Zion National Park
I’m not sure what I was expecting on my first visit to Zion National Park, but I wasn’t expecting to be so in love with a place so fast. Simply driving through the park on Zion Park Boulevard from the East entrance through the West was enough to make my head spin. I have seen very few places with this much natural command for attention.
The entire park is so full of amazing geology that you can’t decide where to look. I particularly was drawn to what I’ve been calling the upper canyon. It’s the portion of the park above or to the East of the long tunnel. The canyons and peaks there are so much closer to view that it feels almost quaint, not over-powering like the huge dominating peaks of the lower parts.
The drive through the long tunnel has windows, which are literally just openings in the side of the mountain you are driving through. Although the park does not allow you to stop your vehicle at any point inside the tunnel, the slow creep past these epic views made me almost dizzy. Going from complete darkness to a blast of intensity so bright, made me feel like I’d completed some kind of daring amusement park ride.
The scenic byway through Zion Canyon itself had some of the most incredible opportunities for photography. Particularly the Court of the Patriarchs allowed for some great shots of the giant peaks here that jut up into the sky.
Having a young child, we were happy to find some relatively easy paths along the river that were fun for everyone and still provided great scenery for gawking. Riverside Trail was an easy access trail at the very back of Zion canyon that had access to the river at several places. Emerald Pools Trails are some of the park’s most famous trails and were almost empty this time of year.
There is a great piece of literature available from Zion Adventure Club about the various hikes and trails in the park. One suggestion that I found helpful was to time the outings based on the placement of the sun at a certain time of day. In the morning and evening hours, the canyon is in the shade and was windy and quite chilly. By midday, the sun was warming the rocks up and making for a much more pleasant time while adding color to the cliffs surrounding.
We have to give a small plug here for the folks at Driftwood Lodge. Hans, the owner, was really genuine guy and his staff were all wonderful as were the accommodations. Located in Springdale, just minutes outside the park entrance, the room rates were reasonable and the convenience was unbeatable.
I can’t wait to come back here when I have more time to explore. I will plan a 3-4 day hike that will include some of the rim next time. I will have an older daughter at that point and probably won’t be needing a child carrier, but I couldn’t have done without my Deuter Kid Comfort II this time! She is always just as content as can be when she’s riding up there and it allows us to just keep going once she gets worn out.