This is a partially excavated ancient Indian village in the heart of Utah's canyon country. It was once one of the largest Anasazi communities west of the Colorado River, possibly housing as many as 200 people. It is believed to have been occupied from A.D. 1050 to 1200. The village remains largely unexcavated, but many artefacts have been uncovered and are on display in the little museum, which I gather has been updated since our visit. As always with such sites, it takes a little imagination while exploring to visualise the village as it once would have been, but you are greatly helped by the reconstructed six-room dwelling (see photo) which you can go inside.
The people who lived here would have been farmers, growing corn, beans and squash in plots near the village. In the surrounding mountains and canyons they would have hunted deer and desert bighorn sheep, and gathered seeds, nuts and berries.
Around A.D. 1200 the inhabitants left, never to return. It is unclear why they went – outgrowing their resources or trouble with neighbouring tribes perhaps. Now, hundreds of years later, it is well worth a stop here if passing on your way between the various National Parks and other scenic attractions, if only to provide a human dimension to the story of the shaping of this landscape.
There’s a fee of $5 per person, and picnicking areas and rest rooms available, but no camping or overnight stays.
We stayed overnight in Escalante on our route from Capitol Reef to Bryce Canyon, and it appeared to us like a town that time forgot – a piece of small-town 50s America just as we know it from old films. From the “Mom & Pop” motel where we stayed (the Quiet Falls, which appears to be still there) to the Frosty Shop ice-cream parlour to the one café (the Golden Circle), the whole town felt like a film-set. There’s nothing much to do here, unless you share our fascination with 1950s Americana and welcome the opportunity to take a few different photos. Stroll down to the Frosty Shop and enjoy a cone in the shade of the nearby pines; peer into the dusty windows of the few shops on Main Street; dine on burger and chips at the Golden Circle – that’s about the sum of the fun to be had here, but fun it is, for an hour or two.
Of course the town may have changed since our visit in 1993, but somehow I doubt it. According to Wikipedia Escalante has a population of “818 people, 304 households, and 220 families”, so it must still be a pretty sleepy place. One thing that has changed though is the relatively recent popularity of nearby Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument. If this was there when we visited (and the landscape must have been, even if it weren’t then a national monument), somehow it managed to escape our attention totally, and its presence in the vicinity had not at that stage at least made much impact on Escalante itself in terms of tourist infrastructure.
Check out the website below for information on lots of the attractions in this area, including Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument. Oh, and unless things have changed a lot since our visit don’t be fooled, as we were, by the Coors neon sign in the window of the Golden Circle – this is dry Mormon country and you won’t be able to wash that tasty burger down with anything stronger than non-alcoholic beer!
The first thing to say is that we didn’t do Bryce Canyon justice. We allowed too little time, and what time we had was made even shorter when we arrived in the middle of such a heavy storm that we were forced to take shelter in the car. In the end we could only drive some distance along the road that follows the rim, stopping here and there for photos and for a few short walks. These included the popular (too popular!) walk between Sunrise and Sunset Points, although not at the right time of day to see either of their namesake events.
Yet even in such a short time, what we saw was spectacular. This is no regular canyon, awesome though these can be. In fact, despite the name, this is not strictly speaking a canyon, since it was carved not by a river but by the work of snow and ice. The central area of the park is described as an amphitheatre, which gives an indication of its shape as well as providing an appropriate sense of drama. The valley floor is full of so-called “hoodoos”, spires, formed by ice and rainwater wearing away the weak limestone that makes up the Claron Formation. These have taken on an almost Fairyland-like appearance, twisting their way up from the depths below to peer over the rim at the astounded visitor. What must the first white explorers in this region have felt, when they came across these formations for the first time?
Apparently on a clear day the visibility at Bryce Canyon National Park often exceeds 100 miles – on our visit it was barely a mile I think, maybe less. So perhaps it’s not surprising that, of all the Utah national parks, this is the one to which I most want to return ...
If you have a camera with you, a stop here is a must – likewise if you enjoy hiking or off-highway vehicle riding, or simply want to play about in the sand! The colours are amazing, but perhaps less surprising when you consider the colours of the rock formations all over this spectacular state – red rocks make red sand. But whatever their origins, these dunes really capture the eye – and the lens! Furthermore, the rich hues of the sand are contrasted by the more sombre surroundings of pine-covered hills, making them all the more dramatic.
This is a unique geologic feature, the only major sand dune field on the Colorado Plateau. There is a particular reason for its presence in this spot. To create sand dunes, you need sand (obviously!) and high winds, strong enough to carry the grains of sand. Near here, the Moquith and Moccasin mountains are separated by a notch, through which the wind is funnelled. This narrowing of its path causes the velocity of the wind to increase, and as it passes it picks up grains of the eroding sandstone from which these mountains are formed. Once through the notch and into the wide open valley beyond, the wind speed drops, the grains of sand can no longer be supported, and they are deposited here, heaping up into these colourful dunes. This process has been going on for thousands of years – these dunes are estimated to be between 10,000 and 15,000 years old.
