Today we are going to visit Zion National Park. We had read that the parking lot at the visitor center fills up by 10am, so we set the alarm for 7am and were on our way by 8am. Zion National Park is only 40 minutes from our hotel so we should be able to get a pretty good parking spot. The part of the park that we want to see, you are not allowed to drive into, but there is a shuttle bus running every 5 minutes that you can get on and off of at your leisure.
We enter the Park through the South Entrance. The crowds are light at this time of the day, and to top it off, today and tomorrow are free admittance to all of the National Parks, so I suspect it will get busy once everyone wakes up. Even though it is a free day, we were asked to show our pass anyways.
The first thing you see as you enter the park is the “Watchman” He guards the entrance.
We got a good parking spot near the Visitor Center and went inside to orientate ourselves, then went back outside to catch the shuttle bus.
First stop along the route is the Museum. We went inside and got our National Parks Passport book stamped. There was a 22 minute movie about the park and its history, so we watched that. Then went outside to take photos of the surrounding mountains.
Each peak has its own name as you can see on this presentation board. So I took a panoramic photo of the same mountains.
It is early in the day and the temperature is a wonderful 70 degrees, by 1pm the temperature will be closer to 100 degrees.
Next stop on the shuttle tour is the Court of the Patriarchs. Again there is a presentation board and my panoramic photo of the same shot. You just can’t fit the beauty, the colour and the size of Zion into one photo.
The next stop on our shuttle tour is the Zion Lodge.
We had been seeing these beautiful white flowers, throughout California and now again in Utah, and finally we have figured out what they are, thanks to this presentation board at the Zion Lodge.
The view from the front porch at Zion Lodge. Also a photo of the shuttle bus as it pulls into Zion Lodge. The shuttle busses are a really efficient way to get around this part of the park. I don’t know if it is just because of the large crowds expected because today is a free admittance day, but there is a shuttle every 5 minutes. You can get off, wander around and when you get back to the bus stop, we didn’t have to wait more than 5 minutes for the next shuttle.
Next stop is the Weeping Rock. We saw a little bird that we still have to identify. (Since originally writing this blog, I have found out that this is a female black headed grosbeak.)
And of course, the weeping rock that this stop is named after. Hard to photograph the water dripping down the face of this rock. This whole wall where the people are walking is just running with water from above. I stayed behind to keep myself and the camera dry.
Next stop is Big Bend. Once again, you cannot capture this in one photo, the mountains arch around you and any attempt to stitch them just distorted the photo. I had to take a lot of individual photos here.
The last stop and end of the road for the shuttle is the Temple of Sinawava. At this point the shuttle makes its return trip back to the Visitors Center.
These two rocks in this next photo are called the Pulpit and the Altar. Difficult to photograph because of the position of the sun in the sky.
A few more photos from the Temple of Sinawava.
We boarded the shuttle and rode it back to the Visitor Center and our car. These are some random shots that I took out of the open window on the shuttle.
Of course no one should overlook taking a photo of the little river that carved such a magnificent landscape out of these rocks over a time span of millions of years… The Virgin River. I am sure that in its past, it had to have been a mighty river.
When we got back to the visitors center, I had planned on taking another photo of the thermometer because it is now 12:30 and the heat is almost intolerable, but all I could think of was the car and air conditioning. So I forgot to take the photo, but I am betting it was 100 plus degrees. If you are going to go to Zion National Park in August, go early.
We will come back to Zion again tomorrow, early tomorrow. We will visit another section of the park that you are able to drive your own car through.
To see all of our photos from today, you know what to do… click on this link to my FLICKR site.