"Could I have this dance for the rest of my life?" - Anne Murray

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Smithsonian Butte Scenic Byway

For the next month we'll be parked at Zion River Resort, just outside of Zion National Park. When we were here two years ago, we saw lots of the park and the surrounding areas, so we're looking for new territory we haven't discovered yet.  This adventure was to the tiny historical "town" of Grafton, and along the designated byway circumventing the Smithsonian Butte. 

The road to Grafton starts in Rockville, turning off Rt. 9 at Bridge Rd. It's pretty easy to miss - there's only a tiny sign pointing to Grafton. It passes through a residential neighborhood, over Virgin River, and then through a ranching area. Great views of Mount Kinesava...

…and other interesting rock formations along the way.

The town has a few buildings and a lot of beautiful old farm land along the river.

After poking around just a bit we headed back to the road that passes around Smithsonian Butte and then heads straight south to join Rt. 59 at Apple Valley or maybe Big Plain Junction, depending on which map you're reading.  While still in Grafton you get some good views of what I think are Eagle Crags.

The rough dirt road increases in elevation dramatically for the first mile or two and then levels off at about 4500 feet. We stopped to take in various views; this one's of Kinesava again, with some paddle sort of cactus in the foreground. The botanicals around here are nowhere near as prickly as they were in Arizona, but there are still some cacti here and there to watch out for.

Smithsonian Butte itself is not any more spectacular than the surrounding scenery, it just seems to be the landmark that lends its name to this official "Scenic Byway." In any case, here it is:

Did I mention it was a very dusty dirt road? 

There's a unique carwash in La Verkin that we can highly recommend. It's just a modest little carwash, but it's literally covered with these high quality murals. It makes getting a car wash so much more uplifting.

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