Zion National Park

My favorite National Park so far this trip would have to be Zion.   The steep vermillion cliffs are an outdoor photographers dream and just awe inspiring.  Early explorers felt the towering structures and great beauty clearly showed the hand of God at work in these canyons and cliffs.  No wonder they came up with names such as  Angels Landing, Cathedral Mountain, East and West Temples, and the Three Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

This was a great place for hiking, most of the hikes close to the bus stops are very easy with little elevation change or much climbing, a welcome change from what we had been doing.  The paths are nicely paved and many are wheelchair accessible.  They do also have more strenuous trails for the advanced people who don’t have a fear of heights.  The trails are rated well in some of the literature we received from easy beginner trails to moderate and very hard.  Its more like a ski area except for hiking with the different skill levels clearly marked and signage explaining what to expect.  Not at all like some of the trails we went on at Mesa Verde where we were 2 miles into it only to find, we have to climb up THAT? is it quicker to turn back or keep going? 😉

We both loved Zion and hope to be back soon, if only to check out Kolob Reservoir that a local V Star rider mentioned to us and we didn’t have time to see.

The east entrance to Zion was ripped up and mangled for construction and closed from 8am to 5 or 6pm.  We had to wake up at the crack of dawn to beat the road closures.    I thought maybe it’d be a blessing in surprise to force us out of bed and get an early start on this extra long day.  Not so, once we hit the traffic backup inside of the park it took us forever to get through it.  We didn’t actually get to the Visitors Center until almost 10am.

We did see 8 or 9 old classic Morgan’s also stuck in traffic but going the other way.  I really wanted to get a picture but that was not happening in construction traffic.  I’m not sure how I would feel driving a car like that down torn up roads where cars in front of me could throw rocks.   Last year we got to see many old MGs on tour and this year it was Morgans, very cool.

The mountains and canyons on the east entrance are spectacular, but no stopping along the way for pictures, except while waiting for the one lane to open again.   The long tunnel with windows carved in the stone for views of the outside vistas was amazing!

These are passive cooling towers on the Zion Visitors Center, I’ve been toying with the idea of doing something similar when building my house. The rock-work heats up in the sun, hot air rises and draws the hot air from the top of the building out, the low pressure draws cool air in from vents on the shaded side of the house or ducts that go underground and stay cool.  No electricity and it works fairly well.

Some random pics in no particular order we took during our hikes.

These signs are no joke.  For the most part the hiking along the paved trails was very easy with little elevation change, but the more challenging ones people die on all the time

Nearly everywhere the river was up to the edge of its banks.  Utah is a strange place,  here and at Lake Powell they were having too much water, elsewhere they were in a several years long drought.

A picture of the Narrows, we couldn’t get there cause the path was underwater for the last 1/2 mile

This is what we saw when we got to the end of the paved trail,  looks like no hiking up the river bed to the narrows for us.

Water is just a little bit deep.

The cliffs are all sandstone and the water takes thousands of years to filter through them  from the top.  When they hit a layer of clay like the one behind my head the water travels sideways till it reaches the outside.  This creates the hanging gardens down the cliff faces in the next post or dripping grottos like this.  When the water freezes it flakes off bits of stone little by little or sometimes big pieces at once to create formations like this.

I love these really old buses they had way back in the day for the tour groups.

Well, after an overpriced lunch I heard the call of nature and had to hunt down a restroom.  Unfortunately this is what I found when I got there, are they kidding!?   I’m not that big of a guy and even I had to squeeze into the stalls at a diagonal. These things are barely 2 feet wide! Sorry, no fat people allowed in Zion National Park.  😉

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