area.  Years ago we had

stopped by for an hour on a quickie drive-by.  This time we

wanted to hike the two hikes and see the canyon up close.

Perched nearly in the clouds at 10,350' elevation, the wildflower-lined

winding road seemed to climb forever before we got to the park.

Intrigued by the sign for the Spectra Point overlook in the parking lot,

we went straight up that path when we arrived, not knowing we were

venturing out on a 2-mile round-trip hike.

WIthin minutes we were staring at a wonderland of red rock spires

and hoodoos.  The puffy clouds floated by above us, casting

shadows across the red rock "amphitheater."  Red, pink, white and

orange rocks in crazy shapes filled the view in all directions, and

bristly pine trees speckled the distant cliffs

The trail wanders along the rim of

the canyon, weaving in and out of

lush greenery.  There are no railings

or gates to obstruct the view, and

we felt as though we were

suspended above an orange

fairytale town.

Wildflowers bloomed alongside the

trail:  white columbines and red

indian paintbrush flowers begged to

be photographed.

A little chipmunk

sat contentedly in

a thicket of

bluebells and ate

them for lunch.

We made very little forward progress as we kept stopping to take in the views,

admire the colorful wildflowers and chat with other people on the trail.

Many people were at the canyon that day somewhat by

accident, as it hadn't been on their original itinerary.  One

fellow had had car trouble while visiting Zion and Bryce and

had asked the mechanic how to keep his family entertained

while waiting for the several-day repairs to be completed.

"Go to Cedar Breaks!"  He was so happy to have discovered

this park; his kids were running ahead of him down the path,

excited to get to the overlook.

A 1,600 year old

bristlecone pine

tree stands near the

end of Spectra

Point, thriving in a barren, windwhipped and

hopelessly exposed spot.  The wood is striated

beautiful shades of orange and brown, and a few

scraggly branches prove to the world that the

seemingly lifeless giant is truly alive and well.

The sun felt warm on our skin as we walked,

but the brisk wind that swept across the

canyon was a sharp reminder of just how

cold this area can be.  A ranger told us that

the park usually gets 15' of snow each winter,

but last winter was buried 30 feet deep.

On our way back we noticed a doe eating the flowers, and then

behind her we saw her fawn.

As we drove out of the park we stopped at Chessmen overlook

and the North View Lookout.  Stunning.  Amazing.  It's impossible to find words to

describe the vastness, the vivid color, the exotic contours and shapes of this beautiful

land.

Earlier residents of this area were the Paiute Indians, and they named the canyon, "Place

where the rocks are sliding down all the time."  After that the Spanish explorers

misidentified the juniper trees as cedars (much as they did on Isla Cedros off of Mexico's

Baja Pacific coast).  The word "breaks" refers to the steep, eroded landscape.

Cedar Breaks is known as much for its glorious wildflower

displays as it is for its majestic red rock amphitheater.

We returned on another day to hike

the Alpine Pond Loop Trail, and

found ourselves snapping shots of

the many brilliant wildflowers before

we even got to the trailhead.

Lupines and daisies and a myriad of

other flowers lay thickly on the green

brush surrounding the trail.  The hum

of bees and mosquitos was very loud

too, and the lush land seemed to be

teeming with life.

Oddly, the forest of tall pine trees shading the

wildflowers is largely dead.  In past years the

energetic National Forest Service extinguished all

wildfires within hours of them starting.  The result was

an unhealthy forest dominated by one species of tree.

Those trees provided the most awesome feast for the

bark beetles that like to eat them, and in the past

decade the beetles have munched their way through

the woods, transforming the living pine

canopy into a pin-cushion of dead trunks and

branches.

Between the dead branches you can glimpse

the red rock canyon, however.  The spires,

nooks and crannies of that spectacular

landscape are utterly impervious to the

comings and goings of trees upon the

surface.

Eventually we arrived at the alpine

pond.  It wasn't the crystal clear kind

of lake we have seen at Yosemite

and other places, but it had its

charm.

Some of the dead tree

trunks had been carved

by Nature's graffiti

artists -- little worms

made all kinds of

patterns in the wood.

We had started on

the Lower Trail

which is lush and

green and closed-

in feeling.  We

returned on the

Upper Trail which

takes the hiker out

across a wide

meadow filled with

flowers.  The peak of the wildflower

season in Cedar Breaks is the final weeks

of July and perhaps the first week of

August.  We were a little behind the peak,

so the blanket wasn't quite as thick with

color.  But it was plenty

beautiful enough for me.

Mark has a green thumb

and cultivated strawberries

at one time, so he instantly

recognized the shape of

wild strawberry leaves

among the other greens.

"Strawberries!"  He cried,

and then he spotted a beautiful tiny red ripe one, about a half inch

across.  We left it for whatever bird or bunny might come that way.

The trail gave us one final glimpse of the red

rocks of Cedar Breaks and then we were

back at the truck.

Mark's parting shot was the reflection he saw

in my sunglasses.  He came up to me really

close and said, "Oh, that looks really cool!"  I

thought he was sweeping in for a kiss, but

suddenly he stopped, put his camera up and

snapped a picture.  I made a face at him,

and then, being a romantic, he swooped in

for a real kiss.

Looking for more red rock adventure and a slightly lower altitude, we wandered 30 miles or so north along the incomparably

scenic Route 89 to the Red Canyon area.