Photography . . . Travel . . .

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Road Trip ! - Southwestern US (Part 3) - Zion National Park

I think that Zion National Park has to be one of the most amazing places I've seen in the US.  It's a very narrow canyon with very steep walls.  This time of year the canyon floor doesn't get a lot of sunlight, but since the elevation is only about 4,000' it doesn't get all that cold (relatively speaking anyway).  We spent 2 nights at the Zion Lodge.  There are lots of good reasons to visit Zion in the off-season, including the lack of crowds and the fact that you can drive your own car into the Park.  The food and rooms at the Zion Lodge are great, and quite a bargain this time of year.  On our first day there we hiked the Emerald Pools trail.  It was cold and a little dark at times with all the clouds, but we got some great views.

There can be a lot of water flowing from the Middle Pool over the edge of the cliff to the Lower Pool.  Most of it misses the trail, making for a nice little waterfall, but enough gets through to make one stretch fairly muddy.  

We woke up Saturday morning to a light dusting of snow in the canyon, and even more up in the higher elevations.  We walked the Riverside Trail in the morning, up to the start of The Narrows, the point where the Virgin River fills up the gorge, and the only way through is to walk in the river itself.

In a sort of last minute decision, we decided to see how far up the trail to Angel's Landing we could get.  It was 3:00PM by the time we finished the 2-mile climb up to Scout Landing, so we decided to save the last 1/2 mile to the top of Angel's Landing for another time and head back down.  Maybe when there is not as much ice on the trail.  Here are some shots from the way up and back.

The trail starts down by the river and works its way up the sandstone cliffs.  It's a well maintained, mostly paved, mostly shelf trail that switchbacks its way up.  I'm still wondering who got stuck hauling all that concrete up there.

The last portion of the trail before Scout Landing is a 1/4-mile stretch of 21 short, steep switchbacks called Walter's Wiggles. It's too steep to get all of it in one picture.

We turned around at Scout Landing, a little past this point.  What a view.

Looking down, about halfway back down the trail.

At one point I found a convenient rock to rest my camera on.

As we were walking back to the Lodge at the end of the day we caught a glimpse of the Moon rising over the canyon wall, as the Sun set in the opposite direction.

Zion National Park is a pretty amazing place.  Anyone who has not been there really should get there at least once.  We would like to go back again.  In speaking with the staff at the Zion Lodge, it sounds like early November would be a great time to be there, with a lot more color in the trees.  That said, early December was still a great time, as it didn't get uncomfortably cold, and the light dusting of snow was beautiful.

To be continued . . .

Click here to see more images from Zion National Park.

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San Diego, California, United States
About me . . . When I'm not working I like to be out exploring and photographing. I do this blog just for fun, and to be able to share these images with friends. I hope you enjoy viewing these images as much as I enjoyed creating them.

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Header image: Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, Cibola, Arizona. End image: Downtown San Diego, California skyline from Coronado Island. Profile picture: Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, by Heather Baiamonte.