In July of 1996 we visited Zion with our kids. We spent a day riding horses through the canyon and hiking. Yesterday we went back for another look.
One of the best changes that have been made since our first visit is there is now a shuttle into Zion Canyon. Cars are no longer allowed. The buses were great running every 6 to 8 minutes and even included very interesting narration as you drove from stop to stop. Too bad some people were too rude to stay quiet so I couldn’t hear all of it.
In Zion the main road is at the bottom of the canyon which gives you a very different perspective than at most other canyons. This section is called Towers of the Virgin (the Virgin River carved the canyon). The mountain on the left is the tallest in the park.
The park got its name from early Mormon settlers who named it using the biblical reference of Zion. Many of the landmarks in the park have biblical names given by the Mormons and a Methodist minister.
The entire canyon was carved by the Virgin River, rain and snow. There is no evidence of any glaciers. The power of running water is amazing.
The Bridge Mountain Arch is 1,000 feet from the floor of the canyon. There is a trail to it, but you have to bring 150 feet of rope to rock climb up part of the trail; not for us :) The arch is in the center of the picture and looks like it’s vertical. Can you see it?
We hiked along 3 mile Emerald Pools trail. There are three pools, the lower, middle and upper pool. These trails required some climbing, but the pools were beautiful. They’re created by water running down the sides of the cliffs. Here’s the water falling over the rocks at the Upper Emerald Pool.
Another amazing spot is the Weeping Rock. Water seeps out of the sandstone and makes it seem as if rain is coming out of the rock. There are hanging gardens in these areas created from the water flowing out of the rocks.
I was really surprised to see that the campground was full for the weekend this late in the season. Zion’s elevation is a bit lower than some of the other parks and is in the very southwest corner of Utah. They don’t get as much snow or cold as other parts of Utah. Coming from the east you have to drive down a very windy road which includes a mile long tunnel. There are strict height restrictions and certain vehicles have to pay a fee for an escort through the tunnel. I would recommend anyone wanting to camp at Zion come in from the west entrance. It’s a much easier drive. Then definitely take a drive to the east entrance. It’s an amazing scenic drive, just not while towing.
Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!