Zion Canyon - Stunning!

Trip Start Apr 08, 2009
Trip End Jun 19, 2009

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Flag of United States  , Utah
Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Arizona and Utah countryside is stark but lovely and really interesting. After visiting Desert View Watchtower, which has an even better view of the river canyon, we left the Grand Canyon and drove through the Painted Desert, which looked like mounds of coloured dirt, or huge piles of dust in pink and white hues. This is Indian land and we could see the very modest shacks and trailers in which the Native Americans live in this desert. Then past the Vermillion Cliffs in the distance and over the Glen Canyon dam. That was quite depressing, not really attractive at all and a blight on the countryside and the river. From a distance it looked better, bluish water against red cliffs. The whole drive was through changing landscapes of rock formations. After we crossed into Utah we saw some lovely rock mesas and boulders.

Then we entered Zion National Park. It is stunning!
This time we are within the canyon, although it is really a valley, green with Cottonwood trees and the Virgin River running through it. The rock walls and peaks all around are just amazing. They are huge, towering over a thousand metres above us, reaching an altitude of more than 8000 feet which is over 2300 metres. Many have interesting names, based on biblical people and places, like the Court of the Patriarchs and The Temple. For those of you who have been to Monolith Valley and Deep Pass and enjoyed them, come to Zion!

Our campsite is just perfect - by the river, right at the end, next to a picnic table where we have our dinners in the warmth of the early evening. A bit of a long walk to the shuttle buses but that is bearable.

The shuttles are another good idea of the NPS - I couldn't imagine being there with thousands of cars, buses and RVs thundering down the valley. We just caught the shuttle everywhere, getting off at a viewpoint or walking track, with the next one coming 5 or 10 minutes later.

We walked the Riverside trail to the Narrows, where the river is rushing through a gorge, swollen with the Spring runoff. Richard and I also fit in a walk to the base of the Watchman and along the Pa'rus trail, taking advantage of the early morning. The best walk was to the Emerald Pools. We all walked to the middle pool, where the kids stayed and played at being Indians. The parents walked up to the upper pool, carrying walkie-talkies so we could communicate with the kids. That was really idyllic and reminded us a bit of Wentworth Falls, although the water from the falls was really a mist being blown about by the wind by the time it reached the bottom.

The last afternoon was dedicated to a horseride, 3 hours for Melanie, Hannah and Karen, 1 hour for Jasmine and Rick (who was not at all keen but was being a good dad). We all enjoyed it, even the reluctant rider who admitted it wasn't that bad riding an animal that you didn't know how to control. In such a place, it would be hard not to enjoy. As Hannah told the guide, she was there for the horses and Mum was there for the scenery!

Jasmine's entry:

Today we went to Zion National Park, Mum said she got one of the best spots next to the river for us.

As soon as we got there, Melanie, Hannah and I rushed to the river and started to build a bridge over one side of the river (the water was 5 degrees C). On the other side we saw two men going white water kayaking (I thought it was a good spot).
The next morning Mum Hannah and I went on the river side walk. On the way we saw a deer and the deer looked like it was posing for photos. Next we saw a wild turkey and the path split in two Hannah and I went one way and Mum went the other. Hannah and I saw a rock squirrel. The squirrel looked like it was not afraid of us, unlike the other squirrels. The next day my Dad and I went horseback riding. Even when my Dad is scared of horses because he has been kicked by one.
My Dad's horse was called Star (boy) and my horse was called Satin. When Dad and I got back I got out and helped him reverse the RV to our site.
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