Day 16 - Cedar City, UT - Zion NP - Valley of Fire - Baker - San Dimas, CA

Today we have a fairly tight schedule. We don't know when Robert and his family will arrive in San Dimas, but it won't be very late. We will have a shorter day than usual, and most of it will be high speed travel. It will also be through much hotter territory. We start at high altitude, but soon drop down into the desert.

Kolob Canyon

After breakfast in Cedar City, we head out. We simply must stop at the Kolob Canyons area of Zion, take the short drive and examine the trailheads. This section of Zion is accessible directly from the Interstate. We exit and begin the Kolob Canyon drive. We go directly to the end of the drive where the view was well beyond magnificent, simply indescribable. There are hanging canyons on multiple levels. The sun hangs just above the highest level, which makes photography difficult. Once here the desire to start off on the trail was overwhelming. The knowledge that the world's largest free-standing arch, Kolob Arch, was at the end of a trail that offered spectacular scenery made it very difficult to not just lock the car and start off. As a compromise, we stopped at the trailhead for the Middle Fork of Taylor Creek and walked a short way in along the trail. We could feel the air get cooler as we went down to the creekside and under the foliage. Kathy stayed back at the car and we soon heard her say, "That's far enough, guys. It's time to go now." Painful as it was, we turned around and went back to the car. Rebecca convinced her mother that we should make one last stop at the Visitor Center. She was able to find one more poster for her room and I picked up the trail guides for the area. Then we headed back out to the Interstate.

Now we head south along the base of the Hurricane Cliffs on I-15. After passing St. George, we take a short dip into Arizona and enter Nevada. Here the Grand Canyon lies just south of us, filled by Lake Mead. We have set aside a little time to drive through Valley of Fire State Park. Now it is really hot! We have no plans to get out and hike, even a short hike. We took the drive through the park, basically to get an idea of what the territory was like and what there was to do here. We stopped at the Visitor Center to get a drink of water and to check out the posters. Since there were no posters that met the high standards that had been established for this trip, we just picked up a road guide for the park and headed back to the heat of the car. We drove the rest of the way through the park and headed back to the Interstate to continue our drive home.

As we approach Las Vegas, we begin to worry about traffic, as it is a holiday tomorrow, but we encountered no problems in the drive by the city. However, I was unprepared for the sight we encountered as we approached the CA-NV border. The California kids knew all about it. Since I-15 has become the road that carries southern Californians to Las Vegas to gamble, the "logical" thing for Las Vegas to do is to move toward the border to meet the Californians. There a huge amusement park has been built (the kids have to do something!). The roller coaster can be seen for miles as the landscape is so flat here. Rebecca really wants to ride that roller coaster, but not today. I assume that there are casinos here too, but they are not so easily visible. Today we drive on by as the kids look longingly at the rides.

Now people are starting to get hungry. On this stretch of highway about the only option available is Baker. Baker exists only to serve the traffic between Los Angeles and Las Vegas; at least that is the only thing I can figure out. Rebecca and we stayed here in a very seedy motel one night when she was a little girl and we were on a spring vacation camping trip with her in the Mojave Desert. After several nights out, we had decided on a night in a motel, and this was the best we could find. We would have lunch today at the same restaurant we ate in that night, but the show would probably not be as good! That night, while we were eating, a long white limosine pulled up and disgorged a group of young men. They came into the restaurant and went straight to the restrooms. Rebecca was curious about this car, but the occupants had disappeared from view. After a while, they reappeared, single file, and marched through the restaurant with toilet seat protectors on their heads, to the astonishment of the people eating. They went straight out to the limo, got in and continued on to Las Vegas. Today the scene is different. It is vacation time; the huge thermometer says that it is 107° outside. The parking lot is crowded, and there is a short line of people waiting to be seated. Shortly we are seated and get our extra-large iced teas. The restaurant, the Bun Boy, is bustling, partly because it is the coolest place for many miles. Our meals come, standard family restaurant, semi-fast food fare. We eat, without a lot of enthusiam but methodically. Lots of iced tea is consumed. We all make use of the restrooms before going back to the car.

