When we left Zion we continued our way south to spend two nights on the road before our planned visit to the Grand Canyon. As we drove out of the Zion area we both commented that it would probably be a day of driving through unremarkable landscape especially given the area we were leaving. Well, we quickly learned we were wrong about that when we drove through an innocuous looking area on the map called the Virgin River Recreation Area.
This stretch of I-15 on the Utah/Arizona border is actually a river gorge that you drive through with canyon walls extending from the highway up! Even with the winding road and numerous grades, Art enjoyed the view. When I looked on Google for information about the area I learned that when this part of the highway opened in 1973 it was the costliest rural freeway to build in the US with a price tag of ten million dollars per mile! Wow!
Once over this pass we quickly entered Nevada and began our descent through the desert and skirted Las Vegas on our way to our first stop in Boulder City, NV. This town sits about 25 miles east of Las Vegas and owes its existence to the need to provide housing for the workers who built the Hoover Dam. Which is also why we chose to stay here!
We unhooked and drove to the dam after lunch and if I am being honest it was an experience we could have bypassed except for being able to say we saw it. First of all, the dam tours were not operating because the dam elevators were not functioning so there was no opportunity to go behind the scenes and learn about this engineering feat of its day. Secondly, it is expensive. Ten dollars to park just to walk across the dam AND ten dollars apiece if you wanted to go into the visitor’s center. We did pay to park, we did walk across it, we did snap a few pictures and we did leave – I’m guessing we weren’t even there an hour. Now, with all this complaining aside, I will say that there were plenty of people there so it is quite a draw but without a tour available it was two thumbs down for us.
From Boulder City we headed to the town of Prescott, AZ for an overnight stay in the driveway of new friends we made on our Alaska trip. Offering us first class accommodations that included dinner, good company and a tour of their town we enjoyed ourselves tremendously. Prescott is a town steeped in the history of this region with a downtown area that is vibrant with restaurants and retail. It sits about 100 miles north and slightly west of Phoenix and 2 hours from the rim of the Grand Canyon. A great small town (40,000 pop.) to add to any visit in these parts!
Next on our list – something very grand!