Page to Bryce Canyon
On Monday we left Page to drive to Bryce Canyon and our next stop. First we had a look at the Glen Canyon Dam which was the reason for the town of Page as it originated from housing the workers of the dam when construction started in 1957.
Then we stopped at Lake Powell which is the largest lake in Arizona/Utah and famed for its water sports, fishing, hiking and boat trips to Rainbow Bridge (the world’s largest natural stone bridge).
Lake Powell is arguably the most scenic lake in America, situated in some of Southern Utah’s finest red-rock desert country.
Above: The Hydroelectric Project (Glen Canyon) and the Navajo Generating Station. Why are two power stations so close? The reason is the river. The availability of water at lake Powell, the proximity of a source of coal and a worker base in the city of Page determined the location.
Sparkling clear, blue water laps against towering, sheer, red-rock canyon walls and sandy beaches. Lake Powell has more coastline than the entire west coast and you need a water craft to access the majority of the canyons as access is limited because there are few roads.
Moving on we crossed the border into Utah which is only about ten miles from Page. Utah’s southwest corner is often called “Colour Country” and has a dry, hot climate and Highway 89 is a Heritage Highway because of the wealth of history along its route.
Driving past Paria Canyon and the Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness you then pass Cottonwood Canyon Scenic Backway with rugged peaks called the Cockscomb. Next is an area called Telegraph Flat named in 1876 when Western Telegraph opened an office here. It is now a ghost town.
The biggest town along the route is Kanab, famous for the Western Legends Roundup and Western Film Festival an annual event that is a tribute to the area’s rich movie history. Nearby is the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park (covered in snow as we passed ) where the rare plant, Welsh’s Milkweed, grows.
The United Order experiment was instituted in 1874 for a communal lifestyle at the direction of Brigham Young. Eighty families moved here from Mount Carmel where the co-operative had failed.
It existed until the 1880s when it started to fall apart, though it had grown to more than 700. The families lived in apartments which were identical, they all ate in a common dining hall and wore uniforms. Private property did not exist.
The next town is Mount Carmel Junction where Highway 9 to Zion National Park intersects with the 89 (and which we would be taking tomorrow as we retraced the next stage of our trip), a few miles on we drove through the unusually named Orderville.
Mount Carmel Junction was first settled by Dr Priddy Meeks in 1864 as part of Brigham Young’s plan to settle all of Utah’s territory. It was later named after a mountain in Israel.
John Wesley Powell first visited in 1872; he was the first white man to descend the East Fork of the Virgin River and who named the canyon “Parunuweap” from the Paiute word meaning roaring water canyon.
Just before Panguitch (another town with an interesting tale, which I will tell you about in my next post) you take a turn to the right on State Route 12, another of the All American Roads, which winds 124 miles through some of the most unique geology on earth. Almost immediately you hit Red Canyon, a section of the Dixie National Forest, with red hillsides dotted with ponderosa pines and hoodoos.
(Click an image to enlarge and for further information)
After 14 miles we took another right turn and headed back south on Highway 63 to Bryce Canyon National Park, so named after Ebenezer Bryce a Mormon pioneer. We were staying in the Best Western Ruby’s Inn which is a short distance from the park entrance.
“Before there were any Indians the Legend people, To-When-an-ung-wa, lived in that place. There were so many of them. They were of many kinds – birds, animals, lizards and such things – but they looked like people…
For some reason the Legend People in that place were bad. Because they were bad Coyote turned them into rocks; some standing in rows, some sitting down, some holding onto others. You can see their faces with paint on them just as they were before they became rocks…”
~ a Paiute Indian Legend
After checking in and dropping our luggage in the Lakeview Lodge we headed off into the park to have a look at the incredible hoodoos that are concentrated in a horse-shoe shaped amphitheatres that provide amazing spots to watch the sun rise and set.
A perfect spot for star-gazing as there is no light pollution.
The 3 feet of snow that had fallen over the weekend meant that several of the pathways were under snow and walking was quite treacherous. It didn’t seem to put off some people though as we saw them climbing over fences to approach the end of a lookout point – oblivious to the fact that you couldn’t see the edge. I even saw two lads carrying a mate in a wheelchair to the edge of one viewpoint.
From Sunset Point this trail takes you down onto the floor of the canyon and amongst the hoodoos. Not to be ventured on except by people in stout boots with walking poles, or idiots in fashion boots complete with high heels!!
We ate at Ruby’s that night, there isn’t really a lot of choice, but the food was reasonable – I can’t say that we’ve eaten any remarkable meals during this trip so far. It had been a long day with lots of interesting scenery along the way. There was a lot of snow all around and it was very cold, but thank goodness the roads were cleared and driving was a breeze. Tomorrow should be another interesting day.