Monday, November 10, 2008

Zion National Park

We arrived at Springdale, Utah, just outside of Zion a few minutes before sunset. Just time to get checked in to our rooms. The Canyon Ranch Motel is a collection of cabin like buildings with each consisting of 2-4 units. There is a common green in the center and several porch swings around the grounds. They were perfect for watching the sunset on the mountains.

Now I know how people feel when they visit Yosemite for the first time. You have to see these places to really appreciate them. Pictures just can't communicate the glory of the experience. And the weather was perfect, not too many people, the leaves just beginning to change.

The shuttle bus systems run from early morning until late at night. One circuit is for Springdale and the other for inside the Park. They are so well managed to be almost invisible. You catch the bus at one of the many stops in town, get off at the pedestrian bridge into the Park and then jump on the Park bus. They run every 8-10 minutes, there is never long to wait, and stop at each point of interest or trail head in the Park.

So the first morning I decided to ride the shuttle to the far end of the canyon to get an overview and then work my way back. Hiking and exploring at each stop. The Virgin River runs through the Park. Much of it is accessible by trails that follow along it's banks.

A few trees were turning bright red.

At the end of the main part of the Canyon is the Temple of Sinwava. This is just a fraction of the circular shape of the head walls. It's very beautiful. Beyond this area is the beginning of The Narrows. (By the way, the place names are a interesting combination of Mormon biblical references and original Indian names).

Cottonwood trees were beginning to change. A hiker told me that the last week of October and first week of November are usually peak times for color.

The calm water above the riffles is caused by a diversion dam. Another example of the town and the Park working together. Domestic water is supplied by these diversion dams on the Virgin River INSIDE the Park.

More pretty trees and red rocks.

There are many very, very old and gnarled cottonwood trees.

I spent the whole first day doing short hikes on the Canyon Floor. It's a great Park for kids. Many fun and easy places to explore. And many more longer day hikes from almost every Shuttle stop. At the top of my list for next visit is to Hidden Canyon. And every night was another perfect sunset.

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