Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park – Shape Shifting in the Sand!

October, 2017 – During our stay in the area around Kanab, Utah, we took a day trip to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. Just like the name of the park, this is an area that is filled with sand dunes that are vibrant hues of orange, pink and coral, depending on the light.

Shadows on Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park Utah RV trip-min

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Utah

In the distance there were soft, gentle mounds of sand that caught the late afternoon shadows in their grasp.

Rolling dunes Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park Utah RV trip-min

Rolling dunes.

On the edges of the dunes lots of determined vegetation clung to life in the arid land.

Sand patterns Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park Utah RV trip-min

Ragged plants eek out a life in the sand.

Weed Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park Utah RV trip-min

A tiny plant is half buried by sand.

We even spotted a beautiful yellow wildflower that was blooming on a scraggly bush. The wind was whipping and the flower was dancing all around, but for a split second the wind stopped and we got a photo of this one lone flower.

Wildflowers Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park Utah RV trip-min

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As we looked down at the orange sand, we saw footprints from all kinds of creatures.

Bird tracks Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park Utah RV trip-min

Who went there?

Then the dunes opened up before us and they were virgin and pure, showing only the traces of the wind that had left the sand rippled.

Ripples in sand Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park Utah RV trip-min

Virgin sand.

This is dune buggy and side-by-side heaven, and the tracks from these machines were visible here and there.

Wheel tracks Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park Utah RV trip-min

Lots of folks come here to ride their buggies in the dunes.

But it was the naturally patterned sand that caught our eyes. We felt like we were the first explorers on the moon as we looked back and saw our tracks in the wind kissed sand.

Footprints Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park Utah RV trip-min

First footprints.

Walking into the dunes Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park Utah RV trip-min

Big wide dunes.

If you enjoy photography, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is a great place to roam around and take pics!

Photography Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park Utah RV trip-min

Capturing the scene on camera.

Waves of sand Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park Utah RV trip-min-min

Waves of sand.

There’s something about a huge open expanse of sand that just begs for a personal imprint. This sand is very light and airy, so the best way to draw was with our feet. I looked up, and Mark was busy drawing something in the distance.

Drawing a heart Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park Utah RV trip-min

Mark creates a picture…

Drawing a heart in the sand Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park Utah RV trip-min

…and then walks on.

As I got closer I saw what it was…

Heart in the sand Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park Utah RV trip-min

A heart. How sweet!

The amazing thing about these dunes is that the wind never quits and the canvas landscape is forever being erased and made virgin once again.

One particular sweeping crest in the dunes had been attracting us since we first looked out on the vast sandscape.

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park Utah RV trip-min

Light and shadow on rolling hills of soft sand.

As we approached we could see that the wind was continually blowing its top off.

Blowing sand Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park Utah RV trip-min

The wind blows the sand off the top of the dune’s crest.

The Coral Pink Sand Dunes are continually shifting and moving as the wind pushes them, grain by grain, this way and that. The end result is persistent soft mounds and curves that can be tread by feet and wheels every day without ever bearing a permanent mark.

Blowing sand Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park Utah RV trip-min

A gust of wind blows a veil of sand off the dune.

Even as we walked back out of the dunes, we saw our own footprints had already begun to disappear. One grain at a time, the entire playground of dunes was shape shifting.

Soft sand dunes Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park Utah RV trip-min

Ever-changing dunes.

There is a ton to see and do near this part of Utah, including stunning Zion National Park, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon National Park, Cedar Breaks National Park, Red Canyon, the slot canyon at Wire Pass Trail, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Old Western Movie Sets and even watching the release of a golden eagle back into the wild.

Sand blows at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park Utah RV trip-min

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So when you see the sign for Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park whip by on the freeway, it can be all too easy to keep going and skip it, as we have many times. But if you are planning an RV trip to southern Utah, it’s very worthwhile to make the turn and go romp around in the dunes for a while!

RV motorhome drives through red rock scenery near Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Utah

When RVing in Southern Utah, don’t miss Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park!

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Johnson Canyon Movie Set – A Spooky Ghost Town – Happy Halloween!

