The final itinerary is firmed up, subject to whimsy and serendipity, but at least we have reservations.
Day 1 September 20, 2001 Monday: Yellow Cab will pick us up at 3:30am taking us to the Guesthouse Inn where we will board
the 4:15am Bellaire Airporter Shuttle bus to SeaTac Airport. Our Southwest Airlines flight 871 departs at 9:50am arriving in Las Vegas at 12:20pm. Our ride for 21 days will be a Ford Escape 4×4 from Dollar Car Rental which will enable us to drive a few backroads where the real scenery is. Out of the Mccarran Rent-A-Car Center as fast as we can, we will drive through Henderson where will will buy groceries, ice and a cooler. Soon, we will be driving Northshore Road (Hwy 167) on the way to our first overnight in Overton, located close to Valley of Fire State Park. Our accommodations will be at the Plaza Motel, very reasonably priced at $40. We will shoot the evening/sunset light at several stops along the White Domes Road inside the park.
Day 2 September 21, 2010 Tuesday: The morning/sunrise light beckons us again to Valley of Fire State Park. We will then follow the park road out to Interstate 15 where it will lead us to Hwy 93N to our next destination: Lincoln County. There will be a few stops along the way to Panaca (Pahranagat NWR, Alamo, Ash Springs, Rachel on the Extraterrestrial Hwy 375 to grab an Alien Burger, Caliente) where we will be spending two nights at the Pine Tree Inn and Bakery. Our hostess will graciously substitute packed lunches for our breakfast all for $65 per night. For our evening/sunset photos we will explore Cathedral Gorge State Park at several overlooks.
Day 3 September 22, 2010 Wednesday: According to the ranger at Cathedral Gorge, mornings are the best times for photography within the park. After we exhaust those possibilities, we will take the Rainbow Canyon Drive out to Kershaw-Ryan State Park where there are native grape draped canyon walls. A trip to Boot Hill Cemetary and Delamar, a ghost town, will complete our day unless sunset proves to be good from Cathedral Gorge.
Day 4 September 23, 2010 Thursday: We will arise early for more photo opportunities at Cathedral Gorge then we are on our way to Utah via Nevada Hwy 319/Utah Hwy 56 as we cross through some desolate landscapes. There is a tale of a highway alien encounter that we want to investigate around Modena in Gadianton Canyon (no map shows it that we have). And there are some exceptional pictographs on Pinto Rd south of the highway that merit a stop. Our overnight stay in Cedar City will be at Knights Inn for $36.40. For our evening photographs, Kolob Canyon Viewpoint is our target. This is a 6 mile drive within the Kolob section of Zion National Park that sees fewer visitors.
Day 5 September 24, 2010 Friday: Today we will explore the Right Hand Canyon Road for fall color as recommended by Bonnie at the Cedar City Visitor Bureau. It is a slight detour off Hwy 14, a designated scenic byway. This road (becoming Kolob Terrace Rd.) eventually will take you all the way to Rockville on Hwy 9 near the main entrance to Zion which we will explore during the last part of our trip. Returning to Hwy 14 we will stop at several viewpoints before turning north on Hwy 148 to enter Cedar Breaks National Monument, a preview of Bryce. Spectra Point along the Ramparts Trail at the Pt. Supreme Overlook is a possible hike and sunset shot. We will also stop at Sunset View and Chessman Ridge Overlook after checking in at the Visitor Center. One of three splurges during our time in the Southwest will be at the Cedar Breaks Lodge in Brian Head two miles from the northern entrance to the monument. For $107.35 per night, we get two queens, a kitchenette, and a jetted tub. These Junior Villa Suites cost double during the ski season.
