Monday, December 14, 2015

Around St. George, Utah

Snow Canyon State Park

A few minutes outside of St. George in southwestern Utah, we spend a couple of days hiking in Snow Canyon State Park, named after Mr. Snow, not the wintery white stuff. Typical of southern Utah, the area is adorned in red sandstone layered with minerals giving these petrified dunes their colour and texture.

A very recent volcanic lava flow from about 25,000 years ago gives this park a unique look. Here the exposed ripples glimmer in the sun.

The park has a few lava tubes which are big enough to enter although we can't get far inside them before collapsed boulders block the path. Brad is in the sunshine, to the left of the mouth of the tube cave.
Zion National Park

The reward for hiking the Taylor Creek Trail: Double Arch Alcove. Really, the bottom alcove is more of a ledge with a cave under it, but these two formations together are a sight to behold. We are freezing cold during this hike in Kolob Canyon, the northern-most part of Zion National Park at about 5,000 feet of elevation. There is quite a layer of snow and some ice along the trail, and since the sun only briefly peaks into this canyon, the rocks remain ice cold. I am wearing four layers and gloves.

On the Watchman Trail which starts at the Visitor Center in Zion Canyon near the park's main entrance. This cactus is possibly a pancake or beavertail cactus, similar to a Prickly Pear only much bigger.

At the top of the Watchman Trail which climbs about 370 feet to an overlook of not only the formation known as the Watchman (not pictured), but here looking up Zion Canyon towards the Towers of the Virgin.
Ghost Town of Grafton

Just outside of Zion National Park is the ghost town of Grafton. Its remaining buildings are being restored by a heritage society. It is somewhat famous because part of this abandoned settlement was used during the filming of the bicycle scene in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Raindrops keep falling on my head ...

I'd have to watch the movie again, but this building looks familiar and might be the one used in the movie where Butch, the Kid and the teacher hide out.
Smithsonian Butte Scenic Backway

A crazy, jagged ridge along the Smithsonian Butte Scenic Backway road which travels from Highway 59 to the town of Rockville, just a couple of miles from the entrance to Zion National Park.

Almost at the end of the road, heading towards the ghost town of Grafton and Zion National Park.
Water Canyon

We find the off-the-beaten-track hike of Water Canyon behind the polygamous Mormon community of Hildale, which was ravaged in September of this year by a flash flood that killed 13 people. The hike is fairly difficult and we have to scramble over and around many boulders while continuously climbing up the canyon until we finally reach this beautiful little grotto. We wonder if the September flood changed the course of the hiking trail as we were unprepared for the exhausting climb. This waterfall (near the centre of the photo) is actually easy to climb up (I'm wearing a red sweater), the depth of the water being only a couple of inches deep.

A hidden alcove reached by walking through a crack in the rock. Brad is looking at what would be a waterfall during floods.

Once atop the waterfall, a ledge never much wider than the one pictured here allows us to climb above the canyon to almost the top of the canyon walls. The views of the canyon below are gorgeous.

Looking down above a slot in the canyon, which is full of water. We see ropes and climbing gear in the rocks on the opposite wall, so climbers must come here to rappel into the canyon. Overall, it's a beautiful hike surprising us with its views and serenity. A hike not to be missed if you are in the area.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice pictures. Beautiful but I think it would be too much for us. Sorry we won't be in Quartsite this year. Would love to see you guys.