Utah National Parks in Winter

Utah National Parks in Winter

January 28, 2023

The winter adventures continued this week as we took Luke’s mother Lynn all around southern Utah and to the National parks.  It has continued to be snowy and cold for the rest of her time visiting so we found things to do in the car and took walks on paved and plowed roads.  We took a ride through Best Friend’s Animal Sanctuary in Kanab and had a nice lunch at a Cuban restaurant.  She tried mojo pork and liked it which is great since I had it on my menu plan for later in the week.  Here is Angel’s Rest Pet Cemetery in Kanab.  We took a meditative walk through and listened to the hundreds of wind chimes here.

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We decided that since we were close to Zion National Park, we would drive through to show her the sites there.  Even in winter, this park is very impressive to just drive through.  We all got out to take photos at every scenic overlook.  On the way there, we even got to see a herd of buffalo with two of them sparring right in front.

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The Grand Staircase is truly an incredible part of the United States and the more time I spend here and the more I learn about it, the more interested I become.  Zion National Park is part of the White Cliffs of the staircase.  It is the third in a series of five steps consisting of cliffs and benches ascending up in elevation from the Grand Canyon.


We also took her to Capitol Reef National park which also held some great views for us.  Beyond Captiol Reef we continued to Hanksville to show her Factory Butte at sunset which we think is very fine to see.  We took route 12 to get there over Boulder mountain where the snow is deep.  There was one overlook that was plowed so we stopped there for a view of the Henry mountains with lava rocks in the foreground.

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Capitol Reef had just the main scenic drives open with the dirt roads all closed for winter.  We had a similar experience at Bryce National park where just the amphitheater area was open and much of the road is closed for the winter, but we still enjoyed our visits at all of these parks.  This is the Castle at Capitol Reef on the left and a view of Grand Wash on the right.  Below is the waterpocket fold, the fold in the earth’s crust which makes this park unique.

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The last time we visited this park we did not see the pictographs here so we were sure to do so this time.  The rock art pictured here is believed to be from the Freemont people who lived here between AD 600 to 1300.  The meaning behind the rock art is unknown though it is believed to be a way of sharing information and not just artistic expression.  Rock art is believed that have depicted events, migrations, hunting trips, resource locations, celestial information, and other important knowledge.

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Here is Factory Butte just as the sun began to set.  

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Our GPS took us a long route home.  Perhaps it read my mind and knew I was nervous about traveling over the mountain after the temperature had dropped.  I was napping in the backseat for most of our ride home, but saw an elk with one horn just hanging out in the middle of the road.  Luke and Lynn told me that all the animals were out that night and they also saw a jackrabbit and several deer along the drive.

Lynn & I spent a good deal of time going for walks around town.  She is a history buff and we found a brochure for the historic buildings in Escalante so we bundled up and walked around to see as many as we could.  I never realized that there is an old jail in town.  A local told me that it has no water or electricity, but it does have a drain in the floor and a wood burning stove.

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We met more dogs than humans out on these cold walks.  All of them were friendly and some followed us for parts of our walks.  We noticed that many of the dogs we met looked similar and decided that they may all be related.  This breed of dog, we decided, was the town mascot.

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After Lynn left we took a day to rest and recuperate and then got back to some routines.  Luke has been steadily working on some projects for Caroline and we are happy that his work for her is still challenging and fulfilling.  I went back to volunteering at the visitor center and had an excellent time there getting tips to help me plan some adventures for the spring.  I started reading an excellent book about the Colorado River which is the most managed and contested river in the world.  The Escalante River which travels through town is one of the tributaries of this 1,450 foot river.  The river supplies water to over 40 million people and it is drying up so it is an important topic to a large part of the southwest.  In fact, several news sources carried a story about this over the past couple of days as the states relying on this water have not been able to reach an agreement on cuts.  As a result, the president is expected to step in to impose cuts.  The current agreement apportions more water than the river actually produces and has for years which has resulted in some of the reservoirs such as Lake Powell to drop significantly.

My work camping friend Gabby came to town last night and the awesome managers here at Entrada allowed her to spend the night in an empty room so she wouldn’t have to drive home to Boulder in the dark.  We had a wonderful visit and talked about her new job.  Gabby is trying to spread work opportunities to her friends here through this job in Boulder which is super cool.  We are talking about a future photo shoot out there and it’s making me think I should learn how to fly the drone soon.  Our friend Russ picked up his first side by side for the rental business he plans to start in town and we talked about taking some photos soon for his website as well.  It will be a cold ride, but still a fun adventure.  One of the rangers I volunteer with has developed an audio tour for Scenic Highway 12 that focuses on the geology of this area.  It is only $5 to download this audio tour for 7 days.  I plan to try it out this week.





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