Ed & I are not what you would call avid hikers. But there is another way to experience the beauty of Utah's red sandstone canyons. Miles of public lands are open to all-terrain vehicles, otherwise known as ATVs or four-wheelers. Ed thought it would be a lot of fun to try it...and he was right!
We made a reservation for a 2 1/2 hr. personal guided ATV tour offered through Zion Mountain Resort. Our tour guide, Brady, showed Ed how to work the controls of the ATV and we took a practice run around the barn. Soon we were ready to pass by the horse fields and the buffalo meadow and head towards the forest.
The trail along the ridge led through a pine-scented forest of juniper and pinyin.
We took a break to get a view of the east side of the cliff face that we will be descending.
We also get a look down into the valley that is our destination today.
During the break, Brady took the time to describe some of the flora and fauna of the desert landscape. Ed tried chewing the leaves of "Mormon tea", reputed to contain an ephedra-like substance. He pronounced it "not bad". Early Mormon settlers boiled the herb and drank the tea, since they abstained from regular tea and coffee.
As we descended into the canyon over alternately rocky and sandy trail, the rock and soil turns from white to coral pink.
Finally, we reached the end of the trail. We parked the ATV and walked out to the edge to get a view of the Virgin River flowing through the canyon.
Brady took a souvenir photo of me and Ed. The white cliffs in the background are a part of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
If we lived in Utah, we would have to get our own ATVs. They are a fun way to get off the beaten path and enjoy awesome scenery on our public lands.