Christian Kemp's USA travelogs

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I've neglected these daily trip reports for a day or two, but the fact that I'm in a lone campground with no TV and no book to read and some time to spare before I can probably fall asleep is contributing to this update... as far as the ever-decreasing notebook battery permits.

"Zion National Park" sign at the East entrance I spent another solid ten hours or so in bed at the motel at Mt. Carmel Junction, and after a refreshing hot bath in the morning (only now that I've been using showers for the last week and a half I realize how nice a bath can be), I figured I'd head for Zion NP.

Entering the park from the east entrance was as stunning as I had it in mind from last year's trip (only that then, we exited that way). There are plenty of parking spots and viewpoints, but it still seems like there are not enough, since virtually every meter presents a different angle.

I also managed to take a shot of the road and red trace on the mountain behind it that seems like its continuation... I had seen that picture on several websites, but didn't take it myself last year. That's a strange attitude, perhaps, imitating photographs I've seen elsewhere, but what can I say, I'm still learning...

Anyway, back to Zion. I had initially planned to just drive the Mt. Carmel highway and not bother with the main canyon, since I dreaded the shuttle busses; but was pleasantly surprised at the park entrance when I realized there were no shuttles running in Winter.

The first photo opportunity presented itself at the Court of the Patriarchs, another place I had probably neglected a bit last year. I drove on towards the Narrows, sometimes stopping along the way.

I had several opportunities: doing the short Narrows Hike, and possibly face another bad photographic opportunity (meaning, dark shadowy canyon walls and bright grey skies, equals contrasts too high for my camera to handle). I started the hike, but noticed clouds coming up, and figured I'd better not proceed, since there was nothing to be seen or photograph that I hadn't seen last year.

The road in the main canyon in Zion National Park. Only open to the general traffic in winter Instead, I pondered doing the Angels Landing trail. But once again, I found enough reasons not to pursue that option: first of all, I'm not sure I would be able to face the cliffs. Secondly, it's supposed to take four hours, and time is shortly beginning to run out since I need to be in LA no later than Saturday morning. Finally, I figured that I had done enough hiking just the day before, and that I better cover some distance towards Death Valley.

That being said, I left the park around noon and ventured towards I-15, heading east. The narrow Virgin River canyon passage appeared less exciting and longer than I had in mind, but perhaps that was because this time, I was driving, and I had better things to worry about than the scenery (notably, strong winds and the trucks).

I only stopped in Las Vegas to fuel up, but otherwise completely and utterly ignored "Sin City". I was thinking that perhaps I ought to give it another try after my complete disgust of it last year, but very strong winds, dust-filled skies and lots of traffic didn't even make me consider that for another second.

The start of "The Narrows" in Zion National Park So I proceeded on Hwy 95, heading North through Nevada in order to enter the park from the West entrance. The drive was very boring, with absolutely no scenery to look at (almost no vegetation, and all surrounding mountains more or less hidden in dust or clouds), and perhaps even worse than that, pretty bad radio reception. :)

I had originally planned to head to Beatty and perhaps even spend the night there, but on the way there decided to head straight for the park and spend the night there.

After initial thoughts of just camping in the wild somewhere along the dirt road we had taken into the park last year, I decided against that idea and instead headed for the visitor center to get a park map and asked the park ranger about their free camping spots. I didn't really need to ask, I had done some research at home, but I guess I needed to be reassured.

So I drove towards the Emigrant camp site, and then some time later realized that I had already ventured too far, since I was already on my way to Wildrose camp site. So I did a 180 degree turn and headed back only to find just two of the ten sites occupied. By that time, the sun had already disappeared behind the mountains.

Some time later, some more cars would appear, and I was getting ready to transform the car... There are still pretty strong winds outside, and I don't have any clue what temperatures will be tonight. Luckily, even the Cavalier I'm driving has enough space in the trunk and back seat to fit me in there.

I'll just have to re-arrange everything tomorrow, since I pretty much moved every single object I've been transporting around for the past ten days...

This will be my third night outside of a motel, and second night inside the car. I'm figuring I could have done this a few times more often, but then again with temperatures being pretty low in the nights and motel rooms costing only ten dollar more than a camping site, it was a pretty easy decision to make.

Here in Death Valley, the situation is slightly different, since over here I'm still in the high season, and as such would probably be looking at perhaps 50$ per night - which alone is pretty much the total of what I'm spending on average per day right now, including food and fuel.

Time is running out, after less than thirty minutes the battery is already depleted to just one third remaining, so I guess I should wrap this up pretty soon.

Either way, I guess I still have to figure out to what extent I should publish this anywhere on the web at a later date... since I'm not sure I have the necessary distance to each day's happenings to really write up something appropriate and at least semi-readable.

Miles driven: 391mi (629km)

Campground Accommodation: Emigrant campground (Death Valley National Park): $0

Written at Emigrant campground in Death Valley NP around 18:45.