SW US Trip with Marion C. and Sue Hope

Zion National Park, Stop 12

Tuesday, May 26-27

After a scenic drive through the park, we arrived at Springdale in the early evening, too late to do any sight seeing. We checked into our hotel, the Bumbleberry Inn, and walked across to the nearby restaurant for dinner. After walking around the town for a while, we went back to the Inn and enjoyed the view from the private balcony. The view would be much nicer without the power lines and poles but is still pretty impressive.

The next morning, we arose and had a great buffet breakfast at The Spotted Dog and headed for the park. Zion National Park is a large canyon cut by the Virgin River. The up river end of it is a narrow slot canyon - called the Narrows - 16 miles long. Hiking up the Narrows is allowed but requires wading across the river about every thirty yards as the river meanders back and forth across the canyon, following the curves. The water is generally shallow - about mid-thigh or waist deep. It is swift at times and the rocks on the river bottom are slick and it is difficult to maintain balance on them. We had decided we'd check it out and maybe hike up the Narrows for a distance.

The road up the Virgin River, the Zion Canyon Road, can only be driven beyond the museum by those staying in the Zion Lodge - and then only to the lodge, about half way to the Narrows. Everyone else must either walk or ride the busses which run from the Visitors' Center (where there is adequate parking) about every 15 minutes and stop numerous times along the way. You can get off anywhere and catch another bus to continue your trip up river. So, our first stop was the Visitors' Center where we parked and browsed the gift shop, then took the bus to the museum. One reason for visiting the museum is shown in the next two photos.

After touring the museum, we caught the next bus up the Zion Canyon Road to the end of the line. We then hiked about a half mile to the entrance to the Narrows. Along the way, there were lots of interesting things to look at and photograph. First, there were the flowers. Water seeped out of the canyon walls so the environment was great for flowers. Here are a few.

These frogs were hanging (?) around a small pool and seep alongside the trail leading to the Narrows.

This little rill in the river before the Narrows was nice.

We finally reached the entrance to the Narrows and decided we'd go ahead and hike/wade up them for a way. One of Aunt Edna's diaries describes a hike she and Uncle Herbert took in the early part of the last century. They disrobed and floated back - must have been warmer then. When Dot and I did this last, it was in September and the water was much lower and warmer. This early in the year, the water is from snow melt and is COLD and about twice as deep as when we did it before. Nevertheless, not realizing these things, we waded in (literally). The first thing I noticed was that my feet quickly became so cold, they literally ached. The water was so swift we were having trouble standing up when we had to cross at the shallow, swifter parts. Here's a picture of us in the entrance showing the slot canyon beyond and the roiling water behind us.

Dot and Sue on the way out. Note the swift water we had just negotiated.

Here the four of us - photo taken by a young man whom we met along the way.

We made our way perhaps a half mile or so into the Narrows when a member of the group who will forever remain unidentified (grin) suggested that we turn around. We did so and made our way back to the trail and on to the bus stop. We rode it back to the lodge where we rested over lunch and ice cream while we planned the rest of the afternoon. We decided to hike to Lower Emerald Pool since the trailhead was just across the road and river from the lodge. Dot and I had hiked to the Upper Emerald Pool several years ago and it was very pretty.

This trail entails a significant climb up the side of the face of the canyon but where it has widened out and the sides are not so steep but have promontories and peaks along this part. There are a number of nice views of the face of the canyon from this area. I liked the way the broken light of the afternoon sun through the clouds created emphases. Here are a couple of these.

There were a lot of flowers along this trail too. Here are some of them.

We saw quite a bit of wildlife from the trail - turkeys, deer, numerous birds, rock squirrels - but most of it was either moving too quickly or was too far away for the short lens I was carrying. This little guy though just sat there while people walked on the trail just out of the photo to the left. He seemed unperturbed by our presence.

We reached the Emerald Pool looked around and headed back to the lodge. Curiously, we saw more wildlife on the lodge lawn than on all of our hikes so far. There were several turkeys and deer browsing on the grass just as we crossed the road.

We caught the bus back to the Visitors' Center and drove back to Springdale. We had burgers at a local sandwich shop walked around for a while, then turned in for the night. The next morning, we were up, had breakfast at the Spotted Dog (really great breakfast buffet) again. Today, we drive back across Zion and on to Bryce Canyon National Park - about 80 miles from Zion. The drive across Zion was especially scenic. Here are some examples.

Before going very far though, we stopped by a rock near the Visitors' Center to see the Indian Writing which embellished it - and found a prickly pear cactus blossom next to the rock.

The mountain scenery was impressive across the park.

We stopped to hike into the desert off the main road occasionally and encountered a spiderwort. These beautiful blue flowers grow profusely in Florida - we have them in the back yard - but these appear to be thriving in the DESERT!

At the exit, there is a geological structure that is one of the park icons. It's called the Checkerboard Mesa - for reasons immediately obvious in the photo below.

So, with Zion disappearing behind us, we headed cross country to Bryce Canyon National Park.

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