From Las Vegas, we traveled northwest on I-15 to St. George, Utah, then headed east on Rt.9 to Zion National Park. We spent a week in the area, including day trips to Bryce Canyon National Park, Pipe Springs National Monument, and Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. Each will have its own post with pictures in the next few days.
If you have ever been to Sedona in Arizona, Zion National Park is like Sedona on steroids! Red rock canyons and weird sandstone formations create a landscape that is like no other. In fact, southern Utah and northern Arizona encompass the "Grand Circle" of National Parks with similar geological formations. Besides Zion, these parks include Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, Grand Staircase/Escalante, and more. At Zion (named by the Mormons for the Hebrew word meaning "sanctuary"), you are able to tour the canyon floor and look up red sandstone cliffs towering 1000-2000 ft. above.
Zion Canyon was formed by the Virgin River, which is paralleled by Rt.9 running east-west. At the village of Springdale, at the entrance to the park, the river splits into the North Fork and the East Fork. At this junction lies Watchman Campground. Here is our campsite:
We enjoyed spectacular views of the red rock cliffs all around us.
Continuing on Rt.9 east, the road takes you up a lengthy series of switchbacks, culminating in a narrow one-mile long tunnel through the mountain. This view shows one of the side windows of the tunnel. (You can click on this or any picture to enlarge, then use your browser's "back" button to return to the blog.)
The tunnel is so narrow that RVs have to pay $15.00 to have the tunnel closed. Then they can pass through by running down the middle of the lanes. A line of cars begins to build as we wait for the tunnel to reopen.
East of the tunnel, the rock formations are red, white and sometimes both colors of rock.
At the Checkerboard Mesa overlook, I took a series of six photos to capture a 180 degree view of the landscape. Visualize these two photos joined to get a tiny sense of the landscape.
In Part 2 to follow, we'll take the shuttle tour in the canyon along the north fork of the Virgin River. Alert the media - Ed & Camille actually go on two hikes!