So we had a taste of the landscape in Nevada at the Grand Canyon, but we were really looking forward to exploring Zion, Arches and Canyonlands National parks which are relatively close together considering the size of Utah. The problem we had though was to find a place to stay within good travelling time of the parks. We decided to stay in a little known place called Green River for the most part, but this was still a fair distance to the parks. We were very jealous when we saw a number of campervans (Rv's they call them here!) rolling up to the campsites in the parks. We started with Zion which was the closest to where we were, it was very well organised encouraging visitors to use their courtesy bus with comentary to explore the park rather than drive. This was an excellent idea and it was easy to get off at numerous stops in the park to walk the trails. We started with the watchman trail which was a nice 4 mile walk up the side of the canyon with spectacular views. This was the first proper walking we had done for a while so we were a little knackered. We really liked the layout of the park and how many options for walks there were. On the second day we did the lower, middle and upper pools walk which again provided good views and plenty of photo opportunities. It was also more popular than the one on the previous day, but it did'nt detract our enjoyment. We then took the bus right upto to the top of the park to see more scenery and then walked back about 2 miles through nice fields within the canyon. The scenery at this park centred around the canyon carved out millions of years ago by the Virgin river. It had differing features wherever you were in the park and it was well worth seeing. The contrast in colours of the rock throughout the park was vast and although a bit like western Australia, offered a bit more variety.
We had alot of delibration on the next park as we also fancied seeing Bryce National Park, but with affordable motels on short supply we headed to Arches National park instead. We also liked the idea of seeing some of the 2000 Arches that make this park unique. Day one was spent on a short 2 miler, which sounds easy but at just after lunch when it was hot and balmy did'nt help to make it easy. We got some good photos and decided to set off earlier the next day to beat the heat on a 7.5 miler loop walk. This was described as a strenous walk in the brouchure and it did'nt let us down, we had a few scrambling moments and high altitude thin walk ways to negotiate. Gemma and I both did some bottom sliding and I was wondering how much more hammer Gemma's pants would take as they had already worn through ages ago. Gemma and her pants made it and although it had been hard we both felt as we had achieved something.
The next day we were both aching alot, so opted out of hiking for the day. We went to Canyonlands to see the contrasts against Zion and Arches. It was like a mini Grand Canyon in places with the beautiful Mena Arch thrown in. It was nice for the day to take it easy here, but we both thought we had made the right decisions seeing Zion and Arches, which were far more unusual in their appearances.
We are so glad we did'nt stick to our original plan of just coastal California, it would of got boring without going to these parks. Next was decision time, do we continue North to Salt Lake City or do we go back the way we came through Vegas!