October 2017 – We never know what we’ll see when we poke our head out of our trailer in the boondocks at night, especially near a ghost town out west. Around the end of October, things can get a little spooky!

Happy Halloween witch flies over the moon on a broomstick-min

Who’s that flying by?
(Our friend Bob spotted her – thank you!)

We were camping near Kanab, Utah, a place that was once known as “Little Hollywood” because so many western movies were shot there. Quite a few movie sets still remain in the area, and we explored the Johnson Canyon movie set.

Johnson Canyon movie set ghost town Kanab Utah-min

Visiting the movie set at Johnson Canyon made for a fun little adventure.

Johnson Canyon movie set ghost town Kanab UT-min

Episodes of the TV show Gunsmoke were shot on this set!

Camermen and casts from TV’s Gunsmoke and many other TV shows worked on this set for years. It’s hard to imagine the commotion and excitement of those glamorous days. Now the buildings are falling apart.

Movie set ghost town Johnson Canyon Kanab Utah-min

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Inside movie set ghost town Johnson Canyon Kanab Utah-min

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Many of the buildings have been removed since its heyday as a movie set, and the few that remain are very dilapidated.

Johnson Canyon movie set ghost town Kanab Utah-min

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Stormy skies ghost town at Johnson Canyon movie set Kanab Utah-min

Stormy skies and fast moving clouds added to the mysterious air of this abandoned ghost town.

What’s odd about this place is that even though it was never a real town, it is very much a ghost town today. A rusty old stove stands forlorn among the tall grasses and fallen walls lie against a brick chimney.

Johnson Canyon movie set ghost town Kanab Utah-min

Some scenes were shot inside, so there’s an old stove from the movie days rusting away in a field.

Chimney at Johnson Canyon movie set ghost town in Kanab Utah-min

Dilapidated walls lean against a lone brick chimney.

During our stay in the area, the nights were clear and crisp, and the full moon faded away. The bright stars of the Milky Way glittered in the sky all night long.

One night Mark announced that he was going to take his camera out to the movie set ghost town and see if he could get some cool and spooky pics. Sure enough, while I was snuggled under the blankets in the wee hours of the morning, he got some real winners!

Milky Way over Johnson Canyon movie set ghost town Kanab Utah-min

Mark braved the very cold night air to experience the ghouls and goblins of this ghost town under the stars.

Milky Way over Johnson Canyon movie set ghost town Kanab Utah-min

If the ghost town was alluring by day, it was even more so by night.

Using a small flashlight to “light paint” the buildings in the dark and a big one so he could get from building to building without tripping in the pitch dark, he captured the ghost town buildings at their most mysterious!

Ghost town at night Johnson Canyon movie set Kanab Utah-min

Haunted house.

Stars over ghost town Johnson Canyon movie set Kanab Utah-min

Very mysterious!

It was cold, and a light wind raised the hair on the back of his neck. Coyotes yelped in the distance. As he looked around, he saw pairs of eyes staring at him in the dark. A twig snapped in a tree next to him and he jumped!

Stars over ghost town at Johnson Canyon movie set near Kanab Utah-min

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Despite being a little unnerved, Mark’s camera captured one great image after another. The photo above won him “Photo of the Day” at Steve’s Digicam today! Check it out here!!

Milky Way over old cabin Johnson Canyon Utah-8

What ghouls and goblins are living there?

Milky Way over ghost town Johnson Canyon Kanab Utah-min

This is a spooky place at night!

It turned out the eyes belonged to cows that were milling around, but he still got the creeps. When he burst in the trailer door a few hours later, a rush of cold air followed him. He was grinning, but his teeth were chattering too. It’s scary out there!!

Fifth Wheel trailer RV under the milky way black and white-min

Happy Halloween!!

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RV travels in Utah

Here’s a few posts from southwestern Utah in particular:

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Zion National Park “West” RV Trip – Gorgeous Kolob Canyons!

