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As some of you know, not only were we home (Maryland) for almost a month, we’re now on the road again, New York and as of yesterday Vermont, heading for Canada.  Even so, Utah is just so magnificently beautiful and Ed’s photographic eye captures it so well, I still want to share our adventure and lots of pictures with you…   sooooo…

Leaving Wapatki Monument we headed north on US 89 toward Page and Lake Powell which we wrote about back in May of 2017.  We spent the night at the Page Lake Powell Campground where we’ve stayed before and tried to ignore the first really hot day we’d had pretty much this whole trip.


The water level in Lake Powell is way down.

Utah’s Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument begins just outside of Page and we had heard good things about the White House Trailhead Campground about 30 miles on up US 89.  Stopping in at the Paria Contact Station, the nice BLM (Bureau of Land Management) lady said we might have a little trouble with the last dip in the dirt road but there was a spot about 1 ¾ miles back where we could camp.  She doesn’t know us 🙂 We went the full 2 miles with no problem and being there early in the day had our choice of 4 of the 6 small sites; (there are also 5 walk-in tent sites beyond these sites).


Whack-A-Mole Wheels camped at White House Trailhead, in Paria Canyon, Utah.


The urRu/Mystics were watching over us. You will know the reference or you won’t. But here’s a clue – Dark Crystal.


The Paria River “flows” down the canyon passed White House Trailhead.


The wind creates beautiful leaf tracks in the sand and dust.

After our lovely 2 days at White House, we popped back south on US 89 a mile and a half to the Toadstools Trailhead where we did the short and easy hike back to see these fun rock formations.


Toadstools, also known as Hoodoos, are formed when weathering removes the softer sandstone from around a harder sandstone cap.


On the trail back to the toadstools, we discovered evidence in the sand of a pursuit of one type of critter by another more slithery type. 🙂

Bryce Canyon National Park was on our list back in the fall of 2016, but at 8,000 to 9,000 feet it was too cold when we were “in the neighborhood” so it was front and center on this Spring’s Utah adventure list.  As navigator, I directed Ed to continue on north along US 89 to Johnson Canyon Road which was supposed to be very pretty. The filming set for the old TV show “Gunsmoke” was also supposed to be on this road.


The first part of Johnson Canyon Road which was quite beautiful and also paved… Then it becomes rough, washboarded dirt and the country is just flat and ugly.  As far as the Gunsmoke set, it’s on private property and was completely falling down and derelict. Oh, well…

Once out of the awfulness of the end of Johnson Canyon 89 is pretty and unlike the last time we were here the Sevier River had a lot of water in it.  Just shy of four miles down the righthand turn onto Rt 12 we were happy to find a not quite level spot at the first come, first served, Red Canyon Campground in the Dixie National Forest where with our America the Beautiful Senior Pass the price is $9 a night. We ended up staying 4 nights. 🙂

NOTE:  These America the Beautiful LIFETIME passes were only $10 when we bought ours a few years ago.  They have since gone up to $80 but even at that price if you do a lot of national parks, monuments and sites (a handful of states also recognize them) these passes are worth every cent.  Generally, they cut the price of admission either in half or FREE!


Bryce Point at the furthest point on the road in the park is the start of a nice walk on the Bristlecone Pine Loop trail. There are shuttle buses that do a partial loop in the park.  In an RV when the shuttle is running you cannot stop at those spots so you need to take the shuttle.  However, there are many more viewpoints, including this one where you can park and get out to see the view or hike.


Natural Bridge is one of the viewpoints where the shuttle bus does not stop.


Piracy Point, another non-shuttle stop.

Just a couple of words about Bryce and then I will let Ed’s photographs and our comments tell the rest of the story.  First ~ Put this on your MVL (Must Visit List) but DO IT OFF SEASON!  It actually wasn’t too bad but we strongly suggest you start each day early to get a jump on the crowd.  We had a nice chat with one of the shuttle bus drivers when no one else was on board and he said in the last couple of years Utah is making a BIG push to attract tourists. They are pushing extra hard in Asia and Europe and judging from the myriad of languages we heard here (and in 2016 at Zion), they’re getting a huge response. He also said their visitor numbers are doubling every year lately!  Second ~ Stop at every overlook and look 🙂 . Third ~ Hike, a little or a lot, get out and walk at least some of the rim trail and down into the canyon.  Some folks claim it’s all the same but from subtle to radical it’s really all different!  Fourth ~ watch for the Violet-green Swallows.  They are beautiful. Ed tried to get a photo but they are too fast!   Mostly JUST GO!! 🙂


Swallow nests made of mud from the Paria River at White House Canyon.


Frank H. Clark, Sept. 25, 1911, left his mark on the wall at White House Trailhead.


An old stile that was in a fence that is no longer here.  Someone ranched this area back in the day but no longer.


The sandstone cliffs are what remains of ancient sand dunes and the lovely shapes and patterns are carved by wind and water.


The swirls and ribbons left by different colored sand and dust blowing into dunes and over the ages metamorphosing into lovely sandstone cliffs.


And then there’s the color of the cactus blooming amongst the sand dunes.


Toadstools Trail.  Marti likes the white cliffs better than the toadstool formations.


This speaks for itself.


A roadside attraction while Johnson Canyon Road was still pretty.


In Bryce Canyon, a Peregrine Falcon eyes Ed but decides better of it.


Another vista at Bryce.


A fire started by a lightning strike years ago leaves a scar but the forest always comes back.


John’s Valley Road, a 60-mile side trip originates across from the Bryce Canyon entrance road. We decided we needed a break from all the red and orange rock and so headed north down Black Canyon towards the small town of Antimony. 


The Osiris site at the base of Black Canyon is now an abandoned mill site.  


Coming out of John’s Valley Rd, at Kingston and then onto Rt 89, look what we found! Butch Cassidy’s boyhood home.


The next day we went for a hike down the Queen’s Garden Trail into the canyon.  Marti said it would be fun.  She failed to mention the last mile part…


Heading down on the Queen’s Garden trail.


… and down some more.  Why is everybody coming in the other direction?


Ed found some shade.


But, it does give you a whole new perspective.


Still going down…


And here’s Queen Victoria for whom the gardens are named.


In case you didn’t see her in the photo above.


Nearing the end of the down part is the shady part looking down into the valley and Marti’s gourmet lunch, granola bars, and water.


The up part starts,


and here’s the part Marti left out, 850ft. up over a mile of trail switchbacks.  The strategy was to go from shady spot to shady spot to get our breath.


A view of Thor’s Hammer formation near the top.  It was pretty, Ed admits and worth the climb.


looking back down the trail, you got to admit it’s spectacular.


Goodbye from Bryce Canyon! We hope you can make it too someday.