Well we were back out on the road again! This time we decided to hit two out-of-the-way parks and make it back it time to hook up with the friends for the annual guy’s trip to Vegas. There is so much in the southwest to see and since it’s so spread out, making a decision to see this or that always leads to a 6 hour drive.
Flying into Vegas we hit the Walmart for a cooler and supplies and we made our way to our first destination, Joshua Tree National Park. Now going to the desert in the summer isn’t the brightest idea, however since I couldn’t convince anyone to move the date of the World Series of Poker, we had to make the best of it. But, when the rental car showed 118 degrees, I did start to second guess this plan. The nights were very pleasant and we hiked early and late to take advantage of the cooler temps. All in all we weren’t out that often in the heat and while it was hot, we were ok.
Joshua is a barren place, with a few old ruins of settlers who had once tried to make a go at living in this desolate area. There are many unique rock formations as well as the signature trees, but it is mostly barren with low scrub brush and cactus. Hiking in the heat is tough and it is amazing how fast you can go through the water.
After spending the night in 29 Palms, we spent the morning hiking a few more trails and started towards our next park, Great Basin.
This park is truly in the middle of nowhere Nevada, and I can certainly see why it doesn’t attract too many visitors, it's tough to get too! It isn’t a very large park however the 2nd highest peak in Nevada, Wheeler Peak, is a fantastic hike and offers great views of the basins below. If altitude isn’t your thing, then the Lehman Cave tour is another don’t miss. The 90 minute tour is great and at 55 degrees year round, it makes for a nice cool break. The only downside to this park is the remoteness, as Ely, the nearest town with a decent hotel, is 70 miles away making it a tough commute each day to the park.
After two nights, we headed towards my Aunt’s house in Kanab Utah with Zion being our next destination. Wow! Now we’ve been to Zion before, however never during tourist season. What a difference! The park gets filled quickly and because we are usually there when it’s empty, we had to come up with another plan. Taking in the Kolob Canyon area of Zion (Northern section of the park) is a great way to see some of the Park’s diversity while completely getting away from the traffic in the main section. We spent the entire day hiking and perhaps ran across 10 people. Perfect Day!
Back in the car again! This time we’re heading east through Page and on to Monument Valley. I’ve always wanted to see this area and have always seemed to miss it. It didn’t disappoint. Great views and, although the road is pretty tough through the valley, it’s nothing short of amazing. We had to stop by Horseshoe Bend when we returned to Page for the night. It’s another site not to miss if you are in the area.
After 2400 miles, (no, not a typo) we were headed to Vegas to hook up with friends for the World Series of Poker. While Heidi went home a couple of days ahead of me, we both thought that the trip was worth all of the time in the car and the scenery certainly didn’t disappoint.