Going from Zion Canyon to Bryce Canyon

Trip Start Jun 01, 2011
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Trip End Jul 31, 2011


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Where I stayed
Rubys Campground
What I did
Drive from Zion to Bryce

Flag of United States  , Utah
Sunday, July 3, 2011

For some reason I really wanted to watch the intro film to Zion since we got here. But due to that trail or another, we really never had time. Pooh went with me even though she could care less about these intro films – especially now that we are leaving this wonderful place today. Since we were short on time I drove the truck to the VC. We took the buses to the second stop which served as the Zion museum. We got there right as it opened at 9:00. The film was great and made me want to stay a few extra days. But since the 4th is tomorrow I knew everything would be booked and we did have reservations at Bryce today. The museum was short and simple but told you everything you needed to know about the place.

Back at the VC I got myself a cool Zion Narrows shirt since that is the main trail we did at the park. I did not want to get the Angels Landing shirt since we did not make it to the top. I guess it is good that you don't do everything in one trip so that means you’ll have to come back one day. We took the Springdale shuttle back to our place to get Quique and take her on a walk on the only trail in Zion that allows pets – the Pa’rus Trail which parallels the Virgin River. Since dogs are not allowed on busses we had to walk the 15 min. to the park entrance. Since it is such a short distance, why was this our first time walking it? Most of our time at the park was spent doing one crazy trail or another and our time was always short or we were just too plain tired. Once in, we walked around the VC of which Quique was the main star. Everyone thinks Quique is cute. We only walked a little way since we had to be out of the RV Park by noon. Pooh wanted to just spend most of our remaining time sitting around or in the Virgin River. Unlike many places in the park, this part of the Virgin River was relatively quiet. Pooh went right on in the river and took a reluctant Quique with her. After about 15 min. I said we had to go. Pooh really wanted to spend more time here and not go anywhere else. This was one of her favorite places on earth. But we had to keep on moving and I had a hard drive in front of me.

We walked back to the truck and drove back to the RV to pack it up. We had an easy lunch and then we were off to Bryce Canyon. However, the hard part of the drive was right away. At the Zion gate I had to pay a $15 toll to drive though the Zion Tunnel. Somehow in the 1920s, engineers built a road up and over the Zion Valley. And in the middle they dug a one mile tunnel through this rock. Now back during that time people drove smaller cars – so the tunnel was made for the cars of the 20s. Today we have large touring busses and dully trucks carrying huge 5th wheel RVs like mine. The height limit for this tunnel was 13’1" – my RV stands at 12’9”. That that is travelling in the middle of the road. If I sway too far left or right I could take out part of my RVs roof. Not something I want happening in the middle of the trip. One thing I did not calculate was the length limit. This was due to the tight hairpin turns on the switchbacks up to the tunnel. The guy at the Zion gate said I was two feet over but he thought I could do it. That made me a little nervous and now Pooh really did not want to try it. I guess I felt confident that after driving this rig for almost a decade, I should be able to do this crazy drive. We would find out really quick if this would work or end in disaster.

In three short miles of tight switchbacks we ascended over 500 feet. The switchbacks were tight but there was plenty of road for me to get around – the ones in North Georgia on the way to Blairsville is worse. But now comes the tunnel. I waited in line for about 10 min. for the people to clear the road for me. They told me the speed limit was 25 mph – I had no problem with this as I’d be going much slower. Right as I entered the tunnel I knew I had made a small mistake. The old tunnel had no lights and I had my sunglasses on – no time to change as I had to stay in the middle at all times. But I was plenty nervous at the start. After a half a mile my eyes finally adjusted. It’s not as if this tunnel is straight – no that would be too easy. They had to throw in a couple of curves to make it even more challenging. After a mile I made it out with no damage to the RV. I massive success and a new RV driving feather in my cap. The traffic going the other way was almost a half a mile long. There was another 200 yd. tunnel which was two way but I saw it well in advance and quickly switched out to my regular glasses. The landscape on the other side of Zion Canyon was totally different. From the tall sandstone monoliths of the valley to the slick rock on this side with its multi-colored layers.

After 20 miles on this side of the park we reached a small tourist town of Mt. Carmel. They had diesel for under $4 so I topped off and filled up the jerry cans too. I knew this would be the cheapest diesel for several weeks now. The rest of the 2 hour drive to Bryce Canyon was mostly an easy drive up and over a few mountains on two lane roads. We reached the Bryce area around 3:00 and pulled into our campground at a place called Ruby’s. It was a huge tourist’s complex that had been around for over 80 years. They had a massive motel, a few eating areas, shops, and one of the largest RV parks I had seen. You need it, and it was here – though at a 50% mark-up at the stores. I’d read mixed reviews on this park but again, we got a pretty good site. I had to back in just right in order for my slide-outs to miss the trees. So now my RV was in the middle of a bunch of small pines. We were around 8,000 ft in elevation so this was the coolest we would be on our entire trip. We did not really need the AC but I knew we’d need some heat in the night.

For a few hours in the afternoon I tried their Wi-Fi and it worked pretty good so I uploaded a few pictures. Around 4:30 I decided to take a small tour of Bryce Canyon National Park. Yes, they have a bus system here but it is voluntary. Since it was late in the afternoon I did not think many people would be there. The entrance to the park is only 3 miles from the campground and only a few miles more to the overlooks. I parked at the Sunset Overlook which did have plenty of parking. The first view of the canyon was amazing. It is more of the edge of a plateau than a canyon. What gives Bryce Canyon its national park status is this unique geological formation called a "hoodoo.” Pretty much they are sandstone monoliths with a hard capstone on top so it does not erode. You could see hundreds of these hoodoos from Sunset Point. I had to shoot a video just to get the whole thing in.

My plan was to catch a ranger giving a rim trail talk at 5. I did catch her along with 50 other people. However, by the time we got through introductions there was a bolt of lightning so she canceled on us. The National Park service is very cautious about lighting as it does kill people every year here. These rock edges with exposed trees are lightning magnets. So I did my own tour of the place, walking the half mile to sunrise point to catch some more views of the hoodoos, then to the campground general store (not much there but expensive food), and finally to the Lodge. The Lodge seemed smaller than the ones at the other national parks and it sat back from the edge of the canyon – this is because the canyon is eroding pretty fast – compared to the Grand Canyon and Zion. Then back to the truck to drive to the Visitors Center to check that out. I caught the last intro film at 6 (I knew Pooh would not care if she missed it). It was a good intro film to the park and gave me everything I needed to know. The museum in the VC was one of the best. I loved the 3-D map of the whole area that included the Grand Canyon, Zion, and Bryce.

Around 7 I came back to the campground. Pooh wanted some alfredo for dinner again so I walked down to the Ruby’s grocery store to see what they had. No such luck on the alfredo. I did get a few other things to make shwarmas. Like I said before, the grocery’s had a mark-up of 50% most of the time. So why not eat out? The reviews said it was expensive too and not all that special. That’s the good thing of having an RV – you can eat in if need be. The General Store had about everything a tourist needed or thought they needed – lots of curios. The walk back to the RV only took about 10 min. Pooh was taking a nap so I started cooking. I cooked the beef outside on the small stove so she would not have to smell it. My shwarma starts out with warm Indian naan bread. Your suppose to spread Tazikii or hummus on it but the store had neither so I got a bottle of blue cheese dressing. Then you go for the Taco toppings of lettuce, cheese, onions, peppers, and shrooms. Pooh had that while I put some steak on top of mine. Nice and filling and definitely worth the $15 each we would have spent eating out. After that big meal Pooh went to sleep and I did some more computer work for a few hours more.
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