October 2016 – Zion National Park in Utah is one of America’s most beautiful National Parks, and we were loving our RV trip to the main part of the park at Zion Canyon. A side trip to Kolob Canyons at Exit 40 on I-15 took us to a much less visited but equally dramatic area on the west side of the Park.

Kolob Canyons Road Scenic Drive Zion National Park Utah

Kolob Canyons Road is a spectacular scenic drive.

The stunning scenic drive through the Kolob Canyons region of the park is truly breathtaking.

We had been blown away by the fall foliage season on the San Juan Skyway in Colorado in late September where the aspen trees were cloaked in gold. Autumn comes four or five weeks later in Zion National Park, but the colors in the last days of October were wonderful.

Autumn Foliage Taylor Creek Trail Kolob Canyons Zion National Park Utah

The trees were vivid colors.

As we followed Kolob Canyons Road, Taylor Creek accompanied us. Hardwood trees along the edges of this thin trickle of water were resplendent in their fall colors.

Fall Foliage Taylor Creek Trail Kolob Canyons Zion National Park Utah

Fall foliage was at its peak in late October – Wow!

The red rock scenery was awe-inspiring too, with jagged cliffs towering in front of us and then surrounding us.

Fall Foliage Kolob Canyons Zion National Park Utah

Kolob Canyons

Autumn Leaves Kolob Canyons Zion National Park Utah

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There is no shuttle bus on Kolob Canyons Road, and there is very little traffic, especially in the early morning. We stopped at several pullouts to take a deep breath and savor the incredible views.

Scenic Drive Kolob Canyons Road Zion National Park Utah RV trip

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Kolob Canyons Visitor Center at the beginning of the scenic drive is at about 5,000′ elevation, and Kolob Canyons Road climbs about 1,000 feet to the Kolob Viewpoint at the end, about 5 miles down the road.

In comparison, Zion Canyon is at 4,000′ elevation.

So, there was a delicious mix of evergreens and deciduous hardwood trees that stand out against the red rock backdrop.

Kolob Canyons Red Rock Fall Foliage Zion National Park Utah

Fall foliage and red rocks – yum!

Red Rock Kolob Canyons Zion National Park Utah

Trees perched on outcroppings of the red rock cliffs.

Kolob Canyons is an awesome area for photography, and our cameras were going wild.

Photography Kolob Canyon Road Zion Canyon National Park RV Trip

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Some of the best fall colors seemed to be down along Taylor Creek, so we decided to hike the Taylor Creek Trail to see if we could immerse ourselves a little deeper in the fall foliage.

Taylor Creek Trail Kolob Canyons Zion National Park Utah RV trip

The Taylor Creek Trail headed right into the fall color.

Taylor Creek Trail was an easy hike that took us under lovely archways of colorful leaves.

 Fall Color Taylor Creek Hike Zion National Park Kolob Canyons

We walked under an arch of autumn color.

We had the trail almost entirely to ourselves as we walked into a wonderland of fall color.

Taylor Creek Trail hike Zion National Park Kolob Canyons

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Because the elevation in Kolob Canyons is slightly higher than in Zion Canyon, late October was the ideal time to see the autumn colors along this creek.

Autumn color Taylor Creek Hike Zion National Park Utah

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Red rocks autumn leaves Zion National Park Kolob Canyons

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Being there at the right time for beautiful colors was a nice surprise, because, over in Zion Canyon we had found we were just a little bit early. The best time for that part of the park is the first week of November.

Fall Color Taylor Creek Trail Kolob Canyons Zion National Park Utah

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Fall Foliage Kolob Canyons Zion National Park Utah

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The red rocks of the surrounding peaks of Kolob Canyons jutted into the brooding sky, adding a wonderful burnt orange to the brilliant shades of the trees around us.

Taylor Creek Hike Zion National Park Kolob Canyons

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We were just having too much fun with our cameras here!

Photography in Fall Colors Zion National Park Utah

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As is always the way when we go on a gorgeous hike with our cameras, we soon got separated as we each scrambled off the trail here and there to explore inviting and hidden spots. Mark found himeself surrounded by maple trees and had fun with their bright red leaves.

