Zion Park is even more beautiful than we remembered from last time we were here. The muddy Virgin River cuts a deep valley through red sandstone cliffs towering above in multi-hued peaks. In the spring, trees and grasses are green, providing a pretty contrast to the red rocks. Driving through, we were so struck by the beauty that, on the spur of the moment, we decided to stay a night in the Best Western just outside the west entrance in the town of Springdale, Utah to allow us to have some time to really see the park. We were so glad we did.
Utah State highway 9 is one of the prettiest drives that you can take, taking you from the west to the east entrance, on the south east corner of the park, and going through the Zion-Mount Carmel tunnel. Within the park, northbound travel up the canyon to the narrowest end is restricted between April and October to shuttle bus only. We parked at the visitor’s centre near the west entrance, then took the free shuttle bus up the canyon. There is a narrated recorded talk pointing out various peaks and hiking trails, and there are several stops
along the way that allow you to hop off and look around, or hike if you want. Buses come about every 6 minutes, so the wait for the next one when you have hiked yourself out is never very long. Clear spring water and washrooms are available at some of the spots as well. The shuttle turns around and comes back down at the end of the canyon. The ride takes 80 minutes if you don’t get off - longer if you do. We actually did it twice - once around 4:30 to get the late day sunlight on the cliffs on one side of the valley, and again the next day to do more hiking and get sunlight on the other side. We took hundreds of pictures and killed three camera batteries. And, we really found out how fat and out of shape we got in Hawaii! Sore and tired and happy, we got back into the car late in the afternoon and made our way to our next stop - Bryce Canyon.
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