The Virgin River working hard in Zion National Park! If you want to feel infinitesimal, then take a hike along the many trails in Zion where the Virgin river has been and still is, hard at work rock carving and Canyon building.
We drove to the park early because the people at the campground told us that parking is at a premium and also because we wanted to avoid the boiling afternoon sun (good luck with that one). First order of business was a visit to the welcome center, which by the way I love doing if I haven’t already mentioned that. They gave us a map of the park and suggestions for a few trails to hike that where moderate to easy. Here I need to pause and say that moderate and easy have different meaning in Zion and even the easy trails are challenging at times and some trails are extremely strenuous and dangerous (as in you can fall off a cliff side, but hey it was still easy to do that). You are basically always walking up from the bottom of the Canyon to wherever your hiking no matter where you are.
The first trail we hit was the River Walk trail which was beautiful but very chilly in the early morning. This trail is paved and takes you a couple of miles up Canyon and connects with the narrows of the river where you have to wade into the water. We didn’t go too far in because we didn’t have the proper shoes for wading. I would also like to point out that the water is freezing and you know how I feel about that! I wish I had left this trail for the end of the day because a couple of the afternoon hikes where hot hot hot!
The park has a very nice hop on and off bus that takes you through the entire park with stops at various vista points and trail heads. You can even put your bike on the front of the bus, they all have bike racks, if you want to do some biking in the park (if you do, I hope you like hills😳).
One vista point that was very beautiful was the Weeping Rock trail. It’s a short walk, but straight uphill, and the views at the top are worth admiring as the waterfall, rock formations and Canyon walls are beautiful. From there we stopped for lunch at the Lodge (skip the sandwiches go for the burgers) and connected with the Emerald pool trail. This is the one I wish I had done in early morning, it was uphill all the way under the blazing sun. I have to admit that I was overcomed by the heat and didn’t make it all the way up, with .6 miles to go, I threw out the white flag, found a shaded boulder on the trail and let Leo continue to the end. His report stated that the top of the trail had wonderful views, sheer vertical walls, surrounding a beautiful pool of water, with a brilliant emerald green color. I did hike almost 3 miles up and saw the lower pools and the middle pool so no regrets here, plus I had a nice chat with a couple of Australians and a couple from France who also decided to take a break on my shady boulder.
Our second day in Zion was a mixed bag. We took the scenic ride through the park and passed the East tunnel entrance which takes you to a short and easy (according to Leo but he tricks me all the time) Canyon overlook trail. The tunnel itself it’s a sight to see. It was completed in 1930, so I’m assuming it was part of the depression era work projects. It’s about a mile long with a few interesting lookout alcoves and windows as you go through. These are not accesible to the public now but I can imagine how wonderful it would have beeen to drive your model T in the early 1930’s and stop in the middle of the tunnel to look over the beautiful canyon and beyond. The tunnel is very narrow and if you are crazy enough to drive a large RV up there (which we didn’t ) the rangers stop 2-way traffic to allow you to pass, through the middle of the tunnel, with a baton which you then hand over to the park ranger on the other side to signal all clear (and they also charge you $15 for the opportunity to drive through). It’s a very complicated process and sometimes bottle necks traffic at the entrance of the tunnel. Needless to say we had read about this before hand and avoided this route with our rig. As a very wise person on the internet put it “big rigs have no business on this road” and I agree completely!
Now back to Leo’s tricky ways. The Canyon lookout trail is right before the east entrance of the tunnel and is only a mile round trip. But he didn’t tell me that is was uphill all the way and you had to scale large rocks and walk on very narrow ledges, and catwalks overlooking major precipices, while battling 98 degree temperatures, he tricks me every time. I must say the hike was worth it because the views were fantastic and I definetly felt a sense of peace and accomplishment once we reached the top (ok so I love being tricked).
Tomorrow we’re off to Bryce Canyon for the second stop on the Utah’s grand circle of national Paks. I am looking forward to additional challenges and those are easy to come by with Leo as our hike trip planner …. yikes!