Driving to Colorado provides for the opportunity to check out some places along the way. Our fluid schedule had some time built in to “stop and smell the roses” a bit and Zion National Park was first on the list of roses to smell.
The Zion National Park is simply an amazing place. If you haven’t been, you need to add this national treasure your Life List. You will need at least a week to explore and really enjoy what the Zion canyon has to offer. At first, the Disney size crowds and shuttle waiting lines made me wonder if it was really worth the waiting. In all reality the park folks do an amazing job of managing the thousands of daily visitors. Free shuttle buses run during the peak of the season, the park was clean, and the visitor traffic (foot and car) seemed to flow fairly smoothly. But the beauty of the canyon is the inescapable magic. The canyon walls rise up hundreds of feet in most areas and run for miles along the Virgin River. You can’t help but look up and when you do, all the questioning of other things around you fades away with the wonder of the natural beauty to witness.
Despite a late start on the first day, we hiked a part of the Angel’s Landing trail and then in the evening took the scenic drive around the park. We returned early enough the next morning to get in a good hike in part of the Narrows and Virgin River. The two days couldn’t have been more different. Sunny and warm, the first day seemed to find us behind the bubble of daily tourists. While the trail is largely paved, hiking up Angel’s Landing Trail in the afternoon sun was extremely challenging at best. Our second day was overcast and cooler, we were in early and on the shuttle quickly. Again the river-walk trail was paved but once we were hiking in and along the Virgin River in the shadows of the canyon walls, it made for a refreshing and most enjoyable time. But our time was up and we had to move on.
Back on the road we high tailed it from Zion up to visit the Arches National Park. When we arrived, the iconic Delicate arch was closed due to flooding, so we drove to the Window Arches section of the park. I think this was the better experience. It was a short walk to the several aches there and we were able to explore them much more. As the sun was getting low it was time to drive on. We rolled in to Grand Junction, CO for the night. On to Colorado Springs in the morning.
As a first time visitor through this particular part of the country I found passing through Utah, or at least southern Utah, pleasantly surprising to me with its diversity of terrain and features. There is so much of nature to see here. The magnitude of the way these lands formed and continue to change is amazing to see. These two short stops at these two parks told me I think I will definitely need to add a couple new things to my play list.