Christian Kemp's USA travelogs

< Previous | List | Next > Drive over Hoover Dam, visit Valley Of Fire State Park, continue to Zion National Park

Hoover Dam and its many electric lines feeding Las Vegas My goal was to get out of Las Vegas as fast as possible. Our first stop, the Hoover Dam proved to be just as over-rated, so all I did was park for five minutes, shot some pictures, and then head on towards Valley of Fire via the scenic highway along Lake Mead.

We arrived in the Valley of Fire around lunch time, and as such we gladly spent much of the time in the car, with the A/C running. The red stones really set themselves off against the dullish brown mountains that surround them. Took a very short hike to Elephant Rock, one of the more-well known formations in this state park, and then followed the scenic drive.

Next up were the cabins, three primitive shelters built around 1935 when visitation was about 9,000 per year (nowadays 200,000 visitors are counted). Built from native sandstone and set up just in front of spectacular red rocks, this is an impressive view, since it allows you to imagine how rough travelling must have been just sixty years ago.

On a minor tangent, I think this is what really impressed me in the southwest... Here in Luxembourg, and I suppose it's not very different in other parts of Europe, history goes back thousands of years, and even the oldest people alive remember living regular life in small towns. In the so-called wild west, that same time, people were travelling around, digging for gold, living adventurous (and dangerous) lives...

It took me quite some time to take just one picture, from within one cabin, out of the window, with both the interior walls and the view outside showing, and I was still not satisfied with the end result. Well, another time, I guess.

Fire canyon and Silica Dome were next, the latter being one of the locations in the Star Trek - Generations movie. The White Domes Scenic Byway didn't have enough turnouts for my photographic tastes, so we stopped a few times on the road. Even though this was prohibited, I didn't see much reasons not to do it, since we took care to stop at visible points, and there weren't many other visitors around.

An unnamed rock formation near White Domes in Valley of Fire State Park Funnily enough, I took a few pictures where the presence of the road actually seems to contribute to the visual uniqueness of the photograph.

We returned to I15 and drove on towards Zion N.P. One part of the Interstate, the Virgin Rover Gorge was spectacular, since we were suddenly in a narrow canyon with sometimes barely enough room for the 4 lanes and grey rock several hundred feet high on both sides...

After a very short drive through Arizona, we entered Utah. Since it was already pretty late, I decided to not drive to the Kolob Canyons part of Zion N.P., so we immediately drove on towards Zion Lodge. The advantage of sleeping within the park boundaries was that we would not have to take a shuttle to reach some of the sights.

After checking in, and transferring photographs from the full SmartMedia card to the notebook (the reason why I didn't take more pictures along Highway 9), we hiked up to all of the Emerald Pools (about 1.6mi).

The bad thing about Zion N.P. is that it is a narrow canyon, and as such there are only few times where the sun illuminates the two canyon walls and the ground. Given that we arrived late in the afternoon, and departed before lunchtime, I didn't manage to take a perfect picture of the entire canyon, since the digital camera would always over-expose the sky because of the dark canyon walls and ground.

Red Arch Mountain Neither of the Emerald Pools held much water, but the trail offered several opportunities to photograph the canyon, plants and wildlife. We took the Kayenta Trail (1mi) to The Grotto and then took the shuttle back to the Lodge.

Diner was pretty expensive, and it was mildly amusing to see a French family on the next table struggling with the English language when ordering some dessert, as well as their (French) complaints when they were brought what they had indeed ordered, and not what they thought they would get.

Miles driven: 285mi (459km)

Motel/Hotel Accommodation: Zion Lodge (Zion National Park, UT): $106.50