Day 6 September 26, 2010 Saturday: An early morning for a sunrise over the multi-hied spires of the monument then on to the main attraction of Bryce National Park. We will follow the park road out to Hwy 14 to complete the scenic byway eastbound until it intersects with Hwy 89. We will drive along the Sevier River on northbound Hwy 89 until Bryce Canyon Jnct where will will continue on to Bryce on another designated scenic byway, Hwy 12. Red Canyon may make a great lunch/rest stop then it is just a few miles to Bryce where splurge number two awaits at the Bryce View Lodge for $95.25. To be near where the shooting action is is paramount to avoid driving unfamiliar roads in the dark. Sunset Point is recommended for both sunset/sunrise images so we will determine what makes the most stellar ones. But, we may walk the 20 minute Rim Trail between Sunset Pt. and Inspiration Pt. for the best views.
Day 7 September 26, 2010 Sunday: Sunrise at Sunrise Pt? Maybe. It will all depend on the light. There are many other viewpoints/trails in Bryce but a drive south to Rainbow Pt seems to be a nice way to spend the remainder of our time in the park. Besides, it is Sunday and the crowds will be out. Backtracking through the park to Hwy 12 eastbound will bring us to Cottonwood Canyon Rd. and Kodachrome Basin State Park where we will overnight at splurge #3: Red Stone Cabins. For $90.07, we will have our own cabin with a tremendous view of the park inside the park. We can watch the first stars from our private deck. The sandstone chimneys glow in the evening sun.
Day 8 September 27, 2010 Monday: Grosvenor Arch, about 10 miles along Cottonwood Canyon Rd., is a rare double arch of golden sandstone will be our morning photograph. Then a few miles down this 4×4 road there are some very colorful rock formations between two saddles the rangers call “Candyland” which may prove to be very photogenic. Wiilis Creek Canyon along the Skutumpah Rd. is an easily accessible slot canyon with a year round stream which may be a great afternoon adventure. Turning back, we will return to Hwy 12 to our next destination of Escalante where we will stay two nights in a spartan cabin for $50.49 per night at Escalante Outfitters. We will just miss Everett Ruess Days, a celebration of the life of a young artist/adventurer/legend who became lost among the canyons of the Escalante area at age 20 in 1934. If time allows, we may try Smoky Mountain Rd, another 4×4 road into the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument to check out some pictographs and see if we can spot the granaries in the canyons. This is also the site of burning underground coal deposits, thus the name.
Day 9 September 28, 2010 Tuesday: Outside Escalante, we will follow the Hole-in-the-Rock Road and the close-by-the-road Devils Garden sandstone hoodoos for our sunrise photos. Then, we will continue on down this road that a large wagon train party of Mormons traveled in 1879 while trying to find their way to the San Juan River Valley. We will stop by the Dance Hall Rock, a very large rock outcropping where the wind has carved a deep alcove where the Mormons danced while waiting for scout reports. On the return to Escalante, we will try for an evening/starry night shoot of Devils Garden and the Metate Arch.
Day 10 September 29, 2010 Wednesday: East of Escalante, off of Highway 12, there is an unmarked road that is either the Old Sheffield Road or the Spencer Flat Road. There should be some gorgeous sandstone with swirls and Moqui rocks. A hike up slickrock leads to a huge craggy water hole with an inside cone. I have seen nothing else like it in my online research. Then, we will venture on to Boulder Town via Hwy 12 stopping at Head of Rocks overlook then hike the Lower Calf Creek Trail, a 5.5 mile round trip trek on sand with little or no elevation gain. The 126′ tall falls drops from a notch in the cliffs to a pool surrounded by trees. A great place for a picnic and photos. Then, on to Boulder again stopping at the many overlooks, especially Balancing Rock just short of town. We will stay here for one night (previous plans were for two but a big wedding is happening so our second night was sold out) at the Circle CliffsInn for $70.
