September 30 – October 6, 2019
Day 12: Great Basin National Park to Minersville Reservoir, Utah
After three days spent visiting Great Basin National Park, we were on the road again. We had beautiful weather and quiet traffic for our 103 mile drive from Baker, Nevada to Minersville Reservoir Campground near Beaver, Utah.
Immediately upon pulling into the campground, a retired gentleman pulled up in a truck and started chatting with us. Jan is a local who has returned home to retire after a career in law enforcement in Southern California. He gave Jason some fly fishing tips and told us all about the local area. Later in the afternoon, he and Jason went out for a Jeep ride while I worked for a couple hours. I’ve always felt safe out in the RV, but with Jan as our neighbor, I felt even safer! He is a lovely man and we were happy to call him neighbor for a few nights.
We had a beautiful afternoon for setting up camp. We settled into site 39 which was on the end of the back row with a view of the reservoir. The front row had waterfront sites, but they are closer together and appeared to be busier. Our site was large and well-spaced from the neighbors. It had a covered picnic table, tree, 30/50 electric, water hookup, and garbage.
Day 13: Fremont Indian State Park
Happy October! We had our coldest night yet with the temperature dipping to 26 degrees. We disconnected the RV’s water hose so it wouldn’t freeze and left the bathroom and kitchen sink cupboards open to keep the pipes warm. Since we had electric hookups, we ran our electric furnace instead of the propane furnace. By 2:00 it turned on and never shut off. After a little research, we learned this is normal behavior for the electric heat pumps. They function best down to about 40 degrees. Below that, propane is the best option. Lesson number one in below-freezing RVing! I had thrown an electric space heater into the RV and it got a workout over the next week, acting to supplement our electric furnace while we were on hookups.
Our first Utah adventure was to visit Fremont Indian State Park near Richfield. This state park has been on my radar for years, but it was always out of the way from anything else and didn’t rate high on the bucket list compared to places like Bryce or Arches. Now it was just 50 miles from our camp making it a good bucket list item to check off.
Fremont Indian State Park preserves artifacts, petroglyphs, and pictographs left behind by the Fremont Indians. Visitors can stop at the visitor center museum then visit a series of roadside stops where short trails lead to nice rock art panels. We didn’t explore all of the parks sites, but we did visit Parade of Rock Art (stop #5), Court of Ceremonies (#6), Newspaper Rock (#1), Arch of Art (#10), Sheep Shelter (#12), and the Water & Emergence Panels. We ended the day with a stop at the Jedediah Smith Interpretive Site which had some neat horse sculptures set in a gorgeous canyon.
Despite a wheel balance in Ely, the Jeep still wasn’t handling right. After some Google review searches, we found Monty’s in Beaver. Before we left home, we knew we were going to need to replace our factory mud tires within the next few months due to two of them wearing faster than the others (common with mud tires despite our routine rotations), but it looked like we would be doing it sooner. Monty felt that cupping on our rear tires (the same ones we knew were wearing faster) was causing the symptoms I was describing. We picked out new tires and set up an appointment for the following day to have Monty install them.
Back at camp, we grilled up some of the best ribeye steaks we’d ever had thanks to Mike’s Market in Beaver. We also planned to take showers at the campground bathrooms, but the men’s showers were filthy and neither gender had any hot water. What a disappointment! Thank goodness we have our own clean shower with hot water, even if it is a little small! It is funny the things that are becoming news worthy.
Day 14: New Tires & Chores Day
The excitement for the day was having the new tires put on the Jeep. They are a 10 ply tire made by Cooper that should perform well for our typical use on mountain roads. Reviews show they are great in snow and rain, yet are a much smoother highway ride than the mud tires that came stock on the Jeep. We took her for a loop out on the interstate and it sure is a smoother and quieter ride!
Back at the RV, we spent the rest of the day doing chores. Jason did some routine exterior maintenance while I rearranged and restocked some items after two weeks of travel.
Day 15: Losee Canyon Trail, Red Canyon
We awoke to 21 degrees outside- yet another record cold for us in the RV! Our plan for the day was to move from Minersville to a boondocking spot outside Bryce Canyon National Park. Wanting to start with empty tanks, we stopped by the campground dump station on our way out. We dumped the black tank without incident, but I couldn’t pull the grey water valve. Jason tried and we heard a crack. The valve handle was frozen and Jason thought he felt the plastic crack. We had planned to refill gas and propane at Bear Valley RV just north of Panguitch. Instead, we checked in for 4 nights in case we needed to rush order a new valve from Amazon. It would also serve as a convenient base camp for some area red rock destinations. At just $32 per night for water, electric, sewer, showers, and laundry, it was an easy decision to stay there with the valve issue as well as to hook up to electric for the continued cold nights ahead.
