Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, Zion - Utah & Arizona

September 23 - October 1, 2001

BackroadsThese are my adventures during the Bryce, Zion & Grand Canyon Biking - Premier National Parks of Utah and Arizona - Inn trip offered by Backroads.

Day 1: St. George to Cedar Breaks shuttle.

Day 2: Cedar Breaks to Bryce Canyon. (62.1 miles)

Day 3: Hiking through the hoodoos in Bryce Canyon.

Day 4: Bryce Canyon to Kanab. (79.1 miles)

Day 5: Kanab to Grand Canyon. (81.3 miles)

Day 6: Hiking the Grand Canyon North Rim.

Day 7: Grand Canyon to Zion. (121.4 miles)

Day 8: Hiking Angels Landing and The Narrows and much much more!

Day 9: Goodbyes and departure.

Our leaders - Kara and Niall. This is a little picnic lunch stop in Cedar City on our way to Cedar Breaks.

You know, not only are the Backroads leaders experts in nutrition, but they are also artists. For your enjoyment, I have included the artwork of Kara and Niall from the daily route rap pages providing us details about when to wake up, which hotel to go to in the evening and everything in between.

We didn't get much sleep. Were at 9,500 feet now and most of us have splitting headaches. A little Advil does the trick and we're ready to ride.

Just one thing...I requested a group photo at the beginning of this trip. I always like to have a "before" photo when we are clean and fresh.

Our group. Sweeping from left to right - Jim, Robert, Betsy, Alan, Robert (me), Sue, Cande, Kathy, Libby, Doug, Elliot, Jim, Margot, Niall, Joe, Kathleen, Sally, Rick, Bill, Jim. Kara is taking the photo, and yes, there are three Jims.
We climb up to 10,400 feet and look what's up here! A panoramic view of Cedar Breaks National Monument.
I didn't expect a fall foliage trip. This is better than the New England fall foliage trip a few years ago! Look at these trees!
Smoke from a distant fire (on the left).
This isn't just any old western town. This IS Western Town. It is also unfortunately the second flat tire (out of three for the day!) for Kathleen.
Horse rides? Well, what do you expect in Western Town?
Riding up towards Red Canyon. I've got to find out why it's named that.
Wait a minute. I'm in a canyon and it's kind of reddish in color. I wonder if this is where Red Canyon got its name.
Continuing through Red Canyon...
View from Red Canyon Visitor Center.
Leaving Red Canyon.
The first of two little tunnels. The inside walls looked a lot like stucco. Could it be that this is a Hollywood prop?
Looks like another fire in the distance. Most times, these fires are prescribed burns to prevent natural fires from burning out of control. I was told that this fire was a natural fire started by lightning, but it was being allowed to burn itself out naturally.
View of the Paunsaugunt Plateau.
Bryce Canyon Airport. There is no parking in the white zone. In fact, there is no white zone.
Smokey Bear - come on, look around. We saw two fires on the way here and you're trying to tell me that the fire danger is only "moderate"?

I have no photo of the Bryce Canyon National Park sign which is just down the road past the pine tree because I used the last of my roll of film on this ride on this sign.

This is a little cabin I stayed in at the Bryce Canyon Lodge for two nights. A partial list of insects in this cabin are:

(giant) spider
(giant) grasshopper (locust)
(giant) moth

And this is the winner for having the most sanitary bags in the bathroom.

Some views of Bryce Canyon...
Bryce Canyon at sunset viewed from Sunrise Point.
Sunrise over the canyon.
Bryce Canyon at sunrise viewed from Sunrise Point.
Hoodoo - a pillar of rock left by erosion.
As freezing water expands in the cracks left by erosion, layers of rock peel off, carving out vertical hoodoos.
A Paiute legend says that the rock pillars in Bryce Canyon are "the Legend People" who were turned to stone by an angry god.

We're only a few minutes into this hike and already a recent leg injury of mine is making these horses seem like a more reasonable way to view these canyons.

The haze is most likely due to the nearby fires that we rode past on the way here.

Here we walk through a natural phenomenon called a "tunnel". This tunnel happens to be "manmade".
This is the view from the Queens Garden. Kara said that some thought this hoodoo looked like Foghorn Leghorn, but I'll let you decide.
Here we have a Douglas fir shooting up between hoodoos.
This was quite a hike up through this passageway. This photo shows no perspective, but trust me - this goes a long way down.
One final view of the hoodoos.
A squirrel munching on some plants at the canyon's edge.
The locusts are in town. Riding up through Red Canyon into Bryce, you could here them making sporadic buzzing noises as they flew. I waited in the baking sun for this one to fly so I could capture its yellow wings, but it just sat here, much like myself.
Nothing but blank stares from these cows. Seems like I could die from boredom here.
Oh look. This deer must have stopped by to see the cows back there. Looks like he did die from boredom.

