Cedar Breaks National Monument – Wild Skies & Summer Storms

July 2019 – Cedar Breaks National Monument is a stunning landscape of red rock pinnacles and hoodoos in any kind of weather, but when clouds form and rain starts to fall in the distance, it is truly breathtaking.

Cedar Breaks National Monument Summer Storms

Cedar Breaks National Monument is spectacular when summer storms sweep through

As storm clouds began to gather, we made our way out to the main overlook at Point Supreme. What a fabulous drama in the sky was unfolding! Black clouds were dumping torrential rain in the far distance, but our little spot at the overlook remained dry for the moment.

Storm clouds at Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

Storm clouds with rain in the distance at Cedar Breaks National Monument

Rain at Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

What a spectacular sight!

Once in a while the sun peeked out from behind the storm clouds, casting shafts of light across the red rocks. Then the clouds would close ranks around the sun once again, sealing off all but a thin ray from the heavens.

Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah storm clouds-min

.

Light shafts Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

A shaft of light broke through

As we set ourselves up to take pics, a gal scurrying back towards her car laughed as she ran by. “This kind of weather is when the photographers come out and when everyone else leaves!” Sure enough, we were soon alone at the overlook as the storm clouds rushed to surround us.

Even Buddy wasn’t so sure about the wisdom of being here in this kind of weather. He took shelter in Mark’s arms and advised him of the best techniques for taking photos of the incoming storm.

Photography at Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

Mark sets up a shot as Buddy looks on

Wild skies Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

Wild skies

Shafts of light at Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

Heavenly light.

Finally, the rain hit us with full force, and we bolted back to the truck. The downpour as we drove through the woods was a deluge!

Pouring rain in the woods in Utah-min

The rain came down in buckets

Even though most mornings were sunny, storm clouds returned to Cedar Breaks with punctual regularity every afternoon. It didn’t always rain, but the bright blue skies of early morning were filled with puffy clouds by noon and were buried under heavy dark clouds filled with heavy raindrops by afternoon.

Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah clouds parting-min

The sky was slightly more tame after the deluge.

Cedar Breaks National Monument colors-min

.

Visiting the overlooks at the golden hour late in the afternoon, we watched the red rocks take on a brilliant glow. The sun pierced the clouds and bathed Cedar Breaks in a rich orange light.

Golden hour storm clouds Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

The colors were incredibly rich at the golden hour before sunset

Chessmen Overlook Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

One of the “chess men” at Chessmen Overlook

Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah Golden Hour-min

.

Red rocks Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah Golden Hour-min

.

One evening, as we walked out onto Point Supreme overlook at sunset, we found a group of tourists huddled along the fence watching the show. One brave person was even standing on a fence post!

Standing at Point Supreme overlook Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

At sunset a small crowd formed along the fence — and on top of it!

We explored the other overlooks too: Sunset View, Chessmen Ridge and the North View. Each one offered a unique view of unusual shapes and colors.

Colorful Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

.

Beautiful Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

.

Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah pink orange and white cliffs-min

.

Inner light Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah pink orange and white cliffs-min

.

Pink and orange Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

.

Because the road along Cedar Breaks National Monument is a fairly busy highway, we took our truck on each visit. The Polaris RZR side-by-side wasn’t getting much use at all. One day when we called Buddy over to get in the truck, he ran over to the RZR instead and sat next to it, as if to say, “Why can’t we take the RZR this time?”

Puppy wants a Polaris RZR ride-min

Buddy wanted to take the RZR instead of the truck!

We did get out into the woods a bit wih the RZR, and Buddy was our little trail scout, as he always loves to be.

Puppy runs down a dirt road in the woods-min

He got his wish and had fun running through the woods

Cedar Breaks and the surrounding area lies at 10,000 feet elevation. That is, it lies 4,000 feet higher than the peak of famous Mt. Washington in New Hampshire!

Being so high, it is cold and is prone to all kinds of crazy weather. As I mentioned in our last post, we’d seen patches of snow in our wanderings, even during the last few days of July, right in the middle of a heatwave that had engulfed the whole country!

One day while we were out exploring we turned a corner and found a particularly enormous patch of snow.

Snow in Utah in mid-summer-min

A big patch of winter snow that’s still left at the end of July

Snow in late July in Utah-min

.

Buddy loves snow, so we decided to let him play in it for a while.

Puppy plays in Utah mid-summer snow-min

A happy little puppy in a big field of snow!

Oh my, was he in heaven once he figured out what he was standing on! He went wild, running in crazy circles, throwing up snow and ice all around him as he took hairpin turns at top speed and dove into the show head first. He galloped at full speed in sheer joy.

Puppy plays in the snow-min

“Weeeeeee!!!”

Galloping through summer snow-min

.

Diving into summer snow-min

.

Puppy plays in the summer snow-min

.

Puppy plays in the summer snow-min

.

After he had gleefully burned off enough energy for all three of us, we finally told him it was time to go. He was soooo disappointed.

He stood by the edge of the snow and forlornly watched us walking away, making no move to follow. He could have happily stayed at his private summer snow park for a few hours more!

Puppy love the summer snow in Utah-min

“Do we have to go??!!”

Not far away from the patch of snow we found some beautiful wildflowers in full bloom. The bees were busy gathering pollen in the bell shaped flowers, and despite the nearby snow, the flowers reminded us that it was indeed summertime, even here in Utah’s higher elevations.

Columbine wildflower-min

Columbine

Bee in wildflower-min

Busy bee

Indian paintbrush wildflowers in the Utah woods-min

Indian Paintbrush

Most of southern Utah is in the 4,000 to 7,500 foot range of elevation and is quite warm or even blazingly hot in mid-summer. But for those who love blustery weather and snow, there’s a bit of that waiting for you atop the plateau at Cedar Breaks National Monument.

Subscribe
Never miss a post — it’s free!

More info about Cedar Breaks National Monument:

Other blog posts from Utah’s Red Rock Parks:

-> All of our National Parks Travels in N. America and SE Asia <-

Our most recent posts:

More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.   New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff and check out our GEAR STORE!!

<-Previous || Next->

Cedar Breaks National Monument – Glorious Amphitheater of Red Rocks!

July 2019 – After enjoying many trips to the edge of the Grand Canyon this summer, we were ready for a little different scenery, so we headed north to one of southern Utah’s most dramatic yet less visited red rock wonders, Cedar Breaks National Monument.

Cedar Breaks National Monument RV trip in Utah-min

Cedar Breaks National Monument – An Amphitheater of Red Rock Glory!

Located close to the famous National Parks at Zion Canyon and Bryce Canyon but situated at of 10,000 feet, a much higher elevation than either of the other two Parks, it is a place that is forever haunted by wild weather patterns that make the extraordinary red rock vistas and dense woods even more dramatic.

As we arrived in the afternoon, the sky was wearing a forbidding grimace, and we quickly changed from the shorts we’d been wearing for the last few months into long pants and jackets!

Even more startling, we saw patches of snow in the woods as we drove. Holy smokes! It was late July and there was knee deep snow on the ground in some places!

Storm clouds over fifth wheel trailer-min

Wild storm clouds greeted us as we arrived at Cedar Breaks National Monument

Cedar Breaks National Monument is known not only for its eye popping amphitheater of red rock hoodoos but for its vibrant display of summer wildflowers. The wildflower season runs from mid-July through August, and the flowers were showing off their most brilliant colors everywhere.

Puppy in a field under storm clouds-min

Our first glimpse of the colorful wildflower display was a field of yellow flowers – under threatening clouds!

Wildflowers and storm clouds-min

How cool is this?!!

We hustled out to Point Supreme, the main Cedar Breaks overlook, as quickly as we could. Rain clouds were threatening, but what really caught my eye was the wonderful contrast of the soft green hillsides peeking over the mile high walls of red rock cliffs.

View Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

At the main Cedar Breaks overlook, Point Supreme, the layers of colors were just fantastic.

Green mountain and red rocks at Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

Green hillsides above the red rock cliffs and hoodoos where the mountain has fallen away.

If doesn’t matter how many times we see these red rock cliffs and spires, whether here at Cedar Breaks or over at nearby Bryce Canyon, they are spectacular. The bright colors and the towering “drip castle” types of formations that look like they were made by kids at the beach are just astonishing.

And from the top of the canyon, looking down into the bowl shaped amphitheater, we always find it so hard to comprehend just how enormous the seemingly tiny pinnacles are. But a look at the tall pine trees snuggled up to the bases of the hoodoos gave us a sense of their immense size.

Red rock pinnacles Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

How big are those red rock hoodoos? The tall pine trees are dwarfed by them!

Pinnacles at Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

.

Brilliant red rocks Point Supreme Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

Fabulous layers of color and texture.

The sun was obscured by the threatening black clouds which softened the colors of the canyon and eliminated the harsh contrast of light and shadow on the ridges.

Then, suddenly, the sun came out in force for a little while, and the amphitheater was bathed in golden light.

Colorful red rocks Point Supreme Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

The nuances of the red rock hues are easily seen when the rocks aren’t lit by the sun.

Red rocks at Cedar Breaks National Monument in Utah-min

Bright sunshine created dramatic contrasts.

Golden hour Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

.

Amphitheater Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah Point Supreme-min

.

Like all of America’s National Parks and National Monuments, dogs are allowed on leashes but only in certain areas. Point Supreme, which lies directly behind the Visitors Center, is one of the few areas at Cedar Breaks where pups can get a look at the eye-popping view, and Buddy gave the grand vista a cursory look and sniff.

But he was much more interested in other things at Point Supreme, like watching the ground squirrels running around the base of a tree in the distance, and he quickly took up a position in the middle of the overlook with his back to the view to keep an eye on the squirrles and also act as the Official Greeter.

Puppy is the greeter-min

Buddy turned his back to the view so he could greet everyone arriving at the rim and keep an eye on the ground squirrels too!

There was only one other couple at the overlook, and they had already given Buddy a pat on the head, so they resumed admiring the breathtaking views. But Buddy sat stock still for several minutes until a family suddenly appeared on the path walking towards him.

