The Altar of Sacrifice
The only other time I had been to Zion National Park was in 1972, for part of an afternoon. Kathy was here on a family vacation trip back in 1965. Needless to say neither one of us remembered the park very well. Zion National Park is smaller than either of us had remembered and Zion Canyon is much smaller than we thought.
In 1999 Zion National Park had a number of days when daily visitation was 3,000 to 5,000 cars per day. However, Zion Canyon only has 450 parking spaces. As you can imagine it was total gridlock. In 2000 the park service banished cars from most of Zion Canyon and started a free shuttle system. The shuttles run from 6 AM until 10 PM and during mid-day the shuttles are only 6 minutes apart. This is absolutely the best run most efficient shuttle system we have ever come across. If only all National Parks had a system like this. At the entrance to Zion National Park is the town of Springdale, Utah. It is a typical tourist town with one RV Park, dozens of restaurants, souvenir stores and a huge number of hotels, inns and motels. Zion’s remarkable free shuttle begins in town with shuttle stops at the various hotels, shopping areas and restaurants. . Since there isn’t any parking in Zion Canyon the park service encourages everyone to park in town and to leave their cars behind. We walk out of the RV Park to the shuttle stop and head toward the restaurants in town or away from town to the park entrance. At the park entrance you exit the town shuttle, cross a bridge to enter the park and hop a park shuttle. It takes a shuttle about 90 minutes to complete one loop of Zion Canyon. Along the way the bus has a narrative track of about the history, geology and hiking trails in the canyon. The shuttle makes many stops as it goes up the canyon so that you can get off to take pictures, go for a hike, have picnic or visit the museum.
We came to Zion National Park to stay for a week. After a week we added 4 more days; after those 4 days we added another week. The weather has been wonderful. Since Zion is a “hikers park”, because it has many trails, we have been doing a lot of hiking. Some easy, some moderate and some difficult. With the wonderful shuttle system, our hikes didn’t have to be out and back. We could string trails together to hike up or down the canyon to any other shuttle stop. Since we have been here we have walked all of the easy and moderate trails and some of them more than once. Because of the deepness of Zion Canyon, the many colors in its walls and sun and clouds passing over it, every scene in Zion changes constantly. Every wall, peak and rock looked different every time we passed it.
We have taken hundreds of pictures while we have been here and have been trying to edit them down to something manageable. To keep the slideshow manageable we have broken the Zion National park blog entry to four separate entries each with a different theme.
This first slideshow is a collection from various hikes and scenic overlooks and gives a good idea of the diversity of Zion National Park.