Zion National Park to Bonneville Racetrack.
Bryce National Park.
After being a little disappointed with Zion National Park (I know we are spoilt) we left early the next morning for Bryce Canyon National Park. After finding a nice bush camp just outside of Bryce Canyon we took the scooter the following day to explore the park. We had our campfire going by 3PM because our bush camp was at an elevation 2800 meters and the evenings and nights were cold and windy.
Bryce Canyon National Park was for us one of the best National Parks so far. Stunning sandstone scenery and amazing pink and orange spires and hoodoos.
Water and wind over millions of years of freezes and thaws, have carved into the plateau endless fields of distinctive red rock pillars, called hoodoos, as well as into the park’s series of natural amphitheatres.
Bryce Canyon is not so much a canyon as it is a series of amphitheatres created by erosional forces of the Paria River system along the edge of the plateau. The park has a dead end 35 kilometres scenic drive. We took our scooter, but you can also take the shuttle.
The highlights for us were Inspiration Point which offers a great view into Bryce Amphitheatre and its hundreds of statuesque pink, red, orange, and brown hoodoo stone sculptures. Ponderosa Canyon Overlook, with multi-coloured hoodoos from a dense forest of spruce and fir. Agua Canyon Overlook, which has some of the best colour contrasts you’ll find in the park. From the overlook, look almost straight down to see the Hunter, a hoodoo with a hat of evergreens. Bryce Point, showing off the awesome Bryce Amphitheatre, the largest natural amphitheatre in the park. Sunset Point, where you can see practically all of Bryce Amphitheatre, including the aptly named Thor’s Hammer and the 200-foot-tall cliffs of Wall Street.
We left Bryce Canyon and followed Scenic Byway 12, also known as “A Journey Through Time Scenic Byway”. Great scenery but not sure if you could call it a scenic byway as traffic races past at 65 miles (105km) per hour and the usual signs telling us all to drive slow to protect the wildlife? Work that out with 65 miles per hour. I hear most do this byway in 3 hours and less, it took us 2.5 days and we only saw part of this area. So maybe this is what Americans call an all-American road? full blast from point A to point B.
For us the nearly 200 kilometres was pure driving bliss all the way to Torrey. Scenic Byway 12 begins to the west in Panguitch and ends in Torrey to the northeast. It connects Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef National Parks; we made many stops to enjoy this scenic byway including one near the summit at just under 3000 meters, overlooking the Grand Staircase Escalante Monument and Capital Reef National Park in the distance.
We drove through the two red arches in Red Canyon. Then saw the actual “stairs” in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument just past Henrieville. Along the “Hogsback” between Escalante and Boulder, hairpin turns and drop-offs into deep canyons below. Next the meadowlands of Boulder Mountain before finally heading back to the desert near Capitol Reef. In all a great scenic byway.
The town of Torrey is the gateway to Capitol Reef National Park. Located just eight miles from the west entrance of Capitol Reef National Park, Torrey is an idyllic little tree-lined town on the Capitol Reef Country Scenic Byway (S.R. 24) surrounded by rose-coloured cliffs and green meadows. At an elevation of 2200 meters we decided to set up camp just out of town enjoying the spectacular scenery.
The weather was changing from cool nights and warm days to rain and possible snow and cold nights. We decided to leave for Salt Lake City.
SALT LAKE CITY
Salt Lake City is the capital city of Utah. With a population of just over 200.000. But the The Salt Lake City-Ogden metro area has a population of 1.4 million people and this makes it the largest city in Utah. The city is in the northeast corner of the Salt Lake Valley with the steep Wasatch mountains to the east, and the Oquirrh Mountains to the west. The mountains have several narrow canyons, which lead toward the ski resorts.
Salt Lake City, the capital of Utah, is a young and dynamic city, home to natural, historic, and religious attractions, along with nearby skiing and mountain-based adventures.
Normally we avoid larger cities but with the poor weather and no visibility in the mountains we decided to give the ski resorts Park City, Alta, and Sundance a miss. Instead, we decided to visit Salt Lake City. It was cold, rainy, and windy and just 6 degrees during the day. The first 2 nights we stayed at the “point of the mountain flight park” 30km south of downtown Salt Lake City waiting for the weather to improve. From here on a clear day the highest mountaintop visible from Salt Lake City is Twin Peaks at 3,450 high.