They had a little toddler with them who was as thrilled to see a puppy as the rest of the family was thrilled to see the views for the first time. As I watched Buddy and the toddler interact, I wasn’t sure who was more fascinated by their new friend, the puppy or the baby!

Puppy makes a new friend-min

Who’s more intrigued by whom? These two played together very happily while the adults savored the views

While the toddler and her old sister played with Buddy, our focus returned to the incredible 270 degree views surrounding us. What a place this is!

Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah Point Supreme-min

Cedar Breaks

Towers and pinnacles Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

.

Suddenly, the sun began to play games with the clouds, and we watched in awe as light and shadow chased each other across the vast landscape and the heavens opened above us with shafts of light between the clouds.

Monsoon light Cedar Breaks National Monument in Utah81-min

The weather turns on a dime at Cedar Breaks, and suddenly the heavens opened above us.

Cedar Breaks National Monument Stormy sky-min

.

Mark grabbed his 12 mm fish-eye lens for a very creative shot.

Fish-eye view of Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

A fish-eye view!

And then he asked me and Buddy to pose by the railing. Sure!

Happy Campers at Cedar Breaks National Monument in Utah-min

Two happy campers

Little family groups came and went at Point Supreme, but we stuck around for a while to watch the show.

Vivid colors Point Supreme Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

Vivid colors.

Colorful Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah Point Supreme-min

Each cliff, hillside and hoodoo was unique in color and shape

Then we took a stroll down a path that was lined with beautiful wildflowers. The little bluebells were so delicate!

Wildflowers at Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

The wildflowers peak at Cedar Breaks between mid-July and mid-August

Wildflowers Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

The tiny bluebells start as pink buds and then open up to a pretty shade of blue

Wildflowers at Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

.

And the columbine wildflowers were dancing in the slight breeze. Some of the columbine were pure white and others wore a wonderful combo of blue and white with yellow trim at the center.

Columbine wildflower at Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah-min

A beautiful two-tone columbine flower

There are lots of things to see at Cedar Breaks National Monument, and we’ve written about them in the past.

The Alpine Pond Trail hike is a great place to savor the wildflowers and the Spectra Point Trail hike is an absolute Must Do if you don’t have a dog or don’t mind leaving him/her in the car. The hike takes you out on a long peninsula that juts into the red rock amphitheater, and at the end you find yourself surrounded by thousand year old bristlecone pine trees.

We didn’t do those hikes on this visit, but we marveled at the power of summer storms as huge black clouds let loose a deluge that afternoon and all the next day.

We got hail interspersed with heavy rain punctuated with ferocious growls of thunder and too-close-for-comfort bolts of lightning.

So, we bundled up and Mark baked banana bread and put turkey pot pies in the oven too to keep our rolling home warm inside.

All this was happening during a blistering heat wave all across the country that delivered the hottest week of the summer to almost every corner of our beautiful nation!

During a brief break in the tempest around us, we snuck out to the rim of Cedar Breaks at Sunset View Overlook which is at an elevation of 10,354 feet. The sun was nowhere to be found, but the rain let loose once again, and we laughed along with a handful of other tourists who ran out of their cars in raincoats, braving a downpour to take a look at the red rocks in whiteout conditions!

Cedar Breaks National Monument whiteout-min

You never know what you’ll see at the Cedar Breaks rim til you get there. Pouring rain and swarming mist is a very good possibility!

Cedar Breaks National Monument is a fabulous RV destination in any kind of weather. And it’s almost guaranteed you’ll have some kind of intense weather if you visit mid-summer when the southwest monsoon season is underway. Bring shorts but pack long pants and a raincoat too because you just never know!

Puppy watches the sunset-min

Sunset at the end of a red letter day!

Subscribe
Never miss a post — it’s free!

More info about Cedar Breaks National Monument:

Other blog posts from Southwestern Utah and the National Parks:

Index of Articles from our visits to National Parks, National Monuments and UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Our most recent posts:

More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.   New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff and check out our GEAR STORE!!

<-Previous || Next->

Point Sublime – A Wild Ride to a Stunning Overlook in Grand Canyon!

July 2019 – While visiting the North Rim of the Grand Canyon this year, we made it a point to visit a few overlooks that aren’t easily reached by car. Saddle Mountain Overlook on the northeast side of the North Rim Visitors Center was lovely, but Point Sublime Overlook west of the Visitors Center was calling us. With a name like that, we just had to go see it!

Pt. Sublime Overlook at Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona-min

Point Sublime – It wasn’t so easy to get there, but what a feeling when we finally did!

There are two ways to get to Point Sublime, and both involve an 18+ mile long adventure on a rugged dirt road.

One day we started out on the more southerly of the two roads which is accessed from the Widforss turn-off of Highway 67 inside Grand Canyon National Park. But we forgot to bring our map and we weren’t really prepared.

We met a passenger car about a half mile down the road and asked them if we were going the right way. “You are, but it’s a four hour drive to get there,” the woman said. “And it’s a miserable drive.”

“Even in this?” We asked pointing at our RZR.

“Even in that!”

We sure didn’t want to embark on a four hour drive just then, especially without having studied the map a bit and brought it with us too! So, we decided to go to Saddle Mountain that day instead which we wrote about here.

Polaris RZR ride in the ponderosa pine forest-min

Our little Polaris RZR 900 has made it possible for us to get to some wonderfully remote places!

The more northerly route to Point Sublime goes through the Kaibab National Forest and is the route the Forest Service and Park Service rangers drive their trucks on when they have to get out to the Point Sublime area.

It is known to be very washboardy, but at least it isn’t super rutted or have any crazy steep sections. However, it starts with Forest Service Road 22 next to Demotte Campground, and we’d driven that road a little bit already and it was incredibly dusty.

The more southerly route is known to be a wild ride in any kind of four wheel drive vehicle. It has sections that are full of huge holes and steep grades, and it’s very narrow in places. It goes through the woods and isn’t especially dusty or washboardy, but it does a good job of shaking you up even so.

After mulling it over, we decided to give the more southerly route a second try despite its fearsome reputation. Why not have a true RZR adventure? So far, our trips on the RZR had been on pretty easy to drive dirt roads and two track trails.

At first the road went through a lovely wide open meadow, ideal for our energetic pup Buddy to run ahead of us and get some of his wiggles out before we got to the tough stuff.

On the road to Pt. Sublime with a RZR and a puppy-min

Buddy loves to hop out of the RZR and run ahead of us at top speed.

Pup runs ahead of the RZR on the road to Pt. Sublime Grand Canyon-min

Zoom zoom.

The 18 mile drive took us about 90 minutes all together in our RZR, going from the paved state Highway 67 out to the Point Sublime overlook. The only other people or vehicles we saw on the entire trip out there was a single guy on a dirt bike. He waved as he rode past us. For the whole rest of the trip we had the woods to ourselves.

Dirt bike heading to Pt. Sublime Grand Canyon Arizona-min

The only other person or vehicle we saw on our trip out was a guy on a dirt bike.

The two track deeply rutted road wound its way through the ponderosa pine forest. In many places the forest floor was carpeted with a beautiful tapestry of purple lupine wildflowers and lush green grass. We stopped several times to enjoy the quiet and peacefulness of the forest and its spring flowers.

Polaris RZR ride to Point Sublime Overlook at North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona-min

Half the fun of our RZR rides is getting out of it to explore on foot.

Lupine blooming at foot of scorched ponderosa pine trees-min

Beautiful waves of lupine were blooming between the trees

Ponderosa pine and lupine in the National Forest-min

.

Buddy loved sniffing all the earthy smells around him. At one point he climbed up on a log and did a little tightrope walk along it.

Puppy tightrope walks on a log in the ponderosa pine forest-min

.

We had such fun taking pics.

Photographing model puppy in lupine wildflowers in ponderosa pine forest-min

Buddy poses in the flowers for Mark.

Beautiful dog in lupine wildflowers-min

Nice shot!

About five miles into the drive the road became extremely rough. We averaged 4-5 mph for quite some time as we navigated the deeply eroded ruts in the road.

At times the little RZR tipped wildly off camber, but it never seemed like it would tip all the way over (thankfully!). Side-by-sides are like miniature tanks. Mark put it in four wheel drive and it was able to grind up or down just about anything.

Eventually the road smoothed out a little bit and then the trees parted on our left side, revealing our first glimpse of the Grand Canyon stretching into the distance.

Limestone cliffs near Point Sublime Grand Canyon Arizona North Rim-min

Limestone cliffs on the outer fringes of the Grand Canyon

Exploring Grand Canyon overlooks near Point Sublime-min

We had a blast climbing around on the rocks (not too close to the edge, though!)

Grand Canyon overlook near Point Sublime-min

.

Huge craggy boulders begged to be climbed, and rugged rocky outcroppings jutted out into the view. We wandered through the woods and along the edge of the overlook for a long time, thrilled by the extraordinary vistas and the utter solitude and peace we felt in this far remote corner of the earth.

Grand Canyon view just before Pt. Sublime at North Rim-min

The views were so immense!

Overlook near Point Sublime at North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona-min

.

This warm up spot for the “real thing” at Point Sublime was a good place for a snack and a little drink.

Water break on the road to Point Sublime at North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona-min

Water break!

We climbed back into the RZR and followed the two track road a few miles further. We knew the Grand Canyon was just over our left shoulders, but the woods were thick and the road wandered away from the edge, so we waited patiently as the buggy rolled along until suddenly we were driving out onto a huge peninsula.

To our right, as we drove out on the peninsula, the late morning sun lit up the multiple layers and many rich shades of Grand Canyon’s red rock cliffs. Wow!

Brilliant red rock cliffs at Point Sublime Overlook Grand Canyon-min

Our first view at Point Sublime. Just gorgeous!

Colorful red rock cliffs Point Sublime Overlook Grand Canyon North Rim-min

Red and orange of every hue.

Spectacular red rock cliffs at Grand Canyon Point Sublime-min

.