Oh, this is good. Looks like this deer had a head-start over the other deer on trying to find out what those exciting cows were up to.

Time to move on...

Now this is a little strange, This was just kind of sitting here at Tod's Amoco station. I'm sure there's no relation to those deer and cows back there.
Elkhart Cliffs.
It's really hot right now as we head into Kanab. Here are some small caves in the side of the cliffs just before coming up to Moqui Caves down the road a bit.


Greatest Earth On Show

This display was a little more exciting than the sign for Arizona which I didn't even think was worth stopping for.

This is a fun day where we get to ride through the Arizona desert. For help in picking up bodies as we collapse from heat exhaustion, we have an additional leader today, Dana. Here we have Kara, Dana and Niall lounging at the Vermillion Cafe in Kanab. This is a fun day for Niall. He gets to ride his bike along with us today! Backroads claims that this could possibly be the most challenging day of biking on any Backroads biking trip. I'm up for the challenge. Let's move out...
Vast fields as we head towards the Arizona desert.
This is a water stop. Dana is here with the Gatorade and water at the tree known as the broccoli tree.
There are actually flowers still blooming in September. These are a little more purple than they appear here.
More flowers. They were pretty scarce, so they stood out.
I have to find out what the heck this is. This one has finished blooming, but later (below) I would see one in full bloom at the Grand Canyon.

Here I am with my dad riding on a camel through the pyramids in the desert.

Wait a second - sorry about that - this is from a different trip.

Ant hill - one of the few hills we didn't have to ride up on this trip.
Bright yellow sunflowers!

We're out of the desert and moving into Kaibab National Forest.

Kaibab is a Paiute Indian word meaning "mountain lying down."

For reasons explained later, I was nicknamed "Kaibab" on this day.

This is here for artistic purposes only.


The aspens in this area this time of year are a vivid yellow.
We started this morning in Kanab at an elevation of 4925 feet.

Here's Jim, me (Kaibab) and Rick. We kind of stayed together on this climb because doing this alone would be pretty tough. Niall is taking this photo. He claims he was having a tough time keeping up with me. It was about this time that he nicknamed me "Wile E. Kaibab" because of the jersey I was wearing and the fact that we were riding through the Kaibab plateau. Plus my name is Bob. So put the three together, and there you have it.

I was called "Kaibab" from this moment on.

Finally! Just one more hill to go up and then it's down to the Grand Canyon. Well, except for the very last hill up to the Grand Canyon Lodge.

Again, it's Rick, me and Jim. Once again, Niall is the master of photography.

These turkeys nearly wiped me and Kathy out. They were just hanging out in the road.

Neatly stacked piles of wood.

I never asked what the purpose of these were. I assume that they are some kind of fire control mechanism. Or they could just simply be piles of wood.

A duplex cabin. Jim and I are in this one.
Here's an "inside the scenes" look at my sleeping quarters. The door leads to Margot's room. Hmmm. I wonder if it's locked...
The last time I was at the Grand Canyon was as a kid during one of those family cross-country trips. I barely remember the size of this thing. It's huge! This is the view from the North Rim. It's obvious that the smoke from the distant fires is casting a haze throughout the canyon. Still, it's an impressive sight.

The Grand Canyon Lodge.

This was constructed in the 1920s by architect Gilbert Stanley Underwood who also designed the Bryce Canyon lodge which we stayed at earlier in this trip.

A living deer! You thought all I was going to show was road kill versions!
Views from the Grand Canyon Lodge.
View of the Grand Canyon Lodge from a nearby trail leading to Bright Angel Point.
The Grand Canyon.
Here at the picnic, chef Niall decides to barbecue a bicycle. A White Lightning marinade will do nicely.
A post-picnic hike takes us along the Widforss Trail. Here, a rock outcropping makes a nice place for me to jump out and look like a dork.
A little more along the trail, you can look basc at the rock I was standing on. Well, almost. I was at the point almost dead-center about 1/3 down from the top of this photo.
More views of the canyon from Widforss Trail.
Another view of Grand Canyon Lodge from yet another overlook.
The viewing room inside the Grand Canyon Lodge.

The dining room inside the Grand Canyon Lodge.

Try their hot fudge sundaes here. Mmmm.