Maple Leaf and acorn from Zion Canyon

Fall comes to Zion National Park.

Who knew there were maple leaves in the red rock desert canyons of Southern Utah?!

Colorful autumn leaves Zion National Park Utah

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We spent many hours on Taylor Creek Trail and didn’t even make it to the end of the hike!

Autumn colors Taylor Creek Trail Hike Zion National Park Utah

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Keeping tabs with each with our two-way radios, we finally made our way back to our truck. When I got there I found Mark had put pretty fall leaves all over my seat!

Autumn leaves in a truck

I came back to our truck to find my seat covered with fall leaves — fun!

It is days like this that make our crazy lives in our trailer so special.

Zion National Park RV Trip Kolob Canyons

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For RVers heading to Zion National Park, the one hour drive from Zion Canyon around to the west entrance at Kolob Canyons is really worthwhile. There is a campground on the west side of the park that is designed for tent camping and is suitable for truck campers and very short Class C’s.

Camping Zion National Park Utah

A full moon rises at Zion.

There are links with more info and big rig RV parking ideas below.

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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

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Ground Squirrel Zion National Park Utah

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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

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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

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Full moon Zion National Park Utah

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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

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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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Kanab & Alton, UT – Whoa!!!

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Kanab and Alton, Utah

July 15-19 (and again August 21-26, 2008) - We left the cool pine

woods of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, and

descended into the flat, hot desert floor of Utah to the north.  Kanab,

Utah, is the only town of any size (pop. 3,800) between several

national parks:  Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce Canyon and Grand

Staircase Escalante.

It is a charming community tucked up against a row of red

rock mountains.  At this time of year the town is loaded with

rental RVs and foreignors.  Groups of Europeans were

caravaning in their rental RVs, hanging the flags of their

homelands off their radio antennas and in the back windows.

Our weeks in the woods at

the North Rim had emptied

our shelves completely, so

we stayed for a few days to

replenish everything.  We

were fortunate that the

monsoons were still very

active.  Even though Kanab is

at 4,900 feet elevation, it was

blazing hot in the sunshine.

The cloud cover and

downpours in the

afternoons kept us

from sweltering.

Kanab's city park

features beautiful

gardens and a brand

new huge swimming

pool and water slide

that was packed to the

gills with happy kids all

day.  While we strolled among the flowers, the park's longtime caretaker

described the boisterous family fun of the Mormon Pioneer Days that are

celebrated with an enormous city-wide barbecue in the park's barbecue pit.

Hundred of kids and families spread out on the grass on the July 24th

weekend to celebrate the unique heritage of the Mormons who settled

Utah with great purpose in the mid-1800's.

Behind the park, Squaw

Trail climbs up a canyon

to heights way above the

city, passing steep red

rock walls along the way.

We clambered up the trail,

shouting "hello" at the

tops of our lungs as the

trail took us ever deeper

into the canyon.  I have

never heard such a

perfect echo with such a long time delay.  As we

shouted, it was as though the canyon walls were

shouting back at us, each word enunciated with

absolute clarity.

The bird's eye view of Kanab from the top of the

cliffs was worth the sweat we lost getting there.  We

had often hiked similar trails around Phoenix in the

olden days, but this trail was unique because it was

utterly quiet.  We didn't pass one other person on

the entire trail.  From the top of the mountain we

could hear the town's internal workings below:  a

tractor in a distant field, a motorcycle rumbling down

the main street, kids playing ball in a back yard.

The air around us was perfectly still, and these quiet

murmurs from the town's streets drifted slowly up to

us on sun-drenched air currents.

The rocks were every

shade of orange and

red.  Some faces were

rainbow streaked, with

stripes formed over the

ages, offering a full

array of orange-hued

swirls and bands.  As

we climbed back down,

we found furnace-hot

rock faces were now

baking the spots where

there had been cool

shade during our ascent.  The beauty filled our senses, but this red rock

desert environment is unforgivingly harsh in the sun.