Day 11 September 30, 2010 Thursday: This morning we will explore Long Canyon on the Burr Trail Road, a paved backroad. Just before beginning this 7 mile long canyon with red sandstone walls on either side, there is a pullout for a panorama shot of the first .5 mile of the canyon. After exiting the canyon, there is another pullout for sweeping views of the Circle Cliffs, the Waterpocket Fold and the Henry Mountains. There is a short slot canyon with a killer combination of red Wingate sandstone and a picturesque willow adjacent to the road. How convenient. The next segment of Hwy 12 is supposedly the most scenic and the most twisty as it makes its way northward to Torrey where we will be staying for two nights at the Torrey Trading Post and cabins in a basic cabin for $35 per night. Basic means the restrooms are right outside your door not inside the cabin. We are trusting this recommendation from a very genial man at the Torrey Visitors Bureau. Torrey is right outside Capitol Reef National Park which is less visited than Utah’s other fantastic crown jewels. A drive to Panorama Point to shoot a golden light vista of Chimney Rock and The Castle and a sunset shot from Sunset Point just a short drive away will complete our day.
Day 12 October 1, 2010 Friday: We may hike the Hickman Bridge Trail, a moderate 2.2 mile round trip hike with a possible detour to shoot Pectol’s Pyramid. After checking at the visitor’s center for weather conditions, we will drive the 14 mile round trip Scenic Drive then check out the Grand Wash trail, an offshoot. A pullover on the return to Torrey on the Scenic Drive a mile past the Grand Wash spur is said to be a beautiful evening shot of the badlands, especially in the fall.
Day 13 October 2, 2010 Saturday: This morning the view from Panorama Point will be westward toward Torrey for early morning panos and some morning light on The Castle. Just a short ways away is the the trailhead for an overview of the Goosenecks of Sulphur Creek. Not as spectacular as the more famous “Goosenecks” but a geologic timeline. The late afternoon photo session will be in Fruita, a former Mormon settlement, with the very picturesque Pendleton Barn set against the glowing canyon walls. We will then continue on our way to Caineville, a very small settlement without a grocery store but the Rodeway Inn (≈$70), a very convenient lodging for our Cathedral Valley Loop adventure.
Day 14 October 3, 2010 Sunday: If the rain gods are away and sunny weather (with a few clouds) prevail, we will drive a portion of the Cathedral Valley Loop (Caineville Wash Road) for morning shots of Brushy Basin and the badlands of the Bentonite Hills. Then on to the monoliths of Temple of the Sun and Temple of the Moon for the morning light. We may do the monoliths first but as they are further along and the road is is a washboard, we may have to settle on the badlands. If the road isn’t too bad, we may possibly even get to the South Desert Overlook with its expansive views of more monoliths. As the sun hurries to end the day, we will see what we can shoot on the return to highway 24 and on to Hanksville where we have reservations for two nights at the Whispering Sands Motel for $77.82 each night including tax.
Day 15 October 4, 2010 Monday: We’re up early to shoot Temple Mountain via Temple Junction Road/Hidden Splendor Road near Goblin Valley. A cabin and fence may add to the early morning scene. Then it is on toward Red’s Canyon Road to find a few more buttes and arches: Family Butte, Tomsich Butte and Hondu Arch. Hopefully, instead of backtracking we can shoot Factory Butte in the evening light via another backroad to SR 24. We are now in the San Rafael Swell, a vast area being considered by the Obama administration for national monument status. There are few services and the roads are unpaved and irregularly maintained. But, there are mesas and buttes and canyons, oh my. Another night in Hanksville.
Day 16 October 5, 2010 Tuesday: Another early morning to shoot the hobgoblins around Goblin Valley State Park, a surreal landscape of misshapen sand stone hoodoos. More buttes can be found here (Molly’s Castle, Gilson Butte and Wild Horse Butte) to add as background. After all day exploring this area we head north on SR 24 to Interstate 70 then east to Green River where we will spend the night at Robbers Roost Motel for $43.49 a night.
