Posted by: abbiewatters | June 13, 2012

Zion Canyon National Park

Today we headed out to Zion Canyon. I didn’t mention in yesterday’s edition that we have already seen Zion. One of the ways to get back to St George from Bryce leads through Zion. It was after 5 pm yesterday when we left Bryce,and I asked Big Al which way he wanted to come back – the shorter in distance or the shorter in time? He chose the shorter in distance, based on the fact that there would probably be less traffic, and he would be able to go slower on any curvy, hilly parts of the road. I warned him that the road through Zion looked like it would be pretty curvy, but, that way was 25 miles shorter, so he chose that way. The first part of the journey was through a lovely green valley with farms and herds of cattle munching on knee-deep grass beside a meandering stream on US 89. Then in Mt Carmel we turned onto Utah state road 9, which turns into a federal highway as it traverses Zion, and then turns back into state road 9 on the other side of the park.
Everything was fine until we actually got into the canyon when Big Al claims the road was laid out by a two-year-old with a crayon.

It twists and turns in a descending series of hairpin curves with no guardrail in most places. And it might not have been so bad except we were there about 6:30 in the evening, and the windshield hadn’t been cleaned after driving all day, and we kept going out of bright, nay, even to say blinding, sun into deep shade. He did okay with all the curves, but when they threw in a mile long tunnel that had been blasted out of solid rock back in the thirties, with no lighting, except for occasional “windows” blasted in the walls, he almost lost it. He wasn’t sure whether it would be better to meet a happy camper with no lights in the tunnel, or on the road with no guard rail and a sheer drop of 100 feet into a rushing, boulder-strewn riverbed.
By the time we got out of the park and back on the sedate state road, I wasn’t sure whether I would get him to go back today or not. Only the promise that we would ride the shuttle bus in the canyon and he wouldn’t have to drive it convinced him to go back. That and the fact that we hadn’t taken any pictures yesterday, and he didn’t have any way to prove that he had been already!
Anyway, he agreed to go back today and we had a really good time until the heat hit us. By 11:30 the temperature was in the upper 90s and we were ready to come back to our nice, cool air conditioned motel room and wash clothes for probably the last time before we get to Tacoma.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
We rode the shuttle up the canyon all the way to the end before we started taking pictures. Once again, the canyon is beautiful, but there’s too much of it to really be able to appreciate it. And there’s no way pictures can begin to convey the shear size and scope of the thing.











Proof that Big Al did agree to go up the canyon with me.





Blue, blue sky – red, red sandstone rocks – green, green cottonwood trees.



There were hikers walking along on top of the white part. I don’t even want to think about how they got up there.




The Virgin River that caused all of this.





Wonderful, cool spring water was available at this shuttle stop. And we drank plenty.





At the court of the patriarchs. In the next two pictures, the first two peaks are named Abraham, and Moses, and in the second picture you can just see Jacob (the white peak) peeping out from behind Maroni (the red mountain in front) named for one of the Mormon prophets.






On the way home, we passed through several lava fields, but we had forgotten to ask when in the timeline of the park the volcanic activity had occurred. If anyone knows, I’d love to hear from you. To our amateur geologist eyes it looked like the volcanic activity was on top of the Navajo sandstone that comprises the topology of the canyon, but there was no evidence of anything volcanic in the park.



  1. Love your pictures. Reminds me of the time we were there. We took the shuttle bus tour too. I think one could hike up the river a bit at the end of the shuttle bus run, but we did not do this. Tell your husband I remember those curvy roads. But the rocks are magnificent and I sort of forgot the hairpin curves looking at everything (Jim was driving). Safe travels on the next leg of your journey. Janet


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