Sunset in Springdale

The Canyon Circle Road Trip: Part VI

Bryce Canyon to Springdale (Zion)

After breakfast at Ruby’s we took a couple of hours to revisit Bryce canyon, this time stopping at different viewpoints within the Amphitheatre Region. In winter you cannot travel to the south of the park and because of the heavy snowfall over the weekend even some of the usually accessible points were only open to cross-country skiers, not vehicles, and the delightfully named Fairyland Point was closed. No matter. We got all the views we could hope to see from Inspiration Point, Sunset Point and Sunrise Point. It must be wonderful to be able to hike the trails among the hoodoos in the spring/summer months. Queen’s Garden Trail, Navajo Loop and Peekaboo Loop are just a few.

Bryce Canyon Amphitheatre
Bryce Canyon Amphitheatre

Bryce Amphitheatre is the largest natural amphitheatre in the park. Vast panoramas can be seen from Inspiration Point and Sunrise Point which feature the Black Mountains in the northeast and Navajo Mountain in the south.

A tricky trail
A tricky trail
Bryce Canyon Amphitheatre
Sinking Ship and The Table Cliff Plateau

Technically Bryce is not a canyon because canyons are primarily carved by flowing water – a stream or river. Naturally acidic rainwater dissolves limestone, making the rounded edges of hoodoos, but the freezing and thawing of water does most of the sculpting at Bryce.

Sunset Point - a good viewpoint
Sunset Point – a good viewpoint
Bryce airport
Bryce airport

Back on the road we stopped again in Red Canyon, to get a few more photos.  There are several trails here too: Hoodoo Trail, Pink Ledges trail and Bird’s Eye Trail all moderate terrain and where you can see the rare plant species of the region and perhaps some of the wildlife too (mule deer, bobcats, eagles).

Red Canyon
Red Canyon

We were not shod for the snow, but managed to wander around a little to read the useful information plaques dotted around (and which are the source of information for this post).  The most interesting is the legend of Butch Cassidy. There is even a 9 mile Cassidy Trail close by, believed to have been used by the outlaw. North on Highway 89 towards Circleville is the cabin where Cassidy was raised, born Robert Leroy Parker, he was the oldest of 13 children of Mormon immigrants and formed a gang, the Wild Bunch, in his teens.

Butch Cassidy Draw
Butch Cassidy Draw

Turning south onto the 89  the Sevier River winds it way alongside, like a black snake in all the snow. Around nearby Duck Creek modern ranches stand alongside decaying remains of ancient buildings. Horses breath steaming in the cold. At Hatch there were loads of antique shops, and any other time we’d have stopped for a browse, but we wanted to move on to the final destination on our itinerary. Pretty stands of Aspens lined the road, pink, white and yellow twiggy branches in the air.

If you turned north at the 89 / 12 junction you would reach the town of Panguitch – a name from a Native American word meaning big fish where there is year-round fishing. The most interesting story about the town though is the annual Panguitch Quilt Walk, celebrated in June every year when locally made quilts are on display.

The town was settled in 1864. The first winter was very tough. Frost killed all the crops before harvesting.  A few men tried to get to a nearby town for supplies but they kept falling through the several feet of snow. They discovered that if they lay down a quilt, walked over it, lay down another in front and retrieved the last one, they could walk over the frozen landscape. This ‘Quilt Walking’ enabled them to get to the nearby town and back and helped the settlers of Panguitch to survive.

Back at Mount Carmel Junction we turned right onto Highway 9 the east highway that leads into Zion National Park via tunnels and a switchback to the canyon floor. It was created to allow tourists to make their way round the Grand Circle of parks (Zion, Bryce and the Grand Canyon).

Bison outside Zion Canyon
Bison outside Zion Canyon
East entrance
East entrance
Mount Carmel Hwy
Mount Carmel Hwy

On entering the park at the eastern end you notice two things – the road is red to blend in with nature around it and the geology is spectacular.

Red Road
Red Road

Found near the east entrance is the Checkerboard Mesa. The name stems from the cliff’s distinctive chequerboard pattern. The horizontal lines are caused by cross-bedding, a remnant of ancient sand-dunes. The vertical lines formed because of the contraction and expansion of the sandstone.

Checkerboard Mesa
Checkerboard Mesa

The road loops and winds alongside Pine Creek until the tunnels where we waited in a queue to get through – larger vehicles need to be accompanied which is why there is a waiting time.

entering the tunnel
entering the tunnel

Some people had parked up to walk out to the Canyon Overlook Trail. It is very steep and narrow though so not suitable for everyone and can be extremely icy in winter. I walked a little way, before turning back, but did get to see some bighorn sheep on the way.

Bighorn Sheep
Bighorn Sheep

The tunnels were blasted through 1,000 feet high sandstone cliffs, the second one being over a mile long. Exiting the tunnel you get a good view of the Canyon and some of its most famous formations including the Great White Throne. There is a steep, 10 mile drive down switchbacks to the valley floor.

