July 8, 2010 (Zion National Park Intro)

We are in Utah’s first national park.  It is a huge area to explore.  Two of the most amazing day hikes in the world are here.  I woke up relatively early and made breakfast so we could plan our day and hit the trails.  So what did we do?  I caught up on emails, the girls crashed out in bed playing video games, and Mike drove half an hour to reach the closest hardware store to fix parts of the camper that shook loose during the ride down “The Hole in the Wall Road” back in Escalante.  Despite good intentions, we are still in a mid-trip slide where everybody is moving a little slower than we were a couple of weeks ago.  By the time we were pulled together enough to venture out, it was almost noon and it was almost 100 degrees.  Too hot for a first hike, so we postponed plans until mid-afternoon.

DSC03180Our Campsite just outside of Zion National Park

We didn’t start out fast, and we just kept falling behind.  Our eventual plan was to hike the Emerald Pools trail – a 2-3 hour series of ascending trails leading to three different waterfalls.  We also signed up for a guided ranger tour of the canyon in the evening.  By 3 pm, however, we scrapped the pools and instead walked a half-mile trail to Weeping Rock, an overhang of drizzling water.  After that, we hit the Human History Museum and then joined our ranger tour.


Waiting for the shuttle:  We’re finally on the move (but just barely)


Standing in front of “The Organ”:  a pipe-shaped rock structure


Catching water as it trickles down from rocks above


Looking out from under Weeping Rock

The tour took us on one of the park’s shuttle busses to several interesting areas of the park.  They spent a lot of time on the early people and eventually Mormon pioneer families who once lived in the park area.  They also pointed out places where the geology has changed in recent years, including a giant rock slide that wiped out a 300 ft. section of road in 1995.


An area where a recent rock slide changed the side of the mountain.  This would have looked different when I first visited in 1993.

We liked the shuttle busses.  Unless you’re staying in the lodge, the main road through the canyon is shuttle busses only, so once you park in the visitor’s center, you just hop on a shuttle and head to whatever trailhead or building you want to visit.  Actually, there’s no need to look for a parking space.  If you’re staying in town, free shuttles pick you up there every few minutes and drop you off at the park entrance.

After our tour, we cooked up a late dinner of chicken and biscuits while checking the weather report.  We want to hike the Narrows Trail through the river in the morning, but the potential for flash flooding moved from “Low” to “Moderate” this afternoon.  Not a good time to be in a slot canyon.

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