Jul 142014

When visitors arrive at the North Rim of Grand Canyon they’ve usually already been or are headed to Zion National Park.  Guess my guests are no different.  In early June fellow blogger, Pat aka Bibi, from Belgrade but visiting family in Settle flew down to Las Vegas, rented a car and drove to the North Rim for a visit.  We hadn’t met before other than online many years ago.  But as usual we bloggers were already friends and hit if off fabulously.

01 DSC_1824 Zion NP UT g (1024x678)Pat had explored the North Rim scenic overlooks on her own and again with me so we hit the road for the three hour drive, zooming to Zion, for a different perspective of the Colorado Plateau.  The North Rim view for most is from the top looking down but at Zion the main canyon roads provide a neck wrenching look upward.  Although the east entrance road begins up high, after the historic tunnels sweeping switchbacks quickly dropped us to the canyon floor with spectacular views along the way.

02 DSC_1694a GRSE NM from LeFever overlook SR89A AZ g pano (1024x212)Part of the Grand Staircase Escalante NM along with Bryce NP and Cedar Breaks NM.  Geologically speaking, the exposed rocks get younger heading north.  Grand Canyon’s upper young rock layer of 270 million year old Kaibab limestone is found on the canyon floor at Zion as the oldest deposit topped with 6600 feet (2011 meters) of 225 to 150 million year old sandstones.

03 DSC_1709 Old wagon Red Pueblo museum Fredonia AZ g (1024x678)On the way we stopped at Red Pueblo museum in Fredonia.  First time I’d seen it open.  They have displays of Native artifacts inside and early white settlers outside.  Pat felt right at home on the wagon stoop and if it hadn’t been for a replacement tin roof we’d have both claimed it for our own.

04 DSC_1713 View from SR89 N of Kanab UT g (1024x678)The drive north on Hwy 89 provides teasing views of what’s to come passing towering ancient sand dunes turned to stone.

05 DSC_1715 Zion NP UT g (1024x678)A short drive west on Hwy 9 welcomes us to Zion National Park.  Entering at 5700 feet (1737 meters), Checkerboard Mesa overlook where everyone stops and this is the opposite view.

06 Desert Bighorn Sheep Zion NP UT collage (1024x576)Desert Bighorn Sheep, exciting to see in such numbers and lots of folks stopped to photograph them looking at us looking at them.  Previously extirpated then reintroduced to the park in 1973, the herd size has grown to more than 500 animals within their habitat on and off of Zion National Park.

07 DSC_1760 Zion NP UT g (1024x678)

08 DSC_1816a Zion NP UT g pano (1024x869)The rocky views are stunning and we’re barely into the park. I couldn’t stop myself from taking 100s of photos.  OK, so it will be a long post even though it was a rather short 6.5 hour visit.

09 DSC_1835a Tunnel window in rock Zion NP UT g pano (1024x484)Then came the historic tunnels, built in the 1920s, a true engineering feat.  Pat’s little rental car sped right on through but if you have an ‘oversized’ vehicle you’ll have to pay $15 extra for two trips through which stops oncoming traffic so the large rigs can ride down the middle of the road.  The first tunnel is very short but the second one bores through 1.1 miles (1.77 km) of rock and includes windows for ventilation that we drove by too fast to get more than a quick view.  No stopping in the tunnels.

10 DSC_1840a Curvy road Zion NP UT g pano (1024x360)Once through the tunnels descent begins drastically almost 2,000 feet (609 meters) to the floor of Zion Canyon.

11 DSC_1862 View out shuttle windshield Zion NP UT g (1024x678)We parked at the Visitor Center and boarded a shuttle for the canyon ride, all the way to the end is 6 miles (9.6 km) to Temple of Sinawava but there are lots of opportunities to stop along the way for trails into and up.  A quick hotdog lunch so we can do the 2 mile (3.2 km) round trip paved Riverside Walk at the end.

12 DSC_1880 Virgin River Zion NP UT g (1024x678)

13 DSC_1975 Columbines Zion Canyon River walk trail Zion NP UT g (1024x678)Most of the landscape so far looks dry and desert like but the cool shady moisture along the Virgin River gives life to many flowers with water dripping from seep springs on the canyon walls, ferns, moss, monkey flowers and columbines.

14 DSC_1934 Shoes on stone wall end of River walk trail Zion NP UT g (1024x678)

15 DSC_2005 Late light on Zion Canyon walls Zion NP UT g (1024x678)We didn’t continue the actual walk in the river, which I’ve done before, as the sun was slipping behind the western cliffs.

16 DSC_2032 Sunset Zion NP UT g (1024x678)And we still had a long drive home.

Zion National Park

 Posted by on October 17, 2011  Utah, Zion National Park
Oct 172011
01 Zion NP sign (768x1024)
Shortly after returning from the Colorado River trip, I took a drive to Hurricane to shop and returned home by way of Zion National Park.
02 Virgin River Zion NP UT (768x1024)
The shuttle ride up Zion Canyon makes many stops at trail heads and ends at the River Walk trail.  No cars are allowed during summer unless you have reservations at the Lodge.
03 Columbine along River trail Zion NP UT (768x1024)
In August the Columbine still bloomed.
04 Little fishes in Virgin River Zion NP UT (1024x766)
And little fishes abounded in the Virgin River.
05 Virgin River Zion NP UT (1024x768)
Didn’t wade upriver in the Narrows like I’d done before.
06 Monuments of sandstone Zion NP UT (1024x768)
Monuments of sandstone tower over the drive east out of Zion.
07 Walls of sandstone Zion NP UT (1024x762)
And the road follows the contour of the canyon walls.
08 First tunnel Zion NP UT (1024x720)
Except where tunnels were built through in 1930.  Over-sized vehicles must make arrangements in advance to drive through the tunnels.
09 Windows in tunnel wall Zion NP UT (1024x768)
Windows were added for light and to disperse car fumes.  I sure couldn’t get a photo out any of the windows as there is no stopping in the tunnels.
10 Second tunnel Zion NP UT (1024x739)
The second tunnel is much shorter.
11 Checkerboard Mesa Zion NP UT (1024x768)
Yet the sculpted sandstone continues.
Have you visited Zion National Park?