Sunday, March 4, 2007

Cedar City, Utah - Hiking and Sightseeing

A couple weekends ago, I headed back down to southwest Utah to explore some of the same places that I did with Rob and Tim back in January. This time, the weather was much warmer, and I had a new adventure buddy to test out - John.

John at Meadow Hot Springs

Our first stop was a place called Meadow Hot Springs, just south of Fillmore, and not too far off I-15. This was my first time at this spring and it was great - the water was crystal clear and about 100 degrees F. Not super hot like some other springs, but warm enough to take a swim on a cold February morning.

Meadow Hot Spring

Meadow Hot Spring

After the hot springs, we headed south to Cedar City to meet up with Tim. Tim has been living in Cedar City while attending school at Southern Utah University.

Meeting up with Tim in Cedar City

I love Tim and I love Cedar City! Cedar City reminds me a lot of my hometown back in Massachusetts. It's small and quiet, but it has pockets of hipness, and a college town vibe.

Our first adventure in Cedar City was to an old mine called the Blowout Pit, located west of town. It goes by the nickname 2000 Flushes due to the bright blue water at the bottom of the closed mine. It's where all the Cedar kids go to drink and be naughty.

2000 Flushes Blowout Pit

I think the highlight of the weekend was when Tim took us to a place called Lion's Mouth Cave. A bunch of pictographs can be found here and you can stand face to face with them in the very spot where they were painted. It's an amazing feeling to be so close to such ancient art. Many places have rock art protected and you are kept so far away that you feel completely disconnected from it.

Tim at Lions Mouth Cave

Lions Mouth Cave pictographs

Lions Mouth Cave pictographs

After Lion's Mouth, we headed to a place called Parowan Gap, west of Cedar City. Parowan Gap is a neat geological formation through the Red Hills. A river cut the V-shaped notch through the hills, but now the river is gone and a wind gap is left behind. Tons of petroglyphs can be found here and people believe that this site was used as an ancient calendar based on where the sun set through the gap.

Parowan Gap petroglyphs

Parowan Gap petroglyphs

John and I left Tim and headed down towards St. George to camp in Snow Canyon State Park. We were greeted by a "campsite full" sign. No one was there when it was 13 degrees in January. I guess the 70 degree weather brought out the crowds. We drove to Gunlock State Park and wandered around in the dark and blowing dust before we gave up finding the campground. We discovered the campground in Kolob Canyon is actually a parking lot and picnic area. We were fucked and it was late. We ended up camping at Tres Fountains (aka the Three Fountains condo that Tim is currently living in back in Cedar City). Thank you Tim - he always saves the day. We had an awesome evening with delicious snacks and a fire in the fireplace using our unused campfire wood. I fell asleep next to the fire and John in my sleeping bag - so cozy!

The next morning we headed back to Snow Canyon and grabbed a camping spot. We spent most of the day exploring Snow Canyon. We played on the petrified sand dunes and discovered lava floes and lava caves! The caves were awesome to explore, even though I didn't have my "mole man" headlamp with me.

Snow Canyon

Snow Canyon

Lava tube cave in Snow Canyon

We also headed over to Zion National Park that evening. It was late so we didn't have a lot of time to explore or hike, but we walked up to Emerald Pools and enjoyed the water cascading over the cliffs and into the pools below.

With John in Zion National Park

Deer in Zion National Park

Virgin River in Zion National Park

Zion National Park

The nice little raindrops turned into mean nasty snowflakes as John drove over the mountain pass east of Cedar City. I guess I forgot the road went up to about 10,000 feet. At least John was a good sport and didn't freak out that much when we saw a truck upside down and hanging from some trees. John treated himself to a whole 5-Buck pizza in Cedar City before we headed back to Salt Lake. It was well deserved - he survived a whole weekend adventure with me without a single complaint.