Monday, September 5, 2011

Zion National Park - Utah

Zion National Park is so stunning that I am not sure if I will be able to describe its splendor. Zion’s beauty comes from different features such as sandstone colors, rock formations, and diversity of plants. Varying elevations, sun, water and a temperature range create a variety of environment and a visitor depending on a mood can hike into riparian, desert or grassland scenery. You can spend entire day hiking in water (the Narrows) or climbing the Angels Landing to admire the canyon from the roof of the world.

We did some hikes and I will write few posts about the most interesting once and also there will be one special post about the plants that I couldn’t resist and photographed all the time. First let me introduce basic facts about Zion.

Zion is the oldest national park in Utah located in southwestern part of the state. There are four sections in Zion, Zion Canyon, Kolob Canyon, Kolob Terrace and Highway 9.

Zion National Park
Zion Canyon
Zion Canyon
Zion Canyon
Two campgrounds in the Zion Canyon provide basic service such as restrooms, drinking water and picnic table but unfortunately no showers. Pay showers are available in Springdale, a town next to the park. We camped at Watchman campground for four nights. We were surprised with numerous French tourists visiting the park at that time and at times we heard more French than English.

Late in the evening, while we had dinner, the sun lit up the tops of the mountains around us and it felt very peaceful and relaxing. However, at night we experienced something bizarre.  First, we heard leaves shimmering and a weak breeze that escaped from the canyon. Once in a while it got quiet and then suddenly louder, and stronger. At night it turned into wind gusts blowing frantically and I felt like our tent would fly away. We did not sleep well but the next night was a little better. A ranger told us that the wind was caused by temperature differences in the canyon.

Watchman Campground
The park provides a very efficient transportation system that was created to reduce traffic congestion. The free shuttles are available from early April to late October, and run every 7 minutes stopping at all the popular attractions. Other roads in Zion are open to private cars year-round. We loved the shuttle system. It was fast and very convenient to travel.

Shuttle System
The Zion Canyon Visitor Center building has a special design that saves energy. It cools easily is summer and heats quickly in winter. There are always several rangers offering help and a well-supplied book-gift store.
Another park feature that we liked a lot were bottle filling stations located throughout the park. The sale of disposable plastic water bottles is prohibited.

Visitor Center
There is a very nice lodge in the middle of the Canyon Road. It is open year-round and has 40 cabins and 80 motel rooms and it is also a good place to get some food, rest and of course buy more gifts as well.

Zion Lodge
We have been very impressed at the way the park is organized and among all national parks that I have visited so far in the States; Zion National Park is my favorite.

Next post will about the Narrows.

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