Category Archives: National Parks

Jasper National Park and The Icefield Highway

After enjoying all Banf NP had to offer,  we headed up the Icefield Parkway, past the glaciers and two bears! This road is extremely beautiful, with glacial streams, wildflowers, majestic mountains and the glaciers. One thing it doesn’t have is fuel for the RV, so we gassed up in Lake Louise at 6:30 in the morning. The only fuel available the entire length of the Icefields Parkway is at Saskatchewan River Crossing.


Our first fun stop of the day was at Herbert Lake, where we had breakfast and walked down to the lake. We then drove by Crowfoot Glacier, Bow Glacier, and Peyto Lake. We stopped frequently for Charlie to take pictures and Woolly Bear to romp around.  We stopped Midway at the Icefield Centre near Sunwapta Pass,  and were dismayed to see how much the Glacier has melted since our last visit.

At the Junction of 93A we passed Athabaskan Falls and then the trailhead to a favorite hike of mine, the Valley of Five Lakes. Finally we arrived at Whistlers Campground in Jasper National Park. Our site was 26F, and was a nicely wooded site with a picnic table and no visible neighbors. No hookups, but perfect for the three of us!

We are heading to Hinton next, for a day of grocery shopping and laundry doing. The next day we will be on our way to the Alaskan Highway via the Big Horn Route and will be camping in some Provincial Parks we haven’t visited before. We can only post gen we have wifi, so it may be a while before I can update you on our trek. No worries, will catch you up when I can!

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Banff and Yoho National Parks

IMG_1035After spending three nights at Glacier National Park, we headed the camper North to Banff. Our plan was to camp at Tunnel Mountain 2 at the same site we had camped at two years ago. It was an end site with views of both mountains and meadows, and I knew that Woolly Bear would have room to chill.

We were dreading our trip through Canadian Customs, as we received the full camper search two years ago. I made sure all was neat and tidy, even to the point of making sure we only had clean clothes! We drove up to the window and were amazed that after a few cursory questions we were happily sent on our way!

We stayed in Banff at Tunnel Mountain 2, with electric hookups, but we spent a day in Yoho National Park, visiting Emerald Lake and Takakkaw Falls. Yoho is a very scenic place, and we really need to spend more time there in the future. We also stopped at Lake Louise and Charlie took some pictures. There is a lovely hike up to a tea house on the side of the lake, we hiked it when Woolly Bear was younger. I was the only one of the three of us that wanted to hike it again, so we headed next to Morraine Lake.

The road to Morraine Lake was closed!!! Apparently there were too many people there, and you really need to visit it before 8:30 am, or after 7 pm.  We had spent lots of time there on previous trips, so our disappointment was not devastating and we just headed off to check out the Bow Lake wildlife loop. Even that was more crowded than I had remembered it being on past visits. Then I remembered that Canada is celebrating a very special 150th Canada Day this weekend! No wonder everyone was out and about! Entrance to all the National Parks and National Historic sites are free this season, and from the looks of the crowds, people are enjoying this!

 

 

Yosemite and Snow!!!

P1070091After spending time at Sequoia NP we drove a bit north to Yosemite. We were fortunate to be able to secure 3 nights camping in the park, as reservations often fill minutes after the availability opens. At first it looked like we would need to move camp each day, but once in the park the Reservations desk ranger helped me find a site for two nights, meaning only one move during our stay. We camped at the Upper Pines Campground in sites 102 and 112, no electricity or water and $20 per night.  Of the two sites, 102 was the best as it backed up to the woods and had plenty of space for WB. Site 112 was also spacious, but the adjacent campsite, with a family with two small wandering children, had their campfire within 20 ft of our camper. A bit too close for my comfort!

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John Muir, Ansel Adams, and Teddy Roosevelt were all correct about Yosemite being a very special place  in need of preservation!  It is one of the most beautiful places we have ever visited. And, because of the snow, Tioga Pass and Glacier Point Roads were still closed. But the valley itself is magnificent, Yosemite Falls, Vernal Falls and Bridal Veil Falls were all surging down to the valley. The meadows were beginning to bloom, and I had my coffee each morning while watching the sun progress over Half Dome!

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Yosemite is also one of the most dog friendly national parks we have visited. Woolly Bear was allowed just about anywhere on the 12 mile paved bicycle loop that traverses the valley. He could also walk on paved paths to the lower falls, and we did take him on dirt paths that did not forbid dogs. Yosemite has a kennel in the summer for pets,  but it was still in the 50’s most days, so he could safely stay in the camper while we hiked.

There is a free shuttle bus for hikers, and a for fee bus from the nearby commercial campgrounds and hotels. It is very easy to get around the Yosemite Valley.

P1070025Our visit came to an abrupt end on Thursday evening when we overheard the Ranger telling another camper that  6 to 12 inches of snow was expected the next morning! We have no desire to drive in that type of weather, and we knew we could not get another day’s campsite, so we left that evening and drove to a KOA 23 miles outside the park, but at a much lower elevation. Friday morning we had a cold, steady rain, and the Yosemite to Sequoia area got the predicted snow.

Yosemite is a very special place that we need to return to at a time when the mountain passes are open and we can truly appreciate the entire park! Maybe mid July some year??? With reservations made well in advance!P1070039

 

Sequoia National Park

P1060971Sequoia National Park was a great place to spend the Easter weekend so far away from home. The weather was beautiful, both sunny and warm. We spent several days checking out both Sequoia and Kings Canyon and driving the steep and winding roads. We had tried to rent a car so that we could spare our Winnebago the hilly workout, but both of the area rental car businesses had no cars left due to the holiday weekend. This took us by surprise, but we dealt with it and drove the long way around to avoid the really steep section of highway 198.

