We had originally planned to spend the next four days at a campground in Bryce Canyon City, UT. However, we checked the weather forecast while we were in Torrey and found that the nighttime lows for all four nights were in the low teens. In addition, the forecast for one night called for up to three inches of snow. We immediately began looking for warmer weather and decided to visit St. George, UT instead. Unfortunately, St. George is right by Zion National Park and is quite popular. Given the short notice, we were only able to find available campground space for two nights. We were able to add the remaining two nights onto our next scheduled stop, in Glendale, UT. The forecast for Glendale called for nighttime lows in the mid-20s, but that was better than mid-teens.
On Monday, October 11, we left Torrey, UT and made the 250 drive to St. George. The routing was rather frustrating because we had to drive north about 60 miles before turning south. There were shorter routes available but, because of the mountains and winding roads, these were not selected for pulling our trailer by Phil’s GPS or our mapping apps.
When we had been setting up in Torrey five days earlier, we heard a loud noise as we were extending the RV’s legs. It sounded like metal breaking but we couldn’t identify the source. Over the next few days, Phil kept examining the RV’s suspension but couldn’t find anything broken. So, it was with some degree of trepidation that we pulled away from Torrey and began the drive. Fortunately, we were able to make the drive without incident. We still don’t know the source of the noise but, for now, we are breathing easier.
The front that was bringing the colder weather also brought strong winds. As our drive progressed, the winds grew stronger and made driving more of a challenge. We were glad to arrive at Desert Canyons RV Park in St. George before the winds grew even stronger.
After a rainy night and strong winds that continued through the morning, we finally got out to explore St. George on Tuesday afternoon. Our first stop was at the St. George Temple. However, similar to the Salt Lake Temple, this temple was undergoing renovation. Both renovations are primarily driven by the desire to make the temples earthquake-proof.
We then visited Brigham Young’s winter home for the final seven years of his life (1870 – 1877). We were given a tour of the house by a Mormon missionary and learned much about the man. Brigham Young had led the emigration of Mormons to Utah in 1848 and served as the second president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for 29 years. He also served as the first governor of the Utah Territory. He led the founding of the precursors to the University of Utah and Brigham Young University. Young directed the establishment of 350 settlements throughout the Southwest. Young was a strong supporter of slavery, which he considered a “divine institution,” and of polygamy. Although the variety of his marriages makes it difficult to know the exact number, recent studies have found 55 well-documented marriages. All but about 19 of these “marriages” were simply “sealing” rituals, performed in an LDS temple with the purpose being to make possible family relationships throughout eternity. He fathered 56 children with 16 of his wives.
We next drove around St. George’s historic downtown and had dinner at a restaurant in Ancestor Square.
On Wednesday morning, we prepared to make our 115-mile drive to Glendale, UT where we would spend the next five nights at Bauer’s Canyon Ranch RV Park. Since checkout wasn’t until noon and the drive was relatively short, we took our time in getting ready to go. However, at 11 am, we discovered that our rooftop satellite dish had not stowed. The control panel was showing an “EL Motor Home Failure.” We recalled that we’d had this issue some years ago and Jan had gotten a solution via Google, referred to as “EL re-calibration.” The re-calibration involved multiple steps that were rather hard to follow. After Phil made several unsuccessful attempts to follow the instructions, he did what he usually does when faced with technology problems; he turned it over to Jan. After a couple more unsuccessful attempts, Jan figured out the mistake we were making and finally got the dish to stow. We finished getting hooked up and were on the road shortly before noon.
The drive to Glendale was mainly on a backroad highway with many sharp curves and steep ascents/descents. We had stayed at Bauer’s Canyon Ranch RV Park five years ago and, although the sites are rather tight, the campground is conveniently located between Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks.
The overnight low dropped to 25 degrees so we waited until late morning on Thursday before heading to Zion National Park. This proved to be somewhat of a bad decision. Upon arriving at the Visitor Center at noon, the parking lot was full and we needed to find parking in the neighboring town of Springdale. After driving three miles into Springdale, we managed to find an empty parking space. Parking cost $15 for the day and we then had to walk .3 mile to catch a shuttle back to the Visitor Center.
Upon arriving back at the Visitor Center, we switched to another shuttle bus that took us on the scenic drive through the national park. We first rode the shuttle to the final stop and hiked a short distance on the riverside walk along the Virgin River. We then took the shuttle to the Big Bend stop, where we were able to watch hikers high above us on the Angels Landing trail along the rim of the canyon.
Our next stop was at the Zion Lodge where we had lunch. We considered doing a hike but, given the dropping temperature and rising winds, we decided against it. Our final stop was the overview of the Court of the Patriarchs. Named for three towering figures of the Old Testament, these sandstone cliffs include Abraham Peak, Isaac Peak, and Jacob Peak.
The return to our campground was along the Zion – Mt. Carmel Highway. This highway, which we had taken in the morning, connects the Zion Canyon with the east park entrance. After taking a steep climb along numerous switchbacks, we drove through the 1.1-mile Zion – Mt. Carmel Tunnel. This tunnel was built in the 1920s when large vehicles were less common. One-way traffic is offered during daytime hours so vehicles up to 13’ 1” tall can drive through the tunnel while straddling the middle lane.
Our original schedule had us leaving Glendale on Monday, October 18, and driving 223 miles to Flagstaff, AZ. However, as we started watching the weather forecasts for Monday, they showed winds of 25-35 mph with gusts exceeding 40 mph in Flagstaff, and similar in Glendale. This would have made driving our high-profile RV very dangerous. When the forecast remained unchanged on Saturday morning, we extended our stay in Glendale until Tuesday morning and cancelled our Monday night reservation in Flagstaff. A subsequent wind advisory called for wind gusts on Monday afternoon up to 50 mph.
We spent Saturday at Bryce Canyon National Park. Bryce Canyon was considerably less crowded that Zion had been earlier in the week, probably due to a noontime temperature of only 49 degrees and snow on the ground in many places.
After a brief stop at the Visitor Center, we drove the scenic drive. Our first stop was at Natural Bridge where we enjoyed posing with the snow.
We then drove to Rainbow Point (elevation 9,115 feet) at the end of the 18-mile scenic drive and began working our way back. We stopped at most of the overlooks before stopping for lunch at a very popular food truck.
We were unable to find an empty parking spot at Inspiration Point, so continued on to Paria View. We then drove to Bryce Point and hiked the 1.5-mile rim trail back to Inspiration Point. Although the scenery was spectacular, the melting snow made the dirt trail a very muddy, and slippery, mess.
After enjoying the view at Inspiration Point, we caught the shuttle to Sunset Point and Sunrise Point. We then took the shuttle back to Bryce Point to retrieve our car. On our exit from Bryce Canyon, we made our obligatory stop at the park sign.