Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

July 25, 2015 Categories Camper Van, Hiking, Road Trips, Travel, USA

Miles driven: 31.5
Miles hiked: 9.2+

Today I did Capitol Reef, sticking to Hwy 24 that goes through the entire park. Off of 24, there’s a road that goes down part way through the park but it’s focused more on historical stuff that I’m honestly not that interested in. There’s a blacksmith shop, some old school buildings, the campground, and some other stuff down that way. There’s a couple other spots in the park to check out some Petroglyphs and an old stone building, but again, it just doesn’t interest me. I was there to view the natural beauty created by time, not some crap created by humans.

I started the day early and headed into the Grand Wash Trail before 8am. It’s a 2.2 mile trail, one-way, that follows a dried up river bed through the canyons. The trail is fairly wide almost the entire way, with the exception of an area near the center called The Narrows where it gets significantly more narrow (in case you didn’t guess that by its name). It was a very shaded hike with almost no incline at all.

At the end of the Wash, there’s a parking area and an information sign for the connecting trails. I was only planning on doing the Wash, but after reading that the Cassidy Arch was only 950 feet up and another 3 miles, round-trip, I decided it would be worth it to beat my feet a little longer. The arch is named after the infamous train robber Butch Cassidy, who supposedly had a hideout in the Grand Wash.

There were a couple of people rappelling down into the cavity behind the arch. They said they were rappelling all the way down into the canyon and there were several spots to keep going down, eventually making it back towards the parking lot that I initially hiked to through the Wash. Seemed like a much easier way to get down, if you ask me. I, unfortunately, hiked all the way back down and out like a sucker.

I was pretty tired after hiking the 7.4 miles for both of the trails, but it was only 11am and thought I’d check out at least one more thing so I headed up to the Hickman Natural Bridge. It’s only a 1.8 mile hike, round-trip. I don’t actually know why they decided to call it a natural bridge when it’s just another arch. Either way, I think arches are cool and it was worth the hike. There was an interesting field of black rocks for a good portion of the initial hike. There was also another, unmarked arch early on in the trail. I thought it looked awesome (so awesome, its the featured image at the top of this post).

I ended the day by 2pm, going back to the same place I camped out at last night. There was no cellphone reception anywhere near the park and no towns nearby that have more than a gas station or small restaurant, so I wasn’t able to Internet that afternoon. This also meant no cheeseburgers. I settled for a couple tuna sandwiches and some chips. I didn’t even write, it was just too hot and I didn’t want to do much.

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

July 24, 2015 Categories Camper Van, Hiking, Road Trips, Travel, USA

Miles driven: 278.8
Miles hiked: 5.3+

I camped outside of town last night and awoke slightly after 6:30 this morning before heading back into town. I meant to get gas while I was in town last night, but completely spaced out and forgot about it. Canyonlands’ closest entry point is 31 miles from Moab and since I knew nothing about the park, I wanted to make sure I had enough gas to get there, drive around, and get back.

The biggest thing I noticed was the lack of people. There was almost no one at all in the park compared to Arches. Every place I stopped had ample parking, with the exception of Upheaval Dome, which I had to circle around twice waiting for a spot to open. I only did the Island in the Sky area of the park, as the second entrance for The Needles area is almost 100 miles away from where I entered. There’s also a section called The Maze, but it’s very remote and the only roads out there are for four wheel drive vehicles.

My first stop was the Shafer Trail Overlook. This is a 4×4 road that goes down into the canyons and leads out to the White Rim Road, a 100-mile long road that follows the white rims of the canyon. I’ve seen pictures people have taken from the trail and it looks awesome, but Henrietta would not be able to make the drive. The trail itself reminds me a lot of the Moki Dugway. Google for pictures of the Shafer Trail, as the view from the overlook does not compare.

It’s an interesting drive through the park, as almost every stop focuses on the canyons, but the drive itself is entirely plains.

Next stop was the Mesa Arch, a very easy 0.5 mile hike out to the arch I’ve seen on tons of postcards. The second picture of the arch below looks like dragon skin to me.

From there, I headed down to the Grand View Point Overlook, a fairly easy 2.0 mile hike along the rim of the canyon. It’s hard to capture the depth and magnitude of what you’re looking at in photographs. There’s a bulldozer in one of the pictures, but it’s impossible to see except in the original picture size; that’s how small it looks compared to everything else.

