Wow! Simply Wow!
June 14, 2013 | This morning I got up with the chickens in order to get into the park before the deluge of weekend visitors. Unfortunately, the chickens I was paying attention to are in a different time zone.
Utah would be in the mountain time zone, something wholly appropriate given the landscape. But it did put me an hour behind everybody who knew where they were, LOL!
I parked in Springdale, which occupies about half a mile of UT-9 right outside the park gates, and rode the Springdale shuttle to the park entrance and thence walked past the visitor center to the park shuttle. It is a really excellent system that helps reduce the number of cars in the park and the resulting pollution. You can still take a car into the park since there is another highway that connects with the east entrance to the park.
My strategy was to ride the park shuttle all the way to the last stop and start by taking a mile hike along the Virgin River (that's its name, not a comment about its chastity) to the point where the canyon walls narrow so much that there's nothing but river between them. Then I would do shuttle hops back down the canyon, ending back at the visitor center and access to my car.
The river walk was very peaceful and surprisingly uncrowded. Being morning the walk was in the shadows, and therefore cool, and the burbling of the river was quite calming. That was on the outbound walk. On the return, the thundering hordes had arrived and the relaxing walk turned into a contact sport, like the mall on Black Friday! Zion has 3 million visitors per year and I think most of them were on that river walk this morning.
I felt brave so set out on a "half-mile round trip, short but steep" walk to the Weeping Rock (a lot of water comes down through the sandstone from the tops of the mesas). Either i took the wrong trail or somebody moved the Weeping Rocks, because I never did see them. At any rate, I declared victory and walked back down to catch the shuttle to the lodge where I had a delicious beer called Kolob Bolsch and a half-pound bison burger. The silver was labeled "FreedomWare" although it was made in China.
I almost called it a day after lunch, but one of the shuttle drivers mentioned that if one had not driven through the tunnel into the eastern part of the park, it would be a good idea since it is so different from the canyon. This tunnel is 1.1 miles long and was blasted and carved out of solid sandstone. It had various curves in it, so I am in total awe that they got it to come out where they wanted to. Interestingly Sophie had that road in her repertoire and followed along, at least part of the time. Well, I'm here to say that that 12 mile drive was about the best part of the visit. Just when I thought there could be nothing more spectacular, I would turn a corner and be faced with another blockbuster vista.
Last updated on May 12, 2016