Thursday, April 28, 2016

Zion National Park - Stop 4 in our Trek North to Alaska

Driving on Monday toward the next stop on our tour, Zion National Park, we encountered a snow squall near the North Rim of Grand Canyon.  Between the snow, wind, switchback turns and the fact Mom was driving, I was petrified!   But once again, Mom was a trooper!

Most of the towns we passed through before the North Rim were American Indian communities.  As we admired the pretty mountains of rock, I spotted a dust cloud in the background--it was a charging pack of wild horses!

Traveling from South Rim to North Rim (no snow yet)


American Indian Village Shop Entrance


Wild Horses

We arrived at Watchman Campground in Zion National Park and were greeted with torrential rain.  Nothing more fun than setting up in this weather—NOT!  Even worse, the back-in campsite assigned to us was ridiculously tight.  We knew we were in trouble when the gate ranger questioned the site number on our reservation and said “Really?  Well good luck getting in with this rig!”  The campground was at full capacity, so we had no options. Daddy’s exemplary back-in skills came in handy.  It might have taken 20 minutes to do it, but he got both the rig and Big Boomer crammed in to the site.  Luckily, both Claudia/Mike's and my family's slideouts didn't collide--we had just inches to spare with the back ones.

 Squeezing into this tight spot, not an inch to spare

Seeing the mule deer in the campground more than made up for this inconvenience.


These mule deer posed for me!


My Aunt Laurie, who I often refer to as “The Wicked Witch of the East” is visiting us here in Zion National Park.  And I’m a bit put out—she is staying with us in our rig!  Aunt Laurie and I have a love-hate relationship:  I love to hate her and she hates to love me (difficult to fathom how to not love me, I am so irresistibly cute!)  But somehow we manage to co-exist.  These are the concessions and compromises we make for family.  Anyway, I have to be nice to her—we both celebrate our birthdays in April, although I am an Aries and she is a Taurus.  But if you look at our negative character traits, we are very similar!   


Me and Aunt Laurie Celebrating Our Birthdays


Mormon settlers who referred to these lands as “Zion” surely got it right.  Zion National Park is truly a heavenly place!  In fact, many of the features in the park have religious names:  Temple of Sinewava; The Court of Patriarchs named for biblical figures Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the Great White Throne; and Angel’s Landing (said to have received its name from Frederick Fisher in 1916, when he exclaimed it was so high up “only an angel could land on it”).

The Narrows at Temple of Sinewava


Court of the Patriarchs

I am astounded at how lush the lands of Zion Canyon are—and yet it is a desert!  To me, the colors of the rock formations are more vivid than at Grand Canyon.  Maybe because we are in the Canyon looking up rather than being above the Canyon looking down, or perhaps due to the contrast between the earth tones and the greenery.   All I know for sure is that the area is GOR-G-OUS!

Picture Pretty as a Postcard!

It is amazing the power of nature and a sense of survival among all living things. Emerald Pools and Weeping Rock are prime examples of water always finding a way to flow, even if it must penetrate through rocks to do so.  The Hanging Gardens prove that all living things adapt for survival, even if it means growing out of stone walls or from canyon cavern ceilings.

Emerald Pools

Flowering plant at Weeping Rock Hanging Gardens


More "Hanging Gardens"

Rainfall averages about 16 inches per year in Zion, yet it rained at some point during every day of our visit.  Luckily, we completed all six hikes on our “to do” list during Tuesday and Wednesday before the rains hit.   We stuck to the trails categorized as “easy” due to the wet, slick conditions—don’t want to risk injury before we get to Alaska!  Thankfully, we were not subjected to any flash floods, despite the fact the Virgin River was roaring!

Virgin River

Riding through the Tunnel on the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway was pretty cool!  We had to use Aunt Laurie’s car though.  Big Boomer was banned from entry—we exceeded maximum height and width!  Guess back in the 1920s when construction began, they didn't envision vehicles and RVs in the sizes they are available today!

Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel


A view from the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway

We also visited Kolob Canyon.  Though it may be smaller in area, it’s peaks/summits are comparable to those of Mt. Zion.  The snow and the clouds give the area a dramatic look!

There's Snow on Them There Mountain Tops!

The Wicked Witch flies back East tomorrow and we head to Bryce Canyon National Park.  See ya! 

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