Next I headed over to Whale Rock, a 1.0 mile hike up a huge rock (kinda looks like a whale… imagine that).

Just around the corner from Whale Rock is Upheaval Dome, which was by far the most crowded of all the stops in the park. There’s an 8.3 mile loop around the entire area, but I was not feeling it. Instead, I just did the two overlooks which is only about 1.8 miles. There was a really awesome tree at the first overlook. I’ve seen a lot of cool trees in the past few days.

My last stop was at the Green River Overlook. It’s hard to tell from the pictures, but the river is green, if you didn’t guess. I’m not sure what causes it, as I didn’t read all theĀ  information boards (assuming one of them said why).

It seems like most of the stuff in Canyonlands is more for those who have offroad vehicles. In most of the pictures you can see the 100-mile White Rim Road and it gets so close to all of the places in the park. The Maze is another thing that would be awesome to see, just based on the name, but Henrietta is not a Jeep. Oddly enough, I did sell my Jeep to build her.

I ended up driving over to Capitol Reef National Park later in the evening. I got there around sunset, and although it was sometimes blinding to drive with the sun kicking my eyes’ asses (yes, my eyes have asses), it was an extremely beautiful drive through the park. Capitol Reef is a narrow, but tall park, so the drive across it is less than 30 miles. I drove all the way through the park just to get an idea of what was there and got gas on the opposite side before driving back and camping out at a small parking area just outside the East side of the park.

Arches National Park, Utah (Part 3)

July 23, 2015 Categories Camper Van, Hiking, Road Trips, Travel, USA

Miles driven: 56.0
Miles hiked: 7.5+

Last night was wicked hot in the van. It was about 100 degrees as I tried to sleep, drowning in a pool of sweat. I had the roof vent open to try to get some of the heat out, but it was almost just as hot outside so it took most of the night for it to cool off. Around 3am, someone started knocking on the van. Since I figured it was the cops trying to harass me for “camping” on the street, I just ignored it. That’s how you solve problems, right? Ignore it until it goes away? Well, that’s how I do. After five minutes or so, whoever it was gave up and went away. See? It works. Needless to say, I’ll be parking in a different spot tonight.

I woke up and headed to the park at 6:30 this morning, trying to beat both the heat and the crowd. After stopping at the visitor center to get water and eat breakfast, I headed down the road to the Devils Garden to hike all 7.2 miles of trail. This is the very last stop on the main road in the North half of the park.

Even getting there so early, the parking lot had more than a few cars already there. It appeared I had some competition.

The trail starts out as a cool walkway between canyon walls and as soon as you round the first corner, there’s an awesome sandy area that looks like a great place to cool down. Since I had just started and it was still cool outside, I kept walking.

My first stop was at Landscape Arch, which is very recognizable due to its narrow top. On the way there, I passed by several cool rock formations and saw three mule deer. One of them crossed the path directly in front of me and I was able to get his picture. I also saw a couple bunnies and lizards running around today.

As I continued on, the trail started to get more interesting. Up to the Landscape Arch, the trail is a well-maintained gravel pathway. After that point, you are climbing up rocks and following cairns to stay on the trail.

Eventually there was a side trail that splits off to see Partition Arch and Navajo Arch. They’re only a combined total of 0.5 miles and worth the effort. I was there to hike the entire Devils Garden trail and recommend anyone who goes does the same.

Partition Arch… and a cool log. The wood spirals!

Navajo Arch.

I continued on to the Double O Arch and passed many more beautiful sights along the way. There’s actually another (unmarked on the map) arch on the way called the Black Arch, but the trail doesn’t go close enough to get a good picture. I absolutely love the colors in the base of the Double O.

Next stop, Dark Angel; a huge, dark rock sticking straight up. Looks kinda perverted, if you ask me.

The trail continues on until another side trail splits off to go to Private Arch. Although the arch is awesome in itself, walk through it and then walk up the rocks to the right. There’s a huge labyrinth of sandstone towers that reminds me of scenes from a Riddick movie.

