Southern Utah Part 1: Las Vegas and St George

This travel season has been a little different for us, instead of going on one lengthy summer/fall trip, we went on multiple shorter trips throughout the summer and now we are at the beginning of the fall segment. We decided to make a visit to two of Utah’s National Parks, Zion and Bryce. Utah has five National Parks with two easily accessible in the southwest part of the state.  But Utah has much more to offer in addition to the National Parks, so we added in a couple of bonus locations to visit as well.

Our road to Zion from Tucson took us through Las Vegas, NV.  Sin City, Lost Wages, The City that Never Sleeps, The Hottest Place on Earth.  We then made a short detour to St George before arriving in the Zion area.

Our first stop was in Las Vegas for an overnight stay.  We stayed at Nellis AFB. We have been there a couple of times previously for overnighters.  Coincidently, the Cyclones were playing UNLV that weekend.  The tickets were ridiculously priced originally, but we managed to find some on Stub Hub for a great price at the last minute. Yes, we were up in the higher deck, but we were on the 40-yard line and the stadium is a dome, so the temperature was very nice.

UNLV plays in the Las Vegas Raiders brand spanking new Allegiant Stadium.  Parking is almost non-existent, so we parked at Mandalay Bay and walked on the pedestrian bridge over the Interstate.  We met up with some friends, Kent and Sarah, down on the strip for lunch, then headed out to the game in the evening.  The Cyclone fans easily outnumbered the locals.  It was great to see Cardinal and Gold everywhere.

It was a fun atmosphere with a positive outcome.  Cyclones 48 UNLV 3.

We ended up having to spend an extra day in Las Vegas.  When we were departing on Sunday, our towbar for the Jeep failed.  Fortunately, it failed as we were leaving our site and there were no other issues.  It was also fortunate it happened in Las Vegas where we had a good chance to find parts.  Unfortunately, the towbar is old enough there were no parts available, so we are now owners of a brand, new tow bar.  Better safe than sorry and the possibility of something happening driving down the Interstate.

Our detour to St George, UT was all about visiting Snow Canyon State Park.  We had heard so many great things about it, all of which proved to be true.

We spent a day exploring the park.  FIrst up was a short hike to Jenny’s Canyon.  A very small, narrow slot canyon at the end of a half-mile walk.  It was early in the morning and we were the only people there.

Our primary hike of the day was in the main area of the park.  We made a loop hike out of the Lava Flow, Petrified Dunes, and Butterfly Trails.  It was still early and cool, about 58ish degrees, so we had layers on.  There were no people around.  The first part was along a lava flow 🙂 with lava tubes and caves.

Then the trail transitioned into red sandstone and rocks.  The views of the rock were amazing, especially that time of the morning with the sun coming up.  The trail was a lot of sand and large rocks, but easily walked.

Our loop took us along West Canyon road and then up to the Petrified Dunes trail.  We were not sure what to expect of “Petrified Dunes” but it was quickly apparent that is was solid sandstone hills with waves with zero trail markings.  You basically make it up to the top by finding your own route and there are some steep portions.  Jennifer was not comfortable with that and decided to wait it out. Craig made his best effort to the top.  There were really great views, but the way down was more nerve wracking.  Anyway, we decided we would go around and rejoin the trail on the other side.

We picked up the Butterfly Trail and finished out our hike as the temperatures started rising and the sun was really warming things up.

For lunch we decided on one last short hike to Johnson Canyon.  We had heard there was a nice cool shaded spot for us to have lunch.  It was a short hike with the promised shade at the end where the canyon boxes in.  The real highlight of the hike was the arch rock near the opening of the canyon.  We did not expect that.  It was beautiful and again very few people on the trail with us.

It was a great weekend and start to our 2021 fall trip.  Scenic and fun hikes, a W for the Cyclones, and safe traveling.   Next stop, Zion National Park.

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