A Travellerspoint blog

Day 7 - And now for something completely different

Grand Canyon National Park

overcast 1 °C

This morning was clear here at Cameron, AZ so we decided to drive the 30 miles (48 kilometres ) to the Grand Canyon National Park East entrance.

As we left Highway 89 to get onto Highway 64 that leads to the park we found a big sign that said that the road to the park was closed due to snow and icy conditions. We decided to drive at least as far as we could. There was much more snow the closer we got to the park. We actually got right to the park gate. There was a Park Employee at the gate who happily sold us an Annual U S National Park Pass. He said the car ahead of us was the first car to be admitted today. The roads had just been opened. We chatted with him quite a bit. He said he sometimes works in Alaska and drives through Canada. He is applying for the free Canadian National Parks pass available this year because it is Canada's 150th. He is also a fan of "Corner Gas". He admonished us to drive safely and off we went into the park.

IMG_2768

IMG_2768

IMG_2769 Snow just inside the gate

IMG_2769 Snow just inside the gate

IMG_2770 Road conditions

IMG_2770 Road conditions

The park ranger also told us that all of the snow we could see had basically fallen in one night.

IMG_2771 One night of snow

IMG_2771 One night of snow

The first viewpoint that we stopped at is called Desert View. We found a family there having a great time in the snow. You can also see how foggy it was. These people were likely 50 feet from us. We also wanted to share a photo of the picnic area.

IMG_2772 Snowy picnic

IMG_2772 Snowy picnic

IMG_2774 Family enjoying the snow

IMG_2774 Family enjoying the snow

We enjoyed watching some birds flying around the Desert View site. We caught a picture of one of them and think it might be a Mountain Chickadee. Reta checked online and that is our best guess.

IMG_2779 Could be Mountain Chickadee

IMG_2779 Could be Mountain Chickadee

We then walked to the Desert View Watchtower. We met another park ranger on the path. He said he was sorry that Mother Nature had thrown a white sheet over the canyon. When we arrived at the viewpoint we understood what he was saying. You could see virtually nothing.

IMG_2780 Desert View Watchtower

IMG_2780 Desert View Watchtower

IMG_2782 View of Grand Canyon from Desert View

IMG_2782 View of Grand Canyon from Desert View

We continued on our way through the park. A number of the viewpoints had not been plowed so we could not go into them.

We did find that the Grandview Point viewpoint was open so we drove in and walked to the viewing area. There was a group of young people throwing snowballs into the canyon. Someone had made a small snowman on the wall. Again the view of the canyon was very obscured.

IMG_2783 Another view of Grand Canyon

IMG_2783 Another view of Grand Canyon

IMG_2785 Fun snow man at viewpoint

IMG_2785 Fun snow man at viewpoint

IMG_2786 Young people throwing snowballs into the canyon

IMG_2786 Young people throwing snowballs into the canyon

We started to drive from the Grandview Point viewpoint to Grand Canyon Village. We noticed that we should get some gas for the car. The only gas is available outside the south entrance to the park so we drove out there. We found that there was much less snow in the southern part of the park.

We got our gas, and the price was high, $3.60 per gallon. The service station near our hotel was charging $2.60. We beat ourselves up for a little while for not purchasing gas there.

We returned to the park. Reta spotted an old friend, Smokey the Bear. We so seldom see that symbol for being responsible with fire in National Parks. We also thought it was humourous that the sign said that the threat of forest fire today was "low". No surprise when there was snow most places.

IMG_2790 South gate of Grand Canyon NP Smokey Bear

IMG_2790 South gate of Grand Canyon NP Smokey Bear

We drove to the "Village". We were stopped by the Grand Canyon Train on our way into town. This seems to be a tourist train. We did not look into it.

IMG_2791 Grand Canyon train

IMG_2791 Grand Canyon train

We had lunch at Bright Angel Lodge. We then walked part of the Rim Trail that runs 12 miles from the east visitor station to "Hermits Rest". There was a lot less snow in the townsite and along the Rim trail but the views of the canyon were still foggy. There was no way to see the bottom of the canyon or the north rim.

We thought we would investigate the Bright Angel Trail which runs from the townsite down to the Colorado River at the bottom of the canyon. That trail is 8 miles long (13 kilomtres) and as you travel down the trail you descend 3000 feet. We had attempted to hike some of this trail in 1989 on a hot summer day with no water and no hats. Needless to say, we would not do that today, and we did not get that far, although from the map today it looks like we walked 1.5 miles down and another 1.5 miles back, so, all considering, it is no wonder we went for ice cream when we got back to the rim. Oh, yes, our teenaged son was with us for that adventure. Reta took a picture of Art checking the trail out. Today it was a sloppy, muddy mess. A person would just slip and slide, so trying to walk down that trail today to see if we could see more canyon was not an option, although there were people on the trail.

