Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. ~ John Muir
Since it's opening 1919 people have been marveling at the majesty and natural beauty of Zion National Park. I have visited the park several times but, John had never been to Utah. The four day fourth of July holiday seemed like the perfect opportunity to plan a road trip to explore Zion and Bryce Canyon National park. We left LA Jun 30th right after John finished work and in about four hours arrived in Las Vegas to visit my friend Eileen . After dinner and some catching up we headed north staying along the 15 HWY somewhere between Las Vegas and Springdale Utah.
The small town of Springdale Utah is the gateway to Zion. Over the years a community of restaurants, trinket shops and Zion related industry has developed to service the parks visitors. A favorite stop of mine has always been the bumbleberry Inn famous for their fanciful bumbleberry, described by the Inn as a combination of burpleberries and a binkleberries that grow under a giggle bush. One is sweet and one is tart and together they make the most delicious jams, jellies, syrups and pies. How could I ever resist picking up a few jars on my way through town.
Our first stop upon arrival at any National Park is the visitors center. Each day a newspaper is available at the desk which outlines the events specific to that park.These include films, ranger talks and hikes, as well as special programs that have limited availability. When we arrive at any park the rangers on duty help us plan the day based on available programs, our interests and of course the weather.We decided to begin with a ride on the shuttle bus that loops the park. Zion does nor allow cars on the scenic loop. This keeps traffic flow smooth and is a very efficient plan. We were able to relax and take photos while a narrator familiarized us with the area and shared a brief history of the park. We love a good overview.
After the bus ride we decided to hike to the emerald pools. The hike we took was just over a mile. There are hikes and trails that suit each individuals ability and endurance, From angels peak to river walk there is something for everyone. The incline on the hiking path gave us a pretty good work out and we enjoyed the walk after all those hours in our car. Our efforts were rewarded with the chance to walk under a small waterfall that fed one of the pools.
John and I know very well how important it is to stay hydrated as we travel. That is especially true in the hot dry climate of Zion. I was thrilled to see Zion has done away with plastic water bottles and has placed spring water filling stations throughout the park. The ranger told us this water is from local springs had has been filtered through the Navajo limestone of the steep cliffs for Millenna. She explained how someone had scientifically dated the water from the various sections of the park. I applaud them for this conservation effort and I have to say the water was really tasty.
Zion is filled with wildlife some seen some unseen. We saw a mamma deer and her spotted fawns in the meadow. Down the road a we observed a rafter of wild turkeys on a evening walk. The big horn sheep and the mountain lions eluded us today, preferring the the solitude of higher ground. Squirrels eagerly greeted us all, their desire for food surpassing their common sense at times. We also met this little guy pictured below. Take a good look and you'll see how skilled these creatures are at blending in to their environment.
After restoring our strength with guacamole and enchiladas in Springdale ,we boarded our ranger led evening bus tour. This was one of those limited number of seat tours that require a reservation.
Each ranger is given the freedom to make their tour their own. Our ranger specialized in the history of early settlers. She had spoken to several people descended from the actual families who first called Zion home. I loved hearing her speak about the stories that never make the history books.
The Virgin river has for thousands of years flowed over this land, her raw power creating virtually every feature of the park as we know it today. This river that provided farmers with water for their irrigation ditches was the same river that on occasion, flooded destroying all crops and communities in her path. At this park you are taught to respect the power of the Virgin.
The rock formations never look more beautiful to me than they do as the sun begins to set. We are always humbled by the stunning grandeur of our National Parks.
The man who is credited with naming Zion likened it to a cathedral He felt it rivaled any man made Tabernacle and declared it Zion. I know I never feel Gods presence more that I do in nature.