Zion Canyon

Zion to Bryce

Bryce Canyon

Bryce to Moab

Arches

Near Moab

Mesa Verde

Monument Valley

Glen Canyon

Grand Canyon

Lake Mead

The idea of touring the National Parks in the southwest United States occurred to us during our 2004 trip along the Lewis and Clark trail from Pittsburgh, PA to Williston, ND. Neither of us had ever been to one of these parks. Originally we had planned to drive our Jeep to Mesa Verde, Colorado to begin a tour of the so-called Grand Circle - National Parks in Southern Utah, Western Colorado, and Northern Arizona. After finding that it would take six days just to reach Mesa Verde (at our typical leisurely pace) we changed plans and decided to fly to Las Vegas and do the Grand Circle in a rental car.

The trip took 15 days - September 26 to October 11. Our original list of Parks had to be trimmed to fit the 15 day target, resulting in the menu items to the left. These include some state parks and scenic drives, but are primarily the major National Parks of the Grand Circle. We put 1,867 miles on the Chrysler Pacifica which was brand new when we picked it up at the Las Vegas airport.

The first thing that struck us as we traveled from Las Vegas to the northeast, enroute to Zion, was the aridity of the landscape. Nothing but desert. The second thing was the altitude, which became a factor at Bryce Canyon at 9,100 ft., somewhat inhibiting our hiking for a few days. We got used to it by the time we reached Moab, and were fine by the time we got to the Grand Canyon.

We also found that the parks are all very distinctive. No two are alike, even though they are all on the Colorado Plateau. The sedimentation and erosion patterns are all different.

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