Kolob Terrace Road
Trip Start Sep 20, 2010
39Trip End Oct 26, 2010
We decide it is time to leave this stunning geologic wonderland but hope to return. Zion has moved near the top of our list of favorite National Parks, not just because of the drop dead gorgeous scenery but we are very impressed with the management of the park. To discourage single-use bottled water they have installed spring water filling stations at most of the shuttle stops and the visitor center. No private vehicles are allowed in the canyon, only the propane powered shuttles that are clean, quiet and run every 6-7 minutes, stopping at all trailheads, campgrounds and visitor center. The shuttle also links with another equally convenient shuttle that runs into Springdale, connecting at the visitor center. I cannot overemphasize how nice it was to hike without the sound of traffic or the smell of exhaust.
Okay, we meant to leave today but read a short blurb in the park newspaper about Kolob Terrace road going up into the western section of the park, climbing to 8,000 feet elevation from the little town of Virgin. Only 20 miles, not really that much of a detour so why not check it out?
Before heading up Kolob Terrace we looked for a lunch spot and pulled into the Coyote Café. It was small and not remarkable from the outside, just one other car in the parking lot but once inside it had a warm and cozy feel. There were a few tables, a couple of couches and a friendly proprietor who invited us to help ourselves to a seat and beverage. She had a small menu but we both found tempting sandwiches. As we waited locals wandered in and out. There was a bakery case with a few tempting items, lots of magazines and a newspaper to read and a couple of computers with Internet access. Overhearing a conversation between the owner and local customers about Kolob Reservoir Nancy asked about the road and the owner lit up. She had been up there the day before and said the colors, aspen, were brilliant and encouraged us, as if we needed any encouragement, to take the time.
The short 20 mile detour took us most of the day, it seemed we were stopping every few feet for photographs, dazzling colors competing for our attention along with rock formations and the high plateau. When we reached the high point of the road we were actually looking down into Zion Canyon and the backside of the park. The drive was spectacular and I am pleased the write up was underwhelming otherwise it would have been overrun with vehicles; we had almost the entire road to ourselves, able to stop at will to take photos or to just enjoy the peacefulness. What a day!
We settled into an RV park for the night, desperately needing showers and to do laundry. It was actually a very nice park and we were put in a small spot with a view of the mountains and invited to join everyone for wine and cheese in the social room, which we did. We talked to a nice couple from outside Calgary, Alberta, retired ranchers, they were headed to Palm Springs for the winter.
The skies began to darken and George was treated to a short lightening display with some oohs and aahs heard from folks out for their evening walks.