Utah – A Gateway to Canyons !!!

Utah – A Desert Area, beautifully surrounded by Canyons.

When you plan for Utah, Make sure You have enough time to See all the National parks. I would say its a lifetime experience. Summer temperatures are too hot , it may rise even upto 113 Degree Fahrenheit. Our trip was in summer. It was burning hot. We came across display boards across all the major loop trails with the caution “Heat Kills!! Drink water“. With sunscreen lotion, Hat and Enough water intake(to prevent dehydration), I think we can protect ourselves from the desert weather.

So We have just four days of time from Las Vegas. We planned our trip by Visiting Zion National Park on the first day, followed by Antelope Canyon @ Page, AZ, Glen Canyon @ Page, and Horse shoe bend @ Page on the second day.

In Zion National park, visitors are not permitted to use cars inside the park. You have to take up the shuttle from the visitor center. The shuttle stops at all the major points/trails. The shuttle finally stops at Narrows, one of the wonderful adventures of zion, where you need to hike across water and it takes minimum 3 to 4 hours.

Zion NP

Zion NP


Three Brothers - Zion NP

Three Brothers – Zion NP

If you want to visit Lower antelope canyon / Upper antelope canyon, it is better to book your guided tour online. Because of its popularity, these tours are easily filled up. The only way to visit antelope canyon is by those guided tours. [Flash floods may happen anytime and the death of a group of 12 people in a flash flood in the year 1997 stopped private access to the canyons). In addition to the tour fees, You also need to Pay 8$ entrance fee for Lake Navojo Tribal park (for each person in your group). Make sure you stick to Pacific time when you book the tours. Even though Local time is Mountain time, The tours operates based on Pacific time.

Lower Antelope Canyon

Lower Antelope Canyon


Horse shoe bend

Horse shoe bend


Glen Canyon

Glen Canyon


Upper Antelope Canyon

Upper Antelope Canyon


Upper Antelope Canyon

Upper Antelope Canyon


Lower Antelope Canyon

Lower Antelope Canyon

On the way to Arches National park from Page, You will encounter Monument Valley, One of the most photographed film location. Worth a drive!!!

Monument valley - Distance view from the car

Monument valley – Distance view from the car

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The next day, we spent in Arches National Park. We have hiked to Delicate arch, windows arch and many more arches.

North window and south window

North window and south window


An Arch @ arches national park

An Arch @ arches national park


Delicate Arch

Delicate Arch


A tunnel at Hwy 12, Red rock canyon

A tunnel at Hwy 12, Red rock canyon

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Entrance - Arches NP

Entrance – Arches NP

The Final leg of our tour ends with Bryce canyon National park. Lot of trails leads to the canyon grounds. easiest of those trails are sunrise point trail, sunset point trail.  A free shuttle is available that connects all the major observation points runs every 15 mins. Best suggestion is to take up a shuttle, because getting a parking is really really toughest thing in Bryce Canyon.

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon


Bryce Canyon from Observation point

Bryce Canyon from Observation point


Sunset point trail at Bryce Canyon

Sunset point trail at Bryce Canyon


A Squirrel at Bryce Canyon

A Squirrel at Bryce Canyon

Apart from those national parks, there are several treasures available in UTAH. One has to spent lot of time and effort to visit all those treasures.

Even though I have not visited coyote buttes, i came to know that one has to get the visitor pass through Lottery system and only 15 person per day are allowed to take up the trail to waves. The slots are booked well in advance. Also came to know, if there is a chance, we could collect the pass in person from Grand Esclante visitor Center. Those who want to do really really adventurous stuff, Spend enormous amount of time and pre-planning to visit those beautiful Nature’s wonders

P.S: Unless you have a 4WD car, Do not attempt to drive on Mud roads that are projected by GPS. Stay safe on the smooth roads possibly. There are high chances for your car to get struck on these Mud roads

Travelling to Mountains in CA?? then know about tire chains

Oh Yeah! It’s winter time!! Everybody wants to go for sking, snow tubing, snow shoeing etc. There are huge number of ski resorts and Beautiful mountain terrains in California.

When you plan during Winter months(Mostly from NOV to APR), it is must to carry tire chains with you on your travel

So when I started doing some research on that, I came to know lot of interesting facts about that. I just thought of summarizing in a separate blog

So what is Tire chains? why do you need it?

Snow chains, or tire chains, are devices fitted to the tires of vehicles to provide maximum traction when driving through snow and ice.