IMG_2798 Art checks out Bright Angel Trail into the canyon

IMG_2798 Art checks out Bright Angel Trail into the canyon

We returned to our car and started our drive out of the park. This picture was taken between the townsite and the visitors centre.

IMG_2801 - leaving the park

IMG_2801 - leaving the park

We noticed that a lot of the snow had melted off the trees and the road was dry.

We were driving Highway 64 past the visitor centre. What did we see on the highway? An elk. What a great surprise!

IMG_2802a elk - a surprise visitor

IMG_2802a elk - a surprise visitor

We drove on to another viewpoint. We thought that the fog in the canyon was lifting, as the visibility was so clear on the highway, so we stopped.

IMG_2802 Last view of the canyon

IMG_2802 Last view of the canyon

IMG_2804 Another snowman at a viewpoint

IMG_2804 Another snowman at a viewpoint

We still think those little snowmen are cute. Unfortunately, the view of the canyon was still obscured by the fog.

We continued our drive out of the park and back to Cameron. We took this picture as we passed from the forested area onto the desert.

IMG_2805 Back to the desert

IMG_2805 Back to the desert

We did not mention that from Highway 89 along Highway 64, until it reaches the Grand Canyon NP gates, the roadside has numerous little stands where Navajo jewelry, pottery and rugs are sold. There are also many signs suggesting that travelers stop at these commercial stands. But this sign just was too much. What year is this? Has the painter ever heard of Political Correctness? Gee Whiz "Friendly Natives"?

IMG_2807 Friendly natives

IMG_2807 Friendly natives

We travelled on to the junction of highways 89 and 64 where there are a number of businesses. We stopped at the laundromat and got the weekly laundry done. We returned to our hotel in time to cheer the Green Bay Packers on to victory. We had cheered the Patriots on to victory yesterday. We had supper/dinner at the Cameron Trading Post restaurant and returned to our room to share the adventures we had today.

We decided to call this blog "and now for something completely different" because this was a very different experience at the Grand Canyon National Park. We have visited in the summer and the fall and always found heat, sunshine and clear views of the canyon.

Posted by A-RPoulton 21:45 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day 6 - Hello from Arizona

Canyonlands, Monument Valley, Cameron

all seasons in one day 8 °C

This morning as we ate breakfast we decided to go back to see the area of Canyonlands National Park that we drove by yesterday because it was getting late in the day. We loaded the car and started off for the Needles Visitor Centre.

The sky was overcast and we had occasional sprinkles as we drove along.

The first attraction that we arrived at was Newspaper Rock Petroglyphs. The sign board claimed that some of these petroglyphs might have come from as long ago as Before Common Era but we saw some that were signed 1902 and 1954. The petroglyphs we are sending a picture of are most likely from the past.

IMG_2740 Wall of rock art

IMG_2740 Wall of rock art

IMG_2744 Close-up of rock art

IMG_2744 Close-up of rock art



We then drove on to the Needles Visitor Centre. The centre was closed and no entrance fee was collected. Bonus!
We followed the park road to the Big Spring Canyon Overlook.

IMG_2752 Big Spring Canyon Overlook

IMG_2752 Big Spring Canyon Overlook



When we stopped the car a raven landed on Art's rear view mirror and stared intently at us.

IMG_2748 Raven looking into our car

IMG_2748 Raven looking into our car



We took a picture of the Wooden Shoe Arch, which Art thinks looks more like a car.

IMG_2758 Wooden Shoe Arch

IMG_2758 Wooden Shoe Arch



We also took a picture of the needles in the distance. Unfortunately, the mist in the air and the fact that Reta took the picture too fast means that the picture is not the best.

IMG_2757  Needles in the distance

IMG_2757 Needles in the distance



We ate our picnic lunch when we got back as far as the Newspaper Rock and started our drive to Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. We noted that the temperature was 8 C (46 F) but after we had been on the road for a little while the temperature had dropped to 0 C (32 F).

We experienced rain, snow and rain, snow, fog - all sorts of weather on this drive. When we arrived at Monument Valley the fog was so thick that the monument rock formations could not be seen. We could hardly see 200 feet in front of us so we decided not to stop there and drove on to Cameron, AZ where our lodgings for tonight are.