From that point on, there are no designated sites to see as you follow the Primitive Trail back to the main entrance. The trail does get a little more difficult in a couple of spots, but it’s not that bad. One spot was a very steep incline, slanting perpendicular to the direction you have to walk, and there’s a very painful looking drop if you were to slip. Another section has a large, slanted rock mound you have to climb up and over to find the trail. It’s too slanted to place cairns on, so you don’t know it’s the trail until you climb up on it. I ventured off trail for a little ways to check out a canyon area, so I added at least 0.3 miles to the total distance I did today. The last section of the Primitive Trail was like walking through a desert. It’s an entirely sand pathway and the sun was beating down hard by that time.

Once back at the beginning of the trail, I did the last two side trails. The first is for Tunnel Arch, which is pretty high up and the trail is more of an overlook area.

The second trail is for Pine Tree Arch.

By the end of it all, I was quite tired and glad to be done for the day. Took me about four hours to complete the entire loop, stopping very frequently to take pictures and waiting at some of the arches for other people to get out of the shot.

There’s only two trails in the entire park I didn’t hike: Fiery Furnace, which is about 2 miles if you do the guided tour, and the Tower Arch trail, which is 3.4 miles. Tower Arch is way off in the West side of the park and doesn’t have a paved road to get to it. If Henrietta wasn’t such a monstrous van, I’d attempt to take the dirt road out to the tower. There’s also a 4×4 road that leads out to it. The park guide says the road has soft sand, so I’m not gonna risk putting Henrietta’s weight on it, as I don’t want to get stuck out there.

Out of all the other places in the park, it’s hard to decide what was my favorite one. Honestly, I love the entire park. Every day has been fantastic. This is why Utah is one of my favorite places to be.

Arches National Park, Utah (Part 2)

July 22, 2015 Categories Camper Van, Hiking, Road Trips, Travel, USA

Miles driven: 49.1
Miles hiked: 5.0

Today was a short day, as I’m saving the last 7.2 miles of designated trail for tomorrow. I headed into the park around 7:30 this morning after camping out in town last night. I focused on the Northern portion of the park, minus the Devils Garden area, which is what I’ll do tomorrow.

After eating breakfast, I made my way up towards the Delicate Arch. I arrived at Wolfe Ranch around 8am and there were only a few other cars in the parking lot. From Wolfe Ranch, there is a three mile, round-trip, trail that goes all the way up to the Delicate Arch. It’s basically climbing straight up for 1.5 miles. There are a couple of overlook areas that don’t require as much hiking, but I wanted a good view and apparently so did everyone else. Within 10 minutes of parking, the lot began to fill up and I knew I had to start booking it so I could beat the crowd up there. Unfortunately, the sky wasn’t as gorgeous of a blue as it was yesterday, so the pictures didn’t come out quite as impressive as I was hoping. Still, looking at the arch from up close was 1,000 times better than looking at it from the overlooks down below, like I did in 2009.

After leaving the Delicate Arch, I headed to the Salt Valley Overlook.

There’s a viewpoint for Fiery Furnace shortly after Salt Valley, but there were signs stating parking was only for permit holders. Fiery Furnace is a maze of rock towers roughly two miles long. You can take a guided ranger tour for $10 or get a permit to go on your own for $4. Apparently the Primitive Trail around Devils Garden has similar rock formations, and since it’s free, I decided to pass on Fiery Furnace.

I did, however, stop a few times along the road between there and the Sand Dune Arch. There’s multiple spots to pull off and get photos of the beautiful rocks along the way. I’m not sure what any of them are called, if they’re even named.

Upon arriving at the Sand Dune Arch, I decided to change into my hiking shoes. I wore my lightweight running shoes doing the Delicate Arch hike and my feet were a little sore from walking down the 1.5 miles with tight shoes on. Not my best idea. You’d think I would have learned after smashing my feet up on the Appalachian Trail, but you’d think wrong. Anywho, the Sand Dune Arch is really beautiful and it’s like walking on a beach between canyon walls. I can’t believe we passed all this stuff up the last time I was here. It’s only a 0.3 mile hike according to the brochure, but the sign at the site says it’s 0.2 miles, one-way. Not sure which one is telling the truth. WHY MUST YOU LIE TO ME?!