The road leading north

out of Kanab is

stunning, without being

showy.  Crowded in

among tourists and

locals hurrying along

this busy stretch of

road, I caught myself

gaping at the exotic

cliffs that lined its

edges.

Over eons, the darker hues of

some red rocks have dripped

lazily down the lighter colored

cliffs, leaving dribbled stains on

the rock face like an old paint can.

August 21, 2008 - We saw a small

road on the map leading away

from the highway to a dot marked

"Alton."  Accepting this open

invitation into the hinterlands, we

hoped no cars would want to

share the one-lane road with our

behemoth truck and trailer as we

approached the town.  We arrived

unscathed, but found ourselves

hopping out of the truck each time

the power lines crossed the road,

worried that the buggy would snag its

roof on the low-hanging wires.

Tucked away, far from anything, amid

farmlands that stretch as far as the

eye can see, this picturesque tiny

town charmed us with its "Whoa" stop

signs and warm welcome from

people working in their yards.

We asked a man in a cowboy hat

where we might find a place to park

for the night, and he suggested the town hall parking lot.  "Really?"  we asked.  "I'm the mayor,

and it's okay with me!"  Another fellow, Paul, set his shovel aside for over an hour to chat with us

about the town and its history.  He told us the mayor, Claren Heaton, was the great-grandson of

the town's founder, and that the name of the town was drawn from a hat, back in 1908, by two-

year-old Gwen Heaton, as the citizens of the new town looked on.

He said it is not unusual to see a horse

strolling down the street, and that no one

minds.  With just 134 people in town,

there's no such thing as a strange face,

human or equine.  100% of the citizens

are Mormon, he said, adding, "probably

80% are related to each other too."

As we talked, Paul's fifth cousin three

times removed, Victor, pulled up.  He

parked his truck in the middle of the

road to join our conversation.  We

were on the main drag, and Mark and

I looked up nervously when a truck

approached in the distance.  Paul and

Victor laughed and assured us there was no need to move: the truck would go around us.

We watched in amazement as the man in the truck, marked "Sheriff," waved "hello" to our

little group, and then drove off the road into the dirt to get past.

We rode our bikes throughout

the town, utterly delighted with

the prettiness and happiness of

this little community.  We eagerly

jumped off the bikes every few

minutes to snap pictures.

Without being backward or old

fashioned, this miniscule hamlet

seemed untouched by the rest

of the world, living in peace, and

removed from time.

So we had to laugh when we discovered we had a wi-fi signal in the trailer.

But the joke was on us.  Mark popped off an email to his cousin, describing this wonderful town we'd discovered.  Almost instantly,

he received a reply, complete with a link to the Alton, Utah, website showing the long line of Claren Heatons' ancestors that had

been mayors of the town before him.  Mark's cousin also included a link to Alton's satellite photo on Google Earth, detailed enough

to see the shed next to where we were parked.

At peace, yes.  Removed from time, perhaps.  Out of touch, hardly!

We spent the summer of 2008 bebopping around southern Utah.  Two of our most heartwarming experiences were the

discoveries of two unusual Utah animal sanctuaries:  Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, a no-kill domestic animal sanctuary in

stunning Angel Canyon and the Southwest Wildlife Foundation which rehabilitates and reintroduces native fauna.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary & Southwest Wildlife Foundation in Utah

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

Reception Building

Avian greeters

Joey, Hyacinth Macaw

South America

Honey, Major Mitchell Cocaktoo

Australia

Seppi, Mollucan Cockatoo

native to Indonesia

Writes a column in the monthly magazine

Quetzl, Congo African Grey

Age 54 - the same as Mark!

Tika, Umbrella Cockatoo, native to Indonesia

"Angel Canyon"

The sanctuary sits on 5 stunning square miles

Rescued horses live in Horse Haven

Angel's Rest Cemetery

Cemetery plots for all the animals. No animals are

killed; most are fostered out to new homes; a lucky

few live out their days at the sanctuary.