After not seeing a soul besides the one dirt bike rider at the beginning of our journey, it was a surprise to find a big pickup truck parked at the end of the Point Sublime overlook.

I asked the fellow standing next to it if he’d come the way we had, the southern route through the National Park, and he said no. He’d come through the National Forest on the northern route and he said it wasn’t too bad. This was good to know since we now realized we’d never consider taking our dually pickup (or any other car or truck) on the road we had just traveled!

The Point Sublime peninsula jutted so far out into the Grand Canyon that it gave us 270 degree views. We wandered along the edge utterly enchanted by the way the views changed from one side of the peninsula to the other because of the way they were lit by the sun.

Stunning view at Point Sublime on North Rim of Grand Canyon-min

.

First glimpse at Point Sublime Grand Canyon North Rim-min

.

Point Sublime Overlook at North Rim Grand Canyon Arizona-min

The views and lighting were different in every direction

Grand Canyon Pt. Sublime view at North Rim-min

.

Point Sublime has a few rock outcroppings that hang out over the view and we took turns peering over the edge. Such majesty!!

Puppy checks out Point Sublime Overlook at Grand Canyon-min

Buddy takes it all in.

The remoteness and the vastness were overwhelming, especially after such a long drive through the woods to get there.

Point Sublime Overlook Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona-min

What a view!

Photographer at Point Sublime Overlook Grand Canyon North Rim-min

Mark takes it all in.

Point Sublime Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona extraordinary view-min

.

Far in the distance we could see the Colorado River. There were some whitewater rapids out there, and undoubtedly there were river rafters riding down the narrow ribbon of water and gazing up at the sheer cliff walls, admiring the Grand Canyon from a totally different perspective!

Grand Canyon carved by the Colorado River at Point Sublime Overlook-min

The Colorado River was faintly visible far in the distance.

View of Rapids on Colorado River at Point Sublime Grand Canyon North Rim-min

There were probably rafters down there blasting through the white water rapids!

As we started back from Point Sublime in the RZR, we met a couple coming towards us in a pickup truck. They had just finished the most hair rising part of that more southerly route we’d taken.

The guy leaned out the driver’s window and we started to ask him how the ride had been. But we’d barely gotten a few words out when he blurted out in total exaspiration, “What’s the fastest way to get to a paved road?”

His wife was in the passenger’s seat, and she was white as a ghost. “It was horrible!” She said staring straight ahead out the windshield, eyes like saucers. “Just awful! The worst drive you can imagine.”

Tree and shadow Point Sublime Overlook Grand Canyon North Rim-min

.

Unfortunately for them, the nearest paved road was at least an hour and a half away. But the Point Sublime overlook was just a few miles further on and the last bit of road to get there wasn’t that bad.

Best of all, they’d be able to confer with the guy in the other pickup at the overlook who could give them directions for the washboarded but slightly easier route through the National Forest back to the highway.

Fifth wheel RV camping at sunset-min

.

If you have the chance and a rugged four wheel drive vehicle and a taste for adventure, give the trip to Point Sublime a try. It is well worth it.

But if you don’t have a way to get out there, the other North Rim overlooks that are accessible via paved roads are just as wondrous and every bit as breathtaking.

Sometimes it’s about the journey, but a lot of times it’s really about the destination, and the Grand Canyon is glorious from every angle!

Subscribe
Never miss a post — it’s free!

More info about this area:

Other blog posts from Grand Canyon:


    Other National Parks We’ve Visited

    Our most recent posts:

    More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.   New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff and check out our GEAR STORE!!

    <-Previous || Next->

    Saddle Mountain Overlook – A Different View of the Grand Canyon!

    June 2019 – The Grand Canyon is a huge, winding crater that wanders across the northen part of Arizona for about 275 miles. However, Grand Canyon National Park’s North and South Rims take up just a few miles on either side of the Colorado River in the middle of it all. For anyone up for a little adventure, there are lots of other places along its length outside the National Park where you can peer over the edge in awe.

    Saddle Mountain Overlook above the Colorado River in Grand Canyon Arizona-min

    Outside of Grand Canyon National Park there are many absolutely stunning overlooks.

    This past week we took our Polaris RZR on a back country tour through the woods and the aspen trees of Kaibab National Forest to check out one of the many overlooks that are outside Grand Canyon National Park: Saddle Mountain Overlook.

    Two track road through aspen trees-min

    Our RZR ride took us through ponderosa pine forests and aspen groves.

    The two track road was fun to ride on, but the best part came at the end when we got to the overlook at Saddle Mountain. Wow!

    Saddle Mountain Overlook Grand Canyon Arizona-min

    Saddle Mountain Overlook

    Saddle Mountain Overlook Grand Canyon Colorado RIver-min

    What a wonderful view this was after riding through the woods for a few hours.

    Grand Canyon Saddle Mountain overlook in Arizona-min

    .

    Colorado River overlook at Saddle Mountain-min

    .

    We walked along the edge and admired the amazing views. Every time I see the Grand Canyon, I marvel that a narrow ribbon of river along with some wind and rain could have carved all these extraordinary patterns in the cliffs!

    Erosion patterns Colorado River overlook at Saddle Mountain-min

    Beautiful patterns carved by the Colorado River over the course of millions of years

    Red rock erosion patterns Saddle Mountain Overlook at Grand Canyon Colorado River-min

    .

    Saddle Mountain overlook on the Colorado River at Grand Canyon-min

    Saddle Mountain Overlook offers a different view of the Grand Canyon!

    We had jumped out of the RZR as soon as we saw the views, and savored every one. After we’d gotten our fill of the beauty, we decided to continue down the two track road a little further to see where it led.

    Puppy watches the approach of a RZR side-by-side-min

    Buddy ran out front for a while and then stopped to watch Mark drive the RZR down the trail.

    Puppy watches the approach of a RZR side-by-side-min

    “Want a ride?” “Sure!”

    What a wonderful surprise it was to arrive at another overlook.

    Panorama view of Saddle Mountain Overlook at the Colorado River Arizona-min

    A little further down the trail we found another stunning view.

    Grand Canyon view from Saddle Mountain in Arizona-min

    We made our way through the brush for a closer look.

    Grand Canyon from Saddle Mountain Overlook-min

    .

    There was a narrow trail that led down a hill and then climbed up another, and Buddy and I just had to find out where it went. Mark stayed behind and watched us make our way out to the end of a stone peninsula. It didn’t seem so scary to us out there — there was plenty of room!

    Walking to the overlook at Saddle Mountain Grand Canyon-min

    Mark hung back to take pics while Buddy and I ventured out on a rock outcropping

    I have to admit, though, that when I crept towards the very end to get a photo, Buddy wisely stayed seated behind me. I scooched out in a sitting position!

    Grand Canyon Saddle Mountain Overlook Arizona-min

    .

    The American West is full of places that have experienced huge land upheavals. The Kaibab Plateau, which surrounds the Grand Canyon, is part of the larger Colorado Plateau, and in some places it is easy to see exactly how huge expanses of land were thrust upwards, sometimes at an angle.

    Uplift of Kaibab Plateau and Colorado Plateau-min

    “The earth moved under my feet.”

    Overlook at Saddle Mountain on the Colorado River-min

    The Vermillion Cliffs are in the distance. Three “prescribed burns” of about five square miles each were burning on both the North and South Rims, making the air hazy.

    In the distance we saw the Colorado River winding towards us. It’s amazing how the land at the top is flat and featureless for miles and then a deep trench cuts across it, dug out by the river over many millennia.

    Looking down on the Colorado River from Saddle Mountain Grand Canyon-min

    Lined by steep cliffs, the Colorado River disappears into the distance.

    Colorado River views from Saddle Mountain overlook at Grand Canyon-min

    The Colorado River lies at the bottom of those steep canyon walls.

    We hopped back in the RZR and were soon back in the woods. The trees were really green and the cool shade felt so good. What a fun little excursion that was!

    Happy campers in the aspen trees-min

    Mark and Buddy took a break in the cool shade.
    What a contrast to the sun baked and wind whipped red rocks of the Grand Canyon!

    Subscribe
    Never miss a post — it’s free!

    More info about this area:

    Other blog posts from northern Arizona’s pine forests:


    Links to all our travel stories from Arizona

    Our most recent posts:

    More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.   New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff and check out our GEAR STORE!!

    <-Previous || Next->

    Grand Canyon’s North Rim – Breathtaking Bright Angel Point!

    June 2019 – Grand Canyon National Park is one of America’s crown jewels, and the magnificent North Rim is, in many ways, the sparkling diamond in the crown.

    Grand Canyon National Park North Rim in Arizona

    Grand Canyon National Park’s North Rim in Arizona

    We’ve been to the North Rim several times, and each time we have been enchanted by the 45 mile long scenic drive that goes from the main highway intersection at Jacob Lake down to the tiny community at the North Rim.

    This winding road passes through forests and meadows, and the shifting light on the aspens and ponderosa pine trees is beautiful

    Grand Canyon North Rim Scenic Drive meadow-min

    The 45 mile long scenic drive from Jacob Lake to the North Rim goes through some gorgeous meadows.

    There are bison in the park now, and we heard from another camper that a fellow recently encountered 200 of the beasts crossing the highway as he drove to the North Rim!

    Grand Canyon North Rim Scenic Drive meadow and bison sign-min

    Bison now graze in these meadows!

    There is a wonderful little dry camping campground about 7 miles outside of Grand Canyon National Park nestled into the woods in Kaibab National Forest called Demotte Campground. We swung through the campground loop for old time’s sake, fondly remembering tent camping there many moons ago.

    04 721 Aspens and ponderosa pine Demotte Campground Grand Canyon North Rim_

    Road through Demotte Campground

    Once we got into Grand Canyon National Park and on to the North Rim, we were like kids on Christmas morning. As soon as we got the truck parked in the small parking lot at the Rim, we dashed to the edge of the parking lot to get a glimpse of the Grand Canyon.