From the Sand Dune Arch location, you can also hike out to the Broken Arch… which has a misleading name. It’s a complete arch, but it has a crack in it at the very top and that’s why it has its name. It’s a 1.2 mile round-trip hike out to the Broken Arch.

On the Broken Arch Trail, I came across a really awesome looking tree and I just felt it worth pointing out separately. I just find it very intriguing. Look at the colors and how the wood is formed. Neat-o!

My last stop for the day was a little up the road at the Skyline Arch. The hike is only 0.4 miles round-trip, but this is probably the only arch so far that actually looks better from far away. The closer you get, the less you can see. The arch is fairly high up, hence the name. According to the sign at the trail entrance, it used to be half the size it is today, but in 1940 a huge boulder fell out of the arch, doubling the size of the opening.

Tomorrow should be my last day in Arches, but I’m not going very far from here. Canyonlands National Park is right around the corner.

Arches National Park, Utah (Part 1)

July 21, 2015 Categories Camper Van, Hiking, Road Trips, Travel, USA

Miles driven: 68.7
Miles hiked: 3.8+

I took yesterday morning to get a few things done and spent the afternoon and part of the evening driving South to Arches National Park. I arrived around 5:30pm, which was just enough time to get to the visitor center before it closed.

Because this part of the state is so barren from normal societal things, such as Walmart, I had to get a brochure on some of the campgrounds in the area. I also got a map of the area where you’re allowed to just pull off the road and camp there for free. Since it was rainy, I decided to call it a night and camped at a nearby site for a mere 500 pennies. Normally it’s twice the price, but you get half off if you have the Interagency Annual Pass, which I do. Best $80 I’ve ever spent.

I awoke at 3am to discover the van batteries nearly drained. They were so drained, the inverter shut itself off; that’s actually why I woke up. Without the inverter, the AC power doesn’t work, which means the fan I had plugged in to stay cool stopped working. Upon awaking and discovering the batteries so low, I immediately hit the breaker for the inverter to ensure it didn’t kick back on, as converting DC to AC uses up extra energy. Of course, by ensuring the AC was off, I also sealed the fate of the few items in the fridge, which runs off AC (I don’t have a fancy AC/DC/propane fridge). Luckily all that was in there was a small amount of milk and some lunch meat. Almost all my food is designed not to need refrigeration for this exact reason.

I started the van to use the engine as a generator and charge the batteries up a little. Luckily I camped in the middle of nowhere last night, so no one was around for me to disturb as I had the van running in the middle of the night. The van’s lights come on automatically with no way to override them, so if anyone else was around I’m sure they wouldn’t have been too happy with lights blasted in their direction. After awhile, I shut the van off and went back to bed. The fan I have runs off eight D cell batteries for around 40 hours, as well as can run off AC. The batteries come in handy for situations like this and I was able to stay cool all night, despite the 80 degree temperature.

I woke up again shortly after 7am and headed back to the Arches visitor center to stock up on water and use the bathroom. The last time the van was filled up was six days ago and it took just over four gallons to top off the water tank. I’m trying to conserve water as much as possible and I’m slowly getting better at it.

I came to Arches back in 2009 on my first Wild Wild West road trip with Josh, but we were so pressed for time that we didn’t get to explore that much in each state and definitely didn’t have time for hikes. Now that I’m here again, I plan on doing the things I should have done the first time. Today I focused on the Southern section of the park.

My first stop was at Park Avenue, to hike the two mile, round-trip, trail down into the canyons. It’s an extremely beautiful hike surrounded by monumental cliffs jutting out of the earth on each side. I swear I was stopping every three feet to take pictures. This is the stuff I love about Utah and it looks so interesting and intriguing from every angle; I feel I need to try to capture it all.

As I was walking, I could see grey clouds rolling in with the crack of thunder every now and again. I knew my time was limited. Luckily, I made it the entire mile and back without getting rained on. I decided to press my luck and continue on.

Not too far up the road I stopped at the La Sal Mountains Viewpoint to get some pictures. By this point, the clouds were nearly on top of me and another crack of thunder sent one guy running back to his car. In the not too far off distance, everything became dense with rain. Since I wanted to get halfway decent pictures with some blue skies, I decided to use the morning to head into Moab to get gas and do some laundry in hopes that by the time I return to the park it’ll be blue skies once more.

