Having a cold kept me in for almost a week, and I had cabin fever. Bill had cabin fever. Even Sasha had cabin fever. Needed groceries in St. George because local options are limited. So we took a snowy drive through Zion National Park on the way to town. WOW! The snow is pretty much melted here in Kanab making things rather ruddy—that’s red mud. But Zion, a totally different story.
Heading north on SR89 under partly cloudy skies the sun highlighted the white Navajo sandstone cliffs of Zion in the distance. Patches of white contrast exquisitely against the coral pink sand dunes as we whized by. Only 11 miles up the road we turn west on SR9 and already there’s a bit more snow on the ground.
The short drive to the park entrance is delightful and it seems there were hawks roosting on about every fifth telephone pole. In fact we saw a large gathering of what looked like ravens on the road and I figured there must have been a dead creature providing a meal. As we got closer a huge bird lifts off among the others and appeared to have something gut-like in its talons. I don’t like to see death but do understand the circle of life.
A few ranches, tourist traps and campgrounds along the way with the later two being mostly closed under a blanket of white. So very different from the packed summer crowds and constant lines of traffic. In fact there was hardly any traffic on this early Sunday morning (suppose all the good Utah Mormons were in church).
I love how the color of the road changes from black to deep red when entering the park. I also love that Bill’s geezer card got us in for free. Only a few more months and I’ll make that awesome $10 for life investment.
And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better we rounded a curve and saw Desert Bighorn Sheep. With so little traffic we could stop and just gaze at their magnificence. A couple cars coming the other way barely slowed down to go around them. What is wrong with these people.
Natural springs provide water to wildlife but they’re not always easy for us to spot in the rock plus they’re not always flowing. This time of year frozen falls and icicles show better where water may sometimes flow.
The drive from east to west in Zion is made even more exciting with the historic tunnels blasted through 1.1 miles of rock. When built in the 1920s and 30s the smaller than today’s vehicles were allowed to pull into small areas where windows for ventilation allowed glimpses of scenic views. These are now blocked off and with traffic and obvious safety reasons you are no longer allowed to stop in the tunnel. However we did because there just wasn’t any traffic. Not for long mind you. But it was a first to actually be able to take photos from the car and I like the way the window frames the view.
Once out of the tunnel the road slowly drops into the Virgin River Canyon in long sweeping loops providing more amazing views and decreasing snow on the ground.
My first time being able to drive up the Virgin Canyon as that road is only open to shuttles, bicycles, hikers and Lodge guests during the summer. Yet there are limited places to park and the trails are not dog friendly so I just continued to click away through the windows until we got to the end at Temple of Sinawava.
The Virgin River flows strong between its snowy banks. This was a brief stop because a light breeze made it too cold to be out very long.
Then back down canyon between towering cliffs dusted in white.
And a quick stop at the Visitor Center with no problems finding parking.
Before we continued west to town.