Zion National Park – Leeds Canyon

One of my big bucket list items has been visiting the National parks in Utah. After leaving the Lake Mead area I headed to the Zion National Park area. I arrived on a Sunday and set up on Sheep Bridge road. This road is near Virgin,  UT and serves as a connection between Hwy 9 and Hwy 59. This is a well-traveled road by many local bikers and RVers. It is very dusty and I would recommend parking as far away from the road as you can. Other RVers I have spoken to parked near Virgin Dam and other spots in the area. I picked this spot because it had good internet, and my Airstream which has low clearance could easily get to the spot.  It was super convenient to Zion.

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Sheep Bridge Road had beautiful views. Just wish there wasn’t sooooo much dust!

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Lovely place to relax and have a campfire!

Unfortunately, this spot didn’t last long. First, they set up signs telling us we had to leave by Friday for 2 days due to a bike race. Next, they graded the road pushing up a bunch of dirt and rock at my site entrance. I had to go buy a shovel to dig my way out. Finally, the pushed up rocks led to a sharp rock puncturing my tire as I set up to leave the area to a new spot for the weekend.  In the end, I ended up moving to Leeds Canyon. I never moved back, because honestly I couldn’t take the dust and was still upset over the tire and concerned about going back.

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Not sure why, but I didn’t ever capture of front side of my campground shot. But this is from the backside. There was a 2nd campsite above me for tent campers, so I ended up moving my truck was I realized I was blocking the entrance.

Leeds Canyon was a beautiful camping spot with several nearby hikes (See link to read my review on Campendium). It didn’t have great internet and I had to drive into St. George each day to work (not my favorite thing working from my car, libraries, book stores and any random spot I can find quiet and power!).

While in the area I visited Zion National Park to hike the Emerald Pools trail and Angel’s landing. Zion is extremely busy on weekends so I recommend visiting on weekdays. I did Angel’s landing on a Tuesday, early morning and was super glad as it would have been very difficult and a completely less pleasant experience to hike this with more crowds. This was a beautiful and fun hike though, recommend to anyone not scared of heights.

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Shots from the top of Angel’s landing. Wouldn’t a zip line here be awesome!?!

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Just a short drop!

Emerald pools is a hike that has 3 pools you visit. The pools weren’t spectacular, but the last pool had a small waterfall that reminded me of Clark Creek trail I use to hike back in Louisiana. The last section of the hike to the 3rd pool is by far the most strenuous. Expect lots of people on this hike, many who don’t know basic trail etiquette (bring your patience!).

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St. George was a great area to meet new people. While there I learned a new game called Pickleball and met up with 2 different groups in town to play on Thursday. I also met some hiking groups and was able to enjoy a back-country hike in Zion and a hike in Leeds Canyon.

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Great group of people I met to hike back country Zion. Would never have found this hike on my own but these guys knew the way!

 

 

I also enjoyed some nice paddling at Sand Hollow State Park. The have a steep day use fee of $10, especially considering that you don’t have access to showers or water, just bathrooms. I had to have my boat go through some special hot water wash from the park ranger since it had been in Lake Mead within the last 30 days, but it was free and easy.

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Really pretty area to paddle. Spent several hours on the water. There were little inlets in this big rock island that you could paddle into!

For dump, the Maverick in Hurricane, UT will let you dump for free, you just go in and give them your DL and they give you the key to the dump. While here, I needed to store my RV for a work flight out of Vegas. Bella Vista storage offers monthly storage at $35 a month (no pro-rate for partial month) and the parking slots are spacious and well-marked.

So I haven’t spoken about my mindfulness journey in quite a few posts and that’s because I haven’t been doing anything specific other than trying to be present each day. However, I have a new journey I am embarking on starting Monday, May 15. I have been unhappy with my health and have become quite overweight. Anyone who knows me, knows that several years ago I decided to get healthy after my Grandma was hospitilized for heart disease. In fact, most everyone in my family has heart disease and this prompted me to start exercising, eat better and become more active. I did great. Lost 35 pounds, started leading an active lifestyle, was happy, healthy and had energy for life. Unfortunately I started sharing my life with someone who didn’t share the same healthy habits and instead of continuing on, I slowly started adopting old bad eating habits, stopped exercising, drank way too much (that’s not only unhealthy but tons of calories) and not only gained back the weight, but lost that energy and joy for life I had. While I’ve been on the road I have been struggling with how to get back to that lifestyle. I was so use to having a gym with regular exercise classes that helped me. Not really possible in my current set up. Even if I join a national gym, its often a 30 minute drive if one is even nearby. So a friend of a friend (RV communities are great!) reached out to me who is a Beach Body coach. I have decided to join the program in order to have a coach, team and accountability. Doing this on my own is just not working! We kick off our challenge program on May 15.