    It doesn’t matter how many times we see the beautiful shapes and contours of this magical land, it takes our breath away every time.

    First glimpse Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona-min

    First glimpse – WOW!!

    We hurried past the Grand Canyon Lodge to get a better view. What a majestic place this is!

    Admiring the view Grand Canyon North Rim_-min

    The intimacy and friendliness of Grand Canyon’s North Rim is unlike any other major National Park

    The more popular and more populated South Rim of the Grand Canyon is relatively dog friendly, allowing pooches on leashes to stroll with their owners on the paved paths along the top of the Grand Canyon. The North Rim, however, is not as dog friendly. Buddy could take a peek at the view from the main yard by the Grand Canyon Lodge, but that was it.

    Admiring the view Grand Canyon North Rim-min

    Dogs aren’t allowed in many places, but Buddy got a glimpse from the yard next to the Lodge.

    So, it was back to the truck in the parking lot for him for a little while so we could take the half mile walk out to Bright Angel Point.

    The parking lot is well shaded by towering ponderosa pine trees, and lots of other pups were waiting patiently for their owners to snap some pics and return to their cars. A cacophany of barks greeted Buddy as he took his place on our truck’s center console where he had a bird’s eye view of everything around him.

    This parking lot is not really RV friendly, but a few had wedged themselves in. We noticed one motorhome with a fun message on the back: Living the Dream. Yes indeed!

    Living the Dream in an RV-min

    When you’re Living the Dream, the National Parks are at the top of the list!

    There is a dry camping campground at the North Rim where very small RVs and tents can perch right on the edge of the canyon, and some sites have extraordinary views. But for those who don’t want to camp, the Grand Canyon Lodge is surrounded by charming stone and log cabins with tiny porches and big log rocking chairs. What a great place to spend a few days!

    Grand Canyon North Rim cabins-min

    The campground overlooking the Grand Canyon is hard to beat,
    but if you’re not a camper, these cabins look sooo romantic!!

    Grand Canyon North Rim cabin made of log and stone-min

    A porch and room right on the rim!

    Log rocking chairs on the porch of a cabin at Grand Canyon North Rim-min

    The cabins are rustic, but in the most gracious way.

    Out on the paved trail that goes to Bright Angel Point the views got better and better the further out we got.

    Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona Bright Angel Point Trail View-min

    Heading out on the half-mile paved trail to Bright Angel Point

    View of the Grand Canyon Lodge from Bright Angel Point Trail-min

    Looking back towards the Grand Canyon Lodge

    Grand Canyon North Rim overlook-min

    Looking down on folks at a lower overlook

    Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona Bright Angel Point Trail-min

    The vast scale is hard to comprehend. It’s like looking at a huge painting.

    Red rock cliff views Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona-min

    .

    One of the best things about the North Rim is that it is the only major National Park that isn’t inundated with busloads of tourists. Thankfully, it is such a long drive to get there that most folks visit the much easier to reach South Rim, call it good, and leave it at that.

    The visitors to the North Rim are primarily American families who are out on long summer driving vacations, and they are often hitting the fabulous cluster of National Parks in the area — Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.

    Hiking, camping and family time together spent discovering America’s most spectacular settings are what it’s all about.

    View from Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona Bright Angel Point Trail-min

    What a view!

    Majestic view Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona Bright Angel Point Trail-min

    Majestic!

    Patterns in Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona-min

    I loved the zig-zag diagonal patterns.

    Bright Angel Point Trail Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona-min

    There are lots of places to climb and scramble to see the views on the edges of this trail without anyone nearby, so even with groups of people walking on the main part of the path, it still felt intimate and personal

    Like all the National Parks, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon can be experienced at a glance if you wish. Simply walk out to Bright Angel Point as we did.

    But it can also be savored in depth with a multi-day stay in a cabin or at the campground. This allows time for the long drives that go to the other major overlooks inside the Park along with doing a few of the many hikes along the rim or through the woods or even down into the canyon and across to the South Rim (and back if you’re hardy!).

    Grand Canyon framed by limestone-min

    .

    We weren’t staying at the North Rim for an in depth visit, so we slowly strolled to Bright Angel Point and back, soaking up the view, chatting with other visitors and taking a gazillion pics.

    Curvy dead tree Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona-min

    .

    View on Bright Angel Point Trail Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona-min

    .

    Photographing Grand Canyon North Rim Arizona-min

    It’s impossible not to take a million pics!

    Built in 1928, the Grand Canyon Lodge is one of those gorgeous old stone and log National Park lodges that were built in the early days of the National Park system to give visitors a comfortable place to stay right in the heart of each Park.

    Grand Canyon Lodge entrance at the North Rim in Arizona-min

    Grand Canyon Lodge evokes another era.

    In those days, tourists took a train to Cedar City, Utah, and then boarded National Park buses to go to Kanab, Utah, where they spent the night, and then they continued on to the North Rim.

    Even though the roads were dirt and the drive was undoubtedly bumpy and dusty, there was an elegance or mystique to travel in those days that can be felt as you walk through this inviting lodge.

    Roughrider Saloon and Coffee Lounge Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim-min

    The Roughrider Saloon has an espresso bar in the early morning and craft beers on tap later in the day.

    The Grand Canyon Lodge is really all there is at the North Rim for tourist services, so they do it all, although on a small scale. There’s a tiny post office for sending out mail, a few spots to get a bite to eat or a drink, and copious places to kick back in an old log chair and sit for a spell.

    Log rocking chairs outside the post office and saloon Grand Canyon Lodge at the North Rim-min

    Dogs are allowed in the common areas and Buddy met quite a few when I went into the saloon to get a beer and a latte for us to enjoy outside in these big log chairs

    At the Roughrider Saloon, the gal pouring Mark’s beer and my latte told me this was her fourth summer working at the North Rim. Her winters are free, so she likes to travel then. What a great gig!

    Espresso drinks and craft beer on tap at Roughrider Saloon and Coffee Saloon Grand Canyon Lodge at the North Rim-min

    Inside the Roughrider Saloon. It was a cozy setting but dogs have to be outside. So, outside we went!

    The Grand Canyon Lodge has huge comfy sofas in a room lined with enormous plate glass windows looking out at the Grand Canyon. Some of the sofas face the view. What a place to relax for a while.

    View from picture windows at Grand Canyon Lodge at the North Rim-min

    Huge comfortable sofas face these enormous picture windows. What a spot to unwind!

    But the spot that always captures my imagination is the outdoor stone patio deck. A long row of log chairs is lined up along a short stone wall on this deck, all facing the exquisite view. People come and go from these chairs all day long, bringing a drink or a book or a friend to chat with.

    Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim stone patio deck-min

    Here you can kick back in a log chair in front of one of the world’s most magnificent views!

    To me, this is the spirit of the old National Park system where visitors can relax at leisure and enjoy the incomparable beauty of the place, unhurried and at peace.

    Grand Canyon Lodge stone patio deck at the North Rim_-min

    .

    We had the amazingly great fortune on this trip to bump into a woman who was a 6th generation resident of nearby Fredonia, Arizona, and she told us that her grandfather had been born in a cabin at Demotte Park (where Demotte Campground now stands) and that he had designed this fabulous stone patio at the Grand Canyon Lodge.

    How incredibly cool is that?!

    Grand Canyon Lodge stone patio deck at the North Rim-min

    Where all the cares of the world are forgotten

    The dining room at Grand Canyon Lodge is both intimate and awe inspiring. When we poked our heads in, the staff was eating at a back table right before opening for lunch. But this fantastic dining room would soon be full, and lots of happy visitors would be gazing out the enormous windows overlooking the Grand Canyon over lunch!

    Grand Canyon Lodge Dining Room at the North Rim-min

    Elegant and classy.

    If you are traveling between Page, Arizona, and Kanab, Utah, a quickie 100 mile detour down to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is a really worthwhile trip. It isn’t big rig friendly or dog friendly, but the ambiance and views are out of this world.

    If you have an important birthday or anniversary coming up can, leave the big rig and dog at home, and get a cabin with a porch overlooking the Grand Canyon view for a few nights. What a way to celebrate (it’s on our bucket list!!).

    Subscribe
    Never miss a post — it’s free!

    More info about Grand Canyon National Park’s North Rim:

    Other blog posts from our travels to the Grand Canyon:

    Our most recent posts:

    More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.   New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff and check out our GEAR STORE!!

    <-Previous || Next->

    Bryce Canyon in Winter – Snow and Lace on the Red Rock Spires!

    January 2019 – When we dashed out of Phoenix and headed north towards a blizzard that was raging at Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park, the weather forecast was for an even bigger snow storm at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah!

    Bryce Canyon has been among our favorite National Parks since we first saw it while tent camping nearly fifteen years ago, and we have visited many times since we started traveling full-time in an RV. But we had never seen it with snow. What a fabulous opportunity this was!

    Bryce Canyon National Park in winter with snow

    Bryce Canyon is spectacular when blanketed with snow!

    Since we were dressed for cold weather and ready to romp in the snow, this was the perfect time to trek another 285 miles from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon around the east end of that great chasm and then northwards to Bryce Canyon National Park.

    Happy camper and puppy in snow-min

    Buddy loves the snow — and so do I (in small doses in scenic places!)

    Of course, the problem with blizzards is that things tend to shut down due to the snow.

    So, we were totally shocked (but shouldn’t have been) when we started heading east on AZ Route 64 on the way to Bryce Canyon and found that it was closed!! Argh!! Now the only way to get to Bryce was to go SOUTH back down to Flagstaff and then north on US-89, adding about 80 miles to our trip.

    Well, ya gotta do what ya gotta do when chasing beautiful scenery in unique conditions. So off we went to Bryce via Flagstaff!

    And how worthwhile this trip turned out to be. When we arrived, we went straight to the rim of Bryce Canyon National Park at Inspiration Point and were blown away by what we saw.

    Bryce Canyon National Park view with pine tree and snow-min

    Bryce Canyon is stunning all year long, but what a place it is when laced with fresh snow!