The cat house at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Kanab, Utah

The cat house

Siesta time at the Cat House Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Kanab, Utah

Siesta time

The Bunny House Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Kanab, Utah At the Bunny House Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Kanab, Utah

Bunny companionship

At the Bunny House Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Kanab, Utah

All the bunnies, dogs and cats

have indoor/outdoor living

quarters, and they come and go

at will.

The Bunny House at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Kanab, Utah

Nothing like some soft green grass for your

campsite.

Dogtown Heights at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Kanab, Utah Southwest Wildlife Foundation

Martin Tyner & Thumper, a Harris Hawk

22 years old, reaches speeds of 100 mph

Igor, a Prairie Falcon Southwest Wildlife Foundation

Igor, a Prairie Falcon

Dives for prey at 200 mph

Scout, a Golden Eagle Southwest Wildlife Foundation

Scout, a Golden Eagle

Can spot a yummy rabbit from 5 miles away.

Golden Eagle: 7 lbs and 7,000 feathers Southwest Wildlife Foundation

Golden Eagle: 7 lbs and 7,000 feathers

Can reach altitudes of 35,000 feet

and hurtle towards earth at 145 mph

Raptors - Southwest Wildlife Foundation

Each raptor got many hugs during the seminar.

A different golden eagle was released later that day

from an overlook in Cedar City, UT.

Utah Sanctuaries: Best Friends & Southwest Wildlife Foundation

July 15-19, 2008 - Kanab, Utah sits squarely between three of

the greatest national parks in the US, and we stopped there,

along with everyone else, for supplies, water and haircuts.  We

didn't intend to stay, but as we were leaving town we saw a cute

sign that said "Best Friends Animal Sanctuary" with an arrow

pointing down a winding road that seemed to go deep into a

canyon.  We couldn't resist the temptation and took that turn.

Four days later we finally emerged!!

Best Friends is a unique,

extraordinarily well-funded and

beautiful no-kill animal shelter.

It sits on 5 square miles of

exotic red rock canyon and

houses 2,000 animals.  Their

mission is to find homes for all

the animals that are adoptable, while the rest are allowed to live out their days in the loving care

of an enormous staff.  The grounds and landscaping alone are worth seeing, but it was the

many tours of the various animal areas that kept us in that canyon so long.

I am a bird lover, and the parrot garden is a treat.  On

summer days, all the parrots are kept in outdoor enclosures under a canopy of huge shade

trees near a pretty waterfall feature.  Visitors are invited to interact with the parrots, and we

spent many happy hours entertaining and being entertained by these squawking, talking,

feathered comedians.  The parrots' nighttime quarters

are indoors, so twice a day during the summer months

the bird caretakers do the Parrot Parade, carrying each

bird between its indoor enclosure and its outdoor

enclosure.  On the hottest summer afternoons the

caretakers walk around misting the birds with water

sprayers to help them stay cool.  What a life!

An important

theme at the

sanctuary is

positive

interactions

between the

animals and

people.  All the tours are free, and you can

volunteer to stick around and work with your

favorite animals for as little as a few hours or

for as long as you want to stay.  There are

cabins and a tiny RV park in the canyon to

accommodate volunteers, and many return

for a week or two every year.

Seppi, a Mollucan cockatoo, likes to walk

along the underside of the

roof of his cage, hanging

upside down and talking to

you.  Quetzl, a quiet

African Grey, was hatched

in 1954 but doesn't look a

day over five.  Tika, an

Umbrella cockatoo, was

summering at the sanctuary

while his owner took care of

some personal challenges.

He was accustomed to a lot

of attention, so he was happy

to climb into my arms and get

some free cuddles for a while.

The canyon, officially "Kanab Canyon" but affectionately called "Angel Canyon," is a

dramatic gorge lined with towering red rock cliffs.  Most sanctuary tours require a

shuttlebus ride of a few miles from the reception building out into the rest of the

property: Dogtown Heights, the Cat House, Feathered Friends and the Bunny House.

The drive along the cliff's edges is stunning, and we passed some

of the sanctuary horses who live a charmed life, grazing in peace

while gazing at multi-million dollar views.

