Zion National Park

Activity Date: 
11/06/2003 - 11/08/2003

Getting to Zion National Park was an experience.  To enter the park, we had to go through a mile long tunnel that was built back in the 1930's.

 

Fall colors

The tunnel has two lanes, but if a bus, truck or RV needs to drive through, they stop all traffic so the taller vehicles can drive down the middle of the tunnel and fit. Since our RV is taller than a car, we had to go through that process. Below is the tunnel entrance as we waited for them to empty out the cars.

Zion tunnel

Zion is made up of tall canyons, forests and rivers. The campground was right along the canyon walls. This park was more busy than the other parks we had been visiting, but it was still "empty" compared to the busy season. One of our hikes took us up, up, up and over into 'Hidden Canyon'.  These stairs were part of the trail.

Hidden Canyon trail stairs

A while later on the same trail, the trail turned into hugging the wall along this outcropping...Yes, the trail turns left around the wall at the end... you don't just walk off the cliff!

Steep trail

Around one corner, we were able to look down and see our RV parked along the side of the road.  It's that tiny little spot on the picture...

View down to road and RV

The ubiquitous wildlife... the chipmunk. Actually, it's harder than you'd think to get a picture of a chipmunk. Most of the shots just show a blurry chipmunk exiting the frame, or (more likely) an empty spot where the chipmunk used to be.

Chipmunk

Another hike took us along the Virgin River.

Virgin River

Jeff by Virgin River

About a mile or so along the river, you can't go any further unless you decide to hike the river. This is called "hiking the Narrows".  It's very popular in the summer, since all you need are your shorts and shoes. In the winter, though, the water is too cold so you need a dry-suit and booties along with your shoes. We decided to give it a go and rented gear in town. The next day, we hiked the Narrows.  Here we are in the river with our gear. We each had a dry suit, booties and water boots. The dry suit was only needed for the legs, so we rolled them down off the torso (the red part around the waist is the top of the suit rolled down).

Jeff in the narrows

We each also had a walking stick. The stick was absolutely needed to hike the river. You used it to poke ahead and make sure you weren't going to walk into a hole and also to keep your balance.

Cynthia in the narrows

The initial part of the hike was through a broader part of the canyon. You navigate up the river by looking for the most shallow spots. Sometimes, there are river banks, so you just hike up those. Other times, there's nothing but water, so you hike through it. The deepest we ever got was our knees.  Here is a nice, wide spot with a river bank.

Trees in the narrows

Of course, we had the camera. It was in a dry bag, but I was still nervous about tripping and dropping it in the water while I was taking pictures. We only saw a few other people the entire day, hiking in the winter season is great because no crowds.

Jeff and Cynthia in the narrows

The river canyon begins to narrow so there is less ground to walk on.

The narrows

And this is why they call it "the Narrows"....

Very narrow

Eventually, you are in a part of the canyon that is very narrow and tall. You don't really get much sun down here. The water is also deeper and there are very infrequent river banks to "cheat" on.  You can get a sense of scale by seeing how small Jeff looks in this canyon.

Jeff in the narrows

The water was pretty shallow since it was after summer. In the spring, the river run off can get much higher. Here is a natural alcove that had river rocks stuck in it. You can see that the river level gets much higher at times.  The bottom of that alcove was higher than my head.

Natural Alcove

Zion was really different with the hike along the Narrows. We'd like to go back again and hike further up the river. 
More narrows

Of course, Caper and Punkin had to get some rest after their hard day of waiting for us in the RV.

Caper and Punkin napping