Zzyzx sign

As soon as we hit the other side of the Bun Boy's door, however, we realize that any excess moisture would have readily evaporated in this heat. We can feel the moisture being sucked out our pores. The first move is to open the car doors and let the heat that has built up escape. Then the motor gets started and the air conditioner goes on. In a few minutes the temperature in the car is tolerable again. We drive through what there is of Baker and get back on the interstate for the last leg into San Dimas. On the way we drive past the best exit in California, Zzyzx. After passing this exit many times, I had to finally at least get a photograph of the sign. This sign is for a road that leads off into the desert south of the highway to what was once a desert resort at a fresh water spring on the edge of Soda Lake. Unfortunately we have neither the time nor the vehicle to visit Zzyzx today. It is on past Barstow, then to Victorville, where at the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum, you may see Roy's horse, Trigger, stuffed and mounted and their jeep, Nelly Belle. I sometime wonder if Gabby Hayes is also stuffed and mounted there too, in some back room.

From Victorville and the Apple Valley part of the Inland Empire,, it is just a short drive to the San Andreas Rift Zone, over Cajon Pass and a quick drop down into San Bernadino, where we turn to the west, avoiding the city and join Interstate 10 not far east of the Ontario Airport. Here we are almost home, certainly well within the huge urban area that has overwhelmed this desert valley. At home we quickly unpack the car and get as much in order as we can. Robert and his family have not arrived yet so we have a little leeway to rinse off the dried desert sweat, get the trash out of the car, empty the ice chests and sort the clothes, toys and other extraneous material we find in the car. By the time Robert, Donna, Caitlin and Devin arrive, we look as if we have been here all day waiting patiently for them. After they have unloaded their car, we go out for a relaxing dinner with all the kids, who are overjoyed to see each other. The adults are all tired. Robert has had a long day driving from Tucson. We head for bed early (Steve and I stay at a local motel) so that we can have a full day tomorrow, the Fourth of July!


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See our map and guide reference section for trail maps and other useful information available from has over 3,500 maps.

Utah Atlas and Gazetteer, DeLorme Publishing.

Nevada Atlas and Gazetteer, DeLorme Publishing.

Southern California Atlas and Gazetteer, DeLorme Publishing.

Northern California Atlas and Gazetteer, DeLorme Publishing.

Roadside Geology of Utah, Halka Chronic, Mountain Press Publishing Company, Missoula, MT

Desert Solitaire, Edward Abbey, University of Arizona Press.

A Field Guide to Rock Art Symbols of the Greater Southwest, Alex Patterson

Images in Stone: Southwest Rock Art, Polly Schaafsma, David Muench (Photographer), Browntrout Pub.

Indian Rock Art of the Southwest, Polly Schaafsma, Univ. of New Mexico Press

Kokopelli: Fluteplayer Images in Rock Art, Dennis Slifer, James Duffield, Ancient City Press

Legacy on Stone: Rock Art of the Colorado Plateau and Four Corners Region, Sally J. Cole, Johnson Books

Petroglyphs and Pictographs of Utah: The East and Northeast, Kenneth B. Castleton, Univ. Utah Press

Postcard-Images in Stone Southwest Rock Art, Browntrout Pub.

Rock Art of the American Southwest , Fred Hirschmann (Photographer), Scott Thybony, Graphics Arts Center Pub.

The Rock Art of Utah: A Study from the Donald Scott Collection, Polly Schaafsma, Univ. Utah Press

The Archaeology of Rock-Art, Christopher Chippindale, Paul S. C. Tacon (Editors), Cambridge University Press

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For excellent writing about the Mojave Desert, see British author, Reyner Banham's Scenes in America Deserta.

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© 1995 - Karen M. Strom