Spring Break in Utah – Part 1

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I got positive feedback on my trip to Alaska, so I thought I’d take a moment to share a previous trip (don’t worry, this isn’t a 26 day chronicle, just 2 posts). Southern Utah is one of my favorite places in the US to ride, and almost two years ago to the day I took off a few days out of my Spring Break from grad school to explore. Enjoy!

I started with brunch with the girlfriend, and then it’s time to hit the road!

The first planned stop was actually a day in Vegas with some fellow classmates. Near Calico Ghost Town, I found some entertaining backroads to explore.

More exploring.

Vegas! Caught some March Madness and the usual crap, and it’s off to Zion the next day.

My first time in Zion. Even views from the cheap motels were nice.

Meet Baby Jack (Skellington), my travel buddy. If you want to know why I bring a stuffed animal along on moto trips, here’s your explanation. Here we are entering the park to try and catch the sunset.

The view from Canyon Junction

Even though it was 40 degrees outside, there were plenty of people trying to take quality photos of the sunset.

Saw this guy on my way back to the motel after sunset.

Thanks to ADVRider, I learned of a dirt road called Smith Mesa that provides a more exciting entrance into the park, so the next morning I doubled back and tried to find it.

Eventually, you have to detour around Hurricane Mesa Test Facility – which makes me think of Half-Life.

Heading towards Zion on Smith Mesa. The road is in generally good shape, though there are some serious ruts caused by trucks trying to navigate the road when it’s muddy.

Ha.

Encountered some wild horses but I could never get closer than this without scaring them away.

Entering Zion NP.

Also near Zion is the ghost town of Grafton. I decided to check it out, and encountered this sign.

Grafton – only 3 buildings remain from a settlement formed by Mormons fleeing religious persecution.

Baby Jack takes a break.

Also checked out the Grafton Cemetery.

Four years after the town was founded, a series of disease and freak accidents killed a large percentage of the population. Most deaths were from diptheria, but two teenage girls died when a swing broke! And a young boy was dragged to death by a horse. Then there was the Berry family. All 3 members of the family were killed by Navajo raiders, and the entire town fled to safety soon after.

Heading back to the park…did I mention it was COLD? Hooray for heated gear.

One of the most interesting features of Zion is a 1.1 mile tunnel cut out of the rocks back in the 30s. There are a few cutouts in the rock, like the one in this photo.

That same cutout from inside the tunnel.

Leaving the park, I caught this guy making a ridiculous face.

And then two guys play fighting.

Something else I found on ADVRider while trying to plan a route – Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, the largest no-kill shelter in the US.

Behind the shelter is this sign, which commands you to explore.

On the unimproved road is Angels Rest, a pet cemetery. I had to take a look.

Lots of pet graves, including “Spud”. Great name for a rabbit.

No comment.

Approaching Horseshoe Bend – you can sort of see the silhouette from here.

Horseshoe Bend

Yours truly pondering if I should wait for sunset to try some more photos. I decided not to.

Thus ended Day 3. Days 4-6 will come in a follow-up post coming soon…

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