Southwest Road Trip 2012 Day 2: Zion National Park (Part 1)

Misadventures-with-Andi-Road-Trip-ReportOn 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):

Zion-Mt-Carmel-Tunnel
Close-up of one of the Zion Mt Carmel Tunnel Window

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 Zion-Mt. Carmel Road
On the Zion-Mt. Carmel Road – literally! (Photo by Mr. Misadventures)

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:

Looking down from Overlook Canyon Trail
Looking down from Overlook Canyon Trail

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.

Gorgeous greens and oranges on the Overlook Trail
Gorgeous greens and oranges on the Overlook Trail.
Bridge on the Overlook Trail
Bridge on the Overlook Trail – safe, but don’t look down!
Gorgeous shade of green on the Overlook Trail
Gorgeous shade of green!

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:

Sego Lily along the Overlook Trail
Sego Lily along the Overlook Trail

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 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!

 

15 Comments

  1. That is simply gorgeous!!!!!! I’m very jealous.

    Reply
    1. Andi
      July 11, 2012

      @Deb, thanks so much!

      Reply
  2. Mark Wiens
    July 12, 2012

    I love the diverse contrast of red rocks and green trees / shrubs – awesome photos of a beautiful place!

    Reply
    1. Andi
      July 12, 2012

      @Mark, thanks, the colors are quite extreme in this part of the US.

      Reply
  3. Stacie
    July 14, 2012

    I lov southern Utah. Awesome pix!

    Reply
    1. Andi
      July 14, 2012

      @Stacie, thanks. I am getting close to the days you are interested in White Pocket!

      Reply
  4. val
    July 17, 2012

    The pictures made me long to visit this place!

    Reply
  5. Barbara P.
    July 17, 2012

    Cute, I love all of this!!!

    Reply
  6. Jennifer Chisholm
    November 24, 2012

    I lived in Utah for 12 years and still haven’t made it to Zion’s. The beautiful pictures you have posted serves as a great reminder that while traveling is great, we should always explore our own backyard 🙂 Thank you !

    Reply
    1. Andi
      November 29, 2012

      @Jennifer, it is so true. I work in San Francisco and still only know small pockets. When I left the Bay Area to move to France I said I should have spent more time in SF, now that I am back here I still don’t visit as many of the things as I should!

      Reply

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