Utah Rocks! in Zion National Park
Mount Carmel, UT
Today was the day for Zion National Park. We woke up after a fairly short night of sleep, and had breakfast at the East Zion Thunderbird Lodge (it came with our room). We pulled our hiking things together and headed for the park. Zion is an incredible park with a wide variety of marvels and wonders. The first thing we saw was the Checkerboard Mesa…a small mountain of solid rock (sandstone) that had criss-crossed lines all over it. The rocks, colors and lines through the steep cliffs all around us were so amazing.
After driving the Zion-Mt. Carmel highway and going through the long tunnel, we headed for the Visitors' Center. We got some basic information and then hopped on the shuttle (the only way you can see the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive). We took it to Zion’s Lodge, and walked over to the Emerald Pools Trailhead. The trail was nice, with some shade, lots of interesting plants and a few animals (lizards), and ended with a gentle waterfall over a pond. We only made it to the lower pool (1.2 mi round trip), as the trail was closed to the middle and upper ones.
We hiked back to Zion Lodge and decided 1:00 was a good time for an ice cream cone (since we had a big, somewhat late breakfast we decided to skip lunch). After that, we hopped back on the shuttle and rode up to the Temple of Sinawava , which was the beginning of the Riverside Walk trail. We walked along the river, primarily in the blazing sun, and were very hot and tired when we arrived at the end of the trail, about a 1.1 mile from our starting point. We were a little disappointed that we couldn’t really see "The Narrows" from here, and so plunged in (literally) to go further down. Linda and Leah were the first two to try it, walking right into the water in our tennis/hiking shoes. The first step was the hardest. Once our shoes were wet, the water felt good, and the walk up the river was fun. It was a little tricky at times as the rocks underneath were uneven, slippery, and usually hidden by the cloudy water. After we saw some of the steep cliffs of the narrows, we turned around to head back, and there was Tom, who had decided to join us. He left Chloe (who didn’t want to get her new shoes wet), back on dry land with the bags and a talk-about. We turned around and made it safely back, and then hiked the 1.1 miles back to our shuttle.
We rode the shuttle back to the Museum, making a short stop at the Big Bend first. At the museum we watched the little National Park movie about Zion, browsed the exhibits, and then headed to the Visitor Center. By the time we had done all of that and changed out of our squishy shoes, we were hungry for some supper, so we drove into Springdale and found the Pizza and Noodle Company. It was a neat little place with open air seating, great pizza and good beer too. After filling up, we headed back into the park for one last hike. This one was the 1 mile (round trip) hike to Canyon Overlook, on the East side, just after the tunnel. The girls weren’t sure they wanted to do another hike, but it turned out to be the most interesting and fun hike of the day, not to mention the first one that had comfortable temperatures. The view over the canyon at the end was remarkable, and definitely worth taking our time to do.
That about sums up our day at Zion…it was fun, hot, exhausting…but always inspirational!