November 22 – 23, 2014: The drive from the Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument visitor center to Zion National Park was filed with breathtaking canyon landscapes. The drive from the entrance of the park to the campground, through the tunnel, was also wonderful and we even saw a mountain goat on the canyon cliffs. To me, Zion seemed like the Yosemite of the desert because both were filled with mountainous landscapes but with such different rock.
We arrived in the early evening and went directly to our campsite at the Watchman Campground. The campsite also reminded me of our experience at Yosemite because in both locations we were camping at the base of a huge rock formation. Amazing!
The next day we set out to explore the park via the shuttle bus – mandatory on weekends during peak season. We boarded the bus at the visitor center and took it to the last stop. Here we did the Riverside Walk; it was pretty but slightly boring. Next up was probably my favorite stop – a brief but steep walk to the Weeping Wall where water slowly drips from a cliff overhang. Apparently the water is 2300 years old because it takes that long for the water to descend the cliffs and seep out of the rocks (water flows through the sandstone fairly easily but then has a harder time seeping through the harder limestone rock). At our next stop we took the Emerald Pools trail to view the Lower and Middle Emerald Pools and then returned, via the Grotto Trail, to the previous shuttle stop. The hike was pretty but not fantastic; the Emerald Pools weren’t especially picturesque but the Grotto Trail did provide good views down the canyon. We intended to do one more hike on our way out of the park, at Canyon Overlook, but there was no available parking so we nixed it.
We both felt that Zion National Park was cool but a bit anticlimactic because the best part of the park was the drive into it with the amazing tunnels, canyons, and valley views. Also, we are probably a bit jaded after all the amazing things we’ve seen in the past two months! After all, not all water can look like Lake Louise in Banff National Park and not all canyons can look like Artists Palette in Death Valley National Park.