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RV Lifestyle
The American Southwest is famous for incredible scenery, red-
rock pinnacles, brilliant sunsets and deep canyons. It is uncom-
mon land for an uncommon experience, and it’s all within a
stone’s throw of Utah. Few states can boast of so much!
Several years ago, we spent four weeks during the months of
October and November completing our version of the Grand
Circle Tour.
It was grander than we could ever have imagined. During this
time, we visited five national parks – Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef,
Arches, Canyonlands and Mesa Verde; five national monuments
– Grand Staircase Escalante, Cedar Breaks, Hovenweep, Natural
Bridges and Aztec Ruins; Valley of the Gods and Monument
Valley; and drove Utah Highway 12 Scenic Byway.
From Salina, Utah, we drove to Fish Lake at an elevation of more
than 2,740 metres. The area was an absolutely awesome sight,
with golden aspens and blue skies and the lake.
The magnificent and ever-changing salmon-pink and red-
coloured pinnacles and spires and brilliantly coloured hoodoos
of Bryce Canyonmay just be the most awesome scenery we have
seen anywhere! On our fourth visit to Bryce, I got my wish…to
see Bryce in the snow. When we reached Yovimpa Point at noon,
the temperature was a chilly -5 degrees C with a dusting of snow
– more than 20 degrees colder than during our first visit just five
days earlier. It was even warmer back home in Alberta!
One of the most spectacular driving highways in the West, Utah
Highway 12 Scenic Byway, winds along the northern border of
Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. We found it to be
a beautiful drive with numerous interesting places to explore. It
twists. It turns. It curves. It climbs. It has been designated an All
American Highway.
At Cedar Breaks National Monument, we admired the spec-
tacularly coloured cliffs and breathtaking views of the Great
Basin. The red cliff formation, aptly named the Amphitheater,
is a fantastic display of eroded cliffs with all sorts of hoodoos
and sculpted shapes. This expansive area of rock walls, spires
and columns spans three miles across and runs more than 600
metres deep. The temperature at 3,154-metre Cedar Breaks was
several degrees above freezing, with strong blustery winds and
blue skies.
Capitol Reef National Park is the overlooked sibling among
Utah’s five “national parks.” Centred around a late-19th-century
agricultural community, the park captures a portrait of settler life
as well as an outdoor cathedral of red-rock landscape. Capitol
Reef encompasses a 160-metre natural upheaval in the earth’s
crust known as the Waterpocket Fold. The Navajo call the area
the “Land of the Sleeping Rainbow,” an apt description of the
many hues of the landscape here. The “capitol” comes from the
white domes of Navajo sandstone that resemble capitol-build-
ing rotundas, and the“reef” comes from the rocky cliffs that are a
barrier to travel, like coral reefs.
One of our favourite national parks, Arches, located north of
Moab, is a red-rock wonderland containing some of the most
scenic and inspiring landscapes on Earth. Although more than
2,000 arches are located within the park, Arches also contains an
Our Grand Circle Tour
I go to nature to be soothed and healed,
and to have my senses put in order.
— John Burroughs
Fish Lake, Utah
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah