May 14-19, 2016

This trip's group enjoying Calf Creek Falls in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

This trip's group enjoying Calf Creek Falls in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

The Zion And Beyond tour for NPCA and Off The Beaten Path spends six nights visiting Bryce & Zion National Parks and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Southern Utah. Sampling what geologists call the Grand Staircase by van and on foot, we also learn of the area's ecology. This spring trip experiences the desert in bloom and even touches a little snow at higher elevations while lower elevations are beginning to set seed in some cases. Weather, as always, is unpredictable and it's important to keep one eye on the sky and avoid sketchy roads and slot canyons if rain threatens.

Weather was definitely acting up for this week's trip. We caught a little rain now and then yet it was hardly enough to unpack the rain gear while on trail. We did experience a few good downpours while in our van's dry, heated comfort and saw the after effects of at least one hail storm. Kurt's luck holds out.

We got in some great hiking in spite of the threatening clouds walking three miles along Bryce Canyon's Rim, Six miles along Lower Calf Creek in GSENM, three miles along Observation Point trail in Zion NP, along with several other routes showing the region's varied terrain, geology, wildlife and wildflowers. Claret Cup was just beginning to bloom and Prince's Plume was out in lower elevations. Lizards weren't as visible as they would have been in warmer weather but we did see about thirty recently reintroduced bighorn sheep shortly after arriving in Zion. All in all a great trip with wonderful people.

Our next Zion And Beyond trip is a fall season excursion departing September 17 and I'm told it's almost at capacity. Be sure to check out our other trips if you can't get on this one.

Here are a collection of photographs I took during this trip. Selecting one will open a larger version on your screen.

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Hope to see you soon and TRAVEL SAFE.