So where do you come in? As embarassing as this is, I want to share the journey with you. I am hoping you will help me be accountable. Give me encouragement when I am sore and don’t want to exercise and hopefully inspire others to get healthy with lifestyle changes. Below is my before picture. I was hesitant to post this because honestly I’m embarassed. I find it unattractive and not something I would advertise. But I know that it is just not enough for me in life to exist, have a job, raise a kid, see pretty places. I have to know that I am contributing, helping to improve or make something or someone’s life better. So if sharing my journey, helps even 1 person, then it’s worth the discomfort.

Growth demands a temporary surrender of security. It may mean giving up familiar but limiting patterns, safe but unrewarding work, values no longer believed in, and relationships that have lost their meaning.” – John C. Maxwell

So in addition to having progress updates on my blog. I am going to have a YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6Z_07hxXgG17Z6_uzkZCvw) where I submit a brief daily update of what I’m doing, how I’m feeling and showing a little bit about the program.

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My before shot. Because you know every exercise program must have one! 

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Paddling Hoover Dam and Enjoying Lake Mead – Government Wash Review

After leaving Lake Havasu I headed to Willow Beach for a weekend to meet up with the BHC Adventures group I found on meetup.com for an overnight kayak from Hoover Dam down Black Canyon. Willow Beach was a pretty campground and area, but had no cellular signal, not even phone calls. They do give you a satellite based WiFi code for 1 device but it was minimally functional. If you are just coming to paddle over night, you could just leave your rig parked in the parking lot without securing a camping spot (P.S. If you are there you can use the dump station at no additional cost). It’s a bit of a steep curvy drive to the campground so take it slow!

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Tent camping area is up to the left.

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Great little rock wall behind my camp.

From there we had an outfitter drop us off at Hoover Dam (you have to go through an outfitter to have access to this drop site). We all had to have our driver licenses for security and a NV AIS sticker for our boats. The outfitter dropped us off right below the dam.

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From the dam, within the first 3 miles there are many areas to stop at and explore. You have Gold Strike Canyon, with warm hot springs and beautiful colors, Boy Scout Canyon, Lone Palm, a few other hidden areas and of course Arizona Hot Springs.

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All of this water is warm!

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Goldstrike Canyon has awesome colors. My phone doesn’t do it justice, but definitely a must see hike.

There is a lot of thermal activity around and the park service makes available sand bags to allow people to help maintain the hot spring pools. As a group we enjoyed stopping often to hike these canyons and enjoy the hot springs. We originally were going to camp overnight at Arizona hot Springs, but it was quite crowded, so we paddled over, picked up 2 backpackers who were meeting us and paddled them back over, to a little hidden spot with a nice hot spring pool and a pretty camp area. The next day we finished the final miles down the canyon back to our cars. This is a wonderful paddle and I would recommend to anyone in the area. If you don’t want to pay an outfitter, you could paddle up river from Willow Beach. The current isn’t very strong but it would be a workout.

I later went back and hiked Gold Strike Canyon from the top down. If you are short, or have poor upper body strength, this is a difficult hike. I meet both criteria and found myself turning back after a point. We had been warned at the trail head by a local fire volunteer that rescue for an individual a few days back had taken over 6 hours, so please, be safe not sorry. I took this to note and when I reached a point where I couldn’t figure out how to get down without help or injury and knew my strength might be an issue getting back out, I turned around.

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A little perspective on the climbing!

I then headed over to Lake Mead and stayed at Government Wash. I really enjoyed this area because the views were great, the area was quiet, they had dumpsters, a free area to dump and fill water at the nearby campgrounds, plenty of local hikes and close by cities with good groceries. I feel this area is versatile enough that I might want to winter here for several months next year, rather than southern Arizona. There is a 15 day limit but we didn’t see this being enforced. I had good AT&T signal here and okay Verizon. We had an easy short drive or walk, from our campsite to access the water, which was refreshing to cool off in! If you like to sail there is a marina with a restaurant and a sailing meetup that does some events in the area.

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View from my campsite at Government Wash Road on Lake Mead.

While in the area we visited Valley of Fire State park, paddled Lake Mead and enjoyed some local hikes.

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Petroglyphs in Valley of Fire State Park.

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An entire family of sheep just hanging out by the side of the road in Valley of Fire.

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Valley of Fire visitor center has a short little viewpoint out the back side.

Local area tips:

Fill up with water and dump for free at Las Vegas Bay. There is a closed ranger station there with a filtered water fountain for filling your drinking water bottles. You can also access the camp ground from there to dump your tanks and fill your fresh water tanks. This is also the trail head to the White Owl Canyon hike that I took. Henderson, NV is only about 20 minutes away and of course Las Vegas isn’t too far either. I recommend heading over to Red Rock while there if you’ve never been and enjoying a walk down the strip!

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The Las Vegas Bay Marina is closed but there is a water fountain at the Ranger station when you first go in and a campground (follow signs) in the area. Also is the trail head for a really cool hike in White Owl canyon!