Travels in the American Southwest

Zion National Park

I visited Zion Nat. Park in October '96. As a note, Zion is an "upside down" park in that you are at the bottom of the canyon looking up...the opposite of the Grand Canyon where you look down into the canyon.

Zion

I drove from LV (left around 4:00 AM) and was in Zion as the sun rose. I-15 north is a magnificent ride with spectacular views as the road snakes through mountain passes.

Entered Zion N.P. from the South Entrance traveling north on the Zion Canyon Scenic Road. Passed a number of scenic areas as I headed for the Temple of Sinawava at the end of the road.

I parked and strolled along the Riverside Walk to the end of the paved trail, passing the "Flood Warning" sign located at the start of Riverside Walk. This sign warns of possible flash flooding (a real danger!) giving warnings from "slight" to "extreme".

Zion Narrows Sign

At the end of Riverside Walk, the trail becomes "wet foot" as you walk upstream in the Virgin River, marveling at how it has carved a canyon 300 feet deep and only a few yards wide. This is the start of the Narrows Trail. The sky is a thin ribbon of blue as the sandstone sides of the canyon soar high above you. Not having brought a change of shoes and not wanting to get wet, I grabbed a walking staff and hopped from rock to rock for about 100 yards, then turned around and returned (hopping rock to rock)!

A fellow in wet-suit pants and diver's boots approached me. (He saw me hopping from rock to rock). "Afraid of getting wet?" he asked. I smiled and replied that unlike him, I didn't come prepared for a "wet foot" hike. In short order, he told me of the sights that awaited those who would venture beyond the bend of the river and that my sneakers will dry out if I was in an exploring mood. "After all, you drove all that way to get here" he goaded. Thirty seconds later, (with my walking stick firmly clenched in my hand, my pants rolled up to my knees and camera slung over my shoulder), I stepped into the water and began to make my way "up river".

Zion Narrows   Zion Narrows

Hiked in about a mile and a half when tragedy decided to make an appearance. My walking stick went "crack"! The five foot staff became diminutive two and three foot pieces of kindling! Deciding that this was nature's way of telling me to turn back, I headed back. Fortunately, I found a semi-suitable replacement for my broken walking staff in a pile of debris which had been washed down-river during an earlier flash flood.

Met all types of folks on my return trip, one group asking "How much further is it?" When I asked "Further to what?" They simply looked confused and said they were just following the group ahead of them! No maps! No clue! I gave them my map and good wishes and we went our separate ways!

Back at the car, I put on dry shoes and socks and hung the dripping sneakers over the car's radio antenna and headed south, stopping at the Emerald Pools and doing a little more hiking and then drove past "The Watchman" before heading to Bryce Canyon.

I traveled east on the Zion - Mt.Carmel Highway, a winding and looping road which goes through a long tunnel which was blasted out of rock back in the 20's. A natural "window" on the north side of the tunnel allows the traveler to see a giant arch, carved by nature out of the steep cliffs.

Zion National Park

In '96, there was a $5.00 entrance fee for Zion. Campsites are available, Zion Lodge offers a motel and cabins as well as a restaurant and gift shop. For lodging, advanced reservations are _strongly_ suggested (303) 297-2757.

For further info on Zion N.P., contact the Park Superintendent (for maps, etc.) at (435) 722-3256.

More Information
National Park Service-Zion


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