Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Zion National Park

We found ourselves completely in awe of southern Utah's beautiful landscapes. We spent an afternoon in Zion National Park and couldn't get enough of the sandstone cliffs that rose into the sky in various shades of whites, pinks, and reds. And just look at how those peaks rise right into the clouds!

Initially, we were most excited to visit Zion National Park to enjoy a feature the park is known for: Taking the park's shuttle bus up to its last stop in the canyon, then riding your bicycle back down. It sounded like the coolest adventure! BUT our bikes were stolen a few weeks prior when we were in San Francisco and we decided not to spend the money to rent bikes... next time.

When we arrived at Zion, we were disappointed to learn that we couldn't drive our own car through the main portion of the park. We instead had to ride the park's shuttle buses that drop off passengers at designated stops along the main road. This was the only National Park we visited that operated this way, and we found ourselves longing for the freedom of going at our own pace and seeing the view from our car's front windshield. (But I'm sure this policy helps a lot with traffic, pollution, and animal safety, so we didn't get to upset about the structured transportation.)

The sandstone cliffs in the photo above are called the Court of Patriarchs, named after three towering figures of the Old Testament (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) by a minister in 1916. The cliffs reign over Birch Creek Canyon and that section of the Virgin River.

A popular sight in the park is Weeping Rock, which is a quick hike away from the main park road. At the end of the trail, you come to a rock alcove with dripping springs. In the pictures above it's hard to see the dripping water - in the winter there's usually a gush of water, but in the summer there's only a gentle trickle of water.

The Canyons in the photo above are named (left to right) The Organ, The Great White Throne, and Angels Landing, which reflects the religious names given to the park's features by early pioneers of the area - these early settlers felt that the area was peaceful and heavenly.

After riding the park shuttle all the way up and back down again, we got back in our car to drive through the non-restricted parts of the park, then out of the park toward our next destination. It was exciting to once again have a front row seat to the canyon views and hillside drops. Check out the switchbacks in the GPS photo above - unreal!

Next time we visit the park, we'll definitely have to make an event of it and stay for at least a few days. I imagine this park is best enjoyed when camping out and hiking the many trails!

See more Utah posts here and more National Park posts here

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