Day 21 - Parowan Gap, Kolob Canyons, and Valley of Fire
The final day of our trip was our "unplanned" day, so to speak. We had to get close to Las Vegas in order to return our RV early Tuesday morning. We had called one Campground for info, but had made no hard and fast reservations, so we somewhat "winged it. Kind of fun, not having to follow the proscribed itinerary! It turned out to be a great day of discoveries and quite a fitting way to conclude our little adventure.
Our shuttle driver/tour guide from Bryce, Spike, had recommended a stop in a little-known spot called Parowan Gap (about 80 miles from Bryce) which turned out to be just slightly out of the way on our return trip from Bryce back to Nevada. We passed a couple of snow-covered mountaintops, and actually saw some red leaves on a few trees, a new color added to the yellow aspens. The enticement of Parowan Gap were petroglyphs that are extremely well preserved. They were easy to find, on a small, paved trail, and quite beautiful. These were the clearest and closest we had seen. Wish we knew what they said!
As we got on the highway, the map told us that the northwestern tip of Zion, called Kolob Canyons was right on our way. It was serendipity- we had started in Zion Natioal Park, and we would have one more chance at experiencing its majestic splendor to end our trip. Kolob had a couple of trails, but was mostly a five mile scenic route drive through the canyon. No shuttles at this end, and way fewer tourists.
After venturing down I-15 through Utah, Arizona, and into Nevada (speed limits ranging from 75-80 except when traveling through some very scenic - and twisty - mountain passes), we got of the highway heading to Overton, Nevada.
We found a little campground that mostly catered to full timers, but left open a row for itinerants like us. Back to warmth (yay!), Overton is a "three horse" town - a few restaurants, a market, and actually two hardware stores. But it was Valley of Fire State Park down the road that drew us here. That plus the fact that we were now just a little over an hour to Las Vegas, an easy drive to return the RV on Tuesday.
In contrast to the natural architectural gems of previous parks, Jim said Valley of Fire looked like "Arches after an apocalypse". Indeed, its haphazard piles of red rocks looked as if an earthquake or a landslide had hit. It also made for interesting rock formations and very unusual images in the soft sand.
We hiked two short trails, the first one with the interesting name, Mouse’s Tank. Again, as earlier this day, we came upon beautiful, clear petroglyphs on the rocks right above us, one upon another.
The second trail was short, more interesting rocks and scenery, but was entirely sand which made for hard walking. We had been driving all day, so left this unusual park to find one of the three restaurants in town for dinner, followed by heavy duty packing. Our trip, so long in planning and executing, was coming to an end...
A nice coda to a wonderful trip. Tomorrow morning we head to Las Vegas to return the RV.