We visit Zion National Park

Trip Start Apr 18, 2007
Trip End Oct 16, 2007

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Flag of United States  , Utah
Saturday, July 21, 2007

Oh firstly >> has anyone over there got some spare rain?.....we're kinda in need of some.

Breakfast, pack and off south down I-15 to Zion National Park - it was 93F when we left circa 10am and it kept getting HOTTER - Zion is slightly higher but still BAKING.

Zion is one of our favourite National Parks - we took the bus down the canyon and were still amazed by the scenery. Huge mountains either side. A large landmass got pushed up millions of years ago....here's the stuff...


Zion was a relatively flat basin near sea level 240 million years ago. As sands, gravels, and muds eroded from surrounding mountains, streams carried these materials into the basin and deposited them in layers. The sheer weight of these accumulated layers caused the basin to sink, so that the top surface always remained near sea level. As the land rose and fell and as the climate changed, the depositional environment fluctuated from shallow seas to coastal plains to a desert of massive windblown sand. This process of sedimentation continued until over 10,000 feet of material accumulated.

In an area from Zion to the Rocky Mountains, forces deep within the earth started to push the surface up. This was not chaotic uplift, but very slow vertical hoisting of huge blocks of the crust. Zion's elevation rose from near sea level to as high as 10,000 feet above sea level.

Uplift is still occurring. In 1992 a magnitude 5.8 earthquake caused a landslide visible just outside the south entrance of the park in Springdale.

This uplift gave the streams greater cutting force in their descent to the sea. Zion's location on the western edge of this uplift caused the streams to tumble off the plateau, flowing rapidly down a steep gradient. A fast-moving stream carries more sediment and larger boulders than a slow-moving river. These streams began eroding and cutting into the rock layers, forming deep and narrow canyons. Since the uplift began, the North Fork of the Virgin River has carried away several thousand feet of rock that once lay above the highest layers visible today.

The Virgin River is still excavating. Upstream from the Temple of Sinawava the river cuts through Navajo Sandstone, creating a slot canyon. At the Temple, the river has reached the softer Kayenta Formation below. Water erodes the shale, undermining the overlaying sandstone and causing it to collapse, widening the canyon.

We walked up the end of the canyon for a while but it was very exhausting, so after a quick trip to the Zion Lodge in the middle of the canyon we headed back on the Park bus to the carpark and after a hotdog in a local café pressed on for St George.

It was 106F when we got there - opening the car door was like opening an oven door. We're at the BW Coral Hills - which is a classy BW with an indoor and outdoor pool. We made it out to the external pool and a combination of pool time and sitting in the shade made the heat seem not so bad.

The evening was spent at Benja - a truly EXCELLENT Thai restaurant that we'd been to last year when it had just been opened. We got served by Alex who looked after us last time (including finding a brown paper bag so we could take our unfinished wine bottle back to the hotel room). We had a wonderful meal and reckon it as one of our best restaurants in the whole of the USA.

When we left the restaurant at 10pm it was still 103F !!!!
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