Thursday, May 18, 2017

Spring Break in Southern Utah

The week before the kids' spring break, my brother and sister-in-law from Kentucky had their spring break and decided to come out West. We wanted to meet up with them since we don't see them often, so the kids got to take a couple days off school. After a successful dentists' visit, we headed up onto the Colorado Plateau to the Ponderosa Grove campground near Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. It was a great somewhat primitive site, and although there were plenty of spots in the mid-afternoon, by the evening it had filled up.

The next morning, Desert Boy tried out his new guitar and entertained us during breakfast.

We also made use of the big ponderosa pines and put a rope up in the tree. Giacomo, an exchange student from Rome, got to try out a new technique and loved it.

Then it was off to the sand dunes. There were quite a few people there. I really like the rule of no ATVs before 10 am, as it gives you a chance to go out on the sand and not worry about getting run over.

The kids' favorite part was digging. They dug and dug, but still didn't make it to the bottom of the dune.

From there we went to the nearby Moccasin Mountain dinosaur tracks. We had visited a few years previous, but it's been developed a lot more, with a huge primitive camping area just off the paved road with a confusing network of roads, and then the road leading to the tracks was in better shape than I remembered. We enjoyed looking for dinosaur tracks.

With all the changes, it doesn't seem as remote a spot, and we shared it with a bunch of other people on a weekday morning.

It is just so cool thinking about dinosaurs walking along here millions of years ago!

We climbed up on the rocks and got a most awesome view of the rock layers. This place is gorgeous!

After a picnic lunch in Kanab, we went to Peekaboo (Red) Canyon. It turned out to be a great adventure to get there, on extremely sandy roads. We eventually made it in our 4WD pickup. Barely. We weren't sure if we were going to make it out, as it was slightly uphill. We decided not to sweat it and just enjoyed the slot canyon.

Desert Girl insisted on getting past this obstacle all on her own. She eventually found a technique that worked.

The red rock makes such a nice backdrop for photos! My niece wasn't feeling so great, so she might not remember much, but the photos prove she was there.

The slot narrowed enough in some parts to make it rather dark.

The canyon was rather short, about a third of a mile until we reached a 20-foot drop that we couldn't find an easy way up. So we turned around and headed back.

The drive out was a little eventful, with a patch of really deep sand we almost got stuck in. I don't think I'd go back in a 4WD full size vehicle. We could have deflated our tires to help, but ATVs are better vehicles to get out there.

Our next destination was Zion National Park. Zion's popularity has swelled, and they now receive over 4 million visitors a year. We were hoping that by going very late in the afternoon, we might be able to find some parking spots. We saw some bighorn sheep on our drive in from the east entrance.

And we found some parking at the Overlook Trail, a trail I hadn't done before. It's just one mile long each way, but it's a bit of an adventure hike, with some steep dropoffs.

It provided us with some challenges. And I was surprised how many other people we saw on the trail at the late hour. Apparently they were going to make the most of parking spots too!

We all made it to the overlook!

I knew of a fun off-trail hike on the other side of the road, but it turned out it was flooded, and no one wanted to wade in the cold water.

So we went up to the Zion Canyon entrance and found some parking there and got on the shuttle bus to go up to the Riverwalk. When we got off the shuttle, we found some turkeys and deer.

The Zion River was flowing high enough that no hiking through the Zion Narrows was permitted. That was okay with us, it was getting dark and the air and water were very cold! But we still found a rock to go stand on to be in the river a little!
That night we had camping reservations for Sand Hollow State Park, but we arrived at 10:04 pm and the gate closes at 10 pm and there's no getting in after that. (If we had known, we would have arrived earlier!). So we spent a very windy night at a BLM trailhead that we called our campsite for the night.   (All the hotel rooms within two hours drive were full.) None of us got much sleep, and Giacomo had to take the ACT the next morning. Hopefully he did okay! We played in St. George parks for awhile, my husband and I bought a new used van, and then we had lunch together before we parted ways. It was a fun trip. Southern Utah is very popular in the spring because the temperatures are great and it's so scenic. Although some spots are very crowded, there are places to get away from the crowds, they just take a little work to get to!

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