It was around 1pm when I went back to the park. I stopped again at the La Sal Mountains Viewpoint to get more pictures without the crazy dark storm clouds.

Up the road a little further is the Courthouse Towers Viewpoint. From there, you can see Sheep Rock, Three Gossips, Tower of Babel, Courthouse Towers (obviously), and The Organ. This is also the pick-up location for hikers who hike Park Avenue as a one-way route.

Next stop was Balanced Rock, where I hiked the 0.3 mile loop around the base of Balanced Rock. I’d hate to be underneath that thing the day it finally loses its balance.

I continued on to the Garden of Eden, which although I realized is a biblical term, every time I hear “Eden” it only makes me think of the James Dean movie East of Eden.

At the end of the road is a large parking area that circles around for access to “The Windows Section”, featuring the North and South Window (arches), Double Arch, Turret Arch, and Parade of Elephants. I was a little disappointed not being able to get photographs of any of the arches without large gaggles of people climbing all over them. I’m sure this is one of the places you have to go out to really early or really late in order to avoid the hordes. There’s a couple different trails that total up to 1.5 miles to see all the arches, so make sure you do them both.

Side note: Because I don’t English good, I had to look up the correct usage of “hoard” vs. “horde” and I absolutely love that the site defined “horde” as being a “crowd of people … or a gang of rabid zombie kittens”. Ha ha. Jokes.

As I was walking away from the Double Arch, it began to rain again. I felt happy with today’s progress and decided to call it a day and headed back into Moab to do some interneting. I’ll probably camp out on the side of the street here tonight, as it looks like there’s no parking restrictions.

Hiking, Art, and Music

July 17, 2015 Categories Camper Van, Hiking, Road Trips, Travel, USA

We began today by heading out to a local hike called the Adams Canyon Trail shortly after breakfast. We had a quick drive over to the town of Layton after getting directions to the trailhead, which is located in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. The hike started off pretty sandy and gradually progressed more into rock as we got further up the mountain. Although it was described as fairly steep, I didn’t think it was that difficult of a climb. We were also told it would take a few hours, but we reached the waterfall at the end within an hour. Granted, I may have been a little amped and didn’t stop the entire way up. The waterfall was pretty cool, both to look at and to the touch. Off to the right was a small, rocky area that I climbed up to enjoy the view more. To the left was a much taller rock area that looked pretty steep, but some guy climbed up to the top. I was not inclined to follow.

After the hike we took a couple hours to walk around some stores and then found a Flying J truck stop to shower at before meeting up with Carolyn and her friends to head into Salt Lake City. There was a small art showing for a local artist that was being held by some of Carolyn’s friends. And by small, I mean it was a tent. And by tent, I mean a canopy. Most of his work was African safari type stuff; elephants, a giraffe, all that. There were a couple abstract pieces, also. We didn’t stay there long, maybe 15 minutes at most.

From there, we headed to a nearby town called Draper to attend a music event that was part of their Draper Days celebration. It was packed and looked like it was part flea market and part fairground. We settled in at the far side, away from the majority of people and spent the evening talking about nonsense. My stubbornness was pointed out a couple of times in the difficulty of answering a simple question, like “what did you want to be when you were younger?” Apparently “nothing” was not a normal response, but that’s seriously how I’ve always felt. I’ve never wanted to be just one thing. I’d be just as happy building furniture as I would doing electrical or programming computers. As long as I can find creativity in what I do, that’s all I need. So much of what happens in my head is difficult for me to explain. As someone once told me several years ago, I am a contradiction. If I like something, then I probably also like its opposite, but expect to find both in one thing… which is almost impossible, except when dealing with people and even then it’s quite rare. Now I’m rambling.

It was a pretty good day. I enjoyed getting to do what I felt was a real hike for the first time in this trip and spending the evening with interesting people.

