On to Zion

Published: June 5th 2018
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Well, Dianne’s long standing wish has finally come into being. For years she has wanted to head down to Utah to visit the various canyons she has heard about from her parents, her brother and his wife, and many others including friends from Europe. She has been reading books and pouring over various articles on the internet. She has an agenda and a porter to do the heavy lifting. We headed out on May 11th.

But first, because we would be away on our daughter’s 50th birthday, we stopped overnight in Mission to take the birthday girl out for a pre-birthday dinner. Happy Birthday, Christine.

The blog is a bit delayed because we have had a problem getting consistent connections to charge the computers and access to WiFi. Also had trouble reading the screen due to the bright sunshine. Feel a little silly complaining about that. More on this as the blog continues. I may actually get caught up before we get home!

The drive

The border crossing was a bit anticlimactic. We have heard of many problems other folks have had, particularly with food products. Dianne didn't pack anything of the kind. We drove right up
On the wayOn the wayOn the way

We planned to stop in Boise, ID and Provo, UT on the way. Lots to see.
to the border crossing, no waiting. The border guy asked where we were going, how long we were staying and wished us a good trip. Wow.

I had Google Mapped the trip from Mission to Zion National Park, the farthest south of the canyons Dianne wanted to visit. What I didn’t look at that carefully was how long it would take to get to Boise, the first stop on our trip. Over 900 kilometers. Not impossible but longer than it needed to be, especially since the second day, to Provo Utah, was somewhat shorter than it needed to be.

The highways are good and the speed limits are high (80 mph in Utah!) so we made pretty good time. Even going through Seattle and Salt Lake City, where the highways are wide but the number of cars incredible, was not too bad. Although there were times near Seattle where we were stopped dead on a 6 lane highway …. That’s 6 lanes going the same way we were.

But the trip wouldn’t be complete without a cappuccino story. On the second day we were both a little drowsy so decided to stop for coffee in Cedar City, Utah. We weren’t sure how big the city was but there were three highway accesses so it must be fairly big. Off at the North Main exit and drove down a pretty major looking street. No coffee shops by the time we hit the Middle Main access. Should we just get back on the highway or continue to the South Main exit. We continued. This is Utah where the majority are Mormons who don’t include coffee in their list of “must have” beverages. Maybe this affects the number of coffee shops? We came to the South Main access without seeing a coffee shop so, sigh, we accepted our fate and decided to rejoin the highway. Argh! Dianne missed the freeway Entrance sign and we started to look for a place to turn around.

There was a convenient one right in front of us: a Starbucks Coffee shop parking lot. We really enjoyed that cappuccino!

The Campground in Zion National Park

The campground we stayed in was pretty nice. The sites were huge. We had decided at the last minute to throw in our canopy. I didn’t figure it would rain on this trip but you never know. A good decision. We didn’t need it for rain but it sure provided some needed shade.

The days were hot but the nights nicely cool. The biggest surprise was the wind. It came up every night about 2:00am and blew like crazy. It was a cold wind too. But about 9:00 am, just as the sun finally rose over the canyon walls, it stopped and the temperature rose. The ranger explained it as a natural event caused by changes in temperature and enclosed canyons. Hot air rises, cold air sinks…. etc etc…. I believe we learned all this in Chemistry 10 back in the Jurassic Era.

Unexpected guests

We were sitting in our new camping chairs in the shade, relaxing after a good day‘s hiking. A lady came up to us and, in hesitant English, asked us about the campsites. There were so many empty ones but they were told there were none available. Turns out “they” were two couples from France who had not understood the requirements for reservations. Bad news as campsites were hard to come by even with reservations. The lady went back to talk to the Campground Hosts and Dianne and I looked around at our site which was really quite large. We walked over to the entrance and saw the couples still talking to the host. We asked if they could pitch their two “very small” tents on our site. NO problem with the hosts so we made some minor changes and everything went well.

The two couples had flown to California, rented a car, and driven to Utah to view the canyons. They even brought their own camping equipment! They are from small villages near Toulouse, France, not that far from Montpellier where we cat sat last year. Over lunch at the picnic table one of the men drew us a map to their area so we can come and visit them when we go back to Montpellier to cat sit again in 2019. They even bought us a bottle of wine from their region of France. If you know what is takes to buy wine in Utah you can understand how much they appreciated the camp site. We were happy to help and had a lot of good laughs.

The park

This area is very popular. So popular, in fact, that they had to close a good
Virgin RiverVirgin RiverVirgin River

The cause of all the valleys/canyons. Hard to believe this little river could cause such wonders.
part of it to car traffic. They have a marvellous shuttle system. One brings people to the park from all areas of Springdale, a town just outside the park. Another inside the park takes people to nine locations where they can do all levels of hikes. Without this shuttle the roads would be gridlocked with cars.

The reservations system failed us though. We wanted to stay five nights. It’s a very long story but they would only reserve us a spot for three so we had to move to a commercial site outside the park for the last two. No one could explain what actually happened. But the commercial place had a very nice pool and laundry so it wasn’t all bad. And we could walk to the park (we could have taken the shuttle, it stopped right outside the campground).

One interesting thing about Zion is that instead of being at the top of the canyon looking down, you are at the bottom looking up.


It will come as no surprise to long time blog readers that we found a great cappuccino place just outside the park. We had a lot of laughs with
Cactus flowersCactus flowersCactus flowers

Many different types of cactus in the canyons. This type was flowering so Dianne couldn't resist.
the young women who worked there. One told us about her upcoming honeymoon trip. The next day she mentioned her 7 month old son. The third time we went in she had her son with her and her fiancé came in to pick him up. One of the highlights on the Zion portion of the trip.

What's next?

The first five days were great. The next stop will be Bryce Canyon. Not that far away but supposedly quite different. ToBeContinued.

Additional photos below
Photos: 18, Displayed: 18



You don't really have to read the schedule. Just wait and it will come. Never more than 15 minutes outside the park and about 10 inside.
Incredible overhangsIncredible overhangs
Incredible overhangs

Getting us ready for Hovenweep and Arches

Every once in a while a seep will occur and plants will take advantage of this water source.
Girl at playGirl at play
Girl at play

Dianne was in heaven wading in the river.
Watchman trailWatchman trail
Watchman trail

We started this trail early, but not early enough. It was beating sun all the way home. But at least we had shade on the way up. We met lots of hikers who would have sun both ways. Yes, we were on that trail on the way up.

Dianne was having fun taking pictures of flowers. Hard to believe some of the places you find the most delicate samples.

Stopped for a snack at one of the shuttle stops.

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