Tuesday, June 2, 2015

On the Road: Zion National Park

(Photo credit: memyselfandtheinterstate.com)
When I travel, I am driving from east to west so I always start with Arches National Park in Utah and make my way west with Zion National Park as my last stop. By that time, I think I have seen every type of red rock, but Zion is different. Zion National Park is Utah's first National Park and is a place of majestic scenery. This park has more facilities than the other Utah parks and has the highest attendance.

The closest interstate is Interstate 15. Those coming from the south should take Exit 16 and go right on State Route 9. Travelers driving from the north should take Exit 27 and turn left on State Route 17 and then left on State Route 9.

(Photo credit: memyselfandtheinterstate.com)
From March 15 - October 25 and on weekends in November, Zion uses a shuttle system to take guests around the park. Parking is limited at the Visitors Center, so travelers can park in the town of Springdale. The shuttle has nine stops and comes every seven minutes. On the day we went to the park no shuttle was in use. At first I was happy we would have our car with us. Our food and drinks would be readily available to us, but after a few hours we wished we had the shuttle. Parking places were scarce and some people parked along the narrow main road. The parking situation made our park visit stressful. I would like to visit one time and use the shuttle. Parking problems have always made our Zion visits less than ideal.

Zion Lodge is available for those who wish to stay. The Red Rock Grill Dining Room is located at the lodge. Nearby towns also have many options for lodging and food.

(Photo credit: memyselfandtheinterstate.com)
Even though Zion has more conveniences than some of the other parks, visitors should remember this is a wilderness area. Hiking the trails is fun, but some people have fallen to their deaths here when they were not careful. Water is also a big consideration here. Have one gallon of water per person per day for activities. Hiking shoes or boots are advisable.

As with all national parks, travelers should research the trails and know which ones would be suitable. The Park Service has rated the trails and provides descriptions including the amount of time needed, the elevation change and the length of the trail. The easy trails are Pa'rus, Archeology, Lower Emerald Pool, The Grotto, Weeping Rock and Riverside Walk. The moderate trails include Watchman, Sand Bench, Upper Emerald Pool, Kayenta, Canyon Overlook, Taylor Creek and Timber Creek Overlook. Some of the strenuous trails have long drop-offs. They may not be appropriate for young children or those afraid of heights. These include Angels Landing via West Rim Trail, Hidden Canyon Trail, Observation Point via East Rim Trail, The Narrow via Riverside Walk, and Kolob Arch via La Verkin Creek Trail. These last trails take from four to eight hours. Hikers should be aware of the types of trails before starting their journeys. Reviews on TripAdvisor and videos on YouTube will also give travelers a better understanding  of the trails.

(Photo credit: memyselfandtheinterstate.com)
The eastern entrance into the park is impressive on the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway. Drivers should be cautious when driving through the tunnel. Zion Canyon Scenic Drive intersects to the right. We went to the left to the Visitors Center first. The History museum and Nature Center are also located there. We backtracked to the Canyon Junction intersection and went north on Zion Canyon Scenic Drive.  Everything is located on this road. The Court of the Patriarchs, The Grotto, The Emerald Pools, Angels Landing, Weeping Rock, Big Bend and the Temple of Sinawava were all located along the road. Another section of Zion is Kolob Canyons which is located off Interstate 15 at Exit 40. Turn right on Kolob Canyons Road.

We saw so many mule deer during our visit. One walked out in front of the car and just looked at us for a while. Another came out of the brush and walked near us on the trail. Others were just resting near the trail and were not startled by us. Mountain lions and bighorn sheep are also present in the park.

Visitors should check the weather forecast before embarking on the day's activities. Extreme heat or cold are concerns, but rain is also a factor. Heavy rain can cause a flash flood in some of the canyons. Put safety ahead of all other concerns.

Utah's National Parks are majestic and inspiring. Each park is unique and each park deserves a visit. These parks contain scenery that leaves an impression for a lifetime. For those who travel in the west, do not miss the opportunity to see the Majestic Five.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.