Friday, 10th of February 2006 at 08:41:35 PM

Carnet de Voyage Day 4: Mon January 30 2006

This morning I had set up a wake-up call for 6:30 am. No Headache and the first good sleep, although short. Today I had planned the first bigger trip to Zion Canyon N.P. in Utah, about 160 miles (256 km) north of Las Vegas. Mapquest had calculated me a 2h 30 min drive. Taking Flamingo road directly into I-15 North first surprise the morning rush hour and an accident and traffic jam, which cost me half an hour of stop-and-go. Exiting Las Vegas, traffic situation immediately improved and rising sun promised good weather. Its amazing leaving Las Vegas with all its lights, and finding yourself very quick in the desert with nothing around then rocks, sand and some Joshua trees. Mosquite was the next city after 1h driving and it looked very nice with golf camps, vacation appartements and lot og green around the Virgin river. Could imagine passing some night there. Next was St. George (Utah), where I left I-15 in north-east direction, taking a local road through Hurricane, Rockville I finally arrived at Springdale at 10 am. Springdale is the gate to Zion N.P. and there in a small Gift and Deli shop, I got a fantastic breakfast consisting of a hot ham-cheddar-bagel, coffee and some housemade choco-mint fudge. Entering Zion Park I bought the National park pass (50 USD) which allows one year access to every N.P. of the US, instead of paying the 20 USD vehicle fee. (I visited three parks in my 8 days so I saved 10 dollars, and who knows if I don’t return this year back to the states). We had visited Zion Park in Mai 2004, and so I knew what to see and where to go: Visiting Zion in winter has the advantage that you can drive along the whole canyon with your own car, whereas in the summer month you have to park at the entrance and use a local shuttle service.I drove along the Virgin river up to the Canyon end at Temple of Sinawawa, where I made a 1h hike the so called virgin river walk. Returning from there I considered two options: either making another 2 h Hike to the emarald pools along the middle trail or immediately taking the Zion Mount Carmel Highway and the tunnel to see the other side of the canyon which we liked also so much in 2004. I drove along the road and decided to drive instead of the hike.

In the Zion Canyon.

Driving down Zion valley aside the virgin river, I stopped several times to enjoy the amazing view of the snow sprinkled mountains of Zion and the river. It was about 2:00 pm when I had a spontaneous idea: Wouldn’t it be great to see also the Bryce Canyon snow covered? I knew from our last visit that Bryce canyon was about 1:30 h north from Zion.

Zion Mount Carmel Highway entrance

This meant I could make it before sunset. So jump in the car and drive another 1:30 hour further away from Las Vegas. I knew, that I had to drive this all back the same evening, but I didn’t care. I was on vacation and I had a comfortable 235 H.P. car. Driving higher and higher in the mountains was noticeable also by increasing amount of snow, but streets were ice-free and the sun was shining. Finally just before Sunset I arrived in the Bryce Canyon, asked in the visitor cnter for the best location to view the canyon in the evening light and was directed to Inspiration Point, 5 min. away from Park entrance. The view of Bryce with the snow was worth the drive. I enjoyed it for half an hour and then sat back into the car for the 250 miles (400 km) drive back to Las Vegas. It should take me about 4 hours, arriving in Las Vegas at 9 pm, having stopped only once for a Mc Donald combo of Spicy Crispy chicken and a Burger, with diet coke . Wow, today I made at least 500 miles (800km).
The evening I left Flamingo on foot and visited the nearby attractions of Treasure Island (pirate ship battle), Mirage (volcano) and Bellagio (fountains). Very tired but happy I got to bed, knowing that I had to check-out the next morning at 6:00 am: My plan was to take a drive to Los Angeles making a deviation via Joshua tree N.P.

Bryce Canyon late in the evening sun.

See the complete Photo series of this trip on my Homepage

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