Oh, and I may have gotten bored and wrote something in the dirt on the back of the van…

Northern Utah

July 16, 2015 Categories Camper Van, Hiking, Road Trips, Travel, USA

I woke up this morning undecided on the plan for today. The original plan was to just drive down to Grand Teton National Park after doing Yellowstone, but I really didn’t want to have to drive back into Yellowstone to get there, as the South exit for Yellowstone is the primary way to get to Grand Teton from where we were. Instead of thinking about the plan for the day, I read an amazing article about the Last True Hermit a friend had sent me. It’s honestly an amazing story and you should read it. Yes, YOU. Stop reading this garble and go read that story. It’s way cooler. The dude lived for 27 years in the woods, undetected!

Anywho, after I finished the article, I had decided it was time to leave the Yellowstone area and we headed South towards Utah. We stopped off in Rexburg, Idaho, and watched the Minions movie and then continued on our way. I think we arrived in Northern Utah right around 6:30pm.

Once in town, we met up with the lovely Carolyn and her roommate Camie to do a hike. I “met” Carolyn maybe a month or so ago after I messaged random people on a travel website about doing some hikes in Utah, since this was the state I planned on spending the most time in. We met up at a local coffee shop here, then headed off for the trail.

They called the hike Waterfall Canyon, but that’s not the actual name. I can’t remember the actual name, but it’s a hike part way up a mountain that leads to a pretty tall (easily a couple hundred feet high), but pretty dry waterfall (more of a trickle). I guess the winter was pretty mild here, so there’s not as much water on the mountain as usual. It was still a really nice view. The hike was fairly short, maybe around 20 to 30 minutes to get to the top. We all sat up there for a few hours just talking about random nonsense, waiting for the sun to go down before hiking back to the cars.

While talking with Carolyn and Camie, we got some good tips on places to see and things to do in the area so we’re probably gonna hang out here for a few days. There’s supposed to be a Farmer’s Market on Saturday we’ll be checking out and some concert on Sunday. We’ll hopefully get some more hikes squeezed in there, too.

It was pretty awesome meeting up with Carolyn and Camie. They’re both really young, but are quite outgoing and motivated people. I was really intrigued by Carolyn, who I spoke to the most, as she seems highly driven to live life outside of the box and I think that’s the most fantastic thing ever. It’s hard for me to even imagine myself at age 21, because of how different I was. I definitely never imagined myself gallivanting across the country in a van. The main thing I was thinking about back then was getting out of the military and getting a contracting job in Maryland to make the big bucks. It took me almost a decade after that before I finally did get out. It’s amazing how things change.

We’re camping out at another Walmart again tonight. Tomorrow should be a good day.

Yellowstone National Park (Part 5)

July 15, 2015 Categories Camper Van, Road Trips, Travel, USA

We didn’t do anything yesterday and it was great. I finally got to do some reading and finished The Wild Truth, which is a follow-up to Into the Wild. Today was our last day in Yellowstone; mainly because I’m just bored of it and tired of having to spend 2+ hours just to get anywhere in the park. Today was especially irritating because idiots don’t know how to pull off the road to look at wild animals. Instead, they stop right in the middle of the road. And not briefly, either. They stop for several minutes and cause a four mile long line of traffic. What was so important to cause such a delay? A buffalo. Pooping. I really hate how stupid people are.

Anywho, today was dreary and wasn’t that exciting. We drove the entire Eastern road in the park because we’d yet to go up that way. It’s a lot prettier than the West side of the park, scenery-wise, as it’s filled with hillsides, trees, some plains, lakes, and the river. There are several areas where you can pull off to look around, but not as many designated stops as the West side. There was one area in Hayden Valley where we arrived a few minutes too late and missed a chance to see a grizzly bear. There were so many people crowding the area, it’s no wonder he walked off. I’m starting to dislike the idea of focusing on National Parks for this trip. There’s so much traffic and so many people, it kind of defeats the entire point of going to nature to get away from that stuff.

I barely took any pictures today. I honestly don’t even remember where they’re from.

Here’s a video of a “Mud Volcano”:

After finishing The Wild Truth yesterday, I felt I had to watch the movie Into the Wild again. I didn’t catch the reference to Slab City the first couple times I’ve seen that movie, but I’m really interested in it now. Slab City is located in theĀ Sonoran Desert and is the site of old WWII barracks; the barracks have long since been gone, but the slabs they were built on remain. There is no electricity, no running water, no toilets, no trash service, and the site is completely uncontrolled. Sounds appealing, right? It does to me.

