Riding though Zion National Park, I found it hard to concentrate on the road. The vivid contrast between the red rock and the green trees made the whole place look like a living painting. There is so much beauty in the American west, and in the past week, I’ve been honored to see some of the most stunning places in the U.S., including the massive waterfalls in Twin Falls, Idaho and the breathtaking rock formations in Arches National Park.
Visiting such places on a motorcycle adds a whole new dimension to the adventure. Weather plays an important part in my journey. It’s been very hot so far on my trip. Yesterday it was 101 in Zion. To deal with it, I try to start my day very early and hydrate best I can. I have a water bladder tucked in my tank bag where I can drink from it while I ride. But sometimes the elements get to me. Traffic was stopped for an hour in Zion before the 1.1-mile-long tunnel and I had to sit there in the heat of the scorching sun and do nothing but wait. RVs that are 11.4” high or taller have to go through one at a time because they have to drive in the center of the two lanes. As a result, traffic was backed up in both directions for about half a mile. It was brutal and by the time I got through I felt sun burned and a little dizzy.
The Shoshone Bridge over Snake River Canyon in Twin Falls was my first main stop on my trip. It is right on the main highway, so it only takes a few minutes to wander down the stairs and take it all in, but oh my god, what a view!! It is 486 feet high and 1,500 feet across. I watched several people base jump off of it while I stood there watching in envy. It really looked like fun and reminded me of the time I did the bungee over the Ganga River in India.
Next, I went to Shoshone Falls. It is known as the Niagara Falls of the West for a good reason. It’s massive, at over 200 feet tall and 900 feet wide (depending on the water flow). I could have sat and watched the rainbows dance in the spray all day, but the road beckoned. The Twin Falls are only about another 5 minutes away. The flow over those falls wasn’t nearly as impressive.
From Twin Falls I rode about 300 miles to Arches National Park. I stayed the night in a little charming cabin in a RV Park and got an early start in the morning. There is a lot to see and many good hikes in Arches. The most famous of course is the one to the Arch itself. The trail is called delicate arch and is about 3 miles long. Take a lot of water and start early! It gets very hot there!
The brutal desert
I rode another 350 miles or so through the windy desert of Utah to Zion National Park. The ride was brutal and I hope I never have to do it again! I was getting blown around like sage brush in a wind storm. All that camping gear strapped on my bike doesn’t make me very aerodynamic. But the closer I got to Zion the more inviting the landscape became. I was never happier to see trees again! Trees, beautiful trees! Oh how I missed them, it had only been a couple of days, but they felt like long lost lovers to me.
I was extremely tired after my long ride and asked the universe for some guidance to help me find a good place to stay for the night. Five minutes later I saw a sign for Bauer’s Canyon RV Park. Well since Bauer is my last name, it was pretty clear to me, so I pulled in and set up camp for the night. The campground was full of international travelers. In fact, three French guys were camping right next to me. They had red wine! I can’t fit such luxuries on my motorcycle. The price I pay for adventure!
Zion National Park
Zion was so amazing I had to create a new word to describe it…”Omafying.” Riding through the park felt like a spiritual experience, well at least until I got stuck in a traffic jam in the brutal heat. Then it was back to reality. The main thing to do is to take the canyon shuttle (you can’t drive or ride through) to all the various stops and hiking trails. I had every intention of hiking, but I was feeling dizzy from the 101-degree heat and the shuttles aren’t air-conditioned either. Zion National Park rescuers deal with nearly one incident a day, and they are mostly caused from dehydration, sun exposure and over exertion. I took a bunch of incredible photos and then headed to the lodge for some food and beverage. Unfortunately, the line was so long to the grill that I ended up just having beer and beef jerky for lunch.
After lunch, I looked for a nice place in the shade where I could meditate. I found my spot under a bridge away from the crowds. I meditated for quite some time and afterward decided to go for a swim in the refreshing waters rushing by. That’s when I realized I forgot my swimsuit. No problem, no one was around so I went skinny dipping instead! The water felt heavenly and cooled me right down.
I spent the afternoon wandering around the quaint little town of Springdale, just outside of Zion. It is a cute little tourist town with lots of great rock and gem shops and restaurants. I found a great little shop with meditation crystals and essential oils. I picked up some peppermint to help me clear my lungs from all the dust and a sandstone pendent to match the bracelet I bought in India. I had some great Tex-Mex food in the restaurant next door and then headed to a nearby park to watch the tubers float by. I rode back to Bauer’s campground right at dusk and marveled at the beautiful golden tones reflecting on the mountain peaks. It made feel happy to be alive.