Feeling Small at Zion National Park, Utah
Friday, September 11, 2009 at 10:36PM
[Raul Keally]

This one is going to be brief since I'm finding it hard to keep my eyes open.  Entering Zion National Park, one has no idea really what is in store for them.  It's actually kind of neat how that works out though.  As you start to drive into the beginning of the park, you come across impressive sandstone mountains with checkerboard patterns and a landscape unlike any seen at previous parks in Utah. 

My first highlight came when a herd of Big Horn Sheep decided to descend a mountain next to the road and stop traffic while they ate the leaves off some trees.  I parked my car as best as I could on the side of the road to take pictures as this was one beast I had yet to photograph!  My hand was slapped a little when a park ranger turned on her siren and asked for the vehicles blocking the road to move (mine being one of those).  One thing I noticed is that there are not as many turnouts at Zion as there are at other National Parks.  Maybe because it's the oldest (and first - 1909) National Park in Utah.

After you take a short ride through one tunnel, things get a little more interesting and then you enter a long tunnel carved through rock for over 1 mile with windows bored through the rock so you can see the changing landscape as you travel through and you come out of the tunnel completely blown away.  The scale is hard to imagine as sandstone peaks and rock towers above you.  The canyons are higher than I saw in Canyonlands.  By the time I left the park, my neck was literally sore from looking straight up trying to find the peaks of the towering rock surrounding me.   It was really impressive.

I ended up doing a fairly strenuous 2 mile hike on the Hidden Canyon trail at the Weeping Rock shuttle stop.  It was about 90 degrees out and I filled my Camelback full of water - and I'm glad I did.  The Hidden Canyon trail was pretty much switchback the entire way up and then it turned into a very narrow sand covered rock walkway along the face of a mountain that was about 3-4 feet wide with a thousand foot drop staring at you.  I went as far as I could muster (with the help of a chain they attached to the rock) and then turned back.   I grabbed some great photos.

Zion is another park I definitely will return to - there is so much to see.  I jumped in the car and drove for about 2 hours to Lake Powell which is where I am now as I type this.  Tomorrow I have a guided tour of the Antelope Canyon and then possibly some jet skiing on Lake Powell.  It's hot here!  Time to jump in some water....finally.

 

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