Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Zion National Park–Tourist Day


On April 29, we started our visit to Zion National Park. We like to start each visit to a National Park by doing what we call a “Tourist Day”. We basically do what a tourist would do in a single day visit. We like to talk to as many people as possible to learn from them and then decide what else we want to do while we are there.

We started by coming in the East Entrance, which is about a 30 mile drive from our campground.


It was a beautiful sunny day. We got very lucky with the weather while we were visiting Zion. As we drove into the park, the views were awesome. I took so many pictures, I had a hard time picking which ones to put in this blog.


Consider the fact that at one time this was a 3000 foot high sand dune.


The layers and patterns in the rocks are amazing.  We marveled at how plants could find root in the formations. The sandstone is very porous and allows water to pass through to feed the plants.











We had to wait at the tunnel as a large 5th wheel squeezed through. I talked to the guy afterwards and he had no clue where he was going or that this tunnel was even there. Some of the best views of the main Zion Canyon are right after the tunnel. The truck is in this shot for perspective. The rocks are HUGE!


We saw some rock climbers high up on the walls. People come from all over the world to climb these big walls. Can you find them in the large crack in the center. Some of the climbs take two to three days. I can’t even imagine sleeping in a hammock high on a rock.


You can’t tour most of Zion via automobile. They have these very nice tour busses that you can get off and on as many times as you like. The problem is parking. We stopped at the museum and were lucky enough to find a parking spot. We rode the tour busses the rest of the day.


After watching the film and touring the museum, we found a quiet place by the Virgin River and had lunch.


Here was our view from out lunch spot:




I will remember that meal for a long time. The food was not outstanding, but the atmosphere made up for it. My kind of 5 star dining.

Then we got on the tour bus and hit all of the stops in the main canyon. First up was the Court of the Patriarchs. That would be Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, left to right.




There were other people around all day, but the crowds were not bad at all. The next stop was the Zion Lodge. It is a real nice lodge and a great place to stay if you are doing a driving trip.



The next stop is for the Grotto and Angels Landing. The Angels landing hike is one of the signature hikes in Zion. It is only about 5.5 miles, but the end is along a narrow spine with 1000 foot drops on both sides. We chickened out and decided we did not need to do that one. The next stop was weeping rock. We hiked about a mile up to the rock and back. It was steep!















There was water seeping through the rocks above this cool alcove. The views from inside the alcove were very interesting. Can you see the water coming down?


We rested for a while after the climb up.
















The last stop for the day was the Temple of Sinewava. It is at the end of the road up through the main valley. This is where there is a river walk along the Virgin River. At the end of that walk is the start of the section called the “Narrows”. I have heard about this hike for years. You walk up the river, in the river at times. I have heard it gets pretty deep, like around chest deep. We were not sure we wanted to do it. It is still early in the season and the water would be very cold. We walked the 1.2 miles up to check it out.















Kim played in the water along the way. It was a very busy area, but we did get very good information about the hike and decided we needed to do it. You can rent gear, but after talking to a number of folks that had just finished it, we decided we did not need to do that. Would that be the right answer? You will have to come back for a later entry to find out.

Here is Kim at the beginning of the Narrows:


We saw this deer along the trail:


The river trail and some yellow columbines:



It had been a long day, so we got back to the Museum and headed out of the park. The setting sun created some very good lighting for some pictures. This is Zion:




We even had a local say good bye as we were leaving.


I only got pictures of this one Rocky Mountain Sheep. There was a large herd in the valley on the other side of the road.

We are just getting started with this visit to Zion. It saddens me to think that this is all that most people see when they visit this National Park. This is just the beginning. Stay tuned for the rest of our visit to this majestic place.

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