Friday, May 29, 2015

Driving Scenic Highway 12 through Utah

Red rock tunnel on Utah Highway 12
Utah Highway 12 is one of the state’s scenic byways. The byway stretches 124 miles through central Utah, running through two national and three state parks.

The byway is filled with stunning views of red rock formations, forests and just plain rugged landscapes is it connects U.S. Highway 89, a north-south route, a few miles south of historic Panguitch, with Utah  Highway 24 at Torrey.

It is not a route to be rushed as there are many opportunities for side trips off the route or stopping in small towns along the way.

We only drove the route from Highway 89 to Bryce Canyon City, which is the only entrance to Bryce Canyon National Park. This is a distance of only 13 miles and, unfortunately, only provided sampler of the beautiful scenery to come.
A section of Scenic Byway 12

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Parowan showcases ancient tribal rock art in Utah

Parowan petroglyphs
Parowan Gap in southern Utah is famous for two things. One is the pass through the Red Hills that started forming 15 million years ago. The second is the ancient petroglyphs carved into the mountainsides.

Known as a wind gap, the pass is a unique geologic feature formed millions of years ago when a river ran through the hills. The river dried up due to climactic changes, and the area is now known as the Escalante Desert.

The petroglyphs are an excellent example of Native American rock art, some of which dates back 1,000 years. Over the centuries, the Indians carved circles, and pictures of snakes, bears and people into the rocks. It is believed that the primitive drawings represent the work of several Native American cultures. The petroglyphs are on the National Register of Historic Places.

Parking with a vault toilet is available just east of the pass. There are sidewalks on both sides of the road through the gap. The petroglyphs are fenced off, because it’s illegal to touch them. They are, however easily visible from the sidewalks.

Getting there

Take the Highway 130/North Main exit off of Interstate 15 just north of Cedar City, Utah.  Disregard the tourist information that says to drive 13.5 miles on Highway 130 from the freeway exit. It’s actually several miles farther; in any case, stay on 130 until you reach the sign that points right to Parowan. The petroglyphs are a couple of miles down Parowan Gap Road.ighwy 130 from the Hi

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Pipe Spring monument worth a detour in northern Arizona

Mormon fort at Pipe Spring
Sometimes the most interesting sites pop up when you least expect it, like when you’re driving down the highway to another destination. That’s how we discovered Pipe Spring National Monument.

We were driving along Utah Highway 59 across northern Arizona when we saw a sign for it. We decided if it was less than 10 miles off the highway, we’d visit it. As it turned out, the monument, which is operated jointly by the National Park Service and Paiute Indian Tribe, is less than a half mile down the side road.

It was well worth the stop. There’s a small visitor center with interpretive exhibits and a 23-minute video explaining the significance of Pipe Spring. Outside, there are brush huts used by the Paiutes, a brick fort built by Brigham Young and other outbuildings, including corrals for animals.

Indian huts at Pipe Spring
Pipe Spring was an excellent source of water for the first users, the Kaibab Paiute Indians, who were followed by explorers, missionaries and other travelers who passed through this high-desert area of Arizona.

In the second half of the 1800s, Pipe Spring was part of Brigham Young’s plan to settle Utah, with residents pledging 10 percent of their cattle operation to the Mormon church. The cattle operation was not that successful, but the area became a haven for church polygamists.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Small Utah museum showcases Western movie sets

Old movie sets at Little Hollywood

Southern Utah’s rigged terrain, clear blue skies and wide open spaces make it a natural setting for Western movies and television shows.
More than 100 movies have been filmed in the Kanab area, a small town not too far north of the border with Arizona.
The first movie was filmed here in 1924, Deadwood Coach, starring Tom Mix. Others that followed include the original Stagecoach, filmed in 1939; 1939’s Drums Along the Mohawk, and Westward the Women (one of my favorites) in 1951, and The Outlaw Josey Wales, starring Clint Eastwood. TV series filmed here include Lassie, Wagon Train, Have Gun Will Travel and The Lone Ranger
Some stars, such as John Wayne and Dean Martin were in several movies filmed here.
IF you’re driving through Kanab, Little Hollywood Movie Museum makes for a pleasant stop. This free museum has a small collection of building fronts used as sets in various movies.   Placards identify the movies the particular building front was in. Several of the sets are from The Outlaw Josey Wales.
The museum is located at 297 W. Center Street, which is also known as US Highway 89.