Angel's Rest cemetery is along this road as well.  Every animal that dies at the

shelter is buried here with a headstone.  There are tiny plots for the little birds and

big plots for the large farm animals.  Even horses, goats and cows are adopted out

to new homes, whenever possible, and the video shown hourly at the reception

building included snapshots of many happy people who had become loving owners

of goats, sheep and other farm animals.

Most of the animal

buildings are built with

wings that provide an

indoor shelter with a

doorway the animals can

pass through to reach an

outdoor shelter.  At the

cat house, the outdoor areas include ladders, pillowed perches, and a

lattice-work of planks and shelving near the ceiling.  Litter boxes, food

and water dishes are discreetly placed in these out-of-reach alcoves.

Looking up, all we could see was the

odd paw or tail hanging down from

the lofty hideaways.  It was siesta

time, and all the cats were happily

dozing.

The bunnies have indoor/outdoor

housing as well, and since bunnies

like to cuddle, many had a stuffed

bunny to snuggle up to.  Outside, one bunny

was working very hard digging a hole, while a

few others were taking a load off under little

tent-like canopies that offered cool shade in a

lush bed of soft green grass.

Dogtown was a busy barking array of buildings.  Most of the

dogs from Michael Vicks' dog-fighting operation had just been

rescued, and many dogs from Katrina were still in transition

here.  We heard amazing stories of animal rescues.  One lady

had 200 guinea pigs living in her 10' x 10' kitchen, and another

wacko had 1,600 rabbits in her back yard.  1,000 cats were

taken from a crazy lady's home in Pahrump, Nevada, and as I

heard the tale from a caretaker I remembered reading about it in

the Pahrump newspaper when we visited eight months earlier.

All those cats, rabbits and guinea pigs had passed through Best

Friends to new owners or were still at the sanctuary hoping for

new homes.

Before an animal is adopted out, it must go on an overnight stay to ensure that it is a well-behaved

propsective pet.  Visitors can volunteer for these overnight stays, without obligation, at Parry Lodge in

Kanab.  If the animal flunks the test, it simply gets a little more loving at the sanctuary, as the caretakers

work to improve its manners.

August 30, 2008 - In Parowan, Utah, at the Iron

County State Fair, we attended a fantastic

demonstration and talk by Martin Tyner, founder

of Southwest Wildlife Foundation.  His

sanctuary focuses on rehabilitating native

creatures and returning them to the wild.  It was

my understanding that Rocky Mountain Power

Company has recently donated a huge, multi-million dollar parcel of land

to this sanctuary.  Eventually, once money is raised for land

improvements and building construction, this foundation could become

for native wildlife what Best Friends already is for more domesticated

animals.

He had three raptors with him:  a Harris Hawk, a Prairie Falcon and a

Golden Eagle.  He is a Master Falconer, and although he uses each of these

particular birds for education purposes, he takes them all out hunting on a

regular basis to keep their natural instincts sharp.  His job is to flush out rabbits

and other prey from the desert brush so the raptors can catch their meals.  They

fly free, and they fly high, happy to have a trained human to take the guesswork

out of finding dinner.

He told us of the highly aggressive nature of the Prairie Falcon, a slim bird that

screamed periodically throughout his talk.  A few years back he had rescued and

rehabilitated a particularly aggressive female that had deserved her nickname

"Horrible."  He released her into the desert near Cedar City, and she became a

great mom and has raised several clutches of young since then.  But she's oh-

so-smart.  She recognizes his truck from their many hunting outings together

when she was in his care.  Now, when he brings other raptors into the desert to

hunt, she goes out of her way to tease and harrass him.  One time, as he stood

with his arm outstretched waiting for his raptor to return to him, she dived

at him from the other direction, knocking him to the ground six feet away!

At the moment of impact, he suddenly understood exactly the kind of

blood-draining terror that rabbits feel when a Prairie Falcon singles them

out for a lunch date.

