Today wasn't as great a day of exploring as yesterday. We got a later start and found that many of the parking lots for the hikes we wanted to take were full, so we had to drive around to find spaces. Even the St Mary VIsitor Center lot was full so we had to hunt for a spot, which we found.
We left Mt Rainier National Park and spent a night in Couer d'Alene, Idaho, on our way. The lake and river seem nice enough but we were just passing through. And the RV park was a bunch of close packed rigs, only good if you want to enjoy the river that was right there.
We are in Mount Rainier National Park with two of my sisters and a cousin and their families. For the last 3 days, we have been seeing the park around Paradise. What an appropriate name! We have also enjoyed seeing one sister's new property, 8 acres adjoining the National Park with two cabins up the hillside. It's a lovely place and I am sure they will enjoy it for many years.
There's a good reason it's called the Grand Canyon. It is really grand. The canyon is really unbelievablhy large. We approached the park from the east, and drove through the Little Canyon area on the way. It's pretty large and spectacular. And then you get to the Grand Canyon. You just have to stop and gawk. It is so large, wide and deep.
In the southwest United Stated, there are lots of places where you can see ruins of ancient people's dwellings. Mesa verde National Park holds, for me, a unique position in these. You can see many ruins, and can actually walk through some of them, including dwellings on flat ground and in the side of cliffs.
Mesa Verde is on a mesa, of course, and is at the side of a valley. Across the valley, we saw several mountain ranges with sno covered peaks.
After leaving Guadalupe Mountains National Park, we drove toward Carlsbad Caverns National Park. It has no campgrounds, but there is one in Whites City, right at the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns NP. The reviews were not good but we decided that it was so close that we would try it. It worked out fine. It was not a 5 star place but it was adequate, with full hookups. The shower and toilet was a single room for both uses but it was clean.
We drove from Las Cruces to Guadalupe Mountains National Park, knowing next to nothing about it. We didn't learn very much. When we arrived, we learned that there was a wildfire (called the Coyote fire) and most of the park was closed. The area right around the visitor center and several nearby trails were open but that was it.
When we got up in the morning, the Saguaro cactuses had opened their blooms. This photo is of the very top of the very tall cactus. The blooms seem to be out only for a short while, probably because of the heat.
We left TwentyNine Palms and drove through Joshua Tree NP to the south entrance. It is a real contrast to see the high desert where the joshua trees grow and go down to the low(er) desert where different plants grow. The Cholla Cactus Garden was worth a stop. The Ocotillo bushes were not in bloom as they were the last time we were here.