"Four Canyon Ride Part 2"
Zion and Bryce Canyon National Park
Last week I left you at the North Rim mid-way through the second day of our Four Canyons Ride. One interesting thing about doing rides is something that I have mentioned before, and that is the rule of unpredictability. You might look at a map and think you can make it from point A to point B, but by the time you get through with all of the stops, pictures, sightseeing and taking the exploratory side roads, your schedule is usually shot and you realize that you have bitten off more than you can ride. Most of the time that wouldn't be a big deal, but on a 2 1/2 day ride, there is not much room for error. Especially in this case, since we started the day at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon at 7am planning on riding 420 miles as well as taking in the sites of the Grand Canyon South and North Rims as well as Zion and then ending up in Bryce Canyon National Park. Some things look and work a lot better on paper than in real life.
Note to self: Don't try that again. It was now 3:20pm and we were just leaving the North Rim after riding over 200 miles for another 122 mile ride through Zion and then another 80 miles on to the cabin we had reserved near Bryce. With darkness setting in at around 6:30pm, we knew that it was going to be tough to make our final destination in light. But, we decided to press on and let the sun set when it may. We reached Zion at around 5:30pm for a late evening ride through the park which was really pretty.
Zion National Park was established in 1909 as Mukuntuweap National Monument. It became Zion National Park in 1919. The name "Zion" meaning "place of refuge," was given to the canyon by Mormon pioneers. Even though Zion encompasses 229 square miles of spectacular cliff and canyon laden brightly colored sandstone landscape, it is only a mere 12 mile ride through the park. If you are so inclined, there are plenty of opportunities to hike different areas including the 15 mile hike through the 30 foot "narrows" of Zion Canyon that go 1800 feet straight up. Much of the hike includes wading through the Virgin River. That is for you energetic people, we preferred to just stay on the bike and look at the awesome scenery.
Zion is a beautiful ride with a great road surface, plenty of twists, elevation changes and brilliant colored sandstone formations. There is also a 1 mile tunnel through the mountain. This thing is narrow and pitch black inside except for a couple of holes knocked out of the side of the mountain for light and air. Since Zion is only a 12 mile ride, it is well worth going through twice to make your way back to Bryce.
Once you ride through Zion you will end up in a neat little town called Springdale. This would be a recommended place to spend the night if you plan on following this trip. There are plenty of nice motels to spend the night and restaurants to dine in. You can even go to the small animal refuge in town to see some elk and deer. If we hadn't had reservations in the Bryce area, we would have called it a night here. But, we still had 80 miles more to go and daylight was fading away. So it was back through the 12 miles of the park to 89A.
We made our way to Tropic, Utah by about 8:00pm that same night. Traveling at night is not a good idea in that area as you have to be on Defcon 5 alert for deer in the road. And sure enough, we met up with a couple of our furry friends with their eyeballs glistening from the headlights as they stood in the middle of the road looking at us. After locking up the brakes and narrowly missing the one in our lane, we were glad we only had a couple of miles more to go to our destination of Bryce Country Cabins. The only good news was that I no longer had to make a bathroom stop. That had now been taken care of.
As I mentioned before on my report from our Glacier trip, Bryce Canyon is one of the most fascinating places I have visited. The rock formations from millions of years of wind, rain, freezing and thawing has crafted some of the most incredible rock formations from brilliant colored sandstone that you will see anywhere in the world. The 18 mile ride through Bryce Canyon National Park stopping at the 13 overlooks would be a highlight of any trip. To see a detailed report from my past letter of Bryce Click Here.
But this time, we decided to also see some of the surrounding area known as Bryce Canyon Country. This area is all along Scenic Byway 12 and includes 2 National Parks and 3 State Parks. Our goal this day was to visit the Kodachrome Basin State Park that we had heard so much about. Kodachrome is 9 miles South of Hwy. 12 near Cannonville. Kodachrome is full of massive sandstone chimneys changing colors from gray and white to several shades of red as the sun moves throughout the day. Chimney rock is one of the more famous sites as it was featured in National Geographic back in 1949. We eventually want to take Hwy. 12 and see the entire area, but if you were to go to the Bryce area, I would budget time for Kodachrome State Park. Click Here for information on the entire area of Scenic Byway 12.
After getting a 7am start we had seen all that time would allow and it was now time to embark on our 420 mile ride home. This is such a beautiful area that it is hard to leave and certainly one that I could spend a few days in. The quickest way back to the Phoenix is to take Hwy. 89 back through Page and down to I-17. This is much quicker than going through 89A by Jacobs Lake.
The Four Canyons Ride is really a beautiful and exciting ride. It is rare that you can go through 4 famous National Parks in such a short span of miles and time. While it is possible, I wouldn't recommend a round trip 1100 mile ride to these locations from the Phoenix area in 2 days and 3 hours like we did. I would leave late in an afternoon and take the 3.5 hour ride to the South Rim Grand Canyon and stay the night in Tusayan or in the park. Don't forget to get your annual National Parks Pass for $50. It will pay for itself on this trip. Start early the next day and see the South Rim, on to the North Rim and then spend the night in Kanab or if time permits and if the days are longer, ride on through Zion and stay in Springdale, UT. The next day go back through Zion again and on to Bryce and the surrounding area. The following day you can devote to your trip back home which will be about an 8 hour ride without too many stops. This would be a total of 3 days and a late afternoon.
Click Here for Grand Canyons Map.
Click Here for Map of Zion and Bryce.
I have 3 sets of Photos this week.
Click Here for Zion National Park.
Click Here for Kodachrome State Park.
Click Here for Bryce Canyon National Park.
Click Here for Bryce Canyon photos from the Glacier Ride.
Bryce Canyon History and Information
Great reference map of National Parks in Utah
Lodging in Springdale, Utah
General Information of the St. George and Zion area
Kodachrome Basin State Park
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