Buckskin Gulch, Zion, Coral Pink Sand Dunes, St. George Petroglyphs, Lehman Caves, Mt. Meadows Massacre, Cathedral Gorge, and more...

By Phil Konstantin

This is a collection of photos of my trip through Utah, Arizona, and Nevada in August 2009.

Scroll down to find the links to the pages with the photos.

I traveled through all of these areas with my friend Haylee Nez, and her two children Shandiin and Tristan. Haylee has lived in, or around, this area all her life. So, she knows lots of people, great little places to see, and things to do. Shandiin, 10, is a budding artist, and Tristan has enough energy to encourage anyone. He is a great natural climber. It was fun looking at some of these places through their eyes.

We started by going through the Kolob section of Zion National Park. While it is just off of Interstate-15, most visitors to Zion miss this part of the park. The next day we visited the main part of Zion. Haylee really wanted to explore some slot canyons (very narrow & very high), as did I. She knew the Virgin River got narrow, so she wanted to give it a go. To get to the really narrow sections of the canyon, you have to occasionally wade through waist deep water. Well, the river is cold. Wading through cold water up to your waist (with small kids) was more than we could handle at the time, so we just went a short distance upstream. We tried to access another slot canyon on the east side of the park, but a special permit was required, and wasn't available. I have been to Zion several times, and love it.

So, still seeking some slot canyons, we considered visiting Antelope Canyon on the Navajo reservation. Haylee's kids are Navajo, and she lived on the reservation for some time. The local requirement to hire guides and get reservations made us look elsewhere. I found out about the slot canyons along the Paria River, north of the Grand Canyon. Buckskin Gulch - Wire Pass Trail is reported to have the longest slot canyons in the world (12 miles long). We headed there and were not disappointed. A check with the local BLM office in Kanab told us the best place to start: Wire Pass Trailhead. This is also the start of the trail to "The Wave." I had heard about The Wave before. It is an amazing sandstone formation. To help preserve the delicate rocks, the BLM only allows 20 people a day to hike in that area. Permits are VERY hard to get. So, we did not try for the Wave and set out for the slot canyons. We found several places where logs had gotten stuck between the narrow canyons walls. It is a great reminder that there have to be 40 foot (or higher) flash floods for a log to get stuck 40 foot up in the canyon walls. I have photos of some of these in the pages below. It was an amazing place.

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is a place I had also wanted to visit for many years. I have seen some pictures. I had also seen it as I flew from Phoenix to Salt Lake City on a couple of trips. It was in the area, so we went by. We were surprised by the temperature of the sand. It was warm outside. The top of the sand was warm. However, just an inch below the surface, the sand was cool. I have never experienced anything like this in desert sands. The colors were interesting.

Haylee has family in St. George. She had once visited some unique petroglyphs as a child there. They are located in the Santa Clara River Reserve, between St. George and the Shivwits Reservation, (near Ivins, Utah) on State Route 18. They are unique in that many of the drawing on done on flat, ground-level rocks. You can walk on them, if you are not careful. I liked how the kids were very careful to avoid stepping on all of these ancient markings. This area is also called Anazasi Ridge and the Tempi'po'op Trail.

While we were traveling from St. George to our next destination (Lehman Caves), we happened across the scene of the infamous Mountain Meadows Massacre. In 1857, the United States and the Mormons in Utah (Deseret) were in a major conflict about the administration of the region. There were considerable concerns the Army would move into the area to restore federal authority over the region. A local Mormom militia became aware of a large group of people moving through the southern part of their region. Fearing they were undercover federal forces posing as settlers, they intercepted them. A fight broke out. Eventually, the group was convinced to surrender. They were then executed by the militia. Many men, women and children were killed. It turns out, the group was only a civilian wagon train bound for places further west. Part of the controversy surrounding the incident was if the Mormon hierarchy was aware of the incident, and if they approved of it. There was also concerns that the militia intentionally set things up so the killings would be blamed on the local Paiute Indians. I knew the scene was somewhere in southwestern Utah, but I did not realize it was on our path. I have read quite a few things about this incident. There is LOTS of information about it on the internet, if you want to learn more.

Another serendipitous find was Cathedral Gorge in eastern Nevada. I saw the tops of the rocks from US 93 north of Panaca, Nevada. Haylee suggested we check it out when we saw the road to Miller's Point. I'm glad she did. It is a fascinating place, which features some unusual erosion patters. Like Buckskin Gorge, it has some very narrow and high passageways between the rocks. We went back from Miller's Point to the park's main entrance in order to see the rest of the area from the ground level. I recommend checking it out if you are ever in the area.

Our next stop was Lehman Caves in Great Basin National Park. Haylee had been here many years ago. I have enjoyed spelunking in Texas, Arizona, Utah, California, New Mexico and 'old' Mexico. Lehman Caves is an interesting place. It is part of Wheeler Peak (one of the highest peaks in Nevada (13,000+ feet). It is known in caving circles for its 'shield' formations. We all enjoyed our ranger-led trip through the cave.

Across the main road from Lehman Caves is Baker Archeological Village. It is an ancient Fremont culture site, which has been abandoned for many centuries. All of the structures which are left are either foundations, or below ground. So, there is little to actually see, except for some berms built up to protect the ancient walls, and the park interpretive trail markers. I photographed the entire tour guide which you can carry with you as you explore the area.

During our travels, we crossed the western Utah desert several times; we hunted for sunstones on Sunstone Knoll (south of Delta, Utah); and we skirted Sevier Dry Lake & Notch Peak. We saw some beautiful sunsets, and as Buzz Aldrin called it, some 'magnificent desolation.' I put these unclassified photos into a group called Various Other Photos.

I also complied the photos I took while Flying from San Diego to Phoenix to Salt Lake City to Las Vegas and to San Diego. This section has photos of the Salton Sea, Phoenix, the Grand Canyon, desert sand storms, and other parts of the American Southwest as seen from on high.

It was a great adventure. ENJOY!

This map shows the major groupings of photos

1. Zion North - Kolob Section
2. Zion Main
3. Buckskin Gulch
4. Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
5. St. George Petroglyphs
6. Mountain Meadows Massacre Site
7. Cathedral Gorge
8. Lehman Caves
9. Baker Village



Check out each of these pages to see the photos of where we went:

Zion National Park

Buckskin Gulch - Wire Pass Trail - Slot canyons 3 feet wide by 100+ feet high

Coral Pink Sand Dunes

St. George Petroglyphs - Anazasi Ridge - Tempi'po'op Trail - Santa Clara River Reserve

Mountain Meadows Massacre site

Cathedral Gorge, Nevada

Lehman Caves, Nevada

Baker Archaeological Village

Various Other Photos

My flight there and back




My Main page

My KUSI-TV page

(copyright © Phil Konstantin, 2009)