    Snow at Bryce Canyon National Park-min

    Snow and red rock pinnacles right to the horizon!!

    The only overlooks that were officially open were Sunrise Point and Sunset Point (interestingly, both of those overlooks face east, so the names don’t really relate to sunrises or sunsets!).

    Luckily for us, the parking area at Inspiration Point had been plowed too, and eager visitors had trampled a narrow trail through the deep snow to the incomparable views along the rim there.

    Inspiration Point view with snow at Bryce Canyon National Park-min

    The view at Inspiration Point

    Bryce Canyon National Park is a fairy tale land of charming red rock turrets and castles nestled into a vast amphitheater that makes for jaw dropping images at any time of year. Now, in mid-January, the red rock spires peeked out from under a blanket of fresh snow.

    Looking down into the snow at Bryce Canyon National Park-min

    Looking down into the depths between the spires.

    Trail with snow at Bryce Canyon National Park-min

    A magical walk along the rim!

    The views at Sunset Point were spectacular as the sun began to cast deep shadows across the landscape.

    Limber Pine at Bryce Canyon National Park-min

    A limber pine looks out at the Canyon at Sunset Point.

    All three overlooks — Inspiration Point, Sunrise Point and Sunset Point — were connected by a narrow trail that had been made by boots in the snow. We wandered between the overlooks, snapping photos with almost every step.

    Deep Snow at Bryce Canyon National Park Sunset Point-min

    Late afternoon shadows at Sunset Point.

    Snow at Bryce Canyon National Park with snow Sunset Point-min

    .

    Blanket of Snow Bryce Canyon National Park-min

    .

    Sunset Point View Bryce Canyon National Park with snow-min

    .

    Over the years, Rubys Inn, located 3 miles from the Park entrance, has grown from a small hotel and restaurant to a sprawling complex that now includes several motel buildings, a huge restaurant, a massive RV park, an expansive gift shop, a grocery store and a tiny US Post Office.

    In the past we’ve stopped at Rubys Inn to relax in its beautiful hotel lobby, explore the gift shop and grocery store and do laundry at the laundromat, but on this trip we stayed in the Lakeside motel building which is pet friendly.

    Icicles at Rubys Inn Bryce Canyon City Utah-min

    Icicles hang from the roof at Rubys Inn.

    Buddy was absolutely loving the snow, and each morning we went for a fast paced run in the powder out behind Rubys Inn between the snowed-in RV campsites.

    Puppy in snow at Bryce Canyon-min

    Buddy loved sprinting through the snow and then eating it!

    All the trees in the woods around Bryce Canyon and Rubys Inn were heavily laden with snow, and the air was so crisp it felt brittle and harsh on our cheeks.

    Snow on trees at Bryce Canyon National Park-min

    The trails around Rubys Inn were delightful. Some folks rented snowshoes.

    Rubys Inn had a few big pull-through RV campsites in the center of the complex that were open to campers even now, but we saw only one pair of hardy souls camping in this bitter cold. They were in a truck camper, and they explained to us that Rubys Inn has full hookups in the summertime but at this time of year there are only electric hookups so no one has to worry about freezing pipes.

    There is a shower building with hot showers, and of course the restaurant offers a full buffet breakfast everyday that is so filling you won’t need lunch and might even want to skip dinner!

    Truck camper in snow Rubys Inn Bryce Canyon National Park-min

    Campsites were available at Rubys Inn (electric only) and they even had some very hardy customers!

    In the National Park one loop of the North Campground was open for dry camping too. We were impressed to see a van, but were frankly quite shocked to see two guys setting up a tent and then to see another tent already set up and waiting for its owners to return from their hike!

    Tent camping in snow North Campground Bryce Canyon National Park-min

    The nights were in the single digits…!

    Out on the trails the days warmed up to 33 degrees each day we were there.

    Deep Snow at Bryce Canyon National Park-min

    .

    And the snow was deep!!

    Deep snow at Bryce Canyon National Park in Winter-min

    Buddy isn’t very tall, but still, this is deep snow!!

    And each time we walked out on the rim our jaws dropped yet again. Bryce Canyon is such a unique and special landscape. To see it with snow is a divine treat!

    Inspiration Point with snow at Bryce Canyon National Park-min

    These were the views we had driven all those miles to see.

    Stunning Bryce Canyon National Park view with snow-min

    .

    Snow at Bryce Canyon National Park-min

    .

    Several of the trails that go down into the Bryce Canyon amphitheater had been cleared by the boots of eager hikers.

    Navajo Loop Trail Hikers at Bryce Canyon National Park with snow-min

    Hiking the trails was a lot of fun!

    Hikers at Inspiration Point Bryce Canyon National Park with snow-min

    Hikers on the trails below us showed the scale of this place!!

    The white snow made the perfect backdrop to show the diminutive size of the hikers in comparison to the red rock spires that surrounded them in the Canyon.

    Hikers at Bryce Canyon National Park with snow in winter-min

    Two hikers approach an overlook on Queen’s Garden Trail below Sunrise Point.

    Navajo Loop Trail with snow Bryce Canyon National Park-min

    Hikers on the Navajo Loop Trail.

    We walked down the Navajo Loop Trail a ways. It was steep in places, and we were grateful for the railings at the beginning of the trail because it was pretty slippery on the ice there!

    Hiking in the snow Bryce Canyon National Park-min

    .

    Overlook at Bryce Canyon National Park with snow-min

    What a view!

    Selfie shot at Bryce Canyon National Park with snow-min

    A moment to remember!

    Hikers were having fun getting selfies, but not every spot was a great place to stand!

    We noticed that the Park Service had posted a few signs warning the most daring selfie-takers not to venture out on the puffy snow in places where there might not be much support underneath!

    Do Not Enter sign at Bryce Canyon National Park with snow-min

    “Do not enter!”

    As we progressed down the Navajo Loop Trail we felt that familiar sense of inspiration and awe that always envelops us as the red rock spires rise up around us at Bryce.

    Drifts of snow Bryce Canyon National Park-min

    Hikers on an upper switchback.

    Navajo Loop Trail Bryce Canyon National Park with snow in winter-min

    .

    Snowy trails Bryce Canyon National Park-min

    The turrets rose around us as we descended.

    Bryce Canyon National Park snow on Navajo Loop Trail-min

    .

    Hiking Navajo Loop Trail Bryce Canyon National Park with snow in winter-min

    .

    The soft white snow, red rocks and blue sky were a perfect complement to each other in every view.

    Hiking at Bryce Canyon National Park with snow in winter-min

    .

    As we ventured out on the rim and wandered down the trails we were so glad we had made the long drive from Phoenix via the Grand Canyon to see Bryce Canyon dressed in the white lace of winter.

    Fresh snow Bryce Canyon National Park with snow in winter-min

    A blanket of fresh snow…

    Tree at snowy overlook Bryce Canyon National Park Utah-min

    .

    View into Bryce Canyon National Park with snow in winter-min

    .

    Bryce Canyon National Park with snow-min

    .

    Bryce Canyon National Park is a knockout at any time of year — definitely one of the most spectacular places in North America — but how special it was to see it blanketed with snow on these bright and sunny January days!

    Bryce Canyon National Park with snow in winter at overlook-min

    .

    During our stay, the moon rose bright and full over the canyon. I made a point to be at the Canyon rim for moonrise late one afternoon. I had visions in my head of photographing a huge round moon rising up from behind the distant mountains and glowing across the canyon.

    I got to Sunrise Point fifteen minutes before moonrise and stood there full of hope for the next hour. But the moon didn’t make it to her appointment!

    I finally left, totally discouraged and frozen to the bone. Dejected, I took Buddy for a walk in the woods behind Rubys Inn just after sunset. As we rounded a corner I suddenly saw the moon’s bright white face between the trees.

    What the heck?! When did it rise? How did I miss it?

    Peaks of snow Bryce Canyon National Park with snow in winter at overlook-min

    .

    I kicked myself all that night and into the next morning, thinking that I had missed the most beautiful imagineable moonrise over Bryce Canyon because I had given up too easily and left too soon.

    The next morning Mark and I were both up at oh-dark-thirty to catch the sunrise over Bryce Canyon. It was a mere 12 degrees Fahrenheit as we hiked out to find our own spots at Sunset Point. As I got set up, I chatted with another photographer who was walking by me about how sad I was to have missed the moonrise the night before.

    “Oh! You didn’t miss anything. The moon was covered by clouds at the horizon when it was rising!” he told me. He’d been out on Queen’s Garden Trail and hadn’t seen it between the spires until an hour after it’s rising time either.

    Phew!! That made sense! What a relief that I hadn’t blown a once in a lifetime opportunity after all. The moon had simply decided not to show up at the appointed time and instead hid behind a bank of hazy blueish-grayish clouds for an hour!

    Mark and I headed to two different spots along Sunset Point for the sunrise. As the moment got closer, more and more cars showed up in the parking lot. I looked out along the rim and noticed several other eager photographers standing faithfully behind their tripods waiting for Nature to unleash her wonders.

    Morning light Bryce Canyon National Park with snow in winter-min

    The snow glowed pink and orange at dawn.

    We all wanted that magical moment of a sunny starburst spreading rays of sunshine across the Canyon. And we all worried it was going to be a dud as the horizon got brighter and brighter yet nothing happened. After missing out on the moon, I began to prepare myself to be heartbroken for missing out on the sunrise starburst too.

    But suddenly as I stared at the image on the back of my camera I saw the faint rays of a starburst beginning. I clicked the shutter repeatedly, and with immense satisfaction I watched the starburst grow and grow.

    Sunrise at Bryce Canyon National Park with snow in winter-min

    Sunrise!

    A few hundred yards away Mark was having the same experience. After it seemed like nothing would happen, the sun suddenly reached across the canyon while the calls of ravens in the distance welcomed a new day. How beautiful.

    Sunrise at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah winter visit with snow-min

    Good morning!!

    What a blessing to be alive and to be out here at this moment!

