We left Zion this morning and took the Zion – Mt Carmel highway, entering the park and buying a permit to pass through the tunnel. The ride up to the tunnel was spectacular, climbing along the canyon walls. We were fortunate to get there as a one way stream of traffic was heading our way through the tunnel, so I drove right down the center lane for the 1.1 miles. There were “windows” carved out of the side of the tunnel, but I didn’t take in the view for fear of careening into the roof of the tunnel. Coming out of the tunnel, the landscape was even more spectacular as the road wound through the sandstone formations. We loved Zion.
Heading North on Hwy 89 we realized that we could also visit Bryce Canyon NP along the way. We decided to take the small detour and head up towards Bryce. From the west, we passed through Red Canyon, named for the deep red orange sandstone formations… also spectacular. Upon entering Bryce, the Park Ranger recommended riding the shuttle as RVs were not allowed to park at any of the most scenic points in the Canyon. We did not want the exposure of riding on the shuttle so decided to take a chance and see what we could see from the RV. Down past the main viewpoints there were some that we could park at including Natural Bridge about 12 miles from the entrance.
We headed back to check the main viewpoints and were disappointed to see that none of them were at all visible from the road, and indeed, no way to park an RV anywhere nearby. We did get to one more spot, Fairyland Canyon, that was outside the entrance to the park.
We headed North out of Bryce Canyon to connect up with I-70 towards Moab. Google maps “fastest” routing took us on secondary roads through scenic Dixie and Fishlake National Forest country with a lot of ups and downs and lots of curves.
It would have been an excellent ride in a sports car, but not so much fun in the RV. We even wound up going over an 8900 ft mountain pass before reaching I-70.
The vista upon reaching 70 and heading East was stunning, full of wind-carved sandstone buttes and canyons, which I think is part of the San Rafael Desert. We saw viewpoint areas such as Salt Wash and Devil’s Canyon along the way and looking back at satellite images it seems to be of the same type of geological feature as the nearby Capital Reef, Arches and Canyonland National Parks.
Tomorrow we have a private guided mountain bike tour from Moab to the areas around Arches National Park.