Oct 29, Zion Canyon

October 29, 2019

Woke up to another gorgeous freezing morning with scenic views of the mountainous Utah terrain. 

Got smart and finally turned on the heat in the RV and the hot water heater.  As usual, we got off to a bit of a late start but since we were already so close to Zion we were able to get to the park by 10ish. We were using the Gypsy Guide for Zion and Bryce and although they guide warned of long waits to get in and packed parking lots we were able to breeze right in and find parking, no wait, no problem.  Zion is one of the most popular National Parks in the nation and gets the second most visitors of any National park, ahead of places like Yosemite. One of the benefits of going midweek in the off season when it is below freezing.

We park near the visitor center and already the famous towering cliffs were surrounding us.  After a quick bathroom break we boarded the free shuttle up the canyon.  We got off at the first stop and saw the short introduction to Zion movie before getting back on the shuttle.  The shuttle had some nice commentary and cliffs towering above us were indeed impressive.  I don’t have the words to describe them so here are some pictures.

Did a quick stop at the Court of the Patriarchs to snap some quick pictures before getting back onto the shuttle to go to the Zion Lodge.  There we got a hamburger meal, slice of pizza and a hot chocolate, which set us back a rather pricey $20.  Pay for the scenery.  There were only three hikes we were thinking about possibly doing since we had Olivia with us.  These were The Grotto, Weeping Rock and the River Walk.  Having a six year old with us was a great excuse to rule out any hike rated higher than dead easy.  Iconic hikes like Angel’s Landing which is a 5 mile round trip hike with an almost 1,500 feet elevation change and steep, death defying drops off each side were easy to pass up since there was no way Olivia could make it.  Plus it was cold and we didn’t want to.

Unfortunately both the Grotto and Weeping Rock were closed so that left us just the River Walk at the very end of the Canyon so we took the shuttle all the way to the end, marveling at the cliffs and the rock climbers that were climbing the cliffs.  Better them than me.  The shuttle driver told us that many of the rock climbers would not be able to make it up the cliff in one day so they would have to spend the night tied to ropes on the cliff.  Did I mention that it was literally below freezing the night before?  He also said that it was unseasonably cold, in fact colder than it normally was in the depths of winter.

Hikers returning from the Zion Narrows Hike

By the time we got the River Walk it was mid-afternoon and the walk was indeed as easy and beautiful as advertised.  We walked along the mostly level paved path along the small Virgin river through steep canyons among lovely trees sporting fall colors.  The Virgin River was a small creek, no more than a foot deep in most places, easily crossable.  It was amazing to the think that this tiny river could carve a canyon thousands of feet deep over 100 million years.  Boggles the mind.  Although it was an easy two mile round trip walk, Olivia was complaining by the time we got back.  It was not so much that she was tired but bored with walking through a beautiful forest.  At Disney we literally walked or stood in line for about 12 hours and only at the very end did she admit that she was a little tired.  Here, an easy hour walk (mostly because of many, many photo stops) and she was doing the “are we there yet?” chant.

We saw a number of wild deer at Zion

Once back we hopped onto the shuttle for the ride back home were we promptly set off towards Bryce Canyon.  It was only an hour and a half drive but it was past 4:00 PM by the time we left and I wanted to make sure we found a place to boondock before dark.  We got as far as the Mt. Carmel Junction when the Gypsy guide told us that if we made a left we would go towards Bryce Canyon but if we turned right we would get to the small town of Kanab about 20 minutes down the road.  Kanab was the site of many old Western movies including The Outlaw Joesy Wales, How the West was Won, the original Lone Ranger and many more.  In addition, they had the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park and the Best Friend Pet Sanctuary the nation’s largest no kill pet sanctuary.  Well we couldn’t turn that down so we turned right and found a spot near a public park to boondock for the night.

As we pulled in the wind was gusting and howling and I was very glad I did not have to put up a tent or move luggage into a room.  Instead, we simply stopped, put up our window shades and started making dinner.  After dinner was a little more homework then time for bed.  Since we were in town and I had good cell reception I checked the internet and found out that the shuttle driver was right and it was unseasonably cold.  In fact the jet stream was pushing arctic air directly down into the West and MidWest and cold temperature records were being broken left and right.  That night it was forecasted to be 20 degrees below freezing.  Our bad luck to be cold but good luck in that there were absolutely no crowds.






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