The day after we arrived, we made our first journey into Zion National Park. We were about 25 miles away and got a late start, not getting to the park until just before noon.
From April 1 to the end of October, you must take the shuttle from the Visitor's Center to see the park. We arrived at the Visitor's Center, but all the parking places were taken so we had to go back into Springdale to catch the shuttle there. We're not great shuttle fans since you have to be sure to take everything you need with you and can't go back and forth to the car. We didn't wait long before the town shuttle came and dropped us off at the walkover to the Visitor's Center where you can catch the park shuttle.
The first thing you notice is the sheer massiveness of the rock walls.
Because we got such a late start, we just took the shuttle through the park getting off at the last stop which was a paved walkway to the beginning of The Narrows hike. We took the walkway along the river, out heads continually looked up at the massive walls.
The Narrows is one of those "can't miss" hikes but we decided we didn't really want to walk through the water. You must walk across the stream in order to begin the hike.
We returned two days laters, much earlier and knowing a few of the secrets. There are actually two parking areas in the park, one at the Visitor's Center and another at the Museum Visitor's Center a little farther into the park. We arrived about 9 and had no trouble getting a space at the museum. We went through the museum learning about the geology and wildlife in the park, then took the Riverside Walk by the Virgin River. There was a great paved walking path and very few people as we made the easy 2 mile hike.
After hiking by the river, we caught the next shuttle. The shuttles run constantly and we never had to wait more than 3 or 4 minutes for the next one to come. Sometimes they were crowded with standing room only and other times there would be only a few people on them.
We stopped at each of the stops to see the view.
We took the short hike up to Weeping Rock which really does seem to be weeping as the water seeps from the rock.
More views from other stops.
Next, we got off at the Zion Canyon Lodge and took the Emerald Pools hike. It was pretty much a steady upward climb.
As you walked under the drizzle of water, a different view of the mountains could be seen through the drops.
This was one of the Emerald Pools.
We took the shuttle back to the museum getting into our car to drive to the other side of Zion National Park. We saw more spectacular views as we drove there along State Route 9.
We came to the Zion- Mt. Carmel Tunnel, a 1.1 mile tunnel began in the late 1920's and finished in 1930. It was built to create a direct link from Bryce Canyon National Park to Zion National Park and Grand Canyon National Park. After 1989 as trailers and trucks were getting larger, a study was shown that more accidents were occurring as a result of these larger vehicles crossing the median.
Now, if you are wider than 7 feet 10 inches and taller than 11 feet 4 inches, you must have an escort through the tunnel, as well as paying a $15 tunnel permit.
When we went through the first time, we didn't have to wait, we were waved right through. 1.1 miles is really long in a tunnel!
We came out on the other side, drove about 2 miles, then turned around to come back. This time, there was a trailer and motor home waiting to go through. We had to wait for the traffic to come out from the other side, then we made our way behind the escorted vehicles.
We were really glad we came around the longer way rather than trying to go through this tunnel with our fifth wheel.
It had been another beautiful day!