Utah to Tennessee — Mid country
From Route D (on I-15) north of St. George head east to …
Zion National Park. You will travel between soaring cliffs.
Hikers enjoy exploring awesome canyons. We observed rock
climbers scaling the sheer cliffs, which would take them two
days so they slept on a rack they mounted on the side of
the cliff before sunset (not my idea of a peaceful place to
sleep). Check your map before continuing east on Route 9
and other routes to ...
ADVICE FOR DRIVERS OF RVS. If you’re driving a RV
measuring more than 7’10” wide or 11’4” high you will
pay a fee, $15 for a round trip, to go through the
tunnel on your way from Zion National Park to Bryce
Canyon National Park . A mile long tunnel slopes on
the sides so the road is closed to on-coming traffic and
large vehicles are escorted down the center, straddling
both traffic lanes. To be on the safe side check locally.
An alternate route avoids the tunnel.
Bryce Canyon National Park. This park will be a high spot
of your trip and possibly the most memorable. Park before
the park entrance and take the free shuttle – it’ll save you
the problem of finding parking spots at the numerous
viewpoints. We first arrived late in the afternoon and our
first view of the canyons, spires (called “hoodoos”), windows
and fins was with the sun casting long shadows – they fairly
glistened. It defies description. Take time to walk along the
paths that top the canyon – then hike on any of the other
marked trails. Remember extra water and sun protection.
You’re at a high altitude so take it easy. If you’re a
stargazer get out at night and take it all in, maybe with a
ranger led program.
Going east, you will take a narrow scenic route with many
twists and turns, through the fantastic mountainous area
that includes Capital Reef National Park (photo of
pictographs). Then to Moab and the nearby …
Canyonlands National Park. This park provides numerous
overlooks from which you will see the striking canyons,
buttes and mesas carved by the rivers. Then to ...
Mesa Verde National Park. This is a memorable
experience. The area was populated from about 700AD and
then for an unknown reason everyone moved away around
1300. The area must have been teeming with people –
farming, hunting, trading. You’ll learn of their home,
community and religious life. In the mid to late 1200s they
constructed the cliff dwellings that you will explore. Take
your time. Go into the dwellings and hike along trails that
may have been used by the early inhabitants. Going east on
Durango. The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge
Railroad provides a trip on a narrow gauge train that chugs
its way between mountains, often along a mountain stream,
to the former mining town of Silverton. Many consider it the
most beautiful train ride in America. This is a very scenic
area. Wear warm clothing, as the temperature of Silverton is
much cooler than Durango because you climb 2,500 feet.
We took the train up to Silverton and had plenty of time for
lunch and walking around town. It was cool so instead of
taking the train back we returned by bus (no additional cost)
and were rewarded with different scenery. Just a few miles
east of Durango on US-160 is …
Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve. This is a
massive sand dune with giant mountains in the background.
You’ll see North America’s tallest dunes. They are truly, and
visibly, a work in progress. Experience the pulsing waves of
the creek – learn the reason for the waves of this small
stream. Hike up the dune – it’s 750 feet. Then return to
US-160 and go east to Walsenburg and I-25 and north to …
Colorado Springs. At exit 156B you head to United
States Air Force Academy. First stop at the visitor’s
center. Then tour the grounds making certain you get to
the chapel. If you’re there around noon you can see the
noon formation from the chapel overlook. If you happen to
meet some cadets, I’m sure you’ll agree – our future is in
good hands. On the same grounds is the U.S. Olympic
From here you can go to the Garden of the Gods, photo.
This is a breathtaking array of sandstone formations. Well
worth the little time it takes to get here.
Pike’s Peak is visible from miles away. You can drive to the
summit – I have not because of warnings for people who are
bothered by the altitude (this may have been overly cautious
as I’m only occasionally bothered).
Route F merges into this route near Denver.
Abilene. Visit the Eisenhower Center. This fine museum
and home where “Ike” spent his youth provides an
impressive overview of his role in WW2 as well as his
presidency. Continue east on I-70 to…
Independence. The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum
and his nearby home is a worthwhile stop. As the president
who stepped into office at the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt
he stopped WW2 with the decision to use the A-bomb.
Music buffs might want to head south to Branson for some
great entertainment at any of the over one hundred theatres.
From here continue east to …
Louisville, and head south on I-65 exit 53 to visit
Kentucky Derby Museum home of the Kentucky Derby. In
the museum you’ll see the history of the famous race, and
related items. Admission includes a tour of the famous
Churchill Downs. Then continue south to…
Mammoth Cave National Park. You’ll always remember
this. It’s the largest cave in the world and you’ll have your
choice of tours. The name is appropriate — for instance, we
walked up about a hundred stairs just to get to the top of
one chamber. Then continue south to…
Bowling Green. Here’s your chance to see automobiles
assembled, not just autos — Corvettes. The General Motors
Corvette Assembly Plant offers tours. This is interesting,
even though there are no samples. A lady in our group was
actually watching her own car being assembled. That’s cool.
The next stop is…
Nashville. Home of Grand Ole Opry and famous for country
music. This is at the intersection of I-40 and I-65.
At this point connect to
Route H North Carolina to California- Mid country
(C) 2002-2014 J. Watson All rights reserved
|WHAT TO EXPECT
Scenery so magnificent that you’ll run out of adjectives when describing it to
your friends. Nature went overboard creating the views in the Rockies. You’ll
see awesome cliffs, canyons, dunes, arches — all so different. These works
of nature constantly change as the day moves on. Nothing compares to the
majesty of Zion National Park and the nearby Bryce Canyon National Park.
Earlier cultures have left their mark and you’ll see petroglyphs at Capital Reef
National Park and explore cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park. You
can experience the beauty from a narrow gauge railroad as you climb from
Durango to Silverton. You’ll be impressed by the students at the United
States Air Force Academy.
As you lose sight of Pike’s Peak you’ll leave the Rockies and go east through
the Great Plains. During the 1930s this was referred to as the “Dust Bowl”
with farmers forced to give up farming because of the serious drought. Now
it is referred to as “America’s Breadbasket”.
Going east you’ll visit presidential libraries; go underground in Mammoth
Cave, America's largest caverns; tour an auto assembly plant; see the
location of the birth of the A-bomb; enjoy country music and maybe visit a
casino. All of this coupled with diverse scenery.
As you read this you may wish to trace the route on your road map.
Arches National Park. First you will see
block-like sandstone monoliths and then
many arches. Nature just went wild carving
a variety of arches – so compelling to
visitors that signs warn drivers to pay
attention to the road and stop at the many
viewing spots to take it all in. Take time to
walk about the arches. As this is desert
make sure you take plenty of water and
adequate sunscreen. Now go south to the
US-666 and head to…
|Utah to Tennessee -- Mid Country