A view of the fire on the opposite rim.
The view from Bright Angel Point. The smoke from the fires prevent clear views of the South Rim from this vantage point.
The Rough Rider Saloon at the Grand Canyon Lodge. The drunkards are me, Jim, Cande, Jim, Joe, and out in front, Sue and Kathy.

If I hadn't been drinking so much, I would have remembered the bartender's name who was kind enough to take this photo

Ah yes, the Chainsaw Bears. I was taking a chance stopping here. It turns out they don't actually kill people with chainsaws.

They are made by Rachel's Critters. Original Hand Carved Chainsaw Bears. 265 North 300 West, Kanab, Utah, 435-644-8603.

And now, over 100 miles of biking, and we're finally here. Thanks to Joe for taking this photo.
Checkerboard Mesa. The markings here were created over centuries of erosion from sand beds and water runoff.
More natural erosion patterns in Zion.
Water drainage and plants cause giant slabs of rock to fall causing arches such as this one to form in the sides of the stone walls.

Today is Zion hike day. Two hikes are planned. The first is Angels Landing. Here's the description straight from the "Utah's National Parks" guide.

"Angels Landing is a strenuous hike...the last half mile follows a steep, narrow ridge with a drop-off of 1500 feet. Not recommended for people with a fear of heights. 5 miles, 4 hours"

The above photo is a post-hike shot at midday, but let's go back a little in time...

Here's our gang of masochists beginning the long hike to the top. Yes, we are climbing to the top of that big rock.

I need to catch up - I just love this view - nowhere to go from here except up!
Around the backside of the giant rock, steps. Lots and lots of steps. I think the joke was that the payoff is that there is a Starbucks at the top ready to serve us Frappuccinos.
How much farther up can this possibly go? Here's Margot coming up to the last narrow stretch up to the top.
And when we get to the top, what's there? Nothing but chipmunks! Hundreds of the little buggers. And they aren't afraid to crawl up your pants. Why, you ask? Because they are only interested in gathering nuts.
Kara took this photo of us sitting up at the top taking in the view.
Here's Kara taking a picture of us. Somebody has a picture of Kara taking a picture of me taking a picture of Kara. Interesting.
More chipmunks going crazy over Gatorade. They seem to prefer original Lemon-Lime. From this, I concluded that I am very closely related to the chipmunk. Except I'm a little less furry. And less cute and cuddly.
Sit sit sit gab gab gab. Time to go...
Walking back down is another story. This is a view right off the side of the ridge looking down at the road. There's a bus down there in the shadows. We are really pretty far up. And I'm standing on sandy gravel. I'm a little shaky at this point.
An amazing view of the opposite ridge from high up.
A view of the Virgin River on our way back down from Angels Landing.
I was a little upset being on a biking trip and seeing this sign. It would add a completely different level (of fear) to Angels Landing.

Finally, for those who are still with me, I saved the most interesting for last. Of course, that's only because Backroads saved the most interesting for last.

This is the Riverside Walk. In fact, this is beyond the Riverside Walk. This is the hike through Zion Canyon Narrows.

The rocks in this river are pretty darn slippery and I'm a little uneasy about carrying my Nikon SLR with me. I have a Tamrac bag, but water resistant means nothing when it's under water. Fortunately, at the entrance to the water, you can grab a high-tech walking stick (seen here) to aid in balance and locating a good spot to plant your foot.

Countless times, we are walking back and forth the Virgin River as we plunge deeper and deeper into the canyon. It's a winding path with each turn bringing up another spectacular view.
We would be in deep sh*t if the water was at the level it was when this tunnel shape carved out.
Another turn and we have this incredible meadow of yellow flowers.
On my way back, I ran into Cande. She had the common sense to get out of the water. Niall had some M&Ms and gummy bears for us. Bill and Margot were probably talking about how stupid I looked in knee-deep water taking this picture.

The final night of the trip.

Here are Kara and Niall toasting to another fun and successful Backroads adventure.

In my book, these two were outstanding. I thought they did their best to provide a fun-filled trip without being too invasive.

Kara and Niall surprised us all with a little birthday coffeecake for Bill.
Bill makes his wish and adds a little more smoke to the Grand Canyon region.
Thanks to all on this trip for a great time!

Day 9 was a short day - enough time to grab some breakfast at the Watchman Cafe in Springdale and do a little last-minute shopping. Those who took the afternoon St. George Shuttle to Las Vegas had the most thrilling adventure on the entire trip barreling down the highway in the shuttle at incredibly high speeds. Angels Landing was not for those with a fear of heights. The St. George Shuttle was definitely not for those with a fear of speed!

The final group photo. Thanks to Jim and his digital camera for this one.