Lakes, mountains, and deserts. We made a big move through Utah since our last update. We were worried about the onset of winter. Not anymore. We are now in the desert and it is plenty warm (hot).
Winter can come at any time in the higher elevations in Utah. For the last two weeks, winter was our expectation and it the reason we departed Heber City and made a one-day dash to Saint George. If it was earlier in the fall, we would have stopped, at least once or maybe two or three times to visit different areas. We escaped the cold weather, which is threatening the northern Rocky Mountain states starting tomorrow. Now we are at the very north edge of the desert.
As anyone can see, lakes mountains, and deserts have been a running theme in our travels. Our last two travel posts have been about lakes and mountains. Here are links quick links; Stunning Big Sky and Quiet at the Lake. It is also true that for the last three years our travels start and end in the desert.
Two weeks ago we spent the week at Hyrum Lake State Park in a small town south of Logan Utah. This was the second time we stopped at Hyrum in the last three years. This time the water level was much lower than it was in the spring. We love parking with our windshield facing the water. We did the same thing at our previous stop in Idaho.
Bill and Kathy met us in Idaho and we traveled together for three stops. They were able to get matching reservations at Hyrum with us, and then we coordinated our stop at Heber City, leaving on the same day for Saint George.
After much encouragement from Tami, Kathy drove their RV (second time ever). Bill and Kathy departed the Saint George area two days before we did. Kathy was at the wheel when they drove through the Virgin River Gorge area on Interstate 15. This area is at the bottom of the canyon, steep and very windy. She must be getting good as it is not an easy road.
While at Hyrum we made a day trip to Bear Lake in the far northeast corner of Utah. While on our drive, we saw some of the results of hurricane-force winds that ripped through Utah only a week before our arrival. Bear Lake is another place with beautiful water. The lake is huge, half in Utah and half in Idaho. Utah has turned their half of Bear Lake into a state park, the Idaho half is just another Idaho lake (or so I think). As we were crossing the pass at Bear Lake Summit, the weather turned cold. It was still cold when we ate lunch in Garden City at the edge of the lake. It was mild when we left Hyrum Lake and very pleasant by the time we got back to Hyrum Lake.
During our visit, we decided that we didn’t need to go back to Bear Lake to camp anytime in the near future. (I write this partially so that I will remember my thoughts.) The water was beautiful, but the mountains surrounding the lake really needed some trees.
Tami and Kathy also made a day trip to Logan which is about ten miles north of Hyrum and while there took some nice pictures of the LDS temple. This is Utah after all and the LDS temples are pretty. This one looks like a castle in England.
So we went from Idaho, relaxing at Jefferson Lake — to Utah, relaxing at Hyrum Lake and then to a mountain Valley, south of Park City Utah. Each morning for the last two weeks was a little colder. First, it was just a little colder in Idaho, then at Hyrum Lake, it was a little colder but the temperature changes each day became obvious at our next stop in Heber Cite. As we were staying in Heber City the temperature at sunrise was nearly freezing. Thankfully it was still above freezing. Heber City is a higher elevation than both of our stops at lakes. Winter usually arrives about Halloween in these parts.
We had a good week there and took Bill and Kathy for a good look around Park City. We also went down Provo Canyon to Bridal Veil Falls. After that, we drove the Alpine Loop, which starts in Provo Canyon, follows the north fork of the Provo River, past Sundance, and then over the mountain back to the Heber Valley. We turned east at Forest Road 114 and we stopped at Cascade Springs and then down a freshly paved road to Soldier Hollow.
We also made family visits in Provo. it was very good to see the family. Our Utah plan was to go to Tami’s high school reunion — which was postponed due to the virus problem gripping the country. Hopefully, we can put all of this behind us maybe they will reschedule before another ten years pass.
There would have been so many nice places to stop between Heber City and Saint George, but as I said before, we skipped them to make sure we didn’t get caught by an early winter day. We already had one winter day, on Labor Day, during our stay in Montana. The cold wind takes some of the fun out of this kind of travel, but so does hot weather.
We stopped north of Saint George for three nights at Quail Creek State Park, right on the edge of Quail Creek Reservoir. I was trying to keep up our theme of lakes even though we broke the string in Heber. We already knew about Quail Creek Reservoir from our previous stop at Sand Hollow early in 2018. The last time we were here we visited Zion and Bryce National Parks. Here is a link. (Camping at Sand Hollow).
So the terrain at Quail Creek wasn’t a surprise to us. What was a surprise was the heat, the lack of water, and the campground. Pictures taken during our 2018 visit have snow on the mountains. Nothing like that during this visit. While there we decided we like spring in Saint George, with a threat of snow –more than the fall.
We knew enough to expect that heat was a real possibility. We didn’t anticipate the lack of water in the reservoir, but this is fall and this too should not surprise to anyone.
The campground was very difficult to park in (unlike Sand Hollow). The campground was obviously designed for campers in the 1960s, not in 2020. We had more than one hundred feet of asphalt in our campsite and not one section was level. This made parking our RV a real challenge. After both Tami and I looked at it, while our RV was still in the boat parking lot, I asked the park staff if there were any options. There were none. So we made the best of it, parked on the crest of the hill, and used every trick we had learned in the last two years to level our RV. This included stacking blocks on the downhill side and digging a hole under our stairs on the uphill side.
We left Quail Creek State Park on Friday and made a quick hundred-mile drive to Nellis Air Force Base, which is the place we spent the entire spring due to the virus lockdown. The day we left Nellis the temperature peaked at one hundred degrees. We got back and the temperature is only in the low nineties. I think we arrived in the desert a week too early.
Here is a link to our departure post from Nellis. Ground Hog Day, we leave tomorrow
You could say we made a loop but that would be a simplification. Our path was almost to Canada and included Glacier National Park. This time visiting Canada sadly wasn’t an option due to the virus containment efforts. What we did was see lots of new territory in the states we had already visited. Did we see it all? Not even close.
Lakes, mountains, and deserts always seem to be the theme of our travels. This year our focus paid off big, we had a great time seeing great places in the Rockies. The remainder of the year won’t include lakes and we will only cross the mountains, but we are going to get a big taste of more deserts.
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