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Friday, October 24, 2014

Zion National Park

Our last day in Kanab we decided to explore the heralded Zion National Park, which is the oldest and best known National Park  in Utah. We noticed quite a difference in Zion from Bryce, and other parks in the area we visited. Bryce and others are better known for their unusual and colorful sandstone formations, whereas Zion is widely known for its' canyons and steep cliffs. The most famous is the Zion Canyon, which is over 15 miles long and a half mile high in places. The Virgin River flows through the entire length of the canyon. The canyons and cliffs are a favorite area for mountain climbers, where many have perished. There were two different groups of climbers on the cliffs while we were there. The only access into the canyon is via free shuttles provided by the park service. The shuttles run about every 10 minutes and stop at pre-determined scenic stops where you can get off and explore and then  catch a later shuttle to continue your journey. This area is a hikers paradise with many paths and trails to parts of the canyon otherwise inaccessible.  Utah Highway 9 is the road that goes through the park and passes through the little village in Springdale. You can board a shuttle in the village of Springdale that will take you to the visitor's center where you board a different shuttle to go into the canyon. There is some parking at the visitor's center, but if it's full (as it normally is) you have to park in Springdale  and ride the shuttle in. We were fortunate in that we found parking at the visitor's center. There are 2 tunnels you pass through on Highway 9, one of which is 1.1 miles in length, and is not a good place for anyone that is claustrophobic. The "2 tunnels" link above is a You Tube video that shows the passage through the tunnel and is very accurate.  There are "windows" cut into the tunnel every quarter mile or so. The tunnel is narrow and not very high with an opening of only 13'2'' at the very center. Any large vehicles, including RV's that want to pass through the tunnel have to arrange passage with a ranger station at either end of the tunnel. When a large vehicle is going to pass through, the ranger at the opposite end stops traffic so the large vehicle can travel in the center of the tunnel and use both lanes. There is a fee of $15 for an oversize vehicle to pass through the tunnel.Our RV is 13'2'', so there's no way we could pull ours through.

We're still in Page, Arizona at the Wahweap RV Park until Sunday when we pull out headed to Williams, Az. where we plan to check out the south rim of the Grand Canyon.

Entering Zion National Park.

Checkerboard Mesa Viewpoint. This is the first viewpoint upon entering the park from the east. Very unusual formation and unlike any others we've seen.

Large opening in side of cliff that has the shape of an eye.

Pretty Aspen trees putting on quite a show!

Entering shorter tunnel.

Coming out of the shorter tunnel.

Entering 1.1 mile tunnel. I was unprepared for this.

One of the "windows" cut through side of mountain.

Look closely in center of this photo and you can see the "window" from the outside in previous picture. Don't forget to click on the picture to enlarge it.

Shuttle into Zion. The second vehicle is trailered to the front one. The driver monitors the second vehicle via closed circuit tv and intercom.

Pretty formation in Canyon. This shot made while in Shuttle. You can see a vent reflection in top of picture. 

End of shuttle route. This area is named Temple of Sinawava. There are several trails going deeper in the canyon.

End of shuttle route. The return trip is back down the same road.

Inside the front shuttle.

The visitor's center

Area where we ate our picnic lunch.

Large natural archway.

Short tunnel west entrance.

1 comment:

  1. I'll bet the Aspen trees reminded you of home and the beautiful fall colors. What a journey you've been on...thanks for letting me tag along.

    ~ Amanda