"Kelly Barnett (2PSNAPOD) is a contributor to the blog. All opinions expressed are her own."
Last fall we attended the Utah Chapter Rally of the Heartland Owners Club. We stayed at Bauer's Canyon Ranch RV Park in Glendale, and it turned out to be the perfect location for sight-seeing.
The campground was centrally located to most of the sights we planned on visiting so we took day trips to each of the areas we wanted to visit.
Since three of the areas we visited were National Parks, we purchased an America the Beautiful Pass before arriving in the area. The pass is $80 and allows you free or reduced admittance to most National Parks/Monuments etc. The entrance fee to two of the parks was $30 each…so our National Parks pass was almost paid for with those two visits alone.
Cedar Breaks National Monument
We had a 40-mile trip to Cedar Breaks National Monument, which was a gorgeous drive. We made several stops along the way to enjoy the views.
Cedar Breaks is a natural rock amphitheater shaped like a huge coliseum. It is 2500 feet deep and more than 3 miles across.
We first stopped at the Visitor's Center and enjoyed the views before moving on to stop at three more overlooks. Sunset View Overlook is at 10,354 feet, Chessman Overlook is at 10,460 feet and North View Overlook is at 10,435 feet. Each stop was a little different from the rest but just as interesting and eye-appealing.
Zion National Park
The 33-mile drive to Zion took just about an hour to get to the Visitor's Center since we had to wind our way through rocks, tunnels and down to the canyon floor.
We had heard that the parking lots get filled up quickly, and since you have to ride a shuttle bus to most of the scenic views and hiking paths in the park you have to use the parking lots to park your vehicle. We arrived at the park about 9:00 am and had no problem finding a spot to park.
Because we drive a dually we had to pay an 'oversize vehicle fee' of $15 to drive through a 1.1-mile-long tunnel. The tunnel is quite narrow. To allow us to drive through safely, traffic was stopped on the opposite side so that we could drive down the middle of the tunnel. Your $15 gets you 2 trips through the tunnel.
Zion is a 'Hiker's Haven' with lots of trails to explore. Hikes can be as short as one mile on a paved walkway to more than 10 miles along strenuous rocky paths. We chose some of the easier walks; we weren't prepared for anything more.
Temple of Sinawava - While there are several trails to access here, we walked the Riverside Walk to the Narrows (2 miles round trip).
This is an easy paved trail that ends at the river with a gorgeous view. Here many hikers continued through the river and unto the Narrows Trail. A bit too strenuous for us, but it was fun to watch others venture off that way.
Big Bend – This wasn't a hike but rather a great spot to view Angel's Landing, Great White Throne and the Organ.
Grotto – After enjoying lunch at the Zion Lodge, we walked the Grotto Trail (1 mile). This trail runs between the Lodge and the Grotto.
Weeping Rock – This is just a .4 mile (round trip) hike. Doesn't sound like much of a hike, but the path makes a 98-foot elevation change in that short distance!
That short hike was worth the beautiful view. The dripping springs that flow down the face of the rock make for a great view as seen from behind the water. You can also see Angel's Landing and Big Bend.
Court of Patriarchs – There's not an actual trail head here…just a short path up a hill to an observation point. From this spot, you have a great view of the Patriarchs. The Patriarchs are named for biblical figures Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. You can also see the Sentinel and Mount Moroni from here.
Bryce Canyon National Park
The drive to Bryce Canyon National Park from our campground was 52 miles and was on good, paved roads.
The day that we visited, it was rainy and overcast. We stuck it out and were glad we did since the mist and fog provided a very mysterious feel.
No need for a shuttle bus here…we just drove along the highway and stopped at each of the overlooks, using the map we received at the Visitor's Center.
We first stopped at Sunset Point – 8000 feet. Despite the fog/low-lying clouds, we were able to make out Thor's Hammer….the parks unofficial mascot. Like Zion, Bryce has a lot of hiking trails to wander, and this is one of the more popular spots for people to hike.
Inspiration Point – 8100 feet. There's a nice view from here, but if you venture up the hill to Upper Inspiration point, you'll be rewarded with a spectacular view.
Bryce Point – 8296 feet. This spot is almost at the end of the canyon and is one of the highest in altitude.This was my favorite view.
Paria Point – 8331 feet. Bryce Point and Paria Point are accessed from the same road, but the views are totally different because you're on the opposite side of the point.
We ended up skipping Rainbow Point, Black Birch Canyon, Pondersoa Canyon and Aqua Canyon because it was foggy and raining pretty hard. I guess we'll just have to go back for another visit! ?
Natural Bridge – After seeing pictures, this was the stop I was really looking forward to the most. Absolutely gorgeous and not to be missed, in my opinion.
Farview Point – 8819 feet. There are two overlooks at this location, Farview Point and Piracy Point. Farview is easily viewed just off the parking lot while Piracy is a short walk. Unfortunately, because of the rain we skipped visiting Piracy Point.
Swamp Canyon – 7998 feet. This was our last stop. The rain and fog had lifted, but we were wet, cold and tired so we didn't stay long…although it was an awesome view as well.
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is a great place for ATVers to be sure, but since they also have a small campground, it's a great camping destination too. Just 23 miles from our campground in Glendale, it was an easy drive.
We didn't walk too far into the sand because it was not easy to trudge through. We found that it was easier to walk where people hadn't walked because you didn't sink and/or slide as you walked. We ended up only walking far enough to get some good pictures of the dunes and the bluffs behind them. The color contrasts were so pretty.
One of the must-stops in the area is the Thunderbird Restaurant and Gift Shop. They are known for their 'Ho-Made Pies' and they're home cooking isn't anything to 'shake a stick' at either!
There is also a 'Trading Post' right across the road giving you more opportunity to purchase souvenirs.
Located at the junction of US 89 and Highway 9 in Mt. Carmel, it was just eight and a half miles from our campground. There's lots of parking around the restaurant which allowed us to park our coach while we enjoyed breakfast the day we left the area.
This blog post barely touches the surface of the area surrounding Glendale, Utah, but gives you a good starting point. There are many more things to see and do; you won't be lacking for adventure.