Tag Archives: UT

Four Foto Friday – Canyons of Nevada and Utah

On our last full day in Las Vegas we went with our friends, the Merritts, to see the Hoover Dam. First we went to see Lake Mead, the lake created by the dam. Right now, the lake has much less water than it used to and has a large white ring on mountains surrounding the lake where the water level should be. When the lake is full it has enough water to submerge the whole state of Connecticut ten feet deep in water. After the lake we went to the visitor center to learn about the use and production of the Hoover Dam. After the visitors center we went out onto the dam. The dam was gigantic, over 700 feet. If you looked down you could see where the water came out and made a new river, but looking down made me dizzy. On our way home from the dam, we drove to a trampoline park called Skyzone but it was closed. That night I was sick so it’s probably a good thing I wasn’t jumping around.

After we left Las Vegas we went back to Zion National Park for the second time. While we were in Zion we did a hike that took us through the longest slot canyon in the world. A slot canyon is a canyon that is significantly higher than it is wide. This one was about 25 feet wide and 100-150 feet high. This was my favorite hike that we have done on our trip because the hike was in the river. At the start of the day we went to a store outside of Zion and rented dry suits that looked a bit like hazmat suits. When we got to the river we started to walk on the side where it was dry, but Owen and I went in and found out that if we lay down in the water we floated. Once the water went up to our chests the suits would inflate like a ballon and it felt like an octopus sucking you into the suit. Inside the suit it was really warm but if you touched the water with your hands it was freezing! My favorite part was on the way back going down river; you could just lay back and float along down until it was to shallow. Another really fun thing that I did was go down the rapids. I really liked this because it made me go a lot faster but some time I ran into the rocks. Hiking up the canyon was also fun because I would try to walk up the rapids. We also learned that where the water was dark it was deeper. Some of the deeper parts were up to ten feet deep! I really like canyoneering in the Narrows and would love to go back again.

After hiking in Zion we made a short drive Bryce Canyon National Park. Bryce is not actually a canyon but a huge natural amphitheater carved out of the mountain face by erosion. At Bryce some of the coolest things are the rocks. My favorite rock formations so far have been the hoodoos, which are large but thin spires of rock that have been left after a mountain face erodes. While we were driving we saw a prairie dog crossing sign and then a few seconds later the prairie dogs. These were the endangered Utah prairie dog and they were on this patch of land right at the intersection. The cars zooming across the road didn’t stop them from running out into the road and if a car stopped they might go and walk around it and sniff it. In the park we also saw huge ravens and a herd of pronghorns. Next we took a hike at the top of the mountain at 8000 feet altitude. This was a really cool hike because it goes right to the edge of the mountain were you can see out arose the canyon/amphitheater. On this hike we saw the oldest species of tree, the Bristlecone Pine. On the way back out of Bryce we saw an amazing arch called the Natural Bridge. We still have another day in Bryce and we are going horseback riding in the canyon.

Yesterday, we decided to go biking on a canyon trail close to Bryce National Park. We only have three bikes with us on the trip so only me, Owen and my dad went. When we got there we took a trail called the Casto Canyon Trail. This trail was really hard to go up because it went right through a dry river bed with lots of rocks and sand. On our way up we saw a hoodoo right off to the side of the trail. When we got to it, we found that hoodoos are very fragile and we could just rip off chunks of rock with our hands. Though the trail was hard to get up, going down was easy and incredibly fun. On the way down we got going really fast and the trail was a bit twisty and it was fun to go around the corners. We have done a few mountain bike rides, but this one had a unique setting with desert plants and red canyon walls.

Four Foto Friday – Death Valley to the Vegas Strip

Death Valley

Miles on Devil’s Golf Course

Death Valley: We started the week in the lowest, hottest, and driest place in America… Death Valley National Park. Fortunately, the springtime temperatures kept things relatively comfortable at a dry 100 degrees. We had one day to see some of the most accessible sights: Golden Canyon (where portions of the original Star Wars was filmed), Badwater Basin (the lowest point in the valley), Artist’s Palette (a scenic drive through colorful mesas and foothills), and Furnace Creek (an oasis town that’s home to the main visitor center.). This photo was taken at Devil’s Golf Course, where the land is so parched that it forms small mounds encrusted with evaporated crystals of borax and salt. Death Valley was otherworldly (NASA testing grounds for the Mars rover, in fact) but also diverse and colorful under the shifting sun.


Scenery of Zion Canyon

Zion NP: From Death Valley, we drove the RV straight on through to southwestern Utah. Our plan was to see Zion National Park for a couple of days before finishing out the week in Las Vegas. Our two days in Zion allowed us to see the main canyon, where the Virgin River has spectacularly cut through 3,000 feet of brilliant red sandstone. We hiked along the river and also to the seasonal Emerald Falls. We also took advantage of the warmish weather and tent camped in a nearby campground. Zion was amazing and we really just scratched the surface there. Fortunately, we’ll be heading back for more at the start of next week.


Those tiny specks are rock climbers!

Red Rock Canyon: On Thursday, we left the RV in Utah and backtracked to Las Vegas for a little fun. The big attraction for us: seeing our ISB friends, the Merritts! Our first destination with them was Red Rock Canyon, an incredible natural formation just on the outskirts of town. The visitor center had a great display of desert ecosystems, and then we headed into the hills for an afternoon of hiking and family fun. 


On the Strip with the Merritts

Las Vegas: Friday night, we hit the Vegas Strip. This first foray into town was a family affair, so we stuck to kid-friendly attractions like the Bellagio Fountain and Hershey’s Chocolate World. Some of our best entertainment, however, came from people-watching on the street, which was filled with costumed characters, street performers, and partygoers of all varieties. This was a different kind of “educational experience” for the boys, but one that’s uniquely American. Viva Las Vegas!

We still have another day here and are looking forward to a visit to Hoover Dam. It’s been great catching up with friends and experiencing this amazing city in the desert.