Day 8

breakfast Zion Lodge go
We walk from our ground floor room to the main lodge in overcast, 40′ish temperature and light rain. Order breakfast from the menu – very civilized, white table cloth service. Nice start to the day.

 160 miles / 258 km

9 am walking and photo tour Zion National Park go
Strolling along the Virgin River toward the Narrows we gape at the incredible 5,000 ft. totems interrupted by slow drifting clouds. Without sun, the stone colors are dramatically muted. We try reading the 200 million year-old stories in Zion’s walls. There are myriad overlapping stories of how Zion came to be – plants and animals, mountains, deserts, moving oceans, blowing sand, and human attempts to live and nurture the environment. Harbored in remote arid terraces, shaded canyons and narrow gorges, a unique animal and plant life evolves. We see barely 1% of the park but will return to see the night sky show at the nature center, May solar eclipse, hike the Kolob Terrace Trails, drive a jeep in the back country. !!!!!!!!!!

11 am drive through eclectic, unique town of Springdale (pop 500+) on our way to St. George, Utah go
Beautifully nestled in red rock canyons. 3 million visitors come to this recreational area annually to hike, camp, bike, ride ATVs and horses, climb, canyoneer in slot canyons, and watch wildlife. The town’s outfitters, specialty shops, galleries, banks, variety of food and places to stay – posh, comfortable to rustic camp sites provide service to visitors. Advice: park the car and use the free shuttle service which runs April – November. We arrive St. George as sunlight brightens the breathtaking scenery, and cloud shapes swirl in the sky. Nature’s beauty does not require sunshine to appreciate, we just prefer it that way. St. George is named one of 50 Best Places to Live and Play in the USA by Nat’l Geographic. We test the notion on our visit – discover no fast food, a Historic District, 5 acre park for celebrations, Morman Temple (built 1871), 13 stunning Red Rock Golf courses, 30 miles of mountain bike trails, hidden canyons and high plateaus for moderate to challenging hikes, lively art scene, many galleries and museums, entertainment variety including a Jurassic world Dinosaur Dig! Seems “BEST” designation is well deserved.

1 pm catered lunch in private dwelling at Entrada Country Club Golf Condos go
A taste of living large and luxe. The spacious artistically curated home is built right on the golf course – with views of distant mountains and a gathering storm. The entire home or parts of it are available for rental and/or purchase.

2 pm visit Snow Canyon State Park go
We stop at the Tuacahn Amphitheatre go on the way in. Red rocks provide backdrop to this treasure used for seasonal concerts, special events and “Broadway in the Desert” performances (this year Aladdin and Hairspray). Only the ancient Roman amphitheater in Taormina, Sicily is set more beautifullyFurther up the canyon road, the park is tucked amid lava flows and soaring sandstone in a strikingly colorful and fragile desert landscape. Often used in Hollywood films, it was home to Indians from AD 200 to 1800′s. We come to see and walk the remarkable red Petrified Sand Dunes, 2,500 ft thick, cemented into stone over time. In the distance (1-4 miles away) white sandstone, sparse juniper stands and black lava flows are visible. Horseback riding, technical climbing, hiking and biking are possible to do’s. We leave reluctantly.

4 pm last stop Mesquite go
We’ve come full circle on our 8-day trip as we explore the town’s humble pioneer beginnings and original buildings. In a self-guided Virgin Valley Museum tour, we learn about daily life in a simpler time and see treasured objects, antiques, vintage quilts, old telephones, wedding dresses and whiskey still. There’s a picture gallery, dozens of historical books, media center and 1920s parlor room furnished with antiques and traditional room decor. Free year-round, the Museum is right near the Fine Arts Gallery. Mesquite has advanced into a world-renowned golf destination so we check out the Palms Golf Course go with its panoramic Virgin Valley view go (actually just across the border in Arizona), elevated tees playing over deep arroyos and canyons imagining serene desert golf on this 18-hole championship golf course whose fairways are lined with Palm trees. There’s professional instruction, a driving range, equipment rentals and a first-class practice facility. We are here at sunset just after a big storm has gone through and the views over the golf course are dramatic and impressive! We celebrate with drinks and snacks.

6 pm final farewell dinner at Virgin River Sierra’s Buffet go
A final celebratory dinner (this is their prime rib special night) at this fine restaurant. We dine very well and share our experiences of this incredible out of Vegas exploration.

fly from Las Vegas McCarran Airport go
Time to go. Short, easy drive from Mesquite. We collapse, satiated, comfortably on flight home. Lot to savor.

Day 8 photos
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