Until next time, America.
I got to drive through the canyon today (the driver’s seat is the best seat in the house on these scenic paths, so needless to say I was excited). We pulled up to the ranger station at the entrance of Zion Canyon National Park park and the ranger told us that we would have to park and take the mandatory free shuttle through the canyon. She explained that they close off the roads to cars during the summer because of the heavy volumes of traffic. I headed off toward the parking lot but missed the turn in. There was one more car in front of us and the boys persuaded me to keep driving to see how far we could get. Evidently the road I was on wasn’t the road through the canyon though, because I drove the whole length without being blocked at any point.
There wasn’t too much in the way of scenery on this stretch of road besides two tunnels built in the 1920s and a somewhat obstructed view of the canyon below so we turned around, went back through both tunnels and took the right turn into the parking lot. We hopped on a shuttle right away (they came to each stop every ten minutes) and headed down into the canyon to check out the eight different stops. The stops were called Zion Museum, Canyon Junction, Court of the Patriarchs, Zion Lodge, The Grotto, Weeping Rock, Big Bend and Temple of Sinawava.
We skipped the museum and headed to the second stop - Canyon Junction. At each stop we jumped out and went on short, one- or two-mile hikes around the gorgeous rocks. We got our fill of the red, brown and grey stone pillars that dwarfed the trees, bushes, flowers and grassy land that surrounded them and jumped back on the shuttle to head the short distance toward the Court of the Patriarchs.
This stop was named as such because of a few tall peaks that were named for different - you guessed it - patriarchs (from the Bible). There was a sign facing the pillars that showed which pillar was named for which patriarch. We stood around waiting for the shuttle but after a few minutes decided to walk to the Grotto just up the road. We wandered around the beautiful scenery snapping pictures and soaking in the atmosphere but we were excited for the next stop , Weeping Rock, because of the chance to see a waterfall.
At the Grotto we hiked a short distance up a hill and around a corner until we heard the soft pitter patter of falling water splashing against a rocky surface below. The waterfall was a very gentle flow over a steep overhang and it was dripping large fat drops around us as we walked up the rusty metal stairs to the stone porch under the falls. The path ended here though so we walked back down the steps and headed to the bus stop waiting to be taken over to Big Bend, the seventh stop.
Big Bend had a tiny waterfall of its own as well and we thoroughly enjoyed the scenery here as we wandered around the short path that lead around the area. The pictures will do it justice since my descriptions are falling very short. These canyons are in descending order like a set of stairs, and each was more beautiful than the last.
Zion was everyone’s favorite for the day, but the day before it had been Bryce, and the day after some of us would switch to liking Grand the best. We hit the final stop on our bus ride through Zion taking in all we could and snapping pictures to show you later when we tried to explain the majesty that spread out before us. After getting our fill we hopped back on the bus and rode it the entire way back to the parking lot where Joey’s Xterra patiently waited for us to come drive it again.
We drove towards Grand Canyon and stopped in a small town close by the entrance to the canyon park. We stopped at a pizza restaurant for dinner and ordered a buffalo chicken pizza to bring back to our room. When Joey asked the girl behind the counter how much it would cost to add bacon to the pie, I was afraid she had just swept him off his feet- she said, “It’s free.”
We swung by a gas station to grab some local brews and found some uniquely named brands that we brought back to the room to enjoy with the pizza. We drank Wasatch Polygamy Porter, Wasatch Evolution Amber Ale and Squatters American Wheat, and tucked in eager for the morning.
Until next time, America.