Hello Friends and Family!
It’s been quite some time since I last added to our blog but the Petersons have been busy little beavers! We just wrapped up our most recent WorkKamper assignment at Bryce Valley KOA in Cannonville, Utah! We are officially back into retirement until Summer 2020.
As noted in our last post, Kenny and I were fortunate enough to be hired for the summer season in Utah and it has been an amazing experience. When we visited Bryce Canyon National Park in the summer of 2018 we knew we had to come back and explore Utah more thoroughly. Hence we applied for and were hired at the KOA where we had 5 months to spend exploring the beauty of the area.
Video Of Area from Upper Campground after thunderstorm
The KOA where we worked is about 12 miles from Bryce Canyon entrance and is an exquisite location nestled in Grand Staircase Escalante (see pics from last posting). Kenny and I worked about 30 to 35 hours each week, sometimes morning shift, sometimes evening shift and always had two consecutive days off together.
If you plan on visiting Utah, we are almost experts on the area. Things we experienced were both those that are well known and those that were locally known. Are you coming to the area? Below are some suggestions.
Although Mossy Cave Trail is considered to be part of Bryce Canyon, it is not within the main area of the Canyon. The trail is located between mile marker 17 and 18 on Route 12. It is really a stroll rather than a hike but it is perfect location for a picnic and great photo opportunities. There is a waterfall which you can get behind with a bit of rock scrambling. The Tropic Gulch was dug to provide water to the valley below and was significant to the development of cities of Tropic and Cannonville. The “Mossy Cave” is closer to a grotto than a cave and more interesting in early Spring when there are significant icicles to view.
We took a mini-vacation to stay in Kodachrome Basin State Park. It’s a beautiful state park right down the road from our KOA. It has very colorful rock formations hence the name Kodachrome. Permission had to be obtained from Kodak to use the name. One of the first hikes we did was the Panoramic Trail which was a relatively easy 8 mile loop (if you add some of the shorter trails to it, which we did). Angel’s Palace Trail is a short 1.4 loop but unlike any trails in Bryce and gives you a bird’s eye view of the whole park. The park is known for their chimney-like rock formations ranging from 30 to 50 feet. The park had just one natural arch, the Shakesphere Arch, which we didn’t see. Unfortunately, the Arch fell in May 2019, just after our arrival. If you visit, be sure to check out the restrooms. They are absolutely beautiful! Showcase quality! Not kidding at all!
Willis Creek Slot Canyon is not far from the KOA and we hiked that trail several times. The road to the trailhead is dirt and somewhat washboardy but if you go slow, it’s not too bad. The trail runs along the creek and you should plan on walking in the water in many areas (ankle deep normally). Since the area is subject to flash floods, always check the local weather forecast prior to hiking there. It was one of our most enjoyable hikes and when we did our mule ride, the destination was to Willis Creek slots.
One of the well known trails in Escalante is lower calf creek canyon. To avoid crowds and the heat, we hiked in the late afternoon and come off the trail just before sunset. You are hiking on sand for much of the way which can be a bit tricky but the reward of a 126 foot waterfall makes it worth the hike. We also hiked the upper calf creek canyon which is much harder to hike but we only saw two people on that hike. It is not well marked and you are hiking on solid rocks both going down and coming back. This was the most challenging hike to me of all the hiking we did. If you stepped on any sand on the rocks, you would slip and it’s a long way down. Upon reaching our destination there were several waterfalls. We can say we did the hike but I, for one, will not tackle that one again.
If traveling to Escalante, be sure to visit the Kiva Koffeehouse. It is out in the middle of nowhere with majestic views of the Grand Staircase. It is a coffee bar with a limited breakfast and lunch menu and worth the stop. Kenny and I visited this shop several times while hiking in the area. Although we didn’t partake, our colleagues said that the pie they serve is delicious.
The hike we enjoyed most at Bryce was the Peek-a-boo loop. It starts at Sunset trail, continues to Wall Street, then a section of Navajo trail, then on to Peek-a-boo loop bringing you back to continue to Navajo then exiting the canyon at Sunset. Kenny and I hiked on a cooler day and it wasn’t too busy. There were few people on the trail once we reached Peek-a-boo. The views of the canyon and hoodoos were spectacular around every turn. Strongly recommend that hike!
There are several stunning car rides in the area. We took the Scenic route 12 up to Boulder. It’s a beautiful ride and there are plenty of areas to stop and enjoy the views and take photos. Some of the grades are a bit unnerving but that’s part of the fun!
We also enjoyed driving Hell’s Backbone Road which is a 35-40 mile gravel road with an elevation of 10,000 ft. and it can have many washboard areas. The road was made by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s in order to connect the towns of Boulder and Escalante. Hell’s Backbone Bridge, which is about mid-trip, is an impressive 109 ft. long, 14 ft. Wide with a 1,500 ft. drop off on either side. (courtesy of Wikipedia). The road is remote, narrow, winding, and provides spectacular views (Box-Death Hollow Wilderness). One needs to stop often to take photos and drink in the sights. There are free range cows, 12% grades with no guardrails, and some areas where I had to close my eyes. Regardless, the views made it worth the trip.
This is a video of hummingbird moths. We couldn’t figure out what they were at first.
There was a Full Moon hike with the Rangers at Bryce Canyon while Susan and Mark were visiting with us. There are limited spots available and people are selected by attending a lottery in the afternoon. We attended hoping that we were chosen to be part of the hike. We were so happy because our group of four were selected on the 2nd draw!! But nature didn’t cooperate. Skies were so cloudy that the full harvest moon was hiding and honestly the hike was disappointing. The light of the moon didn’t shine upon the canyons and give us the show we anticipated. Still, we were those chosen to participate. So that’s something. Right?
Some other interesting places to visit are: Zion (keep in mind it is really crowded compared to Bryce), Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, the golf course in Kanab, Otter Creek State Park, and to get the best burgers around go to Antimony, the Merch (and their homemade pies are AMAZING)! Oh, and do some rock hounding!
Utah is amazing and it was sad to leave this beautiful state and our wonderful colleagues at Bryce Valley KOA. We are very grateful for the time we spent there and we have so many wonderful memories to hold on to. Kenny and I held the record for the most attendees for ice cream social. All monies are donated! And, I may be wrong but I think we held the record for the least attendees for the pancake breakfast. Go figure!!! 🤷♀️
Until next time, we raise our glasses and toast to our BV KOA Family:
Monte and Amy, Suzy and Grant, Donessa and Anthony, JoAnn and JT, Chuck, Hyrum, Shelby, (and our summer locals, Brooke and Jaydin) and most importantly our awesome Manager, Jody – thanks for all the friendship, support and laughs this summer. Our work wasn’t work, it was FUN!
Some of our BV KOA colleagues left to right Chuck, Anthony, Hyrum, Jody, Donessa (in front of Jody), Sherry (our friend from Flagler Beach), JoAnn, Bob (Sherry’s husband) and Suzy
Kenny and our Manager, Jody, harvesting apricot.