May 16-22, 2010 – Zion National Park

We left Lake Powell Sunday morning and drove along the southern end of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The GSENM covers 1.9 million acres and is a series of great geological steps – the Chocolate, Vermilion, White, Gray, and Pink Cliffs that ascent northward and span 5 different life zones, from Sonoran desert to coniferous forests. We drove through the Vermilion Cliffs area.

We arrived early afternoon at the St. George RV Resort between Hurricane and St. George in Utah and after getting set up, we went to the clubhouse to do laundry. They were having an ice cream social so we had to have a sundae while we were waiting for the laundry to get done.

Monday we drove to Zion National Park. We were not familiar with Zion and were pleasantly surprised by how beautiful it is. The main road in the park follows the Virgin River up Zion Canyon so you are at the bottom of the canyon looking up. We rode the shuttle buses on the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive (only shuttle buses are allowed on this road) and got off at all the overlook stops. One stop was at the Zion Human History Museum with displays showing the human history of Zion area - American Indian culture, pioneer settlement and Zion’s growth as a national park. We also watched a short orientation film on the park and listened to a Ranger talk about the history and culture of the native people.

We hiked a quarter mile trail to Weeping Rock - a hanging gardens, where water is seeping down a cliff and there are plants and flowers hanging on the cliff wall. We ate our lunch here under an overhang with the water dripping all around us - It was really nice.

At the last bus stop at the end of the road, we hiked the mile long Riverside Walk Trail. This is a really nice, paved trail that follows the Virgin River. The beautiful canyon gets narrower as you go up river. At the end of this trail the canyon is so narrow that to continue on the Narrows Trail you have to walk in the River. The Narrows Trail was closed as the river was running too high and swift right now.

We came across this little Rock Squirrel along the trail.

We drove the scenic Zion-Mt. Carmel road that goes from the South park entrance to the East park entrance. The road has a lot of switchbacks and a 1.1 mile long tunnel. On the far side of the tunnel we saw an arch in the process of being formed. This area is known as the slickrock area as the formations are not as rugged.

We hiked to the Lower, Middle and Upper Emerald Pools where we saw some really nice waterfalls. The trail to the lower pool went behind the waterfall and the wind blew the water back on the trail getting you wet if you were standing in the right place.

The wind was blowing so hard at the upper pool that the waterfall couldn’t make it to the pool. The waterfall fell at least 200 feet.

We also hiked the Hidden Canyon trail which climbed 850 ft in about 1½ miles – kind of steep. The Park newsletter described this trail as having long drop-offs and not for anyone fearful of heights. Well, Nancy decided to try it anyway. The trail followed a cliff face to the mouth of a narrow canyon. It was kind of scary but, thankfully, they had chains anchored in the rock wall in the narrowest places.

We finally made it to the mouth of the narrow canyon.

We followed the canyon to a small arch.

It was a steep trail and scary in places, but well worth the effort to hike it.

We drove to the Kolob Canyon part of the park, which is at the very northwest corner of the park. Again the scenery was beautiful.

We also took a couple of four wheel drive roads outside the park. One drive took us to Silver Reef, an abandoned mining camp, which they claim is the only place in the world where silver was found in sandstone. Another drive took us to the Browse Guard Station in a beautiful canyon. There was a boarded up abandoned ranger station at the end of the road. We never did find out what the station was used for. Along the road we had to stop for this pedestrian to cross – a gopher snake.

We really enjoyed our time in Zion National Park and the surrounding area. We are heading to Bryce National Park tomorrow.


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