Salt Lake City has a strong tourist industry based on the nearby ski-fields in the winter, outdoor activities in the summer and year-round religious tourism. Salt Lake City is also the industrial banking centre of the USA. Main attraction for us in Salt Lake City were the Salt Lake temple on Temple square, and Salt Lake just out of town.
Headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Temple Square is one of Salt Lake City’s top attractions. It is the global headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (popularly known as Mormons). This complex contains more than 15 attractions related to Mormon heritage and beliefs.
2002 Winter Olympics
Salt Lake City was selected in 1995 to host the 2002 Winter Olympics. The games were plagued with controversy. A bid scandal surfaced in 1998 alleging bribes had been offered to secure the bid. During the games, other scandals included contested judging scores and illegal drug use. Despite the controversies, the games were heralded as a financial success, being one of the few in recent history to turn a profit. At present the city is a candidate for the 2030 or 2034 winter Olympics.
Due to poor weather, we missed out on visiting Utah Olympic Park, the host venue of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games’ and Paralympic Winter Games, ski jumping, bobsled, and luge events—as well as the first Olympic skeleton competition since 1948. 77 nations competed in Salt Lake and nearby venues, attracting the largest crowds ever for an Olympic Winter Games (this record still stands). The Utah Olympic Park continues to be a major training site for current and prospective Olympians. In addition to the sliding track and Nordic jumps, the Utah Olympic Park also features training facilities for moguls and freestyle aerials, as well as a terrain park and boarder-cross course where visitors can watch everyone from young kids to next-generation Olympic athletes honing their skills. Known for the ‘Fastest Ice on Earth’ is the Utah Olympic Oval. It is home to over 100 world records in speed skating.
Toyota Landcruiser museum
Being a Sunday, the Landcruiser heritage museum was closed, however having driven the 45, 55 and 70 series and owned a 60-80-100 and now the new 300 series, I am sure we did not miss much.
After leaving Salt Lake City we visited the great Salt Lake I am told it is the eight largest Salt Lake in the world.
Antelope island is the largest of 10 islands in the Great Salt lake
we spent 2 days at Antelope Island State Park. It has natural scenic beauty and holds populations of pronghorn, bighorn sheep, bison, coyote, mule deer, and millions of waterfowl. The bison do really well, because much of the island is covered by dry, native grassland. Antelope Island State Park is surrounded by the Great Salt Lake. The lake is the last remaining part of a vast inland sea. Antelope Island is scenic, especially in the northwest quadrant of the island at Buffalo Point and White Rock Bay, where mountains and hills overlook beaches as well as the reflecting waters of the Great Salt Lake and other islands that are visible in the lake. From Antilope Island we made our way towards Bonneville Salt Flats.
Bonneville Salt Flats. SALT & SPEED
The Salt flats are about 20 kilometres long and 8 kilometres wide.
A salt crust ranging from a few inches to 5 feet thick forms a perfectly flat, uniform, blindingly white crust as far as the eye can see. The flats are about 20 kilometers long and 8 kilomters wide in total around 300,000 acres of Utah’s salt desert.
Apart from the beautiful views, the salt flats are an international hub for car racing. Several speed records have been set at the flats. the Bonneville Salt Flats have been home to land speed record runs for more than a century. Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats are home to three annual speed events where racers can go all in with whatever speed device meets their fancy. Since 1914, the Bonneville salt flats has served as the racing grounds for generations of land speed racers from around the world.
The Thrust Super Sonic Car driven by Andy Green holds the world land speed record at 1228 kilometres per hour. It did break the sound barrier.
During our visit the races were cancelled as Hurricane Hillary flooded the salt lakes. Nevertheless we spspt 3 great days camping in the hills overlooking the salt flats.
Till next time when we enter Nevada and work our way south via Eastern California to Las Vegas. (including Yosemite National Park and Death Valley)This entry was posted in Latest Update