    As we hiked back to the truck, we compared notes with other photographers who were walking back too. One fellow told us he’d been hiking with a guy the day before who had been coming to Bryce Canyon National Park every winter for the last 40 years, and he’d said he had never seen the snow as deep and thick as it was this year.

    Blessing upon blessing!

    We had rushed out of the Sonoran Desert on a wing and a prayer because we’d seen three days of snow predicted for Canyon Country. Little did we know that we would be hitting Bryce Canyon when it had more snow than it had seen in many years!

    If you have a chance to get to Bryce Canyon during or after a snowstorm, jump on the opportunity. Even if the moon or sun plays games with you, you won’t be disappointed!!

    Subscribe
    Never miss a post — it’s free!

    More info about Bryce Canyon National Park:

    Other articles from our RV travels to Bryce Canyon National Park:

    All our visits to National Parks in North America and Southeast Asia:

    Index to all our National Parks and World Heritage Sites Articles

    Our most recent posts:

    More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.   New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff and check out our GEAR STORE!!

    <-Previous || Next->

    Grand Canyon – A Winter Wonderland with Snow!

    January 2019 – Even though we have a new Polaris RZR waiting to take us on lots of exciting back road adventures, we’ve had a hankering to do a National Parks Snowstorm Tour for several years now. Our snowy day trip to Jerome a few weeks ago further whetted our appetites, so this week when a blizzard was predicted for the Grand Canyon, we hit the road!

    Grand Canyon National Park in snow-min

    Grand Canyon National Park is a Winter Wonderland when it snows!

    We drove up from Phoenix to Flagstaff, Arizona, and when we got there we had to laugh at all the signs by the road advertising hats and gloves. Desert dwellers love to go to Flagstaff to see snow in the wintertime, and sometimes they forget their winter duds (or don’t even own any!).

    Snow had been in the forecast for Grand Canyon, but we saw only dustings and flurries until we climbed the last few miles to Grand Canyon’s South Rim about 75 miles north of Flagstaff. Then it began to snow hard, as it had been doing there for the last 24 hours.

    It was a little difficult to tell what was where under all the snow!

    Snowed in at Grand Canyon National Park-min

    Things looked a little different at the Grand Canyon than we’re used to seeing !

    But much to our surprise, despite the snow, Grand Canyon National Park was hopping. Cars zipped here and there, the shuttle buses from the hotels to the rim were packed, and as usual, the languages we heard around us were from all over the world.

    Exhilarated, we bundled up and hustled out to the closest overlook we could find on the Rim Trail.

    Ready to walk the snow trails at Grand Canyon National Park-min

    There was a lot of snow, but we were ready for it!

    What a shock it was to find that fog filled the entire Grand Canyon! We could barely see from one overlook to the next, never mind across the whole Grand Canyon to the other side 10 miles away.

    Drifts and blowing snow at Grand Canyon National Park overlook in snow-min

    Fog filled the Canyon and even obscured one viewpoint from the next!

    Nevertheless, tourists slipped and slid down the icy trails and out onto the overlooks to see what they could see — which was nothing!

    Grand Canyon overlook in snow-min

    Tourists filled the overlooks even though there was nothing to see!

    Despite the lack of a real Grand Canyon view, the fresh snow was beautiful and gave the Canyon a mystique we don’t often see.

    Fresh snow in Grand Canyon National Park-min

    Fresh snow, fog and mist gave the Grand Canyon a special beauty.

    Grand Canyon National Park snow and fog-min

    .

    The fog blew in and out and the snow began to fall harder and harder. A woman standing next to me wondered why I was hanging over the edge taking photos.

    Photographer in snow at Grand Canyon National Park-min

    A photographer takes photos of…fog?

    This was her first trip to the Grand Canyon, and although the snow and mist was lovely, she was really disappointed not to see the real view. “What does it usually look like?” She asked forlornly.

    Snow at Grand Canyon National Park in snow-min

    When you’ve come all the way to the Grand Canyon, you’ve gotta get out on an overlook,
    even if there’s nothing to see!

    Grand Canyon National Park overlook in snow-min

    Usually this tree has a great view!

    If only she’d been able to stay another day. When we got to the rim the next day, the snow had stopped falling and sunlight had begun to shine through.

    Rim Trail Grand Canyon National Park in snow-min

    The sun came out and cast shadows across the Rim Trail.

    And what an appearance it made. The light show across the canyon was spectacular!

    Clouds and snow at Grand Canyon National Park in snow-min

    The sun and clouds chased each other across the Grand Canyon.

    Grand Canyon National Park stormy sky-min

    What a glorious light show!

    We were blown away, and so was everyone else. A crowd began to form, and the usual dance of tourist antics and selfies began.

    Tourists at Grand Canyon National Park in snow-min

    Word got out that the Canyon was on display again, and the tourists lined up!

    Views and snow at Grand Canyon National Park-min

    Embracing the view.

    video

    This Aussie/American couple was narrating a video about visiting the Grand Canyon in a snowstorm.

    We were mesmerized watching the light and shadows chasing each other through the billowing curtains of mist and fog.

    Light and shadow at Grand Canyon National Park-min

    Meanwhile the light show went on.

    Fog and clouds Grand Canyon National Park-min

    Puffs of misty clouds swept by.

    Snow at Grand Canyon National Park-min

    The Grand Canyon is magical at any time of year, but this was a special moment.

    Everyone was taking selfies and handing their cameras around, so we joined right in and did the same.

    Happy campers at Grand Canyon National Park-min

    We joined the selfie mania. Why not?!

    Puppy in snow at Grand Canyon National Park in snow-min-min

    Buddy loved the view and being part of the view too!
    Fortunately for him, leashed pets are allowed on the trails above the rim.

    Most of the Grand Canyon overlooks were closed because the road to them hadn’t been plowed. The whole drive to Hermit’s Rest on the west side of the South Rim was closed and the road to Desert View on the east side was closed as well.

    Grand Canyon National Park after a snowstorm-min

    .

    Great Crevasse Grand Canyon National Park-min

    The canyon walls in that crack are thousands of feet high!

    So, everyone stayed on the Rim Trail and visited just one or two viewpoints. The funny thing is that even though the total number of tourists at the Grand Canyon was a tiny fraction of what you’d see midsummer, because we were all concentrated in one small area it was still packed!

    But it didn’t matter and the makeshift nature of things kind of added to the fun. This was a very special moment to be in this place, and everyone was thrilled to be here.

    Blizzard at Grand Canyon National Park-min

    .

    Virgin snow Grand Canyon National Park-min

    .

    We all knew the sun would last for only a short while this afternoon because more snow was on its way. So the mood was almost giddy.

    Grand Canyon National Park after snow storm-min

    What a view!

    Grand Canyon National Park snowy view-min

    .

    Grand Canyon National Park snow-min

    .

    We had buzzed up from Phoenix in our truck and left our fifth wheel trailer behind. Even though the trailer camground was open at Grand Canyon and we saw some rigs with snow on their roofs, we’d decided to take a vacation from our vacation and stay in a hotel.

    Snow at Grand Canyon National Park-min

    .

    Grand Canyon National Park snow view-min

    .

    The fantastic thing about the Grand Canyon in the wintertime is that a lot of folks cancel at the last minute when they see snow in the forecast. So rooms were available for 50 cents on the dollar.

    Clouds and snow at Grand Canyon National Park-min

    .

    Grand Canyon National Park snow at overlook-min

    .

    If you’re in Arizona for the winter and you want to see something very special, watch the weather forecast at the Grand Canyon and head there when the snow falls!

    Clouds and fog Grand Canyon National Park-min

    .

    Puppy plays in snow in Flagstaff Arizona-min

    Next time you see snow in the forecast for the Grand Canyon, go for it!

    Subscribe
    Never miss a post — it’s free!

    More info about Grand Canyon:

    Other blog posts from our RV travels in Northern Arizona:

    Our most recent posts:

    More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.   New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff and check out our GEAR STORE!!

    <-Previous || Next->

    Bighorn Canyon – A River Runs Through It in Montana!

    July 2018 – The Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming have given us many special moments recently. We traversed the beautiful Bighorn Scenic Byway this past spring and spent part of last summer nestled alongside the Bighorn Mountains in the charming town of Buffalo, Wyoming.

    In Buffalo we not only enjoyed a festival for the Longmire TV show but also took part in an unusual celebration of the Basque sheep herders who settled the area over a century ago.

    During our time in this area the word “Bighorns,” in our minds, had become synonymous with “Mountains in Wyoming.” So, it was a huge surprise when I opened a Montana travel magazine a few weeks ago and saw a stunning photo of sheer canyon walls plunging down to a winding river with the caption: Bighorn Canyon. This we had to see!

    Devil's Overlook Horseshoe Bend Bighorn Canyon Montana and Wyoming

    Bighorn Canyon.

    Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area is managed by the National Park Service, and there are two districts, the South District which is accessed from Lovell, Wyoming, and the North District which is accessed near St. Xavier, Montana.

    Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area RV trip in Montana and Wyoming

    The drive into Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area from Lovell, Wyoming, is very scenic.

    The two districts are connected by the wonderfully twisting Bighorn River that snakes its way between the canyon walls for miles and miles in both Montana and Wyoming.

    However, the Bighorn National Recreation Area is not contiguous for visitors unless you travel on the Bighorn River by boat. The dirt road connecting the South and North Districts crosses through the Crow Indian Reservation which is private property.

    So, we decided we would check out the South District of Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area since it is not too far from Cody, Wyoming, and then loop around to the North District and see the canyon from that angle.

    Bighorn Canyon National Rec Area Scenic Drive Montana and Wyoming RV trip-min

    Bighorn Canyon Scenic Drive.

    The shock to our senses after spending several weeks in the high elevations of the Beartooth Highway and Chief Joseph Highway just outside Yellowstone National Park was incredible. Not only did we descend from cool summertime mountain temps in the low 70s to the baking heat of the desert in the mid-90s, but we went from lush greenery with wildflowers to a dusty crusty land full of red rocks.

