Friday, June 29, 2012

Great Sand Dunes National Park

In the Southwestern part of Colorado is a park of massive sand dunes.
The dunes are settled at the base of the San Christo Mointains.
A giant sandbox
The temperature of the sand can reach 140 degrees in the summer.

Someone else has been visiting the dunes.

Can you spot the people in this sea of sand?

Stepping Back in Time

Our seventh national park is Mesa Verde.

Its a park featuring the cliff dwellings of ancient people.

This is the Cliff Palace,

the largest settlement in the park.

Tower house inside of a deep canyon.

We were able to tour the Spruce Tree house.

The hole in the floor of the circular area leads

to an underground kiva via ladder.

Inside the kiva it is much cooler than the 99 degrees outside.


John Wayne Territory

Monument Valley is the site of many old western movies.
It is located on the Navajo Indian Reservation.
These are traditional Hogan Indian homes.
The smaller one is a temporary structure, easily dismantled and moved.
The round one is larger and more permanant.
We enjoyed seeing these goats being herded home by two lone dogs.
As the sun set, we watched a storm blow across the desert.
And in the morning,
saw a gorgeous sunrise in Monument Valley.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Zion National Park

Zion is a park of steep canyon walls.

The view coming into the park from the east.

Checkerboard mesa

The Great White Throne in the background

The hike through the Narrows is the popular hike.

The water is clear and cool on a 101 degree day.

Our campsite in the shadow of the Watchman Peak.


Wildlife Out West

Where the deer

 And the antelope play.....

Pretty bird

These rock squirrels are quite brazen,
scurrying between your feet & raiding backpacks.

This fellow was clinging to the walls of the Narrows.

Pretty yellow bird 

This desert rat shared our campsite with us.

Beep, beep!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef is a little known national park in Utah.

Its main feature is the 100 mile long crest of slickrock called the Waterpocket Fold.

There are well preserved pioneer cabins

In the interior of the park, is the Fruita Valley,

where mormon pioneers settled and planted orchards.

Apple, cherry, pear, peach and apricot trees were planted making this an oasis in the desert.

The apricots were almost ripe.

We visited the historic Gifford homestead

and sampled some of the homemade pies.



Bryce Canyon National Park

We are continuing our trip through Utah.

Next stop, Bryce Canyon National Park.

The hoodoos of the canyon.

We hiked Queen's Garden/Navajo Loop,

Touted as the best 3 mile hike in the world.

A tree growing up between the hoodoos.

At one point along the trail, there were thousands of cairns.

Tunnels through the rocks

We hiked at the base of the fins.

and at eye level with some of the tops.

We took several other hikes including the Mossy Cave hike which passed thsi waterfall.

Sunset at Bryce


Friday, June 22, 2012

A Wilderness of Rock

We also visited the nearby Canyonlands National Park.

Canyonlands is dominated by 2 canyons carved by the
Green and Colorado rivers.
Its a landscape of mesas, fins, arches & spires.

We hiked in the desert heat to Mesa Arch.

An arch on the edge of a deep canyon.

Even up here which seems like the top of the world,

we found wildlife.


This is nearby Dead Horse Point State Park.

Legends says that the point was used as a corral for wild mustangs in the 1800's.

The cowboys rounded up the herd, pushed them across the

30 yard wide neck of land and fenced the neck with branches & shrubs.

some of the horses were left corralled on the waterless point,

where they died of thrist 2000 feet above the Colorado River.