Heading West: The Lands of Utah 2

Grand Staircase-Escalante, Bryce, and Cedar City

I went to sleep last night a little stressed about the thought of getting stuck during my attempt at making it back to the highway. Foolishly, when looking for my camp spot, I just sort of went for it without pausing too much to think about the road conditions. I discovered it was a bit snowy and icy and sloped getting down to my spot. All that being said, Ronnie is a champ and we crawled right up it!

It took only a few minutes down the road, before I found myself pulling over to get my first wide-open view for the day…

A bit further on, I got to see this lovely sunrise…

My plan for the day was to make a quick visit to Bryce Canyon National Park, see some of Cedar Breaks National Monument, and end by finally making it to my new home town of Cedar City, Utah! What I didn’t expect, mainly since this whole route was made somewhat on the fly, was to drive through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. I found myself driving up and down, winding around curves, all the while with amazing canyon views as far as I could see, I was once again struck with wonder! At one point, I pulled over where there was a precipice-like cliff on both sides of the road. I loved it!

I think I only cut across a small sliver of Grand Staircase-Escalante, but it was lovely and had me thinking I’ll be returning to explore more. After stopping in the small town of Escalante, UT for a quick pit stop and gas station coffee, I made it to Bryce Canyon National Park around 10:00am. I was feeling a little crunched for time, just wanting to get to Cedar City at a decent time, so got my stuff together quick and ventured off to see snowy Bryce!

I had visited Bryce in 2018 and did a similar hiking route as before, going down from the rim into the canyon and back out again. I departed from Sunset Point and came back up to Sunrise Point before returning along the rim. The trails were icy in several places and I envied the folks I saw who had spikes attached to their shoes. My trekking poles saved me though. Most tourists didn’t have either and I noticed the struggle being quite real for many.

It was a short visit, only two hours in the park really, but such a wonderfully unique spot. I’m sure I’ll be back while out here since my office is only about an hour and a half away. And, it sounds like our crews will be working in the park this summer too! After leaving, I took a lunch break just outside of the park at the Bryce Canyon Pines Restaurant. I put in a to-go order and listened to the end of Michigan basketball beating rival Ohio State. It felt so good getting the W… and the sandwich was tasty too!

Once back on the road, I attempted to make my way to Cedar Breaks National Monument. It’s not far from Cedar City, but up in the mountains. After being a bit confused with my GPS, I discovered that it’s actually closed for the season. The roads getting up to it are too snowy! Driving the roads I’d been on, I could easily understand how that would be…

I strolled into Cedar City around 3:30pm. Maybe at some point, after getting to know the city a little more, I can write a post on what my life in town (while still living out of my van) looks like. For now though, here’s a photo I took in town that gives a glimpse.

Cedar sits in the flatlands at 5,800 feet, just west of mountains that get up to 10,000 feet in elevation (where I’d driven through with all the snow). My basic geology research told me it lies along the Hurricane Fault System that essential divides the Colorado Plateau and the Basin-and-Range Province.

The next day I’d start my first day with the Utah Conservation Corps and after spending a few days traveling on the road, thought it’d be a nice change to splurge on a hotel. Indeed it was. I enjoyed getting clean and having some time to rest before switching gears a bit!

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