He invited everyone at the talk to come out to the highest ridge in Cedar

City later that afternoon to witness his release of a Golden Eagle back

into the wild.  We didn't attend, but he said that whenever he releases a

bird he welcomes spectators, so hopefully we will watch a release

another time.  He told us that the local Paiute Indians have a special

relationship with Golden Eagles.  They believe that if you say a prayer

over an eagle feather, the prayer will

be carried directly to God.  The Golden

Eagle being released that afternoon

was going to carry prayers for more

than 4,000 local cancer victims, the "down winders" in southern Utah who contracted cancer as a

direct result of the Cold War era nuclear testing carried out next door in Nevada.

Unrelated to these two wonderful animal sanctuaries in Utah, I recently discovered that Bird

Lovers Only Rescue in Dyer, Indiana has a very funny movie clip of a lesser sulphur crested

cockatoo dancing to the beat of the Backstreet Boys here.  It puts a smile on my face every time I

watch it.

We spent the summer of 2008 bee-bopping around souther Utah, and one of the most eye-

popping stops was at the majestic Bryce Canyon National Park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zion NP, Kodachrome Basin & Snow Canyon, UT – Great Red Rocks!

Chukar at Kodachrome State Park, Utah Kodachrome State Park, Utah Ballerina Leg at Kodachrome State Park, Utah

Ballerina Leg

Chukar at Kodachrome State Park, Utah Soft sandstone at Kodachrome State Park, Utah Zion National Park, Utah Zion National Park, Utah Zion National Park, Utah Zion National Park, Utah Zion National Park, Utah Zion National Park, Utah Zion National Park, Utah Zion National Park, Utah Zion National Park, Utah Snow Canyon State Park, St. George Utah

Snow Canyon

Snow Canyon State Park, St. George Utah

Snow Canyon

Zion NP, Kodachrome, & Snow Canyon, UT

October 7-19, 2007 - From Goblin Valley we took the gorgeous scenic

byway along Route 12 through Torrey, Capitol Reef National Park, and

Escalante to Kodachrome Basin State Park.  Like all the Utah state park

campgrounds, this one was lovely.  There was a flock of chukars (birds

closely related to the quail) that

wandered about the grounds happily

taking food from my hand.

We hiked the Panorama Point View trail,

soaking in the immense redrock

formations.  Several had cute names,

including Ballerina Leg, which truly

looked like a ballerina's leg.

Sandstone is very soft, and we found

a huge sandstone rock that other visitors had

rubbed.  It was fun to put your hand in the handprint

in the rock and rub.  The rock would granulate into

sand beneath your fingertips.

From Kodachrome Basin we headed over

to Zion National Park.  Because we were

towing the trailer and we were 52 feet from

end to end, we opted to approach the park

from the west side rather than taking the

really cool twisting road in from the east.  So we didn't see the

amazing rock formations that flank the roads on the eastern side.

However, once we arrived at Zion we took an exquisite bike ride along

the bike path that leads into the park.  The road into the main canyon

is closed to motorized vehicles, and we thrilled to the mammoth cliffs

on either side of us as we rode deep into the canyon.

There was an organized bike

ride going through Zion a few

days after we did our bike

ride.  It would be fun to be

part of a large crowd of

cyclists taking over this pretty

road through the park, but we

enjoyed the solitude of riding

by ourselves beneath the

towering spires.  We had a

perfect day with warm

temperatures, clear blue

skies and lots of flowers in

bloom.

We were continuing to press on

southwards, barely staying ahead

of the winter weather behind us.  At

Snow Canyon State Park we found

another delightful campground

where we tucked ourselves right up

against the redrocks.  We rode our

bikes on the beautiful park road

and looped through some pretty

new masterplanned neighborhoods

on the outskirts of St. George.

At last it was time to leave

Utah.  We decided we would

return in the Spring of 2008,

as we had barely touched

upon the areas we wanted to

see.  In the meantime,

however, the cold was

forcing us out, and we drove

south to the outskirts of Las

Vegas, Nevada, where we

found the spectacular Valley

of Fire State Park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More blog posts from our RV trips to Southwestern Utah:

Blog posts from all our travels to National Parks and UNESCO World Heritage Sites in North America

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