There is a nature trail here, and we enjoyed following the boardwalk and taking photos, but if you want to stay for a longer visit you could camp here (there are 22 units) and spend more time hiking.
Zion stood out for me among the Utah National Parks as being much greener, even in places lush. Yes, the characteristic red sandstone rocks and cliffs surround you, but here they are offset by the greenery of the river valley. You can hike across bare rock, but you can also stroll beside running water and duck beneath waterfalls. You can view the park’s stunning landscapes from a high vantage point, after a strenuous hike to Angel’s Landing, or through the window of the shuttle bus that circles the park (although the latter would be a real shame, given the easiness of some of the trails). You can spend weeks here, or just a few hours ...
We spent the best part of a day touring the park. We did two of the easier trails – the one just over a mile to the Lower Emerald Pool, and another along the Virgin River at the far end of the scenic drive, near the spot known as the Temple of Sinawava. The latter is handicap-accessible and about 1.5 miles long. I’ve read that the Lower Emerald Pool trail is very popular and prone to over-crowding but back in 1993 we didn’t find it so – I only recall meeting a few other people there. And it’s certainly a very pretty walk, and one that nearly everyone could manage to do, so if you only plan to do one walk I would recommend this one.
Nowadays private vehicles are not allowed to tour the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive from April to October, so you need to take the shuttle to the various trailheads and other sights. When we visited this was not the case and we were able to tour in our hired car, but even then it was rather crowded at some of the prettiest spots and on the easiest trails, so the introduction of the shuttle is a great idea in my view.
Apart from walking and hiking, activities here include horse riding and the usual comprehensive National Park Service programme of ranger talks and guided walks. We just spent a day here, but if you want to stay longer you can camp in one of three campgrounds (two in Zion Canyon itself, the other about an hour’s drive away on the Kolob Terrace Road) or stay at the Zion Lodge.
Arches National Park is known for its dramatic rock formations. Here, you will find massive sandstone buttes, petrified dunes, balancing rocks and of course, the greatest concentration of natural arches found anywhere in the world.
There is an 18 mile scenic road that traverses the park and dozens of hikes ranging from a few minutes to a few hours.
See my Arches NP pages for more photos and info.
It amazes me to know that these structures of state law and government pretty much had to cover the whole dang territories which may had covered the whole state back then, even though they weren't all states yet. Does that make sense?.....lol!
It began in October 1851 when Brigham Young headed a delegation of lawmakers representing the provisional State of Desert. They had to decide where to locate that Capitol city. A site that was centrally located 150 miles south of Salt Lake City was chosen. It was named after the 13th President of the United States...Fillmore!
Even after the petition of statehood was denied, the territorial government was established with Brigham Young as governor of the Utah Territorial Capitol.
Construction began on the new capitol building in 1852. The territorial legislature me there in December 1855 for the only full session they had then. Then in 1858 the seat of government was returned to Salt Lake City. The building still served as various functions over the years. Yet, as time passed by it was abandon and soon started to fall apart till "The Daughters of the Utah Pioneers" saved it in 1920...yay! In 1930 is started it's service as a wonderful museum and in 1957 became part of the State and National Register of Historical Places.
I will tell you, you can almost feel the past presence of individuals who once graced the buildings. It has lots of wonderful historical photograhs all over the walls and lots of wonderful artifacts of the by gone area.
Open daily except
Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Day.
Winter Hours Labor Day to Memorial are 9am -5pm
Temples lie at the heart of Mormon religious practise and are only open to Mormons of good-standing. Baptism, marriagae, family-sealing are some of the ceremonies that take part here, sealing the deal for all eternity and not just temporal death. To esplore the Temple Square - a city block direct in the heart of downtown Salt Lake containing the Temple, the Tabernacle, and Assembly Hall and a couple of visitor centers - take a tour from one of the Visitor Centers to gain a better understanding of both Mormon theology and the importance of temples within that framework.
The Salt Lake Temple can be thought of as ground zero for the Mormon faith - here, not only religious ceremonies take place but meeting rooms for the highest church elders are located. Construction started in 1853 but took 40 years to complete with huge granite slabs being hauled from 20 miles away. Six spires soar high above with the angel Moroni - a 12 1/2 foot high statue made of copper covered with gold leaf - sitting atop the highest spire, trumpeting the good news.
En route to Moab, we stopped briefly at Newspaper Rock to have a look at the ancient petroglyphs left by the Puebloan people hundreds of years ago.
The sandstone cliff is covered with images of horses with riders, animal pelts, paw prints and human feet with six toes. The engravings were very well preserved and easy to view, it was fascinating to see and well worth the detour, I thought. There is also a primitive campground here amongst the large cottonwood trees.