    Bighorn Canyon scenic drive Montana and Wyoming RV trip-min

    .

    Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area Scenic drive by RV-min

    Red rocks!

    The most famous view on the southwest end of Bighorn Canyon is Devil’s Canyon Overlook just over the border on the Montana side. As we turned onto the road that heads out to this overlook we noticed a female bighorn sheep standing by the side of the road.

    Bighorn sheep ewe Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area RV trip in Montana and Wyoming

    A bighorn sheep stops grazing to look at us.

    BIghorn sheep ewe Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area RV trip in Montana and Wyoming

    .

    After taking a few pics we noticed that there were several more bighorn sheep munching the grass by the side of the road. A mama and her sweet little lamb caught our eye.

    Bighorn sheep at Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area RV trip Montana and Wyoming

    Mama Bighorn (shedding her winter coat) and her baby.

    We got out of the truck to have a closer look.

    Bighorn sheep lamb Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area Montana and Wyoming

    So cute!

    We noticed two other little lambs close by. They were adorable!

    Bighorn sheep lambs Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area RV trip in Montana and Wyoming

    Twice as cute!

    Bighorn sheep lambs Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area RV trip in Montana and Wyoming

    .

    What a treat it was to see all these bighorn lambs right by the road!

    Bighorn sheep lamb Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area RV trip in Montana and Wyoming

    .

    Just a little ways further on the view suddenly opened up and we were looking at the fabulous sheer walls of the Devil’s Canyon Overlook. Wow!

    Devil's Overlook Horseshoe Bend Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area RV trip Montana and Wyoming RV trip-min

    The view at Devil’s Canyon Overlook is very dramatic.

    Devil's Overlook Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area Horseshoe Bend RV trip in Montana and Wyoming

    .

    The towering canyon walls and the thin ribbon of water snaking between them reminded us a little of both Goosenecks State Park in Utah and Horseshoe Bend in Arizona.

    We had the place to ourselves and we ran around taking pics like mad.

    Photographer Devil's Overlook Horseshoe Bend Overlook Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area Montana and Wyoming RV trip-min

    What a spot to take some pics!

    Buddy trotted along the fence line, and he seemed to be enjoying the views too, although maybe he was just keeping an eye on the mice and other varmints that were scampering near the edge!

    Puppy checks out view Devil's Overlook Horseshoe Bend Overlook Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area RV trip-min

    Puppy Chow checks out the view and the varmints!

    The Devil’s Canyon Overlook is a big area and we walked along the edge peering into the canyon for a ways.

    Horseshe Bend Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area RV trip in Montana and Wyoming

    .

    Backtracking a little into the Wyoming side of the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, we found the Horseshoe Bend Marina and Campground. We loved seeing the boats tied up to the docks with the rich colors of the red rocks behind them.

    Horseshoe Bend Marina Bighorn Canyon Montana and Wyoming RV trip-min

    Horseshoe Bend Marina.

    At dawn we ran down to the beach to catch the sunrise.

    Horseshoe Bend beach Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area RV trip in Montana and Wyoming

    Sunrise on the Bighorn River.

    Wild yellow daisies swayed to and fro by the water’s edge.

    Daisies at sunrise Horseshoe Bend beach Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area RV trip in Montana and Wyoming

    Daisies dancing at dawn.

    The water in the Bighorn River reflected the sunrise beautifully.

    Sunrise Horseshoe Bend beach Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area RV trip in Montana and Wyoming

    .

    Sunrise Horseshoe Bend beach Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area RV trip in Montana and Wyoming

    .

    Red rocks at sunrise Horseshoe Bend beach Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area RV trip in Montana and Wyoming

    .

    The red rocks on the far shore took on a rich shade of burnt orange.

    Sunrise Red rocks Horseshoe Bend beach Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area RV trip in Montana and Wyoming-min

    .

    The beach and shoreline were deserted except for the three of us, and we had a wonderful time together playing by the edge of the water and watching the day wake up.

    Photographer and puppy Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area RV trip in Montana and Wyoming

    Happily busy on the beach at sunrise!

    Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area is most popular during the spring and fall when the temperatures are cool. But for visitors who stop by mid-summer, there are electric hookups at the marina campground at Horseshoe Bend, and the air conditioners of a handful of campers were happily purring away 24/7!

    Horseshoe Bend Campground Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area RV trip in Montana and Wyoming

    Camping at Horseshoe Bend Marina and campground.

    We will be back again at a more comfortable time of year, and we plan to visit the North District of Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area when it’s cool too. Our visit this time was a brief but wonderful detour that took us out of the snow capped mountains and into red rock country, and it whetted our appetites for a return trip!

    Subscribe
    Never miss a post — it’s free!

    More info about Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area in Montana:

    More blog posts about curvy rivers carving fabulous canyon walls:

    Other blog posts with bighorn sheep:

    Special places where desert meets water:

    Our most recent posts:

    More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.   New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff and check out our GEAR STORE!!

    <-Previous || Next->

    Glacier National Park’s “Many Glacier” – Crown of the Continent!

    June 2018 – We have visited Glacier National Park three times, and each time we have seen another jewel in this appropriately named “Crown of the Continent” National Park.

    Glacier National Park has several entrances, and all of them head towards the mountains in the crown. Like all the biggest and most famous National Parks, it deserves at least a week of exploring — or many return trips — to experience the beauty in any kind of depth.

    Approaching Many Glacier in Glacier National Park Montana-min

    As we approached Many Glacier the mountains rose before us in the distance.

    The most popular entrance to Glacier National Park is on the west side at West Glacier, but some of the most jaw-dropping views are on the east side, 120 miles away via an easy drive around the park or 50 miles away via the twisty, curvy mountain road that traverses Logan Pass in the middle of the Park.

    A few years ago we explored the park at the Two Medicine and St. Mary entrances on the east side, but somehow missed the stunning Many Glacier area. It is the furthest north entrance to the east side of Glacier National Park and is just 50 miles from Canada’s spectacular Waterton Lakes National Park.

    Waterton Lakes National Park abuts Glacier National Park along the US/Canadian border, shaking hands across the border in what is officially called Waterton-Glacier National Park in both countries.

    First views entering Many Glacier at Glacier National Park Montana-min

    We got a glimpse of Lake Sherburne as we drove in.

    Of the 60+ National Parks, Monuments and World Heritage Sites we have visited so far, Canada’s Waterton Lakes is one of our favorites. For anyone visiting Glacier National Park, we highly recommend driving the short distance and going through the very easy and small border crossing to have a look at Waterton Lakes, a vibrant and breathtaking jewel in the crown of Waterton-Glacier National Park.

    However, if you don’t have your passport with you, Many Glacier is very similar to Waterton Lakes and is truly awe-inspiring as well.

    Lake Sherburne and wildflowers Many Glacier Entrance Glacier National Park Montana-min

    Many Glacier at Glacier National Park in Montana

    When we visited Many Glacier this year, we got excited as soon as we saw the mountains appearing down the road in front of us. We stopped to enjoy the glorious wildflowers that were blooming along Lake Sherburne.

    Wildflowers blooming at Many Glacier National Park Montana-min

    Wildflowers were in bloom everywhere.

    Glacial lakes are vivid shades of turquoise and blue when the light catches them just right, and the mountains behind Lake Sherburne were truly majestic.

    Mountains and Swiftcurrent Lake at Many Glacier in Glacier National Park Montana

    Wow!

    Montana had an enormous amount of snow this past winter, and the rivers and lakes have been swollen for weeks as the snow has melted.

    A waterfall to our left on the road alongside Swiftcurrent Creek that is probably very modest at other times of the year was crashing over the rocks in an all fired rush to get downhill.

    Thunderous waterfall Swiftcurrent Creek Many Glacier at Glacier National Park Montana-min

    The waterfall on Sherburne Creek was roaring!

    Huge waterfall Swiftcurrent Creek Many Glacier at Glacier National Park Montana-min

    Montana had big snows and a rainy spring, so the water was rushing at full throttle.

    We walked along a short trail on the edges of the waterfall to get a closer look.

    Waterfall at Many Glacier in Glacier National Park Montana-min

    .

    Rushing waterfall Many Glacier at Glacier National Park Montana-min

    .

    At the end of the road leading into Many Glacier we crossed another area of rapids that is just upstream from the waterfall.

    Rapids on Swiftcurrent Creek at Many Glacier section of Glacier National Park Montana-min

    .

    And then we arrived at the most fabulous view. Jagged mountains formed a fantastic backdrop behind Swiftcurrent Lake. In the distance, the historic Many Glacier Hotel proudly watched over the lake as it has for over a century.

    Many Glacier Hotel Swiftcurrent Lake Glacier National Park Montana-min

    Swiftcurrent Lake at Many Glacier!

    Many Glacier Hotel in Glacier National Park on Swiftcurrent Lake-min

    Many Glacier Hotel is a Swiss Chalet style hotel that was built in 1914-15.

    We were mesmerized by the view, and we both shot at least three photos with every step we took as we wandered around on the shore. Looking at our photos later, Mark noticed he had captured a butterfly in one of his images. How cool!!

    Butterfly at Many Glacier in Glacier National Park Montana-min

    A butterfly flitted through Mark’s pic!

    The weather was constantly changing with the clouds chasing the sun away and then the sun trying very hard to chase the clouds away.

    Pine tree at Many Glacier in Glacier National Park Montana-min

    Many Glacier is so photogenic we had a blast wandering around taking pics.

    Mountains at Swiftcurrent Lake Many Glacier Entrance of Glacier National Park Montana-min

    .

    The valleys left by the immense earth-moving forces of the glaciers are all U-shaped with sloping sides and rounded bottoms.

    Glacier carved valleys across Swiftcurrent Lake Many Glacier National Park Montana-min

    .

    Pine tree at Swift Current Lake Many Glacier in Glacier National Park Montana-min

    .

    There is a small gravel beach along the shoreline and a dirt road wanders around the hotel property.

