From Bryce Canyon it was a short 140km drive to Zion National Park. Yet again, the drive took us through spectacular country and interesting small towns with businesses making their living from being close to these major National Parks.
Approaching Zion NP from the east, you pass an entry gate which is on the main road and the scenery once again amazes us and calls for many stops for photos.
Here again the rocks are red, pink and white – but different. The road winds through a rocky gorge which features some fairly interesting geological formations such as Checkerboard Mesa and some enormous mountains of beautifully folded and faulted (is that a geological term?) rocks.
Then road then disappears into a long tunnel. We hadn’t really read much before visiting so we weren’t prepared for the 1.77km long impressive Zion-Mt Carmel Tunnel which was carved through the sandstone mountain in the 1920s. Emerging at the other end of the tunnel, you are high up in the canyon and the road snakes down the side of the canyon to the level of the Virgin River (photo above). WOW was all we could say. And to think we nearly changed our minds about visiting Zion National Park.
One of the highlights of Zion NP is a long narrow canyon with sheer rock sides which ends in a narrow gorge with the river running through it.
This is a very popular park and high visitor numbers are managed well. Visitors to the narrow canyon must take the regular shuttle buses. So, we again arrived at 7.30am ready to board the bus…to find ourselves well and truly down the line at least 100 people already in line. We spent the next few hours hopping on and off the shuttle, walking and enjoying the different views and features the canyon is famous for.
Viewing the canyon from below the rim rather than above (as at Bryce) is fabulous as you really get a sense of awe at the sheer height of the cliff faces.
A favourite spot was Weeping Rock, where water is forced out of the porous, vertical rock, creating a cool, damp ecosystem is contrast to the dry environment above.
After another long morning of walking and photos, we lunched in the car-park before heading out the way we came in, again enjoying immensely what we think is one of the most spectacular short drives we have experienced.