Overview of Trip: Carol Patterson and I made plans earlier this year to visit the following: Steamboat Springs, National Parks, Old Mining Town, Friends. We left early in the morning on May 25 on our way to Steamboat Springs; an overnight was spent at Kimball, NE. where we arrived early enough for a self-guided tour around the historic downtown area.
Our first destination was Steamboat Springs where Carol’s daughter, Kori, lives with her husband Brooks. Upon arrival in town, we checked into Nordic Lodge where we had reservations for two nights. The time we spent here was lots of fun and Kori/Brooks were fantastic hosts. Our activities involved exploring the town via river trail, eating out, visiting Steamboat Springs Ski Area, having picnic lunch packed eating at Fish Creek Falls outside of Steamboat, sitting by the river on rocks watching river activity while enjoying the quiet, getting ice cream at Lyon’s Corner Drug & Soda Fountain, watching Brooks entertain a young child who was getting his picture taken, and relaxing.
On the Road Again: We checked out and headed southwest thru Colorado, stopping at Rifle Falls as suggested by Kori, and into Utah where we would stay two nights at Moab, UT; one night at Caineville, UT; one night at Bryce Canyon City, UT; and one night at Hurricane, UT as we were going to explore four national parks within this region of Utah. An added bonus was driving thru and exploring Capitol Reef National Park which we had not planned on doing.
Canyonlands National Park: This national park is a wilderness of countless canyons and formed buttes carved by the Colorado River and its tributaries. The rivers divide the park into four districts: Island in the Sky, The Needles, The Maze, and the rivers themselves. After reading about each of the districts, Carol and I choose to drive the Island in the Sky district. Upon entering the park, we drove slowly thru the paved roads within the park; the road branched off into two area of which one reached Upheaval Dome and Whale Rock while the other went to White Rim Overlook where we hiked to the Grand View Point Overlook. We returned to the Visitor Center for some shopping, went into Moab for more shopping and lunch. Went to our lodging late afternoon, took a deserved few hours break, and headed back downtown for a light evening meal.
In the morning, we had heard that Caineville only consisted of Cathedral Valley Inn where we were staying so we spent at Hanksville, UT at the Outlaw’s Roost for a late lunch; this restaurant had an old bar with John Wayne behind the counter.
Arches National Park: Because this park draws many tourists, we entered the park around 6:30 in the morning in order to avoid crowds. The drive in the park was for 18 miles and relatively easy driving. There were no park rangers on duty at the entrance so we were not slowed down upon entry. We immediately started to see rocks and lots of natural beauty. After driving the 18 miles and back, we stopped at the Visitor Center for shopping and late breakfast at picnic tables at the center. We then headed to Caineville, UT where we had lodging reserved at the Cathedral Valley Inn; on the way, we discovered Caineville had no facilities besides the inn so we had
We then headed to Caineville, UT where we had lodging reserved at the Cathedral Valley Inn; on the way, we discovered Caineville had no facilities besides the inn so we stopped for a late lunch at the Outlaw’s Roost in Hanksville, UT for a late lunch; the restaurant was unique with being filled with old western scenes and had an old bar with John Wayne behind the counter.
When we arrived at our lodging, our rooms were not ready so we drove down the road into Capitol Reef National Park. The main highway goes right thru the park but there is a ranger station at Fruita where you need to pay to drive the 8-mile scenic drive and visit the Fruita Historic District. We decided to enter at Fruita the next morning on our way to Bryce Canyon. I would like to note that lodging at Caineville is owned and operated by a young couple; the rooms were large, airy, comfortable, and quite clean. I certainly hope this young couple succeeds in their endeavor and would recommend staying there to anyone.
Capitol Reef National Park: In the morning, we drove to Fruita ranger station, showed our senior pass, and drove the well-maintained 8-mile scenic drive. On our way back toward the main highway, we stopped at the Fruita Historic District which had a schoolhouse, blacksmith shop, Gifford House store and museum, etc. There was a bakery which sold fresh baked pie and we purchased two different kinds. We selected a picnic table at the site and ate the apple pie with ice cream as breakfast.
We left the park and proceeded on scenic Highway 12 to Bryce Canyon City where we had lodging for the night (fortunately, the room was clean but there was not much else to brag about the Bryce UpTop Lodge and would not recommend anyone to stay there).
Bryce Canyon National Park: Of all the national parks we visited on this trip, this was the one that I found filled with awesome, breath taking beauty; don’t get me wrong, I am glad we saw the other parks because all of them were filled with color and beauty but this one was especially so of the cliffs and bulbous columns called hoodoos. This mesmerizing place is like no other. The only way to see the park was by driving or hiking; we drove the 18 miles to the end of the rim road seeing such views as Inspiration Point, Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Bryce Point, Natural Bridge, Yovimpa Point, and Rainbow Point. We had walk the trail from Sunrise Point to Sunset Point which was a mile in length; I would of continued down into the canyon if I would have had hiking boots with me which I forgot to pack.
After leaving the park, we continued on scenic Highway 89 to Hurricane, UT where we had lodging for 2 nights.