In snowy conditions, transportation authorities may require that snow chains or other traction aids be installed on vehicles. This is applicable to all vehicles, or only those without other traction aids, such as four-wheel drive or special tires. Local requirements may be enforced at checkpoints or by other type of inspection. Snow chains should be installed on one or more drive axles of the vehicle

Know about your vehicle tire measurements:

Tires come with standardized tire code sizing information, found on the sidewalls of the tires. The first letter(s), indicate the vehicle type (P for passenger, LT for light truck). The next three digits indicate the tire’s width in millimeters. The middle two digit number indicates the tire’s height-to-width ratio. The next character is a letter ‘R,’ which indicates radial ply tires (rather than radius). followed by a final two digit number indicating the rim size for the vehicle’s wheels.

Tire-chains are sold in stores such as Walmart, Costco, etc or in online Amazon, Ebay.

Even if you have 4WD car, It is advisable to carry tire chains. Weather conditions over elevations vary rapidly. It is Must to carry Tire chains whenever you travel in California Mountains.

What are the possible codes of tire chain use issued by CDOT?

During the winter months, motorists may encounter traction chain controls in the mountain areas within California. When chain controls are established, signs will be posted along the road indicating the type of requirement. There are three requirements in California.

  1. Requirement One (R1): Chains, traction devices or snow tires are required on the drive axle of all vehicles except four wheel/ all wheel drive vehicles.
  2. Requirement Two (R2): Chains or traction devices are required on all vehicles except four wheel/ all wheel drive vehicles with snow-tread tires on all four wheels.
    (NOTE: Four wheel/all wheel drive vehicles must carry traction devices in chain control areas.)
  3. Requirement Three (R3): Chains or traction devices are required on all vehicles, no exceptions.

Source:  CA Chain controls

SNOW-TREAD TIRES:

 A ‘Snow-tread tire’ is a tire which has a relatively deep and aggressive tread pattern compared with conventional passenger tread pattern . Snow-tread tires can be identified by examining the sidewall of the tire where the letters MS, M/S, M+S or the words MUD AND SNOW have been stamped into the sidewall.

Chain Controls:

A Road sign indicating Chain Requirement

  • You must stop and put on chains when highway signs indicate chains are required. You can be cited by the California Highway Patrol and fined if you don’t. You will usually have about a mile between “Chains Required” signs and the checkpoint to install your chains.
  • Control areas can change rapidly from place to place because of changing weather and road conditions.
  • The speed limit when chains are required is 25 or 30 miles an hour.
  • When you put on chains, wait until you can pull completely off the roadway to the right. Do not stop in a traffic lane where you will endanger yourself and block traffic.
  • Chain Installers: If you use the services of a chain installer, be sure to get a receipt and jot the installer’s badge number on it. Remember, chain installers are independent business people, not Caltrans employees. Having the badge number may help with any misunderstandings later. Chain installers are NOT allowed to sell or rent chains.
  • When removing chains, drive beyond the signs reading “End of Chain Control” to a pull-off area where you can safely remove them.

You cant expect you will be getting chain Installers all the time. It is better to practice once or Learn how to put on tire chains on your vehicle, know about driving wheels of your vehicle in advance

The following video would be useful to know about how to install tire chains:

For better safety driving, Plan your trip based on Weather. You can regularly check road conditions on the below link:

Road conditions

Whenever there is a chain restriction on the highway, that would be updated in the above site and you can plan your route accordingly.

Especially when you plan a weekend getaway to Most popular locations like Lake tahoe, Big bear lake, Reno, Yosemite, Mono & inyo county, It is better to plan in advance. Whenever possible rent 4WD cars for better traction on icy roads. Avoid travelling much when it is snowing! Plan enough time for the travel, because of the road conditions there may be delay, road closures, heavy traffic etc

 

There is a huge demand for tire chains in winter months. Last minute purchase is really hard. You may even purchase winter chains on your way in few gas stations on the mountain entrance and in the mountains. But it would be bit costly. If you want the help of chain installer, then you may need to pay him in Cash. Have sufficient cash with you on the travel.

Have a safe travel!

Grand Canyon – A Mystery

When visiting Las vegas, Grand canyon is a must in the itinerary. There are lot of bus tours, air tours and helicopter tours available from Las vegas. Depending upon your time availability and affordability, you can choose the tours you want to opt. If you are interested in photography, you may need to spend a night to capture the amazing sunrise and sunset views of majestic canyon. We chose to drive on the desserted roads.

On our way to Grand canyon, we first visited Lake Mead and Hoover Dam.

Lake Mead is 112 miles (180 km) long when the lake is full. Lake Mead, when full, is the largest reservoir in the United States in terms of maximum water capacity. It is on the Colorado River about 24 mi (39 km) from the Las Vegas, Nevada

Hoover Dam, once known as Boulder Dam, is a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, on the border between the U.S. states of Nevada and Arizona.

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Lake Mead

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Entrance

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Hoover Dam

Grand canyon:

The canyon is 277 river miles (446km) long, and up to 18 miles (29km) wide.