If you continue west past this site, you will soon arrive at The Needles District of Canyonlands NP.
There is nothing like Monument Valley. I highly recommend a visit if you are anywhere in the vicinity! Here you will see a fascinating collection of 1000 foot high red rocky buttes rising from the flat desert plains. The park is located on the Navajo Indian Reservation and you can take horseback or vehicle tours with them, or drive yourself along the 17 mile scenic road.
See my Monument Valley pages for more info and photos.
The Temple is where religious practises of the highest order are carried out in the Mormon church; the LDS Headquarters is where ordinances are promulgated and here at the Tabernacle, the Word was spread to the Faithful at two semiannual conferences - Spring and Fall. This done-shaped building was built between 1863-67. Mormon leader Brigham Young wanted a large meeting hall capable of holding thousands with an interior free of supports to ensure both good sightlines and acoustics. The dome rests on 44 red sandstone supports and is held together by wooden pegs and rawhide strips. The seating capacity - 6500 - is too small for the conference crowds now - even the 21000 of the Conference Center is inadequate - conferences are broadcast worldwide over a church satellite network. The organ is one of the finest in the world, originally consisting of over 700 pipes - that has grown to over 12000 today. Daily recitals demonstrate the organ, but even better is to attend a Sunday morning broadcast of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir - 360 strong voices singing out gloriously from the heart of Zion.
The Tabernacle's place as where the Good News was spread to the Faithful at General Conference times has now been supplanted - 2000 - by the much large 21000 seat Conference Center - the Church cannot be outdone by the Delta Center down the street! Also the block of Main Street between the Church Headquarters Building and the Temple was purchased and made into a park. The Tabernacle's role has been reduced to that of a musical hall.
Canyonlands National Park is divided by the Green and Colorado Rivers into three very different regions. They are the Maze, the Needles and Island in the Sky Districts. We visited Island in the Sky.
The "island" gets its name because this district is located atop a giant mesa which towers above the surrounding canyonlands. There are 17 miles of scenic roads with many viewpoints and hiking trails. Admission to the park is covered by your National Parks Pass.
See my Canyonlands NP pages for more photos and info.
Bryce Canyon is a must see destination. It is so unique with it's tall rocky spires coloured in every shade of orange and red. These "hodoos" resemble a petrified forest, especiall as you walk amongst them on some of the excellent hiking trails.
See my Bryce Canyon pages for more info.
Dead Horse Point is a narrow peninsula of land high above the canyons of the Colorado River. Cowboys used to capture wild mustangs by driving the horses onto this peninsula and closing a brush fence behind them. The cowboys would then rope the wild horses that they wanted to keep and left the others behind to find their way off the point. Apparantly, one time, eventhough the gate was opened for the unwanted horses to escape, for some reason, they didn't and the horses died of thirst within sight of the Colorado River below. Hence the name, Dead Horse Point.
There is a spectacular viewpoint at the rim Dead Horse Point where you can see the winding Colorado River 2000 feet below. There is also a campground here and 10 miles of hiking trails. Admission to the park is $7 and not covered by your National Parks Pass.
For centuries Wasatch Indians visited this island frequently for its game of fish and antelope. It was eventually discovered by the explorer John C. Fremont and Kit Carson in 1845, naming it Antelope Island. In 1848 Fielding Garr settled his family here which was still inhabited till the State of Utah bought the property in 1981, making a recreational park for all to enjoy. The island is surrounded by the Great Salt Lake beauty of inland sea. It has lots to offer the day trippers as well as those who want to venture in camping, biking (8 mile loop), wildlife viewing (antelope, deer, bobcats, coyotes and a huge variety of birds, sailing (marina), and hiking (many trails to enjoy). There is a very nice area for picnicking, bathrooms facilities, sunbathing, and should experience floating like a cork in the salt water. The island even has an eating establishment, but it’s only open during certain during the seasons.
Here are other activities that you may interested in:
R & G Horse and Wagon, LLC
Guided horseback rides can be tailored for wildlife viewing, geology or bird watching. Reservations suggested.
Buffalo Point, Inc.
Experience Antelope Island on an open-air
amphibious duck! Try the Wildlife Safari or cruise
the lake on the Majestic Islander. Buffalo Point also operates a bistro on
Open Sat. & Sun. 12-5 pm
Great Salt Lake Adventures
Kayaking is an excellent way to explore the Great Salt Lake. Guides help you
learn correct kayaking techniques and offer insight into the Lake's past.
Fielding Garr Ranch
Ranch hours are 9 am - 5 pm
Stayed for 3 nights. The room was very clean and spacious. Housekeepers were always prompt and did a...more
This is the only campground in Arches National Park. There are 52 site to choose from. Current...more
It's more like a motel that a hotel but it's nice and it's the best place to stay in vicinity of the...more