Thursday, May 17, 2012

Zion National Park - First Visit to Zion Canyon

Roger here....  After leaving Page, AZ we traveled across southern Utah until reaching the Zion River Resort where we will be spending a month.  We are very happy with our spot here in this upscale resort.  Our site backs up to the Virgin River.  Sleeping here with the background sounds of rushing water is great.  Bandido loves it, too because he can swim to retrieve sticks from the water.

Zion National  Park has two separate areas.  The main area in Zion Canyon and the Kolob Canyon section, 24 miles to the north.  The Zion Canyon area has the iconic scenery and is very crowded, but the scenery is so worth it.  The only way to see this part of the park is to leave your car at the entrance and hop on one of the propane-powered shuttle buses.  These buses run continuously -- very minimal waiting -- and they stop at all the main hubs.  It is much better to be comfortable in one of the shuttles than to worry about finding parking spaces at the trailheads.

Two days ago we made an exploratory trip to the main Zion Canyon area and took a couple of short hikes.  Our first stop from the shuttle bus was at the Zion Park Lodge, where we ate a quick lunch  on a bench outside the lodge.  We enjoyed very tasty and very expensive tuna salad sandwiches, but had a spectacular view.

It was cottonwood season in the canyon.  The trees seemed to all be shedding tons of cotton, simultaneously.  It seemed as if we were picnicking in a gentle snow storm, except it was not cold.  Keeping the cotton out of the sandwiches was a challenge.  Take a look at one of the prevalent cotton snow drifts.

After lunch we decided to take a short, one- mile hike on a flat, paved trail to the next bus stop to the Grotto Picnic area.  Not an intriguing hike, but nice scenery along the way.

After hopping back on the bus, we traveled to the end of the bus line so we could do an easy jaunt on the Riverside Walk.  This paved trail along the Virgin River takes you to the very popular Narrows area where you can wade up the river and into the canyon.  We fully intend to do this later, so we did not walk to the end of the trail, but did walk about a mile (round-trip).  The river scenes were great. 

The further we walked along the trail, the narrower the canyon became.

It was wildflower time at Zion.  Dianne snapped a few pictures.

A good first visit to Zion Canyon --- the first of several.  Yesterday, we did a fascinating five-mile hike in the Kolob Canyon section of the park.  Stay tuned to share the fun.

The pet picture of the day shows Tequila taking her first tentative steps into the Virgin River.  She is not a water-lover like Bandido.  Prior to her trips to the Virgin River, she refused to allow her toes to get wet.  Who knows, by the time we leave here, she may learn to swim.

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