Window in the blasted tunnel above the valley floor
Window in the blasted tunnel above the valley floor

We drove through to the park’s southwest entrance and in to Springdale where we had booked a night in the Zion Canyon B&B only 1/2 mile from the entrance and close to park shuttle buses (summer months only).  A bit early to check in we found a lovely little deli and gift shop where we had good freshly made sandwiches and coffee for lunch. The best food so far.


The Canyon was once home to the Anasazi (a Native Indian word meaning Ancient Ones) whom historians believed lived here 2000 years ago and up to the 13th century. The Paiutes discovered the canyon next and were living here when  the first white people (Spanish Padres Silvestre Vélez de Escalante and Francisco Dominguez and the fur trapper Jedediah Smith) came through in the 1700s.) The first Mormon settler was Isaac Behunin who is credited with giving the Canyon its biblical name of Zion. Meaning a place of rest and refuge (Ancient Hebrew = sanctuary). Many of the rock formations have biblical names too.

In the afternoon we returned to the park and drove along the Scenic Floor of the Valley Road stopping at various places along the route, including the Emerald Pools Loop, Angels Landing and Temple of Sinawava. The Emerald Pool was very disappointing,  after following a rather icy trail I reached the first pool (puddle) which was a muddy brown. The trail continued underneath a dismal waterfall onto even more uneven ground at which point I turned back.

The Great White Throne
The Great White Throne

We were going to eat at the Whiptail Grill near the gas station on the edge of Springdale, but it closed at 7:30 p.m so we were too late. Most of Springdale’s restaurants were closed in March, but we finally found Blondies open where we had a decent burger and fries. Unfortunately much of Utah is dry so I opted for an ice-tea (thinking it would be one of those lemony sweet drinks) only to find it tasted just like bitter cold tea, and I do not like tea! Major fail. By now I was getting withdrawal symptoms for a good bottle of red wine.

Sunset in Springdale
Sunset in Springdale
Sunset in Springdale
Sunset in Springdale
Driving to Kanab

The Canyon Circle Road Trip: Part V

Page to Bryce Canyon

On Monday we left Page to drive to Bryce Canyon and our next stop. First we had a look at the Glen Canyon Dam which was the reason for the town of Page as it originated from housing the workers of the dam when construction started in 1957.

Bridge over the Glen Canyon Dam

Then we stopped at Lake Powell which is the largest lake in Arizona/Utah and famed for its water sports, fishing, hiking and boat trips to Rainbow Bridge (the world’s largest natural stone bridge).

Lake Powell with Navajo Mountain in the background
Lake Powell with Tower Butte and Navajo Mountain in the background

Lake Powell is arguably the most scenic lake in America, situated in some of Southern Utah’s finest red-rock desert country.

The River runs through us

Above: The Hydroelectric Project (Glen Canyon) and the Navajo Generating Station. Why are two power stations so close? The reason is the river. The availability of water at lake Powell, the proximity of a source of coal and a worker base in the city of Page determined the location.

Lake Powell
Lake Powell

Sparkling clear, blue water laps against towering, sheer, red-rock canyon walls and sandy beaches. Lake Powell has more coastline than the entire west coast and you need a water craft to access the majority of the canyons as access is limited because there are few roads.

Highway 89
Highway 89

Moving on we crossed the border into Utah which is only about ten miles from Page. Utah’s southwest corner is often called “Colour Country” and has a dry, hot climate and Highway 89 is a Heritage Highway because of the wealth of history along its route.


Driving past Paria Canyon and the Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness you then pass Cottonwood Canyon Scenic Backway with rugged peaks called the Cockscomb. Next is an area called Telegraph Flat named in 1876 when Western Telegraph opened an office here. It is now a ghost town.

Driving to Kanab
Driving to Kanab

The biggest town along the route is Kanab, famous for the Western Legends Roundup and Western Film Festival an annual event that is a tribute to the area’s rich movie history. Nearby is the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park (covered in snow as we passed ) where the rare plant, Welsh’s Milkweed, grows.

Coral Park Sand Dunes
Coral Pink Sand Dunes

The United Order experiment was instituted in 1874 for a communal lifestyle at the direction of Brigham Young. Eighty families moved here from Mount Carmel where the co-operative had failed.

It existed until the 1880s when it started to fall apart, though it had grown to more than 700. The families lived in apartments which were identical, they all ate in a common dining  hall and wore uniforms. Private property did not exist.

The next town is Mount Carmel Junction where Highway 9  to Zion National Park intersects with the 89  (and which we would be taking tomorrow as we retraced the next stage of our trip), a few miles on we drove through the unusually named Orderville.

Mount Carmel Junction was first settled by Dr Priddy Meeks in 1864 as part of Brigham Young’s plan to settle all of Utah’s territory. It was later named after a mountain in Israel.

John Wesley Powell first visited in 1872; he was the first white man to descend the East Fork of the Virgin River and who named the canyon “Parunuweap” from the Paiute word meaning roaring water canyon.