The weather continued to be a challenge but we did experience a strange cloud formation. The clouds formed a white wall along the highway and eventually we drove into the cloud where we experienced the fog along with snow/rain. Very interesting. This photo sort of shows what this cloud wall was like.

IMG_2766 Wall of cloud Hwy 163

IMG_2766 Wall of cloud Hwy 163



We arrived safely at Cameron, AZ. The Cameron Trading Post has been in operation since 1916. Today they have a motel, a gift shop, a restaurant, and market. We had stopped here for lunch in 1982 when we traveled from Colorado to the Grand Canyon. There have been some changes. Our motel room is very comfortable and we had a delicious supper. The gift shop is huge. We will have to spend more time there tomorrow. Most visitors stop here because it is close to the Grand Canyon which will be our adventure tomorrow.

IMG_2767 View from our room at Cameron, Little Colorado River Canyon

IMG_2767 View from our room at Cameron, Little Colorado River Canyon

Note: the white in this photo is the river.

Posted by A-RPoulton 18:59 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day 5 - Arches National Park

Beautiful scenes of snow and rocks

overcast 9 °C

This morning we left Nephi. The snow on the roads had melted and turned into ice but the highway was clear which was a relief.

We traveled until we reached I-70. The rock formations by the side of the road were interesting.

IMG_2655 Rock formation in snow at first rest stop

IMG_2655 Rock formation in snow at first rest stop

IMG_2657 Greenish rock

IMG_2657 Greenish rock

The greenish rock is beige-green Curtis Formation which was deposited in an ancient Jurassic sea.

IMG_2665 Rock formations in the snow

IMG_2665 Rock formations in the snow

There were a number of rest stops with information boards about our surroundings. Art needed to clear the snow off the information board at our second stop.

IMG_2666 Art clearing off information sign at second rest stop

IMG_2666 Art clearing off information sign at second rest stop

IMG_2668 Gnarly juniper

IMG_2668 Gnarly juniper

One of the next rest stops was at Ghost Rock. This rock really did seem ghostly as it appeared through the fog and snow.

IMG_2672 Ghost rock

IMG_2672 Ghost rock

Our next stop took us to an overview of the highway traveling through Spotted Wolf Canyon. The construction of this road began in October 1967. When the construction workers arrived at this site they could reach out and touch both sides of the canyon with their hands. Engineers and surveyors used body harnesses and ropes to work as high as 400 feet above the canyon floor. This section of the highway was completed November 1970. it is truly an awesome sight. As we left the parking lot Reta spotted the sun shining on a rock formation many miles away. It was a golden sight.

IMG_2678 Drive down Spotted Wolf Canyon

IMG_2678 Drive down Spotted Wolf Canyon

IMG_2686 Distance view as leaving parking area

IMG_2686 Distance view as leaving parking area

IMG_2692 End of Spotted Wolf Canyon

IMG_2692 End of Spotted Wolf Canyon

We noted that at the top of the Spotted Wolf Canyon the temperature was 0 C (32 F) but when we reached the floor of the canyon the temperature was 2 C (36 F).

We continued down I-70 to Crescent Junction and then turned south to Arches National Park.

IMG_2700 Low hanging clouds

IMG_2700 Low hanging clouds

We were surprised when we arrived at the park that no entrance fee was collected. We ate our picnic lunch in the car and entered the visitors centre to learn about the park. We were told when we wee there that the park service is so poorly funded that in this season there are not enough workers to collect entrance fees.

IMG_2704 Park sign

IMG_2704 Park sign

IMG_2705 Arches saying

IMG_2705 Arches saying

IMG_2706 Ram

IMG_2706 Ram

IMG_2707 Sculptured Sheep

IMG_2707 Sculptured Sheep

IMG_2709 Ravens

IMG_2709 Ravens

IMG_2710 Sculptured lizard

IMG_2710 Sculptured lizard

We enjoyed the visitors centre and then we set off to explore the park. The first attraction was Park Ave. The height of the walls of this canyon are very impressive and reminded settlers of sky scrapers in big cities which is why it is named Park Ave.

IMG_2713 Park Avenue

IMG_2713 Park Avenue

The next stop was an overview of three rock formations called "The Organ", "Sheeprock" and the "Three Gossips"

IMG_2721 Organ rock, sheep rock, 3 gossips

IMG_2721 Organ rock, sheep rock, 3 gossips

From this rest stop you could see the famous "Balanced Rock" five miles away.