Day 17 October 6, 2010 Wednesday: There are several viewpoints on Interstate 70 for expansive views into the San Rafael Swell. Once we arrive at exit 131 we will again be on unpaved backroads, following the Lawrence/Tan Seeps Road ( I did not make this up) to a viewpoint with the San Rafael River and a reflection of one of several buttes in the area: Window Blind Peak or Assembly Hall Peak. If we can, we will follow the same road until it becomes the road to the Wedge Overlook which we will shoot tomorrow morning after an overnight stay in Ferron at Gilly’s Inn for $55.95 plus tax. If the roads are in poor condition, we will backtrack to Interstate 70 then take the Moore Road Cutoff to SR 10 and Ferron.
Day 18 October 7, 2020 Thursday: We will try to find our way in the dark to catch the early morning at the Wedge Overlook, a view into a canyon caused by the San Rafael River. This is a miniature landscape reminiscent of the Grand Canyon. There are some pictographs in the area that we will check out: the Buckhorn Wash Pictograph Panel and the Rochester Rock art Panel. We have a long drive ahead to our next overnight stay at the Blue Pine Motel in Panguitch on US highway 89. The Blue Pine is reportedly where the Sundance Kid met his mother for the last time. $55 plus tax. If time permits, we will try to shoot some of the old brick buildings.
Day 19 October 8, 2010 Friday: US Highway is a very scenic road winding its way through several states and gateways to national parks. There may be some ranches we can shoot on the way to Zion National Park but Zion will be our main destination. We will drive the very scenic SR 9 which winds its way through the east side of Zion and winding up in Rockville where our next two nights will be spent at Dream Catcher Bed and Breakfast for $65 per night, including a basket breakfast delivered to our door each morning. Zion has some iconic shots and we will try to catch a few along SR 9 where I was last January, including a small sculpted canyon. The shuttles are still running so we will take a tour on the Scenic Drive and maybe a few short hikes: Riverside Walk to the Virgin Narrows and the Emerald Pools. The big one, though is the evening shot from the bridge over the Virgin River of The Watchman as it glows on its western flank. This is the classic S-curve landscape of the Virgin River winding its way toward The Watchman. It may be too crowded on the bridge so we may try the foot bridge closer to Springdale for a different perspective.
Day 20 October 9, 2020 Saturday: First thing in the morning we will attempt to shoot the Watchman from the same vantage point that I shot last January. Or, there is always the classic shot of the Towers of the Virgins behind the museum. Because this is Saturday in a national park, we will visit the Kolob Terrace Road to avoid the crowds. There are some colorful rock formations that glow in the evening light. This is the southern part of the road we ventured on near Cedar City off SR 14 near Cedar Breaks. It was not plowed all the way last january so we can see parts I wasn’t able to see then. We may try for another classic shot of The Watchman from the bridge or another vantage point in the late afternoon. Or a sunset from the Smithsonian Butte Road.
Day 21 October 10, 2010 Sunday: The Smithsonian Butte Road heads south from Rockville into some very photogenic areas including a beautiful sunrise view of Zion. Smithsonian Butte may be another target. If the road is passable all the way to SR 59, then we will continue on the backroads through Hurricane and to St. George , the biggest town in which we will stay overnight. We may detour to Sand Hollow State Park for an evening shoot with a reservoir and sandstone refections. Our accommodations for the night will be at the Dixie Palms Motel for $49.95 plus tax. This is where I stayed while I was in the area last January. This is an older, but clean motel with small fridge and microwave.
Day 22 October 11, 2010 Monday: Snow Canyon is a beautiful state park with optimum early morning scenes with just a short walk on a trail up some slickrock. There is a tree with some Moqui marbles atop the slickrock with sunlit sandstone canyon walls for a background. We will shoot a few frames here then travel back to Las Vegas via Interstate 15 through the Virgin River Narrows for our 4:50 pm flight back to Seattle with Southwest Airlines. Our flight arrives in Seattle at 7:25 pm where we will board the Bellaire Shuttle at 9:00 pm to return to Bellingham at 11;30 pm.
So, several weeks from now, I will keep you posted on our wanderings. Our trip will be successful if we don’t adhere to the schedule too religiously but follow the golden light of Southeastern Nevada/Southern Utah. Now, to pack and cram more information on my Mac.