Our crisp spring morning with sunshine and clear blue sky looked perfect for a day of sightseeing in
Zion Canyon within , (see where we spent our previous afternoon). Zion National Park is only accessible by the shuttle bus service, which they offer as part of the park entrance fee, from April to November so we headed out to the Park early to get a parking spot and to spend our day seeing the sights. Zion Canyon
|Early morning sunshine in Zion Canyon|
Zion was first used by Mormon settlers from Salt Lake City in the 1860’s who came to grow cotton in the warm climates and the name implies peaceful or heavenly and means “promised land”. Many of the names given by the Paiutes and early settlers had religious origins, for example the Great White Throne, the Organ and Angel’s Landing.
|The Virgin River in Zion Canyon, Utah|
There were Ancestral Puebloans dating back to 7000 BC inhabiting this area but it would not have looked like this then. The
Virgin River cuts down through the sandstone rather than the normal sideways pattern of rivers and the wind and rain are always changing the massive stone formations.
|The Virgin River meanders between narrow canyon walls|
We rode the shuttle to the last stop and then walked a path to the end which brought us to a part of the river where the canyons are only 20 ft. apart. Hikers were wading through the river and following the canyon further up the
Virgin River to see sights that we would never see but for the appropriately dressed and more ambitious hikers, there is much to see and enjoy past this point, so I am told.
|Wild Turkey runs down the roadside in Zion Canyon, Utah|
We would disembark the shuttle at each stop and sightsee until we were finished there then get onboard another shuttle to move onto the next location. The whole route is about 12 km (8mi) long with several stops with shuttles arriving every few minutes. The wild turkey was running down the road alongside us on one of our shuttle rides.
|Water falls down Zion Canyon walls|
There is lots to see and you should allow a full day and that does not include any long hikes. We covered lots of walks and most of them are paved and accessible for the handicapped but there were many hikes that we did not even attempt. The high elevations might make breathing difficult for some people, I was not over a chest cold and had to take several rest stops to catch my breath and we were not following strenuous paths.
|Squirrel in Zion Canyon|
We did see a few deer on our walk through the Canyon. They were not far from us but seemed fairly familiar with their visitors to the Park and continued eating as we passed by. This little squirrel seemed to follow us along the path and stopped for photos more than once. Did you know that squirrels dug holes in the dirt to do their business like cats do? unless he was just trying to impress us with the message ‘keeping my park clean’!
|Angel's Landing in Zion Canyon|
One of the most famous sights in
would likely be Angel’s Landing. It is a strenuous climb for those that have no fear of heights and with proper shoes and gear. There have been six deaths since 2004 so caution must be taken. The ridge is narrow and it is 1400’ above the canyon floor. Zion Canyon
|Hikers walking up to Scout Lookout in Zion Canyon|
There were many people enjoying the
on this sunny day and many of them were climbing to Scout Lookout at the base of the Angels’ Landing but fewer were continuing on from there. If you look closely you will see these people zigzagging up the hillside where the path has been carved. Zion Canyon
|Lower Emerald Pools Trail of Zion National Park|
We followed a very busy Lower Emerald Pool Trail that wanders along the
Virgin River. The water level at the lower Emerald Pool was low so we saw very little water but there was some falling over this bank causing a spray on the path, it would have been a great sight to see at the height of spring runoff. There are three sets of Emerald Pools with the distance to each given on a legend at the beginning of the pathway.
|Some of the Zion Canyon sees little sun during the early morning|