We barely had our jacks down and slides out when a very nice woman came over. Sharon and her husband Ronnie have a Greyhawk with Jeep toad (just like us) and they are traveling with their lifelong friends Carol and David who also have a Greyhawk with Jeep toad! Seeing our nearly identical setup, Sharon said she just had to meet us and I’m sure glad she did! We had a great time visiting with the foursome and comparing motorhome modification notes. Ironically, we are all on the same Facebook group for Greyhawk owners and I’d been seeing some of Ronnie’s posts as they’d been traveling across Colorado and Utah.
After a quick lunch, we made the short drive over to Red Canyon just west of Bryce Canyon National Park. We’ve hiked there many times over the years and we love the solitude that can be found on its trails while the masses are packing the parking lots and viewpoints at Bryce.
Our hike for the day would take us up Losee Canyon to a junction with the Cassidy Trail which we hiked back in 2016. This was a beautiful 6.0 mile roundtrip hike in the canyon bottom with lots of red rock and hoodoos towering above us. There were a few trees with a little fall color and quite a few pine trees. The trail was very easy hiking with little elevation gain and just a few minor rocky sections. It was sandy in some places, but never deep or difficult to hike in. We saw just five other parties on the trail and enjoyed perfect weather (60s and sunny with a gentle breeze). What a great reintroduction to red rock country!
Day 16: Under the Rim Trail, Bryce Canyon National Park
It was time for a day in Bryce Canyon National Park. Having hiked most of the trails around the main amphitheater, we stopped in at the Visitor Center to ask a ranger about a few less trafficked options I had in mind. He recommended hiking to the Hat Shop, a 4.5 mile hike with 1,000’ elevation loss/gain.
The Hat Shop is a group of the typical orange-colored Bryce pinnacles topped by wider, grey boulders. To reach the Hat Shop, we traveled to the Bryce Point Overlook and hiked two miles down the Under the Rim Trail. Most tourists and hikers stick to the viewpoints and trails further north making this a much more tranquil hiking option. The trail drops 1,000’ off the edge of the plateau and through some lovely wooded stretches of trail that include some impressive Ponderosa pine. About a mile in, we passed beneath a large wall of hoodos and formations typical of what one sees in Bryce’s main amphitheater. For most of the hike we had fantastic views east over the upper Paria River Valley, Kaiparowits Plateau and across to the Aquarius Plateau.
We only passed a handful of parties on this trail which provided relative solitude in an otherwise crowded national park that has been experiencing record visitation. The Hat Shop area was interesting enough, but not nearly as scenic as the hoodoos that we passed on the way to and from. It was a stiff climb on the return hike, especially considering we were hiking at 8,000’ elevation.
Day 17: Cedar Breaks National Monument
It was another chilly, but beautiful morning. With the promise that temperatures would quickly rise from our 22 degree starting point, we decided to head up to Cedar Breaks National Monument. Cedar Breaks is sort of a mini-Bryce Canyon with sandstone colors and shapes to fascinate the imagination. It had been on my bucket list for years, but it was always still too snowy during our April visits and just never worked out for any of our fall visits.
The drive from Panguitch up to Cedar Breaks was beautiful, made even more so by the thousands of aspen trees in full fall color. I could have spent the entire day walking through the brilliant displays, but we had a trail to hike.
Crowds were light when we arrived at Cedar Breaks around 10:00. We made a quick stop at the small visitor center where we learned they’d had over 30 condors hanging around this summer! From there, we hiked the Ramparts Trail to Spectra Point and Ramparts Overlook. This 4.0 mile hike was even more spectacular than I had imagined. The colors of the amphitheater were spectacular, even more so than at nearby Bryce. And we had far reaching views up to Brian’s Head and down to the city of Kanab.
Between Spectra Point and Ramparts Overlook we saw several Bristlecone pine trees. We had seen them the week before at Great Basin National Park and apparently I hadn’t had my fill because I took many photos and marveled at them for some time. Maybe it is the fascinated biologist in me, but how can you not be impressed by living organisms that are 2,000 years old and can thrive at 10,000’ elevation?
Day 18: Lazy Day
On day 18 we enjoyed a day around the RV at Bear Valley RV Park. Highlights of the day included long, hot showers at the park’s spotless facilities, doing laundry, and watching some pro football games. I also enjoyed meeting our neighbor. Marc and his family have been full-timers for a year and are loving the lifestyle. Marc had many good tips and lots of encouragement for these newbies who have only been at it for 18 days! Thanks Marc and we hope to meet you on the road again some day!