The pictures don’t begin to show the magnificence of the General Sherman Tree or the other ancients. The campgrounds were not all open yet, nor were all the roads, but we managed to see the majority of the parks. We both agree that Sequoia NP is a place we would like to visit again, a bit later in the season, so that all roads have opened.

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Moab Rocks!

P1060803After our day at Capitol Reef we traveled to Arches National Park, only to find the campground full. The timing of our visit coincides with the annual Jeep safari, and Moab is crawling with Jeeps! We ended up at a KOA with full hookups and a nice view of the surrounding rocks.

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We hiked in Arches on two days, then traveled to Canyonlands National Park. Both are right here in Moab, and the town itself is pretty cool, too.  The entire area is scenic and enjoyable. Not only have we hiked, but we have watched the rock climbers and the jeeps, all very interesting. I will let the pictures speak for themselves!

Jeeps in campground

Jeeps in campground

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We  are moving tomorrow, headed for Nevada and California, so I don’t  know if I will be able to access the internet for a few days. Will post when I can, thanks for reading.

View at Canyonlands NP

View at Canyonlands NP

Bryce Canyon NP and Kodachrome State Park, Utah

Hoodoos at Bryce Canyon

Hoodoos at Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon NP follows the plateau rim for approximately 18 miles of amazing views of the hoodoos, fragrant pine forests, and elevations ranging from 7,700 to over 9,000 feet above sea level. Because of the high elevation, the temperature tends toward the cool side, with freezing temps the norm each night.

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We visited Sunrise, Sunset, Inspiration and Bryce Point. Woolly Bear was allowed to hike above the rim between Sunrise and Sunset Points. Then he stayed in the camper while Charlie and I hiked below the rim into the hoodoos of the Bryce Ampitheater. We took the Queen’s Garden Trail toward Thors Hammer.  We also hiked some at Fairyland Point, which is a smaller amphitheater of hoodoos. There is still snow in many places, and we were pleased that the road to Rainbow Point was clear and open for us. We spent one day just driving through the park and stopping at each view point , including Farview Point, the Natural Bridge, and Agua Canyon.

View from Rainbow Point

View from Rainbow Point

On our last day in Bryce we took a twenty mile road trip to Kodachrome State Park along scenic Rt 12. The Kodachrome Basin is a spectacular area of towering sandstone chimneys. There are 70 monolithic spires, ranging from 6 ft to 170 ft in height. The color and contrast prompted the National Geographic Society to name the park Kodachrome in 1949. And yes, Kodak Film Corp gave their blessing to the name!

Sand spire at Kodachrome State Park

Sand spire at Kodachrome State Park

We loved the fact that Woolly Bear could hike anywhere in the state park, provided he was on a leash.  But, we have to watch him with the strong sun and high elevation to make certain he is drinking enough and not over heating. We hiked to Angel’s Palace, which had magnificent views. Then put the WB in the camper before doing a bit more hiking. One can camp at Kodachrome, but reservations are a must this time of year. Every site was taken! We paid an $8 day use fee to hike at Kodachrome. It might have been the best $8 we have spent this trip!

We wanted to add more pictures, but our campground wifi is not cooperating! Will add the Kodachrome pictures when we have better service. We are on the road today, headed for Utah’s remaining three national parks: Capital Reef, Canyonlands and Arches. Will post about them when we have internet!

 

 

The Grand Canyon, Arizona

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After leaving Carlsbad Caverns we headed north toward the Grand Canyon. We spent two days on the road and camped at the Flagstaff KOA for two nights in order to sit out another windstorm. On the way we drove through the Petrified Forest National Park. We sat out the wind storm and took care of laundry and hiked in the National Forest adjacent to the KOA while waiting for the wind to die down.  The wind was brutal, but at least we didn’t have the dust we had at Big Bend! I am still trying to rid the camper of Texas dust!

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We had a short drive from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon, and camped in the park at Mathers Campground for 20 dollars a night, no hookups. Our site was spacious and gave Woolly Bear plenty of room to roam! Site 137 , if you are interested. Elk visited the campground each day, western bluebirds were abundant, and huge ravens were everywhere. We walked the  greenway walking/ bicycle path to the market plaza and the rim, about 1.3 miles one way. There is a free shuttle bus, but dogs cannot ride, so we walked a lot!

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We spent five nights at Mathers Campground and hiked mostly above the rim(13 miles) because Woolly Bear could walk with us. He was not allowed below the rim on the trails. Twenty five years ago, we had visited and hiked the Bright Angel trail into the canyon. Now we were perfectly happy to roam the canyon rim on a well marked trail with very few other people! What a difference a few decades make.

 

Western Bluebird

Gray headed Junco

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We had some mechanical issues with our sprinter van, and spent one whole day driving back and forth from Flagstaff for the necessary parts. Fortunately Charlie is handy, and in consultation with both my brother Bob and his brother Pete, the  RV was soon in running order again.

Our last full day at the Grand Canyon was spent with another short rim hike, a visit to Verkamps Visitor Center, a visit to the Yavapi Point and Geology Museum, and a road trip to Desert View, with a stop at the Tusayan Museum and Ruin. We hiked the watchtower at Desert View, then had to wrestle the wind on the return trip of 25 miles. The wind was gusting up to 65 mph, and our little camper is very difficult to handle in serious crosswinds! The winds died down over night, and we left camp before 7:00 am to head for Zion National Park in Utah.

Watch Tower at Desert View

Watch Tower at Desert View

We did not have cell service or wifi, nor electricity for the 6 days we were at the Grand Canyon, so this entry is a bit behind. Our temperatures have been downright chilly, sometimes dipping as low as 18 degrees at night. We are expecting the weather to shift to a warmer, kinder climate in the next week or so.