(source: wikipedia)

Coral Pink Sand Dunes
Coral Pink Sand Dunes
On to Highway 12
On to Highway 12
Heading to Bryce Canyon
Heading to Bryce Canyon

Just before Panguitch (another town with an interesting tale, which I will tell you about in my next post) you take a turn to the right on State Route 12, another of the All American Roads, which winds 124 miles through some of the most unique geology on earth. Almost immediately you hit Red Canyon, a section of the Dixie National Forest, with red hillsides dotted with ponderosa pines and hoodoos.

The Tunnels
The Red Canyon Tunnels

(Click an image to enlarge and for further information)

After 14 miles we took another right turn and headed back south on Highway 63 to Bryce Canyon National Park, so named after Ebenezer Bryce a Mormon pioneer. We were staying in the Best Western Ruby’s Inn which is a short distance from the park entrance.

Ruby's Lakeview Lodge
Ruby’s Lakeview Lodge

“Before there were any Indians the Legend people, To-When-an-ung-wa, lived in that place. There were so many of them. They were of many kinds – birds, animals, lizards and such things – but they looked like people…

For some reason the Legend People in that place were bad. Because they were bad Coyote turned them into rocks; some standing in rows, some sitting down, some holding onto others. You can see their faces with paint on them just as they were before they became rocks…”
~ a Paiute Indian Legend

After checking in and dropping our luggage in the Lakeview Lodge we headed off into the park to have a look at the incredible hoodoos that are concentrated in a horse-shoe shaped amphitheatres that provide amazing spots to watch the sun rise and set.

A perfect spot for star-gazing as there is no light pollution.


The 3 feet of snow that had fallen over the weekend meant that several of the pathways were under snow and walking was quite treacherous. It didn’t seem to put off some people though as we saw them climbing over fences to approach the end of a lookout point – oblivious to the fact that you couldn’t see the edge. I even saw two lads carrying a mate in a wheelchair to the edge of one viewpoint.

Snow in Bryce
Snow in Bryce
A lone cone
A lone cone
Navajo Loop note the steep, icy trail

From Sunset Point this trail takes you down onto the floor of the canyon and amongst the hoodoos. Not to be ventured on except by people in stout boots with walking poles, or idiots in fashion boots complete with high heels!!


We ate at Ruby’s that night, there isn’t really a lot of choice, but the food was reasonable – I can’t say that we’ve eaten any remarkable meals during this trip so far. It had been a long day with lots of interesting scenery along the way. There was a lot of snow all around and it was very cold, but thank goodness the roads were cleared and driving was a breeze.  Tomorrow should be another interesting day.

mist 3

Travel Theme: Misty

Ailsa of “Where’s My Backpack?” likes to linger in the MIST this week. If you would like to join in with her challenge then please do. Everyone is welcome.

Thinking of misty times takes me back to my first visit to Canada in 2005 and more specifically to Vancouver Island. Way up north on Cormorant Island in the Queen Charlotte Strait lies the historical village of Alert Bay. Home of the ‘Namgis First Nation a former thriving fishing community and now a centre of Native art and culture as well as orca whale watching tours and fishing.

mist 2

Although it was still August here the weather was distinctly autumnal with its “SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness!”

mist 1As the cloud descended over the far shore and the fog rose above the ocean that encircles the island we took to beach-combing along the shore  and hiking in the ecological park, our eyes forever drawn to the grey mantle over the sea.



A Word a Week Challenge: Contrast

Every week Sue from ‘A Word in Your Ear’ dips into her English Oxford dictionary and picks a word on the page that it falls open at. The challenge is to post a photograph, poem, story – whatever the genre you like best to describe what that word means to you.

This week’s challenge isO N T R A S T  (click to join in with the challenge)

RBG color wheel
On the colour  wheel you can see which colours contrast with each other as they lie opposite on the wheel e.g. magenta and lime, blue and yellow .

And it just so happens that this week I bought myself a bunch of lovely purple tulips with a contrasting yellow centre. Perfect for this challenge I thought :)


Originally cultivated in the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) Tulips were imported into Holland in the sixteenth century. Each year, theTulip Festival is organized in the Noordoostpolder. Held in the middle of the tulip fields, this flower festival runs from late April to early May.

The word tulip is probably derived from the Persian for turban because of a perceived resemblance of the shape of a tulip flower to that of a turban.



Windows from the New Testament

This weekly challenge is hosted by Dawn from ‘The Day After’ who invites participants to post pictures of any windows that  they find curious, inviting, photogenic, or in some way tell a story. Visit her blog to see more windows and/or to join in with the challenge.

Following on from last week’s post about Witley Court today I am showing you the windows from the local parish church for Great and Little Witley. A more elaborate church on such a small scale I have never seen; thank goodness this didn’t burn down at the same time as the house. It is a very small church as you can see from the header photo above!


Nine of the ten windows made from stained and enamelled glass by Joshua Price in 1719 and 1721 from designs by an Italian artist are scenes from the New Testament. I’ll let you try and work out what they depict.

(click an image to enlarge)

The pictures on the ceiling are painted by the Italian artist Antonio Bellucci (1654 -1726) and are oil on canvas.



This delectable baroque style church is St. Michael and All Angels Church, Great Witley.

Source: Great Witley Church




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