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Our Trip of 2003

Utah Canyons to Home

We spent several days in southern Utah. This entire area is loaded with beautiful, red rocky formations. The several national parks and monuments have concentrations of the formations, and have the necessary roads,  public trails, and platforms that allow easy viewing at close range.

Note: Additions will be made to include multiple pictures of several stops. Click on a picture for more

Cedar Breaks NM was the first stop. It has aptly been described as a miniature version of Bryce Canyon NP. As we headed for Bryce Canyon, we drove through Red Canyon, a region that looks a lot like Bryce Canyon. A few pull-offs are provided along the highway.
Bryce Canyon Hoodoos, Fairyland Canyon. Bryce Canyon NP has a number of side canyons that lead into the larger canyon. All have the tall, rocky structures known as hoodoos. The roads in the park lead to several viewing platforms with names such as "Sunrise Point" or "Inspiration point". Each view is different from all the others, and all should be visited. Most of the side canyons open toward the east. A sunny day gives strong shadows for pictures. A gamma increase with Photoshop shows detail in the shadows .
All the views in Bryce Canyon are from the  canyon rim. In Capitol Reef NP, the road is in the bottom of the canyon giving a different perspective. Only a few hoodoos, but lots of beautiful multi-colored rock formations. Natural Bridges NM has three natural rock bridges that are easily seen with downward views from roadside viewing areas. Closer, upward views can be had from trails to the river basin
We next drove into Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona, and briefly returned to Utah. All at the same time at the Navaho operated Four Corners monument. Next stop was Page, AZ, home of Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell. The dam visitor center is to the left of the dam, with access from Page over a high bridge in front of the dam.
The north rim of the Grand Canyon was the next stop. Smoke or haze severely limited the viewing range. From the north rim, most views are into side canyons instead of into the main canyon. I prefer the south rim views that we had a few years ago.
Next  was the Hubbell Trading Post at Ganado, AZ. The most interesting part of this stop was to see the prices of Indian woven baskets. I had no idea they were so expensive. We visited  the Goldfield Ghost Town near Phoenix, AZ, and rode their tour train. Interesting tourist place.
We next visited the Organ Pipe Cactus NM in southern AZ. Lots of different types of cactus with labels so you know what you are seeing. We also visited Sabino Canyon near Tucson, AZ. A  train-type tour along the road through the canyon was taken. Cars are not allowed. Interesting sights.
Next stop was Tombstone, AZ, home of the Gunfight at the OK Corral. Also home to many historic places from the time of Wyatt Earp, including Boothill Cemetery.  Next was a tour of the Queen Mine in Bisbee, AZ. It is cold and damp in the old copper mine. They supply the hard hat and rain coat. Tours are conducted by retired miners. Only a few mines are still active in the area. A large open pit mine is nearby.
We next returned to our home state of Texas and visited the Hueco Tanks State Historic Site. Indian pictographs are in small caves or overhangs. Graffiti from stage coach era people is also there, along with more recent vandals. Next was the Guadalupe Mountains NP. We did not see much of interest there since there was not time for a hike deep into McKittrick Canyon. The descriptions at http://www.nps.gov/gumo/gumo/mck.html makes me want to return.
A stop was made at Fort Lancaster Historical Site. This was a spur of the moment side trip instigated by a sign on Interstate 10. Ruins of a pre-civil war fort abandoned in 1861.  While unplanned, it provided a scenic drive through desert country and a bit of history that was interesting. Much better than the Interstate. Our last stop before home was at the Caverns of Sonora.  The first part of the cave is boring, with not even a stalactite to see. The cave then becomes the most beautiful that I have seen, with massive cave coral formations and delicate formations such as a butterfly and fish tails.

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