On Day 1 of my 10-day Southwest road trip we drove from Las Vegas to Springdale, Utah at the base of Zion National Park. Day 2 we woke at 5:30 a.m. (which definitely felt like the 4:30 in the morning it was in California) so that we could catch the very first shuttle into Zion.
But as is the style of the Misadventures family, as we were standing at the shuttle stop, we changed our minds and walked back to the hotel to get our own car. We didn’t want to deal with the crowds and decided to explore the road around the park and see what kind of photo opportunities we could find.
We stopped at the Zion Canyon Park Museum. It was closed but it is a great spot to watch the sunrise. There is a large meadow that you can set your camera up in. In addition there are a whole bunch of benches at the back of the building placed to watch the natural show of the sunrise on the canyon walls. Having messed around getting to the shuttle stop, we had missed most of the sunrise and decided that we would get there before it happened the next day.
We headed up the road that surrounds the main park stopping here and there to take pictures. We went through the Zion-Mt. Carmel tunnel which is kind of cool except that you can’t stop and take photos out of the cool tunnel windows, but you can take photos of the windows from the road below (with a good lens):
Mr. Misadventures is fascinated with risking his life to take photos on the road. Nerve-racking for me, but the photos turn out pretty cool!
On the other side of the tunnel we stopped to do a little hiking. We took the Canyon Overlook trail which is rated as a medium difficulty path. It took us an hour with little effort and there were plenty of photo opportunities for us. Lots of plant life, plenty of rocks for the hubby and a gorgeous view of the canyon below:
On the way up there are a couple of bridges and partial caves that the trail runs through, the variety of greens and oranges in those spots are amazing.
As I am always macro-focused, I took a ton of photos of beautifully colored flowers along the path including the Sego Lily which is the state flower for Utah:
We hiked back to the car and continued along the Zion-Mt Carmel road stopping to take photos and exploring various parts of the park that were accessible from the car. I have to say this park really reminded us of Switzerland. It is super clean, super organized, there are plenty of pull-offs for people to stop to hike, picnic or take photos. Could Utah be the Switzerland of America?
We exited the park and drove awhile longer before stopping in Mt. Carmel Junction for lunch. We picnicked under some trees, stopped for gas and took photos of the retro signs at Thunderbird Restaurant (you can see one of the photos here) and then headed back into the park.
In reality leaving the park was our mistake, one that cost us $25.00. You see if we had simply turned around when we got to the “end” of the park and picnicked within the park we would not have had to pay the $25.00 Zion National Park fee to get back in. The next day we would be leaving by heading out again and we could have saved ourselves the $25. Of course the state parks need their money, but hey, that’s $25.00 more to put in the gas fund which wouldn’t have hurt either!
The second part of the day 2 we would be heading to Kolob Terrace on the other side of Zion for further exploration.
Come back to read more!