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We left Canyon de Chelly early in the morning and drove to Hovenweep National Monument. Neither of us can remember being to Hovenweep before. On the way we passed through more desolate country. There was a large fire taking place and we could see the smoke for miles. When we arrived at Hovenweep we could smell the smoke and the sky had a haze to it.

We decided to walk the Little Ruin Trail which was only about 1.5 miles.

I was intrigued by the fact that several of the ruins were build in a gully. I would have though they would have been washed away in a flash flood.



After leaving the Toadstool we drove back toward Page and caught the Cottonwood Canyon road which would take us to Lower Hackberry Canyon. I had also been on this trail a number of years ago but had long since forgotten the name of the canyon. The road on the first visit was like a washboard and I thought I would shake my car apart. I had also forgotten that the best way to hike this trail is in sandals. If you can walk in the water it is just a matter of walking up the stream. On the other hand if you are wearing your hiking boots you will spend a lot of time looking for places to cross the stream since it meanders through the canyon. We both felt this was the best hike of the trip and I would highly recommend it particularly if you have younger kids along. They will have a blast splashing through the water on a hot day.

More photos from Lower Hackberry Canyon can be found on my website.

It seems you can’t avoid nut cases even in the middle of nowhere. Some jerk was driving these cattle along the road and refused to slow down and wait for them to leave the road.

The canyon is way off in the distance in this photo. There were some beautiful bushes blooming along the road.

There were some beautiful bushes blooming along the road.


The road to the Canyon was really if fairly good shape. There were only a few places where it was like a washboard. The ranger had mentioned that it had rained about a week earlier and she hadn’t been down the road since. It appears that some people were in the canyon when it rained and it also looked like they had a difficult time getting out. There were a number of places where the road was deeply rutted.

We had planned on hiking a couple of days in Zion but my wife didn’t like the motel we were staying at. I thought it was OK. I had planned driving down to Page and then entering the drawing to get into the Wave. However, I discovered that the Wave drawings were now being held in Kanab at the visitors center. Thus we decided to cut our visit to Zion short and drive to Kanab and stay. It was much less expensive and the hotel was excellent. That evening we had a nice meal and during the meal noticed some photos of a slot canyon in the area. We found out the locals called it Peek-a-boo Canyon We talked to the owner about it and he suggested getting a guided trip to theĀ  canyon.

That evening we checked out the canyon on the web. The next morning we headed to the visitors center for the Wave drawing. The last time I was at a drawing it was held at the Paria Contact Station. That time there were about a dozen people at the station for the drawing and it was a simple process of putting your name and the number in your party on a slip of paper which was then drawn out of a hat. When we arrived at the visitors center there were already quite a few people signed up. It was a little more complicated signup process. When the drawing took place there were over a 100 people attending. Needless to say we didn’t get a slot since there are only 10 slots available and those attending the drawing probably represented 300 people. It was a fun experience and the ranger conducting the drawing was quite funny and kept the atmosphere light. My wife took a cell phone photo during the drawing.

While we were at the visitors center we asked about Peek-a-boo Canyon. The gave us a map and suggested that we would walk in to the Canyon. It was about 4 miles on the road. We could not drive because you need an ATV or a serious 4 wheel drive vehicle to make it. We thought about hiking but finally decided to drive out to Dreamland Safari Tours and see if they could take us out. We lucked out. They had a tour booked for noon and had space for us. At this point we had a couple of hours to spare so we decided to drive out to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. I had visited the Sand Dunes about fifteen years ago and thought it was great.

When we arrived at the Sand Dunes we were very disappointed to find that ATV’s and motor cycles were allowed on the dunes. In the old days they were confined to a section away from the main dunes. Now they had the run of most of the park. Nothing like going out to enjoy nature and having to dodge ATV’s and listen to them roar by. Apparently the state doesn’t have the backbone to say no to the nuts that want to race around on their ATV’s.

We noticed these deer at the edge of the dunes. The could hear the ATV’s coming.

We ended up taking photos of small sections on the dunes that had not been destroyed by the ATV’s. I have to say this will not be on our list of places to stop the next time we are in the area.

As we were driving away from the Dunes we found a large flock of American Avocet’s wading in a small wet area along the road.


We arrived in Zion late in the afternoon. As we drove into the park we could see the rocks changing in color.

More photos from Zion can be found on my website.

We drove on to Springdale where we checked in to our hotel, did some laundry and then headed out to grab a bite to eat. When we returned to our hotel we were greeted with this display on the rocks across the valley.

The next morning we headed out to the park. Access to the park is by bus so we loaded up and road to the end of the bus line where we walked along the riverside trail. It was difficult to photograph in the morning light because one wall of the canyon was in deep shadows and the other in bright sunlight. It was early spring in Zion and the trees were just leafing out creating some beautiful colors.

We encountered this rock cairn along the trail.

We worked our way back toward the park entrance stopping at each of the stops to hike. We took the Kayenta Trail up toward the Emerald Pools. Along the way We had some great views of the canyon floor. The spring wildflowers were out along the trail. When we started out in the morning the Emerald Pools trail was closed but as we continued hiking we discovered that the trail had been opened earlier in the morning. Apparently it was closed because of a rock slide. The Emerald Pools weren’t all that great but there was a nice waterfall that we could walk behind.


