Monday, May 28, 2012


Hurricane, Utah, is a kind of gateway town to Zion National Park, and is close to the city of Saint George. It was a good place to spend a few days to re-supply from the relative remoteness of the last three stops. But, with Zion nearby, there were still plenty of opportunities for adventure.

Firstly, we found ourselves a short distance from a well known mountain bike trail: Gooseberry Mesa. We headed out on our first morning, to beat the heat of the day. We drove up and out of the valley on the paved road and skirted the mesa. Then we turned onto a packed dirt road, and were thankful that it was relatively smooth, after beating the truck up so badly in Escalante. But we were in for another pounding. Another turn, and the road up to the mesa top was vehiclular torture. It was too rough to take at speed - we just had to suffer each and every rut, washboard, ridge and pothole. After five or six miles of truck abuse we at last arrived at the trailhead, about 2000' higher, and 10 degrees cooler, than town.

We struck out down the Jeep trail that bisects the mesa and rode until Nancy felt "half-done", ready to turn around. But first we took a side trail to an overlook on the north edge, looking towards Zion National Park:

I rode on from there, taking on the single-track trails that make Gooseberry Mesa a destination for mountain bikers. New favorite trail! Sinuous, technical, through desert scrub, over vast areas of slickrock, and along jagged cliff edge with 1000' dropoffs. It was challenging, but 100% ridable, with a huge fun-factor and amazing views. Damn near perfect!

The trail follows the razor edge of the mesa:

At the top of the Goose:

We also went out for walks with Toby. On one of them we found our way down to the Virgin River, hoping to dip our feet, and for Toby to swim, in its cool waters. Nope. Firsly, we were tormented by biting flies, the first insect pests we've encountered since crossing the Mississippi. Secondly, the river water was HOT. Not tepid, not warm. Hot. Apparently a hot spring bubbles up into the river just upstream, and I estimate the water temperature was around 100 degrees. Not refreshing AT ALL! Pretty, though:

For another walk we scoped out the trails on Hurricane Rim, hoping to find more Nancy-friendly mountain bike trails. These weren't, but we enjoyed a good hike with views of the valley, towns of Hurricane and La Verkin, and the mountains beyond:

A drive up along the freakishly blue waters at Quail Creek State Park...

...and into Red Cliffs Recreation Area brought us to a creekside trail up into a deep canyon:

Many people hiked up in there to a place where the creek had carved a natural waterslide into a deep pothole, and they could slide and jump into the deep, cool, green waters. It was water-park crowded and crazy up there, so we sought out the more peaceful corners where we could wade, and Toby could swim. Very nice.

And we couldn't well spend time in this area without a trip into Zion National Park. To escape the heat and the Memorial Day weekend crowds, we instead drove up Kolob Terrace Road, a much less visited part of the park. The road climbed up to 8000 feet, where we turned off to stop at Lava Point Overlook. It was refreshingly cool up there, 30 degrees cooler than in the valley, and very windy. It was beautiful. All of Zion is beautiful.

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