Thursday, June 24, 2010

Travels to Colorado via Utah and National Parks

We left Scotts Valley, Ca., on the 16th of June and started traveling east towards Colorado. Our first stop was at Travis AFB for fuel, grocery shopping and then headed towards Nevada. We traveled on I 80 east towards Reno and in Fernley, NV we headed towards Fallon, NV.
US Highway 50 America's Loneliest Highway

We recently read an article in Motorhome magazine about "America's Loneliest Highway" that crosses Nevada. Also, US Highway 50 was featured on a travel special as US 50 crosses the United States from Washington, DC to Sacramento, Ca. We mapped out a route to spend the night at Fallon Naval Air Station and then head out first thing in the morning traveling some 300+ miles across Nevada's open space.

We fueled up in Fallon before we left as the people we talked to all told us to make sure we were ready for the trip -- fuel, tires, food and drink, as once you leave Fallon there is little to no cell phone communications , Internet, or emergency phones along the highway. We traveled thru 3 small towns -- Austin, Eureka and Eli. The distance between towns was some 70+ miles apart if not further. As the article said we would go some 15-20 minutes without seeing any other vehicles on this road. The road was great to travel on but don't break down. We didn't even see any of the local or state police on this road. The only sign out there was for a warning to watch out for "Low Flying Aircraft" as this is an area that the military uses for training and sometimes they buzz the vehicles on this highway. We did not see any aircraft that day.

We stopped at a rest area along this highway and had lunch and while there, a couple from CT pulled in with their motorhome and parked along side of us. When we looked out there was the twin to our motorhome another 2007 Phaeton. We chatted with them for a while and found out there were heading west towards California where we left a couple of days ago.

We traveled about 8 - 1o hours that day and ended up in Beaver, UT and refueled at a Flying J Truck stop for the night. On Saturday we traveled about another 100 miles to Long Valley Jct, UT to the Lutherwood Campground located half way between Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks.

Lutherwood Campground, Long Valley, Jct, UT.

Lutherwood Campground is located a couple of miles down a dirt road and when we started down the road we both looked at each other and wondered what are we getting into. When we arrived the campground we were pleasantly surprised. The campground is run by the Lutheran Campground organization of the southwest. We found it in the Passport America book. We were told when we arrived to look out for deer.

At night there were anywhere from 6 - 12 mule deers that graze around the motorhomes and fields. There is a small basin with
water in it in front of our motorhome and the deer drank from there every night. We took several pictures from inside the m/h thru the windshield and side windows of the deer. Another thing about the campground is at night the temp drops to the 40's and the days to the high 70's low 80's.

There must be a cattle farm close by as the cows walk up to the higher elevations in the morning and return at sunset to the lower canyon.

Zion National Park, UT.
We set up and prepared for a day in Zion on Sunday and traveled the park. We drove in from the East gate and went about 11 miles to the Visitor's center. The park's road from the East gate is under construction to about a mile from the Center. We did get to see some beautiful spots along East side entrance like Checkerboard Mesa and mountain that has erosion/crack like marks that run from North colors are beautiful. Then there are a couple of tunnels cut into the mountain -- a short one and then another tunnel about a mile long with windows cut in the sides. The tunnels have very low clearance and if we had taken the motorhome we would have had to have an escort and run down the center of the road as the sides would have made a convertible of our motorhome. We got to the Visitor Center and boarded theto South and East to West and at certain times of day the shuttle bus for a scenic tour that runs about 8 miles with a lot of stops where you can get on and off at any stops and do some hiking. We did hike a few of the trails in the 2 days we spent there.

There are many spectacular views and the wildlife and it was a lot of fun. We got to see a doe with here very young fawn and along our hike to the Emerald Pools we saw a rattle snake curled up under a rock, which we didn't want to disturb. We had a great time at Zion and took a lot of pictures and have memories for a lifetime.

Dixie National Forest, UT. Bryce Canyon, National Park, UT.

We took Tuesday off from hiking and driving around Zion and on Wednesday and we went the other direction to Bryce Canyon and from the time we got on State Highway 12 it was a very different scenery. We entered the Dixie National Forest and Red Canyon the dirt was a very deep red rusty color and the rock formations were spectacular and this was only the beginning. This road was very scenic with 2 tunnels that were cut large enough to support the largest of vehicles.

We got the Bryce and again started at the Visitor Center and saw a 20 minute video on the park and then got on the park tour bus to see Bryce Amphitheater which consist of several view points. We took many pictures and went back to get the car to travel the park's 18 mile scenic drive to Rainbow point and had a picnic. We took a couple of hikes around Rainbow Point and then started back down the drive back with many stops at the scenic views, we ended up back at the gate and then headed back to the campground for the night.
We started out today (Thurs) a little earlier and headed to Sunrise Point and did a couple of hikes down the Queens garden and the Sunrise to Sunset point trail about 3 miles and then hiked back to Sunrise Point about 1/2 mile. Again another beautiful day weather in the mid 80's and a light breeze with great visibility.

We took another bunch of pictures today except from the base of the canyon looking up and some along the way down and up the trails. The trails were well marked and maintained easy to moderate hiking. Another great park to visit with a lot of memories.
Sue and I did see another motorhome we would like to check out while in Utah. It is smaller than what we have but is something to see and appreciate.

While at Bryce, I bought a souvenir tee shirt of Utah with all 5 National Parks in Utah illustrated in sketches on it. There was one park, Capitol Reef NP and we had never heard of it. So, this was our next destination.