Two things about Reno attracted us: One, we had never been there, and, Two, we had never heard anything nice about the city; therefore, we arrived in Reno not expecting much. As Gomer Pyle used to say, Surprise, Surprise! Reno is a beautiful city, with the Truckee River running through it. Of course, there is the glitz and glam, which is well done (compared to Vegas), but the in-town neighborhood is very pretty. We found a beautiful river walk so walked a couple of miles through the downtown and into a residential area. We saw beautiful outdoor art and lovely housing, and people fly fishing in downtown Reno!
From Reno, we went to the Olympic Valley where people were rafting in the Truckee River and visited the famous ski area. We traveled thru Lovelock, location of the prison that housed OJ Simpson. The scenery in that area is so beautiful!
From there we again drove through the Bonneville Salt Flats, probably the most awesome of all sites I have seen in our travels. It is just so surreal driving thru there. I thought we were on the moon the first time we drove thru the salt flats, which were created by the drying up of the Great Salt Lake. This is a “must-see” if you have not been there.
Then on to the picturesque towns of Provo where we visited Brigham Young University campus, and Springville, Utah.
We stopped in Park City, Utah for lunch and were totally impressed with the town. It is so quaint and so pretty. We drove around the town and over to Deer Valley Ski Area.
Note that the Federal Government owns 66.5% of Utah and 81% of Nevada! All this land is National Park land.
Our next stop is Bryce Canyon National Park. My goodness, the awesome scenery never stops! Bryce is home to the largest collection of hoodoos in the world. Hoodoos are eroded out of the cliffs where rows of narrow walls form. These thin walls of rock are called fins. Frost-wedging enlarges cracks in the fins, creating holes or windows. As windows grow, their tops eventually collapse, leaving a column. Rain further dissolves and sculpts these limestone pillars into bulbous spires called Hoodoos. The delicate climatic balance between snow and rain ensures that new hoodoos will emerge while others become reduced to lumps of clay. (National Park Service Brochure).
Hoodoos are obvious in the pix and video attached as is the overwhelmingly beautiful scenery in Bryce Canyon.
During our stay in this area we got a call from Andrew asking where we were. We told him Bryce Canyon, Utah, and much to his, and our surprise, he told us he and Ashley were in Zion National Park, where we were planning to go the next day. It was great meeting up with them for a surprise visit to Zion where we, again, enjoyed such beautiful scenery, it is hard to believe.
The next day, Andrew and Ashley went on to The Needles to hike in the canyons there where Neoprene shoes and socks are required to hike through water. We went to Moab to visit Arches National Park where we were 6000 feet up during a thunder/lightning storm; quite an electrical show. There are some 2000 arches in the park, we did not see them all!
In Arches National Park, we were in Salt Valley. We learned from message boards that beneath the valley floor lies a thick layer of salt. Formed by the evaporation of ancient oceans, the salt became thousands of feet deep. Over the next 290 million years this salt was buried by sand, silt and other sediments. Under pressure, the less dense salt rose into a dome, partly dissolved, and then collapsed, creating Salt Valley.
Then there is Upheaval Dome. Scientists hypothesize that Upheaval Dome is either the remnant of a meteorite impact or a salt dome uplift. Recent evidence favors the impact hypothesis.
And the Ancient Sand Dunes. Per the message boards, this vast area was once covered by extensive sand dunes. Some 20 million years ago, winds from the northwest carried tons of fine-grained sand into this area, creating an immense desert. Over time, the sand drifts were covered by other layers of sediment, compressed, and cemented by quartz and calcite into Navajo Sandstone. Erosion has since washed away the overlying layers exposing the “petrified” dunes.
Several canyons were carved by the Green and Colorado rivers. The Needles is on the east side of the carve outs and is referred to as “wild America.” It is difficult to describe this area as words are not adequate. Pictures don’t do it justice because they do not adequately portray how immense and beautiful this area is. It is amazing that one can drive along the highway surrounded by vistas that could easily be from another planet! (It has been compared to Mars). It is truly an area that must be seen to be believed. This part of Utah is one of, if not the most, beautiful areas we have seen in our three + years on the road. Earthquakes are rare in this area, otherwise these massive outdoor rock sculptures would splinter and collapse. The fact that over 2,000 still stand tells us this area has been stable for at least 50,000 years. The rocks in the pictures below were once buried by over a mile of other rock that had to erode to expose those beneath. Visitors a million years ago might have seen an endless flat plain dotted with vegetation. (Visitor Guide)
There are a large number of pix/videos included in this post in a small effort to show the immense beauty and awesomeness of this area which simply cannot be done even with pix/videos.