Bob Neuman and David Ruether
Trip to the South Western US
May - June 2005
ZION NATIONAL PARK
The southern area of Zion National Park is crossed by the spectacular Route 9. The central (n-s) road can be traveled only by using the excellent shuttle busses. These stop every 5-7 minutes at well-marked locations (unlike at Grand Canyon) - and the viewing was easy from these well-designed busses. There are a couple of SPECTACULAR motels in Springdale, just outside the Zion SW entrance, with views on both sides of steep, multi-colored cliffs. Busses go from these to the Zion visitor's center where the free shuttle busses can be boarded. We spent about 20 minutes driving around the parking areas at the visitors' center - and just before giving up and driving to Springdale to park, we got a parking spot. Bob bought David a hat at the lodge further up the canyon for sun protection, a most useful item in the intense sunshine here and at most of the other SW locations. We got off the bus at several of the stops, and took a short walk to the Virgin River, which was flooding, and up a short way into the slot canyon at the end of the road. Bob convinced David not to take the horse ride in the park, which was in hindsight a good thing, given the heat and other considerations. The second day, we drove east on Route 9 across the southern end of the park, going through Zion-Mount Carmel tunnel, at the end of which we parked and walked the spectacular Canyon Overlook trail. We saw many prickly pear cacti in bloom along this trail, and we stopped at a cool cave at the halfway point and talked with a woman for a while, then continued to the overlook. The ceilings of these overhangs drip water that has taken over a thousand years to move through the rock from the surface - so the cooling drops are extra-precious! Hikers returning on the trail told us that the overlook at the trail’s end was breathtaking (it was), being at the edge of a sheer cliff, with the canyon walls rising sharply (and colorfully) on all sides. We agreed that Zion was our favorite park on the trip (number two tilted back and forth between Arches and Grand Canyon). The park looked so green and wonderful that it is no wonder that the Mormons traveling west thought they had found the perfect place to settle - but the Virgin River flooding made life in the canyon too difficult, so the farms were eventually abandoned).
Our motel had a pleasant rear deck with a cactus garden and a view of a red mountain beyond (viewed over a miniature golf course and a partially obscured housing development).
After leaving Zion we ate lunch at a small restaurant and trading post on the left side of Route 9. A delightful cook/waitress with an excellent voice, named Rusty, sang along with the radio as she prepared and delivered our sandwiches. Sometimes it is the unexpected delights that impress one's memory the most…
We then drove on to Bryce National Park.
taken by Bob Neuman and edited and adjusted by David Ruether)
(All photographs Copyright 2005 Robert Neuman)
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