IMG_2717 Balanced rock five miles away

IMG_2717 Balanced rock five miles away

We then drove to a view point to see the "Balanced Rock". Reta spotted a smaller rock balancing on the edge of a cliff.

IMG_2725 Famous Balanced rock

IMG_2725 Famous Balanced rock


IMG_2726 Baby Balancing rock

IMG_2726 Baby Balancing rock

We drove to the area where visitors could see the "Delicate Arch" which is featured on the Utah license plates. The road was blocked due to a flood over the road. Visitors could hike the 1 and 1/2 miles to the arch to see it but cars were not allowed. We realized that we did not have time to complete that hike and get to our hotel before dark. We had seen this arch in 1991, when we were at Arches the first time, so even though we were disappointed, we comforted ourselves by saying that we had seen this arch, and took a picture of a flyer to share with all of you.

IMG_2738 Delicate Arch

IMG_2738 Delicate Arch

We drove to the end of the park road to "Devil's Garden" and then drove back to the visitors centre and on to our hotel for the night.
IMG_2733 Devil's Garden

IMG_2733 Devil's Garden

On our way out of the Arches area we saw this window arch called "Wilson Arch".

IMG_2736 Wilson Arch

IMG_2736 Wilson Arch

We drove toward Blanding, Utah where we planned to spend the night. We noticed as we drove through the park that the temperature had risen to 9 C (48 F) but by the time we got to Blanding the temperature had fallen back to 0 C or 32 F.

We had a great day and look forward to tomorrow.

Posted by A-RPoulton 19:53 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day 4 - winter travel

Travel from Pocatello, ID to Nephi, UT

snow 2 °C

After our posting last evening, we ventured out to the "Texas Roadhouse" for a delicious supper/dinner with a western flare. We got gas (for the car, not in our tummies) and returned to our hotel.

We woke this morning in Pocatello, ID. We had breakfast at the hotel. We got our luggage out of the hotel and scraped our windows. It had not snowed over night so frost was our only problem. We took this picture as we set off south on I-15.

IMG_2650 - Morning at Pocatello, ID

IMG_2650 - Morning at Pocatello, ID

As we drove south, we encountered rain. then snow. Oh, what fun! This is our photo of entering Utah.

IMG_2651 - Welcome to Utah

IMG_2651 - Welcome to Utah

A few miles after entering Utah, the urban development appeared, along with the traffic and alternating snow and rain.

We had picked out an Outlet Mall called The Outlets at Traverse Mountain as a lunch stop with opportunities for shopping. We had a great lunch at a bistro and then found a few items that were just shouting "Buy Me, Buy Me".

We got back on I-15 to drive to our lodging for the evening. We found our lodging at Nephi, UT, and then visited the local food store and made ourselves supper/dinner in the room.

This photo is of evening as viewed out of our hotel room.

IMG_2653 - Evening shadows at Nephi, UT

IMG_2653 - Evening shadows at Nephi, UT

Tomorrow we are off to explore southern Utah.

Posted by A-RPoulton 18:29 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day 3

Helena, MT to Pocatello, ID

snow 2 °C

We woke this morning to -21 C or -6 F. Our car was covered in snow from the overnight snow fall.

We heard on the evening news on Tuesday that the road (I 15) south of Helena had been closed due to snow conditions but had been reopened before we went to bed. We were wondering what we might find as we traveled south in the morning.

We had a good breakfast and set off. The roads had been plowed so the early travel was pretty good. We went through a few mountain passes where there was one lane of black pavement to drive on but eventually we entered an area where it was snowing and the highway was covered entirely. We were following a fifth wheel trailer towed by a 1/2 ton. We dropped back quite a way behind them because their wheels kicked the snow up into the air and made it impossible to see. We carefully and slowly followed the tire marks in the snow. We were being followed in the same way by a car. We could not see it but we knew it was there. We traveled that way for about 20 miles until we crossed the border between Montana and Idaho.

After we crossed that border the snow stopped and we could see further ahead of ourselves. Eventually there was black pavement in one lane and then two lanes of black pavement. We were passed by the car that was following us and we did pass the truck and fifth wheel.

The temperature as we traveled had been about -16 C (3 F) and then we noticed that it was + 2 C (36 F) as we got closer to Pocatello. That was quite a dramatic temperature change in a short distance. The wind picked up but the highway stayed clear and the final 100 kilometres (60 miles) was very pleasant to drive.

Reta did most of the driving so there are no confirming pictures taken.

We look forward to driving further south tomorrow and feel we are now past most of the icy and snowy driving conditions.

Posted by A-RPoulton 18:52 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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