We’re bumping up against Ellen’s desire to visit her daughters in San Diego and a hard date to be home, 11/4. Zion NP is vast. Under “normal” circumstances we would plan a few long hikes over a number of days here. As it is we’ll hike with Jim & Cyn today and push on toward San Diego in the afternoon. We met for coffee and croissants at Deep Creekk Coffee Company. Their croissants are wonderful, though service is unusually slow.
Zion National Park
I was disappointed in Zion Canyon Campground and RV Resort. Our morning hikes would extend into the afternoon. I asked for a late checkout at the campground. “We do not do late checkouts” What if I paid extra to stay a few hours longer? “We do not do late checkouts”. We often ask for late checkouts as we travel the U.S. We have never been denied a late checkout before. Even at Salish RV Resort in Victoria which is very popular, we’ve had no problem. But at Zion we were denied! Bummer. We parked Li’l Beast at our friends house and headed off.
Hiking in Zion is often along dry riverbeds or across open fields of slickrock. In the fall cotton woods turn vibrant yellow and the few maple trees turn red. Our first short hike was up a dry wash to a stand of maple trees. This year the cotton woods were “confused”; some were beautifully yellow, some had not yet turned, others were past prime. The maple trees were past prime, though full of red leaves. On the way back we happened upon a bird whose head bobbed above then dropped behind a rock repeatedly. The woodpecker seemed to be rooting through the sand. Is this common behavior? I have no idea. It was fun to watch.
Some Red among the Rocks
We took a second short hike to view petroglyphs. I find this early American art fascinating. It seems clear the pictographs represent water, rain, and local wildlife. Are drawings of bear and big horn sheep reverential, utilitarian, or both. “Doesn’t tis one look like two people having sex?” Like most art, these petroglyphs are open to interpretation. Petroglyphs are scattered throughout southern Utah and northern Arizona. We had a fun if short day with Cyn & Jim.
Textured Rock, Zion NP
Red on Red
A Local Resident, Zion NP
Some Color along the Road
Valley of Fire, Nevada
Driving on, we chose to stop at Valley of Fire outside Las Vegas, Nevada on Cyn’s recommendation. The drive away from Zion was typical of the Colorado Plateau. Once we turned away from the Virgin River, the land became relatively flat with not a hint that dramatic rock formations stand nearby. This went on for some miles, then the road winds up and down through steep canyons with dramatic rock walls. This goes on for miles before dropping into an open plain. The plain continues on toward Valley of Fire. We drove past extremely small isolated towns “in the middle of nowhere”. Approaching Valley of Fire we saw a group of motorhomes parked on a bluff overlooking the road. “We may be dry camping tonight.” I said. We were approaching the state park late in the day.
Valley of fire is a dramatic red rock outcropping. It is such a contrast to the nearby landscape. Our thinking went from “what have we gotten ourselves into” to “Wow, this looks great”.
The park entrance kiosk was closed. We drove on past the visitors center looking for the campgrounds. “Maybe we’ll get lucky.” I drove past the campground road, U-turned, and found a “campground full” sign. We’ve seen this before. Never, never believe a campground full sign; always stop and ask. A barking dog announced our arrival at the campground host’s trailer. Dominic popped outside. “There could be a site open. Drive around. If you find one, be sure to put a chair or something on the site if you leave. Site 17 hasn’t been occupied in a few days” There are two routes around the campground. We found site 18 open on our second loop through.
All of the developed sites were taken. Site 18 is a dry site. I asked Dominic about campground rules for generators. “You can run a generator between 7 AM and 10 PM”. Great we’d have coffee in the morning though I’d wait ‘till 8am.