Yellowstone National Park (Part 4)

July 12, 2015 Categories Camper Van, Road Trips, Travel, USA

We took another easy morning today and decided to refresh ourselves with a real shower and then washed the bedding and towels. I know, living on the edge, right? By the time we were ready, it was 1pm and I decided we needed to take a lunch break from all our “hard work” before we did anything else. It was pretty late by the time we entered the park.

Today we focused on the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, visiting both the North and South rims. Frankly, I don’t like the name as it implies it somehow compares to the real Grand Canyon and it doesn’t by any means; it should have just been called Yellowstone Canyon, but I digress. There are two large waterfalls in the canyon, simply titled the Lower and Upper Falls. They have trails that lead to the base of the falls to get a really good idea of how immense and powerful they are. One of the trails on the South rim is called Uncle Tom’s Trail and has 328 stairs leading down to an overlook on the cliff-side. The majority of the steps are made of steel grating which you can see completely through and I can only imagine how people afraid of heights would hate walking down them. We took the whole thing down and got some really nice views of the falls. It was a beast to climb back up, but definitely worth it and honestly the best view out of all the places to look at the falls.

We saw a lot of wildlife today, way more than previous days. We had multiple buffalo right next to the van, saw a lot of elk, squirrels, chipmunks, pikas (they look like mice), bald eagles, and other birds. We’ve yet to see a bear, a moose, or a wolf.

We ran out of water today for the first time since day four when we filled up in Fargo at a park. Although I bought a 10 gallon tank, it seems to only hold about 8 gallons. I know this because twice now I have filled it up one gallon at a time using a water jug. But I think that’s pretty good cause it means we’re only using about a gallon a day between two people. Granted, almost every time we stop somewhere that has a water fountain, we fill up all the water bottles to avoid using as much of the van water as possible. We’re basically using the sink in the van to get water for cooking, to do dishes, and to brush teeth. It’s definitely an adjustment trying to conserve water as much as possible. Even at only a gallon per day, I still feel like we use a lot of water for the little amount we do with it.

Yellowstone National Park (Part 3)

July 11, 2015 Categories Camper Van, Road Trips, Travel, USA

Today was filled with a lot of resting. And rain. Can’t forget about the rain. We didn’t do much at all until after 11am when we finally headed back into the park. Yellowstone is huge, so it takes awhile to get anywhere in there. There was a long line to get in, so we used the opportunity to get a pic of the entrance sign.

Our first stop was the Midway Geyser Basin, mainly to see the Grand Prismatic Spring. If you’ve ever seen a picture of Yellowstone other than Old Faithful, this is probably what it was of. It’s a very large, very blue pool of water surrounded by a ring of color. You can only see the entire thing with an aerial shot, so you’ll have to Google it if you really wanna know what I’m talking about because pics from ground level don’t come close to showing off how cool it is. There’s geysers and stuff at that stop, too, but the Grand Prismatic is the main thing we wanted to see.

Our second stop was to check out the Morning Glory Pool, which looks like a colorful rainbow tunnel into the ground. It took awhile to get there and almost as long to find parking. It reminded me of the old days of working at The Tunnel in Hawaii, just circling the parking lot like a bunch of sharks looking for a space to open up and trying to get it before anyone else did. We found a spot eventually and decided to have lunch because it was already after 1:30pm. We started walking out in the direction of Morning Glory, but around half a mile in it started to rain. Being that I had my good camera with me and nothing to cover it with, we headed back and hung out in the gift shops until the rain let up enough to go to the van to grab some rain gear. And then out we went. Again.

The direct walkway to get to Morning Glory is a 1.4 mile trek from the visitor center, but there’s also a wooden walkway that curves around to see a bunch of other geysers on the way and that’s the way we decided to go. I didn’t take many pictures because much of the scenery looks the same as stuff we’ve already seen; holes in the ground filled with hot, sometimes bubbling, water. By the time we got to Morning Glory, it was raining again. It was a really beautiful view and completely looks like a rainbow shooting into the ground.

It was around 5pm by the time we got back to the van and we decided to call it an early day on account of the rain. Since most of our days go until 10pm or later, it was nice to be done around 6pm. We stayed in West Yellowstone again last night, camped out on the side of the street.