    Swiftcurrent Lake at Many Glacier in Glacier National Park Montana-min

    A dirt road wanders near the shore and hiking trails go all over the place.

    Beach at Swiftcurrent Lake in Many Glacier section of Glacier National Park Montana-min

    .

    In 1914-15, long before Glacier National Park was created in 1932, the Great Northern Railway built the Swiss Chalet style Many Glacier Hotel on the banks of Swiftcurrent Lake. The railroad barrons at the time wanted to encourage people to travel on their trains, so they went to great lengths to create enticing destinations at the ends of their lines.

    Another beautiful resort that sprang into existence this way is Sun Valley, Idaho, which was created as a skiing destination for the Union Pacific Railroad.

    What a fabulous property Many Glacier Hotel is, and how exotic it must have been to journey there and spend some time over 100 years ago. It would be fabulous to stay there now!!

    Many Glacier Hotel Glacier National Park Montana-min

    Many Glacier Hotel

    Many Glacier Hotel Glacier National Park Montana-min

    .

    Many rooms not only have lake views but have a porch that opens onto the lake.

    Balcony view of Swiftcurrent Lake at Many Glaicer Hotel in Glacier National Park Montana-min

    Some rooms have a little porch and a fabulous view.

    As we wandered around the hotel we noticed two restaurant workers from the fancy Ptarmigan Dining Room taking a break and soaking in the views from the parking lot.

    I started chatting with one of them and discovered that he was living right at Many Glacier in dormitory style housing while working at the restaurant for a four month summer job gig. It was his fourth summer doing it, and he absolutely loved it.

    “All you need to bring is your hiking boots,” he told me, “and we make great money too!”

    Wow!!

    He’d had restaurant serving experience before, but he said the hotel was still hiring for this summer and that folks with no restaurant experience bus tables and do other entry level jobs.

    Swiss Chalet style Many Glacier Hotel on Swiftcurrent Lake Glacier National Park Montana-min

    Climbing up on the hillside opposite the hotel we got some wonderful shots.

    Future full-time RVers often wonder how they can make money on the road. Working at a restaurant overlooking a stunning view serving happy guests who are on vacation in one of the most picturesque spots in our country wouldn’t be a bad way to pick up some pocket money.

    And for folks who don’t need a summer job themselves but who know young adults who’d appreciate a thrilling summer experience, what a fabulous summer that would be! You have to be at least 18 to apply. I know I would have far preferred working in the Many Glacier Hotel kitchen over the urban kitchen that did employ me my 18th summer so many decades ago!

    Many Glacier Hotel on Swiftcurrent Lake Glacier National Park Montana-min

    What a place to call home for a few days or a few months!

    We just scratched the surface of Many Glacier on a quickie in-and-out visit this time around. But we will be back to explore it in greater depth in the future. Unfortunately, adorable puppies aren’t allowed on National Park hiking trails, which hampers us a little nowadays. For folks without a dog in tow, there are oodles of hikes and alpine lakes and mountain views all around Many Glacier. What a jewel it is!

    Many Glacier Hotel viewed across Swiftcurrent Lake in Glacier National Park Montana

    Looking back across Swiftcurrent Lake at Many Glacier Hotel.

    The restaurant hadn’t yet opened for the season when we visited, so we didn’t have a chance to check it out. But many tables are situated next to big windows that look out on the lake, and the server I talked to assured me the food was really good. Sounds awesome! It is on our list for next time!

    Subscribe
    Never miss a post — it’s free!

    More info about Glacier National Park and Many Glacier:

    Other blog posts from Waterton-Glacier National Park in Montana and Alberta, Canada:

    Our most recent posts:

    More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.   New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff and check out our GEAR STORE!!

    <-Previous || Next->

    Badlands National Park – Rugged Beauty on a South Dakota RV Trip

    August 2017 – Several states boast rugged landscapes that are known as “Badlands,” and we have enjoyed two trips to the mysterious Bisti Badlands in New Mexico. But the Badlands in South Dakota are sizeable enough to have been set aside as a National Park.

    Landscape Badlands National Park South Dakota

    Badlands (along with dot-sized cows) in South Dakota

    The town of Wall, home of Wall Drug, sits right next door to Badlands National Park, and after just a short drive from town we found ourselves immersed in the moonscape of a windswept desert where relentless erosion has shaped the sedimentary rock into an endless array of triangles.

    South Dakota Badlands Scenery

    Rugged “badlands” landscape

    As far as our eyes could see, the land was rippled with peaks and valleys, natural pyramids and buttes.

    South Dakota Badlands scenery

    Slightly hazy from smoke coming from Montana’s wildfires, the golden glow was still beautiful.

    Unlike Bisti Badlands, the rock in Badlands National Park is not brightly colored. There is a small section that features rolling yellow and red mounds, but for the most part the land is filled with shades of brown and beige. Despite the drab colors, it is a very stimulating place for photography, and we had fun trying to capture the essence of this desolate land on our cameras.

    Photography Badlands National Park South Dakota

    .

    Golden Hour Badlands National Park South Dakota

    .

    Badlands National Park is quite popular, and there are several overlooks where you can get an outstanding view.

    Overlook at Badlands National Park South Dakota

    There are badlands as far as the eye can see!

    For us, one of the coolest things in Badlands National Park was the large resident herd of bighorn sheep. These guys wander throughout the park at their leisure. They are well accustomed to tourists and totally unafraid of people. Best of all, it didn’t take long to spot them relaxing on the various precipices and promontories as they took in the views of the Badlands!

    Bighorn Sheep Badlands National Park Overlook South Dakota

    Two bighorn sheep enjoy the awesome view.

    Like the wild animals at Custer State Park and Yellowstone National Park, this herd of bighorn sheep can hardly be called “wild.” The rangers keep a close eye on the herd and follows their movements about the Park. To help with their monitoring, some of the bighorn sheep have been outfitted with collars that carry rather bulky radio beacons, complete with a long antenna.

    Bighorn sheep walks past an RV wearing a radio collar

    Have radio, will travel! If the rangers gave this sheep an iPhone X, he could make calls and post pics on Facebook!!

    This wasn’t the first time we’d seen bighorn sheep decked out with radios around their necks. The whereabouts of a herd of bighorn sheep at Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area is monitored this way, and the elk that have repopulated Great Smoky Mountains National Park are tracked via radio beacon too.

    But the animals seem to manage just fine despite this bulky electronic gear, and only a few in the herd were collared. As the sun set, we found ourselves very close to the herd as they munched the grasses near the road, and we were able to get some wonderful portraits at close range!

    Bighorn sheep at sunset Badlands South Dakota

    .

    Bighorn sheep (ovis canadensis) really are in the sheep family (ovis), and they have been around on the North American continent for millenia. During our stay in Wyoming, we’d had a chance to get some fun mom-and-baby shots of domestic sheep too (ovis aries), and this made for an interesting comparison between the two species.

    Mama sheep and her lamb

    Very sheepish, but a little different looking!

    Bighorn sheep in the prairie grasses Badlands South Dakota

    .

    Pretty soon the herd began to leave the roadside and make its way across the shimmering golden grasses of the Badlands. The crowd of tourists on the side of the road murmured and held up their cell phones to capture this majestic and classic western sight unfolding before our eyes. How fabulous!

    Bighorn sheep family at sunset Badlands South Dakota

    A family of bighorn sheep moves through the golden grasses.

    Big horn sheep family at sunset Badlands South Dakota

    .

    Herd of bighorn sheep Badlands South Dakota

    .

    Badlands National Park turned out to be an excellent place for wildlife viewing, and one day at a watering hole just outside the Park we spotted a flock of pelicans getting a drink and a bath. What an unexpected surprise!

    Pelican Badlands National Park South Dakota

    Here’s a Badlands visitor we didn’t expect to see!

    But perhaps the most endearing animals were the prairie dogs. These little guys are just too cute for words!

    Tourists like us love them, of course, because of their funny antics as they pop in and out of their holes. But they are not so popular with ranchers because their massive dog town communities spread out for acres and acres. They dig up the grasslands, leaving very recognizable little piles of dirt outside their holes, and it’s just too easy for a horse to step in a hole by accident and injure itself.

    But we couldn’t resist them!

    Prairie Dog Secrets Badlands National Park South Dakota

    “I wanna let you in on a little secret…”

    Two Prairie Dogs Badlands National Park South Dakota

    “No… are you serious?!”

    Prairie Dogs Badlands National Park South Dakota

    “Hey! Guess what I just heard…!!”

    We made our way across the Park, and at sunset the striped eroded sediment rock of the Badlands began to glow.

    Badlands National Park South Dakota

    .

    Badlands National Park South Dakota

    .

    As we drove out of the Park the sun slowly sank out of sight and disappeared behind the hills, taking the rich golden light and dark shadows with it. Suddenly, we spotted one of the bighorn sheep standing on a ridge against the fabulous Badlands backdrop. What a classic image!

    Bighorn Sheep Badlands National Park South Dakota

    First there was one…

    Then two of his buddies joined him.

    Bighorn sheep Badlands National Park South Dakota

    …and then there were three!

    So often we have looked around at a classic western desert landscape and said, “Wouldn’t it be perfect to see a bighorn sheep standing right there!” And there they were right in front of us!

    Red ball at sunset Badlands National Park South Dakota

    The sun sets in a fireball of red.

    If Badlands National Park seems a little out of the way, or if the scenery itself doesn’t lure you to the Park, perhaps the chance to see large communities of prairie dogs and a sizeable herd of bighorn sheep will. We were surprised at just how easy it was to spot these animals and how much they make an otherwise barren landscape come alive.

    RV camping in the South Dakota Badlands at sunset

    .

    Subscribe
    Never miss a post — it’s free!

    More info about Badlands National Park:

    Other blog posts from other Badlands adventures:

    Other fun encounters with wildlife:

    Our most recent posts:

    More of our Latest Posts are in the MENU.
    New to this site? Visit RVers Start Here to find where we keep all the good stuff!!

    <-Previous || Next->