A day at Zion

14 01 2017

First day of the year, we spent in the picturesque Zion Canyon National Park. We reached Springdale late the night before, minutes before the stroke of the midnight. In the pitch dark, expect the car headlights to enable our progress, we absolutely had no clue about what surrounded us along our path past Las Vegas and what our destination entailed. And this is what I saw when I stepped out of my hotel room in the morning:

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Awestruck!

We stayed in Bumbleberry Inn right on the Zion-Mount Carmel Hwy. Nothing like sumptuous food to start the day. Free breakfast at Wildlife Willies. Of course, beautiful scenery is a bonus. 🙂

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The views are spectacular every inch of the short drive to the park entrance and of course thereafter. Absolute gorgeousness all around.

There was snow on the sides and we realized on the trails too, though the roads are clear. We started at Riverside Walk, at the end of the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. It’s a 2 mile paved trail but was partially closed off due to ice and snow.

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Virgin river flowing with recent rains

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Angel’s Landing is the most popular trail with magnificent views from the top. It’s a 5 mile round trip hike but very strenuous with steep climbing, quite dangerous especially in the last leg. We decided to give it a try despite having no proper gear for the conditions. The safety warning at the start of the trail claiming that at least 6 people fell off and died on the hike didn’t deter us. We just wanted to see how far we can go and survive.

View on the way up:

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Trail:

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Scout Lookout was as far as we could go. That too with much difficulty, largely due to snow and ice. The last half mile of the climb involves literal climbing of the mountain with the help of chains put in place. Not wanting to become a danger to other hikers, with our unpreparedness and clumsiness, we wisely decided to call it off at that point. The climb down through the snow was still something we were not sure we could manage very well. But there we were on the top at 1100 feet elevation. No way to go but down. 🙂 Somehow, very carefully we trudged past the slippery slopes. A few people actually slipped. My husband graciously agreed to act as my hiking pole, to which I was immensely grateful. Especially because I have a huge phobia of downhills. All in all, we deemed our little expedition a success and went off to Zion Lodge to treat ourselves with a lavish holiday lunch buffet.

Our next stop was Weeping Rock trail. It’s supposed to be very short, just 0.5 miles. But when we went to the trail head and saw the steep path packaged with snow, we decided we had enough adventure for the day and turned back. Some other time maybe. 🙂

Just a note about this nature’s beauty. As I perused the little guide book provided at our hotel, I came to know that these rocks were formed millions of years ago as a result of heavy winds carrying sand, from god knows where, over many many years. Eventually, the deposited sand got mixed with the minerals to form sedimentary rocks. Other phenomenon like erosion, lithification etc. to form the beautiful canyons. This is not obviously the complete story, but this is all I remember from what I read. You can find the actual resource for more details here: Springdale Guidebook.

With only hours until dusk, we decided to abandon our hiking plans and continue our experience with the drive along Zion-Mount Carmel Hwy towards more and more amazing views.

On this highway, there’s a 1.1 mile tunnel with windows. 🙂

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The largest window:

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There were a few smaller windows, but couldn’t get a snap because there’s no stopping in the tunnel. There’s also a much shorter tunnel, albeit without any windows. 😉

We spotted a couple big horn sheep very close to the road. Everyone stopped, gawked, and clicked as the sheep went about their business. They seem a little annoyed by all this attention, understandably so. But they didn’t budge. They couldn’t care less I guess. 🙂

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We started back after the drive on Zion-Mount Carmel Hwy. A note on getting dinner in Springdale on a holiday. Not many options out there. Most are closed. And the only two appealing (two of the three open) are the Thai house towards the park entrance and the Wildlife Willies. Both has long waiting times. And yeah, they close early. Like 8 pm. We had to wait for one and a half hour at Wildlife Willies in order to get in and were the last but one who were allowed to before they closed for the night. Lucky us!

It’s only the next morning on our journey back did we realize that for about 100 miles or so from the park, we were actually surrounded by resplendent and imposing canyons. The drive was awesome, pretty views all along.

There indeed were strong winds dragging the car sideways. 😦 We had to be real careful.

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2 responses

17 01 2017
David Sullivan

Beautiful! Thank you for sharing this Sireesha.

17 01 2017
sireeshaavvari

Glad you like it. 😀

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