Zion National Park: Because of the amount of visitors this park receives, cars are not allowed within the park and Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is driven by the park’s shuttle service. There was some difficulty finding parking outside the south entrance but we did find something relatively close for the right price. And then we walked thru the entrance by the visitor center where the park ranger checked our pass but did not smile, did not talk, did not offer a map, just seemed annoyed with all the people. We got on a shuttle; at bus stop #5, we got off and went into the Zion Lodge where we were able to get a map. While there, we found a bench where we ate our breakfast. Upon getting on the bus again, we bypassed stop #6 called the Grotto because there was nothing there but hiking trails, and the last stop was stop #9 at Temple of Sinawava. Here we walked the Riverside Walk to an area called the Narrows; total walk was about 2 miles. At the shuttle stop, we picked up a bus for the return to the visitor center. There was only one stop on the way back and that was for any hikers who were going onto three different trails. This park has a lot of beauty with many colorful canyons and massive cliffs; the attitude and “push” of the park staff seemed to override the beauty of the park.
On the Road Again: We left the national parks behind us and headed into California to Bridgeport, CA where we had lodging at the Bridgeport Inn which has its history dating back to the 1870’s when an old mining town called Bodie became a boomtown; the town had 65 saloons and bordellos along with a population of 13,000. The reason for our venturing to this old mining town is because one of the buildings that has been restored was operated by the Hise family from the 1920’s into the early 1930’s. We enjoyed our 1 night stay at the Inn.
Bodie State Historic Park: Both of us enjoyed our visit to Bodie, an old mining town where gold was discovered in 1859. Bodie’s real boomtown days began in 1875; between 1877-1881, their mining district included 30 different mines and nine stamp mills. Along with merchants and miners, Bodie attracted a rougher element which gave the town a reputation for bad men and wild times. There are approximately 40 or more structures representing various times that are standing and have been restored; houses built in 1870’s, a mill built in the late 1890’s, gas pumps from the 1920’s, and a schoolhouse that was used until 1942. It was designated a California state park in 1962 and is now preserved in a state of “arrested decay”. Having to drive the last 3 miles into Bodie on a dirt road was well worth it.
On the Road Again: After leaving the historic park, we headed to Rancho Cordova, CA where we had lodging reservations for the night. The rest of our trip was visiting friends in California and Montana before heading home to Iowa. We spent three nights with the Knapps outside of Westport, CA and three nights with the Fosters outside of Bozeman, MT. There was one night between the two visits where we had lodging at Elko, NV before arriving at the Fosters.
Knapps: Our friends home is located on a cliff above the Pacific Ocean; it is along Highway 1 right before the highway takes a bend inward. A very peaceful, calm place which is what we needed after driving Branscomb Road. The first full day we were there, we visited Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens located in Fort Bragg; it comprises 47 acres and 4 miles of trails to explore all the gardens comprised of Rhododendrons, Heritage Roses, Dahlia, Lilies, both coastal and forest Wildflowers, summer heathers, and much more. On our second day we went to a demonstration plot of redwoods owned by Mendocino Redwood Co. or Mendocino Forest Products; there was a walking trail that we took to the end and returned to our car. It was quiet, delightful hike. Then we drove to Mendocino for lunch and shopping. Afterwards, Bill and I washed off all the dust my vehicle picked up from the dirt road in Bodie. The next morning we were on the road early heading to Montana.
Fosters: Tom and Sarah Foster are located approximately 5 miles south of Bozeman, MT; their house sits on a couple large lots that offer gorgeous views of the mountains and has easy access to various hiking trails. We arrived later in the day so, after a day of driving, it was great to kick back and relax with a glass of wine on their outside patio with an added bonus of a beautiful sunset later in the evening. The first full day we picked up a packed lunch and headed to Bear Trap North campground along the Madison River. After driving through the whole area so Fosters could evaluate it for a potential camping adventure, we sat at an available picnic table with our backs to the wind and ate our lunch; the wind was extremely strong. After lunch, we headed to Norris where there was a garden shop and hot springs. The garden shop was fun to shop and the hot springs area looked very inviting. On day two we had breakfast out; afterwards, we headed downtown for shopping/lunch/shopping. The evening was spent at Fosters with our eating Tom’s fantastic BBQ ribs. We had an early departure for our journey home.
On the Road Again: Our trip home took two days with our stopping for the night at Oacoma, SD; the first day was very long with an oil and gas scare thrown into the journey and the last day we detoured to West Des Moines to deliver some articles of the Fosters to their daughter, Carrie. We met up with Carol’s granddaughter, Mandy, at Palo around 3:30 in the afternoon. And I proceeded home where the car was unloaded, some articles put away, and Beauty/Cutie cuddled.
The trip was everything I wanted; great travel companion, beautiful scenery, accident free driving, and fantastic friends. Our visits to the four national parks removed another bullet from my bucket list of adventures. We drove for over 5500 miles, traveled through 11 states, and arrived back in Iowa after 21 days being gone very happy and content.