Zion National Park, Utah

Trip Start Apr 11, 2010
Trip End May 20, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Utah
Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Like Bryce, Zion is one of those spectacular national parks I had been to once before but only on a whirlwind rushed drive through.  An impressive canyon in red and white rock, Zion Canyon bears some fleeting similarity to more famous Yosemite Valley and a much stronger resemblance to Ordesa Canyon in the Pyrenees of northern Spain where I completed a trek two years ago.

Since I was last there in 1992 the powers that rule over Zion have done a very smart thing.  Beginning in 2000 during the April to October busy season, vehicles are not permitted to drive into Zion Canyon but must park below it at a visitor center and visitors must use free non-polluting shuttle buses to get into and out of the canyon.  It's a model for other overcrowded parks but one that lots of car-obsessed nutcases are likely to scream "Socialism!" over.  The shuttle bus system creates a quiet and relaxed atmosphere in the canyon that can accommodate high visitation without the sense of overcrowding that takes place when thousands of automobiles are present.  Unfortunately, so many high season visits to other national parks have become about as relaxing as driving through Times Square.

There's more to Zion National Park than just the canyon but we made the canyon the focus of our day there with several hikes through the canyon and short distances up its sides to spots with names like Emerald Pools, Weeping Rock, Great White Throne, and the Grotto.  High water in the Virgin River kept us from attempting the park's most famous hike, a several mile wade up the river to "The Narrows", while Dave's fear of heights kept us far from "Angel's Landing", a scary ridge walk to an exposed promontory jutting out into the canyon.  The reports of annual incidents of people falling a thousand feet to their deaths didn't do much to enhance our enthusiasm for trying it either.

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