We then worked our way out of the park.

The following morning we drove out to Sunrise Point. It was a beautiful morning. We took a few photos from Sunrise Point and then started walking down the Queen’s Garden Trail. There were already folks out hiking.

More photos from Bryce Canyon can be found on my website.

As we reached the bottom a bathroom emergency arose. The closest bathrooms appeared to be back up at Sunrise Point so we turned around and raced back to the top. Fortunately it was still cool out or we wouldn’t have made it.

After regrouping we decided to drive over to Sunset Point and hike down the Navajo Loop Trail. Unfortunately Wall Street was closed because the constant freezing and thawing was causing rocks to fall. We hit the trail head just ahead of a large group of foreign students who were on spring break.

At the bottom we made a wrong turn and ended up on a horse only trail. I wondered what was going on when everyone else went one direction and we went the other.

We decided to turn around and retraced our way back to the main trail. We hadn’t gone fare when it started to snow rather heavily. It wasn’t sticking to the ground and it made the trail a mess.

Fortunately we had our rain gear with us but I did put away my main camera and brought out my little pocket camera.

As we worked our way back up the Queen’s Garden Trail things started to clear once again.

Because we spent time in the morning at Capital Reef we didn’t arrive in Bryce until late in the day. A fellow traveler told us the park had been closed a few days earlier because of snow so we were in no hurry to get to Bryce. We hoped to go out for some sunset shots but it started raining so we decided have a nice steak dinner and wait until morning. The next morning we were up early and drove over to sunrise point. I was a bit disappointed because the sunrise was not that great.

More photos from Bryce Canyon can be found on my website.

After spending a little time looking around and taking a few photos we headed off to Bryce Point where we were going to hike the Peekaboo Loop Trail. I had forgotten that Bryce Point was one of the higher points in the park. Since since it had snowed a few days before and rained the evening before we immediately encountered mud and snow. It was the type of mud that clings to your hiking boots. It was also a little tricky in spots with a nice drop off. My wife doesn’t like high places. After going a few hundred yards we talked about turning around but decided to keep going. We were both happy that we did because it was a long but enjoyable hike.

It was spring and still cool out. Fortunately we like cool and try to plan our trips so we can travel and hike in nice cool weather. There were lots of tunnels on the trail.

The views in the park were truly spectacular. It was a cloudy day and it appeared that it might rain but it didn’t. The overcast made it a little easier to shoot without the harsh light. On the trail we met another photographer who hadn’t realized how many photos he would be taking and ran out of batteries. He had left one battery plunged in at the park store so he would have it charged when he returned.

After finishing our hike we drove back to the hotel stopping at some of the pullouts to take a few photos. We encountered these two women taking photos and one pullout. As you can see there was still quite a bit of snow at the higher elevations.

After dinner we drove out to Sunset Point to take a few photos. Not much of a sunset.

After spending a good part of the day driving around Capital Reef National Park we headed for Bryce. We took highway 12 over the mountains. The evening before we had talked with someone who had just arrived from Bryce and she said they closed the park for a while because of all of the snow. We did encounter quite a bit of snow as we drove over the mountains but once over the mountains there wasn’t any snow. My wife was concerned about the road because in places we were driving on narrow pieces of land with big drop offs on both sides. The Henry Mountains are in the background. A few days before we were looking at them from Canyonlands.


After our hike to Hickman Bridge we stopped at the Visitors Center. The place was packed and it turned out that many of the schools were on spring break. That’s why there have been so many people visiting the parks. We took the Scenic Road and then followed Capital Gorge Road to the end where we planned on taking a hike. Capital Gorge Road is dirt and not all that wide in some places. A sign at the start of the road indicated that campers over 17 feet should not enter this road. When we reached the end of the road the parking lot was packed and a large camper was stuck across the road. No one could get in or out. A bunch of people were working to get the camper free but it was slow going. Apparently the driver had attempted to turn around and dropped the front tires over a sharp drop off. We decided to forget the hike and managed to turn around. In spite of the issues it was a very nice drive through the canyons.



Early the next morning we headed back to Capital Reef. Our goal was to hike the Hickman Bridge Trail. Even though it was early the parking lot was filling up. On of the things we learned on this trip is that if you want a place to park get their early. The trail was well marked and there were a fair number of people on it. Fortunately when we reached Hickman Bridge we had the place to ourselves for a while. However it wasn’t long before the selfie group turned up.

More photos from capital Reef can be found on my website.

As we drove past one of the orchards on the way to the trailhead we encountered a bunch of Wild Turkeys. We, along with a number of others, stopped to get some photos. It was mating season and the males were putting on quite a display. We also stopped for a few photos of the petroglyphs.

After Leaving Goblin Valley we headed toward Torrey, Utah where we would spend the night. It was late in the day when we reached Capital Reef and the light on the rocks was spectacular. We stopped many times for pictures. For some reason my wife and I had negative views of Capital Reef from an earlier trip but as it turned out we didn’t allow nearly enough time to enjoy the park.

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