The North Rim
Averaging 8000 feet/ 2438 m above sea level, rises 1000 feet/ 305 m higher than the South Rim, and because of its remote location, is less accessible than the South Rim.

The North Rim has a short season and is closed for the winter at this time.

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Grand Canyon

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The South Rim
The South Rim is the most accessible part of the park and it is open all year.

A free shuttle bus system operates in the Grand Canyon Village area. Make your visit easier and save fuel by parking your car and use the shuttle to go around

West Rim Skywalk: 

Fast becoming one of the most talked-about destinations at the Grand Canyon, Grand Canyon West attracts about 700,000 visitors each year. The destination has become increasingly popular among Grand Canyon tourists since the March 2007 grand opening of the Grand Canyon Skywalk.

Grand Canyon West is open to the public from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm daily from October through March, and from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm daily from April through September. It is open every day of the year including all major holidays.

The West Rim is not inside the Grand Canyon National Park. It is owned and operated by the Hualapai Tribe; the Hualapai collect fees for entrance to the West Rim.Each person is required to purchase the entrance ticket, priced at $44.05 (including all taxes and fees) per person.

Grand Canyon Skywalk
Grand Canyon West attracts the visitors with its Grand Canyon Skywalk. Its glass floor extends 70 feet over the edge of the Canyon’s rim, allowing visitors to look straight down to the canyon floor 4,000 feet below. It is 10 feet wide, and flanked by glass walls 4–6 feet high;

Points to  Note before Travelling to Grand Canyon

Services are not available frequently in the highway from Vegas to canyon. You could find services every 50 to 100 miles. It is better to fill up your Gas whenever you find service. Grand canyon is completely remote and Even mobile coverage is not available most of the times.

No matter when you visit, be sure to bring about a quart of water per person, a wide-hat, high SPF sunscreen, sunglasses and very light layers. 

I want to add up my personal experience to this post. We traveled  from east coast  and we had a connecting flight from Phoenix to vegas. we used our credit card for dinner in Phoenix. Next day we traveled from vegas to Canyon and we used card for breakfast and fuel. As the transactions occurred in  different states, Our bank  has tried to reach us for any suspicious activity. We didnt have mobile coverage , in turn we were not reachable.we discovered Our card was blocked including debit cards on our way back to vegas on the same day. We then called our bank and cleared all their questions. The Lesson we learnt is to setup a travel alert in Bank and also to carry enough money on the travel.

 

Crater Lake, Oregon

A deep, Pure lake, Blue in color , surrounded by Mountain cliffs and formed by violent volcano  in the past

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Deep Blue colored Crater lake with the Cinder cone in the Middle

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A closer view to Cinder cone Volcano

At 1,943 feet deep, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States and one of the ten deepest lakes in the world!

Crater Lake National Park gets an average of 533 inches of snow per year – that is more than 44 feet of snow!

The lake was formed around 7700 years ago, by the collapse of the Volcano Mount Mazonna

Two islands are in Crater Lake; Wizard Island formed from a cinder cone that erupted after Crater Lake began to fill with water, and the smaller Phantom Ship has seven different trees living on it.

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Cleetwood Cove (only lake shore access)’

A bit strenuous trail, But this is the only trail that provides shore access. and if you want to take up the boat tour to the center volcano, then this is the only trail you need to hike. Backpack water and snacks with you.

  • Time: 1.5 hours
  • Length: 1.1 miles one way
  • Elevation: 6,850 to 6,176 feet Difficulty
  • Features: Lake shore and boat dock.

Apart from several trails, there are many beautiful falls available through out the parks.

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Vidae falls – one of the stop points in Crater Lake trolley tour

If you are planning in summer months, You could take up a rim drive. The park is open year around. But winter access is limited.

There is a park fee of 15$ for cars entering crater lake which is valid for seven days.

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A bird photographed nearby Phantom Island

Crater Lake Trolley tour  are available that takes approximately two hour tour around the Rim Drive of the lake with several stops at specific areas of interest. If you want to sit back, relax and enjoy the Rim Drive, it is better to take the Guided Crater lake trolley tour from the visitor center.

Do not miss the Blue Beauty “Crater Lake” !!!

McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park

The McArthur Burney park is located at  northeast of Redding,California(six miles north of Highway 299 on Highway 89 near Burney)

The main attraction is the 129 foot Falls, one of the beautiful falls located in California. The park’s landscape was created by volcanic activity as well as erosion from weather and streams. This region is surrounded by mountains and Black volcanic rocks or BASALT

Great views of the park are easily accessible right from the parking lot. A short easy hiking takes you to the base of the falls.Do not Miss it. Worth the Hiking effort to see a glorious falls. A 1.3 mile trail completes the falls.

When you plan a trip to Lake Shasta or Crater Lake, You could include this falls to your Itinerary. This Falls is worth a visit for sure!!!

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McArthur Burney Falls